What am I reading today? 10 Aug 2017

Shelves of books in Stockholm library
What am I reading today?

Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past 2-3 weeks or so:

Intellectual property

US: THE SLANTS trademark application officially approved - and the SCOTUS ruling 
US: Apple owes WARF $506 million for intellectual property it used
Canada: Haliburton officials upset after man trademarks name of county


Olive Cotton Award: Is it a photo? Is it a portrait? Should...
Beyonce Can't Dodge 'Formation' Copyright Lawsuit
Access Copyright v. York University: An Anatomy of a Predictable But Avoidable Loss

Broadband and Internet

AU: NBN's speed woes were a time bomb we all saw coming
EU: Sweden scrambles to tighten data security as scandal claims two ministers
AU: SA lawmakers drafting laws that include requiring suspects to reveal their passwords
US: New Bill Seeks Basic IoT Security Standards
AU: Government log on - Turnbull government considers universal ID
'Anonymous' browsing data can be easily exposed, researchers reveal 


AU: The creepy law proposed by Qld Police - Sunshine Coast Daily and Boing Boing 
*Ed: Let's hope the parliamentary committee catches its breath on this one...


AU: Telco groups at war over 5G spectrum

Law practice

How Far Are Lawyers From Drafting Smart Contracts?

What am I reading today? 15 July 2017

Shelves of books in Stockholm library
What am I reading today?
Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past 6 weeks or so:

Intellectual Property

The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that Access Copyright is entitled to collect royalties from York University for its staff’s and students’ copying of articles and other materials used in “coursepacks” and learning management systems. The University had argued that its copying was fair dealing under the Copyright Act (RSC 1985, c C-42). Commentator Michael Geist offers a scathing review (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/2017/07/ignoring-supreme-court-trial-judge-hands-access-copyright-fair-dealing-victory/) of the decision, saying it ignores the Supreme Court of Canada’s copyright decisions; while commentary from other firms including Bereskin & Parr are more neutral (http://www.bereskinparr.com/Doc/id956). This decision seems ripe for an appeal.

On 26 May 2017, the Full Federal Court found that a trade mark application must be made in the true owner’s name, and a later assignment from an applicant to the true owner cannot correct any defect in ownership. See Pham Global Pty Ltd v Insight Clinical Imaging Pty Ltd (http://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/full/2017/2017fcafc0083). This overturns the previous Australian law position about ownership of a trade mark application. However, the Insight decision means that the ownership requirement for trade mark applications is different to that of registered designs and patents.

Data privacy & policy

After the Guardian reported a darknet trader is illegally selling on-demand Medicare patient details, the Australian government announced a security review into the accessibility of Medicare’s online system. The review will be led by Prof Peter Shergold, with the report due by 30 September 2017.

Continuing the Australian government’s anti-encryption rhetoric, PM Malcolm Turnbull and Senator George Brandis have said that by year-end, the Australian government would introduce draft legislation seeking to force tech companies to decrypt end-to-end encrypted messages in real-time; compell device manufacturers to help authorities break into devices they sell; and give the Australian Federal Police an authority to “remotely monitor computer networks and devices” (this is currently limited to ASIO).

The Age’s Tony Wright comments on a new book from David Dufty, “The Secret Code-Breakers of Central Bureau: How Australia’s signals intelligence network helped win the Pacific War”, about Australia’s WWII signals intelligence and code-breaking operations at the Monterey building in Melbourne – a local version of the UK’s Bletchley Park.

What am I reading today? 2 July 2017

Shelves of books in Stockholm library
What am I reading today?
Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past 6 weeks or so:

Data privacy & policy

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Senator George Brandis are reportedly looking at changing Australian laws (News) to force telecommunications and technology firms to help authorities decrypt suspect messages , including by sanctioning providers who do not comply with requests (Guardian).

Brandis took his message of banning working cryptography (Boing Boing) to the “Five Eyes” meeting in Ottawa this past week, where the delegates agreed to engage with industry on terrorists’ use of encryption (Globe and Mail). 

Google wants to make it easy for law enforcement to access user data overseas (Reuters), just as the [US] Department of Justice threatens to take the Microsoft email warrant fight to the US Supreme Court (Gizmodo).

From 1 July air travelers no longer need to fill out a departure card (Traveller) before leaving Australia. This is a consequence of the Government’s changes to Australia’s international airports (SMH). 


The Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Act 2017 to implement Australia’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty (WIPO) received royal assent on 22 June 2017. Among other changes, this will create a new “fair dealing” exception to allow other people to help people living with disabilities by creating and sharing accessible versions of books and other materials in braille, large print or DAISY audio formats. When I last checked in mid-June, 28 countries had ratified the Marrakesh Treaty.

WikiMedia continues to campaign to bring fair use to Australian copyright law (WikiMedia).

In May, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed (Lexum) to hear an appeal of a case that could alter Canada’s interprovincial trade laws (Globe). In 2012 a New Brunswick man, Gérard Comeau, visited neighbouring Quebec and bought 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor. On his return to New Brunswick, the RCMP fined him almost C$300 for exceeding the import limit on beer and liquor from another province. He fought the fine, and both the trial court and NB Court of Appeal favoured  Mr. Comeau’s arguments that the Constitution Act 1867 had mandated free trade among the Canadian provinces. The tentative hearing date is 7 December 2017 (Lexum).


The Department of Communications has recently consulted on the proposed civil penalty regime for non-consensual sharing of intimate images (DoC). Submissions closed on 30 June.

This week’s Petya/GoldenEye ransomware attack started in the Ukraine, and also hit Australian businesses including Cadbury (ABC). And Victoria Police now say that WannaCry may have disabled all Victorian speed cameras (iTn) after the contract operator’s maintenance tech connected an infected USB key to a computer on the camera network. The original report was that 55 cameras had been infected. 

A Sydney man had an Opal card implanted into hand (ABC) to paying for public transport easier. How’s that for tap-and-go.

Internet, Broadband and Telecommunications

Australia’s “Netflix” tax – extending the 10% GST to digital content such as streaming, online video, games, apps and e-books – went into effect this week. In addition, Netflix decided to lift some of its prices also by 10%, so that the top-end Netflix package now costs Aussie consumers $17.99 including GST (SMH).

In mid-May 2017, the EU Commission fined Facebook €110 million for providing misleading information during the Commission’s 2014 merger regulation investigation into the WhatsApp takeover (Europa). Then in June, the EU fined  Google a record €2.42 billion (BBC) for manipulating search results to promote its online shopping service.
Back in Oz, the Department of Communications has started public consultation on telecommunications carrier powers and immunities (DoC) http://www.minister.communications.gov.au/mitch_fifield/news/public_consultation_on_telecommunications_carrier_powers_and_immunities

What am I reading today? 25 April 2017

Shelves of books in Stockholm library
What am I reading today?

Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past week or so:

Update on the “Amazon.com Tax” and “Netflix Tax” changes to Australian GST

Further to my previous article, on 16 February 2017 the Commonwealth Government introduced a bill to Parliament that seeks to change the law to extend the Australian GST to so-called “low value” imports (under $1,000) of physical goods, from 1 July 20172018*.

The first Senate hearings into the Bill were held on 21 April. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Senate has heard from vendors and platforms such as eBay, Alibaba and Amazon, and even the transportation & logistics companies, that none

of whom want the administrative burden (cost and complexity) of having to determine whether and how much GST they need to collect on behalf of overseas retailers.

The “vendor registration model” for low-value goods is in line with the one for the Government’s proposed ‘Netflix Tax’. That would require offshore vendors to register and account for GST on the supply of things other than goods and real property to Australian consumers, also from 1 July 2017.

Meanwhile, the ATO will not rule out using its own website blocking powers to enforce GST collection by preventing Australian customers from visiting those retailers or platforms. Unless this is resolved, it looks as though [as usual?] the Australian consumer will suffer.

* On 26 June 2017, Parliament passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Act 2017 (Cth) to remove the “low value goods exemption” (under Australia’s GST legislation) on goods imported into Australia, with effect from 1 July 2018. This note was updated 16 August 2017 to reflect this change.

Broadband and Internet

Net neutrality has taken a big step forward in Canada, with the CRTC ruling against Videotron’s zero-rated music streaming service, and releasing a 4-point code for evaluating whether a service is net-neutral. Michael Geist and Ars Technica each have articles discussing the implications of the CRTC decision.


On the privacy and online tracking front, US consumers are suing Bose for allegedly tracking and selling the listening habits of its headphone users.

Similarly, the newsletter unsubscribe service Unroll.me is selling its users’ information. In November 2014, market research company Slice Intelligence acquired Unroll.me. That purchase seems to have gone unnoticed by most users until this week, after the NY Times revealed that Slice had analysed Lyft receipt data in the inboxes of Unroll.me users, and on-sold the aggregate data to Lyft’s competitor, Uber.

What am I reading today? 14 April 2017

Shelves of books in Stockholm library
What am I reading today?

Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past week or so:

Internet & Technology

The ACCC is taking Apple to court, alleging Apple mislead Australian consumers
An Italian court issued a nationwide Uber ban
Cloud viruses in the Invisible Republic

Telecommunications & Broadband

On 13 April 2017, the grace period closed for Australian Internet service providers and telecoms carriers to comply with the mandatory data retention scheme. They are required to retain prescribed non-content metadata for 2 years – or for “subscriber information”, for 2 years after the subscriber’s account is closed.

On a related note, the A-G’s Dept has backed down on its late-2016 proposal to allow civil litigants to access metadata collected by the data retention scheme. The report to Parliament concluded there is not enough support for expanding these regulations. It’s worth noting that litigants are (with a court order) still able to access other metadata which ISPs retain, other than solely to comply with the scheme.

Intellectual Property

Huawei phones face a possible ban after UK High Court decision
Accor gets its trade marks back from a squatter

What am I reading today? 2 April 2017

Shelves of books in Stockholm library
What am I reading today?

Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past week or so:

Internet & Technology, Internet of Things

This Smart Doorbell Was Accidentally Sending Data To China, Until People Started Freaking Out

Intellectual Property

Piracy crackdown: Village Roadshow launches legal action to block 41 websites


Ontario student slapped with $25K fine for snooping on personal health info
UK public faces mass invasion of privacy as big data and surveillance merge