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Digital Business Lawyer

Volume: 18 Issue: 4
(April 2016)


Advocate General (‘AG’) Szpunar published his Opinion on Case C-484/14 Tobias McFadden v. Sony Music Entertainment Germany GmbH, on 16 March, stating that the operator of a business that offers free Wi-Fi is not liable for copyright infringements committed by users of that network. / read more

The European Commission (‘EC’) released on 18 March its issues paper following its public consultation on geo-blocking, the practice through which businesses prevent online customers from accessing goods or services based on their location or residence. The issues paper forms the initial findings of the EC e-commerce sector inquiry, and highlights the widespread use of geo-blocking resulting from unilateral decisions by businesses not to sell outside their own Member State (‘MS’) as well as from contractual barriers. / read more

The Deputy Director of the National People’s Congress (‘NPC’) Finance and Economic Committee confirmed at a conference on 10 March that a draft of China’s E-Commerce Law is complete. A version for public comment is expected later this year. The Law will address topics such as platform liability and dispute resolution. / read more


The UK’s Department for Business Innovation & Skills (‘BIS’) released on 1 March a Call for Evidence on ‘Terms and conditions and consumer protection fining powers’ (the ‘Paper’), in which the BIS seeks views on making T&Cs more user-friendly and also on proposals to introduce fines for companies with unfair terms. The Paper contains a number of proposals on how businesses might engage with consumers more effectively, and also asks respondents to consider the issues around fines for unfair contract terms. Gregor Pryor and Alex Murawa of Reed Smith analyse the Paper and the proposals put forward. / read more

Content streaming provider Netflix, having launched internationally, has been cracking down on the use of virtual private networks (‘VPNs’) by users to access country-specific Netflix content libraries, such as those available to US-based users exclusively, as a result of Netflix’s licensing agreements. The crackdown has been reportedly widely felt in Australia. Moreover, the battle has drawn attention to the wider use of VPNs to circumvent geo-blocking by content providers. In this article, Antoine Pace and Geoff McGrath of Gadens Lawyers in Australia discuss how, under the country’s law, content owners in Australia might discourage or prevent VPN usage to access their content. / read more

The European Commission (‘EC’) has published an issues paper containing its initial findings in its E-Commerce Sector Inquiry, which was launched in May 2015. The issues paper contains a summary of data points found in relation to a specific subset of commercial practices - ‘geo-blocking’ and ‘geo-filtering’ - and illuminates some drivers of such practices. Susanne Zuehlke of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP discusses the issues paper, and the limited circumstances in which geo-blocking and geo-filtering could raise antitrust issues. / read more

On 1 March the UK Government introduced the Investigatory Powers Bill (‘Bill’) to Parliament. In this article, Professor Ian Walden, of Queen Mary University of London and Baker & McKenzie LLP, considers the Bill from the perspective of service providers, the entities on whom much of the Bill focuses, specifically the jurisdictional reach and the obligation to build systems capable of assisting law enforcement. / read more

Currently, overseas sellers can operate in Russia without VAT registration and without charging VAT on their B2B and B2C sales. Through a draft law on VAT on software licence transactions and e-commerce services (‘Draft Law’ or ‘DL’), Russian regulators plan to ensure taxation at the place of consumption, to equalise the VAT burden on national and overseas e-commerce sellers and to establish a preferential tax regime for Russian producers of software and digital goods1. The DL was adopted in its first reading on 24 February 2016. It amends e-commerce taxation as follows: The VAT exemption for software/database licensing shall be cancelled, which affects both foreign and Russian vendors; VAT shall be imposed on electronically supplied services, if the customer resides in Russia; foreign software and electronic services suppliers shall be subject to Russian tax registration, if they make B2C sales; Russian sellers will be granted VAT deduction in relation to input VAT related to supplies of e-services to customers outside Russia. Further, corporate tax benefits are envisaged for Russia-based licensors of software and databases. These amendments are expected to become effective as of 1 January 2017. According to the Russian legislator, the amendments seek to harmonise the VAT taxation of e-commerce with that of the EU countries, for example. / read more

Following an investigation by Hamburg’s data protection authority (‘DPA’), which resulted in the DPA ordering Facebook to allow the use of pseudonyms and fake names by users, the Administrative Court of Hamburg has since overturned the DPA’s order, finding that Facebook’s real-name policy is governed by the laws of Ireland. Dr Karolin Nelles of Schindhelm discusses the case. / read more

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (the ‘CMA’) has taken enforcement action against SEO and online marketing company, Total SEO & Marketing Ltd, after its investigation found that between 2014 and 2015 the company had written over 800 fake positive reviews for 86 small businesses. This action followed a CMA report1 of 26 February 2015, regarding information it had gathered on online reviews and endorsements. The report raised concerns that the practices of some businesses may be misleading to consumers and unlawful. The CMA’s call for information highlighted concerns about the review sector, including the potential for some review websites’ practices to prevent some genuine negative reviews being published, some review websites not checking reviews sufficiently, and important information not being brought to the attention of users of some websites. As a result, the CMA commenced various investigations into companies that were potentially posting fake reviews and is expected to announce the outcome of its associated investigation into unlabelled endorsements before the end of April. / read more

Brazil’s ‘Legal Framework for the Internet,’ or ‘Internet Law,’ came into force on 23 June 2014. However this was far from the end of the story for the regulation of the internet in the country, as the Internet Law provides that further regulation in certain areas - for example in regards to net neutrality - is needed. To this end, a regulatory decree is pending in Brazil, which aims to deal with the remaining legal issues; to this end, following an initial public consultation, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice drafted a Bill of Law, which was then put out for further consultation. Evy Marques and Lays Simăo Pedro of Felsberg Advogados discuss the central issues considered by this draft Bill of Law. / read more

About Digital Business Lawyer:

The monthly publication providing authoritative insights and thought leadership on the legal/regulatory issues affecting online business, covering distance selling, contracts, domain names, adblocking, advertising, cloud computing, net neutrality, e-privacy, data protection, cyber crime, the Internet of Things, social media, internet taxation and software / read more

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