Thu, Mar. 17, 2005

New Batch of Supreme Judges

CK - Washington. Today, the federal election committee for the judiciary, Bundeswahlausschuss, elected several batches of justices for the various supreme courts. It chose six justices for the Bundesgerichtshof which is the supreme court for civil and criminal matters. The supreme tax court, Bundesfinanzhof, receives five new justices. Three appointments went to the supreme court for social matters, Bundessozialgericht, and two each to the supreme administrative court, Bundesverwaltungsgericht, and the supreme employment relations court, Bundesarbeitsgericht.

Links to the courts are located in the side column. The office of the Attorney General in Berlin released a press statement, dated March 17, 2005. The electors are 16 representatives of the 16 federal states and 16 appointees from the federal diet, Bundestag, in Berlin.

Censorship: Internet Reporter

CK - Washington.   Today, in JungleWorld, the writer Mathias Spielkamp reports on censorship in German law with respect to links to software that are deemed illegal even in objective news reports about the existence of such software.

With the effect of maximizing legal fees under the statutory fee structure for German attorneys, a Munich law firm demanded, on behalf of eight content marketers, with a cease-and-desist order that German publisher Heise submit to a civil penalty and stop the alleged violation of the law by publishing the link to the AnyDVD software on its heise online website. Spielkamp argues in support of Heise's objection to the demand and hopes for a clarification from higher courts of the effective censorship of reporters that results from the prohibition demanded by the content vendors.

Under §95a of the copyright statute that was revised in 2003, promoting software to crack DVDs and such is illegal. The lawyers for the content industry argue that reporting on such programs equals its promotion. The lower court ordered Heise to remove the link but refused to outlaw the reporting. Heise is expected to appeal the ruling.

Kefk Network publishes a list of programs for which the same Munich law firm has issued cease-and-desist orders to various parties. The network argues that without such a list nobody can recognize software outlawed by §95a. An interview with the law firm makes the network conclude that any reporting on products involving the music and movie industry and the companies themselves has become risky. Reports on audiovisual software and hardware are also not advisable. The same is true for copy protection schemes because reports on them could be deemed irony or satire, thus promoting the opposite objective in an underhanded fashion.

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