Wednesday 13 November 2013

The CopyKat - of takedowns, trollls and transformation

There should be a limit on exemptions for parody, says the Hong Kong Copyright Concern Group. The umbrella group of 14 organisations, which includes the record labels body the IFPI and the Federation of Motion Film Producers of Hong Kong, was offering its own opinions as part of a public consultation on whether parody should be exempted from copyright if the instigators do not make money from their work or damage the economic interests of others. The consultation was launched by the government in July and is now running until November 15. The Concern Group also said that any exemptions for parody must follow the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

And over on the IPKat, Eloneora has been looking at planned reforms to the Irish copyright system - her lastest blog is on the Review Committee's thoughts on fair use  - to "[e]xamine the US style ‘fair use’ doctrine to see if it would be appropriate in an Irish/EU context" and it's well worth a read - particularly as the Irish proposals might well be in immediate conflict with constraints posed by Article 5 of the InfoSoc Directive. 

The Beatles have topped a list of artists whose music is not being taken down from file-sharing websites (or at least not effectively) which has been complied by anti-piracy service MUSO which  compiled its top ten by monitoring websites which are compliant with takedown requests meaning that the illegal files counted could easily be removed. The Beatles had 187,687 files available illegally on the sites surveyed, over 115,000 more than the number two act, Fleetwood Mac. MUSO estimated that these illegally available Beatles tracks would be accessed around 190 million times per year, with some of the files online for over five years.

A 30-year-old Chinese law graduate has received a three year suspended prison sentence and fined 10,000 yuan for copyright infringement in Jiangyin, Jiangsu. The Jiangyin People’s Court found that the defendant, Zhang, an enthusiastic movie fan, had devoted himself to translating non-mainstream art films and selling them online. Zhang learned English, French, Japanese, German, Russian and Korean to help him in his work. Zhang claims he was motivated by a market need that he discovered in discussions on online forums. While many people expressed a desire to watch foreign art movies it was a niche not supported by the mainstream market in China. It was, however, also illegal.

Jay-Z is facing another sampling claim. A lawsuit was been filed against the rapper, Roc-A-Fella Records and  Atlantic Recording Corp by Manhattan record label Tuf America, which claims that the track "Run This Town" with Kanye West and Rihanna illegally samples New Orleans soul singer Eddie Bo's 1969 number "Hook & Sling, Part 1." The plaintiffs are seeking proceeds from "Run This Town" and damages, and are asking for a court order to halt "further distribution and exploitation" of the recording. 

The 'Prenda Law' copyright trolling saga rumbles on. Now another US federal judge has entered the fray and has ordered AF Holdings Inc, one of the firms used to file lawsuits which pushed for settlement from individuals accused of illegally downloading online porn, to return money paid in settlement of the infringement claims.  AF Holdings filed five different lawsuits and four of those cases quickly settled for sums ranging from $US3,500 to $US6,000. Judge Franklin Noel is forcing AF Holdings to return the settlement cash after finding the company couldn’t prove it held the copyright to “Popular Demand” and “Sexual Obsession” finding “AF Holdings failed to produce any credible evidence that the [copyright] assignments were authentic” adding that his Minnesota “court has been the victim of a fraud perpetrated by AF Holdings, LLC.” Judge Noel also found that AF used a forged signature on a copyright-assignment agreement. The name on that agreement was of Alan Cooper, a caretaker at the Minnesota cabin of John Steele, one of the lawyers involved with AF. Cooper testified that he never signed the agreement or held a position with AF Holdings. Lots about this and other Prenda news here - according to Techdirt it seems copyright is off the agenda, and one ex Prenda lawyer is now targeting websites with alleged Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations - and looking for prompt settlements, 

This guest post by Jeff Price, Founder & CEO of TuneCore on Hypebot: "While the major music companies' revenue from music sales has gone down, they have a brand new increasing income stream: revenue generated from the sale of other people's music. In the past five years, hundreds of millions of dollars of songwriter royalties have been generated and never paid to the songwriter, or have been given to Warner Bros, EMI, Universal, Sony and others based on their market share - estimates put this new income at over half a billion dollars" and in particular "The complexity of copyright law, the total lack of transparency by the collection agencies and the inability to audit anything, and you have a perfect storm for global copyright infringement with hundreds of millions of dollars of other people's money getting siphoned off and/or not paid to the millions of rightful copyright holders". If you write or record songs, or own a small catalogue or label .... read on : It is a bit of an advert for Tunecore, but a good read - More here.

Torrentfreak report that David León Marín, who ran a BitTorrent indexing site in Spain, is facing an eighteen month jail sentence after being found guilty of criminal copyright infringement. He was also fined 21,000 euros and banned from creating or managing websites for three years. Marín, who ran the site Bajatetodo, was originally arrested in 2007.

Music Week reports that  a group of European Parliament members have called for a review of The European Copyright Directive to overhaul a "licensing nightmare". MEPs Amelia Andersdotter (Pirate Party, SWE), Marietje Schaake (Social Liberal Democrats NL) and Pawel Zalewski (Christian Democrats, PL) hosted an event that was aimed at highlighting the need for change to the Directive with Andersdotter saying: “Infosoc has created a horrible licensing nightmare that no one is able to penetrate ... those who make use of culture – file-sharers, DJs, libraries, schools – live in a constant state of uncertainty" adding “It’s really difficult to find out what the freedoms and rights are of those who use culture. What is permitted and not permitted? When is someone at risk of getting sued? The law really needs to make that more clear.” A number of MEPs had previously sent a letter to the EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso saying that people of the EU "are concerned that the current copyright system is no longer for them" and lacks relevance in 2013 and Barosso had replied a saying that The Commission would continue to work to update the copyright framework to make sure it stays “fit for purpose in the digital environment”.

It seems that after a six-and-a-half-year crusade, and a recent decision denying class action status, the Premier League, the French Tennis Federation and a number of music companies have walked away from a long-running legal battle over copyright infringement with the Google-owned video-sharing website YouTube. That's all according to documents filed in New York and seen by the Guardian who suggest that with the content owners now extensively using YouTube's takedown provisions, the move is likely to lead to clubs being able to use the platform to show delayed highlights of their matches on their own YouTube channels. While the court case was ongoing they had been prevented from showing any on-pitch action and limited to behind-the-scenes videos and interviews. Both sides will pay their own costs after agreeing to a voluntary dismissal. 

And finally, the The US Supreme Court has decided not to hear the controversial copyright case between the photographer Patrick Cariou and the artist Richard Prince, who used a number of Cariou’s images of Rastafarians in 30 paintings in the series “Canal Zone”. The 2nd Circuit Appellate court held the use to be transformative in 25 of Prince's works. The case continues at the district level where the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Rauschenberg Foundation have submitted amicus briefs urging the consideration of the opinions of art historians in the formation of what's transformative. Five uses by Prince were not considered transformative and those were sent back to the lower court for a determination, using the appeals court standard for transformative use.

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