Friday 9 January 2015

The CopyKat - DMCA takedowns: a real growth industry

Following on from our last start of the year CopyKat where we highlighted the 'top ten' domains subjected to DMCA Piracy Takedowns in 2014, those clever bods at TorrentFreak have worked out that Google handled 345 million copyright takedowns in 2014 - a 75% year-on-year jump, and exponentially more than a few years ago, as the likes of the RIAA, NBC Universal and Microsoft began to start request thousands and then millions of takedowns. UK recorded music industry group BPI was the top "link-killer", handing in some 60 million complaints about links.
Herr Günther Oettinger
In a letter to the European Commission's digital commissioner Günther Oettinger, the European Copyright Society (ECS), the academic think tank on copyright has said "actual Union-wide unification of copyright" as opposed to simply further harmonising the existing EU copyright regime would have "several major advantages" saying "While copyright unification may be considered undesirable, or perhaps too drastic, by certain stakeholders and national legislatures, this is in our opinion the only way a fully functioning digital single market for copyright-based goods and services can ultimately be achieved. It is in fact the logical next step for the EU legislature to take in this field" and "A European copyright law would establish a truly unified legal framework, replacing the multitude of often opaque and sometimes conflicting national rules that presently exists. It would have instant Union-wide effect, thereby creating a single market for copyrights and related rights, both online and offline" and "The Members of the European Copyright Society are convinced that the time is now ripe to start work on a European Copyright Law that would apply directly and uniformly
across the Union.". Oettinger had previously expressed his preference for "uniform rules" on copyright to apply across the European Union.

The EFF report that the Ford Motor Company has recently sued Autel, a manufacturer of third-party diagnostics for automobiles, for creating a diagnostic tool that includes a list of Ford car parts and their specifications. Ford claims that it owns a copyright on this list of parts, the "FFData file," and thus can keep competitors from including it in their diagnostic tools. It also claims that Autel violated the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by writing a program to defeat the "encryption technology and obfuscation" that Ford used to make the file difficult to read. There are also Trade Mark claims against Autel, claims the Autel misappropriated Ford's trade secrets and that Autel used unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices in the conduct of trade or commerce, in violation of Michigan’s Uniform Trade Practices Act (the action was filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division).  The complaint can be found here.  

Rather annoyingly (albeit in the context of  the CopyKat's nosey nose) it seems as if MGM is dropping its lawsuit against Universal, endings its claim that U’s plans for a spy film called “Section 6″ was a copy of the James Bond franchise. Attorneys for the studios, as well as for the “Section 6″ screenwriter Aaron Berg, filed a stipulation for dismissal in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. But the dismissal is without prejudice — meaning that similar claims could be filed again. Variety reports that details of the settlement were not disclosed, but attorneys issued a statement that read, “The parties have resolved the matter to their satisfaction” and Variety added  that there has been speculation that the settlement includes a detailed road map of what can and cannot be used in the movie, so as to not infringe on the Bond franchise.

And Universal Music have filed a lawsuit against a group of companies including the Centric Group and Keefe Group who are allegedly selling "care packages" that family members and friends can send to prison inmates. Why the complaint? well amongst the items being sent to prisoners, according to a complaint filed in California federal court, are mixtapes featuring performances by artists like James Brown, Eminem, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. 

Finally today, Billboard reports that Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and several of his fellow Democrats have reintroduced a bill that would close a loophole in the U.S. Copyright Act that prevents a surviving same-sex spouse from content ownership if they reside in a state that does not recognize gay marriages. It seems that in its current form, the Copyright Act only allows rights to revert to a widow or widower if they live in a state where gay marriages are legal. That means if an artist, musician or writer gets married in Iowa, which has marriage equality, and then moves to Texas, which does not, their legal spouse won't retain that copyrighted material when he or she dies.

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