Category Archives: Random

Random rants by rabid raving rats.

My vote

 

 
 
 
 

The UK Parliamentary elections draw near, and so I have started looking at the different parties present and their respective policies.
It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the Liberal Democrats are closest to my views on many issues, not the two traditional parties.

Here is my analysis of the situation, based on the BBC’s “Where they stand” articles, the Conservative Manifesto, the Labour Manifesto and the Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto.
I also went through the Green Party’s Manifesto, but found it to have very few elements of general policy, so I won’t analyse it here.

Continue reading My vote

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?

Continue reading Control over information

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.

Continue reading Intellectual property and the world today

A new literary favourite

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In my life so far, I have read books in too great a number for me to judge, and over the years, my tastes have evolved (as with films, music, …). I have enjoyed many books, adored some, abhorred a couple (some of which I was forced to keep on reading for school), and it seemed to be firmly established that the books that most captured my imagination were Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

But today, something strange happened: I had tears in my eyes upon reading the ending of another book, a newly discovered gem of literature.

Tears in my eyes! When faced with writing, the only time this has happened to me was while writing certain sections of the Arpia novel.

I must conclude that this book, which I found hard to set aside, has conquered my heart.

Its title? Scaramouche, by Rafael Sabatini (an Italian gentleman who wrote in English).

Its content? The tale of a young man who goes from the robe (lawyer) to the buskin (actor) to the sword (maître d’armes) around the period of the Révolution française.

Go read it. Now.

A poem for womankind

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Our world is like a garden,
Eternally in blossom
The saplings grow,
The flowers bloom,
And no plant can be forgotten

They come in all colours and sizes,
A feast upon the eyes
As I walk among them,
As if in paradise,
It is I that each one mesmerises

At first glance all I see is beauty
Superficial and yet so true
I draw closer and see
What they shall live to be
And behold them in all their glory

It is like being close to a phoenix
Or an angel whose heart is pure
When they shine like the sun with goodness,
With a smile any ill they will cure

Between passion and admiration,
Both in doubt and feeling too sure,
I cannot help respecting and loving them,
These beings with the power to lure

What would the world be without them,
With no such treasure to discover?
If we live, if we die,
These words are no lie:
We exist to serve these women.

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?

Continue reading Cyberlaw – an area of law?

Holidays!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Term is over, holidays begin, and just a quick word to wish all a few weeks of happy holidays.
I haven’t been writing a lot over here, but rest assured that it’s with good reason! One of these reasons is something that I might be unveiling soon-ish, on this very website, if I manage to tame Internet Explorer’s awful CSS support and if I force it to do my bidding: I’ve got something very nice lined up for which most of the theory works on all other browsers, and if I get this right for IE, arpia.be could be facing a redesign within the coming weeks.

In random news, I highly recommend that any and everyone go see Avatar, the new sci-fi/fantasy film, if possible in 3D (and if possible IMAX 3D), because seeing it a 3.40 a.m. in IMAX 3D was simply mind-blowing and awesome.
Now, off to do some more Christmas shopping‚ …

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?

Two weeks later, still intrigued

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Something is in the air, one might say. Or perhaps something about it speaks directly to my inner self. Whatever the reason, London never ceases to surprise me in a positive way, and feelings of attachment have grown within the heart of a person otherwise indifferent to large cities.

Another poet’s soul captured by an immortal city, perhaps? I did write a poem about the Serpentine lake, a magnet pulling all visitors towards its shores in Hyde Park and the Kensington Gardens:

Serpentine Song

Glitter, glitter, Serpentine,
May your birdsong grow, may your surface shine
In the light of day, you have frozen time
With an air so sweet that it tastes sublime

Whisper, whisper, Serpentine,
Such a mystic view makes you seem divine
When you speak to the trees, to the rose and lime,
Nature bows to the sound of your glorious chime

Remember, remember, Serpentine,
I shall always cherish this memory of mine.

It is worth stating that the mere writing of a poem about a place is not enough for me to fall in love with the place. As such, we must dig deeper to understand my sudden appreciation of this metropolis.

Continue reading Two weeks later, still intrigued