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iiNet's copyright victory in round one cost $5.7 million

In February 2010 there have been two significant copyright decisions. The first is Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Limited (No. 3) [2010] FCA 24. This first instance Federal Court of Australia decision went against the copyright claimants, 34 companies involved largely in film production funding and distribution.

In November 2008 they sued iiNet Ltd which claims the third largest number of clients for ISP services after Telstra and Optus. This followed a five month investigation by Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft ("AFACT") which was the lead representative for the 34 applicants. The round one hearing ran for 20 days.

At this time no appeal has been filed, but one is likely. That will be round two. [Update 25 Feb: An appeal has now been filed.]

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Electronic publishing in 2010, same same but different

In 1994 I attended a summit on electronic publishing and wrote the article below. Re-reading it I searched for whether the issues for publishers have changed.

Today the buzz is about mobile, cloud and tablet technologies. But I concluded that from a practical and legal perspective, remarkably little has changed. The short proof is the checklist at the end of the article. Read it first.

"My words fly up but my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go." Claudius' famous lament was echoed in numerous comments made during the Electronic Publishing Summit held in Sydney on 5 September 1994. It was jointly convened by the Australian Book Publishers Association [Ed - now Australian Publishers Association] and the CSIRO with the aim of reaching consensus as to recommendations. Instead many questions flew up, few were answered definitively.

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Phone directories appeal to avoid copyright wipeout

News Corp sources indicate that Telstra and Sensis have obtained leave to appeal Justice Gordon's judgment to the full bench of the Federal Court. No comment appears so far from the websites of Telstra or the About Us section of Sensis.

The full court judgment may arrive in 2010, or later, there are many variables in this case.

Whatever the outcome is in this case there are practical, serious and urgent priorities for owners of directories and databases who claim copyright.

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Telstra loses as copyright blowback continues

Yet another Australian copyright decision, this one handed down on 10 February, has gone against the pro-copyright owner trend of recent decades.

Telstra and Sensis have lost in the Federal Court of Australia before Justice Michelle Gordon in seeking to protect claimed copyright in White Pages and Yellow Pages.

The defendants were Phone Directories Company Pty Ltd, its directors and others. The company has been competing against Telstra/Sensis since the mid-1990s. Cleverly, at least initially the business of Phone Directories Company Pty Ltd produced directories for regional areas, places where Telstra was not active or not greatly active.

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How to make people and their products celebrities

How does puffery about Sarah Palin become valuable airspace? How are Palin and Poh Ling Yeow linked by their desire for media presence?

Consider what process may have occurred that caused Australians to collectively recognise “Po” as a reference to a TV chef and not a Teletubbie, and the potential commercial value of that shift.

We have often written about the use of law to make and keep products and people celebrities. It’s the story of how to identify, build and own a trend.

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Working for free is bad for business

You have to give to get. This is a great principle to follow when preparing a proposal for a client or negotiating a deal. But there should be limits on how much is given free-of-charge. The interesting point is how and why this is so.

Service providers such as IT developers and consultants are selling intangible services. Often they have to give quite a lot free-of-charge before being paid back or winning a legally binding contract.

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Training courseware intellectual property protection

To earn and secure revenues from intellectual property licensing, providers of training or training courseware are well advised to apply available legal solutions with rigour.

This is easily done, it is neither expensive nor complex. However, implementation of the solutions requires specialist knowledge that is not commonplace.

Because of that reality it is commonplace for training organisations to poorly protect their intellectual property.

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Murdoch on internet advertising, pay walls and competition

Mr Rupert Murdoch was interviewed over 37 minutes this week by David Spears of SkyNews on his views on a broad range of subjects. We'll focus here on his perception of the challenge from Google and other search engines for the traditional core of News Corp's power, its newspapers and their advertising-supported business model.

You can watch the video here, and go on to read our take on it.

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Financial planners and professional services marketing

I answered a Linkedin question today about the lack of marketing use of social media by financial planners.

The question and the answer are relevant to other professionals. Our insights emerge from dealings with public relations firms, financial planners, and from establishing this Lightbulb lawyers blog and  maintaining it since mid-2006. We've also learned from Michael Perkins, a lawyer and author who works closely with financial planners.

Here's the question as posed by Des Walsh, a collaborator with our firm and one of Australia's foremost social media coaches. He is a pioneer in the field in Australia and inspired the establishment of Lightbulb.

"What do you believe are the key obstacles or disincentives for financial planners/advisors for incorporating social media in their marketing strategy? Preparing a short (50 min) workshop style presentation for a group of financial planners in Australia."

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Entertainment law contract cancer

Just as concrete cancer plays havoc with structures, so does what I'll call "contract cancer".

In the early hours of last night I finalised email advice for an entertainment industry client. My advice was on a licence agreement for my client's sound recordings. The contract was prepared by a multinational company seeking to distribute my client's content.

The contract was littered with little signs of weaknesses. These were gaps or errors in - grammar, clause numbering,  and the choice of words. Two clauses were repeated, each time with different wording.

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Business law legal risk management framework

In the thick of contract negotiations the process required to get to end game can be messy, convoluted and frustrating.

The negotiation positions of managers and lawyers must be considered. Their required new clauses put in, old clauses taken out or changed. Track changes and comments in Word can help, sometimes.

It helps even more to have a big picture perspective of the process. This article sets out our business law framework for legal risk management.

The topic is not taught in law school. It's taught in very rare legal seminars. It's what you pay a lawyer to do, though it can be set out as we've done here.

On completing IT contract negotiations for a client this week, I was reminded of our framework of six approaches as set out below.

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100 tweets by Sydney IP & IT lawyer

One hundred tweets is a personal milestone. In 54 Twitter lawyer grooves from noricd I indicated I found my Twitter mojo. I kept dancing and have now arrived at 100. What's my style and why am I writing?

The tweets I've personally valued the most are Lightbulb-style microblogging aphorisms. For these I've found my muse from a successful, challenging or frustrating day of work.

Those tweets almost write themselves. With the 140 character limit for each tweet I've found it easier being in combination a researcher, writer, editor, proof reader and publisher. Clarity hopefully follows from brevity.

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100 tweets by Sydney IP & IT lawyer

One hundred tweets is a personal milestone. In 54 Twitter lawyer grooves from noricd I indicated I found my Twitter mojo. I kept dancing and have now arrived at 100. What's my style and why am I writing?

The tweets I've personally valued the most are Lightbulb-style microblogging aphorisms. For these I've found my muse from a successful, challenging or frustrating day of work.

Those tweets almost write themselves. With the 140 character limit for each tweet I've found it easier being in combination a researcher, writer, editor, proof reader and publisher. Clarity hopefully follows from brevity.

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Software patents and IP risk management

For software deverlopers, evidence arrived this week that the long term shift continues for more legal protection using patent law as well as copyright law.

World-wide, for software protection, there is more and more reliance on patent law. Lightbulb has covered this trend in many articles (see the further reading list).

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Innovation reality in UK, US & Australia

UK SMEs are in a similar boat in many respects to those in Australia as regards difficulties with innovation. Think about unhelpful tax policies, misguided investment of public funds in research at universities, and the low levels of government attention to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).

These are key messages I read into a recent press release by the SME Innovation Alliance ("SMEIA"), a new UK business organisation formed in September 2009.

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