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A plot of land is seldom the exclusive domain of a single owner that chooses to use it only at surface level and for a single purpose. Real estate practitioners often struggle to gain a clear view of the extent and origin of each right ad rem that is vested in the various parts of a building. Each such right relates to a particular space, which would be easier to visualize with a three-dimensional land register.
A notary public is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the property deeds that he or she certifies. However, flaws in the mortgage registration and certification procedures create two periods during which a notary is uncertain of the property's status. The Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries and the Ministry of Finance are studying various remedies, but a perfect solution will be hard to find.
Belgium has no comprehensive framework of rules to ensure that minimum fire safety standards are observed in the construction of industrial buildings. A three-tier classification system, expected to come into force in 2009, will set basic requirements for new buildings and certain extensions, but is expected to lead to a rise in construction costs.
Reformed rules for Belgian architects give them greater equality in respect of their European counterparts and the other parties to a building project by allowing them to take out professional liability insurance through their company. In addition, the rules ensure better protection for principals by imposing mandatory insurance coverage for architects.
The Supreme Court has held that offences committed online, such as libel in online publications, are 'press offences' for the purposes of Belgian law. The main effect of these decisions is that most online press offences will no longer be criminally prosecuted. Moreover, publishers of online publications are likely to benefit from a more favourable liability regime in both criminal and civil cases.
The Belgian 'right to reply' law for printed publications does not set libel or other damage as a criterion - the mere fact of being mentioned is sufficient. This has led to attempts at forum shopping, as in the case of a French citizen who had been the subject of a report in The Sunday Times and sought a remedy before the Brussels Court of First Instance.
The Council for Journalism has issued its first decision on the media's use of pictures uploaded on Facebook, ruling on a local newspaper's reporting of the accidental death of a young woman. The decision suggests that the council's threshold for determining when someone is considered a public person is relatively low, calling into question its own guidelines on obtaining consent from victims and their families.
The Court of Ghent has allowed moral and material damages in respect of two radio commercials which it found had infringed copyright in Bruce Springsteen's song "Fire". Among other things, the court noted that the defendants had acted in bad faith and had decided to launch the advertising campaign in spite of a refusal to grant authorisation.
A new act has amended the statutory provisions of the Copyright Act 1994 on the status and supervision of collecting societies in Belgium. The act breaks new ground in that it aims at greater transparency in the activities of collecting societies, particularly in their financial operations, as well as the objective and efficient distribution of fees.
Since the start of 2010 the Flemish Regulator for the Media has fined three broadcasters for non-compliance with product placement regulations, demonstrating its determination to take action against infringers. In a recent decision, an item on a talkshow featuring tennis player Yanina Wickmayer was deemed to have encouraged viewers to purchase products from lingerie brand Marie Jo Intense.