Saturday 31 August 2013

The CopyKat - your weekend copyright catchup

Renowned photographer Estevan Oriol has filed a lawsuit against Swedish fashion brand H&M and fashion house Brandy Melville for the use of his copyrighted image "L.A. Fingers." The 1995 photo depicts a female model's long, ring-clad fingers forming the letters "L.A." - for Los Angeles. The image has since become iconic and has been legally published worldwide in various magazines and Oriol's own branded clothing. His lawsuit alleges that both H&M and Brandy Melville "grossly infringed" on his protected works, using his photograph on a series of t-shirts that have been sold and continue to sell at their respective retail stores worldwide. "If you put my photograph side-by-side with their re-creation of my image, anyone would tell you they are one in the same... they clearly copied my image" Oriol said, with his lawyers adding “On behalf of artists and creators everywhere, we will vigorously seek out and aggressively pursue legal action against anyone who improperly uses an image at the expense of an artist".  You can compare the images here.

SoundExchange, the US non-profit that collects royalties for musicians from satellite radio firms, Internet radio services and cable music channels, said it has filed a suit against SiriusXM seeking to recover what it calls "massive underpayment" of digital royalties over a six-year period. The organisation said the satellite radio firm underpaid by "$50 to $100 million or more" by taking a number of impermissible deductions and exemptions in calculating its royalty payments from 2007-2012.

The Consumer Council of Fiji's CEO Premila Kumar has said that copyright is an important consumer issue and that unbalanced copyright laws and practices hurt consumers — not pirates. Speaking at the 2013 Copyright workshop organised by the Fiji Performing Rights Association last Friday, Kumar said there was always conflict between “protection” and “access” that had made copyright a much more visible and important issue for consumers especially in the digital age adding “It is now a question of striking a fair balance between creators, copyright owners and consumers”. Kumar says that piracy and the selling of counterfeit goods are two major issues the public is facing in Fiji. The Fiji Police Force is also calling for the amendment of the copyright law in Fiji. Legal director Superintendent Sakeo Raikaci said Fiji was using the Copyright Act 1999 and there was a need for clear and distinct laws and more powers to deal with piracy and that Fiji police are investigating ways to improve copyright laws to make it easier to prosecute offenders.

Filmmaker Tyler Perry and distribution partner Lionsgate have been successful in having a copyright lawsuit against their film Good Deeds dismissed. Author Terri Vanessa Donald (aka Tlo Red'ness) filed the suit last November, claiming the film infringed on her 2007 book Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit. She claimed to have sent a copy of her book to Perry's company years before Good Deeds went into production. A judge ruled that the similarities Donald pointed out between her book and the film, a romance between a wealthy man and a woman who has experienced hardship, was not sufficient to sustain a copyright infringement claim.

PRS for Music reminds all of its authors and composers, and the 1709 Blog,  that from the1st  November 2013 a legislative change will alter the way the term of UK copyright protection for a co-written work is calculated. From this date the term of protection for the music and words within the co-written work will now expire 70 years after the death of the last surviving author of that work (composer or lyricist) rather than the current provisions where music and words within a co-written work are treated as separate copyright works with their own individual term of protection. The new law applies to co-written works made:
  • on or after 1 November 2013;
  • before 1 November 2013, where the musical work and/or words are still in copyright in UK on 31 October 2013;
  • before 1 November 2013, where music or the words are protected in at least one member state of the European Economic Area on 1 November 2013.
Victoria Espinel, the USA's "copyright czar" until two weeks ago, has been named president of 
The Software Alliance, which goes by the acronym BSA, the anti-piracy trade group that lobbies governments on behalf of the software industry - 

The Hollywood Reporter tells us that cyberlocker service HotFile - which has been described as "more egregious" than Napster, Grokster and Limewire and "indistinguishable" from Megaupload - has been found liable for copyright infringement in an action brought by the the Motion Picture Association of America on behalf of five member studios. The copyright infringement suit, filed  in 2011, alleged that the company paid incentives to those who uploaded popular files to the system, that were widely shared. Its affiliate program still offers payment "calculated based on a percentage of the total value of premium accounts purchased by users who download the affiliate's uploaded files."
The summary judgment, which also found Hotfile boss Anton Titov personally liable for infringement, gave U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams the chabce to look at the 'safe harbor' provisions of the DCMA and an opportunity to address the kinds of questions that have come up in the Supreme Court's Grokster decision, as well as Viacom's dispute with YouTube and Universal Music's dispute with Veoh;  Namely, what kind of knowledge and control is necessary before an Internet Service Provider has a legal duty to clean up copyright infringements on a network with the judge noting that "Hotfile was successful in large part because it did not control infringement activity on its system." The judgment is not available as yet but watch this space - as soon as it is (in 14 days time) we will get our claws into it - the MPAA said "This case marked the first time that a US court has ruled on whether so-called cyberlockers like Hotfile can be held liable for their infringing business practices".  Techdirt have a different opinion saying the Florida court made "a horrifically dangerous ruling" and "the risk of massive harm to innovation and the safe harbor protections under the DMCA is very, very real".

And finally, on the anniversary of the Dr Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which was delivered 50 years ago in August 28th 1963, before a crowd of several hundred thousand in Washington - one of the most important speeches of the 20th century - opinions are flying around the internet suggesting that "not one word can be uttered in public without stirring at least the slight possibility of a lawsuit, unless authorization to say it is obtained first" and "even reciting the speech in public, let alone posting a video of the speech, may raise the question of copyright infringement". Dr King's Estate own the copyright and by some accounts, has been aggressive about protecting the copyright: King's heirs sued CBS in 1996 after the television network began selling a videotape that included excerpts of the speech The case was settled out of court and The New York Times reported CBS agreed to make a tax-deductible payment to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. The decision, made on appeal, reversed a lower court decision that the video of the speech was in the public domain as a “general publication” but the Estate is now facing growing criticism from those who feel the iconic video, considered one of the most important cultural and historical moments of the 20th Century, should be easily found - and that copyright law should not make it difficult to see the entire 17-minute speech online.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Leading the blind?

This blogger read with interest an item posted on Intellectual Property Watch, here, entitled "Library Group Publishes User Guide To WIPO Marrakesh Treaty". The treaty in question, as readers know, is the recently adopted Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled”. The Library Copyright Alliance, a body representing three major North American library associations, has prepared a 21-page guide, "A User Guide to the Marrakesh Treaty", which has been written literally by a one-man band -- Jonathan "Bandwidth" Band.

Published in the middle of August, this lucid and concise work describes the main features of the treaty, explaining its various provisions and providing some illustrations relating to the rules on the import-export of accessible format copies and circumvention of technological protection measures.

Does any reader know if a version of this Guide has already been made, or will be made, in Braille, as a sound recording or in any other visually impaired-accessible format?

Mozambique accedes to Berne

A recent WIPO media release reports that the Republic of Mozambique has now deposited its instrument of accession to the Berne Convention, which takes effect as of 22 November 2013.

Notable creators of literary, artistic and musical works from Mozambique include
The first number one single to top the local charts by a non-Mozambican artist was "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" by The New Seekers, while the first non-Mozambican album was John Lennon's Imagine.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Mishaps? No, MIT Apps ...

If it works with apps, it might
 just work with ... cats
"Edinburgh's crowdsourced symphony made with MIT apps" is the headline of a BBC breaking news item that tore this blogger in half. One part of him, the music-loving part, wanted to keep as far away as this work as possible. The other part, stimulated by his passion for intellectual property, propelled him in precisely the opposite direction.  The piece reads as follows:
"Edinburgh is about to host the first performance of Festival City - Europe's first symphony to be composed using crowdsourced sounds and arrangements suggested by the public via specially-created computer apps.

It is the creation of Tod Machover - a professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab whose team previously helped create computer games Guitar Hero and Rock Band as well as technologies used by musicians Peter Gabriel, Prince and Yo-Yo Ma.

The 12-minute piece is being premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival and will be played by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), led by music director Peter Oundjian. The two men previously worked on a similar project for Toronto.

The BBC was given exclusive access to the rehearsals".
Does anyone know, or can anyone guess, the copyright and performers' right arrangements that attend this work? Are other IP rights involved, for example patents for a process of creating multiple-author musical works through the use of computer applications?

More on Tod Machover here
Real App music here

Monday 26 August 2013

The CopyKat - small, furry - and hungry

David Carson
There is a well written report on the Music Industry Newswire reporting on this year's Institute on Entertainment Law and Business, co-sponsored by the USC Gould School of Law and the Beverly Hills Bar Association and is a symposium on the wide variety of legal issues affecting everyone involved in any aspect of show business.  In particular the report on David.O.Carson’s presentation stands out - not least his wry commentary on some of the acronyms for proposed and enacted legislation. David,  General Counsel for the U.S. Copyright Office, asked - who came up with FECA (Family Entertainment and Copyright Act)? And what was the thinking that led to the wording of the Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation act (PIRATE)? David also provided a neat review of the ongoing Google Book Settlement. Other panels included “Understanding Social Media: We’ve got an App for That”, “The Economics of Touring,” “Understanding Digital Distribution,” and “Marketing Artists in the New Millennium.”

Silly season: in our 16th August CopyKat we commented on the latest revelations on Prenda Law troll saga - and the TorrentFreak report that "evidence is stacking up that Prenda Law has been operating a honeypot in order to lure Internet users into downloading copyrighted material. The report highlighted that a subpoena returned by Comcast confirmed that a Pirate Bay user called “Sharkmp4″ is directly linked to the infamous anti-piracy law firm via Steel Hansmeier boss John Steele. TorrentFreak reproduced Comcast's response BUT - TorrenFreak then faced "a series of escalating legal threats" from Comcast's agents Cyveillance asserting copyright over the document. Thankfully sanity has seemingly broken out, with Cory Doctorow over on BoingBoing, who also covered the story, receiving an email from Comcast's Senior Director of Corporate Communications, Jenni Moyer, saying "I saw your post and wanted to let you know this notice was sent in error, and we have advised TorrentFreak to disregard it. We apologize for any confusion. Will you update your post with this information? Thanks.". All's well that ends well ....... hopefully!

 A Chinese court has ordered, one of China's biggest Internet portals,  to compensate the writer of romantic mobile phone messages for lost income after the Sohu sold his love notes without paying him his lawyer has revealedThe Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate Court ruled  that Sohu must pay writer Fu Zhanbei 100,000 yuan (approx US$13,000) for selling his work without permission and ordered the company to issue a public apology, his lawyer Wang Zhan said.

The California Copyright Conference has been tackling the thorny issue of the proposed settlement between the NMPA (National Music Publishers Assn.) and the major record labels which  will provide the labels with the opportunity to pay publishers possibly hundreds of millions owed for unpaid “pending and unmatched” copyright royalties and avoid 1.5% per month late fees that would otherwise apply. It seems many panellists and audience members questioned the deal including - and in particular whether a plan to distribute up to $174 million on a market share basis is fair to independent publishers - as well as questioning why there was an onus on artists for clearing up contractual problems - and the ongoing role of the huge US broadcast industry in extensive lobbying avoiding the implementation of legislation to make them pay to use sound recordings on their radio stations. More in the Conference Report here . 

Lawrence Lessig has filed a federal complaint after YouTube forced the Harvard University law professor and Creative Commons co-founder to take down a video of a lecture that featured people dancing to a copyrighted song. Supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Lessig said: “The rise of extremist enforcement tactics makes it increasingly difficult for creators to use the freedoms copyright law gives them. I have the opportunity, with the help of EFF, to challenge this particular attack. I am hopeful the precedent this case will set will help others avoid such a need to fight.” The complaint stems from a 2010 lecture Lessig delivered in South Korea on cultural and technological innovation. He presented clips of user-generated videos showing people dancing to Phoenix’s single “Lisztomania” which was a popular meme at the time started by user “Avoidant Consumer,” who combined scenes of people dancing from several movies with the song playing in the background. The video went live last June but complaints from Viacom and Australian-based music publisher Liberation Music via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prompted YouTube to remove Lessig’s lecture twice. Lessig filed a complaint disputing Viacom’s action to block the  video on YouTube and had the video restored on June 30th. That same day, Liberation Music filed a complaint to YouTube, and the video-streaming platform informed Lessig that it had again removed his lecture video. Lessig made another complaint to YouTube, but on July 8th, Liberation Music threatened to sue him if he did not retract his complaint, which he eventually did but it seems now fair use is (at least) in play and Lessig's lawsuit runs through the checklist of fair use, making a case for why his lecture falls under that distinction: he used a small proportion of the song, his lecture doesn't compete with the market for the song in any way, and the lecture is an entirely new creation. Phoenix wanted its song to entertain and make money; Lessig's lecture was educational, and neither he nor Creative Commons, the sponsor, made any profit.

Moraine Lake, Alberta: "No, tar"
In the same frame is the fight  between Travel Alberta, a Canadian tourist organization, and Andy Cobb and Mike Damanskis, two comedians.  The comedians started an Indiegogo fund to raise funds for them to travel to Alberta’s Tar Sands.  They describe the location as “the most environmentally destructive mine on earth.”  The duo also created a video and spliced a piece of Travel Alberta’s travel advertisement into the feature.  This four second splice and the slogan “Remember to Breathe” were seemingly enough, under YouTube’s understanding of the DMCA, to take the video down - but the two funsters weren't about to give up and the duo has filed a counter-claim based on fair use and are now awaiting YouTube’s decision.  In the mean time, the comedians will keep their video up on the Indiegogo page and continue to receive contributions for the trip. More on the EFF website here.

And finally: further to our last CopyKat posting, Billboard have reported that Robin Thicke allegedly offered a substantial six figure dollar payout to the family of Marvin Gaye even though he has since filed a lawsuit claiming his song 'Blurred Lines' is not copied from a tune by the late soul singer.

Macao gets some special treaty treatment

If you were a little surprised to receive a media release from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) entitled "WIPO Copyright Treaty: Declaration by the People's Republic of China", don't worry: your memory won't be failing you. You probably thought, hey, hasn't China been a fully-fledged and active party to the WIPO Copyright Treaty since 2007? And indeed that is the case. But the recent media release, accompanied by a further release called "WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty: Declaration by the People's Republic of China", is actually a bit of fine-tuning, designed to bring the Macao Special Administrative Region (population c.591,000) within the ambit of both 1996 treaties with effect from 6 November 2013.

The treaties were extended to another Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong with effect from 1 October 2008.

ALAI Study Days 2010 -- papers now published

ALAI Study Days 2010 Vienna - The Duration of Copyright and Related Rights has now been published by Medien und Recht. You can check out all the details here.  The contents are as follows:

The Duration of Copyright and Related Rights
- Michel Walter: Historical Perspectives regarding the Duration of Authors’ Rights
- Convergence of Term Systems (Introduction) (Engl./French/Span.)
- Silke von Lewinski: The Framework of the International Copyright Treaties and Comparative Overview of the Terms granted in National Law (General Report) (Engl./French/Span.)
The Proper Term of Protection of Authors’ Rights
- Carlos Fernándes Ballesteros: The Proper Term of Protection: 50 – 70 – or beyond? (Engl./French/Span.)
- Marshall Leaffer: The US Perspective – Eldred’s Progeny (Engl./French)
- Ejan Mackaay: The Economics of Life – Reflections on the Term of Copyright (Engl./French)
- Ysolde Gendreau: Termination of Contracts and Reversionary Right (Engl./French)
Related Rights’ Terms of Protection
- Thomas Dreier: Framework of the International Treaties and Comparative Overview of the Terms granted in National Law (General Report) (Engl./French/Span.)
- Shira Perlmutter: The European Commission’s Initiative: Concern of the (proposed) Term Extension – Status of Legislation (Engl./French)
- Bernd Hugenholtz: Fair Concern or Fruit of Industry Lobbying? (Engl./French)
- Tilo Gerlach: The Performing Artists’ View (Engl./French)
- Margarida Almeida Rocha: Balancing Author’s Rights and Neighbouring Rights (Engl./French)
- Abel Martín Villarejo: Scope of Extension – Audiovisual Artists (Engl./French/Span.)
- Pál Tomori: Transitional and Accompanying Provisions (Engl./French)
Further Approximation or Harmonization of the Duration of Authors’ Rights on the Regional and/or on the International Level
- Samuel Ricketson: Further Approximation (Minimum Term) or Need for Harmonization in the Digital Age? (Introduction) (Engl./French/Span.)
- Mira Sundara Rajan: Collaborative Works: The Complex Case of Copyright Term in Film (Engl./French)
- Astri M. Lund: War-related Extensions of Terms: A Possible Obstacle to Further Approximation of the Duration of Authors’ Rights? (Engl./French)
- Miyo Tonami: Moral Rights (Engl./French)
- Albrecht Haller: Posthumous Works between Authors’ Rights and Related Rights (Engl./French)
- Séverine Dusollier: Technical Measures and Duration of Authors’ Rights: A field of Conflict? (Engl./French)
Transitional Law and Prolongation of the Terms of Protection
- Mihály Ficsor: Article 18 of the Berne Convention and Section 514 of US Uruguay Round Agreement Act in the Light of the Golan case (Engl./French)
- Jane Ginsburg: The French Cour de Cassation reconciles Berne Convention Article 18 (1) and 5 (2) (Engl./French)
- Valérie-Laure Benabou: Transitional law and treatment of aliens – The European Court of Justice’s judgment in the “Sony/Falcon/Bob Dylan” case (Engl./French)
- Ramón Casas Vallés: Contracts Concluded and Prolongation of Protection – a Neglected Issue (Engl./French/Span.)
Domaine Public Payant and the Socio-Cultural Function of Authors’ Rights
- Delia Lipszyc: Different Systems of Domaine Public Payant (General Report) (Engl./French/Span.)
- Adolf Dietz: A Modern Concept for the Right of the Community of Authors and Performers (Paying Public Domain) (Engl./French/Span.)
- Igor Gliha: Domaine Public Payant – Few Doubts and Questions (Engl./French)
- Ryu Kojima: Duration of Copyright: From the Perspective of Cultural Policy (Engl./French)
- Gernot Graninger: The Socio-cultural Function of Collecting Societies (Engl./French)
- Gerhard Ruiss: What is to follow Expired Rights? (Engl./French)

Friday 23 August 2013

CopyCamp calls for papers

From Paweł Stankiewicz comes the exciting news that there is a call for speakers at CopyCamp 2013 – an international conference devoted to the subject of copyright, which will be held in Warsaw, Poland. He explains:
"This year, we will talk about copyright in the context of international legislation, we will analyze the copyright system from the perspective of researchers – anthropologists, sociologists and economists. We are interested in the language of the international debate on copyright and communication within this debate. What is more, we aim at discussing practical and innovative solutions for the creative sector as a step on the path to working out a copyright system that would be satisfactory to all involved parties [does "all" include creators, performers, owners, lawyers ... or are the involved parties only those who are involved in gaining access? ].

The special guest of the conference will be Eben Moglen, professor of Law and Legal History at the Columbia University in New York, the founder and chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center, the long-time legal counsel to The Free Software Foundation and co-creator (together with Richard Stallman) of the GNU GPL licence. 
Everyone who is interested in the subject of copyright and would like to express their opinion can submit a presentation proposal by 27 August [which is only a few days away]. The presentation summary of max. 1800 characters should be submitted to On the basis of the proposal summary, the appointed jury will select about 20 speakers of this year's CopyCamp. 
Please note: your presentation should not exceed 10 minutes. Please find more information at:

CopyCamp is part of the Future of Copyright project financed by Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe. Co-organizer of the conference: Coalition for Open Education. Partners of the conference: Association of Authors ZAiKS and Google".
This blogger hopes that there will be a good balance of interests represented among the papers accepted for this appealing event -- otherwise it will be a bit like the Walrus and the Carpenter's dialogue with the oysters.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

PRS for Music and YouTube sign licensing deal

UK Publisher and songwriter collection society PRS for Music and YouTube have  signed a multi-year licence covers over 130 territories The licence covers the use of the "significant repertoire" represented by PRS for Music in videos streamed on the video platform e.g. official music videos and content, live footage, soundtracks and user generated content (UGC). The licence also includes the rights to a growing range of independent repertoire available through PRS for Music’s IMPEL initiative such as David Bowie (Bucks Music), Justin Timberlake (Imagem), Lou Reed (Spirit) and Goldie (Westbury) covering more than 130 territories in Europe, Middle East and North Africa.

Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive PRS for Music, said, “Streaming is a key growth area for PRS for Music, helping drive our online revenues to over £50M in 2012. YouTube’s vast reach around the world offers our publishers and songwriters a unique stage and music lovers access to millions of songs. I am delighted we have reached such an important multi-territory agreement. The issue of remuneration from streaming services remains a key one for our members and the further evolution of our licensing relationship with YouTube will help ensure continued growth in royalties for our members from one of the world’s leading video platforms.”
Chris Maxcy, Director of Global Music Partnerships at YouTube continued, “We're delighted to renew our successful partnership with the PRS for Music. This means the UK's music publishers, songwriters and composers can continue to reach new and existing fans on YouTube and the passionate YouTube community can keep enjoying listening to music and discovering new artists online.”

This is from a press release - of course -  hence the glowing tributes - more at

Does US fair use really make a difference? The answer is: sometimes

Following this morning's announcement on the IPKat, the joint IPKat/1709 Blog poll that followed the decision of the US 9th Circuit in Seltzer v Green Day (here and here) is now closed. 

It sought readers' opinion on the following issue:

Do you think that US fair use really makes a difference in terms of user freedoms?

The poll attracted 123 votes (a warm "thank you" from the IPKat and 1709 Blog teams to those who took the time to let us know what they think!).

The majority of voters (33%) believe that an open-ended US-style fair use defence is especially useful when it comes to new technologies and problems. Capturing just two votes less than the winning entry, 31% of readers hold the view that having a US-style fair use defence is the only way to ensure fair balance of interest between rightholders and users. On the sceptical front, 26% of voters believe that US fair use is not that different from closed systems of exceptions and limitations. Finally, 13% of voters think that US fair use makes a real difference indeed, in that it unduly limits the rights of rightholders.


Outdoor movie nights in Hintonburg, Canada, have been cancelled indefinitely after the discovery that the local community association has been ignoring copyright for the past four years. Now the Hintonburg Community Association is facing a bill for just over $2,000 after not paying licensing fees for nine movies they’ve shown at outdoor public screenings since 2009. Audio Ciné Films, a company that represents the film rights of major movie studios in Canada, informed the HCA three weeks ago that their public screenings were infringing. “They caught wind that we were showing them,” said Jeff Leiper, president of the HCA. “And now that we’re on their radar we are going to have pay the licensing fee moving forward.”

Now to music publishing – Warner/Chappell say that the Hoklo (Taiwanese) version of the theme song from the movie adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables infringes their copyright. Wu Yi-cheng  and Wang Hsi-wen, who adapted the song by re-writing the lyrics and altering the music, said that they had tried to ask Warner/Chappell for the rights to use the song, but did not get a reply. The Hoklo version was used at a mass political rally in Taiwan attended by 200,000 people demanding that the military reveal the truth about the death of an army corporal who allegedly died from abuse while doing his military service – and then posted online. Having now removed the new song’s sheet music from the web, it seems that the authors may have a partial defence in Taiwanese law: According the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office, Articles 44 through to  65 of the Copyright Act provide that whilst the modification of music or lyrics must first be consented to by the original copyright owner,  if such consent cannot be obtained, then the modification should be judged by the standard of whether it was “usage within reason” with the opinion that  the fact the music was at a public rally meant  it could fall under Article 55 of the Act  - it was used in the public interest - and thus may well be  “usage within reason.” However any further uses would be judged on whether it was being used for commercial gain or in an attempt to profit from its distribution – and whether it had impacted on the rights of the copyright owner. Any Taiwanese layers out there who would care to add to this please do post a comment?

After the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) successfully took legal action against Brighton & Hove City Council, one of Britain's largest city councils, 20 more local authorities have signed up for a copyright licence. However, 140 out of 450 UK councils are still unlicensed. The CLA's legal director Martin Delaney said: "I am pleased to see that councils are recognising their legal requirement for a CLA licence" but added: "Our data [on licensed councils] shows that copying is widespread during the course of day-to-day activities. There is no reason to doubt that these practices occur in all of the remaining unlicensed local authorities as well." And in the USA, auditors have discovered that for 27 different pieces of commercial software reviewed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Inland Revenue Service (IRS)  was only able to provide proper licenses for three of them. In its official response to the audit report the IRS agreed with the criticisms and accepted six recommendations for how to better manage and licence software use.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robin Thicke (along with Pharrell Williams and T.I.) has filed a suit in federal court in California against both the family of Marvin Gaye and a publishing company that holds the rights to some of Funkadelic’s compositions. The reason? Both of those parties have claimed that “Blurred Lines” – THE party anthem of 2013 - borrows from their own work, and thus they should be entitled to royalties. The Gaye family’s claim is "especially absurd", as they claim that “Blurred Lines” feels and sounds the same as Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” and that, according to the suit, “the Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work.” Meanwhile, Bridgeport Music says that “Blurred Lines” sounds too much like Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.” Both parties have threatened litigation if they aren’t paid, which is why Thicke, Williams, and T.I. have filed suit - in order to get a prompt and clear decision - hopefully in their favour.

Thom Yorke's Atoms For Peace have already pulled their latest album from Spotify and other streaming services, and now musician Zoë Keating has revealed that she earned just $808 from 201,412 Spotify streams of tracks from two of her older releases in the first half of 2013. That's according to figures published by the cellist as a Google Doc. The Guardian newspaper has much more - and the spreadsheet was Keating's latest attempt to shed more light on the issue of streaming music payouts to artists, as part of the wider debate on whether Spotify and its rivals can generate a sustainable income for musicians. The Guardian's article is here.  Keating had previously revealed that nearly 97% of her income came from sales of her music on iTunes, Amazon and her own Bandcamp website. Keating's total streaming payments for the two releases were $3,454.28 in the first half of 2013. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Keating's last album, 2010's Into the Trees, is available to buy, but not to stream. Thanks to my good friend Arthur for alerting me to this article!

Helicon Books, an ebook technology and services company from Israel, has announces a new service for publishers,  Social DRM. It's for publishers who want to protect their ebooks and prevent copyright violation - and identifies the end costumer, “the buyer”, by stamping the book with the buyer's name. The visual information can appear in text or an image, according to the publisher's needs. The Social DRM is also hidden inside each chapter in the ebook. This hidden information can only be recognized by a bespoke software.

And finally - fan fiction - from Star Wars to Harry Potter tributes written by fans - but based on existing tomes - is a "uniquely creative and often surreal" phenomena on the Internet - where every year thousands if not millions of works of fiction  are written by fans of the worlds, characters, and plot lines created by other authors. "There is fan fiction out there set in the world of Pride and Prejudice, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Twilight, The Lord of the Rings, Sookie Sackhouse (True Blood), Harry Dresden and nearly every other popular book series, movie, or TV show you can think of" - and Copyright Myths From the World of Fan Fiction is an excellent article about where these authors stand when it comes to copyright written by a non lawyer- and clearly explains what fans can do to legitimise their offerings: from disclaimers such as "I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them" to details of which publishers and authors live with fan fiction - which ones litigate - and which ones offer a mechanism for allowing fan be published - its was an educational read for this blogger.

Monday 19 August 2013

Does US fair use work better? Your (last) chance to have your say!

There is only ONE day left before The 1709 Blog/IPKat joint poll on open-ended US fair use defence closes. The question on which we are seeking your opinion is the following:

Do you think that the US fair use defence really makes a difference in terms of user freedoms?

You can respond even if you are on holiday. Just go to The 1709 Blog home page and choose one of the following options at the top of its sidebar:

a)   Absolutely! Fair use is the only option to ensure fair balance of interests between rightholders and users;

b)  Indeed it does: fair use unduly limits the rights of rightholders;

c)  Sometimes: fair use is especially useful when it comes to new technologies and problems;

d)  Not greatly: in terms of concrete outcomes, fair use is not that different from closed systems of exceptions and limitations.

Do let us and policymakers around the world (see here, here, here) know what you think of such an important copyright issue!

Friday 16 August 2013

The CopyKat - weekend scratching post

Farewell to wall to wall Beyonce, Shakira and Pitbull. Ecuador’s airwaves are about to undergo a domestic invasion thanks to a recently passed communications law which says that half of all music played on the radio will have to be homegrown (oh la la, how very French). The move "has station managers scrambling for local talent, musicians tuning up their guitars and long-languishing record companies dusting off their equipment" hoping that home grown talent such as Juan Fernando Velasco (nominated in 2010 for a Latin Grammy in the Folk Album category) and Danilo Parra can compete on the global stage. 
Police say a Louisville man,  graffiti artist Philip G. Rodriguez, has been charged with stealing T-shirts after he told the store owner that his actions were acceptable - as he owned the copyright to the graffiti image on the garments. The image is the word "brrr" along with a bug-eyed character and can be found painted on buildings, trash cans and alley ways all over Louisville (see picture).  Rodriguez, 25, was arrested  in connection with an alleged assault and robbery at the Regalo gift shop. According to the arrest warrant, the owner of Regalo was upset when he discovered the "brrr" tag on the outside of his store. After removing the tag, he created shirts with the design and started selling them. When Rodriguez found out, police say he entered the store and grabbed 19 of the shirts, telling the owner he had no right to sell his copyrighted image. An arrest report says Rodriguez shoved the owner and knocked over a store display on his way out. But another local artist, Damon Thompson, told WDRB  "I was immediately on brrrs side when I heard the story. Mainly because a very similar thing has happened to me" saying that about six years ago, he (Thompson) came up with a T-shirt design that was then used without his permission by the same store.

The New York Times reports that the creators of Youtube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, have rolled out an alternative to Instagram and Vine, called MixBit which allows users to mix and remix their content as well as someone else's content, too. The website does have some fairly clear disclaimers saying "Only add content that you create yourself or are authorized to use. You should never upload music videos, music tracks, clips from TV shows or content from other internet sites without the copyright owners permission" but the reality is that like YouTube ...... MixBit won't police itself with one commentator saying "Is there anyone out there who still believes anyone even tangentially affiliated with Google is actually pro-copyright at this point".

Victoria Espinel, the first White House intellectual property coordinator, has stepped down after almost four years in the post, according to industry sourcesEspinel’s final day on the job was Friday August 9th. Howard Shelanski, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will serve as acting head until President Obama names a successor.

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) are highlighting how Fast Track, also called Trade Promotion Authority, could allow the US executive to "legislate" on copyright issues saying "is a process that hands away Congress’ constitutional power to set the terms of U.S. trade policy, and gives the executive branch concentrated authority to negotiate and finalize trade agreements. Under Fast Track, the White House would have the power to sign off on treaties, after which Congress will only have the power to have an up or down, Yes or No vote to ratify the deal" and highlighting the the fact that lawmakers would lose the power to amend or revise the effects of controversial legislation such as the  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) - and would allow the copyright industries to exercise too much influence

Buma/Stemra (the Dutch music copyright collection Society) and International Copyright Enterprise Services AB (ICE) have signed a 5 year copyright services delivery contract. Based on its 'state of the art database' and multi-territorial copyright 'processing solutions', ICE will manage all of Buma/Stemra's copyright documentation for both domestic and international repertoire, with a pre-agreed service delivery contract for 5 years.

There has been a sudden flurry of articles about potential clashes between copyright and the manufacturers of 3D printing devices - all referring back to HBO's action against Fernando Sosa for his Game of Thrones 'inspired' iPhone dock with Sosa saying “It’s going to be a problem for the future ... a lot of new products are going to come out, and big companies are going to squash the little companies.” Well, if 3D printing gets you going - more here, here , here and here.

Madison-based artist Quincy Neri, who designed a glass-blown sculpture installation called “Mendota Reflection” has won an appeals court decision to protect her copyrights. Neri designed the 60-piece sculpture for Linda Hughes, who had an architecture firm redesign and reconstruct her Madison home to include a vaulted ceiling that would feature the hanging art - and installed specialised lighting - but photos of the design ended up on the websites of the architects, the lighting designer, and the photographer who took original photos of the sculpture to illustrate their skills on the project, as well as in other publications, including an application for an award. Neri opposed these uses, asserting that all of them violated her copyright in the sculpture, but a federal district court dismissed the case, ruling that Neri lacked a registered copyright but a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated that judgment,saying that Neri's unpublished work could be protected if an 'orderly form' of materials had been submitted. The Court also noted that 'fair use' might well be an appropriate defence and also considered what rights, if any, the glass blower who blew the sculpture's pieces  to Neri's design might have. Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook held that the glass-blower was not the true artist of “Mendota Reflection" saying “Defendants might as well say that the typesetter owns a book’s copyright or that the members of an orchestra who play a new composition using their own interpretations of the score become the music’s authors” although the appeals panel noted that the glass-blower may have a separate claim, to the extent the he “added features in the course of blowing the glass.”

Madison (and T-shirts) are all the news this week - A federal judge has ruled that a “Sorry for Partying” T-shirt featuring the official portrait of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin did not violate photographer Michael Kienitz's copyright. Judge Stephen Crocker found that the T-shirts — 161 of which were sold — constituted fair use of the photograph, which was taken from the city’s official website and used as a humorous attempt to mock and parody the Mayor - himself arrested at a precursor to the student bash back in 1969: Soglin now wants to ban the annual end of year student celebrations - the Mifflin Street Block Party - because of excessive drinking.

Straight Pride UK, a campaign for 'hetrosexual equality' whose website reportedly (used) to proclaim  "there is nothing right with being homosexual, there is nothing right with being bisexual" have used a DCMA copyright takedown notice to force an article written by a student journalist - and blogged on WordPress - offline. The student, Oliver Hotham, emailed Straight Pride UK telling them he was a freelance journalist with a list of questions. They responded by sending a document that included the answers to most but not all of the questions, and the document was seemingly titled "press release". Once published, Straight Pride UK seemed to have second thoughts, and Hotham received a 7 day 'voluntary' take down notice, and after failing to respond, WordPress indeed received a takedown notice from Straight Pride UK and duly took down the blog. But the stunt backfired - with disastrous results for Straight Pride UK and their 'oppressed' supporters - as the original article was found and republished repeatedly and Straight Pride ridiculed on twitter: WordPress didn't come out of it very well either - accused of giving in to 'censorship' by the back door method of a supposed copyright infringement (in a press release?).  You can read all about Oliver's tale here . Somewhat inconveniently, Straight Pride UK's website seems mysteriously to be undergoing 'reconstructive surgery' at the time of writing, but the New Statesman has comment here.

Troll news - Torrentfreak reports that "evidence is stacking up that Prenda Law has been operating a honeypot in order to lure Internet users into downloading copyrighted material. A subpoena just returned by Comcast confirms that a Pirate Bay user called “Sharkmp4″ is directly linked to the infamous anti-piracy law firm. The case is controversial in many ways, not least because The Pirate Bay actively helped to expose the copyright troll in question." And boingboing reports that Jacques Nazaire, the lawyer who represented Prenda Law, has asked the court to seal the rest of the proceedings from the case, because he's worried that people might make fun of him on message boards. Really?

Internet surfers have been wrongly forbidden access to hundreds of sites due to an unrelated battle to stop copyright infringement of live football coverage. Hundreds of websites including the Radio Times have seemingly been blocked as a result of the ongoing fight between the Premier League and First Row Sports, a site that offers live streaming of football matches. "It's outrageous that our website has been suddenly switched off and our users wrongly informed that it's to protect against copyright infringement. The Premier League seems to be behaving like the worst sort of blundering striker who's forgotten the first rule of football - check you're at the right end before you shoot,” Radio Times editor Ben Preston told the BBC. Other wrongly blocked sites include Blackburn Rovers FC and Championship side Reading FC.

And finally .... X-Biz reports that European-based producer/director Max Candy has announced the advent of “The World’s First Copyright-Free Porn Film,” code-named “ZiP.” Candy says fans will be able to participate in the film’s production, “mash it up, re-cut it and upload it to their heart’s content” with the Film's producers (and we presume performers) forfeiting all rights -allowing the film to immediately fall into the 'public domain'.