1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Thursday, 4 August 2016

THE COPYKAT - the macaque is back

New research from the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) shows that internet streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix have resulted in online piracy falling to its lowest rate in years.The research shows that that 15% of internet users illegally accessed films, music and other material between March and May. This is down from 18% a year ago and was the lowest recorded rate in the five years the study has been carried out. Muasic, TV and films dominate piracted material. 
Naruto by ...... ??

We have repeatedly reported on Naruto, the rare crested macaque that took the now internationally famous 'selfie' - and the recents and unsuucesful arguments by animal rights group  PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to persuade the courts that the monkey should be considered the author and copyright owner of the photo saying "While the claim of authorship by species other than homo sapiens may be novel, 'authorship; under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., is sufficiently broad so as to permit the protections of the law to extend to any original work, including those created by Naruto". US District Judge William Orrick was unimpressed and ruled that the monkey, who borrowed British photographer David Slater's camera and took the selfies, cannot own the copyright in the pictures. During a brief hearing the judge, dismissing the suit, stated: "I'm not the person to weigh into this. This is an issue for Congress and the president. If they think animals should have the right of copyright they're free, I think, under the Constitution, to do that."  Now the group has filed an apeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. More here and here.

An infringement case against rapper Ghostface Killah has been revived after a judge ruled that composer Jack Urbont could move forward with the case. The initial lawsuit was dismissed, but in April, 2015 judges for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision. Urbont, who created the theme song for the 1960s TV version of Iron Man, filed a lawsuit in 2011, claiming Ghostface sampled the Iron Man Theme twice on his 2000 album 'Supreme Clientele'. Now Judge Peter Hall has ruled that Urbont could argue he owns the rights to the Iron Man Theme, and also suggested Ghostface and the songs' producer RZA may have infringed on the audiovisual rights for the tune, because the Iron Man track was never officially released as a single and was likely lifted from the Marvel Super Heroes show, according to RollingStone.com.

LeBron James by Keith Allison
Tattoo artists Solid Oak Sketches have lost an important battle in their claim against the animators behind the NBA 2K video game series - which feature  several NBA stars including James, Kobe Bryant and Eric Bledsoe - tattoos and all! The tattoo designers were seeking actual damages in an amount to be determined at trial, or statutory damages and attorneys' fees — but a New York federal judge on Tuesday ruled out the latter. "[I]n order to obtain statutory damages and attorneys' fees, a plaintiff must have registered its copyright prior to the alleged infringement," U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain wrote. And the copyrights in the tattoos were not registered until 2015 - AFTER the alleged infringements began in 2013 with the Judge saying "[W]hen the same defendant infringes on the same protected work in the same manner as it did prior to the work's registration, the post-registration infringement constitutes the continuation of a series of ongoing infringements" The judge also dimissed a claim of willful infringemet by 2K Games and Take-Two Interactive Software, saying willfulness is not relevant to analysis of Section 412 of the Copyright Act, which imposes a bright-line rule barring statutory damages and fees if the first act of infringement happened before the work was registered.

The U.S. Copyright Office has criticized the Federal Communications Commission's plans to open up the market for pay-TV set-top boxes, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been pushing for new FCC rules to open up the market for the costly set-top boxes, currently dominated by cable and satellite pay-TV providers, to let in new entrants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google. .Mr. Wheeler’s plan has prompted strong objections from pay-TV providers and TV-program producers. They argue that the current plan could upset their carefully-negotiated contractual arrangements with pay-TV providers on issues such as channel placement and advertising. The letter from the Copyright Office appears to back those concerns, saying, “As currently proposed, the [FCC] rule could interfere with copyright owners’ rights to license their works as provided by copyright law” adding that Copyright Office is “hopeful that the FCC will refine its approach as necessary to avoid conflicts with copyright law and authors’ interests under that law.”

Its not April Fool's day is it? Anyway, the lawyer of a 90-year-old woman identified as Hannelore K, who mistakenly started filling in an art exhibit in the form of a crossword puzzle, now claims that she holds the copyright of the "new" work. The 1977 creation by the 20th-century artist Arthur Köpcke was lent to Nuremberg’s Neues Museum by a private collector, and is said to be worth around £70,000 and the woman, a retired dentist, said that she started filling in the artwork's crossword puzzle because it bore the phrases "Insert words" and "so it suits." Whilst the artwork has been clensed of her additions in biro, the lawyer has had to rebutt a police investigation into his client's behaviour and has now said that far from harming the work in question, his client has increased its value by bringing the relatively-unknown Köpcke to the attention of a wider public. Moreover, her "invigorating re-working" of the exhibit further increased its worth. Indeed, Frau K.'s lawyer claimed that her additions meant that she now held the copyright of the combined artwork - and that, in theory, the private collector might sue the museum for destroying that new collaborative work (made without his permission) by restoring it to its original state. More on Arts Technica here. Image by Chip Griffin. 

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