Wednesday 15 July 2015

The CopyKat - That Blurred Lines trial just keeps giving

Fancy yourself as a digital pirate? Well better get yourself a saucy moniker then - like being a 'Bookaneer' - the literary pirates of the nineteenth century who exploited the lack of international copyright agreements to publish 'counterfeit' editions in foreign countries. These buccaneers of the book trade were especially prevalent in the USA, reproducing new works by popular British authors such as Charles Dickens without bothering to pay for the privilege - the extent that Dickens had a very public battle with piratical American periodicals and satirised their activities in Martin Chuzzlewit, the serial parts of which were reprinted in the very publications he was lambasting. 'Bookaneer' was coined by the poet and author Thomas Hood in a letter in The Athenaeum of 22 April 1837 under the title 'Copyright and Copywrong' (a title still used in journals and blogs today!). Thank you Andy J for this tip off!

In Japan the Abe government is seeking to abolish wartime copyright extensions in negotiations on the protection of intellectual property rights as part of Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade talks. In talks with the United States, Japan is demanding that the special arrangements be scrapped if the period of protection for copyrighted works of art is extended under a TPP deal, informed sources said. Under wartime copyright extensions, the copyright protection period is set about 10 years longer than usual for music and literary works created in the victor countries of World War II, including Britain, the United States and France. Japan was required to honor the extensions when it signed the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty on the grounds that the copyrights of productions in the allied nations had not been protected in Japan during the war. Among the 12 countries participating in the TPP talks, the United States, Australia and New Zealand are covered by the wartime copyright extensions

A US-based lobbying group co-founded by Google and Pandora that aims to "drive down royalties paid to songwriters and artists" (or perhaps as MIC themselves say they are "committed to a rational, sustainable and transparent system that will drive the future of music and ensure that consumers and consumer-serving businesses, such as retailers, restaurants and hotels, have continued access to play music at affordable prices") has suffered a second high-profile member exit, with US broadcaster NPR withdrawing. Amazon quit the MIC Coalition in June.

The contested image on The Blacker The Berry
Top Dawg Entertainment  hasn't had a very good week when it comes to copyright claims. First of all was the news that one of it's artistes, Kendrick Lamar, was facing a claim of copyright infringement over an image of a woman breastfeeding two babies was used without the photographer Giordano Cipriani's permission on the artwork for "The Blacker The Berry", and this was followed by news that the label's YouTube page has been "terminated":  "Top Dawg Entertainment has been terminated because we received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement regarding material the user posted," reads the message when attempting to access the TDE YouTube page.

The Judge in the 'Blurred Lnes' Trial has rejected a new trial and has 'trimmed' the damages awarded against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to $5.3 Million (from $7.3 million).  U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt has accepted the Gaye family's contention that record labels including UMG Recordings, Interscope and Star Trak Entertainment should be held liable for their distribution of the song that was found to be a copy of Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" and he also ruled that Clifford "T.I." Harris Jr., the rapper who contributed a verse on the blockbuster "Blurred Lines" song was liable.  Judge Kronstadt denied the Gayes' bid for an injunction, but has granted a request for an ongoing royalty rate of 50 percent of songwriter and publishing revenues. The post trial order can be found here. In his order, Judge Kronstadt specifically stated that the damages awarded against Williams were excessive, as it had not been shown that Williams was a “practical partner” of Thicke’s, and thus is only liable for his share of the profits from the song. The damages were reduced down from $4 million to just under $3.2 million, while the award of profits from Williams was reduced from just over $1.6 million to $357,000.  An appeal is expected, at least from Thicke and Williams.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Indeed Howard King has now confirmed an appeal from Thicke and Williams saying "Pharrell, Robin and T.I. independently created every note and lyric of 'Blurred Lines,'" King wrote. "We look forward to ultimately obtaining appellate confirmation that no one can own a genre or a groove and that composers can be free to be inspired by the works of those creators that came before them." The Gaye's lawyer Richard Busch said he and his team were reviewing the ruling and would discuss options for how the reduction in the verdict would be handled.