The search for the right legal framework to encourage business models for legal P2P goes on........... and on. It's a frustrating process - two steps forward, one back, but maybe if not 'green shoots' there are are some signs of as yet unrealised hopes.
On the legal front, Lord Carter's 'Digital Britain' report is due out this week and, amongst a lot of other things, will contain the Government's response to the results of BERR's Consulation on P2P file sharing. BERR announced recently that the response to its consultation was inconclusive. BERR said: "None of the options highlighted in the consultation won widespread support. Rather there was a marked polarisation of views between the rights holder community and consumers and the ISPs over what action should be taken."
On the business side, there's still a way to go. paidContent:UK reports that Virgin Media has abandoned its "groundbreaking" discussions with independent service provider Playlouder to pay music labels for songs downloaded illegally by its customers. Apparently, "lack of support" from the majors was the reason.
In the same story, paidContent reports about a radical model for legal P2P - "Isle of Man’s government this week mooted a plan to legalise P2P in return for raising a €1 levy on ISP customers."
Returning to my theme of my last post, business model innovation has to be solution to the P2P condundrum.
What, you may ask, is the link between the challenges of P2P and the the legal notion of 'applicable law'? It all stems from rules on conflicts of laws which deal with the situation where more than one country's laws apply. Think of copyright infringement on the web. The copyright owner is in country A, the website hosting the content is in country B and the downloader is in country C. If you're fluent in Latin, you'll immediately recall the principle of lex loci protectionis which says that regarding infringements of copyright, where there is a conflict of laws, it's the law of the country where the protection is sought. So in the above example, if the rights owner wants to take action against the host, it will be the copyright laws of country B.
The European Union's Regulation known as 'Rome II' came into force on 11 January 2009. It spells out the rules for working out applicable law on non-contractual obligations. It's not just confined to intellectual property. It also covers product liability, unfair and anti-competitive acts, environmental issues, unjust enrichment claims and other issues. The Regulation may not be a 'must read' for the non-lawyers, but if you're dealing with legal claims on the Net, it's essential stuff.
Look out for my next post which will be on the 'Digital Britain' report.
Have a good week,