Thursday 20 August 2015

The CopyKat - food for thought

Whilst (and for an unexplained reason) numerous blogs including Boing Boing and TechDirt focussed on a 2013 ruling in Germany that "Germany Says Taking Photos Of Food Infringes The Chef's Copyright", The CopyKat was more intersted in the ruling in the the Australian Federal Court which dismissed an interlocutory application by Seven Network (Operations) Limited (Seven) to restrain the Nine Network (Nine) and production company Endemol from continuing to broadcast the kitchen reality TV show, The HotplateSeven alleged that, by producing and broadcasting episodes of The Hotplate, Nine was infringing Seven’s copyright in its program, My Kitchen Rules (MKR) - its format wars again folks! Seven had argued that key elements of MKR sufficient to constitute a substantial part of one or more of the MKR literary works had been incorporated into The Hotplate and that Endemol had access tho the MKR production 'Bible'.  The Court dismissed the application, finding that  the balance of convenience of either granting or withholding the interlocutory relief weighed in Nine’s favour, not least as if The Hotplate were halted, it would be increasingly difficult to re-start as successfully at a later date. This means that the remainder of the first season of The Hotplate can continue to be broadcast (at least until the next hearing).  Justice Nicholas did find that Seven has a reasonably arguable case that the formats of MKR and The Hotplate are very similar and that this close similarity was (at least to some extent) the result of copying by Nine.  Sonia Borella and Sam Berry (Holding Redlich) have some useful observations here.

The Motion Picture Association Of America has dropped their somewhat controvesrial request for a preliminary injunction that would have required U.S. internet service providers to block access to the copyright infringing MovieTube we mentioned in our last (catscratching) post.

Paul Duffy, one of the attorneys behind the somewhat notorious copyright 'troll' Prenda Law, has died. His death was confirmed by the  Cook County Medical Examiner. The cause of death is still pending and could take up to three months to confirm. The Madison Recorder noted that Duffy died at a Chicago hospital. He was 55. . US District Judge Otis Wright had Prenda's practices referred to the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation unit and in August 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld judicial sanctions against Duffy and fellow attorneys John Steele, and Paul Hansmeier for engaging in “abusive litigation” and failing to pay attorney's fees to defendant Anthony Smith in a porn-downloading lawsuit. ArtsTechnica also say that in June this year US District Judge David Herndon ruled that Steele and Duffy had "engaged in unreasonable, wilful obstruction of discovery in bad faith" in its case against Smith. Herndon ordered Duffy and Steele to pay for the defence's discovery costs.

The Chinese State Administration of Press & Publications, Radio, Film & Television (SAPPRFT) has announced a regulatory notice to control reality television programmes that are “vulgar and damaging to social ethics”. The notice does not give details of mechanisms that will be used to define or ban problematic programmes. The notice may affect licensing of programme formats and content from overseas, for both on- and off-line screening. More here (in Chinese). This from the IPO's excellent monthly China IP Newsletter.

Kim Dotcom has posted a recording of a phone call he had with some Universal Music executuves a few years ago in which the major label men –- at that point major foes of the MegaUpload founder and about to shut him down - discussed the possibility of participating in a new venture he was experimenting with at the time called Megakey. CMU Daily have an interesting update on this here

A Los Angeles federal judge has now scheduled the trial in a copyright-infringement case involving Led Zeppelin’s iconic rock anthem “Stairway to Heaven.” A lawsuit, filed last year in Philadelphia and subsequently transferred to Los Angeles, alleges that the guitar arpeggio opening of “Stairway,” released 44 years ago, was lifted from the 1968 instrumental “Taurus” by the long-defunct Los Angeles band Spirit who suppirted Led Zepplin on tour. The complaint was lodged on behalf of the estate of Spirit’s guitarist- songwriter Randy California, who drowned in 1997 off the coast of Hawaii. The trial is set to begin on May 10th.

And finally: So you're a farmer in rural America - the land of the free and the self reliant - and your John Deere 8520T tractor plays up - and needs a fix:  the problem is that it's all run by a computer and you can't actually do repairs as there's a digital lock on the software and only the autorised dealer can fix the tractor.  Tamper and you run the risk of a copyright infringement suit. Now farmers and mechanics are asking the Library of Congress' copyright office to review the law and make an exemption.  More here.

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