Friday, October 21, 2005

*News @ Home*

I couldn't think of a catchier title. But two pieces of relevant news on the same page in today's edition of ST's Home.

1. Copyright Act still shield Web hosts from lawsuits.

It seems that after a recent suit won by a modelling agency against the operation of popular picpost site Sggirls, a member of the law firm representing the agency came out to say that "content hosting companies could no longer claim to have no control over what is posted on the website. As a result...they were not immune from copyright infringements or libel committed by users of their sites."

This prompted the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore to issue a statement to clarify the law. Simply put they are protected. They have a defence that they "do not have to actively monitor their services or affirmatively seek facts indicating infringement activity". More importantly, unless they themselves commit or faciliate the infringement (peer to peer networks anyone?) they are not liable. Similarly, if they have notification and they take down the offending material in a reasonable amount of time, they too will not be liable.

So yes, this is good news for them and I think strikes a sensible balance between the duties of such web hosts and the impetus of the copyright holder to actually protect their copyright. After all, before the Berne Convention, published works were not presumed to be copyrighted unless you put that little (c) mark.

So the question now is as follows, what about us blogs?

2. Ratings mean better choice for gamers

Following on the heels of the movie ratings system for well movies and the sale of VCDs/DVDs come a proposed similar system for gamers. To be honest, I am estatic over this piece of news. It's one of those all things to all persons kind of law and the sort of compromise that oddly enough pleases most of the interest groups.

As of now, it is a either allowed or totally banned sort of situation. But what makes this system particularly bad is that there is a rating but it is based upon the voluntary system of the US which means that it is not enforced in Singapore. So a game recommanded for 15 and above means in effect nothing legally. It's simply a warning to the person (and his guardians) on what to expect. Of course, given that there is a dispairity between the sort of moral standards between these two nations, one could very easily argue that these standards are not well translated and we ought to have our own domestic standards which is enforced. And before you think the US has the more liberal standards, think again. We have no problems with a level of violence that most Americans would be disturbed with. More importantly, the arcade guns that are used and can be bought by home users are considered too disturbingly realistic (in terms of looks, heft and recoil) for more US States. We have no problems.

Anyway, considering that the repertoir of excellent available movies that can be watched uncut and uncensored because of the new movie rating system, I eagerly anticipate this new standards as well.

Unfortunately, I think it will increase costs. I hope it's not passed unto us consumers again.

And oh one more thing. The article mentions that there is a MA 15+ rating which makes it a crime to sell such material to those under 15. I think it's very worth pointing out that Playboy is Restricted(15) which means that it is simply not recommanded for sale to those under 15. But more to the point, it's very worth looking at their attitudes towards sex and violence which seem to be the direct converse of ours.



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