By Davis Doherty
Freedom of Speech Prevails in UK Thanks to Twitter
On October 12, the UK-based newspaper The Guardian reported it was unable to report on a question asked of a minister during Parliamentary proceedings due to “legal obstacles, which cannot be identified.” Political bloggers and tweeters quickly responded, reporting the question was related to the oil-trading company Trafigura, which is under investigation for allegedly dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. Within hours, Trafigura rose to the top of the Twitter “trending topics.” The resulting publicity led the company to relax the terms of its court-ordered gag rule. On October 13, the Guardian reported the details of Trafigura’s “super-injunction,” a gag order so broad that it prevented the newspaper from revealing the injunction’s existence.
Copyright Treaty a Secret, Unless You’ve Got Connections
The next round of negotiations for the multinational Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (“ACTA”) is scheduled to run November 4 through November 6 in Korea, but the United States Trade Representative is being coy about its contents. Wired reports that although the language of the treaty is classified, forty-two individuals from the private sector are allowed access to its contents under a nondisclosure agreement. Their names, including both industry and public interest organization representatives, were revealed after Knowledge Ecology International requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Winner of Patent Suit Against Microsoft Sues Internet Giants
Eolas, an internet technology company that won a patent-infringement suit against Microsoft in 2003, is now taking action against the rest of the high-tech world. Ars Technica and CNET reported on October 6 that Eolas, which holds two patents related to web browser plug-in technology, is suing twenty-three other companies for infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. After withstanding Microsoft’s legal challenges to its patent in the 2003 case, Eolas is looking to repeat its success against the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. However, a Supreme Court decision in the upcoming case Bilski v. Doll may reduce Eolas’ chances at court if software patents are weakened.