Thursday 5 September 2013

The CopyKat - texts and sex, huffs and cuffs, noses and codes, all in this fashionably topical (re) mix

Bloomberg Law reports that the website owner who the American Bankers Association alleges is violating copyright law for posting bank routing numbers is getting some pro bono counsel to dispute the claims made by the ABA in a June 5th letter. The letter, to website owner Greg Thatcher, contends that the website is reproducing, without authorization, the nine-digit routing numbers as each of the 29,000 numbers is an infringement of an “original copyrighted work carefully selected and arranged as a result of the ABA’s creativity”. Wow.

Undertexter, the fansite that provides original dialogue translations from television shows and movies, translations which helps deaf and foreign language-speaking individuals have easy access to these cultural works has been raided by Swedish police. Swedish Internet freedom activist Rick Falkvinge told the Huffington Post that it was websites like Undertexter that helped give deaf and foreign-language speakers the chance to watch movies and television programs, providing translations that would otherwise take months to become available. However, since the raid on Undertexter, that opportunity is now gone. There is a blog - When Copyright Laws Go Too Far - by OpenMedia communications intern Camille Crowther here.

In Nova Scotia v. Roué, 2013 NSCA 94  the Canadian courts have been addressing the copyright in the design of the famous Canadian schooner Bluenose. This is the ship that graces the back of the Canadian dime. Certain descendants of the vessel's original designer, William J. Roué, have launched an action against the Province of Nova Scotia, claiming that the Province was infringing copyright and moral rights in the original design drawings of their ancestor, by restoring or rebuilding the Bluenose vessel which launched in 1921 and sank in 1946 and was rebuilt using the original drawings in 1963 and the Bluenose II has been owned by the Province since 1971. The case continues. 

No room in paradise, 
and NO copyright protection
Back in February last year Jeremy reported on one defence filed in a copyright infringement case in the USA where an alleged illegal downloader of a porn film claimed that the film Amateur Allure Jen could not be a copyright-protected work. In particular the defendant claimed that, pursuant to the US Constitution's Copyright Clause, copyright is authorised only for works which promote the progress of science and useful arts. Amateur Allure Jen would fail to meet these objectives. Jeremy asked How porn friendly is copyright? Well in Germany the answer seems to be not as friendly as we thought: over on the IPKat Birgit reports that the Regional Court of Munich, deciding a claim made by a adult film company  in favour of alleged file-sharers said, most intriguingly, that it was doubtful whether the content of the films could attract copyright protection given that the porn films did not appear to be a “personal intellectual creation” (see Article 2 (2) German Copyright Act), i.e. were “pure pornography”.  As the films merely showed “sexual intercourse in a primitive way” they were not entitled to be protected under the German Copyright Act (Article 94).

The University of California has instigated an incentivised awareness campaign that it hopes will deter its students from illegally accessing content. A ‘Copyright Awareness’ page on the University’s website asks visitors to the module to take a few minutes to watch a video and then answer a few quiz questions. The quiz consists of a few questions which users will have an opportunity to retake it if they don’t pass. the University say passing the quiz will earn a free music download.

Three years ago there was controversy in the UK when the government passed the Digital Economy Act, part of which included a new 'three strikes' process. But with that law yet to be implemented the recording industry has apparently grown tired of waiting. According to Torrent Freak , the major record labels are now in talks with the UK’s largest ISPs to introduce a voluntary three-strikes style anti-piracy scheme. At the same time, rumours are growing that the UK Government might yet still enact the three strikes part of the Act with David Cameron expected to discuss implementing the three-strikes element at a breakfast meeting for music industry execs this week - well that's according to the Sunday Times According to figures from the UK communications regulator Ofcom, over three months this year, 8.25m internet users pirated 280m music files, 52m television programmes, 29m films, 18m ebooks and 7m software files.

The Bombay High Court has refused injunctive relief to script writers Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, who claimed the new film 'Zanjeer', a remake of the hit Amitabh Bachchan-starrer of the same name infringed their copyrights. The Court pointed to the delay in filing the claim and other legal papers, as well as a clear claim for monetary compensation against producer Prakash Mehra, as reasons to refuse to stay the release of the film,  which is slated to hit screens. As I posted this blog, news broke that script writers Salim Khan and Javed Akthar had arrived at a financial settlement with producers, paving way for release of the remake of the movie this Friday.  

A row is brewing over authorship of the classic Tamala Motown song "Money (That's What I Want)" - first recorded in 1959. Barrett Strong was credited as both the recording artist and the author of the song but his song writing credit was removed, seemingly by Motown Records executives, three years later. He was restored in 1987 when the copyright was renewed, but his name was then removed again the following year. Wikipedia credit the song to Tamla founder (and Strong's personal manager)  Berry Gordy Jr and lyricist Janie Bradford. Strong, now 72, Strong says he's been duped adding “For 50 years, I had no idea about any of this” and in a criticism of the US copyright registration system said  “It was hidden from me. So how do they expect me to have acted to protect myself? It’s crazy and unfair”.

Fee, fi, fo, fum - we spot the trace of a compilation: The UK's dance music brand Ministry of Sound is suing Spotify for copyright infringement, claiming the streaming music company has refused to delete users' playlists that feature it's compilation albums. Ministry of Sound have launched proceedings in the High Court on Monday, and is seeking an injunction requiring Spotify to remove these playlists and to permanently block other playlists that copy its compilations. The Guardian say that the company is also seeking damages and costs.

Slovakian agencies that monitor press and magazines and sell content on to their clients will have to make an agreement with publishers, as the "press" will become a subject to copyright law protection. Slovakian MPs have passed an amendment to national law (September 3) and refused to accept the objections of President Ivan Gašparovič who had vetoed the bill in July and returned it to the parliament. Other amendments include the extension of the term of copyright protection for sound recordings from 50 years to 70 years. The new amendments will come into force on November 1st, 2013.

The American Bar Association has published it's "Legal Guide to Fashion Design” edited by attorney David.H.Faux, saying it is "the first fashion law book specifically authored by lawyers for non-lawyer audience. Available now, it has chapters on trademark, copyright, design patent, Internet law, business entity formation, financing, employment law, standards in manufacturing contract, standards in licensing agreements" with one reviewer of the $49.95 tome saying "The American Bar Association's Legal Guide to Fashion Design is a must-read for designers and executives of both big and small brands. It offers real expertise needed to compete in the global market."  More here and here

A new initiative called wants to achieve just that - make a Europe-wide change to copyright law to facilitate mixing and sampling. The initiative, whose website is here, calls for European lawmakers to adopt remix rights in European copyright legislation. Launched by the German civil rights organisation Digitale Gesellschaft e. V they explain: "We live in an age of remix. Creativity and culture have always drawn from previous works, but with the Internet and digital technologies, the creative re-use of works has been taken to a whole new level. More people are able to edit and share a greater range of works than ever before. More than ever, it has become clear that "everything is a remix!"

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