1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Owl, the CopyKat - and the Tiger: All at (C) in beautiful EC boat

Owl City singer Adam Young has cleared up reports suggesting the band had lost a plagiarism lawsuit over his 2012 collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen - "Good Time" - after TMZ reported that singer songwriter Ally Burnett had won a six-figure sum for copyright infringement claiming Good Time heavily sampled her 2010 tune, "Ah, It's a Love Song", taking the "unique vocal motif" and hook of her song. Burnett filed her lawsuit against Jepsen and Owl City in 2012, also naming the co-writers on the song Brian Lee and Matt Thiessen, plus publishers Universal Music, Songs Music Publishing, Schoolboy Records and all the US collecting societies, ASCAP, SESAC and BMI, as defendants.  It seems the sums in question - $804,156 - were pending royalties which were placed in escrow by Young's collection society BMI until the case is resolved - enabling BMI to be removed as defendants in the action.


A big cat
Keeping with music, Survivor are the latest band to go legal over the payment of royalties for downloads, mainly in relation to their 1982 'Rocky III' soundtrack epic hit 'Eye Of The Tiger'. Founding Survivor members Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan, the latter still performing with the band, have sued Sony Music for a 'licensing' cut of the revenue generated by their recordings, which they say should be 50% of the income. The  lawsuit also claims that the major still owes the duo money stemming from settlements the American record industry reached with the big file-sharing platforms of old like Kazaa, and also alleges a number if other accounting irregularities including improper deductions. According to Billboard: "A Sony representative threatened that in the event Survivor persisted in its objection, Sony would exercise what it termed 'the nuclear option' - removal of the Survivor masters from the songs licensed to iTunes for download by consumers, thereby wiping out that revenue stream altogether. By threatening 'the nuclear option', Sony has conceded that its transaction with iTunes is a license subject to termination, and not a sale of the Survivor masters to iTunes. If it was a sale, Sony would have no right to demand return of the songs".


Still with music (well, it is the CopyKat's thing after all), MEPs have strongly backed a new bill that will allow music download sites to secure single music rights licences from collective management organisations that are valid across the EU, voting 640-18 in favour of adopting the Collective Rights Management DirectiveOrganisations managing authors' works will be required to prove that they can process data from service providers showing when music is downloaded or streamed online, and that they can match this data to the music by their clients. MEPs say the law should stimulate the development of EU-wide online music services and that lower licensing costs will mean cheaper prices and greater access for consumers. Meanwhile, collective rights societies will be required to pay artists within nine months of the end of each financial year to ensure that artists' performing rights are paid out faster. The EU recorded music market was worth around €4.1 billion in 2012, while the industry is also responsible for an estimated 6.7 million jobs. The European Commission, which proposed the law, says this should facilitate the rolling out of new online services and Single Market Commissioner Michel Barnier described the bill as "a cornerstone of the digital single market," adding that it would "contribute to wider availability and better choice of offers of online music in Europe." The new Directive, due to come into force in 2016, now needs the final sign off from The European Council, expected to happen within the next couple of weeks. There are currently more than 250 collective management organizations in the E.U.

Last Saturday (1 February) the internet was flooded with tather funny and creative user-generated content ridiculing, in real time, the actions of the populist Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. Vučić visited a site in the north of Serbia where hundreds of motorists and their passengers were stuck in a snow storm, joining the armed forces in their efforts to evacuate them. Serbian Radio Television (RTS) filmed a bare-headed Vučić in action, including a sequence where he carried a boy through the deep snow, stumbled, fell, but then stood up again and delivered the boy to another man. Many saw Vučić’s actions as a public relations exercise undertaken with an eye on the Serbian parliamentary elections scheduled for mid-March (Vučić’s Serbian Progressive Party, already the dominant partner in the current coalition government, is expected to win most votes.) An anonymous satirist added subtitles to the RTS recording, creating a fictitious narrative in which Vučić orders his subordinates to find him a boy “up to 20 kilos”, and five minutes later a boy – a bit heavier than that – is brought from a warm house nearby where he was innocently watching cartoons. The boy’s protestations annoy Vučić greatly. The person to whom Vučić  surrenders the boy to assures the latter that he would not be put in the helicopter and evacuated, because the entire scene is for cameras only, and the cameras would be switched off shortly. BUT - the question is: did the montage infringe copyright (i.e. the “neighbouring right” of the producer of a videogram, if one uses the categories found in the Serbian copyright law)? well it seems this depends on the applicable substantive law — and also on whether the later work is qualified as a satire or a parodyBogdan Ivanišević (Head of IP Practice, BDK Advokati/Attorneys at Law, Belgrade) tells all in fascinating and well written article on the IP Kat Mockery via use of someone else’s footage: parody or satire, and does the difference matter?.


Tom Cruise is reportedly being sued for £610million ($1billion) by screenwriter Timothy Patrick McLanahan who claims the Top Gun star stole his idea for Mission Impossible: Ghost ProtocolMcLanahan claims he came up with the concept for the 2011 box office smash in his own script for a film titled Head On in 1998. He is now seeking damages from Cruise, Paramount Pictures and various production companies after filing a lawsuit in December. And in a federal lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages and injunctive relief, writers Bernard Hiller and Gabriel Bologna claim Mexican filmmaker Luis Mandoki, who was hired to direct their screenplay "Brundibar", "swiped" the gist of a screenplay set in a Nazi concentration camp to develop a competing story of his own. The writers say that whilst their story is based on historical events and characters, they created original material which has been infringed.  Mandoki, Informant Media, it's partner and producer Judy Cairo, and producer and actress Athena Ashburn are all listed as defendants.


Quentin Tarantino
And still on films - director Quentin Tarantino, well known for title such as Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Bastards and Kill Bill  has filed a suit against the popular media and gossip blog, Gawker, and an anonymous file-sharing website, AnonFiles.  The Complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, states a claim for copyright infringement against AnonFiles, and a claim for contributory copyright infringement against Gawker.  Tarantino alleges that the websites promoted and disseminated unauthorized downloadable copies of an unreleased screenplay for a Western that Tarantino wrote entitled, “The Hateful Eight.” The screenplay was allegedly leaked after Tarantino gave it to only six people, including three actors. He subsequently scrapped the film, a planned sequel to Django Unchained.


And OK - nowt to do with the law - BUT it is the CopyKat's day job and he is a bit proud - The BBC's coverage of Glastonbury 2013, including the fab Arctic Monkeys, the Rolling Stones and Mumford & Sons, picked up a prestigious Broadcast Award at a ceremony hosted by Alexander Armstrong at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London last night. The judges commented that the BBC's coverage on TV, radio, red button, on demand and live web streaming made it "feel as if you were right there" and was "ambitious in scale and executed brilliantly".  The Glastonbury coverage beat off strong challenges from The Mercury Music Prize Sessions (Channel 4), Later With Jools (BBC2) and Bollywood Carmen Live (BBC/Asian Network). Other winners in the night included Mr Stink (Best Children's programme), Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (Best Entertainment Programme), Coronation Street (Best Soap), The Ryder Cup (Best Sports Programmes), Educating Yorkshire (Best Documentary Series),  Broadchurch (Best Drama Series) and Googlebox (Best Original Programmes).

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