On 24 October 1996 Lord Hamilton in the Outer House of the Court of Session granted interim interdict to stop the Shetland News from including within its World Wide Web site a link to the home page of a rival publication, the Shetland Times (Shetland Times Ltd v Wills 1997 SCLR 160, 1997 SLT 669). This was on the basis of infringement of copyright, through use of the Shetland Times headlines on the Shetland News page as the means of access, and because the Shetland Times web site was a cable programme, access to which did not involve interaction with users (see Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, ss 7, 17 and 20). The case appears to be the first on copyright and the Internet, but doubt has been cast upon the reasoning. A full hearing upon the petition for permanent interdict is expected later in 1997. Meantime the story can be followed on the newspapers’ respective web-sites, albeit without direct links to each other for the time being: http://www.shetland-times.co.uk and http://www.shetland-news.co.uk. See further No 24 above.
In November 1996 a statue of a lioness was found in the bed of the River Almond where it enters the Firth of Forth at Cramond near Edinburgh. The statue was removed from the river in January 1997 and found to be probably of the second or third centuries, when Cramond was the site of a major Roman fort. Ownership of the statue falls to the Crown since it is treasure trove (which in Scots law is not confined to precious metals). The finder, Robert Graham, who is the Cramond ferryman, has been awarded a five-figure sum by the Treasure Trove Panel, which has also advised the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer that possession of the statue should be shared by the National Museums of Scotland and the Edinburgh Council museums department, who will take turns to exhibit it.
In the Hawick Common Riding case, the claim of sex discrimination (see No 8 below) was held relevant in Jedburgh Sheriff Court in April 1997, but the judgment of Sheriff Brian Reid is the subject of an appeal (see further No 19 above); meantime, the 1997 Riding took place in June with female participation.
Mr Donnie Munro was not elected Labour MP for Skye (see No 4 below), but on 4 July 1997 the Scottish Office announced that the price of toll tickets for the Skye Bridge sold in bulk, previously £2.51, would be reduced to £1.25, and charges for buses and heavy goods vehicles would also come down. On 8 July the Lord Advocate announced that only persistent non-payers would be prosecuted henceforth. On 10 July Sheriff James Fraser at Dingwall held that the Skye Bridge Toll Order did not specify whether the driver, passenger or owner of a vehicle should pay the toll, and accordingly non-payers committed no offence. On 25 July the High Court of Justiciary (Lord Justice-General Rodger presiding) overturned the sheriff’s ruling (1997 GWD 27-1372). Robbie the Pict, legal secretary of Skye and Kyle Against the Tolls (SKAT), commented: “You could say we have been Rodgered.”
Assessment of the quality of research in the Scottish law schools during the period from 1 April 1992 to 31 March 1996 followed hard on the heels of the assessment of teaching quality in Scottish law schools mentioned below (No 1). The results were published on 19 December 1996. Aberdeen received a 5B, meaning that 80-94% of its staff achieved international excellence in some sub-areas of activity and attainable levels of national excellence in virtually all others. Edinburgh and Strathclyde received a 4A, meaning that 95-100% of their staff achieved national excellence in virtually all sub-areas of activity, or international level in some and at least national level in a majority. Glasgow and Dundee were awarded 4B, giving the same level of achievement, but in the case of 80—94% of staff.
The Hawick Common Riding commemorates the feats of Hawick men who in 1514 ambushed English soldiers in the area and captured their flag, the “Hexham pennant”. The Riding has been a men-only event since the 1930s. Four women joined the 1996 ride-out on 1 June despite prohibitions by the organising committee. An angry demonstration by a Hawick shopkeeper against the women’s participation led to his conviction in Jedburgh Sheriff Court on 9 January 1997 for breach of the peace. A poll set up by the organising committee in Hawick on 4 December 1996 showed a large majority in favour of continuing the men-only tradition, but on a turn-out of only about 24% of those entitled to vote. Two of the women who took part in the ride-out complained to the Equal Opportunities Committee about the continued ban on female participation in the event. The Commission has taken up the case. (See further No 11 and No 19 above.)