1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Monday, 4 November 2013

The CopyKat - a global feast of copyright news

Lady Gaga is facing controversy over her newly released single with R&B singer R. Kelly. The song, titled “Do What U Want”, is drawing criticism for sounding "suspiciously similar" to “The Deep”, a track from emerging dance-pop duo Dance With The Dead. Why so? Well, it seems both songs share the same musical key, and feature a virtually identical pulsating synth riff and drum pattern. Both are approximately 97 beats per minute, giving them the exact same driving dance rhythm. And says Gnomes "though each song ultimately travels in a different musical direction, it seems entirely plausible that whoever programmed Miss Gaga’s new hit took a little too much creative license in borrowing from the music of Dance With The Dead."

Soul legend Marvin Gaye’s family have now issued proceedings in an action involving Robin Thicke’s hit single “Blurred Lines”. Two of Gaye’s children have filed a suit against Thicke, producer and writer Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. for copyright infringement of Marvin’s classic tune “Got to Give it Up” along with a claim against EMI Music, saying the music publisher failed to act on Gaye’s behalf and breached it's fiduciary duty, siding instead with Thicke and Williams. Williams is with EMI and from this relatonship the publisher has a controlling interest in the song. The claim also accuses the chair of EMI Music Publishing of intimidating family members.  According to Billboard, the suit claims that the Chairman of the publishing company personally contacted the Gaye estate's attorney and accused the family of "ruining an incredible song" and "killing the goose that laid the golden egg" and allegedly said that he believed the dispute had stopped Thicke from winning a VMA gong and could prevent Blurred Lines  taking the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year in 2014:  The lawsuit says that EMI's alleged failings are all the more worrying because of Sony/ATV/EMI's dominance in the music publishing sector. On the issue of market dominance, the lawsuit points to the  30% plus share of the global music publishing market controlled by Sony-EMI saying that there is a strong likelihood that conflicts of interest will occcur.  It goes on: "Based upon the blatant and egregious breach of the EMI defendants' fiduciary duty and their covenant of good faith and fair dealing, the EMI defendants have proven that they cannot be trusted to remain neutral and impartial, and that they are unworthy of the level of trust and professional conduct which is required of a copyright administrator charged with protecting the Gaye Family's important interests in copyrighted works created by Marvin Gaye". The lawsuit comes after Thicke and his collaborators filed a case with a federal court in August asking the judge to rule that they had not copied “Got to Give It Up” for their track. I am hoping my fellow blogger Patrick Goold will have a further update for us on this fascinating story in the very near future

Sky have won a victory in their first successful Scottish copyright infringement against Mark Daly, designated premises manager of Old College Bar in Glasgow,  who was ordered to pay £10,000 plus legal costs for showing Sky Sports without a viewing agreement. Daly must also fund advertising in newspapers and trade publications publicising the case. More on this on the Morning Advertiser. Sky has now obtained a number of injunctions and said it was bringing separate contempt of court action is being after alleging an injunction was ignored.

The US courts have been asked again if numbers can be copyrighted. Despite a Supreme Court ruling in 1991 that facts aren’t copyrightable,  Banxcorp v. Costco Wholesale Corp. (09-CV-1783 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 17, 2013)) resulted in a thorough 70 page judgment from US District Judge Kenneth M Karas  who found that "3.95%" was not protected. More on Forbes here.

AGCOM, the Italian communications authority, is proposing a controversial new takedown system for the EU nation that goes far beyond the USA's DCMA provisions. The AGCOM proposals, which have been submitted to the European Commission for feedback, would seemingly set a 72 hour deadline for websites to respond to takedown notices. If they failed to do so, the telecoms regulator would have powers to seize or force blockades against offending websites, and also to force net firms to reveal the identities of a site's operators.

An update on the Krrish-3 saga:  The Bombay High Court has now rejected the somewhat last minute appeal against an order of a single judge, who had refused injunctive relief to script writer Uday Singh Rajput alleging copyright violation of his earlier script in the 'Krrish-3' script. A Division Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhangale said it was not inclined to restrain the producer Rakesh Roshan from releasing the film for the simple reason that the prints were already in circulation - and that Rajput's evidence was inconsistent.

It seems Chinese search engine Baidu has shut down the e-mail system  it  launched to go  with it's new online shopping mall - and its all a matter of copyright issues. The e-mall service allowed users to trade electronic files, including videos, pictures, documents as well as music. Users can also post transaction information and comments - although all the transactions are done via Baidu's payment platform, baifubao. Baidu had made it clear that it did not the own copyrights in any (or all!) of the electronic files uploaded by its users, and went further saying it had no obligation to check the files: it seems the search engine required potential users to sell copyrighted resources based on an "honor system". Baidu said that if any copyright complaints were filed, the use of related electronic resources would be stopped. Now the whole service has been halted.

Whether or not collection societies are monopolies, or act like monopolies, is a tricky issue: Many in the business world want 'one stop shops' for effective licensing, especially in a global digital market - but no one wants a bully! Now the Tokyo High Court has overturned a previous ruling by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) and has concluded that the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) violates the country’s anti-monopoly law. The court says the JFTC ruling in 2012 that JASRAC was not a monopoly was “a mistake.”

And finally ....... Isohunt is back ...... as a new domain and with many - but not all - of the original files, but seemingly no longer associated with founder Gary Fung.

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