A judge in New York has placed dozens of Malibu Media subpoenas on hold after serious questions were raised about the nature of the copyright infringement cases after a motion to quash filed by a defendant who argued that so called 'copyright troll' employed methods to identify infringers that were suspect and that Malibu Media is engaged in abusive and extortion-like practices. Adult video outfit Malibu Media (X-Art) is the most litigious copyright claimant in the US, filing over 4,500 cases in less than 4 years, Citing a University of Washington study which famously that a printer had received a DMCA notice for copyright infringement, the motion concludes that the techniques employed by Malibu for tracking down infringers are simply not up to the job. Citing the earlier words of Judge Harold Baer, the motion notes that “troll” cases not only risk the public embarrassment of a misidentified defendant, but also create the likelihood that he or she will be “coerced into an unjust settlement with the plaintiff to prevent the dissemination of publicity surrounding unfounded allegations.” Judge Steven Locke held "Because the arguments advanced in the Doe Defendant’s Motion to Quash raise serious questions as to whether good cause exists in these actions to permit the expedited pre-answer discovery provided for in the Court’s September 4, 2015 Order, the relief and directives provided for in that Order are stayed pending resolution of the Doe Defendant’s Motion to Quash,” A total of 88 subpoenas in the Eastern District are now placed on hold.
Yoga was back in the CopyKats paws after numerous reports that Indian-American yoga guru Bikram Choudhury had lost a case asking for copyright protection for yoga poses and breathing exercises he developed. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favour of city-based Evolation Yoga, against whom Choudhury had filed a lawsuit in 2011, saying that copyright was not appropriate for Choudhury's Bikram Yoga sequences because "it was an idea, process, or system designed to improve health, rather than an expression of an idea" adding it was also ineligible for copyright protection as a compilation or choreographic work. More on the Tribune here.
The City of Inglewood, California whose mayor James Butts who took action after online critic, Joseph Teixeira, made some mocking videos using clips from city council meetings, has ended up with more egg on his face. Mayor Butts had already earmarked $50,000 of taxpayer money to fund the ill judged copyright lawsuit against Teixeira - which failed - the City could not assert copyright protection over City Council videos - and even is they were prptecetd, fair use would clearly apply. The court has now allowed Teixeira to claim legal fees totally $117,741 noting that the entire lawsuit was "objectively unreasonable."
A leaked 'IP' chapter of the final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement has atttracted much comment online - with most comments noting that signatories not already in line with the USA will have to adopt a number of 'Americanised' changes to alter the copyright laws of participating countries. The intellectual property chapter covers a broad range of issues including extended copyright terms, ISP liability and the criminalisation of non-commercial piracy.Provided the agreement is ratified, the copyright term will be set to the life of the author plus 70 years. This is already the case in the United States, but Canada for example will have to extend it's current term by 20 years.
The New Zealand government noted that its copyright term would likewise be extended, saying the change "could benefit New Zealand artists in some cases, but the benefits are likely to be modest. Extending the copyright period also means New Zealand consumers and businesses will forego savings they otherwise would have made from books, music and films coming off copyright earlier". The Chapter also outlines how Internet services should deal with copyright infringement, with a section that 'mimics' the DMCA, although this leaves room for the Canadian notice-and-notice scheme to stay intact. Finally If TPP is ratified, the circumvention of DRM will be banned as well. In addition, manufacturers will not be allowed to sell circumvention tools such as DVD or Blu-Ray rippers. As this blogger had noted before, the US seem less keen to allow other signatories to develop their own 'fair use' doctrines - something of course enshrined in UK law. Other big winners with the new Pacific Rim treaty, which removes some 18.000 tariffs and trade restrictions, are poultry, beef and dairy farmers - but big pharma is seen as a loser - with no extension to protections against generic rivals, and the tobacco industry is seen as a loser too. And the Treaty isn't even guaranteed a home run in the USA - presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton, previously thought to be a strong supporter, has now publicly spoken against the TPP. And just to add to the confusion, here in Europe we have the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership - another trade agreement, and here one that seeks to remove tariffs and regulatory barriers between the US and the EU. The TTIP is already under fire in the UK from the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and organisations such as Global Justice, who say the Treaty passes real power from democratically elected governments onto multinational corporations. Around 250,000 people protested against the TTIP in Berlin last weekend. More on TorrentFreak here and the EFF here and Artstechnica here. The TPP participating nations are the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei. Together they represent about 40 percent of the global economy. There is an interesting analysis by Nicola over on the IPKat here.
The RIAA - on behalf of UMG, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic and Capitol Records - has filed a lawsuit against Aurous and its founder Andrew Sampson for what it calls "wilful and egregious copyright infringement". It appears the recorded music sector's trade body will look to shut down the site using injunctive relief, and seek actual or statutory damages. we first noted Aurous on the 1709 blog back in September. The trade group said in a statement: "This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale. Like Grokster, Limewire or Grooveshark, it is neither licensed nor legal. We will not allow such a service to wilfully trample the rights of music creators" - more here.
And finally, Rapper Busta Rhymes has reached an undisclosed settlement in his Copyright infringement battle with hip-hop pioneers The Sugarhill Gang. Rhymes was sued by the group in 2012 for allegedly sampling their 1980s song 8th Wonder for his track Woo Hah! Got You All in Check. In the lawsuit, the band claimed 20 per cent of Rhymes' lyrics, including the phrase "Woo-Hah", came from their song. Rhymes had argued that the phrase was not protected by copyright and the action should be barred by the statute of limitations as out of time. More on Contact Music here.
And one last thing - my email account was hacked yesterday so if I 'emailed' you telling you I was in the Ukraine, I had been mugged and needed funds - errrm, the truth is that I am in the UK, I have not been mugged and I don't need your Money! The lesson from this is that, yes, train wi-fi is indeed 'open' so I won't be doing my emails on a Pendalino again! And Windows 10 deinstalled my anti virus software but I am struggling to deinstall said Widows 10 and get rid of it - a hideous system from the geeks at Microsoft. Grrrr and double grrrrr.