1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Friday, 16 May 2014

The CopyKat - net neutral, not neutered - that's what we want

The Wall Street Journal reports that the chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to revise rules proposed last month that would have controversially let broadband providers accept payments from content companies to deliver their websites faster. Tom Wheeler is expected to issue new language making it clear the FCC will scrutinize all deals to assure that companies not participating in the so-called “paid prioritization” aren’t put at a competitive disadvantage. The Journal reported that the new draft also will seek comment on whether the arrangements should be banned altogether to preserve net neutrality and prevent 'slow and fast' lanes developing in traffic on the internet. A number of high profile 
musicians including REM's frontman Michael Stipe, Roger Waters and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder have put their names to an open letter written by the Future Of Music Coalition to Tom Wheeler, chairman at the FCC. The Future Of Music Coalition argues that the new proposals favour big corporations and "telecom giants", leaving "individual artists and creators" in the cold saying : "Your proposed path would open the door to widespread discrimination online. It would give internet service providers the green light to implement pay-for-priority schemes that would be disastrous for start-ups, non-profits and everyday internet users who cannot afford these unnecessary tolls. We urge you to scrap these proposed rules and instead restore the principle of online non-discrimination by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service".

Toy maker GoldieBlox's has settled it's dispute with the Beastie Boys, which came to public attention when the toy company used one of the band's songs, Girls, for an advert. The company have agreed to make a $1 million charitable donation according to legal documents. Whilst the two remaining band members said they respected the toymaker's mission to make toys for young girls that break down gender stereotypes, they and the late Adam Yauch had long held a resolve never to licence their music for advertising. GoldieBlox will donate 1% of it's gross annual revenues to a charity of the band's choice until the amount paid reaches $1 million. The charity chosen would focus on supporting "science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics education for girls".

Lawyers acting for MegaUpload have asked the U.S. federal court in Virginia to freeze two civil lawsuits filed against the former digital firm last month by the movie and music industries respectively, arguing that civil action should not occur before any criminal hearings which are planned (although these have been delayed).

And more litigation news: a copyright infringement case involving more than 1,000 videos allegedly found on popular Japanese video-hosting site FC2.com gets under way before a jury next week at federal court in Los Angeles. FC2, one of the top ten website in Japan, is being sued by Japanese-language porn company Dreamroom Productions, who initially alleged that FC2 had encouraged illegal uploading and downloading of its copyrighted works by compensating uploading members. Last week, Dreamroom's counsel withdrew the claim for inducement of copyright infringement, leaving only claims of direct copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement and vicarious copyright infringement. More on porn litigation here - the story of how Malibu Media - owners of the X.art.com erotic website  - has filed thirteen hundred lawsuits in the US i the last year - accounting for a third of all U.S. copyright litigation during that time, according to the federal-litigation database Pacer. Trolling you might say (and their name has cropped up before on this blog), but one federal judge disagrees: : “Malibu [Media] is not what has been referred to … as a ‘copyright troll,’ ” Michael Baylson, a U.S. district judge, wrote. “Rather, Malibu is an actual producer of adult films and owns valid copyrights.”

And whilst we are on the topic of alleged trolling ..... users of the Popcorn Time app and derivatives like  Cuevana Storm, which brought easy downloading to the masses earlier this year, "hiding its mechanics away under a sleek interface" that led some users to believe "that regular and 'safe' streaming technology was under the hood" have had their illusion shattered - as app users have begun to receive letters "from copyright trolls" - here in the guise of the the Waldorf Frommer law firm in Germany according to Torrent Freak. Recipients of the letters claim they have never installed a BitTorrent client on their machines. Instead they had used only streaming services. TF explain that this "illustrates why it is extremely important for people to have at least a cursory understanding of how software on their machine operates. Streaming video server-to-client or server-to-web browser is either legal or at the least non-detectable in most Western countries. Uploading content to others without permission is generally illegal."


China is moving towards setting up a specialised Chinese IP court. According to the South China Morning Post, the Court’s first setting is likely to be set up in Guangdong Province, but the precise location has not been decided.  The cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai have all indicated that they interested in hosting the Court and Guangdong has many courts which are qualified to hear IP matters, and these courts already hear a significant proportion of Chinese IP civil lawsuits. With the number of intellectual property cases being heard in China increasing year on year, it seems the proposals for the new Court are being welcomed. And  a Beijing court has jailed seven executives of the Chinese movie downloading website Siluhd.com.hou Zhiquan, CEO of the movie downloading website, was sentenced five years imprisonment for copyright infringement, and a fine of 1 million yuan (US$160,000). Zhou's other six co-workers were received sentenced of one to three years custody. Siluhd.com had infringed a total 22,296 works, including 18,772 films and television dramas, 3,316 musical albums and 208 game software.  Up to 10,000 subscribing members made illegal downloads every day.

Creative Commons has appointed a new chief executive. Ryan Merkley, 36, who was recently the chief operating officer at the Mozilla Foundation, the organization that supports the open-source Firefox browser, and has also worked with the governments of Toronto and Vancouver. He succeeds Catherine Casserly, who stepped down last year after becoming the organisation’s first full-time chief executive in 2011.


An fascinating case between two music publishers, Cayman Music and Blue Mountain Music has begun in London. At the heart of the case is the ownership of 13 songs, widely believed to have been written by Bob Marley in the early 1970s, but which at the time were credited to a number of his friends. In the case of the iconic ‘No Woman, No Cry’ the credit went to Vincent Ford - and now Cayman Music is attempting to retrieve the rights to the songs. Marley was exclusively signed to Caymen as a songwriter - and allegedly denied ownership and being the songwriter - to avoid transferring ownership to Caymen.  

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