Oct 312010
 October 31, 2010  Posted by  Laws, Non-U.S.

Emsie Ferreira reports:

The contentious Protection of Information Bill is heading for a redraft to narrow its scope, but the new version will not see the light this year, MPs said on Friday.

Parliament’s ad hoc committee processing the bill agreed to take as a starting point for a new draft, proposals by State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele to remove two highly-contested clauses.


Cwele last month responded to a national outcry over the draft act by saying he favoured dropping the nebulous notion of “national interest” as cause for classification, as well as a clause allowing for the classification of commercial information.

Read more on IOL.news.co.za

Oct 312010
 October 31, 2010  Posted by  Court, Non-U.S., Online

A German court has said that a teenager who was guilty of posting copyrighted material to a file sharing network must pay €15 in damages per track and not the €300 the rights holders were demanding.

The court said that the basis for a fine should be the amount that reasonable parties would agree as a royalty for the use of the music.

The case is a rare ruling on damages for the uploading of copyrighted content. In US cases rights holders can demand up to $150.000 per song.

Read more on Out-Law.com.

Oct 312010
 October 31, 2010  Posted by  Workplace

Chris Owens of The Associated Press reports on how no expectation of privacy in the workplace is playing out in a professional sports team:

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair ordered the team’s staff to go through the locker room to make sure no players are using banned substances.

USA Today first reported the Texans had staff members remove any products from lockers that are not approved by the NFL. Two of Houston’s players — left tackle Duane Brown and linebacker Brian Cushing — served four-game suspensions for different violations of the league’s policy on banned substances.

McNair said Friday he wanted to take a step to prevent future occurrences. He says the Texans have the right to control players while they’re in the team’s facilities.

“We concluded that one thing we can do is to just go through the locker room and make sure that if anybody is using anything, it’s a product from one of the approved manufacturers,” McNair said. “That’s about all that we can do.”

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

Oct 302010
 October 30, 2010  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Online

Venkat Balasubramani discusses a case in which the identities of everyone who posted in a forum were requested as part of discovery:

Concerned Citizens for Crystal City, et al. v. City of Crystal City, et al., No. ED 94135 (Mo. Ct. App.; Oct. 26, 2010)

As background, the case concerns a group and forum created to discuss a public proposal by the city.  The proposal passed, and the citizens’ group filed suit.  The redevelopment firm (Wings) joined the lawsuit as a defendant and as Venkat explains:

In the course of discovery, Wings sent over a request for production to Ginniver seeking:

a complete copy, in native format, of all information in [Ginniver’s] possession that had been posted on the domain http://www.clearpillar.com; a complete copy, in native format, of all databases in [Ginniver’s] possession related to any forum that [had] appeared on http://www.clearpillar.com, with all copies to include, among other things, the IP addresses related to each post, member names and email addresses, and the text of private messages on the database.

Nothing like a fishing expedition, huh?  You have citizens discussing an issue of public concern, and the defendant wants everyone’s name and information?  Paging the First Amendment to Aisle 4…

If you expected the court to just smack down the request, you expected wrong.  Read more from Venkat on Eric Goldman’s blog and try to wade through the appellate court decision.

Significantly, Venkat writes:

Identification of anonymous posters: Although the court alludes to the standards for when a litigant can identify an online poster, and hints that First Amendment interests are at stake here, it’s unlikely that defendants would satisfy any of the standards for identifying all of the posters. This case involves citizen communications criticizing the government’s activity, and the First Amendment interests are therefore particularly strong. Even if it did not announce the applicable test, it would have been nice for the court to recognize this, and send a message that a fishing expedition seeking to identify all of the posters was inappropriate.

This case looks like a good candidate for intervention by one of the many public interest groups who have fought (and won) battles around online anonymity.