Sunday 25 January 2015

The CopyKat - looking backwards, looking forwards

Jerry Fisher, a photographer in Sioux Falls South Dakota, was interested in 3D printing and 3D image capture. So he went and photographed two local bronze casts of Michelangelo statues, one of Moses which is on display at Augustana College and is co-owned by Augustana and the City of Sioux Falls, and another of David (yes, the really famous one!), which is in a local city park. He blogged about his efforts to take the photos and turn them into 3D printer plans but came up against Augustana College when he uploaded preliminary model of Moses onto socia media: Fisher was promptly asked to take the Moses model down by The College who felt they had propriety over the statues (and were 'uncomfortable' with this use) and (supposedly) that their legal depatrment was of the opinionn that the College owned copyright(s) in the statues, Now Public Knowledge has provided Fisher with the answer that he already suspected was true - the College does NOT own a copyright in a 16th century reproduction statue by Michelangelo (!) and Public Knowledge's Michael Weinberg explained "Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Augustana College had no legal right or basis to threaten Fisher with the specter of infringement. There is no copyright protection for a sculpture that was created at the dawn of the 16th century by a sculptor who died 450 years ago. All of Michelangelo’s work is firmly in the public domain. If fact, copyright didn’t even exist during Michelangelo’s lifetime. From the moment he sculpted his Moses anyone could copy, remix, and build upon it for any reason, without having to ask permission."  More on here.

James Bond, 007, the iconic master spy, is now available for more dangerous assignments from Canadian writers, thanks to a copyright quirk that allows the writing and publication in Canada of original material based on Bond creator Ian Fleming’s work. The Canadian press have noted that as of January 1st this year, the original writings of Fleming, a former British naval intelligence agent who published 12 novels and nine stories featuring 007 between 1952 and 1966, have entered the public domain. That’s because Canada’s view of copyright is that it extends for 50 years after the death of a writer. Fleming died in 1964. More on the Globe & Mail here.

Silhouette comparisons of Jacobus Rentmeester's photo of Michael Jordan,
left, and Nike's Jumpman logo, right. Taken from court documents
Phortographer Jacobus Rentmeester is suing Nike in the federal court in Oregon for copyright infringement. Not only is he asking for profits associated with Nike's Jordan brand, which generated $3.2 billion in retail sales in 2014. He also is seeking to halt current sales and plans for the brand's future. Wow! Rentmeester says he staged and shot the picture of Michael Jordan in his Olympic warm-ups in 1984 for an issue of Life Magazine .As he was a freelancer, Rentmeester retained the rights to the copyright.  After it was published, Nike's Peter Moore, who designed the first Air Jordans, paid $150 for temporary use of Rentmeester's slides. Rentmeester says Nike then used his carefully choreographed picture using Jordan's left hand to 'slam dunk' the ball, to recreate the shot with Jordan in Bulls gear with the Chicago skyline in the background, but that it was essentially still his work and his suit says "Mr. Rentmeester created the pose, inspired by a ballet technique known as a 'grand jete,' a long horizontal jump during which a dancer performs splits in mid-air," the lawsuit says. "The pose, while conceived to make it appear that Mr. Jordan was in the process of a dunk, was not reflective of Mr. Jordan's natural jump or dunking style." This photo in turn was transfomed into a 'jumping' Jordan logo - and having threatened to sue Nike back in 1985 for the use of the Jordan logo based on his photo,  ESPN says thaRentmeester agreed Nike could use the logo for two years on billboards and posters in North America, for which he was paid $15,000. The Jumpman image also was featured as a tag on the Air Jordan I shoes, which sold for $65 a pair. In 2005 Nike withdrew an advert for its skateboard brand due to its similarity to artwork for a record by punk band Minor Threat.   This could be an interesting case - and reminds the CopyKat of the recent decision by Mr Justice Birss in Temple Island Collections Ltd v New English Teas Ltd & another [2012] EWPCC 1 where infringement was found, and the decision by a Korean appellate court that found that the 'recreation' of a photograph of a natural scene of pine trees on an island set against a skyline could not be infringement - although neither of those cases took 28 years to get to court ......

and to end ..... the 'pre-1972' story about copyright in sound recordings in the USA keeps on giving - and now Zenbu Magazines LLC,  the owner of recordings by Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Flying Burrito Brothers, is seeking class-action status for suits filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California, arguing that services such as Apple’s free iTunes Radio, and Sony’s Music Unlimited - which charge subscribers to access their service - have copied tens of thousands of  pre-1972 recordings onto their servers, transmitted them and performed them without seeking permission or paying performance royalties or licensing fees to the copyright owners. Rdio Inc and Google Play are also in the firing line.  Sound recordings weren’t brought under the protection of federal copyright law until 1972 so are protected by state laws and some services, notably SiriusXM, haven’t been paying performance royalties to artists to play these older works prompting claims from both artists (with Flo & Eddie from the Turtles leading the charge), record labels and collection society SoundExchange. More here.

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