Thursday 11 June 2015

The CopyKat

An artist has won almost $1.35 million damages in a lawsuit over a sculpture commemorating workers who were paid $5 per day to risk their lives during the construction of the Hoover Dam. A jury in Las Vegas federal court ruled in favor of artist Steven Liguori, creator of the bronze statue known as the “High Scaler” at Hoover Dam. In 2011, Liguori sued Bert Hansen, the owner and operator of the Hoover Dam Snacketeria and the High Scaler Cafe at the dam, after the artist said he was cheated out of royalty payments and his work was used without permission for merchandise and marketing. Hansen had commissioned Liguori to create “High Scaler” for a $166,000 fee and had agreed to pay the artist a share of the proceeds from merchandise based on the sculpture as well as the artist’s other dam-related creations. U.S. District Judge George Foley ordered Hansen to pay Liguori $1.2 million for breaching their agreement and $150,000 in other damages.

Music publisher Kobalt has launched what it calls the world’s first ‘global, direct, digital mechanical and performing rights society’. The new venture is based on the existing operation of AMRA (American Music Rights Agency), which Kobalt acquired last year. What other music publishers make of a publisher owned collection society remains to be seen - but the new service promises two services to clients: (i) licensing of AMRA publisher members’ Anglo-American repertoire to DSPs operating in multiple territories and (ii) collection of writer’s share of public performance monies on behalf of AMRA writer members. AMRA plans to collect from th likes of YouTube and Spotify globally rather than in individual territories and promises to be "the most efficient way to handle the ‘high volume/low transactional value’ of music repertoire in a streaming world." More on Music Business Worldwide here.

Its somewhat ironic that as Facebook now seems to be a leading destination for illegally uploaded videos, one of the main complaints about this comes from the more creative users of YouTube, with YouTube creators alleging that their popular videos are being pilfered from the platform and uploaded to Facebook. A new term has even been coined for this practice: ‘freebooting’ - pointing out that Facebook doesn’t give creators the ability to monetize their videos just yet - with freebooting is detracting from valuable YouTube views which now has a workable and well publicised takedown system for content ownerrs, and its ContentID programme. More here

Fadi Chehadé, the President of the International Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers (ICANN), has said that his organisation will not play international internet copyright police. His comments came as the US House Communications and Technology Subcommittee prepared to vote later this week on H.R. 805, the "Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act," which would make ICANN an independent entity not under the auspices of the United States government, making the agency "more accountable to the Internet community" but Chehadé is clear that if and when independent, the organisation will not let trade groups or even governments compel it to enforce copyright laws.

Andrus Ansip, the European Commission's Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, has admitted that EU copyright law is "pushing people to steal," because they seek out illegal copies of works that are not available to them legally because of the widespread use of geoblocking in Europe. Ansip was interviewed as part of the music industry's annual Midem event (available as a video, found via TorrentFreak). He pointed to Spotify as an example of how people could be encouraged to pay for copyright material: "if somebody is able to provide services with better quality, with higher speed, people prefer to act as honest people; they are ready to pay, they don't want to steal." Emphasising that legal services need to be offered first before strengthening copyright enforcemen, Ansip also made comment on the controversial topic of geo-blocking in Europe, saying that whilst  "I'm not against territoriality" he was "against absolute territorial exclusivity"

Adam Suckling has resigned as News Corp Australia’s head of corporate affairs to become chief executive of the Copyright Agency, lauded for his "mix of commercial, content and copyright policy experience”. The appointment comes after the Copyright Agency extended its digital activities, launching digital textbooks for secondary school students and teachers, and teaching material to promote Australian literature. More here.

In Jamaica the House of Representatives has voted to increase the period of copyright protection for creative works used in Jamaica to 95 years after they become available. Under the amendment, copyright protection for local works was increased from life of the author plus 50 years, to 95 years from the end of the calendar year in which it was made available. The amended protection will affect Jamaican copyrighted creative works, including sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes, as well as performer’s rights.

The notice that Akkad received from YouTube
And finally, that bastion of liberal values, the UK's Guardian newspaper, is facing a barrage of criticism after it was accused of sending a “false” copyright notice in an attempt to “bully” a popular online ‘vlogger’ - after he parodied their politically-correct content by taking excepts from a video on the subject of African identity and stereotypes. Satirist, polemicist, and video-blogger Sargon of Akkad *what a title!) hit back at the Guardian after receiving a notice via YouTube that the newspaper was disputing his right to use their video in his parody of their identity politics. Breitbart London asked the Guardian how the copyright claim fits with its own claims of supporting “open journalism” and a statement, made by the newspaper’s editorial team, that “voices of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard”. In response the newspaper issued a statement reportedly saying "“The Guardian has not issued a DMCA against YouTube user Sargon of Akkad,” a spokesman said. “There are, however, ongoing copyright discussions with the YouTube user regarding the amount of a Guardian video he has used – an issue highlighted by YouTube’s own Content ID system. We hope to come to an agreement with Sargon of Akkad and have offered advice on how to engage with Guardian content without breaching copyright. Open journalism is at the heart of the Guardian and we believe in the free flow of engagement, challenge and debate.”

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