Earlier today the Mr Justice Charleton's decision in the case of EMI RECORDS (IRELAND) LIMITED, SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT IRELAND LIMITED, UNIVERSAL MUSIC IRELAND LIMITED, WARNER MUSIC IRELAND LIMITED AND WEA INTERNATIONAL INCORPORATED vs. UPC COMMUNICATIONS IRELAND LIMITED was made public.
There has been a lot of media coverage about the decision, with many headlines hailing it as a victory for UPC.
But was it?
While the "important bit" of the decision is that IRMA lost, the judge's decision contains a lot of language that should be cause of concern.
The decision runs to 78 pages and gives a very detailed insight into the evidence presented and the conclusions the judge drew from them.
From a technical perspective I'd have to disagree with most of the honourable judge's conclusions, but what really worries me is the closing paragraph of his judgement:
Solutions are available to the problem of internet copyright piracy. It is not surprising that the legislative response laid down in our country in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, at a time when this problem was not perceived to be as threatening to the creative and retail economy as it has become in 2010, has made no proper provision for the blocking, diverting or interrupting of internet communications intent on breaching copyright. In failing to provide legislative provisions for blocking, diverting and interrupting internet copyright theft, Ireland is not yet fully in compliance with its obligations under European law. Instead, the only relevant power that the courts are given is to require an internet hosting service to remove copyright material. Respecting, as it does, the doctrine of separation of powers and the rule of law, the Court cannot move to grant injunctive relief to the recording companies against internet piracy, even though that relief is merited on the facts.
So what he's saying is that he can't decide in favour of IRMA now, as the legislation doesn't exist. But, and this is the bit that scares me a lot, he feels that the lack of the legislation is a failing of the Irish state to enact legislation in compliance with EU law.
While it may be futile for IRMA to challenge the decision immediately it wouldn't be in the least bit surprising to see them attempt to pressure the Irish legislature to enact the "necessary" legislation.
Or am I missing something?
In any case I'd recommend people have a read over the full text of the judgement, as it's anything as simple and clearcut as some of the media coverage would lead people to believe.
If it is a "victory" for UPC I suspect that it may be only a temporary one.
Having dealt with IRMA in the past I somehow doubt they'll give up that easily.
(You can also see some of my comments on today's judgement here)
There is plenty of other coverage of today's decision:
While this video is amusing, the irony of it shouldn't be lost:
(In case the video gets removed .. Lisa Simpson meets Zuckerberg who is a college drop out. He points to other college drop outs such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson. The only person who isn't a college drop out is a cleaner..)
I'm currently in the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague. Up until an hour ago I was staying in the Hotel Praha, also in Prague.
Both hotels are 5 star.
But while the Hotel Praha offers free internet access throughout the building via wifi and good speeds via ethernet in your bedroom, the Intercontinental is charging me an arm and a leg for a service that they advertise as being 3 Mb/s.
I travel quite a bit for business. Once I leave Prague I'll be heading back to Brussels for another event and again I'll be hit with a disproportionately high bill for using internet access in my hotel room.
Internet access in a hotel bedroom is not a "premium" service. For any hotel that expects to attract business travellers internet access is a very basic requirement. In 2010 I'd almost see internet access for a business traveller as being on a par with clean sheets and running water.
So why on earth are so many hotels charging such high rates for it?
It's not as if they're charging incredibly low rates for the rooms and have to compensate with the "extras".
And of course I know that ranting about it probably won't change anything, but it feels good to get it "off my chest".
I'm currently spending a couple of days in Prague between "gigs". DomainFest Europe is on here in a couple of days, so I'm exploring the city and trying to "chill out" before it begins. I'm on a semi-holiday (so far that hasn't worked out too well... but I'm not complaining).
Yesterday I got the hotel to drop me down to Charles Bridge and I walked from there through the historic city. It is breathtakingly gorgeous. It's also absolutely packed with tourists. While some European cities may be complaining about a downturn in the tourist industry Prague seems to be a very popular destination. Walking around the central part of the city you hear just about every language imaginable being spoken.
Unfortunately there seems to be a plethora of those tacky souvenir shops and Starbucks dotted around the place. Fortunately there are also a lot of other shops selling locally produced goods and the herb based soaps, candles and bath salts on display look wonderful and smell even better.
The city is very pedestrian friendly, with most of the streets in the historic centre either completely pedestrianised or giving pedestrians ample opportunity to cross streets without getting run over.
While it is a bit gimmicky you can get a tour of the town in an 80 year old car:
It's a bit pricey if you're by yourself, but for 4 people it would be worth it.
I'll do some more wandering around later today, but from what I've seen so far it's a great city. The people are very friendly and the prices are significantly lower than other European capitals like Brussels.
I've been staying in the Hilton Brussels City for the last couple of nights. In terms of location the hotel is pretty convenient if you're in Brussels for meetings. The rooms are nice and the staff are friendly. However the internet setup is far from satisfactory. The Hilton group of hotels charges over €20 / day for internet access in its European hotels. While I don't particularly like paying that much for a connection I will pay it, as I need to work from my hotel room while travelling. However - and this is the thing that has annoyed me - falsely advertising what they are offering and what you are paying for is really not the way to win their clients' loyalty.
In the Hilton Brussels City you can choose between either an economy or a business internet connection. The "economy" connection comes with a number of limits, so I signed up for the "business" option. This is how it is advertised on the signup page: Note the very clear reference to unlimited data transfer.
Now have a look at the connection status window, which you can only see once you've actually signed up and paid: They impose a hard cap on the uploads!
So if you use Skype to save on your phone bills when travelling etc., you are well and truly snookered. Once you hit the upload cap they cut you off and you have to pay again if you want to reconnect. The upload cap seems to be around 250 MB, which if you use Skype and need to send a few emails with attachments etc., runs out quite easily - as I found out!
It's 2010 for God's sake! Why on earth are they doing this and why aren't they telling people before they signup about the limitations?
At €27 for 24 hours you would think that they'd be able to give you unlimited bandwidth in both directions.