1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Friday, 23 May 2014

The CopyKat - global copytreats - with a distinct lack of divine inspiration

A German court has ruled that an American psychologist — and not Jesus Christ — is the author of a book that she said Christ dictated to her in a "waking dream." Well, at least for the purposes of authorship in copyright law. The late Helen Schucman said she was a vessel for the words of Christ in her book A Course in Miracles, and a German Christian group called the New Christian Endeavour Academy argued that they were therefore free to put text from the book up on their website without permission or payment, saying "For many there is no doubt that Jesus of Nazareth is the author of the course and that copyright law therefore doesn't apply to his work." The Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt  disagreed and ruled that the rights go to the actual writer of the book regardless of "divine inspiration".

Its evolution Charles,
but not as we know it
This from the Guardian: "There were some funkybeats at Imperial College London at its annual science festival. As well as opportunities to create bogeys, see robots dance and try to get physics PhD students to explain their wacky world, this fascinating event included the chance to participate in a public game-like experiment called DarwinTunesParticipants select tunes and "mate" them with other tunes to create musical offspring: if the offspring are in turn selected by other players, they "survive" and get the chance to reproduce their musical DNA". The experiment is online: http://darwintunes.org/  - and should it be repeated with music that is in copyright would raise all sorts of interesting challenges for copyright lawyers as the music 'evolves'. 

In New Zealand a summary of the FBI's case against Kim Dotcom has been made public. It alleges the German millionaire knowingly infringed copyright, monetarily rewarded other people for doing so and made more than $175 million in the process. Judge Nevin Dawson in the District Court lifted the prohibition order on publicising the FBI's case against Dotcom, which the Megaupload founder "had hoped to keep secret. Stuff explains that Dotcom's has issues with a document called the "Record of Case", a summary document from more than 22 million emails obtained by the FBI. The summary of the FBI's case was released by a United States district judge to potential victims at the end of last year. The summary is now no longer subject to prohibition orders in New Zealand.

The Bookseller reports that the International Publishers’ Association (IPA) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) have warned that Europe's creative industries risk being "severely" prejudiced by measures taken by the World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO) committee on copyright: How so? Well WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is currently looking at limitations and exceptions to copyright internationally, with a particular focus on educational activities, libraries and archives, and on people with disabilities, particularly those with visually impairments - and the trade groups 
have joined others including the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers and the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers, in calling for the European Union to clarify the mandate of the SCCR before it commits to further work on copyright limitations and exceptions. An open letter signed by the organisations stated that a "broad range of divergent views" exists among WIPO member states. The “future direction of the SCCR may have far-reaching implications for the international copyright framework”, especially in relation to topics including the limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, it said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has given the daughter of deceased screenwriter Frank Petrella a second chance to fight movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc over her claim it infringed the copyright of an early screenplay for what became the iconic boxing movie "Raging Bull." MGM had invoked "laches", the doctrine that an unreasonable delay in pursuing a claim is a defence against that claim. MGM moved for summary judgment, asserting the equitable defence of laches based upon the long and unreasonable delay in bringing suit. The District Court agreed, then the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote on behalf of the majority (6-3) of the Supreme Court that the Copyright Act bar on lawsuits more than three years after a claim arises did not bar the lawsuit because Petrella has argued that  there was an ongoing infringement and Petrella was only claiming damages for the three years preceding the filing of her lawsuit saying " Laches, we hold, cannot be invoked to preclude adjudication of a claim for damages brought within the three-year window. As to equitable relief, in extraordinary circumstances, laches may bar at the very threshold the particular relief requested by the plaintiff. And a plaintiff’s delay can always be brought to bear at the remedial stage." The court was clear that equitable estoppel may also apply, but that generally requires some affirmative act by the rights-holder. More on Laches and as Jeremy explains on the IPKat - laches cannot bar legal claims for actual damages or profits arising out of copyright infringement

Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor has told Billboard that the video streaming service is launching a "Content ID" system which will allow the company to be "a little more controlled" in terms of making sure that copyrighted material is not infringed. Simply referred to as Copyright Match, Vimeo’s system subjects uploaded content to a scanning algorithm that attempts to pick up on any conflicts of interest, like clips of movies or songs not intended for free use. Vimeo said “Over the last nine years, Vimeo has grown into one of the most visited video destinations in the world. We now have more than 26 million registered members, with over 170 million people swinging by monthly to watch awesome videos. At our size, we need a semi-automated system to help us enforce those beloved guidelines.”

The South China Morning Post says that one of China's most popular online platforms, Qvod, will be fined 260 million yuan (or a rather large £24.7 million or US $41.6 million
as I make it) by the Shenzhen Market Supervision and Administration Bureau for linking to pornographic material and copyright infringement. Qvod, founded in 2007, has been accused of allowing users to watch pirated material and pornographic content on the company's peer-to-peer video-player technology. Early last month, Qvod was compelled to shut down its servers after the National Copyright Administration said it continued to violate copyrights. On April 22nd Shenzhen police raided Qvod's headquarters and seized computers and equipment.

Rightscorp Inc  the "provider of monetisation services for artists and holders of copyrighted Intellectual Property" has announced  the addition of 500,000 new copyrights to it's representation catalogue, bringing its total ownership portfolio to over 1.5 million copyrights. According to Rightscorp, it has been actively increasing the number of copyrights that it can protect and monetise by constantly adding new copyrights into its system.

In France it seems that the French record industry is following its UK counterpart in seeking a web-block injunction against The Pirate Bay, which would force internet service providers in the country to stop their customers from accessing the controversial file-sharing site via its principle (albeit ever changing) domains. According to NextINpact, a lawsuit filed by the French Civil Society Of Phonographic Producers back in February is now being shared with France's net sector at large and the suit names over a hundred Pirate Bay proxies which would otherwise be used to avoid primary blocks.

And finally, Music Week reports that new copyright amendments are being prepared by the Ministry of Communications in Russia that could lead to entire websites being blocked by court order - even if they comply with takedown requests. With many feeling that some sites pay lip service to take down requests and indeed are turning a blind eye to a mass of infringing content elsewhere on their domains, Ministry of Communications deputy Alexei Volin said: “Unscrupulous illegal sites should be blocked entirely.”

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