Commission v Microsoft 6-0

The long-awaited judgment in the Microsoft case came out an hour ago. It’s 160 pages on my printer. Quick analysis says this complex case was decided “according to what the prosecutor claims.” Among the highlights:

  1. The mere holding of any type of intellectual property right or trade secret is not an “objective justification” to deny the provision of any information
  2. Non-disclosure of interoperability information would cause negative effects on the incentives to innovate – Microsoft only presented “vague, general and theoretical arguments on that point” (para 698)
  3. “…standardisation may effectively present certain advantages, it cannot be allowed to be imposed unilaterally by an undertaking in a dominant position…” (para 1152)
  4. “Microsoft does not show that the integration of Windows Media Player in Windows creates technical efficiencies”(para 1159)

Two reasons why Finland lacks class actions

I’m currently doing research on class actions. My question is why the new Finnish law – although titled “law on class actions” – has little to do with the basic idea it is supposed to enable. Here’s my quick answer based on what I’ve learned so far:

(1) Flawed legislative process. In Finland, laws are prepared in ministries where “working groups” discuss the political details before a formal law proposal is submitted to the parliament for “review”. The most important part of the process is the composition of the working group. In the case of class actions, the working group consisted of civil servants from the Ministry of Justice,industry lobbyists and representatives of state-run consumer and environmental agencies. Guess how you can reach the magic word – “consensus”? Compromise everything!

(2) Erkki Aurejärvi – though he never meant it. This guy is a retired professor of law who initiated the Finnish tobacco cases in the late 1980s. He is also a supporter of class actions. Unfortunately, he also invited tobacco companies to start intensive legislative lobbying in Finland, which an individual law professor could not match (Aurejärvi tried to get elected to the parliament without success). In the mid 1990s, when class actions were proposed in Finland for the first time, Philip Morris et co managed to unite “the Finnish industry” and even legal professionals to object any kind of class action law. When the preparation of class action legislation started again ten years later, the opinions (and lobbyists) in the industry had not changed.

Is DRM legally meaningless?

Just proved DRM is more or less meaningless, in most cases, that is. I defended two hackers who were charged of manufacturing and distributing circumvention tools for DVD movies protected by Content Scrabling System (CSS). Granted, there is a DRM circumvention ban in copyright law, but fortunately it applies only to “effective” DRM. From our press release:

According to the court, CSS no longer achieves its protection objective. The court relied on two expert witnesses and said that “!since a Norwegian hacker succeeded in circumventing CSS protection used in DVDs in 1999, end-users have been able to get with ease tens of similar circumventing software from the Internet even free of charge. Some operating systems come with this kind of software pre-installed.” Thus, the court concluded that “CSS protection can no longer be held “˜effective’ as defined in law.” All charges were dismissed.

My own conclusion is that a protection measure is no longer effective, when there is widely available end-user software implementing a circumvention method. So keep on hacking and DRM becomes both technically and legally meaningless!

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Looks like the news must already hit Hollywood. The press release is linked on sites like Slashdot, BoingBoing, Gizmodo and Ars Technica.

DRM – the final days of a three letter acronym

The days of “DRM” seem to be over. A press release from a major recording company talks about restrictions, calls for interoperability and touts for a free future. Choosing the words you use is essential. The talk about rights management and the protection of authors are no longer in fashion. Granted, it was all just pain at the user’s end…