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'. 

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