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Re: Court Jurisdiction and the Internet

From: ALASTAIR AITKEN CLMS <A.Aitken@unl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 1997 11:00:24 +0000 (GMT)
To: www-talk@w3.org
Message-id: <01ILKO1BV5JS0036MI@tara.unl.ac.uk>
ashok@ada.ernet.in wrote:

> On Mon, 14 Jul 1997, Michael R. Sees wrote:

> > I am a law student studying how a citizen of a state
> > can subject himself to the jurisdiction of a foreign court though
> > web-related activites.
> > 
> > Where may I find technical information related to the
> > possibility of limiting access to a web site by geography?

>              The subject you study is interesting. But Iam afraid if you
> can find a global solution. As an intellectual property specialist, I can
> tell you that unless there are convenants signed amongst the countries
> there cannot be any restriction in the flow of data in the cyberspace. For
> more and specific information please do contact me.

Perhaps I do not understand.  Are you (ashok) saying that if one country does
not have a covenant (?) with another then the one cannot restrict the flow of
data to that other?  This was not at issue over the US Governments attempts to
control the dissemination of crypotographic utilities to other countries.  As
far as I am aware the UK never entered into any 'covenant' with the US that
would permit them to restrict what software we might obtain from there and yet
the US has restricted this anyway.  Do we have an action under international
law?  I doubt it.

You are talking property rights and countries need no 'covenants', perhaps you
mean treaties or conventions such as Berne, to protect what is theirs.  I do
not want to get into the argument over whether the US has the right to restrict
the dissemination of cryptography routines because that is an internal matter
for the US and it's citizens.

Europe recently issued a directive intitiating the first new intellectual
property right for some years - the right to prevent unfair extraction from a
database - which has prompted the US to consider the adoption of similar
measures.  Europe entered into no covenant with anyone to intitiate this right
yet, as a directive, it is binding on all EC states and actionable in European
courts against those who infringe the right, wherever they come from.

There is also the issue of pornography.  States have the right to restrict
what they consider to be damaging to public morals or injurious to public
decency (not my terms) whether it enters their jurisdiction via a port or a
wire.

There are reasonable similarities to be drawn between real goods and virtual
goods in terms of what a jurisdiction might restrict or allow.  They need no
treaties to be enforceable within a country.

The original question was technical and I believe was answered earlier.

The legal opinion you gave seems fatally flawed to me.

Alastair Aitken				a.aitken@unl.ac.uk
+44 171 753 3202			http://www.unl.ac.uk/alastair/

The opinions expressed here bear no relation to my employers' or my own but are
a gift from the green and yellow gargoyle that sits permanently on my shoulder.
Received on Wednesday, 23 July 1997 06:03:54 GMT

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