Friday 21 February 2014

The CopyKat - funny, but it's still all about the money, honey.

A new study by the European Commission shows that 70% of Europeans are regularly downloading and streaming film content for free on the net. The survey of 4,608 consumers covers both legal and illegal streaming, and 97% of those surveyed said they watched films at least occasionally, and 68% said they accessed free movie content online, 34% on a weekly basis - much of which is presumed to be currently from illegal platforms. The report says: "The high cost of cinema or legal platforms is a key motivation for free downloading and streaming. 50% of respondents admit streaming and downloading films online for free because 'cinema tickets, video-on-demand and DVD are expensive and they can't afford them for all the films they want to see' and 37% think 'some films are interesting but not worth paying for the cinema experience'". It goes on: "Other reasons for streaming and downloading films for free include ease of access (31% of downloaders consider that 'many films are available online and don't see the point in paying'), lack of availability (30% say that 'many films they want to see are not available in their country' and 27% that 'many films they want to see are too slow to come to their country') and missed opportunities (28% say that 'they didn't go when the film was on the cinema and they can't wait for it to be available on DVD or on TV' and 23% say they 'don't have time to go to the cinema')".

US consumer group the Digital Citizens Alliance, has released a report of research by MediaLink surveying 596 piracy sites and estimates that together those sites are generating about $227 million a year in advertising revenues, with the top 30 sites bringing in around $4.4 million each. And because these sites have relatively few running costs, certainly no royalty payments for either sound recordings or music rights, or payments to film companies or other broadcasters, the DCA calculates that these operations could be operating at an 80% to 94% profit margin. The DCA is a "consumer-oriented coalition focused on educating the public and policy makers on the threats that consumers face on the Internet and the importance for Internet stakeholders – individuals, government and industry - to make the Web a safer place."

She may have won the battle of the T-shirts against Topshop, but Rihanna's 'S&M' 2011 music video has prompted claims from two photographers that the video steals from their work. The first claimant is celebrity photographer, David LaChapelle, while German photographer Philipp Paulus first made his allegations in June 2011. Paulus is now going legal, claiming that Rihanna's label Universal Music has failed to properly respond to his complaint. Paulus's claim focuses on a repeated sequence in the vdieo where the singer is wearing oversized dress and stands up against a plastic sheet surrounded by Xs.Universal has admitted the similarities that exist between the video and the photographer's work. Paulus said: "It is shocking that a company like Universal Music, which generates its turnover with intellectual property, copies the intellectual property [of others] completely unauthorised and without respect".

Warner Music has launched website to explain it's proposed digital royalties settlement in response to a class action lawsuit brought by a number of heritage artistes who want a fair share of digital music revenue: Artists with pre-iTunes record contracts argue that they should be paid a bigger cut of the revenue generated from downloads, because such income stems from licensing deals between the labels and the digital firms, and a traditional record contract pays a bigger cut to artists on licensing income versus record sales - usually half of such income after fixed costs rather  than a 'per unit' royalty that would be reduced by contractual terms as well as fixed deductions. In the FBT (Eminen) decision - the US appellate court agreed. Warners unveiled its proposed settlement late last year, offering to increase future download pay outs to artists by up to 5% with a 14% cap. BUT - its still a 'per unit sold' royalty. The major also said it would set aside $11.5 million to provide artists with some extra payments related to past download sales as well as some legal fees. A statement issued announcing the site states that "Warner Music Group denies any wrongdoing" in the way it has paid out digital royalties to artists in the past. A statement from Warner's attorneys also notes "[Eligible artists] who want to keep the right to sue Warner Music Group must exclude themselves from [this] settlement by 31 May 2014. People who stay in the settlement may object to it by 31 May 2014. People who do not exclude themselves or who do nothing will be bound by the court's decisions". Personally - the label's maths doesn't work  - the profit margin for digital downloads (and streaming) is huge - if I was an artist I would want my half share of revenues. Full stop.  More at

In Russia, the operator of a stream aggregator called Tracks Flow is facing a fine and possible web-blocking actions over copyright infringement claims. The site, which pulls in streams from a plethora of sources but allows users to listen to and organise tracks through one web-based interface, was targeted with litigation by now Warner affiliate SBA Music Publishing. According to Torrentfreak, the Moscow Arbitration Court has sided with the publisher, ordering TracksFlow and its owner Boris Golikov to pay over $44,000 in damages and ruling that the domain should be "terminated" and given the dotcom registry sits outside the jurisdiction of the Russian courts, judges may issue web-block injunctions against internet service providers in the country, similar to those issued by various other European courts, including in the UK.

A Utah judge has blocked TV streaming company Aereo from operating in several Western states, at least until the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a related case in April. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that Aereo's retransmission of video signals is "indistinguishable from a cable company." He said that if Aereo continued to do business, it would damage broadcasters' ability to negotiate with legitimate licensees, siphon viewers away from their websites and subject them to potential piracy. The U.S. Supreme Court, which will begin hearing arguments in the Aereo case on April 22, will aim to resolve different rulings in different districts including Kimball's court which goes against the decision of the 2nd District Court of Appeals, which covers New York, Connecticut and Vermont, which held that Aereo was not violating copyrights.

More from Russia: Anton Yelesin, the owner of the file hosting website, has received a two-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to  “intentional large-scale violation of copyright law”. The sentence was handed down by a court in Tatarstan’s second largest city Naberezhnye Chelny, after Yelesin pleaded guilty. According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant this is the first guilty verdict in a case of online copyright infringement. Over on the IPKat  there is a guest post by IP attorney and blogger Lucas Michels, who brings us up to date with a topic that is very much in our minds these days -- the enforcement of copyright against digital exploitation on the internet in Russia and the hurdles facing Russia’s leading publishing houses, Eksmo, who have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Russia’s largest social media site, VKontakte.

The full conference programme for the IP Protect exhibition and  convention at the Business Design Centre in London on March 11th and 12th has been launched. Day 1 focusses on "Generating and protecting the value of your creative ideas - the basics of intellectual property and beyond" and speakers include Gary Townley, Business Outreach Manager, IPO, Matthew Lumb, Chief Operating Officer, Tangle Teezeron and Claire Lyons, Corporate Counsel EMEA, OtterBox all on  "Generating value from your creative ideas (a seminar for SMEs)", John Hodge, Head of Internet Investigations, BPI and Eddy Leviten, Director of Communications, FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) take on "Industry cooperation – the protection of digital content", Neil Boyd, Senior European Anti-Piracy Counsel, Nintendo of Europe GmbH talks on "Copyright protection in the UK and abroad – the Super Mario story" and the 1709 Blog's Ben Challis is giving a talk titled "Fit for purpose? Revising copyright laws in the digital age". Day 2 highlights "Meeting the challenges of the international market place – the intellectual property  response" and features, amongst others, Jason Drangel and Ashley Sands from Epstein Drangel LLP on "Anti-Counterfeiting Programs in the U.S.: The Angry Birds Case Study", Per Strӧmbäck – Editor, Netopia speaks about "3D printing and intellectual property – challenges, market and policy disruption" and there is a live telephone link with the IP attaches in China and Singapore – so you can ask questions about China and South East Asia! You can visit the exhibition and participate in the sponsored workshop sessions and table top discussion completely free of charge. More on tickets for attending the conference and participating for one or two days here

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