Friday 14 August 2015

The CopyKat - taking stock of a 'brief week'

Sky News live feed of the debate between the US Republican presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul on its YouTube channel focussed on the U.K. was shut down part way through, possibly after the intervention of U.S. sister channel Fox Networks. Both broadcasters are owned by News Corp. The YouTube feed was replaced by an error message: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Fox News Networks, LLC." although some commentators point to the fact that YouTube's own automatic copyright infringement identifying software might have instigated the take down. Sky's old YouTube channel remains blocked - Sky News has since switched over to a new YouTube URL. In the U.S.,  the Republican debate, which was hosted by Fox News in partnership with Facebook, was meant to only be available to those with a cable TV subscription.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo! are amongst the signatories to a new amicus brief submitted to the New York court that is considering legal action filed by the Motion Picture Association Of America seeking an injunction forcing third parties to block, remove links and stop providing any services to the copyright infringing MovieTube website(s).  They say that the injunction the MPAA requests is too wide-ranging, hinders the sometimes controversial safe harbours provided to tech companies in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and is basically "SOPA by the back door" (SOPa was the much maligned Stop Online Piracy Act, ultimately put on the back burner by the legislature. The brief says: "Plaintiffs now appear to be repackaging the excesses of SOPA into the All Writs Act. Indeed, the injunction proposed here would require the same online intermediaries targeted by SOPA to engage in the same kind of content and domain blocking that would have been required under SOPA had it been enacted".

Police in the UK have hailed an operation to halt advertising on piracy sites as a “major success”. The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) claims that since it launched Operation Creative and the Infringing Website List (IWL) in summer 2013, there has been a 73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s ‘top ad spending companies’ on copyright infringing websites, with PIPCU heralding the success of its 'follow the money' approach. More on MBW here.
Back to SiriusXM and those pre-1972 sound recordings in the USA: As readers may remember, Sirius appealed both the decisions it has so far lost (New York and California) which held that state law DID protect pre-1972 sound recordings and Sirius couldn't therefor use them royalty free , and a similar case against Pandora is also on appeal in California. Last week, EFF, who argue that this effectively creating new public performance rights that might apply to all pre-1972 recordings and all types of broadcasters, filed a brief with the Second Circuit  Court of Appeals in New York, urging that court to reverse the decision. The National Association of Broadcasters, the New York Broadcasters Association, Public Knowledge, Pandora, and a group of law professors also filed briefs (it seems to be 'brief week') opposing the new right, with the EFF explaining to the court some of the many problems this ruling could cause if it’s not reversed. EFF argued that the courts should leave decisions about expanding copyright law to Congress and also saying that whilst public performance rights in sound recordings are common outside the US, and they exist for digital radio services in the U.S. - they come with important safeguards: explicit limitations like fair use, and statutory licenses that avoid the massive transaction costs that would come with having to negotiate with each rights holder individually. 

A report crunching more than six years of copyright lawsuits filed in the U.S. has revealed that Malibu Media is the country's most litigious plaintiff. The company, which TorrentFreak says demands thousands of dollars from individual file-sharers, has filed 4,332 lawsuits since January 2009, fifteen times more than its nearest rival. Overall, it's estimated that 90% of file-sharing cases are settled out of court. However 66 cases reached court with total resulting damages estimated at $3.05 million. The company set up to pursue illegal downloaders of the movie Dallas Buyers Club sits in second place, with a relatively measly 274 cases, fifteen times fewer in volume than Malibu.

ZDNet reports that the Australian Attorney-General has commissioned a cost-benefit analysis of proposed digital copyright reform, which will encompass an economic analysis into the Australian Law Reform Commissions's (ALRC) recommendation to adopt a flexible fair use provision in regards to digital copyright in Australian law, seemingly as the the AG is concerned about the costs to both rights holders and rights users. A new Australian fair use provision would mean the fair use of a copyright material would not constitute infringement, based on a series of as yet incomplete fairness factors -- including the purpose of the use, nature of the material, amount of the material used, and the use's effect on the material's value: in addition research for the purposes of study and education as well as news reporting, review, criticism, satire, parody, quotation, non-commercial private use, professional advice, incidental or technical use, library or archive, and access for people with a disability would be exempted from copyright infringement provisions. The ALRC have said that the reforms are needed to promote the digital economy in Australia, although AG Brandis is seen as a friend to the content industries and unconvinced that despite changing technology, major law reforms are necessary, saying in late 2013 "I want to reaffirm the government's commitment to the content industries. It is the government's strong view that the fundamental principles of intellectual property law, which protect the rights of content creators, have not changed merely because of the emergence of new media and new platforms."

1 comment:

Pedro Malaquias said...

This might be of some interest to the readers of this blog.

European Digital Rights has written a post regarding a new anti-copyright infringement system that is being established in Portugal. See 'Portugal: “Voluntary” agreement against copyright infringements' at