1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The CopyKat

U.S. Internet provider Windstream is asking a New York federal court to shield the company from broad piracy accusations. The ISP filed a complaint against BMG and Rightscorp after it was accused of direct and contributory copyright infringement. The lawsuit follows on the heels of a similar complaint by fellow Internet provider RCN, which also seeks legal clarity in the wake of several conflicting decisions on whether or not Internet provider can be held liable for subscribers who share pirated file - but clearly prompted by the decision of a Virginia federal jury - in a case brought by BMG Rights Management against Cox Communications - who answered in the affirmative. 

PRS for Music has won the Copyright Tribunal reference brought against it by ‎ITV in July 2014 - a final hearing took place for two weeks in November 2015. The decision concerns, amongst other things, the annual sum ITV must pay to PRS for Music to use musical works in its programmes and broadcasts. In August 2015, PRS wrote to its members to announce it would be temporarily increasing the admin fees it charges on royalties collected from TV companies in order to fund the legal costs of the Copyright Tribunal hearing. The Tribunal decided that the base royalty (beginning in 2010) would be some £24 million for all ITV uses (including breakfast TV) adjusted by (a) BARB viewing figures for ITV during each year and (b) the percentage change in RPIJ (the RPI inflation measure). Michael Simkins LLP (now Simkins), who acted for the PRS, said the Tribunal's decision "is the most significant decision relating to such rights for almost 20 years, since the 1997 BSkyB case."

PRS for Music has also written to its members saying that from the end of June the BBC will need to seek prior approval from publishers for use of North American repertoire. Why? well it seems the BBC’s blanket licence with PRS for Music and a number of BBC Worldwide’s MCPS licences are due to expire on 30 June 2016 and whilst negotiations with the BBC to agree new licences continues, and the PRS have agreed that the existing licences will be extended for a 6 month period from 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016, as a condition of extending BBC Worldwide’s TV Programme Sales licence, the MCPS Board has asked that the BBC seek prior approval from publishers for uses of North American repertoire in programmes which are sold into the US and Canada on a trial basis, although if approved any licence will be at MCPS rates. See more on use rates here and existing approvals here


New copyright legislation has come into effect in Cayman to provide greater legal protection for Cayman’s musicians, visual artists and others in the creative fields, and is the first step in modernising intellectual property legislation. Commerce Minister Wayne Panton said government had plans to present more bills in September to update existing trade mark legislation for local registration and design rights. 

Asparagus - yes - and copyright: A New Zealand company, Oraka Technologies has been awarded $4.1 million in damages in a copyright case involving an automatic asparagus grading machine. Tired of grading asparagus by hand, Oraka Technologies owner Michael Schwarz developed the first automatic asparagus sorter, known as the Oraka Grader, in the early 1980s and asked Napier Tool & Die to prepare drawings for a cup that transported the asparagus for the Oraka Grader, and Napier began manufacturing it for Oraka Technologies. But a rival company Geostel Vision used Napier to manufacture their own cup assembly that was alleged to be substantially copy of Oraka's design and in 2013 the Court of Appeal found that Geostel and Napier Tool & Die copied part of the machine. 

And staying "down under", Australia’s Full Federal Court has confirmed digital data streams are not protected by the Copyright Act. The court upheld Justice Annabelle Bennett’s December 2014 ruling that held that copyright did not subsist in digitally streamed broadcasts. The case is actually a taxation case (Commissioner of Taxation v Seven Network Limited), which revolved around whether payments made to the International Olympic Committee for broadcasting rights by Seven were royalties and therefore taxable. The court found that “a cinematograph film in which copyright subsisted under the Copyright Act is not made until the first copy is made” and that there was no way for the broadcast to be reproduced without an external receiving device. More on IPPro here and the judgment can be found hereSeven Network Limited v Commissioner of Taxation [2014] FCA 1411

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