May 19, 2022

European Court Rejects Call for I.S.P.’s to Curb Illegal File Sharing

PARIS — The highest court in the European Union said on Thursday that Internet service providers could not be required to monitor their customers’ online activity to filter out the illegal sharing of music and other copyrighted material.

The ruling, by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, is a setback for a Belgian group representing music copyright owners, which had sought tougher measures to crack down on online file sharing. The organization, Sabam, had sued a Belgian Internet provider, Scarlet Extended, saying its customers were illegally sharing music files.

Sabam had won a ruling in a Belgian court, which said Scarlet should have to install a system to filter out any unauthorized exchanges of songs on its own, not just in response to complaints from copyright holders.

The high court in Luxembourg said such a requirement would be disproportionate, adding that it would violate “the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information.”

“E.U. law precludes an injunction made against an Internet service provider requiring it to install a system for filtering all electronic communications passing via its services, which applies indiscriminately to all its customers, as a preventive measure, exclusively at its expense, and for an unlimited period,” the court wrote.

Lobbying groups for Internet service providers and for consumers hailed the decision.

“This judgment sends a crystal-clear signal,” said Monique Goyens, director general of B.E.U.C., a Brussels group that lobbies for consumer rights. “Internet providers cannot be asked to police consumers’ use of the Web.”

Malcolm Hutty, president of EuroISPA, a service providers’ lobbying group, added, “This ruling is of fundamental importance for the future of the Internet and the development of a strong digital single market.”

The music industry shrugged off the implications of the decision. Other measures to curb illegal file sharing, including the blocking of Web sites that enable piracy and the cutoff of persistent file-sharers’ Internet connections, will not be affected, the industry’s international lobbying group said.

“In this particular case, the court rejected the content-filtering measure presented by the Belgian court as too broad,” Frances Moore, chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said in a statement. “However, this does not affect the forms of I.S.P. cooperation that I.F.P.I. advocates.”

Indeed, a recent court ruling in Britain required an Internet provider, BT, to block access to a Web site called Newzbin2, which was found to have made pirated content available to customers.

Article source:

N.L.R.B. Rules Would Streamline Unionizing

The labor board wants to tighten up the process by ensuring that employers, employees and unions receive needed information sooner and by delaying litigation over many voter-eligibility issues until after workers vote on whether to unionize.

The labor board’s news release and fact sheet did not explain how many days the election process might be shortened as a result of the proposed regulations, on which the public will have 75 days to comment.

Unions have long complained that it takes too many weeks from when they petition for an election to when a secret-ballot election is held. They say the process gives management too much time to mount an aggressive antiunion campaign with videos and one-and-one sessions with workers.

According to the N.L.R.B., the average amount of time it took from petition to election in 2008 was 57 days.

American companies have repeatedly opposed any effort to shorten the period from petition to vote, saying that would make it harder for managers to tell workers about the disadvantages of unionizing and to ensure that workers gets both sides of the story.

The board said its steps announced Tuesday “are intended to reduce unnecessary litigation, streamline pre- and postelection procedures and facilitate the use of electronic communications and document filing.”

N.L.R.B. officials say they are not mandating any specific timetable for an election. Nonetheless, Republicans — many of whom are livid with the labor board for accusing Boeing of acting illegally by opening a plant in South Carolina — are expected to attack the board’s proposed rulemaking, saying it shows yet again that President Obama’s N.L.R.B. is doing favors for organized labor.

The board says such rulemaking is a common part of its 75-year history. “It is fair to predict that the new proposals will be controversial,” the board’s chairwoman, Wilma B. Liebman, said in a statement. “That controversy is unfortunate, but it is not a good reason for the board to abandon its responsibilities.”

The board’s most recent annual report says that 1,619 unionization elections were held in fiscal year 2009, with unions winning 63.8 percent of them. Business groups say that such a high winning percentage refutes labor’s claims that the process is unfair. But union officials assert that if the election process were not so skewed and unfair, that percentage would be far higher and they would be pushing to hold many more elections, perhaps helping to reverse organized labor’s decline.

In an article about the N.L.R.B., Samuel Estreicher, a law professor at New York University, noted that unions considered the time between petition and election a problem “because employee interest in collective representation can wane and dissipate simply by the passage of time.”

In one important specific change, the labor board will seek to avoid election delays by deferring a common form of litigation in which companies argue that some employees should not vote because they should be considered supervisors. Challenges to voter eligibility can often delay elections for several weeks. Under the proposed regulations, such litigation would generally be deferred until after the election.

“One of the most important duties of the N.L.R.B. is conducting secret-ballot elections to determine whether employees want to be represented by a labor union,” Ms. Liebman said. “Resolving representation questions quickly, fairly, and accurately has been an overriding goal of American labor law for more than 75 years.”

In a move that board officials say will make it easier for employees, employers and unions, the labor board proposes to allow petitions and other election documents to be filed electronically. Under federal rules, signatures of at least 30 percent of a workplace’s employees are needed to petition for a unionization election.

Article source:

The Boss: It’s O.K. to Sleep at Camp

One day after basketball practice, two of my teammates got into a heated discussion about an incident that happened in third grade. It hadn’t occurred to me that these guys had known each other for so long. It was the first time I realized that moving every few years wasn’t the norm.

I married my high school sweetheart when I was in college at Duke, and we had a son who was diagnosed with leukemia. I dropped out of school and exhausted our medical coverage over the next three years. My dad advised me that the military would provide medical insurance. I joined the Army because it was a branch of the service that would let me choose the training I wanted.

Unfortunately, my son died a year later. Marrying young and having a child with serious health issues was too much for the marriage, and it didn’t last. I told my superiors that since there was no longer any reason for me to be there, I’d like to go home. But they pointed out that I still had three years on my contract.

I continued my training on computers and electronic communications and ended up with the equivalent of a master’s degree in computer science. I worked on a command-and-control system at Fort Sill, Okla., that managed an entire operating theater and was deployable anywhere. It integrated information like data about weather, troop movements, munitions and supplies.

Anxious to catch up with my peers, I got a job at a computer firm in New Jersey and enrolled at what was then Rider College. I worked full time and went to school full time, graduating summa cum laude in 1990 at age 30. Afterward I attended the Fuqua School of Business at Duke on a full scholarship.

Then I accepted a job at Procter Gamble, starting as a financial analyst with an eye to becoming a senior finance executive. On one assignment, I served as a controller at a paper plant in Greenville, N.C, to understand how seemingly small decisions have an impact on capital, costs and operations at that level.

A lesson I learned at P. G. from my mentor and boss, Wendell Clark, was to anticipate and prepare for the future. He suggested using the financial model I had developed to adjust various costs and predict the impact in seconds.

Next, I worked at Coca-Cola and helped turn around a noncarbonated beverage division. Then I became chief financial officer at Kidde, the smoke detector and fire extinguisher company. After that I moved to SPX, an industrial equipment supplier, which wasn’t a great fit. It was industrial engineering oriented and I was consumer marketing oriented.

Thankfully, Gary Kiedaisch, the Coleman chief executive at the time, called me to discuss a position there. I joined Coleman in 2005 as C.F.O. and vice president for administration. I became interim C.E.O. in 2007 when Mr. Kiedaisch left the company, and I was promoted to my present position in 2008.

I’m often asked about my camping experiences. During a humanities course in graduate school, I participated in an Outward Bound type of exercise that required us to camp. It was the first time I realized you’re actually supposed to sleep. In all the times I camped with the Boy Scouts, we had thought the name of the game was to keep the fire burning and to run around and scare one another; I’d sleep in the car on the way home.

As told to Patricia R. Olsen.

Article source: