Monday 15 December 2014

The CopyKat - last Christmas you ......

As Eleonora reports over on theIPKat, Google has announced that it will be permanently shutting down the Spanish version of Google News, effective from December 16, 2014. The shutdown comes in direct response toamendments to the Spanish intellectual property law (Ley De Propiedad Intellectual) imposing a compulsory fee for the use of snippets of text to link to news articles, by online news aggregators that provide a search service. Google says its news service makes no profit and so hasd decided to pull the service out of Spain.  Richard Gingras, Head of Google News, said "[t]his new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable."

Finland has decided to ditch copyright levies on digital devices. Instead a special government fund will be set up to compensate artists for private copying of music and movies. Following a Parliamentary  vote, Finnish MEP Henna Virkkunen said the new system would be “fairer to consumers and better better for artists because they will get more compensation this way”. Even Veronique Desbrosses, general manager of GESAC, which represents authors’ rights, agreed that increased compensation for artists was a positive element, saying “private copying compensation is part of the ecosystem and is essential”.

Chief Judge
Alex Kozinski 
With the eleven person en banc Ninth Circuit panel set to begin to re-hear arguments in Garcia v. Google case today in Pasadena, a number of Silicon Valley technology companies are amongst those resisting Cindy Lee Garcia's quest to "scrub the internet of her 5-second appearance in the controversial trailer for Innocence of the Muslims". Those against actors gaining a recognised copyright in their performances include Netflix, and the remaining amici range from law professors to news organizations, public interest groups to the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—the last being the lone brief endorsing Garcia's copyright position. But interestingly no other major content owners from the film, TV or recorded music sectors have joined the battle: yes they want Google to take down infringing items - but no - they don't want performers and recording artists having any rights that might restrict their own commercial objectives. Google, the California Broadcasters Association and the American Civil Liberties Union all "foresee dire consequences if a U.S. appeals court doesn’t overturn a first-of-its-kind ruling" given by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski that gave actress Cindy Lee Garcia a copyright interest in her performance. Small filmmakers have also weighed in, backing Google; Jack Lerner, an assistant clinical professor at UC-Irvine School of Law, helped write an amicus brief on behalf of the International Documentary Film Association, other independent film groups and filmmakers including Morgan Spurlock, whose "Supersize Me" was nominated for an Academy Award. The California Broadcasters Association said that if the February ruling stands, it will open the floodgates to demands by minor players in movies for the removal of their performances from the Internet. More here.

Torrentfreak now reports that the Motion Picture Association Of America is now looking to secure web-blocks in the U.S without requiring new U.S. legislation. It seems having originally investigated how it might resurrect the web-block elements of SOPA/PIPA in Congress without causing so much controversy (which seems to have been a fanciful hope!)  - the MPAA has now opted for seeing if it can find a way to secure web-blocks in the American courts under existing laws, without requiring new legislation to be passed.

For the past three Decembers, a new musical tradition has been quietly taking root in the recorded music sector, stemming from the 2012 revision to European Union copyright law providing that sound recordings would be protected for an extended 70 years (rather than 50). But attached to that extension was a crucial proviso: in order to qualify for the extra 20 years of protection, the recordings had to be released within the first 50 years after they were made. Now Bob Dylan is said to be releasing a nine-LP box set of unreleased material from 1964, to keep the recordings from entering the public domain. The Beach Boys, The Byrds and The Kinks  are also due to release material although a number of websites noted that Universal Music is running out of time if it wants to reboot the copyright in any unreleased Beatles recordings from 1964. This time last year the major and the band's Apple Corps released 'The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963' onto iTunes. 

The one-time pirate website FilesTube has been officially "un-blocked" in the UK after relaunching itself as a licensed video aggregator. UK internet service providers were ordered to block their users from accessing  the site by the High Court in an action brought by record industry trade body the BPI in October last year. A relaunched Filestube is now as an aggregator of only legitimate content. and according to Torrentfreak, FilesTube's Poland-based operators had anticipated having to go the English High Court to get their domains unblocked, but the BPI had been monitoring the situation and voluntarily requested the block be removed. Indeed the BPI's General Counsel Kiaron Whitehead told TorrentFreak: "We are pleased that the block has encouraged FilesTube to change its business model so that it no longer appears to infringe music rights. Accordingly, we have agreed to un-block the site, which the ISPs will implement over the next few weeks. We hope that other sites which are subject to blocking orders will follow suit and help to support the development of legal digital entertainment".

Following on from our last blog and from TorrentFreak comes the opinion: "The Pirate Bay was taken offline in a police raid in Sweden. It may only have been the front-end load balancer that got captured, but it was still a critical box for the overall setup, even if all the other servers are running in random, hidden locations. Sure, The Pirate Bay was old and venerable, and quite far from up to date with today’s expectations on a website. That tells you so much more, when you consider it was consistently in the top 50 websites globally: if such a… badly maintained site can get to such a ranking, how abysmal mustn’t the copyright industry be?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If there is no copyright in a performance. How has the U.S. implemented articles 7 to 10 of the WPPT? Express statutory protection only exists for bootlegs that is trafficking in unauthorised fixations of performances.