Law Actually Hot Picks of the Week

Another Sunday, another batch of my hot picks. I’ve no idea whether this will become a regular thing or if it's something more of a ‘passing fancy’. As ever, the same rules apply: what follows is a selection of news stories that caught my eye from the last 7 days.

Carphone Talk TalkTalk Talk says ‘No No’ to BPI proposal

Charles Dunstone, CEO of Carphone Warehouse has vocalised in the last week his disapproval of the music industry’s proposal to hold ISP responsible for customers who download music illegally. He lambasted the idea, quoting his legal team who advised him that trying to hold an ISP responsible in this way is analogous with trying to “prosecute a bus company that takes a shoplifter the shops”.

Talk Talk is the first ISP to have responded to the recent proposals that seek to force ISPs to disconnect users who download songs illegally. Dunstone claimed that “consumers had a right to unfettered internet access” and “it’s not our job to control it”. Good call.

Google Docs 'Web-based applications are all well and good, but there's still no beating the desktop computer.'

I agree wholeheartedly agree with this. I’ve used a lot of web-based apps in my time and some can be handy if you’re on the road or using a public computer which doesn’t have the required program installed locally. Still, cloud computing is improving all the time and, I feel, the direction the computing world is heading in, long term. It’s just we’re not there yet. Not even close.

Bikini Lines Doctor asks “Where has all the pubic hair gone?”

Okay, stay with me on this one – the article I stumbled across on Digg actually discusses a serious issue. The article documents, inter alia, the findings of two people who find the glamour and beauty obsessed world that’s spreading to the pre-teen age bracket increasingly disturbing. In one case, Melanie Engle an aesthetician (don’t worry – I hadn’t heard of it either) describes that recently a mother brought her 8 year old daughter in to a beauty salon for an eyebrow wax specifying that she wanted them “arched like a supermodel’s”. Later that day, Engle “was directed to give her pint-size client a … bikini wax.” Further on in the article, a one Dr Hillman – who specialises in adolescent medicine – has found it increasingly difficult to rely on err, ‘growth’ as a diagnostic aid. “[N]ow, I need to ask girls, if it’s not there, ‘Do you wax? Do you shave?’ Because so many of them do.”

Max Mosley Max Mosley caught with his trousers down

I was shocked to learn of Mosley’s antics this week in which it was alleged he partook in a Nazi-style sex orgy with prostitutes. Mosley initially refused to comment and has since vehemently maintained there was no Nazi role-playing involved at all. Mosley is now suing the News of the World for breach of privacy claiming unlimited damages. As a long-term fanatic of F1, it’s only natural I took an interest. Mosley, a former barrister who specialised in intellectual property disputes has weathered several crises in his time as FIA president but none quite like this. Assuming that there were no Nazi-themes involved in his rather shady antics, I think Mosley does a great job as president and should remain in the role. That said, I sense this story has a long way still to go and it remains to be seen if he'll get that chance.

Facebook Dollars And finally, thanks to Andro for giving me the heads-up on this one: Michael Arrington over at Tech Crunch is suing Facebook for $25 million for allowing 3rd parties to use his image and Facebook content as ads without his express permission. I blogged last week about the issue of Facebook seeking to grant themselves the right to utilise the user content for ads that’s tucked neatly away in their terms and conditions and now this.

--UPDATE --  This story: April Fool or non April Fool?  When I initially heard about this I couldn't decide what it was.  Trawling the comments, I noticed, people weren't buying it as a true story.  Just to clarify, I still don't know and I don't really care either way: half the lawsuits in America seem to be lifted from the pages of a joke book, quite frankly, so what's one more?  Whether it's a straightforward gag, frivolous lawsuit or double-bluff, what does it matter?  Would I personally try sue Facebook for 25 million dollars?  You bet your ass I would. 


  1. Michael, I don't know how to break it to you, but... the TechCrunch story might've been an April's Fool prank :[ Although I'm not 100% sure.

  2. Well I was pretty dubious given that it was 25 million but you know, real or unreal - it's all the same in my 'hot picks of the week'. :-)

  3. Now that I had an opportunity to read the rest of your post, I am a bit worried about this whole ISP vs. illegal downloads thing. I have a feeling that loads of innocent people are going to suffer. That would be like the end of trial software, promotional mp3s and wallpaper packs! Everyone's just going to be paranoid about their traffic, in case it looks suspicious!!

    Holding ISPs responsible is stupid. Surely they can just get them to disclose their 'criminal' customers' details?

    Oh, I saw this video once... I tried to find it on youtube, but without any success. :( Anyway, it's a few years old now and it was a spoof about the US agency who deals with illegal mp3s (if only I could remember what they're called). It had like a SWAT team breaking into a house and shooting the whole family down, because their son was downloading illegal mp3s. It then had a warning message in the end. ;D

    I personally never had a need to use any of the web applications, just because virtually every PC has MsWord or its equivalent! I tried to edit a word document in gmail once, but it seemed reeeally awkward.

    I heard that brazilian (or boyzilian
    ;D)waxing has become quite popular amongst men lately.

  4. Could agree with you more, Andro. I think the proposals to make ISPs ultimately responsible for their customer's web surfing habits is crazy The whole idea of them disconnecting customers who are deemed to have 'downloaded illegally' just fills me with horror.

    Like you say, it would effectively kill just so much of the rich content available on the web today. The web is meant to be a bountiful paradise of that stuff - not having the download police peeping over your shoulder at every turn.

    I've argued many times on Law Actually that to combat this stuff, you've got to go after the source. The internet is becoming such an essential utility these days - you can't just 'take it away' from a whole family because of a couple of dodgy downloads that one member indulged in, when the rest of them use it fairly, legally and constructively. Would the electricity board disconnect an entire family for good if it was found that one family member was indirectly using it to grow cannabis? Would a water board cut off an entire family for ever because one of them flouted a hosepipe ban one summer? It's just crazy.

    Piracy is a problem, granted but go after the hosts of these sites. The last thing we want to wind up with is the ISP police. It's only a short step from that to entirely filtered internet such as in China!

  5. I use a few web apps but only as a 'make do' option when I'm away from one of my PCs/ don't have a laptop to hand etc.

    I'm currently loving Evernote which is still in a private beta and is shaping up nicely as a great snippet/note taking tool. The drag and drop capabilities are great - excellent for getting stuff together during research.

    For me, the biggest problem is that whenever I use web apps, I typically do so because I'm not on a well-stocked or up to date PC. So the computers you are forced to use web apps on are often which aren't capable of running them properly. The Photoshop Express example is a classic here. So many 'public computers' don't let sites use flash, which often kills a lot of the richer content available.

    BTW: GoogleDocs is also rolling out offline access to accounts. It's a very poor relation compared to MS Office but it can be useful if you're on a public computer.

    Not quite sure of the video you referred to, Andro but
    this one
    is a classic. You may have seen it before on The IT Crowd as a parody of the anti piracy warnings on DVDs. Great stuff.

    And re. the waxing, I saw a swingboard sign in the city the other day saying 'Brazilian Wax - cheapest in town'. Maybe I should check it out, eh? :-/
    Or maybe not.

  6. I love that IT Crowd video, so funny :)

    Evernote seems awesome! I still use good ol' Word to paste stuff into. And then never able to remember where I saved it.

    By the way, I was 'pirated' once. I designed a wallpaper for the release of the Prodigy's new album in Russia. The promo of the album leaked about 3 months before the official release, and the pirated CDs were sold... with my wallpaper on the cover!!! I got asked for an autograph when I was buying that CD for myself (not that I was bragging... ;D).

  7. ... Is it me, or does Mr Mosely look like the recently deceased Charlton Heston?!?

  8. Wow, is there no end to your talents, Andro? I think designing a cover for Prodigy earns you a bunch of bragging rights.

    And re. Max Mosley looking like Charlton Heston, Minxy, I guess you could argue there's a similarity. In the right light, of course. Midnight with the blinds drawn, eh?! :-P


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