1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

French Ruling on Internet Re-transmission of TV Channels

On October 9th, the Paris High Court issued an interesting ruling in a case involving the internet simultaneous, full re-transmission of various channels broadcast by French public broadcaster France Télévisions (FTV).

Playmedia laucnhed a web-based service called playtv giving users free access to various television channels, including those offered by FTV.  It did so without any contractual agreement with FTV as it was relying on the must carry regime applicable to FTV channels.

After having failed to convince the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (regulatory body overseeing television in France) of the merits of its argument that the must carry regime allowed (or rather required) it to carry the FTV channels, the matter was brought to the Court.

The CSA rejected Playmedia's claim in July 2013 pointing out that the the must carry provisions of the Communications Act of 1986 referred to distributors who have "susbscribers" and given that this was not the case  for playtv, it could not rely thereon.

Before the Court, FTV justified its refusal to allow the re-transmission of its channels by arguing that its agreements with its own content providers (producers) expressly prohibited open internet re-transmission such as that being proposed by playtv and that black outs (of the affected programming) was not possible as the result (a partial re-transmission) would be inconsistent with FTV's public mission.

Playmedia attempted to argue against this by contending that the provisions of the 1986 Communications Act (regarding must carry) constituted an exception to the provisions of the Intellectual Property Code.  In other words, Playmedia was argiung that, assuming that the must carry rules applied, they could not be avoided by the broadcaster due to intellectual property concerns (i.e., lack of rights clearance).  The Court rejected this argument, pointing out that the list of exceptions to copyright set out in the 2001 InfoSoc Directive is exhaustive and that no mention of any such exception is made.

As regards the applicability of the must carry rules, the Court addressed this issue on the basis of the revamped playtv service which offered short excerpts of the channels to non-subscribers but required a subscription for full access (thereby dealing with the CSA's objection, at least in Playmedia's view).  The Court was not however convinced that this procedure was genuine inasmuch as the subscription form did not require a verified identity and address.  For this reason (and others), the Court held that Playmedia could not rely on the must carry rules.

In light of these findings, the Court found that Playmedia was infringing FTV's neighbouring rights in its signal, copyright in certain programming and the producer's neighbouring right in certain videograms (video recordings) as well as infring its trademarks and ordered it to pay €1 M in damages (for the copyright and neighbouring right infringements) and €25,000 in damages for trademark infringement.

The ruling is online (in French):  here

Academic outrage at appeals court fair use ruling

Georgia State University
There have been some grumbling in US academia after a federal appeals court overturned a decision in the District Court which a number of academics had found clear and understandable - and of course somewhat favourable to their own, their students' and their institutions' benefit!  As one commentator put it "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit revoked the quantitative benchmarks previously used in determining what constitutes “fair use” of copyright material  — a decision which could have implications down the road for colleges and universities and their use of electronic resources."

The District Court's decision had recognised that colleges and universities can legally create digital reserves of books in their collections.  Judge Orinda Evans had ruled that de minimis use of copyrighted texts (such as when a faculty member posts a work but no student ever accesses it) is not a violation of copyright, and that in most cases, using one chapter or 10 percent of a book would meet the fair use test.  The appellate court for  Georgia, Florida and Alabama was not so generous,  deciding in favour of a more individual case-by-case evaluation of what is considered fair use, "potentially making it more difficult for instructors to ascertain how much material they are permitted to scan and distribute through online course sites to students."

Academics and librarians said that provisions for fair use were created to allow academics to share and expand upon each other’s publications without paying restrictive fees. But in a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit  in Cambridge v. Patton rejected a broad ruling on how to determine fair use. One academic website noted "The decision guarantees the case has a long and litigious road ahead of it by reversing the district court’s opinion and sending the case back for further deliberations" and "Rather than strike a decisive blow against fair use, the legal concept that places some limits on the rights of copyright holders, the appeals court instead issued a stern warning against quick-fix, one-size-fits-all solutions to legal disputes - specifically, the idea that copying less than a chapter or 10 percent of a book automatically protects an institution from a lawsuit" - a so called 'bright line' guideline. 

Academic librarians and their lawyers have described the case as a "nightmare scenario. Barbara Fister, a librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, suggested that the plaintiffs had lost sight of their missions, which include furthering education and scholarship. Having posted an article on his institutions's website in 2011 before either decision,  Kevin Smith, the director of scholarly communications at Duke University said that a broad holding in the plaintiffs' favour would have "catastrophic consequences" either limiting the information that students can read or greatly increasing the cost of higher education.

The case revolves around a challenge by several publishers against Georgia State University’s electronic reserve systems, where faculty members and librarians would scan in excerpts of books for students to access digitally, "a technological improvement over the traditional practice of leaving a copy or two on reserve at the library circulation desk". The publishers claimed mass copyright infringement and claimed that Georgia State University engaged in "systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works" through its e-reserves system while Georgia State cited the fair use provisions of Section 107 of the Copyright Law.  The court said “Like many recent issues in copyright law, this is a case in which technological advances have created a new, more efficient means of delivery for copyrighted works, causing copyright owners and consumers to struggle to define the appropriate boundaries of copyright protection in the new digital marketplace”. 

Its undoubtedly an important case, and reports say similar cases are afoot in Canada (against York University), in India (against University of Delhi in the Delhi High Court) and in New Zealand in a Copyright Tribunal case brought by Copyright Licensing New Zealand against all eight of the nation's universities.

The costs of the litigation were funded in large part by the Copyright Clearance Center, a licensing company which funded 50% of the costs along with the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton et al. (also captioned v. Becker), 1:2008cv01425

More on TechDirt here and Inside Higher Ed here and here and the University of Virginia's Cavalier Daily here

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

When VoD gets a legislative nod ...

Video on Demand and the Promotion of European Works is the latest work to emanate from the European Audiovisual Observatory which impinges on the interests of 1709 Blog readers. As the publishers explain:
The rise in the on-demand content market has meant that, potentially, a new channel for promoting European films and TV programmes now exists via the various on-demand services. But how has Europe incorporated these on-demand services and their potential into its legislation? 
This volume, at 106 pages being a little chubbier than some of its fellows, offers "current legislation of the VoD market in Europe regarding its potential for promoting European films and TV programmes".  Further information is available here.

If you are counting your pennies, you may like to know that you can order now and get your print copy for just €78,80 (instead of €98.50), or you can opt for a PDF version for €100.40 (instead of €125.50). The best deal of all appears to be print plus PDF, which you can get for €103.60 (down from €129.50) -- though this blogger is a bit puzzled by these options and wonders why anyone would want to pay more for  PDF file than for something that has been published in print. He wonders if he is missing something  ...

Monday, 20 October 2014

Copy-me and an animated debate

"Copy-me Ep. 3 is now complete!" is the first line of an excited message from Alex Lungu, who writes to let us know that Episode 3 of Early Copyright History is now available to view (you can access this seven-minute episode via its web page here). As Alex explains:
It features censorship, hangings, dissent and criticism, a whole bunch of state and church control, angry queens, sad Stationers, and, of course, our terrible culprit: the printing press.

Copy-me is the world’s first ever animated web series about copyright, copying and open culture. The webseries is about originality, public domain, digital copies, artists and how they can make money, and lots more. We hope our episodes will bring some light to these issues and maybe start a much needed constructive debate.
From the name Copy-me and some of the text that appears on the Episode 3 page,
"We should always remember that early copyright history is an important aspect of the copyright debate. On the one hand, history shows us that copyright was designed for control more than anything else and that the state got away with this for over two centuries. On the other hand, businesses always feared new technology and lobbied for state protection, with arguments about authors’ safety. These two sides have always lurked in copyright’s underbelly and, over the course of three more centuries, managed to erode all the public good that copyright was primarily designed to promote",
one might take a reasonable stab at guessing the position taken by the clip's producers with regard to copyright.  That said, it's good to know that the ancient debate between pro- and anti-groups continues apace and this website provides both provocation and some "know your enemy" source materials for those who assume that copyright in all its forms is somehow above criticism.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The CopyKat - SiriusXM on the ropes as US judges align

GMA News tells us that the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines is strengthening copyright protection and awareness in the country, ahead of the Asean economic integration in the latter part of 2015. IPOPHL director-general Ricardo Blancaflor highlighted moves during the 35th Manila International Book Fair in a move to reverse the inclusion of the Philippines on the watchlist of the US Trade Representative. In the recent copyright forum between the Philippines and Korea, IPOPHL and the Korea Copyright Commission (KCC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the copyright industry of both countries. Sharing the copyright protection system of Korea to the Philippines is one of the main goals of KCC which is under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) of the Republic of Korea. The purpose of this signed partnership is to establish a collaborative relationship between the two countries in the field of copyright and related rights, in order to protect the rights of authors and related rights, to promote the fair use of works and to endeavor to improve and develop the culture and creative industries of both countries. 

Following the publication of his copyright and education report last week, Mike Weatherley MP has announced he is stepping down from his role as Intellectual Property Advisor to David Cameron after a year in the job. Weatherley had already announced that he would step down as MP for Hove and Portslade at the next election, and with that new election looming, Mike no doubt realises that copyright will be buried deep beneath isues such as the UK's membership of the European Community, NHS reforms, the economy, education, immigration, sleaze and and English parliament - to name but a few burning topics.  Confirming he was stepping role, Weatherley said: "It has been a wonderful opportunity to work with the Prime Minister in this way. Feedback from industry has been very encouraging throughout the time that I served as the Prime Minister's adviser and I have very much enjoyed the work that was involved in both tackling IP crime and boosting the profile of IP generally".

The IFPI's Head of Global Legal Policy, David Carson, is leaving the global recorded music body to return to a role in the US government. The organisation is not directly replacing Carson, but instead expanding the remit of its Director of Licensing, Lauri Rechardt. Carson joined the IFPI in August 2012 from the General Counsel of the US Copyright Office, where he had served as General Counsel since 1997.

And copyright attorney and former Library of Congress digital director Mary Rasenberger has been named executive director of the Authors Guild in the US. The Guild, which represents thousands of published writers, announced the change Thursday. She succeeds longtime head Paul Aiken, who has been diagnosed with ALS.

YouTube has hit $1bn in payments to companies that participate in its 'Content ID' programme that sells advertising on user-generated clips that could/would otherwise infringe copyright "in a sign that media groups increasingly see the video site as a friend rather than foe". More on the Financial Times here.

The Geeks are up in arms! Microsoft appears to be taking down YouTube videos with content related to Windows 8 based on copyright claims. Bruce Naylor, a techology reviewer and analyst at his YouTube channel FrugalTech, received a takedown notice sent from a brand protection company called Marketly on behalf of Microsoft. Naylor explained  that he filmed the video on January 6th, 2013, and called it an “op-ed piece”  saying “At no point during the video did I actually use any third-party copyrighted material,”  and “No music, video, photos — nothing like that. It was strictly talking about why Windows 8 was failing in the marketplace at that time.” And  Scott Hanselman, who works for the Web Platform Team at Microsoft (yes!)  made a how-to video for Windows 8.1 that was cited for copyright infringement - one of two copyright complaints. Microsoft responded saying "“While we are still investigating the recent YouTube takedown notices, it appears some of these videos were inadvertently targeted for removal because there were stolen product keys embedded in the comments section of the videos. Our intention was not to target legitimate YouTube content and we are sorry for the impact this has had.  We have already taken steps to reinstate legitimate video content and are working towards a better solution to targeting stolen IP while respecting legitimate content.”

SiriusXM have had some more bad news: A California federal judge Phillip Gutierrez had already delivered a "legal earthquake"by finding that SiriusXM had violated the claimant's (sixties band the Turtles)  pre-1972 master copyrights by playing their music without licensing it or paying performance royalties and now another fesderal judge who had indicated some support for SiriusXM's decision has now had a change of heart and now is minded to follow the Carifornian court.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel is presiding over a similar case brought by Capitol Records and other record industry giants; Judge Strobel had previously expressed her inclination to reject proposed jury instructions offered by the record companies, but now she had a change of heart by granting what the record companies were seeking. "Plaintiffs ask the court to take judicial notice of the order granting summary judgment in Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Siruis XM Radio, Inc," she writes. "While a federal trial court opinion is not binding on this court, the court finds the logic applied in that order interpreting Civil Code §980 to be persuasive."

Google is rolling out an update to its search engine next week that will downrank websites containing pirated content. The new, improved algorithm pushes copyright violators lower in search results. "We've now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites," Google says in its latest transparency report. The update will also affect search autofill behavior to prevent sites with pirated content from appearing in results. Furthermore, “legitimate” media sites like Netflix, Amazon, and Google Play will be prioritized to the top of Google's results page when users search for a particular movie, TV show, or song. More on the fastcompany website here.

And finally, in Germany Uploaded.net has been found liable for not deleting copyright content in a timely manner. Anti-piracy company Pro-Media informed the file-host of the infringement via a ‘takedown’ email, but Uploaded claimed not have been aware of the notice. A notic detailing infringing URLs on the file-hosting site was sent to the given abuse contact of the site,” Mirko Brüß, a lawyer with record label lawfirm Rasch Legal, told TorrentFreak. However, three days later the album was still being made available so the lawfirm sent Swiss based Uploaded an undertaking to cease and desist. When the file-hosting site still didn’t respond, Rasch Legal obtained a preliminary injunction against Uploaded. The Regional Court of Hamburg has now ruled that Uploaded is liable, even if no notice has been viewed. The Court followed our reasoning, meaning it is sufficient that the file-hoster actually receives the notice in a way that you can expect it to be read under normal circumstances.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Who needs section 97A? A comment on Cartier v BSkyB

It's that man again!  As reported by IPKat, the latest "section 97A" success is out in Cartier, Montblanc and Richemont v BSkyB, BT, TalkTalk, EE and Virgin (Open Rights Group intervening) [2014] EWHC 3354 (Ch), but this time, it relates to trade marks. Although 1709 is strictly a copyright blog, this blogger thought that if trade marks can hop on copyright’s 97A bandwagon, then 1709 can hop on theirs!

Last year, we noted the increase in use of the section 97A legislation and its success in a move towards combatting piracy, and since then, in February 2014, three further sites were blocked after an application by major film studios. 

However this time, the powers under section 97A have gone further than we imagined, and has led to the granting of injunctions against ISPs in relation to trade marks, following an application by Cartier, Montblanc and Richemont. 

As Arnold J notes in his judgment, there is no section 97A equivalent for trade marks.  However, construing the Court's general jurisdiction to issue injunctions under section 37(1) of the Supreme Court Act 1981 in the context of Article 11 of the Enforcement Directive (Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights), and in particular drawing on the decision of the CJEU in L'Oreal v eBay, he concludes "even if the Court would not have power to grant a website blocking injunction in a trade mark case upon a purely domestic interpretation of section 37(1), section 37(1) can and should be interpreted in compliance with the third sentence of Article 11 by virtue of the Marleasing principle.  If it were otherwise, the UK would be in breach of its obligations under the Directive."  

He does point out in passing the absurdity of the Government's position on implementation of the Enforcement Directive - if they were right that no specific implementation of Article 11 was necessary (which he concludes they were), then why did they not repeal section 97A, on the basis that it is not needed!

Having determined that jurisdiction was available, he applied the same tests as to when that jurisdiction should be exercised as he had previously established in the section 97A cases - 1. Are the ISPs intermediaries, 2. Are the operators of the websites infringing trade marks? 3. Are they suing the ISPs service to infringe? 4. Do ISPs have actual knowledge?

What this does show is yet again the court’s (and especially Arnold’s!) willingness to help the fight against piracy, and their willingness to put responsibility on ISPs, and this time without an explicit statutory provision to assist. It seems that the Court's inherent powers may be even more helpful to the creative industries than initially thought.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Arnold J calls for a holistic review of copyright

On a very damp Monday night, the great and good of the London copyright scene, from the Bench to the IPO and from the Bar to University Chairs (and some, like this blogger, tipped off to the existence of the event by our sister IPKat blog) crammed a lecture theatre somewhere between Smithfield and the Barbican to hear Mr Justice Arnold deliver the 2014 Herchel Smith lecture. 

The title of the lecture was "The Need for a New Copyright Act: A Case Study in Law Reform".  In case anyone has not guessed the answer after reading the title of this post, it is "yes", there is such a need; a point which was argued clearly and cogently by the speaker, who elucidated no fewer than 7 reasons why a new Act is needed, including technological change and wrong implementation of Directives.

As he explained, there were three United Kingdom Copyright Acts in the twentieth century, each preceded by a deep and holistic analysis of the then-current legislation. However, in the 26 years since the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 was passed, we have seen endless tinkering, involving over 70 separate amending instruments; even the so-called major reviews, by Gowers and most recently Hargreaves, did not fully explore the impact of specific changes which were advocated on the copyright system as a whole.

Arnold J also called for a re-think of our approach to copyright law reform - in essence a return to the measured analysis by a well-qualified and properly supported committee, which is reflected in the reports which led to the Acts in 1911, 1956 and 1988.  

This blogger welcomes the idea in theory, but has reservations about whether, in a world where the EU copyright consultation received 9500 responses, such a review is possible within a realistic timeframe and before changes in Brussels will lead to the need for such a committee to re-commence proverbially painting the Forth Bridge

The event's chair, Professor Johanna Gibson of Queen Mary, University of London, who holds the Herchel Smith chair in IP law, promised that the full text will be published in due course in the QM Journal of IP - in the meantime, any failure of this piece accurately to reflect the opinions expressed during the lecture is entirely mine.

IP Enforcement - late news from Vietnam

Three weeks' late as it happens, but better late than never.

Way back on 24 September, City of London Police Commander, Steve Head, gave a speech at the snappily entitled "International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference" in Vietnam calling for greater global co-operation and a worldwide day of action to tackle organised criminal networks who are making millions of pounds through intellectual property (IP) crime.
The conference, co-hosted by INTERPOL and the Vietnam National Police, was attended by more than 500 public and private delegates from nearly 70 countries - all of whom I am sure found it hard to tear themselves away from their desks to visit beautiful, warm Vietnam.
According to the Force's press release Commander Head, who oversees PIPCU, provided attendees with an insight into the unit’s work, focusing on how the team has successfully targeted individuals and organised crime gangs that are damaging legitimate businesses through copyright infringing websites and selling counterfeit goods online.
The Press Release quoted Commander Head  - under whose lead PIPCU has launched the ground-breaking follow-the-money projects discussed in Mike Weatherley's recent paper which you can find here [declaration of interest - this Blogger helped Mike to write the report] as saying, “PIPCU are pioneers in the way it is [sic: they are? it is? how many PIPCUs are there] tackling intellectual property crime, moving away from traditional policing methods to embrace new and innovative initiatives to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks responsible for causing huge damage to legitimate businesses.
“This work includes close collaboration with private sector organisations inadvertently supporting IP crime either through advertising or allowing payment provision on websites that are providing illegal access to copyrighted material".
“At the International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference I urged delegates to support and engage with PIPCU and to look at its strategy for policing IP crime as a potential way forward for themselves and partner agencies".