Wednesday 23 October 2013

The CopyKat - copyright and the internet: are we Poles apart?

The Polish Filmmakers’ Association (SFP) has won a "significant" legal victory against UPC Polska, the country’s leading cable operator. In a statement, the association says that the Warsaw Court of Appeal has ordered  the broadcaster to pay SFP compensation for the non-contractual rebroadcasting of audiovisual works. The actual amount, though not specified, will according to the SFP run into many millions of zloty.

In the communist era, the Eagle lost its crown
And also from Poland comes news that there is "no mechanism in place for mediation in disputes over copyright issues".That's according to Jerzy Straszewski, president of the Polish Chamber of Electronic Communications (PIKE). Speaking in a panel discussion on intellectual property on the second day of the PIKE 2013 conference and exhibition, he added that the Commission on Authors’ Rights (Komisja Praw Autorskich) formed in 2010 had no clearly defined role and there was a need for it to act as a mediator. Józef Kot, from Vectra Investments, said that the whole system for mediating disputes should be rebuilt from scratch, with the creation of an independent mediation authority and with the courts as a last resort

The operator of the popular file-sharing service isoHunt, is shutting down to settle a long-running lawsuit brought by the Motion Picture Association of America, according to court records. Gary Fung, the site’s Canadian operator, also agreed to pay $110 million in damages as part of the deal to end the long-running legal battle - although quite where he will get that sort of sum remains unclear. Programmer Bram Cohen released the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol in 2001, and its efficient way of transferring files has become the method of choice for illicit, peer-to-peer sharing of copyright.  The isoHunt litigation began in a Los Angeles federal court in 2006. In March of this year, a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the DCMA would not apply to Fung  because Fung’s business model, the court said, was designed for the primary purpose of copyright infringement.

TorrentFreak has managed to unearth some financial details for The Center for Copyright Information (CCI), the 'not for profit' organisation set up to administer the US's 'six strikes' regime. When the scheme started,  the founding content owner members (primarily the MPAA and the RIAA) agreed to share the costs with the participating major ISPs. The company's first eight month tax filing shows that  ISPs and copyright holders paid a total of $1,377,633 in membership dues, putting the yearly budget around $2 million per year. So where is all the money going? Well here's a breakdown, via TorrentFreak: (i) The CCI pays Executive Director Jill Lesser - the only key employee working there - a modest $43,750 during the first eight months of 2012 BUT (ii) Lesser indirectly earns a bit more from CCI from her consulting firm JAL, which the CCI paid $193,750 to during the same eight-month period. (iii) Around $144,093 was paid to PR firm Glover Park Group and (iv) Resource Global was paid $125,691 for its consulting services, as well as $102,928 in legal fees. The costs do not cover the cost of copyright actions by copyright holders and the costs ISPs incur when tracking down infringers and processing the notices with TorrentFreak saying that "copyright holders and ISPs are likely to spend double or triple the previously mentioned $2 million on the entire six-strikes system."

What has the UK's Digital Copyright Hub boss Richard Hooper been saying? Well you can read it all on the Music Ally website but in a nutshell "There is a problem with copyright in the fast-moving digital world, [but] before the kneejerk reaction ‘the law must be changed!’, look whether changes to copyright licensing, processes and organisations will resolve some, if not all of the problems specified… most of the problems can be solved if the creative industries get off their backsides and streamline copyright licensing”. 

That said, Creative Commons have urged lawmakers around the world to reform copyright law to make creative works more open to public domain. Creative Commons issued the policy statement in the face of more restrictive intellectual-property trends to dispute suggestions that "the very success of CC licenses means that copyright reform is unnecessary" saying "CC licenses are a patch, not a fix, for the problems of the copyright system," and the statement foes on to say "However well-crafted a public licensing model may be, it can never fully achieve what a change in the law would do, which means that law reform remains a pressing topic.… CC licenses are not a substitute for users' rights" and "the public would benefit from more extensive rights to use the full body of human culture and knowledge for the public benefit. CC licenses are not a substitute for users’ rights, and CC supports ongoing efforts to reform copyright law to strengthen users’ rights and expand the public domain."

The monster Grendel - rivalled by Google?
Researchers at the University of Nottingham have discovered that Google's terms and conditions of use need reading skills above and beyond those needed to understand the the heroic epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf: Facebook's terms are so complex that the reader would be well placed to read The Prince by Machiavelli in their place. If you are thinking of signing up with Scottish Power - completing reading their terms and conditions is equivalent to reading Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche - if not worse: Research Fellow Ewa Luger, who analysed the texts, pointed out that data protection provisions are often particularly complex - making no sense to most readers (who haven't given up) and believes that first step towards understanding online terms and conditions would be to make the texts easier to read - saying that E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, writes simple, readable, clear and understandable texts - if you like that sort of thing that is! 

Elysium”, the recently released sci-fi action-thriller starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, is facing a copyright claim in the Northern District of California.  Screenwriter Steve Willis Briggs has accused director of Elysium,  Neill Blomkamp, of stealing the idea for “Elysium” from his screenplay “Butterfly Driver.”   At the heart of the claim is the core story in “Elysium”: In 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a luxurious space station called Elysium and the poor, who live on an overpopulated, devastated Earth. While residents on Earth are policed by ruthless robots, Elysian citizens live in comfort and regularly use man-sized medical devices called Med-Bays to keep them free of disease and injury. The film follows the main character Max, who is played by Matt Damon, as he attempts to gain access to restricted medical treatment that is reserved for the wealthy after he is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation and an ensuing fight with Elysiun's Secretary of Defence Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and vicious mercenary Kruger.  Briggs claims that numerous aspects of the film, namely the plot, characters, and themes, are taken directly from his “Butterfly Driver.” Briggs registered his screenplay in June with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to file the suit. Other defendants include Sony Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Media Rights Capital, and QED International.

Now to the world of video games: First off, The Switch report that one of their most popular posts concerned a full-on recreation of Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. in the browser. Nintendo is now accusing the developer of copyright infringement — to which one commentator wrote, "I don't understand, the dude just made something for fun. He's not making profit off of it, it's a fan creation! That's like saying we should take down all fan art and not wear any cosplay, because it's copyright infringement."

And more on video games: It seems independent video game developer Wild Games Studio might have "abused" YouTube's copyright system to censor a negative video review of their game My Day One: Garry's Incident which was posted by user TotalBiscuit. In a series of tweets, Total Biscuit addressed the issue saying "Well, cat is out of the bag since someone on Reddit found it. My Day One: Garrys Incident video was copyright flagged by the devs [developers]. I should point out that this is a game I was sent review code for, it was also the top-ranked video on Youtube for that game. It is fairly obvious what they are doing here, abusing Youtube's copyright system to censor criticism of their product." More on Gameranx here - all fuel for the debate about what is and here perhaps isn't the proper role of copyright.

The shutdown of MegaUpload took nearly 11 million legitimate files offline - that's according to a new study by the Northeastern University in Boston. The same report confirms that the majority of the files did contain infringing content. Overall, researchers say that at least 26% and possibly up to 79% of files on the sites surveyed infringed copyright. stored and shared via the now defunct cloud-locker and file-transfer service were likely infringing copyright. 

And finally - a fascinating article by Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii on how copyright law does (and doesn't) interface with indigenous peoples' folklore  - and concepts such as communal ownership - here set against a background of Australian Aboriginal customary law. For more, it's on the Speaking Tree - go to "The equitable interface between customary law and copyright law"Image from

No comments: