Friday 12 September 2014

The CopyKat - reform is in the air ......

But will there be reform in Australia?
The Australian Finacial Review reports that Google and Facebook are fighting back against what they see as tough anti-piracy measures being ­considered by the Australian government which have resulted form the proposed reform review driven by Attorney-General George Brandis. These include a graduated response scheme, potentially making internet service providers liable for the piracy of their customers, and blocking overseas websites that host illegal content, such as The Pirate Bay. The submission by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represents Google, Facebook, eBay and others says that rather than push for “graduated response schemes”, which would give illegal downloaders a series of warnings before punishing them, the government should consider the lack of legal content in Australia saying “There is little or no evidence that such schemes are successful, but there is no shortage of examples where such schemes have been distinctly unsuccessful” adding “Online copyright infringement is a global issue and any regulatory or legislative moves in one country tend to generate interest among stakeholders far beyond national shore.  And interestingly, even the government seems to sense no one is happy. Pay television provider Foxtel said in its submission that the proposal is "broader than it needs to be" although Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein said it would become uneconomic to make expensive, high-quality programs unless illicit downloading is tackled ("There will be a lot more cats on skateboards; we'll have a lot less Game of Thrones," he said);  Music Rights Australia warns it "will not be effective" and risks creating greater legal uncertainty for all parties. "Unanimous" opposition to the Australian government's proposed copyright law changes will force it "back to the drawing board" to tackle online piracy, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has now said at a public forum in Sydney where Telstra executive director Jane van Beelen told the forum that there do not need to be any changes to copyright law. Rather, ISPs and rights holders should work together on a voluntary scheme to discourage internet users from infringing copyright. Turnbull concluded
"What is being canvassed in the discussion paper around authorisation liability - that is essentially the law that makes a person liable for the copyright infringement of another - those changes, I'd say there's been unanimity in that everyone has criticised them and found them inadequate from one level or another," 

The CCIA also said any move to hinder Australian ISPs and tech companies would put them “at a significant comparative disadvantage versus the European Union and the United States” as well as criticising  "cumbersome and restrictive territorial copyright restrictions" and bad "licensing conduct" in the music business. The CCIA also questions the content industries' stats about piracy, and the effectiveness particularly of three-strikes, where internet service providers are forced to send stern letters to file-sharing customers, including the threat of some sanction if infringement continues.

And on the same topic, Australian service provider iiNet has responded on a number of issues including privacy concerns, data retention plans and the effectiveness of the graduated response, as well as the contentious idea of blocking repeat offenders. iiNet’s chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby condensed the key points into a post on the ISP’s official blog, stating that the issue of copyright infringement can’t be dealt with by “applying a band aid” — it will require a “long term solution” that reduces piracy not by punishing infringers, but given people less reasons to download content illegally. He also saysthat most Australian consumers would be happy to pay for content, if someone actually offered it locally. He cites Foxtel’s own report of the success it’s had with season four of Game of Thrones, with the pay TV provider recording some 500,000 purchases and the “lengths” people go to in order to subvert geo-blocking for services such as Netflix. Dalby also hits out at rights holders’ use of “‘lobbynomics’ rhetoric” such as misleading information on the ecomonic imapct of piracy and the impact on employment - and the effect these claims have on policy and the media. The ISP also slammed the federal government for referring to online infringements as "theft", saying that it is a "moral rhetoric".

Michael Geist
TechDirt reveals that the leak of the complete CETA text  (the trade agreement between Canada and the EU) shows that Canada "fought off EU demands for more extreme copyright rules" and the leak has allowed Michael Geist to perform an analysis of how the copyright provisions in CETA have evolved since the first leak of the chapter covering intellectual monopolies, posted by Wikileaks back in 2009. At that time, the European Union was pushing for some "serious beefing-up of Canadian law" in this area: The leak seemingly reveals: "The starting point for copyright in CETA as reflected in 2009 leaked document was typical of European demands in its trade agreements. It wanted Canada to extend the term of copyright to life of the author plus 70 years (Canada is currently at the international standard of life plus 50 years), adopt tough new rules for Internet provider liability, create criminal sanctions for some copyright infringement, implement new rights for broadcasters and visual artists, introduce strict digital lock rules with minimal exceptions, and beef up enforcement powers. In other words, it was looking for Canada to mirror its approach on copyright" but with Geist concluding "The major European copyright demands were ultimately dropped and remaining issues were crafted in a manner consistent with Canadian law."

4CHan, the online image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images, has pledged to implement a Digital Millennium Copyright Act policy to allow content owners to get material that has been illegally shared removed.. The move comes after the site was the first to host recently leaked private photos from a number of celebrity's mobile phones on its discussion boards. And Reddit, which had mass postings of the celebrity nude shots, admits that copyright might well be the best defence against 'revenge porn' saying "We take down things we’re legally required to take down, and do our best to keep the site getting from spammed or manipulated, and beyond that we try to keep our hands off” with Jason Harvey, a Reddit systems administrator, explaining "But when it came to the nude photos, “it became obvious that we were either going to have to watch these subreddits constantly, or shut them down. We chose the latter.” : Despite the obvious privacy violations, the apparent harassment, and — in many cases, including this one — the overwhelming evidence of computer crimes - "the quickest, easiest way to get compromising images off the Internet is frequently copyright law". More on the Washington Post

I know little about this next matter apart from this brief post - any updates from our readers on this story would be much appreciated here on the 1709 Blog but it looks very inetresting. It appears that Netherlands has reached a settlement with the copyright organisation Norma after the suspension of the private-copy tax in 2007. Norma will receive EUR 10 million in damages for it's members. Norma won a ruling in the Dutch Courts earlier this year. The copy levy was collected on media players and storage devices to compensate copyright holders.  What more can you tell us?

Music publisher BMG has announced that it had entered into a direct deal with American streaming service Pandora covering its catalogue of songs that are otherwise repped by US collecting societies ASCAP and BMI. It means that those songs will now be licensed to Pandora directly by the music rights company, rather than via the collective licensing system. BMG told reporters that the new deal, "creates marketing and business benefits for Pandora, BMG and the songwriters it represents".

And with our poll now closed - more on that Black Macaque monkey selfie here .

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