Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ILAWS launch, October 17 2007

The official press release!!

If anyone reading is in the area, or fancies coming out to quaint ol Hants do register as described below - or email me if you'd like a pesonalised invite :) There will be free drink!

Investigating the internet’s impact on business

The role of the internet in today's business world and the creation of new business models, in particular the impact of websites such as Facebook, are explored at the launch of the
University of Southampton’s Institute for Law and the Web at Southampton (ILAWS) Annual Lecture.

Professor Chris Reed, Chair of Electronic Commerce Law at Queen Mary College London, will give the inaugural lecture ‘Doing business online—how to avoid the legal pitfalls’ at the Turner Sims Concert Hall on Wednesday 17 October at 6pm.

The lecture marks the start of innovative new partnership between the University and Thomas Eggar LLP, a leading law firm in the South.

The School of Law at the University of Southampton founded ILAWS in 2006 to explore the legal issues and opportunities associated with the internet, the web and digital technology.

ILAWS is a unique interdisciplinary research centre that combines legal expertise in key areas such as information technology law, e-commerce, IT law and public policy, and intellectual property law. The Institute looks at the crucial current issues for commerce and government, alongside cutting-edge ‘future-gazing’ to discover what the legal issues of the future will be.


To register your place at this free event, please visit or


For further information on the work of ILAWS please visit:

Chieftain of the Pudding race

Via Thomas Otter

The strangest business model yet - get telephone calls for free if people can listen in and append ads.

"There's a new Skype competitor, dubbed ThePudding, on the Web. And ThePudding is completely free*. All you have to do is agree to let Pudding Media listen in on your calls. To compensate users for the breach of privacy, the company claims, "ThePudding uses breakthrough technology that makes your conversations fun and interesting." In other words, anyone using ThePudding will be served contextual ads based upon topics overheard in your conversation! "

Both Thomas and Pangloss agree that it may be legal, but wow, it's just damn weird. In some ways, it's just Gmail for phones - people already seem moderately happy with a model of free email storage in return for content of emials being scanned and ads appended.
But telephone conversations are so much more personal and intimate that, well, Pangloss would not sign up.

We seem to be approaching the furthest limits of the "it's ok if consent given" privacy model here - a model which already seems in the web 2.0 context to be entirely broken.

Monday, September 24, 2007

GikII 2 ppts: I'm in your legal system eating your brain

The GikII 2 presentation powerpoints are now all up and available and there is some fabulous stuff there.

It would be impossible and invidious for the chair to pick the best paper, but it is worth mentioning what was surely the best powerpoint - namely Daithi Mac Sithigh, Trinity College Dublin: “I’m in ur tube blocking ur internets: The Politics, Perception and Parody of Network Neutrality Legislation” which invents a whole new genre of "LawL Cats" (c. L Edwards, 2007) and manages to do an amazing job of explaining the magnificently difficult topic of Net Neutrality in Europe using cat macros.

Line of the day : "I baked you a constitution, but I ated it".

Jordan Hatcher's exegesis on “Drawing in Permanent Ink: A Look at Copyright Law and Tattoos”, has already been picked up by Boing-Boing .

I'd also recommend looking for sheer novelty and unexploredness around

- my colleague Caroline Wilson of Southampton's future gaze into 5-sense virtual worlds and how trademark law might deal with protecting smells, tastes and feelings;“Trade mark Law in an online future – coming to its senses?

- Thomas Otter's thoughtful consideration of how in the rush to Web 2.0 the issues of accessibility are. as usual , being left way behind - “Web 2.0 and Accessibility

- and Judith Rauhofer of UCLAN's fascinating linking of the risk-averse society of late modernity we now live in and the dangerous calculus that is emerging between security,

privacy and risk ; UCLAN, "Privacy is dead – get over it: Art. 8 and the dream of a risk-free society" .

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dawkins v You Tube and the World

More trouble with You Tube and the DMCA.

Let's see if we can get this one straight.

Dawkinsites ("Rational Response Squad") post videos anti-creationism on You Tube.

Creationists get said Videos taken down by claiming NTD - that said vids contained their copyright material.

Dawkinsites plead fair use to no avail.

You Tube pull Dawkinsites YT account for making repeated complaints (says Wired).

Wow, I'm glad I'm not YT's Press agents ..

This is a good example though of why You Tube's much awaited Claim Your Copyright technology will NOT solve all problems relating to copyright and NTD - specificially where fair use, fair comment, freedom of expression etc are involced.

Whither the public domain and critical journalism in a world of fully water marked and automated copyright-material takedown?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Web 3,0 arise

Via Rowena Rodrigues' e-identity blog - a very interesting piece bringing together some thoughts on web 2.0, the semantic Web , social software (not just social networking software) and a possible new approach for defining web 3.0 (or web thingy as Chris Reed has now famously christened it).

"For those of you who don't like terms like Web 2.0, and Web 3.0, I also want to mention that I agree --- we all want to avoid a rapid series of such labels or an arms-race of companies claiming to be > x.0. So I have a practical proposal: Let's use these terms to index decades since the Web began. This is objective -- we can all agree on when decades begin and end, and if we look at history each decade is characterized by various trends. I think this is reasonable proposal and actually useful (and also avoids endless new x.0's being announced every year). Web 1.0 was therefore the first decade of the Web: 1990 - 2000. Web 2.0 is the second decade, 2000 - 2010. Web 3.0 is the coming third decade, 2010 - 2020 and so on. Each of these decades is (or will be) characterized by particular technology movements, themes and trends."

A Manifesto for Inertia in a Web 2.0 World

After three days of running conferences, firstly the SCL/Herbert Smith sponsored "Law 2.0" event, and then the glorious GikII, I am currently too braindead to do much other than stare into space, vaguely respond to my stacked up email, and make virtual glub glub goldfish noises (coming soon, no doubt, to a Facebook app near you.)

Many thanks to all involved in speaking, participating, watching ,asking questions and administering ; you were all magnificent. More thoughts may follow.

In the meantime however, I have been deputised by the ever-wonderful Chris Reed of Queen Mary to publish the below on his behalf, as he has no blawg of his own. (During the course of a discussion on Tuesday, Chris opined that he does not blog, not as any normal person might have expected, because he is too busy, but because he thinks he can influence policy better by fully formed argument in articles and books, than by hasty scribbles on a blog. Probably right. I personally blog as I said, both to organise the legal information deluge to my own advantage (instant tagging, summary and first critical thoughts, to be come back to later) - and because it's a great way to get in touch with interesting people, have fun, and incidentally build a reputation :)

Take it away, Chris.


To: All those concerned with the regulation of Web 2.0 who know enough
to know that they know nothing.

1. When, as they will, politicians take up the cry of commentators that "This is awful. Something must be done!" we must resist them to our last breath. Laws about the internet made this way have consistently failed to achieve their aims and produced unintended, unfavourable consequences. It always ends in tears.

2. For the time being we must preserve the liberties of online intermediaries so that Web 2.0 can continue to evolve. One day we will understand what responsibilities they can fairly be asked to shoulder. Meanwhile we must muddle along, extending and adapting our current laws to new problems as best we can. If something really must be done, we should question and question again until satisfied that it will not do more harm than good.

3. So far as we are able, we must divert lawmakers into fixing problems that we at least vaguely understand. The most pressing of these are online privacy and intellectual property rights in the new Web 2.0 creations. Fortunately both these require years of international negotiation, which will give us time to identify the best solutions.

We owe it to the future to prevent the mistakes of the past. Aux armes

Comments, questions? :-)

EDIT: Rowena Rodrigues has created a neat back-of-a-credit-card version of Reed's Rules here.





Ps other comments on legal blogging from the participants of the SCL Law 2.0 blogging debate :

- "Just say no."
- "Choose life."
- "I can't believe how obsessed you guys are with your Technorati ratings. I don't even know what mine is." - me
- "..Oh, you're about, maybe, no 40..?" (Technollama)
- "Since I started blogging my sex life has ended". (Anon , but see above.)
- "I don't know what you guys are complaining about, I got laid by blogging!" (GeekLawyer - naturellement).

Don't let this put you off , guys and gals..!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Facebook and privacy returns

Facebook are opening up their site to being Google-searchable. Hark! I hear a million privacy activists screaming.

But wait - they're actually doing it RIGHT.

a. They're only allowing name and profile pictures to appear in search results - not all the rest which tends to include highly personal material.

b. everyone appears to be getting prominent notice IN ADVANCE that they can opt out of their info being released onto Google

c. most impressively, if like me (and I imagine rather rarely) you'd already opted to "hide" on facebook, ie, not be searchable by name in their listing, you are automatically opted out of the Google release.

This appeared at the top of my FB profile this morning:

"Facebook now enables anyone to search for Facebook users who have public search listings from our Welcome page. In a few weeks we will allow users to make these public search listings visible to search engines like Google. Public Search Listings only include names and profile pictures.

Because you have restricted your search privacy settings your public search listing will not be shown. If you want friends who are not yet on Facebook to be able to search for you by name, you can change your settings on the Search Privacy page.

No privacy rules are changing; if you do choose to make this public search listing available, anyone who discovers your public search listing must sign up and login to contact you via Facebook. "

This strikes me as for once a good example of how privacy on line in web 2.0 ought to be handled - congrats to FB.

You could argue that a site like FB should not open itself to Google at all (in the interests of default privacy, etc etc) but the fact is that sites like are already begining to scrape social networking sites like FB and make the data they contain searchable with no user opt-out or notice, and dubious supervision - so this at least pre-empts such attention, and gives the user some control.

It's also interesting that this is a case of the market dovetailing with privacy-enhancing code. FB WANT you to sign up for FB and go to their site to read that highly personal stuff - not read it on Google away from their adverts and apps (or on

LiveJournal, by comparison, an open source blogging site normally regarded as fairly privacy conscious, don't care (much) about ads (they make money from paid subs and are run by volunteers), so they also don't stop you allowing spiders to grab your whole blog. User choice prevails and as we all know by now, user choice when the default is no privacy, usually means disclosure by inertia. (You can opt out of spiders on LJ too, of course - but the option is distinctly not that obvious.)