On October 24 and 25, 2016, the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School hosted a conference entitled “Law, Borders, and Speech.” The excellent, thought-provoking conference featured panels of U.S. and international speakers, a number of whom were from Silicon Valley internet companies. Most of the participants have dealt with matters of international conflict of laws (prescriptive jurisdiction, adjudicatory jurisdiction, choice of applicable law, and enforcement) for a number of years. The conference marked a milestone in Silicon Valley’s relation to this field of law, and at the same time might have sent some warning signals to conflict-of-laws experts.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that federal law, notably the Stored Communications Act, allows US authorities to seize content in US-based servers, but not in overseas servers—in this case, Dublin, Ireland.
The dispute is an outgrowth of a years-long battle over whether Microsoft must hand over e-mails to New York prosecutors in a narcotics investigation. But the case has broader implications far beyond the drug probe. The case touches on consumer privacy, international relations, and the government’s desire to investigate criminal activity.
Germany’s Supreme Court has ruled that an ISP can be required to block sites that infringe on copyright, even though the ISP has no relationship with them. However, this is subject to two conditions: before seeking an order that require ISPs to block a website, the copyright holders must have explored all other avenues, for example contacting the operators of the site in question, and the Web hosting company. In addition, Web blocks can only be used for sites which “on balance” have more illegal than legal content. However, the court did not provide any guidelines for how that balance would be judged.
The UK’s 2014 private copying exception, which allowed you to make personal copies of your own music, including format-shifted versions, has now been definitively withdrawn, according to The 1709 Blog. As a result, it is once more illegal to make personal backups of your own music, videos or e-books, rip CDs and DVDs to standalone digital files, or upload your music to the cloud.