Wednesday 23 April 2014

The CopyKat - on World Book and Copyright Day

Tom Lehrer in 1960
A fascinating post on TechDirt on the refreshing attitude to copyright from Tom Lehrer,  the American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician, best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and 1960s. In particular the article looks at what would happen to fan sites after he died. Tom's position on copyright after his death? "Well, I don’t need to make money after I’m dead" and on being asked if he would establish a foundation or charity or something similar before he died to look after his legacy he replied "No, I won’t. They’re mostly rip-offs." He's the man! However, and as one comment says,  the problem for the fan sites is that Tom won't be in control of his copyright after he dies ...

MegaUpload boss Kim Dotcom has secured an important victory in New Zealand with news that personal assets seized by the New Zealand authorities when Dotcom's home was raided amidst the US-led action against MegaUpload in 2012 could be returned to him within the next two weeks. The Auckland High Court has decided not to extend an order to allow police to retain the items. IF no appeal is lodged, Dotcom will be be entitled to the return of personal property, several cars and around $10 million in cash early next month. Dotcom tweeted yesterday: "Breaking News: High Court ruling just now. Mona and I are getting our New Zealand assets back, unless the Crown appeals. The NZ asset ruling is HUGE. We've just filed a case in Hong Kong against unlawful seizure of MegaUpload. The US case is falling apart! Our assets were seized for 800 days and still I was able to fight back even with my hands tied behind my back. Imagine what I can do now!" Dotcom is still facing extradition proceedings to send him to the US to face criminal charges resulting from his previous MegaUpload activities.

South Korea, China, Russia and Mongolia have held four-way talks on copyright law and intellectual property, strengthening their cooperation on patents, trade secrets and trademarks. The workshop saw policymakers and academics from the four nations discuss progress on copyright protection in each country and ways to improve bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The workshop was jointly organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Korea Copyrights Commission. 

The major record labels are now suing Pandora for exploiting sound recordings made prior to Feb. 15, 1972. Last September, a similar lawsuit was filed against Sirius XM. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) explains that the claim arises as sound recordings didn't begin falling under federal copyright protection until 1972 and therefore the streaming service might not be able to rely upon blanket licences from SoundExchange, the performance rights organization that collects digital and satellite royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners. The record labels are testing this belief, now asserting New York state misappropriation claims over older music being streaming on Pandora saying "Pandora's refusal to pay Plaintiffs for its use of [Pre-72] recordings is fundamentally unfair" and the companies say in their complaint "Pandora's conduct also is unfair to the recording artists and musicians whose performances are embodied in Pre-72 Recordings, but who do not get paid for Pandora's exploitation of Pre-72 Recordings."  
Maori warriors perform a Haka by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Back to New Zealand: Radio New Zealand tells is that the Ngati Toa tribe is to campaign for copyright legislation to cover its tribal haka, Ka Mate. The Government has already created a law to ensure commercial users credit the composer, Te Rauparaha. But Ngati Toa chair Taku Parai said his tribe has been pushing for stronger legislation. He said negotiators attempted to secure a copyright law as part of a Treaty settlement - and will try again in five years time.

And finally it seems April 23rd is World Book and Copyright Day. 23 April is a symbolic date for world literature. It is on this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors, such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo. The day celebrates the contribution of books and authors to our global culture and the connection between copyright and books. World Book and Copyright Day 2014 theme is "History and Stories".

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