Saturday, August 25, 2007

Odex fails action against PacNet for disclosure of identity of downloaders

In what appears to be a straightforward case of licensors of Animeware - ODEX - for illegal downloading of pirated copies by thousands, Odex filed suits against all the local commercial ISPs to obtain the identities of those who downloaded the pirated Anime. Odex was able to obtain orders against Singnet and Starhub but not against Pacific Internet.
According to the Straits Times report, District Judge Ernest Lau gave a 14 page judgment explaining his grounds for his refusal to allow for the application by Odex against PacNet. Odex has in his view failed to prove its case against PacNet to the required level to prove that the ISP must be compelled to divulge the identities of the alleged wrongdoers. Judge Law likened their demand for the identities from the ISPs as an Anton Piller order. As AP orders are viewed as draconian and damaging, such ofrders should only be granted if the Plaintiff is able to prove that it has an extremely strong prima facie case. This high standard should be applied in the case of Odex case as to protect the public interest element. ISPs owe a duty to its subscribers to keep their identities confidential.
As for the Odex case itself, it was not able to prove that it was the copyright owner as it did not have the exclusive license from the copyright owners as required by the Singapore Copyright Act. As it was neither the copyright owner nor exclusive licensee, it did not have the locus standi to bring the action.
Further, the Judge also mentions that he was not satisfied with how Odex was able to arrive at it identified the alleged downloaders. As such, Odex did not fulfil its standard of proof to obtain the order.
The impact of this decision will be felt in more than IP suits against downloaders and ISPs. Other suits such as defamation, fraud or even commercial transactions will have to prove to a high standard to obtain the identities of account holders before they can commence the substantive action itself.
For more information as reported by Straits Times, CLICK HERE.

Monday, August 20, 2007

How would the Singapore regulatory framework treat Eros LLC?

Day 1 of State of Play Conference.

Interestingly the latest case reported of the synthetic worlds is the case of EROS LLC suing Volkov Catteneo” who broke the sex program’s copy protection and sold unauthorized copies. So naturally Alderman (owner of ErosLLC) filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court (real court not Second Life court) in Tampa, Fla., last month for the alleged copyright breach.

For me, the interesting question is not about copyrightability of the software but whether national regulatory controls over pornography would treat the Eros programme itself as prohibited material. In the Singapore Films Act, Films includes videos games. Question is - whether this is a game?

Please be aware that the YouTube video may offend as it has images of nude avatars.

State of Play Conference BEGINS

Finally the long awaited conference has begun. Last night at the opening dinner for participants, meeting all the thought leaders, academics and businesses involved in the building and use of synthetic environments is exciting. There was a great presentation by IDA on the INSIGHT 2015 and how Singapore is going to adapt and capitalise the interactive digital technologies. Also there was a great prelaunch viewing of the movie "IdealWorld" that is a documentary of Second Life activities and entities there.

Check out their site here and have a look at it as a primer for the legal regulatory issues that is beginning to become the centre of focus for tech lawyers and professors.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Is the next generation of portable computing already here?

It has been some time since new hardware or software developments excited me to an extent where I can forsee a sea change in the way we do computing. Some time back OLED technologies promised the coming of cheap and maleable screens. A couple of weeks ago I read about 60GB solid state memory now being produced making hard disk drives for portable computers almost a silly option. Much like the robustness of memory cards, these new huge solid state memory storage would promise to make portable computers even more portable in both weight and power usage.

The most interesting software development I just discovered this week was the company called This company champions portable computing in a manner that would cause an uproar with the portable computer manufacturers if it caught on. In short, the PortableApps software run applications from the ubiquitous Thumbdrive.

It even provides for free download its PortApps Suite that has an antivirus, web browser, instant messaging, Openoffice suite, Soduku puzzle game, and email client and it all runs comfortably on a 512MB thumb drive.

Just for a moment consider if we put all these technologies together - how would it look like to you? Well, it looks to me that the future computing looks interesting again - if only the mega manufacturers knew how to keep their costs low.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What is the Second Life phenomenon?

Leading up to the State of Play conference next month in Singapore, I will be putting up some useful or background posts on electronic environments. In this post, this video is a useful introduction to Second Life for new comers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

STATE OF PLAY CONFERENCE V : Building the Global Metaverse

I am very proud to announce that Centre for Asia Pacific Technology Law & Policy at NTU is co-organising an international conference here in Singapore on the impact of Virtual World technologies on education, law and society. The conference is jointly organised by Harvard Law, Yale Law and Trinity and Nanyang Technological Universities.
The conference will be held at the Marina Mandarin Singapore from 19th to the 22nd August. In addition to the multidisciplinary tracks in the conference proceedings, CAPTEL will also be conducting a workshop on the last day of the conference on Virtual World's legal issues on business in particular on Asian businesses and opportunities.
Have a look at this site to register for the conference - STATE OF PLAY homepage.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Biomedical Data Protection proposed in Singapore

The Singapore Bioethics Advisory Committee (BAC) is reviewing the need to protect the privacy of personal data of individuals involved in biomedical research. The key proposal is to remove or protect all the personal information that links an individual to the biomed information so that there will not be any tracing back to the individual.
It was also proposed that biomed researchers are to specifically request consent from the research participants after explaining the research project, and any possible risks. Further, the research participants should have the right to withdraw consent at any time without explanation or prejudice.
It is also incumbent on the researchers to prevent breaches of privacy by employing safeguards against loss, unauthorised access, or copying of data.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Singapore Spam Control Act 2007 passed into Law

The Spam Control Act 2007, passed in Parliament on 12 April 2007, will provide the means to address the still-growing and global phenomenon. The law was developed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers of Singapore (AGC), with inputs from the public, people and private sectors, over the last three years.

The press report from the IDA is viewable here. The SPAM Bill itself can be downloaded here.

This piece of legislation is not without controversy and detractors. The effort to prevent or control spam has often been described as a lost cause. Its been recorded that in Singapore more than 80% of the spam received here are from overseas and as such the local legitimate businesses has registered their views that they are being targetted while the real abusers are out of reach of the new law. While there is some degree of truth in that issue, this new law has some value for the creation of a trusted infrastructure. The provisions of how acceptable commercial information emails can be sent is critical to Singapore becoming a recognised place where business communication are regulated.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cybercrime does not pay

Mr Song Yick Biau was reported by CNA as having pleaded guilty to nine charges under the Computer Misuse Act at the Singapore Subordinate Courts yesterday.

His modus operandi was to chat with the victim and send them a program which would allow him control and access to the victim's computer. He then stole the person's identity, adopted her persona and changed the password so that the person could not access her own MSN account. He successfully usd this ploy more than once. He also gained access to the accounts of three young women, aged between 18 and 21. He then threatened to post edited "naked" pictures of one of them unless she sent him photos of her breasts. The victim of this threat reported the matter to the police which resulted in the investigation and charges made.

Song pleaded guilty to nine charges under the Computer Misuse Act - each of which carries a fine of up to $50,000 and jail terms not exceeding two to 10 years. He can also be jailed up to two years on a charge of criminal intimidation. The judge will pass sentence on the charges on Monday 15th Jan 2007.

It is worth noting that the accused is an intelligent undergraduate, made the mistake of believing that such activities online will not be reported nor prosecuted. It would be very unusual if the accused will not be given a stiff custodial sentence. Update on the sentencing when it is reported.

NTU student stole MSN IDs, chatted and threatened blackmail []

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

3 years' jail for WiFi tapping

On November 10 it was reported in the local papers that a teen Mr Garyl Tan Jia Luo (17) was charged in court for having committed an offence under the Computer Misuse Act. Apparently the act that he committed was to use his notebook computer to access the WiFi network belonging to his neighbour without authority on May 13th. Under the CMA as long as there had been unauthorised access - whether there had been security firewalls or passwords being used - an offence would have been committed by the mere access of the network. Details of the case has not been published and the trial is to be heard today - 15th Nov. It would be interesting to learn whether this was a one off incident or whether Mr Tan had carried on this unauthorised access for some time.

To read about the first report - click here: Report: Singapore teen faces 3 years' jail for tapping into another's wireless Internet - iht,asia,Singapore Internet Charges - Asia - Pacific - International Herald Tribune
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