December 28, 2009

The Pirate Bay Case - Italian Supreme Court's Ruling (New Safe Harbor Created?)

Do you remember the Pirate Bay case (TPB)?  The website was subject to a temporary restraining order (TRO) in relation to a criminal copyright proceeding pending before the Court of Bergamo.  The order was successfully challenged by defendant TPB.  Following, the prosecutor brought the case before the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation seeking reversal.  The Supreme Court shared the prosecutor's position, and vacated the ruling remitting to the lower Court.

The issue with the TRO was mainly concerning the possibility to restrain a website by ordering the ISP not to connect to such identified URL and respective sub-pages.  Although such issue of practical and effective restriction of the access to a website is very interesting, I find that another notable part of the ruling concerns the "fumus commissi delicti", AKA the reasonable probability of success on the merits.

The Court anticipated TPB's liability and meanwhile mentioned a couple of interesting things about the standard for contributory infringement and (perhaps?) a new safe harbor.

The Court acknowledged that the primary infringement was undoubtedly conducted by the website-users for being them the authors of the uploading.  Yet, TPB is liable because it contributed to the relevant conduct by indexing the torrent files, and by providing a search engine to access such files.  Hence, the threshold for contributory infringement lays with these additional activities which constitute sufficient basis to charge TBD as co-conspirator in the infringing conduct ("concorso nel reato").

But the very interesting is that, according to the Court, TPB would be innocent if its conduct was "completely agnostic" (i.e. just unaware...) of the content of the files uploaded by users.  Hence, this decision adopts a very severe notion of control with respect to the infringing conduct, being mere knowledge sufficient.

The Court goes forward and surprisingly states that such agnostic situation is present in the social networking sites because in such SNS the indexing and listing of files is performed at a peripheral level, by users.  Thus, only the users (uploading files) may be found liable.  And this is pretty much where the decision doesn't make sense I get lost...

Anyway, few things seem clear enough:  1) providing a file-sharing tool is O.K.  as long as the files are not indexed and/or searchable (so... Google beware!);  2) if torrents, links or other content are "agnostically" stored is still O.K., 3) if you share copyrighted material on a social network you may end up being the only one liable.

Here below in the image is the relevant part of the ruling... in Italian.

December 22, 2009

Compare New and Old Privacy Policy

It isn't always easy to compare the latest version of a on-line document with the prior... especially when the old document is promptly removed for legal reasons. If you need a Delta-View (a redline) combined with a Feedburner to catch up with all TOS and Privacy Policy modifications by major Internet companies, well, is a great tool.
Here, for example, it is the new paragraph added by Facebook in the new Privacy Policy:
"Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo, list of friends and pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered publicly available to everyone, including Facebook-enhanced applications, and therefore do not have privacy settings. You can, however, limit the ability of others to find this information through search using your search privacy settings."

December 17, 2009

Mediaset Wins Injunction Vs. Youtube (UPDATED)

This post is in Italian... Sorry :)

Leggo il post di Matteo Flora, consulente di Mediaset, che diffonde il comunicato della vittoria di Mediaset contro Youtube nel contenzioso riguardante la rimozione di contenuti Mediaset su Youtube.

Queste alcune mie considerazioni "a caldo", cosi' come postate in commento al blog di Matteo:

Davvero non capisco cosa ci sia di "storico" nel fare rimuovere da Youtube contenuti gia' accertati "illeciti".  E non ci voleva certo il giudice ad accertare che "il Grande Fratello" sia un prodotto proprietario.  Quanto alla responsabilita' (per "contributory/secondary infringment" forse, vista la qualifica di editore) di Youtube, la decisione ristabilisce una nozione di controllo che riporta la giurispurdenza italiana ai tempi di Napster.
Comunque il dispositivo della decisione e' ASSOLUTAMENTE OVVIO
[-- l'immediata rimozione di immagini fisse o video relative al "Grande Fratello" decima edizione;
-- di terminare immediatamente la violazione dei diritti connessi al GF;  
-- il respingimento delle richieste di entrambe le parti.]
Infatti, pittosto che una costosa lite dinanzi all'AGO Mediaset avrebbe, altrattanto efficaciemente, potuto invocare  una rimozione (Take Down) con una DMCA Take Down Notice (regime interamente recepito dai TOS di Youtube). E avrebbe probabilmente potuto trovare un accordo con Youtube sulle modalita’ per l’identificazione dei contenuti ritenuti infringing. Del resto fanno cosi’ content provider della rinomanza di Lucas Film, Universal Studios, CBS, etc. etc. Ancora, molti di questi content provider sono riusciti a concludere con Youtube accordi di rev-sharing relativi agli ads collocati nelle pagine con contenuti proprietari oltre ad includere nei video meccanismi di promozione diretta dei propri contenuti. La scarsa conoscenza del mezzo e la ricerca di una sentenza di grande risonanza mediatica hanno invece portato a questa strategia (processuale e di business) poco lungimirante e difficilmente remunerativa, IMHO. Sono in attesa di vedere come nel merito Mediaset quantifichera’ i danni… considerando che potrebbe vedersi eccepire, in compensazione, le addizionali revenues generate dalla maggior diffusione dei propri contenuti. Noto a margine che in Italia non esistono neppure i treble damages da applicare al willful infringement… Per cui: se l’effetto positivo e’ superiore alla effettiva diminuzione degli ascolti o del valore dell’opera protetta: niente danno e la sanzione dovra’ essere solo ingiuntiva…. Cioe’ la stessa cosa che si sarebbe potuta ottenere in via non contenziosa compilando un modulo di poche righe.  Ma, come si dice... À la guerre comme à la guerre!
UPDATE Preciso che non si tratta di compensazione in senso tecnico, come domanda o eccezione riconvenzionale (nel qual caso sarebbe necessario un credito). Ma si tratta di un effetto di limitazione/eliminazione del danno (compensa in senso economico), da valutarsi ai sensi del 1223 e ai sensi del 1226 c.c.. In mancanza di “conseguenze economiche negative” Mediaset ha diritto solo alla tutela ingiuntiva e i danni morali... Visto che nel nostro ordinamento non esistono danni punitivi. 

December 14, 2009

EU Ratifies WIPO Internet Treaties

The EU formally ratified the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (together known as the "Internet Treatisies").  In practice, this is not a revolution for the applicable regulation since: 1) many EU member States were already and directly parties to these treaties; 2) the content of the WIPO Internet Treaties was mostly included in the Directive 2001/29/EC (Copyright Directive - implemented by all the 27 EU members).

However, this ratification has a symbolic meaning because it is the first time that the EU holds the status of contracting party in the field of copyright.  This surely represents a strong endorsement of the WIPO's role in reinforcing international copyright protection and the rights of performers and phonogram producers on the Internet and other digital networks.

December 13, 2009

Berlusconi's Smile Crashed - UPDATED

I woke up this morning (9 hours later than people in Italy) and I see this picture.

The person who punched Berlusconi (actually hit him with a small statue of the Milan's Duomo), Mr. Massimo Tartaglia, has been under psychological treatment for more than 10 years.  Hence, I'd rather not talk about any political significance of such violent action.

Also, I woke up this morning and I read this article on the New York Times  about how political opinions displayed on social networks are monitored by the CIA and the Department of Defense.
Here is the remainder of my considerations:
  •  On Facebook, one hour after the punch, a group in support of Massimo Tartaglia was created and over 19,000 22,000 (increased 3,000 by the time I posted this blog) people joined in the next 3 hours.  Are there so many people who hate Berlusconi?  Apparently yes... 
  • On Twitter (#Berlusconi) the event is receiving huge global coverage at a pace of about 50 twits every minute throughout the last 3 hours.  Comments are not flattering for Berlusconi who is not very loved even abroad.
  • All these people who participated in sharing or commenting the news about Berlusconi are disclosing very sensitive data about their political opinions.  Are they aware of the risk of being recorded or profiled?  I'd go on out a limb and say no...
  • Last but not least --security services where art thou?  Isn't it unbelievable that anybody could plant a jab in the face of the Italian prime minister?
UPDATE:  The group in support of Tartaglia was deleted.  Facebook groups about Berlusconi are monitored by the Government.  Fake groups in support of Berlusconi were created by changing the title of big existing groups (some created for charity).  The situation has never been so bad for freedom of speech in Italy...  not in the last 61 years.

December 11, 2009

Possible Conversation With My Brother

Facebook Publishing Settings

Facebook keeps asking me if I intend to change my privacy settings or stick with the old ones.  Well, I tried to choose the latter but it looks like my decision was not convincing for Facebook... In fact, when today it prompted me again with the same question (and I replied in the same way) I found that my "old" settings were not the old ones whatsoever.  So, I patiently had to go back, review and re-uncheck everything... because, in case you had any doubts, the default settings are such that you share everything.
So, why don't they just come clean and start asking whether you want to manage your publishing settings?

December 10, 2009

".EU" TLD in 23 Language Characters

Now we can register a domain name with all kind of Cyrillic or Greek characters, such as "Удача.eu"(*) or "Καλήτύχη.eu"(*).  This is good news!

I frankly think it is a very good marketing idea to spread ".eu" TLD names locally.  This solution will also benefit of all the proud users of á, â, é, ê í, î, ó, ø, ö,  ø, ô, ú, ü, etc.  It is a good thing... Perhaps, not really a game changing feature, but it will help many people to use the web in their own language.
However, I doubt that such use of the ".eu" TLD will also help the global audience to reach these websites.
One issue is as obvious as important: keyboards.  Not everybody will be able to use the international characters unless clearly displayed on a keyboard.
I suppose that Internet browsers will have to start working pretty soon at some version of an integrated virtual keyboard, possibly with translation features.  It's not a bad idea to drop a request to Mozilla...

(*) Both domain names mean "Good Luck."
Please do not squat this URLs :)

December 9, 2009

Privacy Means User's Education

A couple of years ago Sophos made an interesting research showing that 41% of Facebook users were happy to disclose information to strangers.

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, commenting the new privacy settings on Facebook, argues (among the other things) that despite the new settings allow improved privacy it is not at all easy to understand the best protective configuration.

Again, the problem ends up being that users often aren't aware of what they need to do to protect their privacy.  Probably because not everybody is entirely aware of the risks of data mishandling or identity theft.

Creative Commons Meet in Rome...

And this time I am gonna make it!

Facebook Offers to Settle Privacy Class Action

Yesterday I received an interesting message from Facebook (not my friends on Facebook...):
Facebook is sending you this notice of a proposed class action settlement that may affect your legal rights as a Facebook member who may have used the Beacon program.  [...]
Under the proposed settlement, Facebook will terminate the Beacon program.  In addition, Facebook will provide $9.5 million to establish an independent non-profit foundation that will identify and fund projects and initiatives that promote the cause of online privacy, safety, and security. [...]
This was already on the media some weeks ago.  Now, you can also read all the details and documents regarding this case  HERE.  Facebook admitted no liability for the Beacon case.  It is very generous that Facebook offered to pay $9.5 to establish a non-profit...

December 8, 2009

New Template!

I've just uploaded this new template for the blog... much nicer, I think.

March 20, 2009

SNS Traffic and Privacy in UK

I'd like just to feature this piece of news I found on Cnet.  Apparently keeping users' communication data for one year is not enough.  In future, be mindful of what you send and share with your British contacts on Facebook...  it might be relevant in a very distant future, still TBD.

March 4, 2009

Sex sells... it sells better if viral

I was on Youtube watching some random news about Berlusconi and Geddhafi playing best friends and at the end of the video I got prompted with a quite sticky advertisement by TripAdvisor.  The idea is cool for at least three reasons. 1) Sex sells.  2) The message is funny and ironic.  3) Everybody got a bad experience in some crappy hotel.
I think this is a good example of a viral marketing campaign.  In fact, the advertisement exactly captures the reasons why everybody will be likely to share this video with his friends, coworkers, etc....
The subject matter of the video (dirty stories in hotel rooms) is universal.  It catches everybody's curiosity.  Needless to say, the outfit of the actress is an essential component of the message itself.
The tone of the advertising is clever and ironic.  Just after 10 seconds you'll find out that "dirty" is used in its literal meaning, out of any metaphor and regardless of the nuances suggested by the dramatic look of the actress.
And eventually, the punch line/call to action:  check the list and send us your experience about dirty hotels.  Well, I am sure that anybody who recently had a bad experience will be happy to be vocal about his complaints.
Therefore, if many people are following the suggestion, this collection of complaints is more than entertaining: it is useful information.
Perhaps, this is a good example of conversational marketing. I find this is gonna be an interesting evolution of the traditional viral campaigns.  I believe that the main feature of this marketing strategy is to get the users to contribute directly to the message, acting as a "collective" testimonial.  I am sure we will have to speak again about conversational marketing...

March 2, 2009

TOS, in Beta

These last few weeks have been intense.  Among the others, I've been crafting the Terms Of Use and the Privacy Policies of  Of course I started looking at other websites' TOS and PP, as a I needed a good comparable. Not so much to use the actual language (which BTW is not copyrightable, as legal language...) but mostly to understand about best practices and market trends... Of course, I chose the best moment to take over this task - the following day I finished my first draft, Facebook took down its TOS... Now they say it is because FB is a democratic SNS.  I suppose it is sort of a revolution -- when did people start actually reading the TOS?

Anyway, I am preparing a second draft... and I start thinking that I will never be actually ready with a final, solid, definitive version of the TOS.  Both the features of the websites and the users' interaction will be constantly changing, and envisioning a thorough  regulatory framework is not easy.
Sometime I wish it would be possible to have legal conditions in BETA... which is basically what the following language is meant to be: "We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change, modify, add, or delete portions of these Terms of Use at any time without further notice, provided that the Company will post the changes to these Terms of Use on this page and will indicate at the top of this page the date these terms were last revised. Your continued use of the Site after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms of Use."