Archive for September, 2007

The Rick Rubin Article

Many people have pointed to the NY Times article on Rick Rubin on the weekend – it is well worth a read, particularly the comments on the effect of the Sony rootkit debacle on established artists like Neil Diamond.

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September 5, 2007 Comments are Disabled News

B.C. Supreme Court Dismisses One Crookes Libel Suit

The British Columbia Supreme Court today dismissed with costs one of the Crookes libel lawsuits.  The suit against Yahoo!, MySpace and a group of individual defendants, which centred on postings on a Yahoo Groups forum, was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.  Yahoo successfully argued that it was not subject to B.C. […]

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September 4, 2007 3 comments News

crookes yahoo decision

Judge Stromberg-Stein, re Crookes v. Yahoo,09-04.pdf

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September 4, 2007 Comments are Disabled General

CIHR Introduces New Open Access Policy

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the federal government's health research granting agency, today unveiled a new open access policy for research it funds beginning in 2008.  According to the new policy, researchers will be required to make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed publications are freely accessible through the Publisher’s website or an online repository within six months of publication. Critics will rightly note that the policy is not iron-clad – publication in an online repository is conditional on the publisher's policy.  Accordingly, if a publisher refuses to allow researchers to post their articles, the researcher does not violate the grant requirements by not posting.  This leaves publishers with a measure of control, though a growing number of them do permit this form of archiving (database of publisher policies here).

While it is tempting to say that this does not go far enough, it is an exceptionally important development for open access in Canada. 

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September 4, 2007 Comments are Disabled News

Unlocking the Mysteries of Locked Cellphones

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, Ynet Hebrew version, BBC version, homepage version) discusses the legal issues surrounding locked cellphones in light of the recent attention focused on the Apple iPhone. The iPhone, like many cellphones in North America, is "locked" to a single carrier.  Consumers who want the iPhone must use AT&T since the device contains technical limitations that render it difficult to use on other networks.  These limitations are artificial in the sense that there are otherwise no impediments for an iPhone to run on a competing U.S. network such as T-Mobile, a compatible European or Asian network, or on the Rogers network in Canada.

Locked cellphones have become common in North America as carriers claim that they sell "subsidized" phones in return for an exclusive commitment and long-term contract from consumers.  While many consumers may like the opportunity to purchase a phone for a fraction of the full retail price, others would presumably prefer the freedom of an "unlocked" cellphone that would allow them to easily switch between carriers.  The freedom provided by unlocked cellphones is particularly useful for people who travel, since they can avoid roaming fees by converting their phone into a local phone in most countries by simply inserting a local SIM card.  This approach is standard in Europe and Asia, where consumers would not tolerate a market comprised solely of locked cellphones.

While the iPhone may be locked to AT&T, several consumers, including a New Jersey teenager, have uncovered how to unlock their phones.  This has unleashed a legal battle pitting companies anxious to offer unlocked versions of the iPhone against AT&T, which has threatened to sue anyone offering unlocking services.

From a policy perspective, it is readily apparent that locked cellphones undermine efforts to encourage greater competition in the marketplace.  

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September 3, 2007 8 comments Columns