1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Friday, 15 November 2013

The CopyKat - and the Ring of Fire

Google has received over 200 million requests to remove links from its search engine so far this year, up from 50 million in 2012.  In 2011 Google was asked to remove less than 10 million links from its search engine. According to TorrentFreak, their research shows that record label trade bodies the BPI and RIAA are the most active issuers of take down notices, issuing 31 million and 43 million respectively. The site most targeted by copyright holders with take downs is FilesTube, with over 7.5 million notices issued against links to it in Google's system. In 2012 Google issued its own statistics for the organisations issuing the most take downs, with the Microsoft then the leading player, followed by the BPI. Is piracy really booming to that extent? Or are the content owners just catching up with a backlog of what is already online - or maybe just getting better at adapting to the take down system and removing infringing content more efficiently?

The leaked IP section from the planned Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty has cause quite a stir: The Treaty, now being negotiated between the USA, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, NZ, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Singapore, is ostensibly a free trade agreement which is promoted as one which will modernise copyright and harmonise IP - but opponents have said the Wikileaks documents show that treaty “Focuses on the United States' federal and corporate interests, while largely ignoring the rights and interests of consumers” with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange saying If instituted "the TPP's IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you're ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs" and it will be interesting to see if a secretly negotiated treaty could effectively fetter Congress's ability to legislate on IP reforms in the future.

There currently seems to be little cohesion between the ten nations, and whilst the text is slated as US dominated, the US is being opposed by many potential signatories and there seems a lack of common ground. However, some provisions are seemingly US driven such an increased term of copyright protection for sound recordings and films (Article QQ.G.6), infringement would include temporary storage in electronic form of copyright material (Article QQ.G.1) and Article QQ.I.1 promotes a voluntary ‘3 strikes’ system. Interestingly the treaty provisions on parallel imports seemingly contradict the US Supreme court in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc and there is no mention of fair use as an exception - something commentators have used to suggest that the Hollywood studios and other content owners have been busy drafting Articles for the USTR. There is an excellent blog on the IP Kat by Angela Daly on this topic.


And finally to China where Baidu, the largest Chinese language search engine, is facing legal action for copyright infringement by those pesky Hollywood studios. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is seeking 300m yuan (approx £31 million) in damages claiming Baidu has been using an automated system to obtain their content without permission and that aidu provides online access to pirated material, in some cases directing Internet users with direct links to websites that traffic in pirated content. Alleging that Baidu and software maker QVOD make it easier for users to find and download pirated video, Wei Feng, president of MPAA China, said in a press release sent by the group "A large number of Chinese and foreign films and television productions are distributed on rogue video sites that are easily built using light content management systems."  The search engine said it "has always attached high importance to the problem of protecting copyrights in the online video industry" and that amongst other steps, Baidu said it handles complaints on piracy around the clock and has a filter that screens out illegal content.


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