Tuesday 6 May 2014

The CopyKat - troll sagas make the news

Sky have secured another victory in the Scottish courts against pubs and bars that show their exclusive live football broadcasts, in a copyright claim against Sarah McIntosh who ran the Avalon Bar, and Avalan Bars Ltd. Edinburgh's Court of Session found that the screening of a match between Celtic and Ross County was infringing and the Bar owners were also in contempt of court after breaching an interim interdict order against screening Sky's programmes (here a Scotland v Belgium international football match just hours after after the order was made) without a commercial agreement in place. Damages and costs of £7,000 were awarded. Last October the Old College Bar is Glasgow was ordered to pay £10,000 and legal costs again for showing matches without a commercial agreement. They Morning Advertiser reported that the bar also had to take out advertisements announcing the ruling. Sky's lawyers (Burness Paul) have said that they will continue to take action and that pubs that show their material without a commercial agreement in place are "committing 'copyright infringement" and "must face the legal consequences of that". 

The Matrix directors Lana and Andy Wachowski have triumphed in a copyright lawsuit over the hit movie trilogy. Writer Thomas Althouse launched legal action against the brothers,studio Warner Bros. Entertainment, and producer Joel Silver in 2013 claiming the franchise copied aspects of his own screenplay The Immortals, which he said he submitted to Warner Bros. in 1993. Althouse cited an alleged 118 similarities between the storylines, but claimed to have been unaware of the likeness until he saw the Keanu Reeves films in 2010, 11 years after the first instalment of the franchise hit cinemas. He demanded compensation regarding two sequels in the franchise, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, as well as a portion of the $1.63 billion the films grossed worldwide. In granting a summary judgement, U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled, "All of Plaintiff's examples are either too general for copyright protection, are scenes a faire (scenes typical of a genre), or are commonly used, unoriginal ideas." Judge Klausner added that any claim that the film concepts shared similarities in plot was unfounded as "the basic premises of the Matrix Trilogy and The Immortals are so different that it would be unreasonable to find their plots substantially similar".

Lennar Homes of Texas Sales and Marketing Ltd has filed a lawsuit in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas against Perry Homes LLC, citing copyright infringement by building, marketing and selling town-home floor plans that infringe upon Lennar’s copyrighted Burgundy Home Design. Lennar says it successfully bid on lots in the Phase I area of Creekside Park in The Woodlands and began building, but Perry Homes outbid them for certain Phase II lots. According to the lawsuit, Perry Homes employees  viewed Lennar’s Burgundy Home Design on multiple occasions. Lennar Homes is seeking judgment that Perry Homes recall infringing plans and designs as well as damages, lost profits or the defendant’s profits and attorneys’ fees. (Southern District Court of Texas Case No. 4:14-cv-01094).

US Law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, apparently pioneers of BitTorrent "copyright troll" cases, have thrown in the towel against a counterclaim brought against them by an alleged pirate, and have been ordered by Judge George O’Toole  to pay nearly 
$40,000 in damages and costs. Dmitriy Shirokov brought what was initially a class-action lawsuit against the firm and sought "relief based on 25 counts including extortion, fraudulent omissions, mail fraud, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, racketeering, fraud upon the court, fraud on the Copyright Office, copyright misuse and unjust enrichment," says TorentFreak. The case was denied a class-action and Shirokov took three years to win his case against the law firm, film studio Achte/Neunte and the German tracking company GuardaLey. He was one of thousands who were alleged to have illegally downloaded the movie 'Far Cry' movie and said the allegations were based on poor evidence and a "false copyright registration".  More on Techdirt here.  

And finally is this another troll saga? Malibu Media, a California pornography company, is suing thousands of people for  violating copyrights to its adult films. NBC Miami said that one Maryland man, who did not want to reveal his identity, got the bad news by mail. The company has said it would name him in a lawsuit demanding $2 million for listing the names of movies the unknown defendant s including "Morning Desires," "Hot Chocolate" and "Mad Passion". Is this another troll? Well,  the firm say that they have clear proof that their copyrights are being infringed and that they are losing millions of dollars saying “Each month, approximately 80,000 U.S. residents use BitTorrent to steal our movies.”  NBC reports that Federal court records show Malibu Media has filed more than 2,000 copyright infringement lawsuits across the nation, including more than 200 in Florida, in the last three years. The unknown defendant has hired a lawyer who has moved to quash the subpoena that would name her current client from an ISP address and is waiting on a ruling from the court.

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