Monday 23 June 2014

The Copykat - just before we rest our paws in Glastonbury .......

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - the Mormons -  has been accused of copyright infringement and breach of contract by the owner of a popular audio recording of the Bible in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in Florida by Litchfield Associates Ltd. Inc., the owner of audio of the King James Bible read by Alexander Scourby. Reports say that The Mormon Church entered into an agreement with Litchfield in 1988 to use the recording to produce cassette tapes that would also include Latter-day Saint chapter headings and footnotes. The Church is accused in the suit of improperly sub-licensing the copyrights with for-profit Deseret Book, a Church-owned bookstore with locations in 35 cities in Utah and the Western U.S., using the recording in apps, and making them available online without permission.

The Guardian asks "Will News Corp's Australian newspapers win a legal battle with Mail Online over its lifting of articles?" and comes to the conclusion that according to three media law experts canvassed by the Crikey website the view is that it is hard to claim that online copy is covered by copyright. With the Mail Online's pursuing a strategy of allegedly reproducing the 'heart' of the work of every other media organisation as a summary in order to ensure that it becomes a "one-stop shop" for web news surfers the Mail does follow certain protocols - the original source is credited fairly high up and most often there is also a hyperlink to the original article, news story or interview. But is it legal? News Corp has now served Mail Online's parent company with a legal letter listing 10 instances of alleged theft of content. Examples were highlighted in Monday's Australian, above.

Having previously told Prenda lawyer Paul Duffy "To fabricate what a federal judge said in a ruling before another court falls well outside the bounds of proper advocacy and demonstrates a serious disregard for the judicial process",  Arts Technica tells us that  US District Judge John Darrah has now agreed to a $11,758 sanction as costs in a defamation lawsuit filed by the 'copyright trolls'. It is the eighth known award against Prenda and its various lawyers. Prenda, also known as the anti Piracy Law Group and linked with a number of firms involving three main principals, John Steele, Paul Hansmeier and Duffy, had previously incurred the wrath of federal judge Otis D Wright II (who had heard 45 Prenda cases and who had latterly described the firm's business methods as 'extortion') who decided to investigate and get to the bottom of exactly what was going on in his courtroom saying  "It should be clear by now that this court's focus has now shifted dramatically from the area of protecting intellectual property rights to attorney misconduct[,] such misconduct which I think brings discredit to the profession. That is much more of a concern now to this court than what this litigation initially was about". Sanctions of $81,000 off were applied in that matter. Judge
Mary Scriven in the Middle District of Florida was equally unimpressed, and Scriven is reported as stating that she would entertain a motion for sanctions against Prenda and its attorneys for "attempted fraud on the Court", as well as against Duffy for "lack of candor".

The new UK exceptions to copyright for the private use of personal copies, quotation and parody of copyrighted material have been put before Parliament and are expected to come into force from October 1. The draft regulations are identical to those introduced before, but were withdrawn last month. On the withdrawal, Intellectual Property Minister Lord Younger stated: “The Committee [JCSI] has some questions about the private copying and parody exceptions”  after the British Copyright Council (BCC) raised concerns that some of the wording of the SIs failed to meet specific requirements of EU law. It seems no more! The most controversial move is the proposed exception to legalise actions such as copying music from a CD for personal use, long resisted by the recorded music sector. This also allow rights holders to legally deploy ‘restrictive measures’ which prevent private copies of their work being made, although this only applies to audio visual material. But the most debated provision is the the right to use copyrighted material in works of caricature, parody or pastiche - in effect ‘fair dealing’.  The wording for the thee exceptions remain unchanged and will be considered by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) and the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI). They will then be debated in the House of Commons and House of Lords. If approved by Parliament, the regulations will be brought into force at “the next available opportunity”, which is expected to be 1st October.

Canada - now we always make sure to try and keep up to date with Canada whenever we can (to avoid slighting "poor little Canada, your erstwhile colony" (c) 2013 Castor Canuck Redux) and reports say that The federal government has confirmed that it will introduce the long-awaited notice-and-notice system which will compel ISPs to target serial copyright infringers - although critics says that the system stops short of the notice-and-takedown regime used south of the border under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The first-time notice-and-notice system compels ISPs to tell subscribers suspected of piracy that they are breaking the law. The annoucement is the final step in implementing the Copyright Modernization Act, which the government says is a “balanced” approach to modernising Canada’s copyright laws better to protect the rights of creators and innovators in the digital age - Industry Minister James Moore and Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover said that the regime would be brought into force without additional regulation in recognition of the flexibility ensured by the Act. ISPs are encouraged to continue to work together to develop market solutions to address online piracy.

It's only just related to copyright - but Google owned YouTube's threat to remove content owned by small independent record labels from the video streaming service who refuse to sign up to the web giant's new music streaming service - on apparently rather disadvantageous terms - has stirred up quite a media storm. The indie labels - who collectively have something approaching a 30% market share in some territories - are dwarfed by the two big majors Sony and Universal - who are believed to be prime position to get the best deals possible from YouTube. Now the indie labels trade bodies IMPALA and WIN have called on the European Commission to intervene - saying that  the the threat of removing material if the independent labels didn’t play ball could constitute an abuse by Google of YouTube's near monopoly in the video streaming domain to give the firm an unfair advantage in the audio space with Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA, commenting "YouTube is behaving like a dinosaur, attempting to censor what it doesn't like. This is completely out of sync in Europe where the EC has systematically insisted that European citizens should be able to access the cultural diversity and choice they demand. Europe has already had to take a tough line with Google on issues such as search and privacy. Prompt intervention with YouTube must be the next step". Meanwhile Alison Wenham, head of the Association of Independent Music in the UK and who also heads up the Worldwide Independent Network, added: "We will start this process in Europe with IMPALA referring YouTube to the EC for urgent regulatory action, which will be the first step in a global campaign. Our fellow trade associations around the world, representing tens of thousands of independent companies, also take issue with the actions of YouTube towards the most creative sector in the music industry. We must therefore do everything we can to protect the independent sector from the actions of one very powerful company, which seeks to railroad content owners, and by association their artists, into unfair and unjust contracts while threatening to block access to their platform". Wenham also wrote to the UK’s Business Secretary, Vince Cable, calling on hi to act in the matter. More on this in the Observer newspaper in comment that leads with From YouTube to Amazon, tech innovators need to be held to account - YouTube's threat to indie music labels is just one of many examples of why the new cultural gatekeepers need to follow the rules. Making the record labels look like the good guys is some going - and YouTube move may yet backfire ....

Over on the IPKat Eleonora has posted up details of an internal draft of the White Paper on "A Copyright Policy for Creativity and Innovation in the European Union".  This is the document that Commissioner Michel Barnier announced for release before the summer break, following the conclusion of the Public Consultation on the Review of EU Copyright Rules The issues covered in the White Paper refer to three main objectives: (1) further facilitating the availability of and access to content in the digital single market; (2) ensuring the optimal articulation between copyright and other public policy objectives; and (3) achieving a copyright marketplace and value-chain that works efficiently for all players and gives the right incentives for investment in creative and intellectual work.

And now to Somerset for (hopefully) sun, fun and lots of great music!

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