Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Twenty Ten

- 2010: an e-commerce year to remember -

The year kicked off with a victory for manufacturers of luxury products keen to protect their brands, when, in February, a Paris court ruled that eBay should compensate Louis Vuitton for facilitating the sale of counterfeit Louis Vuitton products. Although another case in which a UK court ruled that eBay was not liable for listing fake L’Oréal goods illustrated the battle of ‘the brand owners v counterfeiters’ is far from over, 2010 should be considered as a year in which copyright infringements and counterfeiting were taken more seriously than ever before.

Many countries, like the UK, France, Ireland and South Korea, passed new or updated laws aimed at combatting online piracy more effectively by creating a more defined framework for copyright breaches on the net. In the UK, the controversial Digital Economy Act (DEA) came into force in June and a highly symbollic copyright agreement with China - the biggest infringer - was signed. Enforcement is still considered to be one of the biggest challenges, so many welcomed, in November, the publication of the final draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, aimed at establishing standards on intellectual rights enforcement. The US, in the meantime, has taken its own approach and has, without a court order, started shutting down file sharing websites.

It was certainly also a year in which Google dominated the headlines. Its controversial AdWords policy, the data protection and copyright agreements with a number of countries and groups, and the announced investigation into possible abuse in the online search market in Europe all made the headlines. But it was not only bad press for Google: its advertising revenues rose to $25 billion this year.

And 2010 might go down as the year free online news saw the beginning of the end. In July, Rupert Murdoch put his collection of newspapers The Times, The Sunday Times and the Financial Times (FT) behind a paywall. Although unique readership numbers have fallen significantly - readership has fallen around 90% - it seems publishers are starting to see the lucrative side of it: in December, the FT reported The Telegraph Media Group (publisher of The Daily Telegraph) will launch a similar scheme in the New Year, with others expected to follow.
Television also made a digital jump forward. Google launched its Google TV service in November and the UK High Court ruled, in the same month, that the activities of a TV streaming website are covered by copyright law despite the fact that it is not a broadcaster itself.

In publishing, more books were sold online than in traditional bookshops and 2010 was the year of the ‘e-reader’. When the year kicked off, Kindles and Nooks sold impressively well on Amazon but the launch of the Apple iPad in April was an outright, unrivalled milestone. With three million devices sold in the first 80 days, it was undeniably the e-commerce hit of this year.

Published previously in E-Commerce Magazine, London 2010 (C) Copyrights apply