Friday, August 28, 2015

Online secondary liability and e-commerce

Image result for mobile shopping icon
The question of secondary liability for online intermediaries is one which is starting to gain importance in SE Asia. There are no clear global rules - the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty has only a general definition and is now somewhat out of date.  SE Asia has a several common law countries, where contributory liability can exist. It also has civil law jurisdictions where it may be necessary to look outside IP laws to civil codes where there may be acts of collaborating or assisting illegal acts. In Thailand and the Philippines the IP laws only cover copyright secondary liability, not for trademarks.

One problem is that the usual primary acts of copyright, communicating and distributing illegal copies may not apply to the newer classes of internet intermediaries which are assisting others to do those infringing acts. At the GFIP in Singapore this week the issue arose several times, whether secondary liabilities really existed everywhere or whether all intermediaries like payment providers and advertising networks were covered.  

Meanwhile online shopping is booming in SE Asia  Alongside the global platforms like Ebay are regional ones like Lazarda/Zalora, as well as local ones like OLX in the Philippines, Weloveshopping in Thailand and Kaskus in Indonesia attracting millions of users every month. The SEA region needs to look hard at this area and figure out how to play legal catch up with the e-commerce its citizens are engaged in.


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