Saturday 14 December 2013

The CopyCat - as Blockbuster sinks, the Pirates set sail again

The games world is up in arms after what appeared to be concerted effort by content owners to target fan generated postings on YouTube, using YouTube's Content ID takedown system. Player-created videos on YouTube have been subject to copyright crackdowns in the past, but gamers say not on this scale - with Nintendo (perhaps unfairly) taking the brunt of the initial blame, with reports of thousands of videos being flagged over the last few days for alleged copyright violations. The videos - which range from YouTubers playing the games or providing commentary, or simply showing a trailer and talking about the game, are often monetized - and some gamers earn a living from recording game videos. YouTube responded to the furore by saying "We recently enabled Content ID scanning on channels identified as affiliates of MCNs. This has resulted in new copyright claims for some users, based on policies set by the relevant content owners. As ever, channel owners can easily dispute Content ID claims if they believe those claims are invalid."

It seems that the major record labels have decided that the new EU wide term extension for sound recordings does not apply to unreleased material - well not with 'use it or lose it' provisions out and about anyway: Rather than full scale releases, some of the labels have decided on limited releases only: A new Sony collection of unreleased Bob Dylan recordings — concerts, radio and television appearances, and studio outtakes, all from 1963 — has just appeared in a limited edition of 100 copies, on six vinyl LPs - “The 50th Anniversary Collection: 1963”. Universal and Apple are being a lot more generous to fans:  Universal plans to release, on iTunes only, “The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963,” a compilation of 59 recordings, among them a handful of studio outtakes; a few dozen BBC performances, drawn from the same well as the recent “On Air” BBC two-CD set; and informal demonstration recordings of two songs the group gave to other artists — Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s acoustic guitar duet version of “Bad to Me” and a Lennon piano demo of “I’m in Love.” Some interesting comment on the labels' thinking can be found on the NY Times website here and on the Independent here.

The Tennessean (fast becoming a favoured read!) reports that pop star Ariana Grande, along with her publishing company and record label, are facing copyright infringement lawsuit related to her hit song “The Way.” The suit claims Grande and producer/writer/co-performer Mac Miller copied from the 1972 disco song “Troglodyte” when they recorded “The Way,” which became a major hit earlier this year and iTunes no 1 single, selling more than 2 million copies. The federal suit from  Minder Music claims Grande and Miller duplicated the vocal beginning to the Jimmy Castor Bunch’s “Troglodyte” when they recorded “The Way.” Troglodyte" begins with Jimmy Castor speaking the phrase, “What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time.”  The Way” begins with the spoken phrase “What we gotta do right here is go back, back into time.”  The attorney in the claim is Richard Busch of King & Ballow who has previously successfully brought claims against samplers - in particular of George Clinton and Funkadelic and  on behalf of Bridgeport Music.

Pirates Ahoy! Having been registered in Greenland, Iceland and most recently in the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten, it seems the Pirate Bay's domain name set sail yet again, this time to Ascension Island, located somewhere in middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, and hopefully (well for the Pirates at least) well out of the reach of those pesky rights organisations that represent the global sound recording and music publishing industries - and their artists. Oh, but that was not enough - less than a week later - anchors away - they are in Peru! a TPB spokesperson told Torrentfreak: "They should wait for our new PirateBrowser, then domains will be irrelevant. Once that is available then all links and sites will be accessible through a perfectly legal piece of browser software and the rest of it will be P2P, with no central point to attack via the legal system. By their actions [the entertainment industry] finally brought on the next generation of decentralised services".

CMU Daily reports that the  dispute between the Beastie Boys and American toy company GoldieBlox over the latter's use of a rework the former's track 'Girls' in an advert isn't going away, even though the toy maker swapped in an alternative piece of music on the ad and issued a positive statement professing admiration for the band. Whilst the surviving members of the Beastie Boys Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz issued an open letter said they respected GoldieBlox's mission to make toys for young girls that break down gender stereotypes, they added, they had previously made a conscious decision to not license their tracks for use in advertising, so much so that the third Beastie Boy, the late Adam Yauch, stated that desire in his will. 
Those Girls
Before the Beastie Boys' open letter, GoldieBlox had issued a pre-emptive legal strike anticipating the band’s claim seeking court confirmation that, because their version of 'Girls' mocked the sexist lyrics of the original, that constituted parody, and therefore the toy firm was allowed to use the track without permission under the doctrine of “fair use”.  Interestingly it seems GoldieBlox had posted similar adverts online before, including music by Daft Punk and Avicii, presumed to be without the artist or their record label’s or music publisher’s permission. Reports now say that GoldieBlox management added a caveat to an offer to withdraw their legal action asking the Beastie Boys to commit to never launch their own copyright litigation against the company.  It seems the band declined to make such a commitment, and in return asked GoldieBlox to issue a more apologetic statement over its use of 'Girls' without permission, and to make a suitable donation to charity. With little progress having since been made, the Beastie Boys have now filed a countersuit that formally accuses GoldieBlox of copyright infringement as well as unfair competition and misappropriation of publicity rights - more about this from Miri on the IPKat here

DVD and games rental firm Blockbuster UK is set to close. Prevously a favoured destination for hungover students set for a day of horror flicks, the entire American Pie series in a day and dodgy romcoms, The chain first went into administration back in January and  initially it seemed like the company might survive but administrators Moorfields Corporate Recovery have confirmed that no buyer could be found, and that the remaining 91 Blockbuster shops in the UK would close this weekend, resulting in 808 further job losses.

American Music Theatre, which as the CopyKat had previously reported is being sued for copyright infringement over the unapproved use of material from The Producers, Billy Elliot, Wicked, Jersey Boys, the Lion King and Disney's Mary Poppins in its "Broadway Now & Forever" production, has filed it's defence saying that it has blanket license agreements with the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers and Broadcast Music Inc. to perform "all allegedly copyrighted works at issue." The theatre also denies it will be violating copyright when it opens "Music of the Night: The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber" for a six-month run from April 2014. The Theatre now faces an action, in the Philadelphia federal court, to stop "Broadway Now & Forever" and prevent the upcoming Andrew Lloyd Webber focussed show featuring Cats,Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera from opening. The Pennsylvanian1,600 capacity theatre on Lincoln Highway East has now said it's productions fall under the fair use doctrine saying "… use of the allegedly copyrighted works was transformative in nature, only an insubstantial portion of each alleged work was used in relation to each work as a whole ...". Among it's other defences, American Music Theatre also claims the plaintiffs were misusing their copyrights and are asking a judge to dismiss the case and have the plaintiffs pay it's legal costs. American Music Theatre has until December 20th to address the initial suit by Disney and other plaintiffs. The Theatre has also now said that specifically for the use of Spider-Man copyrights,  the Theatre has a license agreement to use Spider-Man and that  Stan Lee Media Inc. and not Disney or its Marvel division holds the Spider-Man copyright. But that's another battle.

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