Monday, January 21, 2008

Too hot for the teacher: A new case of Cybersacking?

Sarah Green, a teacher at Stockport Grammar School has been suspended due to taking part in a commercial, two years before taking up her school’s post. The advertisement is called Hardcore, A Dirty Movie, and it is available online on YouTube (and here below). With the slogan "It's gonna get dirty", the clip shows Miss Green simulating sex with the builder on a desk while demonstrating the safety features of his clothing. The footage never made it to the screens because it was deemed to be too graphic, but it was sent out to construction firms and in 2005 won two prizes at the world's top advertising awards in Cannes. A copy was later posted on YouTube, where Miss Green’s pupils discovered it earlier this month. It did not take long until the clip of the teacher, who is in her 20s, was being circulated around the school. Finally, some parents want the teacher to be sacked from the mixed-sex school, where she has taught since 2006.
There are several issues here, and none but one of them is simple or straightforward. Unfortunately we don’t have access to Miss Green’s contract with the school, but it could be the case that it contains a clause prohibiting certain type of behaviour. However, it is doubtful that such hypothetical clause would be applicable retroactively, unless there was some duty to disclose information that could affect the performance of the teaching duties. There is not much point of discussing it here because whether they affect or not her performance is a matter of fact, but it is quite plausible that many students were going to be affected in either way by watching the video (some of the actually discovering a renewed interest for the teachings of Miss Green…and by the way, the video has some positive teachings because it is clear that she reaches for a condom before engaging in the casual sex with the builder).
Now assuming that such a duty to disclose does not exist, expressly or by implication, is the video obscene under English law? The parents that are looking for blood may think that Section 1.1 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959, stating that “an article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect […] is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it”, will give them the head of the teacher in a silver plate, but they should hold their horses because it should be noted that in practice the Obscene Publications Act 1959 is used 'almost exclusively against explicit pictorial material dealing with what is generally regarded as deviant behaviour: in other words, sado-masochism, bestiality, paedophilia, bondage, etc' (R Stone, Textbook on Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Oxford, OUP, 2006) at 374) …although there might be some room to consider the video indecent following Knuller v DPP [1973] AC 435 (as Lord Reid said, “anything which an ordinary decent man or woman would find to be shocking, disgusting, or revolting”) taking into account that the fact that the company decided no to air it because being too graphic could prove that was shocking enough.
But, who released it? Was the advertisement company or one of the employees of the one of the constructions company that received it? In this later case we will be talking about copyright infringement due to copying and showing the protected material, as per Sections 17 and 19 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. (where is FACT here?).
But the only issue that is clear from the onset is that we have yet another example about how Internet has changed privacy issues forever: it is not only about your present that you need to care about, is about everything that you have done and has been recorded somehow. We could write a whole blog about what I call Cybersacking (being sacked because something that your employers found about you online even if it does not relate exactly to your job), and it is becoming clear that the temporal boundary of privacy seems not to exist anymore. However, if you go around Facebook and other places where people post things about themselves, most users are not getting the message: be careful what you post because what it seems funny today when you are in college, may come back to hunt you when you want to be a manager…so Internet is not scary, what you do with it might be…
And OK, here is the famous video...(in my case we can argue the educational and/or reporter's exception)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Free Creative Business in the Digital Era seminar

Free seminar with UK's leading social media expert for artists and creative entrepreneurs

Are you a writer, musician, film maker or visual artist? Or maybe you work as a manager, promoter, or executive in the music, publishing, film/TV or visual arts industries? Whether you are creative, a creative entrepreneur, or working at any level in the creative industries, you'll have seen, or experienced, how the internet is 'changing everything'. You'll probably have heard that the web is killing culture and your industry along with it. But the internet creates exciting new ways to distribute and promote creative works and should be seen by the creative industries as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Free culture - giving versions of creative works away, and even allowing others to copy, distribute, sample or create derivative works from them - is at the heart of these new opportunities. This approach seems alien to many in the creative world who assume that free culture cannot generate income, but a freer attitude to cultural distribution will help you connect with a new audience, to develop a more engaged audience and even to make new business connections.

The Creative Business in the Digital Era seminar, presented by Suw Charman, will help you understand the opportunities presented by open IP (intellectual property) and how being open should be a central part of your creative business model.

Who should come?

You could be a C-level executive or an independent creator, or anyone in between, from any size of company:

* C-level executives, independents, freelances, entrepreneurs, corporates, SMEs

* musicians, record labels, music publishing companies

* writers, journalists, publishers

* film makers, production companies, broadcasters

* visual artists, photographers, artists, illustrators and designers

When and where is it?

The Creative Business in the Digital Era seminar will be delivered as a single full-day course, and as an evening course repeated on two days:

* Day Course: 17 March 08, 9.00am to 5.30pm

* Evening Course: 18 March 08, 6.00pm to 9.00pm

* Evening Course: 19 March 08, 6.00pm to 9.00pm

All courses will be held at 01zero-one in central London (main entrance is on Hopkins Street):

Westminster Kingsway College
Peter Street
London W1F 0HS


This is a subsidised course and is free to attendees. We will even provide attendees with lunch and refreshments.

How do I apply?

Visit and download our Application Pack. The closing date is 15th February 2008, and we will respond to all applicants by 29 February 2008.

Any questions?

Contact Suw Charman or Michael Holloway at

Brazilian judge prohibits Counter Strike and EverQuest

A Federal Judge in Brazil prohibited the sale of the video games Counter Strike and EverQuest. The measure affects the whole country but started to be applied in the State of Goias, where the judge Carlos Alberto Simoes dictated the prohibition saying that the games “provoked permanent stimuli toward the subversion of the public order, [and they] were an attack against the democratic state and the law, and against public security." He went further by stating that the mentioned games were “injurious to the health of the consumers because [they] strengthen aggressive behavior”, which would be contrary to articles 6, I, 8, 10 and 39, IV of the Brazilian Consumer Protection Code. The fines for those not complying with the norm goes up to 5,000 Reais, which is a little less than u$s 2,800 or a little more than 1,400 British Pounds.

The notification of enforcement by the Superintendence for the Protection of Consumer Rights of Goias, says that…OK, I will translate the whole thing from Portuguese (as close as possible)…

In fulfillment of judicial decision pronounced by the Judge of the 17th Federal District of the Judiciary Section of the State of Minas Gerais, valid in all the national territory, on the proceedings of the Public Civil Action n° 2002.38.00.046529-6, the PROCON/GO [Superintendence for the Protection of Consumer Rights of Goias] is confiscating in the State of Goiás the virtual games for video-games and computers: "Counter-Strike" and "Everquest", which had been considered improper for consumption, as they are harmful to the health of the consumers, contrary to what is stipulated in articles 6, I, 8, 10 and 39, IV, all of the Protection and Defense of the Consumer Code.

The game "Counter Strike" (hostages, bomb, escape, murder, weapons, techniques of war, terrorist tactics) reproduces a war between gangsters and the police, and it impresses for its realism. The game was created in the United States and adapted for Brazil. In the video-game, dealers of Rio de Janeiro kidnap and take to a favela three representatives of the United Nations. The police invade the place and are received by fire-arms shots.

The player can choose the side of the crime: to become a gangster to defend the slum quarter under its domain. The more police that are killed, the more points are gained. The sound track is a forbidden funk [???]. Within this scale of violence, each player chooses its weapons: pistols, assault rifles and grenades. In the opinion of specialists, the game teaches techniques of war, taking into account that the player must have knowledge on hiding tactics, as it was a terrorist.

The game "Everquest" leads the player to a total distortion of his values and to “heavy” psychological conflicts; because the tasks that he receives, can be good or bad. The bad ones can be lies, bribes and even murders, which many times after been carried out, the player is left to know (or not) that it was only a test to enter into a clan (group).

Violent games or those that have a violent tone are capable to form aggressive individuals, resulting evident that they have a strong power of influence on the minds, reinforcing aggressive attitudes in certain individuals and social groups.

Any consumer from Goias that comes across the distribution and/or commercialization of the virtual games "Counter-Strike" and "Everquest" must contact PROCON/GO, via telephone 151 or by email:, aiming at the confiscation of these products.

Wow, terrorist tactics! the Department of Homeland Security taking notes?...then they will prohibit Super Mario because it can cause children to interfere with the water supply...

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Law of Informatics' survey (in Spanish)

I am writing, in Spanish, a paper on some aspects of the existence or not of a field of law called the law of informatics or "informatics law". Since the idea is to first concentrate on the Iberoamerican region, and to use some socio-legal studies methodologies that go beyond the exegetic and historical ones, I designed a very simple survey, again in Spanish, to see what those related to the legal profession think about the existence of such a field. The survey is here and you don't need to enter any type of personal data to participate in it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Machinima event's audio

Finally, I managed to upload the audio files from the Bloodspell viewing and panel that Robin Scobey so kindly recorded and provided, so here they go...
First Hugh Hancock's introduction

And then the panel with Lilian Edwards, Andres Guadamuz, Ian Brown and Hugh, with some questions

This posting, well the audio bits, have been possible thanks to the very clear tutorial of Mindy McAdams and the Audio Player Wordpress plugin from 1pixelout. Thanks.

Creative Commons License

LondonMet Machinima event's audio by Electro Mate is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Afraid of privacy breaches? What about monitoring your metabolism at work?

The USPTO has published a patent application filled on behalf of Microsoft for a “unique monitoring system and method […] that involves monitoring user activity in order to facilitate managing and optimizing the utilization of various system resources”. Translated into non-patent attorney language by The Times of London, it means a “computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism” to “allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure”. Wow, talking about the mother of all privacy breaches…According to the same newspaper, many groups are crying full, but first it needs to be assessed whether your bodily functions are personal data...since they refer to your health they seem to be sensitive personal data in this side of the Atlantic, as per Article 8.1 of the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC), but even then clarification would be needed to see whether that data can be requested “in the field of employment law” as in Art. 8.2. However, because the claims refer to offering and providing assistance to the worker when it detects stress and understanding stress as a medical condition, such “invention” could run afoul of the 1997 Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine of the Council of Europe, which in its article 10.1 and 10.2 establishes the right to privacy on health issues and the right to not be informed respectively…needles to say that all these refer to the use of the system without entering to ponder whether such a patent would be a valid one…

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Digital Divide and ICT Regulation in Latin America: Call for papers

Call for papers: (castellano mas abajo)

ICT Regulation and the Digital Divide in Latin America

Papers are invited to be presented at a panel on the situation of digital inequalities in Latin America and how ICT regulation has an actual or potential effect on it to be held at the 2009 International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA 2009), which will have place in Rio de Janeiro on 11-14 June 2009 with the engaging theme Rethinking Inequalities. The panel will deal with the congress’ theme from the technology field point of view and the role that legal developments have technological inequalities.

While the methodology is open, it is expected that the papers would be based on theoretical and empirical work leading to the development of grounded theory, as well as more policy orientated studies which feed directly into the policy making process. They would normally be built on a multi or inter-disciplinary approach.

The panel will concentrate on the following issues:

- Digital divide and E-Government

- ICT policies, innovation and development

- Intellectual Property rights and the digital divide in Latin America

- Digital inclusion policies in Latin America

- Freedom of expression and new technologies

- Open source initiatives in Latin America

- Impact of global digital divide related policies in Latin America.

Submissions in the form of an abstract should be e-mailed to Dr. Fernando Barrio and it must be received by noon GMT, March 16th, 2008.

Papers and abstracts can be written in English, Portuguese or Spanish in .doc, .rtf or .pdf format, be up to 250 words and include the following data:

Last name(s):

Given name(s):

Mailing address:


State or Province:

Post Code:


Email address:



Solicitud de Ponencias:

Regulación a las Tecnologías de la Información y Comunicación y la brecha digital en América Latina

Se invita a enviar propuestas de ponencias a ser presentadas en el panel sobre la situación con respecto a las inequidades en el acceso y uso a las tecnologías digitales y como la regulación a las TIC la afecta en forma real o potencial, que tendrá lugar en el Congreso Internacional de la Asociación de Estudios Latinoamericanos del año 2009 (LASA 2009), el cual será llevado a cabo en Río de Janeiro los entre el 11 y el 14 de Junio de 2009 con el tema “Repensando inequidades”.

El panel se centrará en el tema del congreso desde el punto de vista de la tecnología y el rol que los desarrollos legales juegan a la brecha digital.

Mientras la metodología es abierta, se espera que las ponencias estén basadas en estudios teóricos y empíricos que lleven al desarrollo de teorías fundamentadas, al igual que estudios más orientados hacia políticas que alimenten directamente el proceso decisorio. Estas estarán normalmente construidas desde un enfoque inter o multidisciplinario.

El panel se concentrará en los siguientes temas:

- La brecha digital y el gobierno electrónico

- Políticas para las TIC, innovación y desarrollo

- Derechos de propiedad intelectual y la brecha digital en América Latina

- Políticas de inclusión digital en América Latina

- Libertad de expresión y nuevas tecnologías

- Iniciativas de código abierto en América Latina

- Impacto de las políticas globales sobre la brecha digital en América Latina

Las propuestas, en forma de resumen, deberán ser enviadas por correo electrónico al Dr. Fernando Barrio,, y ser recibidas antes de las 12 del mediodía (GMT) del 16 de Marzo del 2008.

Tanto los resúmenes como las ponencias podrán ser escritos en español, inglés o portugués en los formatos .doc, .rtf o .pdf, tener hasta 250 palabras e incluir los siguientes datos:



Dirección para correspondencia:


Estado o Provincia:

Código Postal:


Correo electrónico:



Saturday, January 12, 2008

Internet is bad for you…again (but this time can kill you)

Two days ago the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain released a news piece presenting research showing that “[m]illions of Brits could be playing Russian Roulette with their health buying prescription-only medicines from rogue internet sites”, and using that strangely concluded data to scare people about Internet. The press release seems to quite correctly addresses the main issues involving the topic, like lack of knowledge of existing regulations from the consumers’ side, reaffirming that there are legal online pharmacies and that the public should be vigilant about buying from rogue establishments (there is a new pharmacy online logo to identify legitimate traders), but even if we forget that the numbers don't add up ("millions of Brits could be playing Russian Roulette", but the same study -carried out in a sample of only 1,950 adults- says that 2 million people buy drugs online and then says that in developed countries only 1% of the drugs are counterfeited, so where do the millions come from?) when the mic is given to RPSGB Director of Practice and Quality Improvement, David Pruce, things go bad, really bad in the form of a soon-to-be-classic opening line:

“The internet presents a real danger to people’s health.”

Excuse me?! So, the problem is not with the inexistence or lack of enforcement of regulations, or the very poor consumers’ education…the problem is Internet, that is not only the realm of terrorists and paedophiles, but now it also presents a real danger to people’s health…Taking into account that we are in the information society and the use of information and communication technologies have an important impact on productivity increases, I suggest that we put proper Internet knowledge and literacy as compulsory requirement to access senior positions in any organization…or at least keep those without a clue far from the press…

Monday, January 07, 2008

Internet in 2020

Janna Anderson has sent me an invitation to take a survey about how things will be in the year 2020. As Victor Borge said, “forecasting is difficult, especially about the future”, what makes Janna’s project “Imagining the Internet” even more interesting and likeable. I have the opportunity to meet Janna’s team in Rio and seeing them at work and I was impressed (which does not happen very often).
The survey does not take long and invites you to imagine how things will be for Internet related issues in twelve years time. You can also add your opinions (anonymously or with your name) and the results will be ready soon. Meanwhile you can check the wealth of data available in the PEW project website…

Saturday, January 05, 2008

New book on Cyberlaw, e-business and finance

IGI Global, which is also the publisher for my forthcoming "Intellectual Capitalism and ICT Law Administration: Developing the Knowledge Industry", just published the book Cyberlaw for Global E-Business: Finance, Payments and Dispute Resolution, edited by Professor Takashi Kubota, who was my Masters and Doctoral dissertations’ head advisor at Nagoya University (now at Waseda Law School in Tokyo). The book covers several areas of finance and payment on electronic networks and yours truly has written the chapter on legal and technical issues on card payments. The topics go from the general and foundational to the very technical and specific.
Congratulations to Professor Kubota and a much needed development in the area of finance and cyberlaw.

Friday, January 04, 2008

UK Law Teacher of the Year 2008

A couple of hours ago the UK Centre for Legal Education, part of the British Higher Education Academy, has awarded me and Professor Alastair Hudson, of Queen Mary University of London, the award of 2008 UK Law Teacher of the Year. Thank you to the UKCLE and I hope to be a deserving recipient of the award and that my students really benefit from/enjoy my teaching. It goes to them and to my colleagues that make my teaching possible through their support.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

LILAC 2008

I am at University of Warwick where the Learning in Law Academic Conference organized by the UK Centre for Legal Education is taking place. Things are just starting but the everything looks quite nicely put together and the line-up of speakers is as good as it gets...I've met a couple of fellows from previous battles and I think that it will be a good one...