Nightmare on Brand Street: ICANN Adopts Unlimited gTLDs

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved the plan for unlimited new gTLDs (i.e., top level Internet domain names) and will soon start taking applications. Brand owners dreading the adoption of a system permitting unlimited gTLDs now face the reality of this dramatic change to the domain name system.

While the domain name system is currently limited to 22 “generic” gTLDs (.com, .org, .net, .info, .biz, etc.), country codes (e.g., .us, .uk, .cn), and certain special community-sponsored domains (e.g., the .xxx for adult entertainment), the new rules permit entities anywhere in the world to apply for and, if granted rights by ICANN, to operate a gTLD for virtually any term, word or phrase, including your names, trade names, trademark terms, brand and product names.

My partner, John L. Hines, has been following this occurrence and is about as close to these developments and their implications as any legal advisor can be; but we have a global team of lawyers – Douglas J. Wood, Cynthia O’Donoghue, Dr. Alexander R. Klett, LL.M., Steven J. Birt and Brad R. Newberg – who, with John, have put together a Client Alert entitled “.anything On Its Way: New Generic Top Level Domains Will Launch January 12”.

Of course, if you need additional information or guidance, or both, please contact any of them. They will be happy to help.

Transcending the Cloud – Advertising & Marketing Make Rain

This post was written by Joseph I. Rosenbaum and Keri S. Bruce.

As part of our ongoing commitment to keeping abreast of legal issues, concerns and considerations in the legal world of cloud computing, most of you know we have been publishing regular topical updates to our Cloud Computing initiative – new chapters and white papers intended to provoke thought, stimulate ideas and, most of all, demonstrate the thought leadership Rimon attorneys bring to bear when new and important trends and initiatives in the commercial world give rise to new and interesting legal issues. If you didn’t know, re-read the previous run-on sentence!

So here, from Joe Rosenbaum and Keri Bruce, is a glimpse at some issues that apply to the world of advertising and marketing arising from Cloud Computing. This next chapter in Rimon’s on-going series, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing,” is titled “Cloud Computing in Advertising & Marketing: Looking for the Silver Lining, Making Rain.” This white paper tries to examine the considerations and concerns that arise within the advertising and marketing industries in the wake of complex and evolving regulation and scrutiny. We hope it provides some insight into the issues and the factors that apply, even as the industry and the regulatory landscape continue to evolve.

As we do each time, we have updated the entire work so that, in addition to the single "Advertising & Marketing" services’ white paper, you can access and download a PDF of the entire “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, up to date and including all the previous chapters in one document.

Of course, feel free to contact Joe Rosenbaum or Keri Bruce directly if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance related to advertising and marketing. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. And if you ever have questions, you can always contact any Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

China Announces State Internet Information Office

This post was written by Joseph I. Rosenbaum, Frederick H. Lah, Zack Dong and Amy S. Mushahwar.

On May 4, 2011, the Chinese government announced it was establishing the State Internet Information Office, an office dedicated to managing Internet information. According to the announcement, this office will be responsible for directing, coordinating, and supervising online content management. The office will also have enforcement authority over those in violation of China’s laws and regulations (see, for example, China sets up office for Internet information management). While there are reports that many believe the purpose of the new office will be to censor political and social dissidents (see, China Creates New Agency for Patrolling the Internet, the office may also have a key role in thwarting illegal spamming and other dubious data practices.

Further, many see the establishment of this office as another step forward for the Chinese in terms of establishing their own data-protection regime. China has long been considered as lagging behind other countries in terms of their data-protection standards (quite possibly by design), and with no comprehensive data privacy law, businesses have had little guidance concerning the handling of personal data. China published the draft Personal Information Protection Measures in 2005, but those Measures have not yet been adopted and little progress seems to have been made since then. However, in February 2011, China issued a draft of the “Information Security Technology – Guide of Personal Information Protection” (“Guidelines”) to address the lack of guidance and standards surrounding online information practices in China. The Guidelines include standards with respect to collecting, processing, and using data, and there are provisions related to the transfer of data to third parties. While the Guidelines are technically non-binding, they still provide important guidance for businesses in China on how to protect the online information of China’s citizens. With the Guidelines still under review, Rimon lawyers will continue to monitor developments to see what form the Guidelines will take in the future.

If you have or are considering a presence in China, you need to know and be attentive to many things, if you are to succeed in the Chinese marketplace. That’s why you should contact Frederick H. Lah in our Princeton office, Zack Dong in our Beijing office, Amy S. Mushahwar in our Washington, D.C., office, me, or the Rimon lawyer with whom you regularly work. When you need legal guidance or have questions about regulations that apply online, on the Web, and across the Internet, in almost any part of the world, let us know. We are here to help.

Free Speech on the Internet – India Goes Schizophrenic

Unreasonable restraints on free speech? India? Well, you decide. According to an article published today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, storm clouds are brewing over just how far the government should and can go in restricting free speech on the Internet. Indeed—just how ambiguous the regulations can be such that interpretation becomes a subjective problem, enforceable at the discretion of regulators.

Unfortunately, the new rules (referred to as “Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011”) stem from a 2008 amendment, widely supported by Internet service providers (I.T. Act 2008) to an Indian information technology statute first enacted in 2000. For a history of the Indian legislation, see Information Technology Act 2000 (ITA-2000).

The Amendment removed intermediary liability of Internet service providers, many of whom are represented by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, for any content created by third parties and for which the ISP played no active role in creating. While the removal of passive ISP intermediary liability is one of growing consistency in the international community, the regulations broadly empowering officials to curtail free speech on the web are not.

Growing trend, justified by security? Aberration spawned by immediate and local concerns? Abuse of power? Reasonable trade-off for protection of society? Ahh, but whose society? Where is the balance? Who decides?

Take a look at the regulations, then you decide. But if you need legal guidance or have questions about regulations that apply to the Internet—internationally, multi-nationally or domestically, in almost any part of the world—let us know. We are here to help.

Cloud Computing – Clouds Can Sometimes Be Storm Clouds

This post was written by Joe Rosenbaum and Adam Snukal.

Among others news publications, CNN Money just recently reported that Amazon.com’s cloud-based Web service EC2 suffered a “rare and major outage” this past Wednesday that affected several online sites it supports, including Reddit, HootSuite, Foursquare and Quora. Amazon.com hosts many major websites on its servers through its cloud-based service and, in total, “[t]housands of customers hitch a ride on Amazon’s cloud, renting space on its servers.” The recent outage crashed several customer sites and created glitches of varying degrees on others.

As cloud-based Web services have proliferated, the risks associated with major outages for companies dependent on cloud-based services have become a reality. This recent outage, and potentially others like it, could create reputational risk not only to the cloud providers, but also to those who use the cloud computing services of those providers for their technology infrastructure – processing, applications and data – exposing them to contractual liabilities for failure to meet promised service levels, breaches of performance representations and warranties, and even potential security and data breaches. All these and more, possible legal and contractual problems arising from the use of and reliance on cloud computing. These potential risks should be eliminated or mitigated, and while contracts cannot always guarantee operational integrity or performance, they can provide indemnities and remedies that offer a measure of protection or mitigation in many circumstances.

Rimon has been at the forefront of cloud computing legal thought-leadership and risk-mitigation strategy for our clients. Our lawyers have significant U.S., international and multinational experience in implementing strategies, such as service level agreements and risk-mitigating tools that help limit risks associated with cloud-based computing and cloud service outages. Indeed, to appreciate the risks, one need only look to one of the very first articles by Rauer Meyer, entitled When the Cloud Bursts – SLAs and Other Umbrellas, drawn from Rimon’s on-going series – one that you can view or download entirely in up-to-date form – entitled “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.” You can access and download a PDF of the individual article or the entire “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, up to date and including all of the previous chapters in one document.

Of course, feel free to contact Christopher G. Cwalina or Daniel Z. Herbst or Joe Rosenbaum or Adam Snukal (or the Rimon lawyer with whom you normally work) if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information.

Transcending the Cloud – Financial Services: Show Me the Money!

This post was written by Joseph Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal and Leonard Bernstein.

Welcome to the New Year. As they do each year, clouds, together with some sunshine (and a cold winter blast periodically in our Northern Hemisphere), roll in, too.

Last year we published a number of topical updates to our Cloud Computing initiative – new chapters and white papers intended to provoke thought, stimulate ideas and, most of all, demonstrate the thought leadership Rimon attorneys bring to bear when innovative and important trends and initiatives in the commercial world give rise to new and interesting legal issues.

So here, from Adam Snukal, Len Bernstein, and Joe Rosenbaum, is a glimpse at some issues that apply to the world of financial services arising from Cloud Computing. This next chapter in Rimon’s on-going series, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing,” is titled “Look, Up in the Cloud, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Bank.” This white paper examines the issues that arise within financial services institutions in the wake of complex and evolving regulation and scrutiny, and we hope it provides some insight into the considerations and concerns that apply, even while the industry and the regulatory landscape are still evolving. A special note of thanks to Anthony S. Traymore, an Advertising Technology & Media associate and a good friend and colleague, who has now joined the legal department of a Rimon client. Anthony was instrumental in helping put the initial topical white paper draft together while at Rimon, and we like to give credit where credit is due – both here and in the white paper itself. Thanks Anthony.

As we do each time, we have updated the entire work so that, in addition to the single “financial services” white paper, you can access and download a PDF of the entire “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, up to date and including all of the previous chapters in one document.

Of course, feel free to contact Adam Snukal, Len Bernstein or Joe Rosenbaum directly if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance related to financial services. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. And if you ever have questions, you can always contact any Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Looking Ahead to 2011: If Brevity Be the Soul of Wit

A line recited by Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1602) comes to mind today. It’s the phrase "since brevity is the soul of wit . . . I will be brief." FYI, Polonius is a windbag in the play. There is also another phrase, often wrongfully attributed to Franz Kafka, that goes something like "lawyers are the only creatures that can write 1000 pages and call it a brief."

Well, here we are at the end of 2010. Those of you who have been reading faithfully know that each year, I create a Legal Bytes piece with no hypertext links to distract you; no citations; no dazzling factoids; and no breaking news stories. This time, I’ve decided to do something different. I am going to be brief. Instead of philosophy or predictions, I’m going to give you 10 words I believe may stimulate YOUR thinking about 2011. That’s it. I trust you. Most of you are sharper than I anyway.

You don’t have to buckle up or fasten your seat belts. Pull up a chair, open your BlackBerry, Kindle, Droid, iPhone, PC, Laptop, Netbook, Web-TV, PDA, Tablet or whatever your favorite Legal Bytes’ reading device might be; grab an espresso, a glass of tea (or whatever your liquid of choice might be); sit back and enjoy. Here goes:

  1. Mobile
  2. Behavior
  3. Privacy
  4. Social
  5. Cloud
  6. Neutrality
  7. Monetize
  8. Consolidate
  9. Engagement
  10. Global

That’s it. Oh, there is another word – profile – but that’s the subject of my first Legal Bytes blog for 2011. You will just have to come back for it!

 

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2011!

Season’s Greetings – New Year 2011

To all the readers of Legal Bytes:

This is the time of year when many of you are celebrating holidays, spending time with family, friends and loved ones, bidding farewell to the end of 2010, and celebrating the coming New Year. It is a time when many of us take a moment to reflect on the year gone by and perhaps wonder what the New Year will bring. There are people we remember with fondness; perhaps a few we might be happy to forget. But as 2010 comes to an end, we should take a moment to reflect on the friendships and experiences that helped us grow, and resolve to do some things better next year—perhaps for those less fortunate.

Most of all, this time of year gives us an excuse to say thank you for the blessings we have and to express appreciation to people who have enriched our lives. If you are reading this, you likely have or will read something else posted in Legal Bytes. You are my audience and I have to follow you—you are part of the fabric of my professional life and each of your threads enriches me, helps me weave the patterns and textures in these electronic pages. I am grateful for your readership—that you take a moment out of your busy lives to read and comment, and maybe gain some insight while being a little entertained. Thanks.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank a few people at Rimon like Erin Bailey and Lois Thomson, who make this blog happen, and Rebecca Blaw and Mike Scherpereel, who give their support and pitch in when needed. These are the folks you don’t see, but I do—they help make Legal Bytes feel alive. They are awesome and there aren’t words to express how grateful I am—especially when they get my email that says “please can we get this posted ASAP.” Thank you so much. I couldn’t do this without you! I would also like to thank Carolyn Boyle at the International Law Office (ILO) – she is the force behind motivating me to push content into the U.S. Media and Entertainment Newsletter, and while I can take credit for the substance, without her, the thousands of readers who enjoy the links and insights would be waiting far too long. Thank you. No, you aren’t nagging me.

As the year comes to an end, let me express my appreciation and gratitude to each of you. Thank you for reading. You motivate me to keep this interesting and exciting. Let me know if I succeed; scream at me if I fail. In addition to my thanks, please accept my best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year, filled with health, happiness and success. Thank you.

Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum

Transcending the Cloud – Tying Up Cloud Antitrust Issues in a Bow

As you know, we have been updating our Cloud Computing initiative with a consistent stream of information – new chapters and white papers intended to provoke thought, stimulate ideas and, most of all, demonstrate the thought leadership Rimon attorneys bring to bear when new and important trends and initiatives in the commercial world give rise to new and interesting legal issues. Often, especially when words like “privacy” and “security” are thrown about, it becomes easy to overlook some of the other issues lurking in the background.

So here, from Jeremy D. Feinstein, is a glimpse at some antitrust issues. This next chapter in Rimon’s on-going series, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing,” is titled “Tying Up the Cloud,” and seeks to give you some insights into the potential antitrust and competitive issues that even customers should be aware of, if not concerned with, when considering entering the cloud.

As we continue to do, we have updated the entire work so that, along with the single chapter on “Tying Up the Cloud” applicable to antitrust, you can now access and download the PDF of our complete “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, up to date and including all the previous chapters in one document.

Feel free to contact Jeremy D. Feinstein directly if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance related to competition or antitrust. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. Of course, if you ever have questions, you can contact me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, or Adam Snukal, or any Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Viacom Appeals Google/YouTube Ruling

Just over a month ago, Legal Bytes reported [Federal Court Awards YouTube Summary Judgment in Viacom Copyright Infringement Case] that a federal court ruled in favor of YouTube and Google in the billion-dollar case brought by Viacom on a summary judgment motion. The court decided YouTube is protected against claims of copyright infringement by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the “DMCA”).

We also told you that we haven’t heard the last of this case, since immediately after the ruling was announced, Michael Fricklas, Viacom Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, noted, “This case has always been about whether intentional theft of copyrighted works is permitted under existing law and we always knew that the critical underlying issue would need to be addressed by courts at the appellate levels. Today’s decision accelerates our opportunity to do so.”

Consistent with that announcement, Viacom has now filed its notice to appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Southern District of New York. Many legal scholars feel that in this case, the District Court opinion will be very persuasive; one never knows until the appellate court has rendered its decision. Stay tuned. If you did not read the original District Court decision, you can read and download it through the original posting on Legal Bytes: [Federal Court Awards YouTube Summary Judgment in Viacom Copyright Infringement Case].