Monday 5 January 2015

The CopyKat - and let the copyright year begin

One of the key moments which is missing from Selma, the new film about Martin Luther King, Jr. are the actual words spoken by King. This is because it seems the King estate would not license the copyright in the speeches, including the iconic 1963 “I Have a Dream”, to filmmaker Ava DuVernay. According to the Washington Post, the King estate has licensed the film rights to King's speeches to DreamWorks, with Steven Spielberg producing any resulting films. DuVernay said that she never even asked for the rights to King's speeches "because we knew those rights are already gone, they're with Spielberg." She added that she knew that there were strings attached to the rights: "with those rights came a certain collaboration." In other words says one commentator, the King estate uses its control over the copyright to control how King is portrayed - or as gigaom puts it "the King family aggressively enforces copyright at all turns, unleashing lawyers in the direction of anyone who seeks to use the civil rights icon’s speeches or images without permission." The fact that the words of one of the most important speeches ever given, at the time to over a quarter of million civil rights protesters in Washington, is potenially being restricted by copyright law might surprise some - and horrify more. 

The top 10 Domains subjected to DMCA Piracy Takedowns in 2014 according to and are (with lead complainant and number of requests)

1   8,345,559  (BPI labels)
2 7,838,757 (NBC Universal)
3 5,412,519 (FOX_
4  4,913,298 (BPI labels) * 
5 4,484,310 (BPI labels)
6 zippyshare      3,074,988  (Topple Track)
7 2,835,660 (BPI labels)
8 2,699,706 (BPI labels)
9 2,453,694 (BPI labels)
10 2,303,615 (BPI labels)
[*site dead]

Forbes have an interesting list of top 10 music industry predictions for 2015 including (1) Apple launching a new music service, (3) The digital pie getting larger and (4) Downloads continuing to slide. More interestingly and in at (6) in the prediction: "Artists find the right villain. Numerous artists see the various streaming platforms as the ones responsible for their tiny royalty payments, but many begin to see the light that it’s really the record label middle man that enjoys the majority of that income. As a result, artist’s attorneys negotiate new agreements with record labels to make the split a bit more equitable, but the record labels still continue to be favored. I doubt the last but! Labels do indeed take the lions share of digtital revenues but many of those artistes who have challenged old contracts have ended up with settlements which are - even without the benefit of hindsight - appalling and hardly equitable with the major labels clinging onto old fashioned (and hugely beneficial to the labels) 'per unit sold' royalty rates wherever possible.  More here and here

A new report released reveals that core copyright industries in the U.S. generated over $1.1 trillion dollars of economic output in 2013, accounting for 6.71% of the entire economy. The study, Copyright Industries in the U.S. Economy: The Report, also details that the core copyright industries employed nearly 5.5 million workers in 2013, accounting for over 4% of the entire U.S. workforce, and nearly 5% of total private employment in the U.S. These workers earn on average 34% higher wages than other U.S. workers. More on Mi2N here.

Indian composer Ilayaraja has alleged that acclaimed film director Shankar has violated his copyright by “remixing and rearranging ”Ooru Vittu Ooru Vandhu" in the recently released film Kappal without permission. The song was originally used in the 1989 hit film Karagaattakkaaran. Whilst the Hindu reports that Shankar had entered into an agreement with Agi Music Pvt Ltd to acquire the licence to remix the song, the plaintiff says "Agi Music Pvt Ltd has no ownership or publishing rights in respect of the song."

And Beijing Today reports that popular romance screenwriter Qiong Yao won her lawsuit against fellow screenwriter Yu Zheng for plagiarism in the Third Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing. The court  (25.12.14) found that Yu’s Gong Suo Liancheng was an unlicensed adaptation of Qiong’s popular Meihua Lao and awarded her 5 million yuan and a public apology from Yu and four other defendants named in the lawsuit.

John Tenniel  1820-1914
And finally some different perspectives on copyright law reform are buzzing around the internet - against the general feeling that it is the content industries who are driving copyright reform to protect their own interests, we have TorrentFreak telling us "Strangely unreported by mainstream media, there is a major revision of the copyright monopoly underway in the European Union. And the person in charge, Julia Reda, is a Pirate Party representative. The tide is turning" and Science 2.0 saying "Imagine you were asked to write a law that encouraged creativity.  What would it look like? Whatever your answer, it’s pretty clear that it wouldn’t look like copyright" and Cory Doctorow outlines "A New Deal for Copyright" hereAlso in the news, Japan's copyright law revisions for e-books and digital publishing get some attention here and here - Canadian reforms get lots attention - some of it here and here and here and Spain is also in the news here and here.

1 comment:

Ben said...

BREAKING NEWS: Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda proposes major overhaul of EU copyright - more from Eleonora over on the IPKat which makes for some interesting reading with Reda's first report looking at (i) copyright and the freedom of expression (ii) the role contracts play in defining the role of authors and performers and different righsholders (iii) exceptions to copyright and proposals looking at:

· Quotation for audiovisual works
· Hyperlinking
· Freedom of panorama
· Caricature, parody and pastiche [at
· Text and data mining
· Research and education
· E-lending
· Compensation and levies,
· Technological protection measures and their circumvention

More here