1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Saturday, 15 October 2016


A Liverpool man has pleaded guilty to illegally distributing chart hits online, potentially costing the music industry millions of pounds and depriving the creators of the content fair remuneration for use of their work. Wayne Evans was arrested at his home in Everton last year following a joint investigation between PRS for Music and the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). Evans pleaded guilty on Friday, 7th October at Liverpool Crown Court to illegally uploading the UK’s Top 40 singles to various torrent sites as they were announced each week by the Official Charts Company. The 39-year-old, known online as OldSkoolScouse, was also distributing tracks through his own website, including ‘acappella’ music to be used for DJ-ing and remixing. The conviction results from a case that began with a joint investigation between UK performance right collection society PRS for Music and PIPCU. Sentencing will take place next month (on November 11th).

And more music! The Music Managers Forum has published 'Dissecting the Digital Dollar Part 2' saying "While recognising that record companies continue to make significant investments in new music, many in the music community believe that there needs to be a frank conversation about how streaming income is shared" and "Many people felt that the share received by heritage artists, session musicians and songwriters needs particular consideration, and that a ‘performer equitable remuneration’ system like that that operates in the radio sector and the ‘contract adjustment mechanism’ proposed in the draft European copyright directive might be ways to address some of these concerns" and "Artists and songwriters would generally prefer more digital services to be licensed through the collective licensing system, though managers recognise that there can be issues with that approach. CMOs should seek to address those issues" amongst many other interesting things! You can download a copy of the report yourself here

The US Copyright Office is asking for comment on that thorny issue of copyright and 'fixing things'. Back in 2015 The US Register of Copyrights Maria A Ms. Pallante noted that the anticircumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the DMCA prevent consumers from “engaging in activities, such as the repair of their automobiles and farm equipment, which previously had no implications under copyright law”. That issue had been in the news, not least as at the end of 2015 Senators Grassley and Leahy, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary, published a letter to the Copyright Office asking it to analyse the impact of copyright law on “software-enabled devices” (such as cars, phones, drones, appliances, and many more products with embedded computer systems). This issue they said was "crucial because technology and the law have evolved in a way that no one could have intended when Congress wrote the present copyright laws, and that evolution has restricted customers’ freedoms to repair, understand, and improve on the devices they buy". Car makers including General Motors and other vehicle manufacturers such as tractor maker Deere & Co had opposed a ruling from the Copyrght Office agreeing with this, saying vehicle owners could visit authorised repair shops for changes they may need to undertake - much to the annoyance of drivers and farmers! Now you can have your say! The EFF have already taken a lead saying "Let’s send a strong message to the U.S. Copyright Office and lawmakers: copyright law should not criminalize research and repair". More here and here. Request for Additional Comments here

And finally, Kanye West, Jay Z and Frank Ocean have prevailed in a $3 million copyright-infringement lawsuit filed against them in 2014 by singer songwriter Joel McDonald. A federal appeals court has now that the trio’s 2011 hit “Made in America,” from Kanye and Jay Z’s “Watch the Throne” album, did not copy a 2009 track by McDonald: McDonald claimed that the artists plagiarised his song after their “Watch the Throne” producer, Mike Dean, bought one of McDonald’s CDs. The appeals court upheld a September 2015 dismissal of the suit saying "“We have considered all of McDonald’s arguments and find them to be without merit.” 

Our two new intern bloggers, David Liao and Tibbie McIntyre, will be taking over the COPYKAT from next week  - we wish them well. We are sure they will be finding marvellous titbits and morsels of copyright news to keep everyone well fed with up to date copyright news.  

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