Dozier Internet Law is continuing to monitor proactively legal developments in the US and in other countries. In France, the 19% Value Added Tax for delivery by foreign (yes, US) businesses supplying software updates, electronic data, distance learning, online subscriptions, and other electronic services to French citizens, even if the US business has no other connection to the country, is authorized and supported by an EU directive. Also, an agreement has been reached between the French government, ISPs, and film and music rights owners that will punish illegal downloaders of copyright protected music and films by cutting off their internet access. "The Internet must not become a high-tech Far West, a lawless zone where outlaws can pillage works with abandon or, worse, trade in them in total impunity. And on whose backs? On artists' backs," the French President stated upon announcing the new anti-piracy program.
In Canada, on the tail of proposed legislation that could create a Canadian DMCA-like copyright infringement take-down notice tool, a defamation judgment has been entered against the director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression in the sum of $20,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages for nine defamatory postings.
In the EU, and Antigua and Barbuda, sanctions are on the way against the US for banning online gambling in apparent violation of the World Trade Organization Treaty in which each member pledges not to institute a law or policy that would have a materially adverse economic impact on other members. Antigua and Barbuda claim that a huge percentage of their Gross National Product is generated from online gambling, which is illegal in the US and subject to stepped up enforcement measures here.
And in the US, the State of Pennsylvania is now requiring third party sellers on e-Bay to get auctioneers' licenses, and this requirement is not necessarily limited to in-state sellers. In Missouri, a town ordinance has been passed prohibiting cyberbullying after the suicide of a 13 year old after receipt of intentionally hurtful messages on MySpace. Expect this to be the first of many efforts at the local, state and federal level to address this perversion of free speech, and expect to see the ACLU, Public Citizen, and other "consumer rights" organizations attack the laws through lobbying and lawsuits. And in California, the use of another party's name in a chatroom to identify the "poster" almost resulted in criminal indictments after an FBI investigation. This form of "online identity theft" in chat rooms (and by implication in blogs, forums and websites) can result in criminal liability for impersonating another person under either forgery, fraud, or identity theft common law.
Dozier Internet Law continues to monitor and evaluate developments in the law of the web. Right now it looks like the laws and decisions are continuing to catch up with the "Wild West" mentality that is so prevalent among the "scofflaws" of the web. It's good to remember that some pioneers get arrows in their backs, I guess.