Tag Archives: Law

Legal Implications of Internet Filtering

Five years, eleven months and some 5 days or so after my very first lecture on law, I have handed in my final contribution to my six years of legal studies. As it is a work of some importance, both academically and personally, I publish it here.

Here’s the non-legal intro to show you what it’s all about. Or you can omit reading it here, and read it in the document itself: Legal Implications of Internet Filtering.

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Law Code: a new website for a new topic

Rather than keep on posting my random thoughts about the effects of code and law, I thought it might be good to create a new website for the discussion of the effects of the adoption of code as a means of regulating behaviour.

If you have any interest in the questions of why countries filter the Internet, of why speed bumps are preferred to simple car speeding laws, of how Alex in A Clockwork Orange may be our future, I heartily recommend that you take a look at lawcode.net, a place where a few friends and myself will attempt to bring these questions into the open, with the hope that as time goes by, people from all over will contribute articles or short columns.

You don’t need to be a lawyer and you don’t need to be a technologist. All you need is an interest, however remote, in the questions that will appear there. So why not take a look and see what you think?

Law Code: choice is but a memory.

Control over information

If there is one issue in our information society, where we generate information at every moment, it’s the issue of control over information.

People want their private information to remain private until made public by themselves, but once the information is made public, there is no way for them to control this information any more. On the internet, especially, it is hard to erase information that you would want to see disappear, notably if the information in question does not cause harm to your reputation.

Companies want to protect trade secrets as well as much commercial information, but while we tend to speak of information being “given”, “transferred”, “licensed for use”, the law doesn’t recognise information as being remotely similar to property, and this can lead to certain issues. Indeed, if reverse engineering is possible and if it is impossible for the company to obtain a patent, it may be easy for a competitor to find the information, and there’s nothing the company can do about it.

What can we do about it?

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The cutest legal provision

My life is complete: I have found a cute legal provision. Not just cute, actually: really cute.

Four words: copyright in Peter Pan.

Normally (in the EU), copyright in a work expires 70 years after the author’s death. Previously, this tended to be 50 years rather than 70.

The author of the play Peter Pan, Sir James Matthew Barrie, died in 1937, and at the time, the rule of 50 years applied, i.e. copyright was to expire in 1987. It turns out that Sir Barrie bequeathed copyright in his Peter Pan works to the Hospital for Sick Children, later renamed Great Ormond Street Hospital, in 1929.

While copyright in the works expired in 1987 (only to be later extended to 2007, when the “70 years” regime came into force), the Brits decided to create an exception to the standard rule, and included in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 a “Section 301” and a “Schedule 6”.

The substance of these rules? They confer on the Hospital the following:

a right to a royalty in respect of the public performance, commercial publication or communication to the public of the play “Peter Pan” by Sir James Matthew Barrie, or of any adaptation of that work, notwithstanding that copyright in the work expired on 31st December 1987

In other words, perpetual royalties, at least within the UK.

Now I dare you not to find that cute…

Intellectual property and the world today

The more I study intellectual property (IP), and the more I see its daily uses, the more inadequate I find the prevalent IP systems.

It’s frustrating, because I hope to work in this very field (I find it fascinating), and all I seem to see are the manners in which people have been slowly destroying the system by acting in a way that they believe helps the system.

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Cyberlaw – an area of law?

Short essay done for class – because it’s more opinion than anything, I thought I might share it. Warning: legal stuff.


What is cyberlaw? Cyberlaw is the law applicable in ‘cyberspace’, a seemingly ‘global-economic zone, borderless and unregulatable’ (John Perry Barlow in 1966, quoted in Reed, 2004). Yet, as Chris Reed argues, it is possible to proceed to a localisation in the ‘physical’ world of the constituent elements of any given activity in cyberspace, and national laws will therefore apply, in accordance with rules on applicable law (such as the Rome I and Rome II Regulations, at the level of the European Union).

Therefore, there are as many legal orders in cyberspace as there are national (or supranational) legal orders.

Having made these preliminary remarks, the original question, to which the introductory statement refers, remains: is cyberlaw an area of law?

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Filtering information on the internet

While the world discusses Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize (I’m on the “what has he done so far?” side), I wish to draw your attention to something entirely different: law and technology.

I am in the process of finding a topic for the 15,000-word dissertation that I shall write during this year, and therefore wish to lay out my current ideas, in the hope that one or two might give their opinion.

When using the internet, most of us feel free: we can type anything in Google, and find our way to a million different results. We can go to Amazon or eBay, search for anything, and probably find one or two things of interest to us. We can read a blog, click on a link, and find ourselves reading articles of diverging points of view. A seemingly infinite realm of information is available at our fingertips.

However, all is not golden in this world of apparent freedom. In many States (from China to the UK), users are limited in their use of the internet by “filters”, which are meant to block access to specific (categories of) websites. Certain items of information are blocked in a more specific manner at the level of websites, when the website owner/administrator/moderator applies censorship. All in all, these intermediaries control available information.

As such, when user tries to access content, such access may be denied. Sometimes, the user is fully unaware of the existence of the information in question, but not all the time. Does this hinder freedom of access to information? Does this hinder the information creator’s freedom of speech? Whence does the right to censor/block information come? Is the creator or intermediary liable to the user if illegal/offensive/… material isn’t blocked? Is the intermediary liable to the creator or to the user for information wrongfully blocked? Does the creator not have a right to access the information created by himself?

This is the kind of question that I believe I would ask and try to answer. Concerns of legitimacy and effectiveness must be addressed, though the focus would be the legal point of view.

Any thoughts on the matter?

Master Thesis: Use of Comparative Law in European Law

I’m very proud to present you all with my newest creation, one on which my whole year depends: my Master Thesis, or “Mémoire”.
For our Master in Laws degree in Belgium, we are required to write a 60-page paper. For me, the subject was the use of comparative law in European law. In other words, it’s all about whether the European institutions draw inspiration from the laws of Member States when creating their own law.

Clocking in at 63 pages (81 pages with the cover, table of contents and bibliography), my Mémoire analyses in a first stage whether in general, the European institutions make use of comparative law. In the second part, I analyse a number of different, recent acts, to determine whether the use of comparative law has had any influence on the act’s content.

Now, I won’t recommend reading this if the general idea isn’t remotely interesting to you.
If on the other hand the idea piques your interest, rest assured that I have tried to make the content fully accessible to people with no knowledge of law (well, at least the first part – the second uses a bunch of legal concepts).

So, if interested, you can view/download/print the PDF document: Use of Comparative Law in European Law.

Note the “Peter A. Craddock”, to avoid confusion with the other Peter Craddocks of the world.

The professional world: an arena

The gladiator closes his eyes. No surroundings to take in, with the darkness around. Outside, the arena. Lots of gladiators have fought there beforehand, and some have even won their freedom. A couple of them are among the wealthier citizens present: senators, merchants. To think that they were once like him.

He breathes deeply. After years of fighting in the training arenas, this is his first big fight. A fight for a chance to live in a better condition than now. Not the only such opportunity, but best to take the first that comes by.

He wonders whom he will face: people from his training arenas, or people from others? What if he isn’t good enough?

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