Tuesday, October 11, 2005

*Addendum: What advice should look like*

I seem to be doing a lot of them recent, but I think it's because I'm just lazy and don't want to think of new stuff to write. Anyway, I figured considering the paucity of legal advice given by Ephraim Loy in his um article/post yesterday, here's some helpful advice drawn from the law as stated by the experts. Remember all you budding law student's out there, simply stating the law is not giving advice and you will find your grades going down. I should know because I've done it before and got b****-slapped by my grades.

Standard disclaimers apply, most importantly that this is not a substitute for proper legal advice (lawyers and not just lecturers please) and the advice is meant to be given gratuitously and NO WARRANTY is given as to the absolute vercity of the legal statements and representations made. Anyone coming after me through Hedley Bryne will get kicked.

1. "(B)logs are in the most public of places - the internet - they cannot be a 'private diary'."

So either keep in under lock and key and written on real paper (you do remember what that is right?) and preferable with an encryption key that can only be broken by someone with the knowledge of the classics and the Rule of Four. Alternatively, password protect EVERY SINGLE PAGE of your blog and not just your root directory. That should keep out those search engine crawlers that might post your page on their search engines and cache it. They have legal immunity (as publishers) but it seems that we don't.

And let's not forget, because there isn't territorial jurisdiction in cyberspace per se, it seems that well, your liabiliy is extended beyond the laws of your own territory so yes even though you might publish this in America, you MIGHT NOT be governed by the more pro-defendant defamation laws of the US. I'm still reading the article/cases on this, so bug me another day to put up a better summary.

2. Insult of modesty, compromising position without consent yada yada.

Technically true. You can't take photos of someone in a 'compromising position' without their consent. As mentioned in my prior post, this seems to be related to the whole specific voyeur laws (peeping and hidden cameras and upskirt pics) bit. And obviously posting them on your blog is going to make your conviction/suit against you a whole lot easier. And there is the whole insult to modesty bit in our Penal Code (criminal offences do give rise to civil suits unless expressly stated e.g. Companies Act, breach of fiduciary duty for non-disclosure of interest does not give rise to any civil consequences), the only other provision which expressly talks about intrusion upon the privacy of the women.

NOTE: Women's right to privacy are protected only, so guys please watch what you're doing out there =P

But what this does mean is that if the picture taken is one in a public space, compromising position or not, because there's no right of privacy per se, the photo is not likely it seems to be impeachable. At any rate, remember compromising pictures taken with consent do not give any right of recourse except possibly through copyright infringement.

3. Reproducing published works without the consent of the copyright owner yada yada

Once upon a time, before the Berne Convention was put into force and countries all around the world signed unto its provisions. A work WAS NOT considered copyrighted unless it had that (c) mark on it. Today, the presumption is that all published works (which also means the content of your blog) is automatically subject to copyright protection unless specifically expressly stated otherwise.

There's an alternative regime called the Creative Common Licencing which basically has five levels of protection ranging from none whatsoever, to simple attribution (this blog) to full protection. So keep a lookout for that as well and find out how much protection the author was made for her site/works.

But recall the Intellectual Property right regime seeks to strike a balance between protecting the inventor and ensuring that his knowledge is placed in the public domain (where his ideas came from anyway), so as the law currently stands, copyright protection of material is gone after 70 years post author's death. So there's a huge load of material outthere that is free for use in any form. Including free games by the way like Star Control 2 which is now open-source and named The Ur-Quan Masters because well star control is copyrighted by the company that published it.

So remember, when in doubt, ask for permission.

4. Owner of website yada yada liable for comments

I'm still researching on this but it looks like for England and Australia and by extension Singapore, this is true. So the advice is the one given yesterday, maintain editorial control, don't just rely on disclaimers and turn it off if you want to be absolutely safe.


Mea culpa on 121002: Check out the comments below. ivan rightly points out my sloppy writing. The Creative Common Licenses regime should not be considered an alternative regime but an 'alternative' one because it is still predicated on the existing copyright and licensing regime. Except that in CCL and open source, one uses it to restrict others' ability to copyright and license the programme or data you publish. So the quotation marks around the alternative is much more appropriate.


At 1:40 PM, Blogger ivan said...

"There's an alternative regime called the Creative Common Licencing "

not to nitpick, but it's not "alternative", it's just a subset... the works under CC licencing are still protected under copyright.

for your research... i suggest you look for Edan at SingaSingaPore, he pretty much will supply the answers... Also the searching for "multiple publication" rule will aid your research. :)

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Shaun Lee said...

Thanks. Upon reflection that makes more sense. Since open-source depends on restricting other's ability to restrict.


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