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First, a bit of confirmation - the iPhone does indeed seem to be in short supply over here, many thanks to 'staff writer' for the story here. I had a text from 02's publicity people to say the orders were being taken at 7.30am and the site had stopped offering them by 10. And it appears we're not getting the white one, either. Not sure what we're being punished for there, nor who they think is going to notice.

Anyway, today I want to talk a little about Europe. Specifically the new proposed European laws about the Internet: It seems the European Union wants more stringent piracy laws.

Now, don't get me wrong. In principle I'm in favour of this. My livelihood depends on my owning the words I type and nobody can reproduce them without my consent in Europe (to cover myself in American law I have to assert copyright; in the UK my rights are automatic). Any attempt to protect this has my broad welcome.

Only, the thing is...it's not going to work. Buried in the link above is a mention that Europe is going to want to be able to regulate the applications that go onto the Net. Again, in principle - as a European resident - I'm in favour of their being able to prevent anyone putting something online that will damage my ability to protect my intellectual property.

For Europe to decide this unilaterally, though, is a mistake. At the moment, right now, I'm a bit of a transatlantic beast. I'm typing on my keyboard in South East London, UK, at about 6.20 in the evening. Through the Internet's capacity my words are actually getting saved to a server in (I imagine) New York, where the time is much earlier. So, the old question (but no less valid for that) is: who legislates for this piece of text and the application that hosts it? The answer is straightforward on the last part of that question - the New York legislators and the US Government are responsible for any regulations that come into play. The same is true (bar the New York bit) of Google Apps and other online equivalents.

In practical terms this probably won't matter. The legislation in Europe isn't aiming to stop me typing in New York or writing spreadsheets and documents online. Where it will count is if someone in the US is doing something that Europe doesn't think is right. Or even someone in neither continent - what if we don't like something someone's doing in Australia?

The real answer is easy to articulate and difficult to achieve. We need to co-operate internationally and accept that the great British invention of the World Wide Web (oh yes it was, although like all great Brit inventions it took you guys to work out what it was for and how to make it fly) is without geographical boundary so making laws about it from a single territory is nigh on impossible.

Anyone with any idea how to make this work in practice is welcome to make a fortune out of it.

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P. S. I got so carried away writing that piece that I forgot to link it in with the title. The loser is, in this case, common sense.

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