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Internet law (copyright in particular)

April 26 was World IP Day. I didn’t notice too many people getting excited by this. But one who did was Graham Smith.

Graham is a partner at Bird and Bird and the leading expert in internet law, central to which is IP law and, in particular, copyright law.

Graham’s bible on Internet Law and Regulation is sadly out of date. We carried a review of the 4th edition in the January 2008 Newsletter. Happily, the 5th edition is due out in December

Links and the law

Crucial to the web is the link. After all, there would be no web without them. So the legality of linking has exercised the courts from day one.

Indeed, the Shetland Times case of 1997 was one of the first to consider the question. I was on the case in one of my early “Pages on the Web” for the Solicitors Journal.

Most recently, we’ve had the Svensson judgment from the CJEU on the legality of linking to infringing material. Much has been written about this. Here are a few to get you started:

There is comment on the case in most IP law blogs: all are catalogued on infolaw Lawfinder.

In the upcoming issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers we have a veritable feast of articles on copyright:

  • Shireen Smith, principal at Azrights, on “Copyright in website images”
  • Simon Stokes, partner at Blake Lapthorn, on “The future of digital copyright”, and
  • Laurie Kaye, partner at Shoosmiths, on “Copyright, fair use and the advance of culture”

Delia’s legal web picks

Follow Delia Venables on Twitter @deliavenables.

Items selected from Delia’s “New” page.

Twitter gripes

I like Twitter (I really do) but I have several gripes (5, so far) about Twitter users …

No 1. People send too many tweets.

Some of my best friends (sorry guys) send several a day – 4, 6, 8… even more. Some people (ordinary human beings) have sent out over 10,000 tweets. No one can have that many interesting things to say! They are running the serious risk of being unfollowed or (at best) having their followers skip over their tweets. My advice would be – at most 1 a day. At most. Really.

No 2. Too many Twitter handles @ and hashtags # can make a tweet incomprehensible

Handles and hashtags are often made up of strange characters and do not look like names or topics at all. I know it is nice to put in peoples’ handles because then they get informed about the tweet automatically – and I know that the hashtags enable tweets to be assembled on a particular topic automatically but this can go too far! Please could you make your tweets into something that the ordinary viewer can understand?

No 3. We all like to tweet but we do not really want to listen (much)

There are the big stars (Stephen Fry etc) and the legal IT stars (Richard Susskind, Charles Christian, Joshua Rosenberg, Tim Kevan) but most of us are not in this category. Most of us have 100 or 200 followers and follow a similar number. That makes sense. That implies a certain reciprocity. What does not make sense is where people follow many hundreds of other people – and I have come across a few people following two or three thousand. This simply says (to me) that these people are following everything that moves in the hope that a few will “follow them back” and that they do not read the tweets of others AT ALL. If you are following 2,000 people and if they put out an average of say 5 tweets a week that would be 10,000 tweets to read a week. I rest my case.

No 4. People have started using pictures as disguised longer messages

That is cheating really – just a way of getting more than 140 characters in a tweet, and it also gives difficulty to people with sight difficulties since there is no way of “hearing” the text on pictures.

No 5. Please do not tweet with your every passing thought

Surely tweets should be saying something of more than momentary interest? I would prefer not to receive tweets on food, drink, football, TV, weather, holidays, children and pets. Is it just me?

Answers, in less than 140 characters, to @deliavenables.

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