1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Wednesday's CopyKat is an off-to-court Kat: how apealing

Variety reports that MGM and James Bond producers Danjaq have filed a copyright infringement suit against NBC Universal claiming that the studio’s planned “Section 6″ feature film is a rip off of the lucrative 007 franchise. The law suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, also names screenwriter Aaron Berg and says. “This lawsuit concerns a motion picture project, in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by ‘His Majesty’s Secret Service,’ with a ‘license to kill,’ and a 00 (double-O) secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain”. I have to say that does sound familiar ......  mind you, it would also sound quite like the plots of the Johhny English films too. The suit goes on to say that the the project, which is planned to be directed by Joe Cornish and starring Jack O’Connell “misappropriates from the James Bond works far beyond the signature aspects of James Bond,” and that it copies “in detail nearly every aspect of the characters, plots dialogue, themes. setting, mood and other key elements of the copyrighted James Bond literary works and motion pictures.”  In 1995 a federal court in Los Angeles ruled in favour of MGM in its contention that a Honda commercial violated its copyrights with a commercial that evoked Bond, even though that name was not used. Injunctive relief is sought. 

The American Cable Association (ACA) has become the the latest trade body to come out in support of the legitimacy of the Internet TV streaming service Aereo in the upcoming appeal in the US Supreme CourtThe ACA – which represents some 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies – has filed an amicus brief urging the Court to uphold the legality of Aereo’s technology as safely fitting within the tradition of maintaining the public’s ability to access freely available local broadcast TV signals, and reject the copyright claims from broadcast companies to "protect business models and erect pay walls".  That said, the US Copyright Office general counsel Jacqueline C Charlesworth, speaking at the American Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Law Conference in Washington, told delegates that the legal basis for Aereo’s antenna-based online television streaming service was“fundamentally incorrect”. According to Law360, Charlesworth said the “very important case” had implications far beyond the particular business model, that really goes to on-demand or interactive streaming services in general. “Taken to its logical extreme … it would threaten a lot of existing systems where content owners are receiving royalties”. With the apparent variety of opposing opinions already highlighted in the US judiciary, surely it is time to revisit Cablevision?  

Not a work of art ......
The Gujarat High Court has dismissed a criminal complaint alleging copyright infringement against a shop owner, Hasmukh Panchal, who dealt in duplicate parts of Hyundai cars. The Court held saying that automobile parts cannot be treated as works of art for which Copyright Act can be invoked. Whist Charges under sections 63 and 65 can be used for works including to painting, sculpture, drawing, and photographs and on works of literature, its not for car parts. 

Filmakerz.org, one of the websites that was targeted by the recent wide-ranging web block order against 45 websites linking to infringing material issued by the Public Prosecutor of Rome to ISPs - has won appeal before the Court Of Appeals in Rome. Appeal judges ordered the blockade against the video sharing site be lifted on the basis that the whole site blockade was too wide and resulted in legitimate content on the Filmakerz.org platform being blocked too. The appeals court also said that web-block injunctions should only be issued against sites which are clearly profiting from the infringement they commit or enable.

And Singapore is looking to introduce blocking orders against websites which blatantly infringe copyright in proposed changes to the Copyright Act - in a move to give rights holders more effective measures to act against sites which host pirated content. A public consultation on the proposed new laws is underway till 21 April. The Media Convergence Review Panel's 2012 recommended a multi-pronged approach to address online piracy, comprising (a) public education, (b) the promotion of legitimate digital content services, and (c) the adoption of appropriate regulatory measures. 

More from PIPCU. The City of London's  Police Intelligent Crime Property Unit, who are targeting one of the most torrented, streamed and illegally downloaded TV series of all time, Game of Thrones: just one episode in series 3  racked up 4,280,000 illegal downloadsAs well as creating an "Infringing Website" list, officers are trying to replace advertising banners on illegal sites with a tailored message. Rights holders identified a total of 61 websites that provided unauthorised access to the show during its first episode of the new series. In response, PIPCU has sent deterrent notices to those domains, giving the sites the chance to remove the content. If a domain does not act in time, it seems PIPCU will contact advertisers and demand that all revenue to the infringing site be shut down.

A group of film studios including Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Disney Enterprises Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Universal City Studios Productions, Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Virginia against MegaUpload boss Kim Dotcom, Vester Limited, the majority shareholder of Megaupload Limited, Mathias Ortmann, the site's chief technical officer, and Bram van der Kolk, who oversaw programming. The suit alleged that the defendants encouraged and profited from copyright infringement of movies and television shows before they were indicted on federal criminal charges and Megaupload was shut down.

An interesting article in the Moscow Times from Elena Trusova (Goltsblat BLP, the Russian practice of Berwin Leighton Paisner) looking at how the new Russian "Anti-piracy law" is being used against Internet sites hosting illegal audiovisual works: there seem to have been more than a hundred applications against dozens of sites - the majority from Russian content owners rather than foreign firms, and the courts "frequently use quite a general wording to describe the measures applied to the defendant, such as: "desist from creating technical conditions allowing hosting, distribution and other use of a motion picture on a certain website". Elena explains that "This approach provides some freedom of action for both the plaintiff and Roskomnadzor, in charge of enforcing the ruling during the enforcement stage. In particular, on the basis of this wording, it is quite possible not only to block access to an individual link or separate page of web-site but also to the information source as a whole, if, for instance, all its contents are used for publishing illegal content or links thereto." You can click through to the article here . 

And finally a quick review of some interesting updates

The Prenda Law 'trolling' case: the appeal by three of the attorneys who were associated with Prenda, Steele Hansmeier PLLC and Alpha Law  goes from bad to worse as the oral hearing begins. More here .

Malibu Media: an adult film company also accused of trolling, has said that it will settle cases based on the outcome of a lie detector test. Documents filed in the Northern District of Illinois Federal Court say  "Malibu will dismiss its claims against any Defendant who agrees to and passes a polygraph administered by a licensed examiner of the Defendant's choosing". Malibu have “filed 268 cases within the Northern District of Illinois". More here

U.S. District Judge Henry Edward Autrey has awarded Warner Bros. $2.57 million for violations of their  copyrights in The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and the Tom and Jerry cartoon series by a number of 'collectibles' dealers who repeatedly infringed their copyrights - and submitted financial figures to the court which the judge clearly thought were unreliable at best. Judge Autrey said "This court finds statutory damages of $10,000.00 per infringement to be reasonable, considering: the factual history of this case, including defendants' failure to provide accurate records in order for plaintiffs to determine the profits made for the infringements; defendants' undisputed continued infringement after the initiation of this suit; the need for specific deterrence of the defendants' further copyright violations; the need for general deterrence for others who may consider engaging in copyright violations; and comparative awards of statutory damages by other federal district courts confronted with similar violations".More here.  

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