Friday 6 November 2015

The CopyKat - copying you in to this week's copytastic news

R&B artist Jesse Braham has launched a $42m lawsuit against Taylor Swift saying that her hit "Shake It Off"  took the distinctive lyrics of her chorus from his slow jam "Haters Gone Hate", which appears on his album Sexy Ladies. Braham sings: “Haters gonna hate / Players gonna play / Watch out for them fakers / They’ll fake you every day.” Swift’s chorus runs: “’Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” whilst there is no melodic similarities, Braham told the New York Daily News “Her hook is the same hook as mine" and “If I didn’t write the song "Haters Gone Hate", there wouldn’t be a song called "Shake It Off".” Reportedly Braham's initial claim was for a songwriting co-credit and a 'selfie' with Swift - but that has now somewhat escalated to the tune of $42 milllion. Braham, who runs a church organization called New Day Worldwide, said he also plans to file suit against CNN for the title of its morning show "New Day."

Ladouceur vs Macado (court records)
A Roanoke tattoo artist has brought a federal lawsuit against a local restaurant chain, claiming that an image used in recent promotions is the monster he created. The copyright infringement suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, Virginia, by Roger Ladouceur against Macado’s Inc. The lawsuit alleges the restaurant chain, used a drawing by Ladouceur promoting its Halloween events over the past two years. Ladouceur said he produced and copyrighted the image in 2013 — a rendering of the face of Frankenstein’s monster wearing a monocle. 

The long running battle between the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerome (Jerry) Siegal and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and DC Comics Inc. over the rights for the acclaimed superhero is hading back to court. Most recently Siegal's daughter Laura Siegel Larson, sought to overturn a partial summary judgment in 2013 which held that the two companies had owned all of the rights to Superman since 2001. Siegal died in 1996. More here.

The Judge and the Jury
A request to our READERS. The CopyKat spied a brief article saying that an out of print 1978 Judge Dredd story - Burger Wars - was coming back because of the introduction of the exception for parody, pastiche and caricature in the United Kingdom. In the story it seems the big burger chains are locked in gang warfare, and legendary lawman is captured by burger barons and force fed burgers (never a great idea). It seems the original publishers of 2000AD, IPC, feared a backlash from the burger multinationals including McDonalds and Burger King - and the story satirised characters such as Ronald McDonald and the Michelin Man. It's said to be 'the first great Judge Dredd epic' but if anyone knows anything else about this - particularly in the context of copyright - please do feel free to comment.

Sleigh Bells
Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells have accused Demi Lovato of sampling two of their songs without permission on her new song “Stars.” The songs in question — “Infinity Guitars” and “Riot Rhythm” — are both featured on the band's well-received 2010 debut Treats and include "distorted guitars, angular rhythms, and a danceable beat".  You can read more about this including interesting comment from Jeff Peretz, a professor at NYU's Clive Davis School of Music on here and you can compare Demi Lovato's Stars with Sleigh Bells' Infinity Guitar. Remember in this case it's sampling - not the tune! Professor Peretz feels confident that “Stars” uses a modified sample of “Infinity Guitars," just looped and with the addition of a hi-hat. But he also points out that the two songs are melodically and harmonically different.  

And the dispute over whether a hit song by pop star Shakira was an illegal copy of a Dominican songwriter's work has taken another dramatic turn now that the music company behind the original lawsuit says its former attorney has a "deteriorating" medical condition and failed to represent it properly. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein reversed an earlier decision  after hearing new evidence about a cassette which had been used to register the song with the US Copyright Office and which also featured as an exhibit in the original trial. Sony/ATC Latin who were defendants in the original case produced new evidence which showed that the type of cassette on which the recording had been made was not available in 1998 when it was claimed the tape had been made. Furthermore the picture on the cover of the cassette depicted an adult singer named Jhoan Gonzalez, who because he was born in 1989, would have been aged nine years old, and so could not have been the singer on the tape, if it had been recorded in 1989. Cue a very annoyed Judge!

Both PCWorld and ZDnet  report on theTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement - as both the U.S. and New Zealand governments have published the full trade treaty, including details of what ISPs must do to defend others' copyrights. The deal sets out to reshape trade relations between countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand. Chapter 18, which covers intellectual property, has two annexes devoted to Internet service providers -- which in the treaty's terminology means providers of either Internet access or of services on the Internet, and how they must help police online copyright infringement and ZDNet leads with "The full text of the TPP ties in with WikiLeaks' leaked document last month, stating that ISPs must hand over copyright infringer details to rights holders when legally compelled - the text says ""Each party shall provide procedures, whether judicial or administrative, in accordance with that party's legal system, and consistent with principles of due process and privacy, that enable a copyright owner that has made a legally sufficient claim of copyright infringement to obtain expeditiously from an internet service provider information in the provider's possession identifying the alleged infringer, in cases in which that information is sought for the purpose of protecting or enforcing that copyright" which will certainly mean changes in some of the signatory countries' legislation. And more useful analysis on the IPKat here - echoing the CopyKats earlier thoughts - its all very Americanised - except no 'fair use' on offer!

And finally - but importantly, it seems that the European Commission has "pedalled back from making radical changes to Europe’s copyright regulations, according to a leaked version of its draft Copyright Framework seen by The Register who tell us it’s from a draft that isn’t due until 9 December. It seems the Commission will rule out creating a new EU wide copyright title - and the contentious word “geoblocking” doesn’t appear once. Instead the Commission recommends making a few tweaks to encourage the “portability” of content across borders - possibly because the EC's own survey discoverd that consumers were not as fixated on seeing content from other member states as Vice Commissioner Andrus Ansip was. The EC will look to “promote” a new pan-European search engine for finding legal content, promote more efficient funding, for, and use of, subtitling and dubbing supported by public funds and the Commission suggests “supporting rights holders and distributors to reach agreement on licenses” using mediation or dispute resolution, and wants to promote out-of-print works. The EC also now just 'aspiring' to reassess copyright exceptions - so they don’t hamper “online courses and cross border learning”, and easing text and data mining restrictions - but its a watered down version of what was planned. The EC will also be looking at the "making available" and "communication to the public" rights (and don't forget the Music Tank / University of Westminster panel on this very topic on November 10th (Creators’ Rights In The Digital Landscape). More on the IPKat here.

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