Thursday 25 July 2013

The CopyKat - bandits, kiwis, sharks, Finns and hoppers in this weeks dish of the day

67 international law academics have endorsed a letter to Colombian leaders expressing concern over copyright legislation intended to implement the country’s obligations under  the country's Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. The letter warns that the provisions in the legislation “restrict the activities of information consumers more than is necessary or appropriate, more than the FTA requires, and more than do the provisions U.S. copyright law itself.” The letter goes on to recommend that Colombia give “serious consideration” to a “flexible approach to limitations and exceptions” and offers other suggestions for provisions that protect user rights in copyright.
When freelance journalist Sheron Boyle wrote a piece for the PressGazette detailing her concerns about a worrying practice which has become increasingly more prevalent in the newspaper she opened up the can of worms that is “byline banditry.” This is when a freelance journalist sells their first rights of publication to a paper, only to find after publication that their work is being accredited to the staffer for whom the freelancer had written the piece. Now others are commenting on the practice: Andy J alerted me to an excellent blog post on Mediabelf here . More in this to follow on this on the 1709 Blog shortly! Image, and more on banditry from Wikipedia here.

The Government of New Zealand is delaying a review of copyright laws until the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations are over, saying it would not be practical while the talks are underway. The setback has frustrated the Telecommunications Users Association which says the review is long overdue after already being delayed for five years – and wants action now. Association chief executive Paul Brislen has grave fears for the current copyright laws, which he says are being flouted by “just about anybody with an internet connection”.
Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter  Aimee Mann has told the Hollywood Reporter that artists are being systematically robbed of digital royalties. Mann is brining a legal action against MediaNet, the 1999 venture, originally called Musicnet set up by EMI and BMG and joined by AOL Time Warner and RealNetworks and then sold to a private equity firm in 2005. Today it is essentially a "white label" that serves up more than 22 million songs to over 40 music services, including Yahoo Music,, eBay and various online radio services. According to Mann's lawyer, Maryann Marzano of Gradstein & Marzano, "Not only does this case seek redress for Aimee Mann against one of the world's largest but least known providers of online music, it also serves as a call to other artists to follow the lead set by Radiohead and Pink Floyd to put an end to the unlicensed, uncompensated use of their music by online services." According to Mann's lawsuit, not all of the music being provided by MediaNet is properly licensed. Mann is demanding statutory damages for wilful copyright infringement of some 120 songs, MediaNet has said that the claim is "meritless". The history of MusicNet and Pressplay (set up by the then other  majors - Sony, and UMG) is another story which I must come back top one day.

Crowdsourced Finnish draft legislation that aims to reduce penalties on small-scale private downloading from peer-to-peer networks has now reached enough backers to be discussed by the Finnish Parliament. The necessary threshold of 50,000 backers to send the bill to Parliament was reached on Monday 22nd July, said Heini Huotarinen, senior officer of the Finnish Ministry of Justice. The initiative is called the Common Sense in Copyright Act. By Tuesday it was up to nearly 53,000!

It seems Google has added controversial music streaming service Grooveshark to it's autocomplete blacklist, meaning that the search engine won't make suggestions to a user that they might be looking for pages on the controversial streaming website when searching for music content. I just tried and had to type in the entire word - interesting - and a distinct disadvantage in the age of ferociously short attention spans!

And finally, Techdirt reports that the US  Ninth Circuit appeals court has ruled in the Fox v Dish case - over Dish's AutoHopper technology - that "broadcasters can't use copyright to block commercial skipping" - and that plaintiff Fox had no interest in copyright in adverts - rather the programmes they are placed between.

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