1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Copykat - Dotcom surprised by criminal charges ........

Remember John Steele, Paul Hansmeier and Paul Duffy, best known from reports as being the attorneys behind controversial 'troll' company Prenda Law ? Well - they are back in the news!  And still annoying judges! However its not all bad news after an Illinois federal judge denied motions for contempt and sanctions against the trio after a defendant in a copyright case said the attorneys for so-called porn troll Lightspeed Media Corp had blocked discovery and lied about being insolvent to avoid attorneys’ fees, saying he had not presented sufficient proof. U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon said that while individual defendant Anthony Smith had “uncovered questionable financial activity” on the part of Lightspeed’s counsel —  Steele, Hansmeier and  Duffy,  — and that the arguments raised and the records cited left the court suspicious of their previous representations, Smith had failed to show enough evidence to have his contempt motion granted. “The court does not believe that Lightspeed’s counsel have conducted themselves in a professional manner,” the opinion states. “However, suspicion is not a sufficient basis for a finding of contempt.” In March, Judge Herndon held the attorneys in contempt for violating a November sanctions order requiring them to pay $188,000 in legal fees and costs to Comcast Cable Communications LLC and AT&T Internet Services and $72,000 to Smith. The court further sanctioned the attorneys in the amount of 10 percent of the original sanction. More on Law 360 here

One of the USA's top cybersecurity and intellectual property officials says he knows how to make sure artists and musicians reap all the benefits from their works – by making illegal streaming of music and movies a felony. “[W]e believe that federal criminal law should be modernized to include felony criminal penalties for those who engage in large-scale streaming of illegal, infringing content in the same way laws already on the books do for reproduction and distribution of infringing content,” Alex Niejelow, an intellectual property and cybersecurity official, wrote in response to an online White House petition.

TV-over-the-Internet startup Aereo has filed for bankruptcy, bringing to a close its long-running copyright battle with US television networks.

Spy Ghana reports that Ghanaian musicians are being asked to get involved in copyright issues; Bessa SimonsVice President of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), has urged up and coming musicians to get involved in copyright related issues saying that most musicians of the older generation retired from music with little because they never took interest in copyright related issues. Bessa was a member of the band Osibisa andd said that that even though the collection of royalties by Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO) on behalf of the right owners seems to be in its infant stages, it will get better with the young great musicians pushing it forwards noting “When UK started PRS for music, the first collection was about GBP 1, 900 and they had members up to the tune of 190. Now as we speak, they have collected over GBP £666 million and they are sharing it to about 100,000 musicians; and that is where we want to get to telling musicians "You are the only people who can propel it. So please get interested in the copyright issues”.

The author and creator of Padding Bear, Michael Bond, has revealed that he once considered suing the parents of Top gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson after learning they were selling soft toy versions of the famous bear.  In an interview with The Sunday Times Bond said that he was alerted to the fact that Shirley and Eddie Clarkson were selling the toys when a Surrey shopkeeper called him with the news in the early 1960's. 

Also in the UK, and perhaps unsurprisingly, cross-industry trade body UK Music, working with the Musicians' Union and British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors, is set to fight the private copy exemption added to British copyright law earlier this year through the courts saying "The MU, BASCA and UK Music welcome the purpose of the new measures, namely to enable consumers to make a copy of their legally acquired music. However, this is a bad piece of legislation as it incorrectly implements the law by failing to include fair compensation for musicians, composers and rightsholders" expaining "The private copying exception will damage the musician and composer community. It contravenes Article 5 (2) (b) of the [European] Copyright Directive which includes a requirement that where a member state provides for such a copyright exception - as the UK now has - it must also provide fair compensation for rights holders".

Judge Denise Cote has denied Microsoft’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Getty Images for copyright infringement resulting from a feature of Microsoft's Bing search tool that allowed people to easily embed digital photographs onto their websites. Court documents filed in New York’s federal court show that Microsoft’s request to dismiss the lawsuit has been denied. In a statement, a Microsoft spokesman said: “We’ve already disabled the Bing image widget beta and believe there is no need for this case to continue.”


And finally - a rather staggering 'confession' from none other than Kim Dotcom, the former boss of Megaupload. The larger than life figure has told an online forum that he underestimated the threat of legal action that's left him fighting extradition from New Zealand to the USA and the 'surprised; 40-year-old said he regretted not taking threats over copyright from the Motion Picture Association of America seriously enough. Dotcom said that he and his advisers had monitored civil copyright cases and never foresaw the likelihood of criminal charges saying "No one ever for a minute thought that anyone would bring any criminal action against us" and "We had an in-house legal counsel. We had three outside firms working for us and not once - and they've reviewed our sites completely - not once had any of them suggested any criminal risk at all." Hmmmmm! 

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