Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The CopyKat - welcome to 2014!

Boingboing report that whilst the US civil liberties group ACLU spent years in court trying to get a look at a top-secret FBI interrogation manual that referred to the CIA's notorious KUBARK torture manual,  they need not have bothered. And whilst The FBI released a heavily redacted version at one point - so redacted as to be useless for determining whether its recommendations were constitutional - it didn't matter anyway - as the FBI agent who wrote the manual sent a copy to the Library of Congress in order to register a personal copyright in it -- in his name - with Boingboing adding "Anyone can inspect the manual on request. Go see for yourself!".

The British Phonographic Industry has asked Google to remove over 45 million web addresses alleged to be hosting copyright infringing material. A new Google transparency report revealed that the recorded music body's takedowns dwarves companies like NBC Universal, Warner Brothers, Fox, and Microsoft. Google released its transparency report offering detailed data sets of all the requests for takedowns it has to had to deal with. Over 2,400 requests were received from Governmental sources - with defamation and privacy/security leading the reasons behind the requests for removal. With a quadrupling in takedowns on Google this year, more on these stats from Eleonora here

Quebec artist Claude Robinson’s lengthy battle with Cinar Corp. over copyright infringement ended Monday with a partial victory in Supreme Court. The case centred on Robinson's creation, in the early 1980s, of preliminary sketches and scripts for a prospective TV series for children that he called Robinson Curiosité; In 1995, Cinar and co-producers France Animation and Ravensburger introduced a new TV series, Robinson Sucroé, with characters strikingly similar to Robinson’s concept. Robinson had given Cinar executives a copy of his work and enlisted the company to help him sell his idea in the U.S. in the 1980s, without success. In a 40-page ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada upped Robinson’s total award from the $2.7 million figure set by the Quebec Court of Appeal two years ago, without restoring it fully to the $5.2 million awarded by Superior Court Judge Claude Auclair in 2009. Both Cinar and Robinson contested the 2011 judgment by the Court of Appeal. Cinar appealed the finding of liability for copyright infringement, while Robinson appealed the reduction in damages. Robinson also will have to defray on his own the costs for the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court legs of his 17-year legal battle which will be considerable. Castor Canuck kindly tells us that the case reference is Cinar Corporation v. Robinson, 2013 SCC 73

In our previous CopyKat we reported that an estimated thirty thousand Germans had received warning letters for allegedly watching copyrighted porn on streaming website, orchestrated by legal firm Urmann+Colleagues (U+C). Now it seems that the Hamburg court that allowed access to information on the mistaken belief that RedTube was a illegal filesharing site has stepped in again, admitting its mistake in approving U+C's requests, and revoked court orders compelling Deutsche Telekom to hand over subscriber information on nearly fifty thousand IP addresses and blocking any further actions. In a separate action by a court in Cologne, which has now examined complaints from dozens of people who received the copyright infringement warning letters (which demanded a 250 euro (£210) payment) including a formal criminal complaint from another firm of Berlin lawyers alleging fraud and blackmail,  the court said the complaints had raised "considerable" doubts about the legal procedure, although the court also said the laws on "streaming" were not clear enough. The court will make its final decision on the "streaming" case in January. Urmann issued a strongly worded statement defending itself against claims it had issued a false affidavit to the court. The firm called on the court to withdraw the allegation.

Kanye West's Bound 2 has prompted a law suit from former child star Ricky Spicer, who claims West used his vocals without permission. Spicer, who sang with The Ponderosa Twins Plus One when he was 12, has sued in Manhattan Supreme Court in New York City claiming Kanye's Bound 2 is a rip-off of his track BoundSpicer claims in the suit that his vocals are used exactly as he recorded them more than 40 years ago, and he now wants Kanye to either compensate him or stop using his music. The lawsuit names Kanye's label Roc-A-Fella Records along with three other labels. The Top 10 samples of 2013 can be found on Who Sampled Who here with Kanye grabbing three of the ten slots.

Every few months 'reports' surface that Sophia Stewart, an American writer and paralegal who claims that the Wachowski brothers and Warners stole The Matrix trilogy of films from her own work, The Third Eye, has won a copyright infringement suit against the 2.5 billion dollar grossing movies. It seems in our reality, whilst Stewart did prevail in a 2004 action brought to dismiss her claim, she didn't show up to court on her big day in June 2005, and in a 53-page ruling, Judge Margaret Morrow of the Central District Court of California dismissed the suit. But interestingly the story of her "wining the lawsuit" and indeed reports of an FBI investigation into the producer's behaviour, continues to be reported on websites as fact - with more appearing at Christmas 2013. The CopyCat, well I just curled up with soe CatNip and watched Bill Murray in Scrooged and Walt Disney's Scrooge McDuck  - hats off to Charles Dickens anyone? Bah, humbug. 

The Moscow Times tells us that nine major music corporations plan to sue the leading Russian social network VKontakte for illegally distributing copyrighted material. The National Federation of the Music Industry, which includes the three major labels Sony, Universal (now owner's of EMI) and Warner, and several other copyright holders have decided to file suits against VKontakte in the St. Petersburg arbitration tribunal, federation head Leonid Agronov said. While VKontakte does not itself upload content, "its huge reservoir of user-uploaded audio and video files has become the equivalent of a free streaming media service for its more than 100 million users"' although Russia's telecoms regulator has commended VKontakte for having done "enough against piracy". In China, Baidu Inc, China's largest search engine company, and Shenzhen-based software company QVOD Technology have been identified as the top two violators of copyrighted video content for 2013 and have both been ordered to stop the copyright infringement and ordered to each pay the maximum penalty of 250,000 yuan ($41,225) by the National Copyright Administration. 

The Pirate Bay has been chased and harried in 2013, making no less than six domain changes and having to take extensive efforts to evading international copyright enforcement. That said, It increased its uploads by 50 percent while maintaining its position as the world’s most popular torrent site - despite blocking orders in countries such as the UK and criminal convictions being upheld against its founders. found that 18,911,877 people are sharing media files through the site. More than 2.8 million files are now available for download at the BitTorrent site, the overwhelming majority of which are illegally posted music, film, and video game files. The popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” was again the most pirated show in 2013, retaining its position after an average of 3.9 million people illegally downloaded each episode in 2012.

Michael Geist details the decade-plus of failure of The Educational Rights Collective Canada (ERCC) which was formed in 1998 as a "not for profit organisation" with the sole purpose of collecting royalties for the educational copying of broadcast programs for the classroom. "Fifteen years down the road, it's asking the Copyright Board of Canada to put it out of its misery". The ERCC, which includes the CBC as a founding member, has effectively admitted "that it has never distributed any money to rights holders and is $830,000 in debt". Fifteen years of pushing for tariffs and not a single cent was passed on to the creators. Wow!

In the USA the Authors Guild have given notice that it is appealing Judge Denny Chin’s ruling in the Google Books case before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [

And why not check out Eleonora's marvellous A Kat's 2013 Copyright Awards which include Eleonora's Most important copyright decision and The most important (and most-heated) unresolved issue.

And can we wish you all a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2014

1 comment:

kg said...

I love reading this blog but the Redtube case is far from correctly reported. The Hamburg court has nothing to do with the IP request approval; the Hamburg injunction was directed against The Archive AG in the Switzerland (forum shopping in internet cases) and Isn't avlid likely before end of January because lacking official issuing in Switzerland. For further hints you can use the Google translation of my German weblog "Archivalia".