From Facelawbook to the non-linear-service-that-dare-not-speak-its-name

(Yes, I know silly titles like that don’t do all that much for my search engine ranking, but that’s not really my game)

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks, which is why I haven’t been posting all that much on this lovely blog. The most fun thing (or things) this week, though, was teaching two classes to LLM (masters in law) students; one as a guest lecturer for an Internet Law & Regulation module (with thanks to Deirdre Ahern for the invite) and one as part of the European Media Law, Regulation & Policy module that I’m involved in alongside my supervisor, Eoin O’Dell and a fellow PhD student, Ewa Komorek.

The first was a class on ‘Social Networking and the Law’ (see the slides/handout here). We covered privacy, liability and general expression and copyright issues. The main cases were the 9th Circuit’s idiosyncratic opinion in Fair Housing Council v Roommates.com (currently in suspended animation awaiting the result of a full en banc rehearing), the district court decision in Doe v MySpace, and the statement of claim in Viacom v YouTube. All interesting cases about an interesting topic. Incidentally, for a nice short sharp summary of legal issues in this area, see Eric Goldman’s summary here.

The second was a class about the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which (finally) made it onto the books in the final month of 2008. I’d written about the Directive on a number of occasions, but it was my first time speaking about it (other than to my computer or wall) since the final text arrived, and thus it was quite an interesting experience! The most difficult thing was to remember the EU’s careful political compromise of abandoning in all meaningful ways the use of the terms ‘linear’ and ‘non-linear’ that had characterised the draft Directive (and indeed much of the commentary that followed). The resulting bending of language is awkward – the category-that-is-no-longer-linear is always referred to as ‘television’ although its definition is some distance from the popular meaning of the word (‘scheduled’ is probably the best fit for what the definition actually described) and the category-that-is-no-longer-linear (it’s now ‘on-demand’) is defined by various things including the general definition of a programme (where the ‘form and content is comparable to the form and content of television broadcasting’). Right. Anyway, the main reason for this paragraph is to say that the most useful way to use the Directive in teaching or research, I think, is to make use of the unofficial table setting out ‘old’ and ‘new’ provisions (which you’ll find here; something else we found useful was to make use of the Commission’s monitoring reports (which contain lovely statistics as well as caselaw) in building up the context of and backdrop to the reforms.

One single comment

  1. [...] of the Roommates.com case in the (US) 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (discussed on this blog here and here). Finally, the decision is here, and the PDF is available for [...]

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