law

Twitter Joke Trial

On 27 June 2012, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales ruled on the case that has come to be know as the Twitter joke trial.

Paul Chambers had been convicted for sending a tweet that jokingly threatened to blow up an airport. In overturning the decision the High Court concluded that a tweet that is clearly a joke and is intended and perceived as such is not ‘menacing’ and thus is not a criminal offence.

This is an important case for basic rights of free speech and the operation of the internet as we know it.

For the details of the legal reasoning behind the judgment see below [note that this summary is not written by a lawyer and should not be taken as legal advice].

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UK Consumer Rights in Digital Content

On the 13th July 2012 the UK Government’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) launched a consultation titled “Consultation on enhancing consumer confidence by clarifying consumer law” *. The consultation proposes a range of options that seek to harmonise UK consumer law. What marks this out for digital industries such as social media, cloud computing, computer games and others is that as part of the consultation the UK Government is proposing options for a set of consumer rights designed specifically for ‘Digital Content’. What’s more the consultation document includes a number of examples from computer games. The deadline for the consultation is 5 October 2012.

This is not of mere intellectual interest. Some of the options proposed in the consultation will have an impact on any and all providers of digital content and / or related services available to consumers in the UK. Indeed, the consultation is quite specific that the proposed consumer rights will also apply to non-UK based services and that the consumer rights cannot be contracted out of.

The full consultation document is over 250 pages long and there are two related documents. The questions asked in the consultation are wide-ranging and detailed. They span from whether digital content should even be considered as a separate category to specific questions about remedies. The summary below points out the key elements of the digital section of the consultation. However because of its length and depth, if you are a business considering responding you are advised to read the full work and see professional advice and your relevant trade association(s), the full set of links for the consultation and response options are as follows:

tVPN will be putting together a response to the consultation from a civil society / academic point of view (as we believe that industry responses are being created by trade associations).

The tVPN response can be found in this Google Document which is open to public comment. If you want edit access to the document email us: info AT virtualpolicy DOT net.

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Virtually Policy #6: Transmedia story telling and the crisis of authorship

Virtually Policy #6: Transmedia story telling and the crisis of authorship

In Episode 6 of Virtually Policy, Burcu Bakioglu (Postdoctoral Fellow in New Media at Lawrence University) talks to Michael Andersen, senior editor of the Alternate Realty Gaming Network (argn.com), about transmedia fiction and games.

In the show, they explore how transmedia storytelling and multiple authorships are challenging the ‘romantic’ notion of author as solitary creator and how emerging issues are casting legal shadows on the inclusion and acknowledgement of fan content in developing creative forms.

<< Episode #5
The co-creators: audience, artists & the future of music
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Virtually Policy #1: Dutch Supreme Court on Virtual Theft

Virtually Policy #1: Dutch Supreme Court on Virtual Theft

In the first Virtually Policy podcast, Arno Lodder, professor of internet governance and regulation at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam talks to Ren Reynolds about the Dutch RuneScape trial.

This case, which made it to the Dutch Supreme Court, centred on the issue of whether or not virtual items can be stolen. The Court concluded that they could, and two defendants were convicted of theft. Ardo and Ren discuss the arguments examined by the Court and ask what implications this case hase for the virtual goods business model which now underpins much of the entertainment and social media economy. Further detailed analysis of the case by tVPN and others can be found via links below.

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Public diplomacy in the digital age

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