Thursday 23 January 2014

The CopyKat, balancing on that narrow fence between copyrights and copywrongs

The Delhi High Court has held.that exclusive rights over yoga and pranic exercises, which are derivatives of ancient technique of yoga in India, cannot be claimed under the Copyright Act. Business Standard reports that the Court made the observations while rejecting the plea of Philippines-based Institute for Inner Studies seeking to restrain persons from teaching the 'asanas' (postures) claimed to be developed by the founder of the Institute.  The court relied upon the position of law on the matter in the US and noted that the court there had denied protection to Yoga asanas in case of Bikram Choudhary who is also teaching modern yoga techniques in the US.  Justice Manmohan Singh also held that the expression 'Pranic Healing' cannot be monopolised as trademark by the Institute. More on yoga and copyright here

The California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals - aka the "Hollywood Circuit" - has been accused of routinely siding with the home-turf entertainment industry in the past. Critics say that judges sided with film studios in the early 1980s when the studios sued Sony for infringing their copyrights by selling the Betamax video recorders (the Supreme Court reversed that decision), and a majority sided with "Wheel of Fortune" TV personality Vanna White when she claimed her "right to publicity" had been violated by a commercial spoof featuring a robot with a blond wig who stood next to big block letters. Now, the court's alleged pro-Hollywood slant is being cited again by a the daughter of Frank Petrella, who, along with boxer Jake LaMotta, wrote a 1963 screenplay that was said to be the basis for the Oscar-winning film Raging Bull - and again the Supreme Court has been asked to overturn a 9th Circuit decision that blocked her copyright claim against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in a dispute over the 1980 movie. Whilst Chief Judge Alex Kozinski has criticised the court in the past for being overprotective of the entertainment industry, he "bristles" at the suggestion that the 9th Circuit takes sides saying "We get a lot of cases, but we go every which way" adding "I don't think we are particularly protective of studios." An update on the 'sparring' Supreme Court judges can be found here.

An excellent update on the right to control a 're-transmission' by  journalist and Mediabeak blogmeister Edgar Forbes appears on the IPKat here - looking at differing approaches taken by the UK, European and then US courts in Cablevision, MPS v MurphyTVCatchup and now Aero. Edgar is as clear as can be in this muddled and confused landscape! Why does anyone bother? In the USA JVC estimated that retransmission fees would grow rapidly from $1.4 billion in 2011 to an estimated $3.6 billion in 2017, with full service HD News/ENG TV stations poised to get the lion’s share. More in JVC's  Pro HD Report here.

Sarah Palin has lost bid to move copyright lawsuit against her to her home turf of Alaska. The claim was brought by newspaper publisher North Jersey Media Group who sued the former darling of the Tea Party and vice presidential candidate, and her political action committee, last September, claiming copyright infringement over the use of an iconic 9/11 photograph. The photo depicts three New York City firefighters hoisting an American flag amid the rubble at the World Trade Center hours after the attacks - Palin’s Sarah PAC posted a copy of the photo on its fundraising website and Facebook page without permission. The case was moved to New Jersey. More on Mondaq here.

The shift away from collective licensing in the digital domain stepped forward again as Universal Music's publishing business in America announced it had entered into a direct licensing agreement with US-based streaming service Pandora which had previously licensed content through collective licensing - having had deals with ASCAP and BMI (both of which were challenged in court at the end of 2013). Universal's Zach Horowitz rather marvellously told reporters: "Our deal with Pandora is another step toward reaching our goal of ensuring that there is a vibrant digital marketplace where both music services and the songwriters and composers who make those services possible can thrive. This arrangement will allow music fans to enjoy our music on Pandora while protecting our songwriters and composers".

The Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., owned and run by the family of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals from the lower court decision in Klinger v Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. It's not unexpected - the District Court's ruling that all but ten of Coinan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories were in the public domain would prevent the Estate from licensing all but those ten works - as well as potentially profitable spin offs, and new stories based on the characters of Holmes and Dr Watson. The Estate had argued that the characters of Holmes and Watson was not fully developed until the final ten short stories - still in copyright - were published and so should remain under copyright protection - but the Court disagreed and although noting that writers using character developments from these last ten stories would require the Estate’s permission, held that the public may use the Pre-1923 Elements without obtaining a license from the Conan Doyle Estate.

And finally, both Fight Copyright Trolls and TorrentFreak have noted the District Court ruling from Seattle, where Judge Robert Lansik noted that the producers of the movie Elf Man failed to state a claim for relief, since the only evidence they had was an IP address - which wasn't enough to actually implicate any particular person in copyright infringement - and that that IP address-only evidence fails to meet the pleading standards required to pursue for copyright infringement Judge Lansik said  “Simply identifying the account holder associated with an IP address tells us very little about who actually downloaded ‘Elf-Man’ using that IP address”. 

1 comment:

Ben said...

For more on the Raging Bull saga, the doctrine of laches and the several amici briefs in this case, the AmeriKat has just posted a marvellous update here on the IPKat