NALP Exchange

Discussion of the Law

Month: May 2012

Internet Licensing Laws – UK

The problem with many of our laws relating to licensing and copyrights, is that most of them were developed long before the introduction of the internet. Take for example the laws that govern the requirements of TV licences in the UK.    At the moment you can actually watch the lots of UK TV channels online without needing a TV license.  Now a few years ago that would have been unlikely to tempt many people from abandoning their TVs to computers.  But nowadays the line between TVs and computers is very blurred – we have internet enabled TV sets, super fast broadband and a myriad of devices able to store TV channels.

Suddenly the requirement of an expensive  TV license doesn’t seem so necessary.  Clearly there is confusion in the market and the BBC Trust is mooting changes to clarify the situation (and obviously force more to buy a license).   A BBC spokesman said –

Legislative change is likely to be required in order to reflect technology changes in the licence fee regulations,”

One of the biggest loopholes is the fact that if you don’t watch the shows live then you don’t need the license.  So presumably you could set your TV or media device to download or store the show and watch a few minutes later.  The license costs about £142 or about $250 so it’s a significant expense that can be avoided each year.

There are other confusions experienced across the planet.  Most media channels block access to their content outside their countries borders.  Hulu is only available in the US, M6 Replay only in France and the BBC technically in the United Kingdom.  Of course these restrictions are frequently bypassed online – there are loads of internet sites explaining how you can watch anything online.  This one for instance shows how to watch BBC Iplayer –   Are these methods illegal – well probably not with current legislation but of course there are lots of legislation pending in the US and across the world that might change this situation.

IN other countries the legislation is different of course, which is the huge problem for people attempting to regulate the internet.  Whether you need to access BBC Iplayer in the UK or ABC Iview, the problem is still the same – your IP address, wherever you are defines what you see.

There’s one thing for sure if you want to specialize in a fast developing and probably controversial area of law – the media might very well be for you.

Further Reading

Law Against Islamic Law in Kansas

Kansas State Congress voted by 120 to 0 and the State Senate by 33 to 3 to pass a law that prevents courts and government agencies from using Islamic or other ‘non-US laws’ in decision making. The bill is waiting for Republican Governor Sam Brownback to sign. He has made no indication so far whether the bill will become law.

The bill is termed as the ‘anti Sharia’ law. 20 other states in America are considering similar laws.

Although many of these proposed bill do not name Islam or Sharia directly this is the intended target of these laws.

While the bill might be a vote winner, there are several problems with such bills. Firstly, it is illogical to talk about 2 laws. There is only one law, and that is the law that is applied by the police and upheld by the courts. We don’t have a law that allows stoning of adulterous women and one law that forbids women being stoned for cheating on their husbands. It would be contradictory to do so.

There is sometimes a contradiction between state and federal law, but that is an issue of jurisprudence.

Secondly, there is a constitutional problem with the proposed Kansas law. The constitution gives people the freedom of speech and the freedom to pursue their religious beliefs. If Jewish people insist that their children must marry other Jews to continue the line of their religion then it is not a matter for the courts to rule upon. Muslims have similar rights in America.

Moreover, Islam has been in the USA since Malcolm X in the 1960s. It is hardly a non-US religion, just as Judaism is also not considered non-American.

The bill is a statement of bigotry and a stain on the state of Kansas.

Wine Laws to Know

US Laws are suppose to be simple, concise and easy for the average citizen to understand.

Try the shipping of wine and see what you think in regards to simplicity.  For wine clubs, this is a major issue.

First, states are allowed to make their own laws.  It’s been like that since Prohibition ended close to 100 years ago!

Some states allow wineries from out of state to ship directly to their citizens.  Others do not.

Some states allow out of state retailers to ship to their citizens.  Others do not.

Some states allow in state wineries to ship to their consumers.  Others do not.

Some states allow in state retailers to ship to consumers.  Others like Utah clearly hate wine and all alcohol and do not.

Other than states are allowed to do whatever they want, what’s simple to understand about these laws? Why are they so different from one state to another when there is a federal drinking age?

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