Recently in International Category

Broadband Here and There

The New York Times reports on the bundle of communications services offered by a cable television company in Japan: In Japan, a Provider of Cable Ups the Ante: "In addition to a basic television package, he gets a digital phone line and a broadband connection with a top speed of 30 megabits a second, about six times as fast as that offered by most American cable companies. He pays about $130 a month for the three services and some premium channels."

Here in NYC, Time Warner offers a bundle of basic cable, digital phone service and internet service for only $99/month. But that is only a 768 kbps internet service. For the same price as the Japanese plan discussed in the Times article-- $129.95/month-- Time Warner will provide internet access at "speeds of up to 5 Mbps"-- 6 times slower than the Japanese competitor. And on the high-speed internet access in NYC, uploads are limited to a paltry 384 kbps. Pity the poor podcaster or videoblogger who can upload her files at less than 10% of the advertised top speed of her connection.

And Japan is not alone in eclipsing the US. Public Knowledge's Art Brodsky saw a broadband ad in the London Underground:

The advertisement on the wall in the subway station was hard to believe — a broadband service with 24 meg download for about $45 per month. That was the good news. Unfortunately, the service isn’t available in the U.S. The ad was on the wall of tube stop in London and the company, Be, http://www.bethere.co.uk is British. Just to rub it in a little, it gets better. There is also a cheaper option, about $25 per month, which still gets you the 24 mbps download, but with a slower upload speed. This in a city in which a bottle of water will set you back about $2.25.

How will insulating broadband providers from competition allow the US to compete in the wired world?

Oh, Canada

A new blog about copyright policy in Canada: CopyrightWatch.ca: "This blog is supported by a team of academics, public interest advocates, and creators concerned that copyright serve the interests of ordinary Canadians."

How legal is AllOfMP3?

In Slate, Dana Mulhauser looks at the legality of AllofMP3: Barely Legal - The hottest trend in file sharing.: "Could a scheme like Allofmp3.com be legal? Probably. Is it legal, in fact? Probably not. Will you get sued for using it? Not likely, or at least, far less likely than you would be for using Grokster or any of the other peer-to-peer networks."

Earlier this month, Russian criminal authorities declined to prosecute AllOfMP3 for criminal copyright infringement. However, it remains to be seen what happens when international copyright owners pursue a civil copyright infringement case against AllOfMP3 in Russian courts.

iTunes UK domain name dispute

BBC News reports: Legal row over iTunes domain name:

Benjamin Cohen, 22, registered itunes.co.uk in 2000, but earlier this month the UK domain name registry, Nominet, handed the name over to Apple.

Mr Cohen, of Hackney, east London, has applied to the High Court for a judicial review, saying Nominet is biased against small businesses.

But Nominet say legal experts found Mr Cohen was abusing his registration.

The body's judgement, dated the 10 March, states by offering to sell the domain name and by continuing to re-direct people from itunes.co.uk Mr Cohen is abusing his registration.

In the decision: Apple Computer Inc v. CyberBritain Group Ltd, the independent arbitrator concludes: "I find that the Complainant has Rights in a name or mark which is similar to the Domain Name. On the balance of probabilities, I find that the Domain Name, in the hands of the Respondent, is an Abusive Registration on the grounds of its use in a manner taking unfair advantage of, and being unfairly detrimental to, the Rights of the Complainant. I direct that the Domain Name be transferred to the Complainant."

The BBC reports that Moscow prosecutors are not charging AllofMP3.com with criminal copyright infringement. Under Russian law, apparently only counterfeiting of physical media can be a criminal offense. Digital copyright infringement may be copyright infringement, but not criminal. 'Legal okay' for Russian MP3 site: "According to Tass, prosecutors had decided not to pursue with legal action because Russian copyright laws only cover physical media such as CDs or DVDs and not digital files such as MP3s."

Alex Moskalyuk explains in more detail: AllofMP3.com escapes criminal lawsuit, for now

On March 4th prosecutor’s office of Moscow’s Southwestern region refused to charge AllofMP3.com in a criminal lawsuit. What’s interesting is that AllofMP3.com did not win the case due to the compulsory licensing legislated in Russia. The prosecutor’s office affirmed that the Russian music site was distributing copyrighted music from its site, and in many cases did not have a proper license to distribute them. Russian criminal law severely punishes attempts to distribute copyrighted music without proper licensing procured first. However, Russian law is quite specific about distribution of material goods, as the law usually applies to CD and DVD pirating.

Soon, we will get to see how Russian civil courts deal with this...

Beer, Branding and Human rights

The ongoing dispute over the Budweiser trademark is the first trademark case brought into the European Court of Human Rights. Bloomberg reports: Anheuser-Busch Takes `Budweiser' Dispute to Human Rights Court: "Anheuser-Busch is appealing a 2001 decision by Portugal's Supreme Court, which ruled that Budejovicky Budvar NP has the right to use the Budweiser name under a 1986 treaty between the Czech Republic and Portugal. Anheuser on Jan. 11 asked the human rights tribunal to rule on the case, arguing the Portuguese court infringed its ``peaceful enjoyment'' of the trademark.

Brand Channel looks at the relationship between Beer Brands and Homelands: ""When it comes to identifying with a country, after flags, national anthems and national airlines comes beer," says Martin Lindstrom, a brand strategist from Denmark, the home of Carlsberg. "The advantages are very clear. It is what you would call free branding—leveraging a country's brand rather than building your own."

(via IPKat and The Trademark Blog)

The Register reports: French consumer group sues Apple, Sony: "A French consumer group has initiated legal proceedings against Apple and Sony, claiming their online music sites violate European anti-trust legislation.'

McCarthy on Dilution

J. Thomas McCarthy, Dilution of a Trademark, European and United States Law Compared, The Trademark Reporter, International Trademark Association.

This article is a comparison of the laws that govern dilution in Europe and the United States.... While the anti-dilution provisions of Articles 4(4)(a) and 5(2) of the E.U. Directive are “optional,” in fact, every pre-2004 E.U. nation has adopted them in its domestic law. In the United States, since the enactment of the 1996 federal anti-dilution Act, in theory there is a uniform law consistent throughout the nation. The European Directive achieves simplicity by harmonizing statutory dilution law among the European nations. But in the United States, the International Trademark Association (INTA) has opposed the federal preemption of diverse state anti-dilution laws. In the United States there is a confused mélange of some 35 state anti-dilution laws with the federal law superimposed on top.

Footie photo lockout

The BBC reports that UK newspapers may be locked out of Premier League football matches if the league and publishers can not reach a deal on when the newspapers will post photos on the web. Lockout fear over football rights

The newspapers have been renegotiating a deal with the FA Premier League and Football League over access to matches.

The Newspaper Publishers' Association claims DataCo, for the leagues, wants a delay before photos go out on digital outlets, like newspaper websites.

Without a deal, papers fear they may be barred from all 92 grounds by Monday.


In Legal Week, Nicholas Valner discusses the jurisdiction and choice of law issues involved in the Apple-Apple settlement and whether a contract may be made in two places at once: Upsetting the apple cart

In April 2003, Apple Computer launched a new web-site called iTunes. Apple Corps, The Beatles’ company, claimed this was in breach of an agreement made in 1991, and duly started an action in the High Court in England in August 2003. Apple Computer responded by challenging the jurisdiction of the English Court and in October 2003 launching its own case in California for a negative declaration that it was not in breach.

Previously: Apple to settle with Apple? and Apple takes Apple to court. Also, iTunes Takes Europe

In the Social Affairs Unit Weblog, economist Tyler Cower examines Why the music industry is suing you, your neighbour, or your child

Why has the music industry throughout Europe decided to sue hundreds of those sharing music files on the Internet? Tyler Cowen - Professor of Economics at George Mason University and author of Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World's Cultures, What Price Fame?, and In Praise of Commercial Culture - argues here that it is not an attempt to scare off the downloaders, similar suits in the US have not stopped illegal file-sharing. Rather, Prof. Cowen argues, it is 'about spreading the idea that downloading is wrong and illegal... think of the lawsuits as one way to buy space in the newspaper, but without paying advertising rates.'

American Detained Over VoIP in Belarus

In Belarus, an employee of the Soros Foundation Open Society Institute was detained for causing damage to the country's telecommunications providers and for "working as an entrepreneur without registration or permission. Interfax reports: U.S. citizen suspected of causing $100,000 damage in Belarus

U.S. citizen Ilya Mafter, who was detained in Belarus, is believed to have caused about $100,000 in damage to the country's communications providers, sources in the State Security Committee's information center told Interfax on Tuesday.

The damage to the communications providers? Possibly routing around them by using VoIP. Ethan Zuckerman: Arrest over VOIP in Belarus

I find myself wondering whether his alleged fraud of VELCOM (the national cellphone company) was his use of Skype to make phonecalls home, or to his office. Ilya is a Skype fan, and I can imagine how the twisted logic of the Belarusian KGB could turn demonstrating Skype to a Belarusian NGO into "damaging" the national infrastructure, by showing people how to avoid absurd call charges.