Wednesday 13 May 2015

The CopyKat - tickling Wednesday's whiskers

Live video streaming is nothing new – services have been around since the early 2000s – but Meerkat and Periscope have made it easier to broadcast our lives on the go and shifted the appeal near to the mainstream as our earlier blog about the potential loss to broadcasters incliuding HBO and Showtime from the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiqao fight explained. Ever since they launched, however, speculation has followed over the potential legal liability for content delivered on their platforms .... and the Guardian has taken te time to speculate.

its all here

Rightscorp and their clients Warner Bros and BMG Rights Management have escaped a claim that they abused the U.S. DMCA legal process by exploiting subpoenas. The class action lawsuit attacked "Defendants’ right to petition courts in the Ninth Circuit to issue DMCA subpoenas to identify copyright infringers" accprding to the rihts owners, and District Judge Dale Fischer agreed that there was no abuse of process saying "The first fatal deficiency in Plaintiff’s abuse of process claim is that Plaintiff raises no ulterior motive in Defendants’ use of the subpoenas" adding  "Whether or not § 512(h) subpoenas should validly be issued under the circumstances in which Defendants sought them, there is no allegation and no evidence that Defendants sought to do anything other than what their subpoena requests indicated — identify potential copyright infringers for the purpose of pursuing Defendants’ rights under the Copyright Act." More from the Hollywood Reporter here.

However a small U.S. ISP by the name of Birch Communications has issued a press release which says that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has sided with the ISP and quashed Rightscorp's latest DMCA subpoeana for user information. “Our first order of business when anyone requests access to a customer’s private information is to refuse, absent a valid subpoena or court order, which we then scrutinize as we did with Rightscorp’s illegal subpoena in this matter," said Christopher Bunce, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Birch. "Rightscorp’s attempt to gain access to our customers’ data was in essence a piracy fishing expedition.”

Universal had posted an 8% rise in digital music income in the first quarter of this year (Q1 2015) to €459m. UMG said recorded music revenues grew 2.4%  and the growth in subscription and streaming revenues more than offset a decline in both digital download sales and physical sales. Music publishing revenues (at UMPG) grew 3% (13% in actual terms) to €184m, also driven by ‘increasing subscription and streaming revenues’. UMG’s overall revenues – across recorded music, publishing, merchandise and more – were up 11.6% year-on-year in Q1 to €1.1bn.

Interestingly given the news that Apple has allegedly been pushing the major labels to clamp down on 'freemium' streaming services - Warner Music Group’s CEO Stephen Cooper (pictured, right) broke ranks with Sony and UMG to encourage the recorded music industry to exercise caution when it comes to dismissing the value of ad-funded music services saying "First of all, there are a lot of models out there, and all of those models — ad-based, subscription-based, or with both — are better than piracy" addng “You know to be crystal clear, piracy is zero revenue, it’s the theft of intellectual property, and it’s not good for anyone. So all of these models are better than piracy, that’s number one" and “Number two, the freemium models, if they encourage the adoption of subscribers… form ad-based [paths] to subscription-based models over time. We at Warner believe that’s good news". Cooper went on to say he would like to see the move from ad based streaming to subscriptions models to be 'turbo charged'. 

The UK has a new Culture Secretary in the person of John Whittingdale MP. The new Secretary Of State For Culture, Media And Sport has been the long-term chair of Parliament's Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee, and he has been supportive of the creative industries in the past, and pushed for the provisions to prevent illegal file-sharing to be included in the 2010 Digital Economy Act. However, its no secret he is not a big fan of the BBC, with the Telegraph leading with "Tories 'declare war on BBC' with John Whittingdale appointment" and the Guardian noted "In October, he described the BBC licence fee as “worse than poll tax” and said the £145.50 charge was unsustainable in the long term." He has said that the licence fee does need to be “tweaked” to take into account of on-demand viewing via the BBC’s iPlayer, and he has said that licence fee evasion should be decriminalised. Record industry trade group the BPI welcomed the appointment of Whittingdale and tahat of his predecessor Sajid Javid MP who becomes Business Secretary in David Cameron's new government.

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