Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ILAWS @ Southampton

I am inside the Turner Sims Concert Hall at the University of Southampton where the Institute for Law and the Web at Southampton, ILAWS, is formally been launched. After the words of rigour by Professor Natalie Lee and a welcome, explanation and introduction by Lilian, Professor Chris Reed has started his presentation. It seems that he will talk about doing business online (the business issues), the arising legal issues and then, unavoidably, Web 2.0 issues. After reminding people that those who are in business are there to make money not to care about legal issues, he embarked into demystifying some issues that people think about e-business issues in relation to law, as the "domain name pitfalls". There the message is that you don't need to bother so much about the domain name issues because most of those matters have been already dealt with and the topic goes beyond domain names into proper branding and business operations in general (is re-branding an option?). So, we move into search engine optimisation where, after recognizing that there are techniques to optimize the way your page ranks, there are some "potential legal pitfalls" as potential trade mark infringement and/or unfair competition through the use of competitors metatags. Proessor Reed then is moving towards explaining some aspects of early virtual enterprises, where the whole relation was based on a legal one (virtual companies not owning anything but facilitating trade through a particular technology and a unique legal architecture, therefore not really been involved in products' trade but in the provision of services (where the legal framework differs from trade of goods). Accordingly, the issue for lawyers it to guarantee that the proper level of services are provided, that the remedies for performance shortfalls are there and that there is a proper exit strategy. We then go the topic of the location in the virtual world. Most people (lawyers, teachers, scholars) have already forgotten that "regulation, taxation and liability are based in connections to the real world", but global compliance is not possible, what make risk avoidance is not achievable (so, it all about risk management). The techniques are varied that can be simplified in taking care where you do what and where do you physically go.
On the Web 2.0 side, and leaving apart the forthcoming semantic web, the topics on this "new" type of Internet open the door to many new possibilities to make money there. In addition to the non-obvious ways of making money that need certain skills and resources, the Web 2.0 seems to be wide open to new forms of marketing. Viral marketing and using the customers to promote things, but risking that others may use your marketing for competition or even costumers going beyond your business proposed image and potentially hurting it. Some issues refer to Second Life and the uses and abuses of marketing there and then all go down to how the law may or need to deal in Web 2.0, from the development of community standards to law and regulations based in behavioural norms going throw the need to have a crystal ball know what to do in forthcoming e-business arena.
Very interesting presentation and well managed to talk to people that normally deals with these issues and still surprise them!

1 comment:

pangloss said...

Thank you for the amazingky on the spot reportage Fernando! :)