Saturday 23 August 2014

The CopyKat - more on that black macaque

The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council has circulated the "Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China (Draft Revision for Review) (the Draft Revision)" for public comments. The proposed changes include (a) new provisions for private agreements for the ownership of copyrights - in particular between employer and employee (b) new provisions to govern the administration and regulation of  collection societies and (c) new provisions that would move China on from calculating damages based on the  actual loss suffered by the right holder to a more flexible system that would include 'account for profit' and/or fixed damages up to RMB 1 million. More here

Nintendo has pulled the plug (at least for now) on Claudia Ng who created a Pokémon-themed 'Bulbasaur' planter, originally for a friend. Ng also placed this design on Shapeways, a 3D printing platform - and this proved to be extremely popular: But Shapeways have now received a cease and desist from Pokémon International for infringement, and the planter has (currently) been removed. More here.

A very angry sounding BoingBoing says this : "Rightscorp, the extortion-based startup whose business-model is blackmailing Internet users over unproven accusations of infringement, made record revenues last quarter, thanks to cowardly ISPs who agreed to lock 75,000 users out of the Web until they sent Rightscorp $20-$500 in protection money. Now the company plans to expand the program to all the major ISPs in America (thanks to cable company fuckery, this is a very short list). They have deals to threaten people on behalf of BMG, "plus artists belonging to the Royalty Network such as Beyonce, Calvin Harris and Kanye West." They demand $20 per alleged (and unproven) offense, and say that they're closing cases everyday for $300, $400, $500."
The BoingBoing headline Copyright extortion startup wants to hijack your browser until you pay reminded me of an amusing app developed by "Frustrated-mother-turned-evil-genius" Sharon Standifird called Ignore No More, an Android app that gives parents the ability to lock their kid’s smartphone from afar if they refuse to take their calls or call Mum or Dad back - making it unwise to ignore calls as all the hapless teen can then do is make calls to 911, with the app's website explaining “When you lock your child’s phone with Ignore No More your child has only two options – he or she can call you back, or call for an emergency responder”

Kim Dotcom, the boss of MegaUpload, who is currently fighting extradition to the USA on criminal charges related to copyright infringement, will not now be getting his assets back. An appeals court has now overturned an earlier decision by New Zealand's High Court. Dotcom's assets were seized after MegaUpload was taken off line in January 2012. The orders granting the seizures, issued by a US court and approved vy the court in New Zealand, expired in April and an application to extend them was turned down by the High Court.

Rep. Robert Goodlatte has confimed that the current review of US copyright law by the House Judiciary Committe will continue Into 2015 and education and circumvention will be the next issues examined, More here

This could be expensive: The BBC reports that one of Colombian pop star Shakira's big hits has been found to be indirectly copied from another songwriter's work. Judge Alvin Hellerstein  in New York has found that Shakira's 2010 Spanish-language version of Loca had infringed on a song by Dominican singer Ramon Arias Vazquez. The Spanish language version. Shakira's missive,  a collaboration with Dominican rapper Eduard Edwin Bello Pou, better known as El Cata - was widely released as a single around the world and borrowed from  Loca Con Su Tiguer - but that song was itself was based on the Arias Vazquez track of the same name.  Loca went on to sell more than five million copies and topped Billboard Magazine's Latin charts. Her English language version of Loca - which featured Dizzee Rascal - was "not offered into evidence" at the trial. In his ruling Judge Hellerstein said that while the hit single had been based on an earlier version of a song recorded by Bello [El Cata], this itself was a copy of Arias Vazquez's song saying "Accordingly, I find that, since Bello had copied Arias, whoever wrote Shakira's version of the song also indirectly copied Arias". Bello had denied outright the allegations made against him, claiming 'Loca Con Su Tiguera' was his song. Judge Hellerstein decided against his role as a writer, partly because of the existence of a cassette of the song in Arias's hands from 1998, and partly because of inconsistencies in Bello's story both inside and outside of court. The Shakira and Arias songs were sufficiently similar for there to be copyright infringement in a case brought by Mayimba Music who had acquired the rights in Arias' song, and it was that firm which sued various Shakira's record label,  Sony, and associated companies involved in the hit. Image (c) 2009 Glastonbury Festivals Ltd. 

Face without a face - Maya Hayuk
On a similar theme: a joke article and YouTube video by Chilean website Rata  comparing portions of Tame Impala's 2012 song 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards' and Argentine songwriter Pablo Ruiz 1989 hit 'Océano' which wentn viral has prompted a claim by Ruiz that "Obviously there is plagiarism. Whether they have done it on purpose or not, there are seven bars that are equal to my song".

The artist Maya Hayuk is suing pop star Sara Bareilles, her record labels Epic Records and Sony Music and  the luxury brand Coach for using her 2014 Lower East Side mural Chem Trails NYC as the backdrop for advertisements and promotional materials without her permission, The lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan Federal Court, alleges that Bareille used photos and video shot in front of Hayuk’s colorful, geometric mural to promote her recent “Little Black Dress” concert tour and album The Blessed Unrest. It seems Coach used the public artwork as a backdrop for images used to sell its upmarket clothes and bags online without Hayuk’s permission. She is seeking $150,000 each from Coach and Bareilles.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc has reached a settlement with Complex Systems allowing it to continue using a key piece of software in its trade finance business. A U.S. court had perviously had prevented the bank from using the software after a claim for infringement was brought by Complex. 

And finally ...... back to that Black Macaque: The U.S. Copyright Office addresses the dispute in the latest draft of its Compendium Of U.S. Copyright Office Practices”, which was published on August 19th. The previous compendium stated that “Materials produced solely by nature, by plants, or by animals are not copyrightable.” The new 1,222-page report again makes their stance on animal artwork clear by referring specifically to photographs taken monkeys (and other species of course). “[T]he Office will refuse to register a claim if it determines that a human being did not create the work.” And the Report gives more clarity: Did you know (?) that the Office will not register
-  a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings.
-  a musical work created by solely by an animal such as a bird song or whale song. 
-  a musical composition created solely by a computer algorithm.
-  dances performed or intended to be performed by animals, machines, or other animate or inanimate objects
-  pantomimes performed by animals, robots, machines, or any other animate or inanimate object  [for more see chapter 300]. 

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