Will Tovey's blog

Thoughts on 'Your Response v Datateam Business Media': Databases, information and property

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A Court of Appeal case has come close to accepting information, such as a database, as property. The consequences of such a ruling, overturning decades of precedent, would be vast - giving individuals ownership rights over thoughts and ideas.

Judgment available here: Your Response Ltd v Datateam Business Media Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 281This case concerned a Publisher (Datateam) and a Data Manager (Your Response). The Publisher had contracted with the Data Manager to run their subscriber database. The Published ended the contract and a dispute arose as the Data Manager refused to hand over the database until it had been paid and the Publisher refused to pay until it had the database.

The main issue the Court of Appeal had to decide on was whether YR could exercise a common law possessory lien over the database. This is an old contractual remedy whereby someone (originally an artificer) who was in possession of goods in order to carry out some work relating to them was entitled to keep them if they were not paid for their work (or until they were paid).

Does Life Mean Life? - The Fight over Whole Life Tariffs

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As has been widely reported, the Court of Appeal has approved the use of "whole life tariffs" for murderers, seemingly contradicting the European Court of Human Rights. But as the reporting seems to miss some of subtleties of the judgment it is worth a closer look.

tl;dr: the ECtHR thought English law was unclear as they were getting different messages from the Government and Courts - the Court of Appeal said this was fine as the Government was wrong and could be ignored.

The full judgment from the case is available here: R v McLoughlin [2014] EWCA Crim 188

Defamation and the Internet - Contact your MP Now!

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After many years of campaigning, Parliament is finally debating a new Defamation Bill. Defamation (covering libel and slander) is about protecting a person's reputation, and balancing that right against the general freedom of expression. Over the last few years English libel law has become infamous around the world for its chilling effect on free speech, ease of use to silence criticism (informal, political and academic) and its disproportionate costs.

The new Bill attempts to tackle some of these issues. But while it is a step in the right direction, it mainly codifies the existing law rather than significantly improving it. There are still some major problems with the current text and while it is being debated in the House of Commons we have a chance to try to fix it before it becomes law. To do this, we need you to write to your MP, highlighting the major problems. If nothing else, please ask them to read through the memorandum the Party submitted to the Public Bill Committee, the key points of which are outlined below.

Acting on ACTA - What We Can Do

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Earlier today, Loz Kaye, leader of the Pirate Party, published a statement highlighting a major threat to the Internet, to civil liberties, and our political and legal systems; ACTA. Following this, the Party has received many requests asking what we, ordinary citizens, can do about this and the best way to stop it.

Web-blocking and Illegal Sites

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In the last week there have been three stories in the news concerning copyright infringement and "illegal websites". In each case, a group with an interest in enforcing copyright has called for or announced measures against such websites, but this raises an important question of what makes a website illegal. In terms of copyright infringement this is a very tricky question as there is no easy way to tell whether content or a service is unlawful.