Monday, 5 November 2018

THE COPYKAT

The UK's Intellectual Property Office has said it has plans to simplify the way websites which contain copyright infringing material are blocked - currently the system is based on injunctive relief that must be obtained from a court - giving orders are often easy to circumvent. In a statement the IPO confirmed that the UK government was now considering "the evidence for and potential impact of administrative site blocking - as opposed to requiring a high court injunction in every case - as well as identifying the mechanisms through which administrative site blocking could be introduced". The IPO's announcement also covered their position on devices that came pre-loaded with apps that can be used to easily access infringing streaming and other content - something of real concern to the entertainment and sports sectors. The government's IP Minister, Sam Gyimah, said that recent criminal prosecutions of individuals concerned with the distribution of devices that enable infringement showed the  current law to be working, but he said that education of the public and the involvement of Trading Standards officers would be followed up, as would new new anti-piracy measures such as administrative site blocking.

As of the end of October, six of the eleven “Trans Pacific Partnership" member states had ratified the Trans Pacific Partnership 11 Agreement.  The agreement will go into effect in two months’ time on December 30 this year. The amendment of Japan's copyright law will be effective on the same day, and the statutory term will be extended to life + 70 years from January 2019, including for those creators whose copyrights would have expired on December 31, 2018. The Diet's Upper House approved the move to match US (and EU) law, and the provision has been retained even though the United States government has withdrawn from the TPP agreement (at least for now).  What is interesting is how the "war extension" in copyright law might (or might not) be accommodated. 

Lucien Greaves, spokesmen and co-founder of The Satanic Temple ("TST"), has tweeted that the Temple is taking legal action against Netflix in connection with the "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina". TST has decided to take this route because of what Greaves claims is copyright infringement. He claims the statue of Baphomet in the hall of the school depicted in the show is a copy of TST’s deity.

From Hell to Heaven? Led Zeppelin have asked the Ninth Circuit appeals court to reconsider its recent ruling in the "Stairway To Heaven" copyright lawsuit 'en banc' to determine the law in the case that involves allegations that the 1971 classic is rip-off of the 1968 instrumental song "Taurus" recorded by Spirit and written by Randy "California" Wolfe's whose estate brought the claim. The group's representatives argue that by overturning the original judgement, the appeals court could "cause jurors to find infringement just because the same unprotected elements are present, upsetting the 'delicate balance'" between copyright protection and the freedom of music creators to employ common techniques and musical elements when composing music" and "if uncorrected," the Ninth Circuit's recent conclusion will "allow a jury to find infringement based on very different uses of public domain material" which, it then argues, "will cause widespread confusion in copyright cases in this circuit."  You can compare the two recordings here and a very interesting analysis by TJR here.  'Top 10 Sound Alike Songs' here


Seven sports photographers have been given another chance to pursue copyright allegations against the National Football League (NFL) in the U.S. The World Intellectual Property Review reports that the NFL had asked that the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit hold an en banc rehearing of the matter, which was decided against the NFL last month - this has been denied. The 2013 complain relates to claims by the photographers against 
against the NFL, all 32 NFL teams, the Associated Press (AP), and image companies Replay Photos and Getty Images that the defendants exceeded the terms of original licence agreements that granted limited use of certain images. The case was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (image: C Watts). 

And finally, Lyor Cohen is the latest YouTube executive to take aim at the planned reforms to EU Copyright Law, and in particular Article 13. An ex-record label man himself, Cohen is now YouTube’s global head of music and he posted a warning about the new Copyright Directive saying “Let me be clear: we understand and support the intent of Article 13. We need effective ways for copyright holders to protect their content” adding “But we believe that the current proposal will create severe unintended consequences for the whole industry. We still have a couple of weeks to work together towards a better final version of the law. The music industry should really pay attention to these unintended consequences - the system that largely contributes to their success is at risk of major change in the European Union”, opining that "Remixes and covers, tutorials, fan tributes, parodies" were all at risk, and that "these are such powerful promotional tools for the industry". More on the Verge here.