Thursday 11 January 2018


Copyright - Where are we now? What is on the Horizon?

At the start of this year this CopyKat looks to bring together various pieces of news that demonstrate; the current challenges facing copyright, a look to how those challenges are being addressed and finally new challenges that could be on the horizon. Here goes!

When people upload original content to YouTube, there should be no problem with getting paid for that content, should it attract enough interest from the public.

Those who upload infringing content get a much less easy ride, with their uploads getting flagged for abuse, potentially putting their accounts at risk.

That’s what’s happened to Australia-based music technologist Sebastian Tomczak, who uploaded a completely non-infringing work to YouTube and now faces five separate copyright complaints.

Following on from the above, we can see further evidence here of how the video reporting tools within YouTube are being abused.

YouTube’s copyright rules are being abused by the Azerbaijan government in an attempt to censor content from the global video-sharing site according to one of the country’s few independent news services.

The Meydan TV network says four of its video reports, which highlighted allegations of official corruption, were removed on the grounds that they infringed YouTube’s copyright rules. And under the Google-owned giant’s terms, this brought the channel close to being taken off the site altogether.

YouTube is one of the few remaining mediums Meydan TV has for reaching audiences in Azerbaijan. The government blocked its website last year, and it has also jailed the network’s journalists.

Though both the RFE and Meydan TV videos have been restored, Milli is concerned that the threat to his network’s content remains. At the moment, he says YouTube is “failing badly” in policing its own rules.

The UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has outlined the impact new EU rules affecting online content services could have on copyright holders in a new consultation paper published ahead of the new rules taking effect.

The IPO's explained (24-page / 4.72MB PDF) that rights holders will lose an element of control over how their material is accessed once they have entered licensing agreements with providers of online content services with paid subscribers.

Under the new rules, which come into force on 1 April this year, online content service providers must ensure that they make their service available to paid subscribers "in the same manner as in the member state of residence" when those subscribers are "present in a member state other than the member state of residence for a limited period of time".

By taking necessary steps, online service providers (OSP) can avoid legal litigation. The U.S. Copyright Office has instituted a new electronic registration system, where online service providers can protect themselves from copyright infringement lawsuits.

Companies that have an online presence can unknowingly be liable for intellectual properties, such as poetry, novels, songs and movies, that are posted on their websites by users or any third party. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) offers a “safe harbor” protection.

“The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides OSPs an opportunity to remain innocent middlemen in a dispute between copyright holders and any user who posts infringing content, provided the OSP meets certain criteria,” said John Saint Amour, a supervisor at the U.S. Copyright Office.

Starting on January 1st, all OSPs are responsible for users’ posts, whether they post original content or copyright infringing content on their website, unless they electronically register with the U.S. Copyright Office.

When swapping files over the Internet first began downloading of material wasn’t a particularly widespread activity. A reasonable amount of content was available, but it was relatively inaccessible. Then peer-to-peer came along and it sparked a revolution.

From the beginning, copyright holders felt that the law would answer their problems, whether that was by suing Napster, Kazaa, or even end users. Some industry players genuinely believed this strategy was just a few steps away from achieving its goals. Just a little bit more pressure and all would be under control.

Then, when the landmark MGM Studios v. Grokster decision was handed down in the studios’ favor during 2005, the excitement online was palpable. As copyright holders rejoiced in this body blow for the pirating masses, file-sharing communities literally shook under the weight of the ruling. For a day, maybe two: On an almost continual basis rightsholders are calling for tougher anti-piracy measures on top of more restrictive and punitive copyright law. It's undoubtedly a threat to current Internet freedoms as we know them. But really, is anyone truly surprised that entertainment companies still hate their content being shared for free? TorrentFreak has some strong opinions on this!

Admittedly this article does seem to directly contradict the above. However it demonstrates the entirely divided approach that seems to be prevalent when considering the future of copyright and how we manage our creative material.

On January 1, 2019,  books, films, and songs published in 1923 will fall out of copyright protection - something that hasn't happened in 40 years. At least, that's what will happen if Congress doesn't retrospectively change copyright law to prevent it - as Congress has done two previous times.

Until the 1970s, copyright terms only lasted for 56 years. But Congress retroactively extended the term of older works to 75 years in 1976. Then on October 27, 1998—just weeks before works from 1923 were scheduled to fall into the public domain—President Bill Clinton signed legislation retroactively extending the term of older works to 95 years, locking up works published in 1923 or later for another 20 years.

Will Congress do the same thing again this year? To our surprise, there seemed to be universal agreement that another copyright extension was unlikely to be on the agenda this year.

Though this has been an identified issue in the past, recent developments in this field are leading people to think again regarding our approach to copyright and AI.

Self-aware robots, androids or call-them-what-you-will have been part of science fiction almost from its beginnings. Recently in science reality, there’s been early, speculative discussion about “creative” works generated by these types of machines, and how copyright would apply.

It’s easy — and tempting! — to get wrapped around the axle when it comes to the prospects for artificial intelligence (AI) programs and their creation of original works. When works created by self-running software applications become more common, the result is both more possibilities and more challenges to existing copyright law. But let’s take a step back and consider what we know already, and then move on to what may soon be coming.

Finally, where would any 2018 online blog post be without mentioning Blockchain at least once!

Former photo pioneer Kodak is turning to blockchain technology as part of an initiative to help photographers control their image rights.

The firm said the launch of ‘KODAKCoin’, in collaboration UK tech firm WENN Digital would help photographers receive payment for licensing their work immediately in cryptocurrency form.

KODAKCoin will use blockchain technology that settles transactions using computer algorithms, used by bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

Jan Denecke. WENN Digital chief executive , said: “It is critical photographers know their work and their income is handled securely and with trust, which is exactly what we did with KODAKCoin.

CopyKat Fights

To round this CopyKat off, below are three copyright disputes that have made recent headlines. Maybe not the most auspicious start to the year for these individuals….

Lana Del Rey sued by Radiohead over plagiarism claims - Lana Del Rey has confirmed that she is being sued by Radiohead over similarities between the final track on her current album ‘Lust For Life’ – which is called ‘Get Free’ – and the band’s 1992 hit ‘Creep’. There has been a recent update on this story which you can see here - is there actually a lawsuit?

BBC insists "no breach of copyright" over use of Brigadier's grandfather in Doctor Who special - Andy Frankham-Allen, creative director of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart creator Mervyn Haisman's estate, has now downplayed any row with the BBC,  and also explained how the Brigadier's daughter Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) was approved for Doctor Who - and the Radio Times reports that any dispute over his grandson (Captain Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart, played by Mark Gatiss) who was in the recent Doctor Who Christmas special Twice Upon a Time had been settled with a "amicable, and non-financial, solution to the issue".

Ed Sheeran-Penned Song for Tim McGraw Is Target of Copyright Lawsuit - Two  Australians are asserting that Ed's "The Rest of Our Life" is the result of blatant copying and say it's hardly a coincidence that the musician who performed their own work is in a relationship with a Sony executive tasked with marketing the defendants' song. Gosh!!!!

This CopyKat by Matthew Lingard

Ps: As my time as an intern at 1709 comes to an end, I would like to thank the entire 1709 team for their insight and for giving me this opportunity. I would further like to wish the entire team and all of our readers a happy and prosperous 2018.

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