Wednesday 16 October 2013

The CopyKat reports thatTelecom operators in Russia are arguing that they do not need to pay royalties to collection societies: Pioneer TV, a cable operator and producer based in the Smolensk region has complained to the Prosecutor General’s Office and Ministry of Culture about demands by the Russian Authors’ Society (RAO) for payments arguing that such demands are contrary to the law, with the Civil Code says nothing about payments from operators who are providing services to broadcasters. Pioneer TV also says that a draft decree, the latest version of which was published by the Ministry of Culture in July, runs counter to the Civil Code. Separately its seems (and further information would be much appreciated!)  the court for intellectual property rights has ruled in favour of the cable operator ER Telecom in a dispute with RAO and the All-Russian Intellectual Property Organisation (VOIS).

Digital Spy reports that Brian Belo has reached an out-of-court settlement with the makers of the reality 'drama' TV seriesThe Only Way is Essex over the show's concept. The former Big Brother winner had alleged that the ITV2 series breached his copyright, and that ITV and Lime Pictures - who make the structured reality show - reproduced a format that was originally created by him, Sassy Films and Massive TV for a show called Totally Essex.

In Nigeria, The estate of the composer of the National anthem, the Late Pa Benedict Elide Odiase, has sued  a telecommunications company for the sum of N1.5 billion for the use of the National Anthem titled “Arise O’ Compatriots”  as ring and call back tones without authorisation or licence.   Meanwhile, it seems that the telecommunication’s company has written to the plaintiffs’ lawyers claiming that the infringement was committed by it's content providers and  therefore it should not be held liable for the infringement of copyright in the work on its platform or network.

But not on Digital Music News ...
A while back Digital Music News published an entire iTunes Radio contract, which was targeted at smaller indie labels, showing how Apple "got to throw its weight around, presenting terms that were very much in Apple's favour over the labels" -  if they wanted to participate in iTunes Radio. It seems Apple's lawyers finally spotted this online and TechDirt reports that apparently Apple has made a copyright claim over the content (in the contract) to get the document taken down .... and indeed the page has now gone - you can see TechDirt's take on this action here.

The record industry in the USA seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place. Having successfully argued that federal law did not apply to pre-1972 sound recordings but that state law did - which enabled the label's to take legal action against controversial online platform Grooveshark's user uploaded (and infringing) content  because no DCMA 'safe habor' provisions would protect the platform for those tracks - the move seems to have backfired - at least partially. 

Satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM - who have not paid any royalties for broadcasting pre-1972 sound recordings - has filed a response to one of the record industry's lawsuits against the broadcaster saying, that it does not have to pay royalties to collection society SoundExchange for pre-1972 recordings as federal law does not apply - AND  - that the specific obligation for satellite and online broadcasters to pay a sound recording royalty did not exist in state law, and if AM/FM radio stations are not obliged to pay labels a royalty under state copyright (which they are not) then neither is the satellite broadcaster saying "Plaintiff apparently has become aggrieved by the distinction drawn by Congress in withholding copyright protection from its Pre-1972 Recordings; thus now, after decades of inaction while a wide variety of music users, including radio and television broadcasters, bars, restaurants and website operators, exploited those Pre-1972 Recordings countless millions of times without paying fees, it asserts a purported right under the law of various states to be compensated by SiriusXM for comparable unlicensed uses." See our earlier blog her

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission  has concluded an investigation into the country's main music collective licensing society (APRA) and the country's collective licensing systems aqnd despite some scathing comments about APRA from various parts of the music and broadcast industries including writers, rights holders and end users - but in the main concludes that the body's operations do not raise significant competition concerns even though APRA has a "virtual monopoly" in those areas where the music publishing sector chooses to licence as one and "public benefit test has been met" with regards APRA's operations, noting the efficiencies and cost savings for all resulting from the collective licensing process. The draft Report has some recommendations - including requirements for clearer communications around the way collective licensing operates and how dispute resolution processes work. APRA was also told that it should better educate members on where there is the option to "licence back" or "opt out" of collective licensing.

A proposed private copy levy on digital lockers in Europe would be a complete disaster if implemented, according to Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom, who said that he could not envision a proposal worse than that of French MEP Françoise Castex, who presented her plan for the overhaul of the Copyright Directive to the Parliament's legal affairs committee Monday. She said her proposal will make the issue of copyright levies and downloading clearer across the European Union. With MP3 players and other devices being jettisoned for storage of music and other content in favour of cloud digital lockers, Castex recently proposed to the European Parliament's legal affairs committee a new levy system saying "The private copying system is a virtuous system that balances the right to copying for private use with fair remuneration to rightholders, and that it is a system worth preserving. [And] private copies of protected works made using cloud computing technology may have the same purpose as those made using traditional and/or digital recording media and materials". In response, Engstrom said "the very principle of levies is all wrong, we should be reducing them, not increasing them. European Commission figures show that the sum total of private copying levies collected in 23 of the 28 E.U. member states has more than tripled since the current Copyright Directive came into force in 2002 and now stands at more than €600 million.

As it's the week of the IP and The Fashion Industry Conference I noticed a report from New Zealand where fashion store Jeanswest New Zealand has been fined for infringing on a Dutch company's copyright over the design of a"biker" jean. G-Star took Jeanswest to the High Court in Auckland for allegedly copying a pair of its 2006 Ellwood Anniversary jeans, an adaptation of a French design it released 10 years earlier. The jean featured kneepads, horizontal stitching across the back of the knee and heel guards. In 2009, Jeanswest manufactured a limited edition of its own Dean Biker jean with similar features but omitting a saddlepad. Jeanwest's defence argued the company had come up with its own design after "an extensive review of fashion trends, existing designs and different product features; and the review did not take into account the E;lwood design". However, Justice Paul Heath found that an infringement had taken place but noting that all the Dean Biker jeans were no longer on the market, the Judge fined Jeanswest New Zealand $325 and ordered they pay costs. More from the Fashion and IP Conference here

And dont' forget that on 22nd October there is another IP conference - the "Hot Topics in IP" conference Marble Arch in Central London. A stellar list of speakers include: Michael Hart, Partner at Baker & McKenzie, who will analyse recent comparative advertising case law and the impact of recent developments in trade mark law: Martin Howe QC of 8 New Square who, having successfully represented Rihanna in the image rights claim against Topshop owner Arcadia, will provide an update on the status of image rights in the UK: Guy Burkill QC of Three New Square, who will share invaluable insights into current mobile phone patent litigation strategies: Mark Owen, Partner at Taylor Wessing, who will review copyright law in the UK and the potential impact of new exemptions: Duncan Ribbons, Partner at Redd, who will consider the impact of: the Jackson reforms on IP litigation: Paul Gardner, Partner at Osborne Clarke, who will offer industry expertise on the evolution of interactive. Chaired by Peter Brownlow (partner Bird & Bird). 1709 readers can receive 20% off the full delegate rate of £549 (plus VAT). Quote code MLU20. Book your place here or email

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