Friday, 11 December 2015

The CopyKat - a Monday round up

MPR reports that former 'Prenda Law' attorney and much criticised 'copyright troll' Paul Hansmeier has been ordered by a federal judge to sell his assets to pay his creditors. Earlier this year, Hansmeier filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which enables a debtor to pay creditors over several years. But a bankruptcy judge has converted the case to a Chapter 7, meaning Hansmeier's assets will be sold to satisfy creditors. Reports say that in court, Judge Kathleen Sanberg said Hansmeier can't be trusted. saying "The debtor has a pattern and practice of dishonesty with the courts. This case was designed for one purpose only: to thwart the collection efforts of creditors," she reportedly said.

The latest bill from Hong Kong’s legislature, which seeks to make the territory’s copyright laws appropriate for the Internet Age, has caused quite a stir. Extra security was called in for the latest round of debates in the Legislative Council (LegCo).  Opponents say that the bill reinforces the position of business and copyright owners, but stifles freedom of speech. Opposition members put forward some 900 amendments to be discussed before the main bill is debated, though Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has already thrown out most of the proposals, fearing that the move is an  attempt to talk out the debate and delay the Bill’s enactment. The government previously tried in 2011 to update the existing 2006 law, but dropped that after similar freedom of speech concerns. IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said on a Commercial Radio programme  that he saw clear public support for the three amendments proposed by the pan-democrats. These include the addition of a “contract override” clause, “user generated content” protection and “fair use” terms to protect derivative works by netizens. An association of leading entertainment companies in Hong Kong has urged the territory’s government to pass the proposed Copyright (Amendment) Bill without further delay. The Hong Kong Copyright Alliance held a meeting Sunday (December 13) at which it said that the revised law was necessary to combat online piracy.

A two-year-old lawsuit over the ownership of the copyright of 'Happy Birthday' is coming to a close, as publisher Warner/Chappell settles with the plaintiffs who kicked off the dispute. The "most important outcome": once the settlement process has been approved, 'Happy Birthday' will be in the "public domain" (ad yes I know I was criticised for using this phrase before. But whatever, this is clearly not an ideal outcome for Warner/Chappell, which was previously generating around $2m in royalties from the song annually. More on MBW here and the New York Times here.

ArtsTechnica tells us that Aurous, the 'Popcorn Time for Music' platform that debuted two months ago has agreed to shut down and to forfeit its domain to the Recording Industry Association of America, which brought the lawsuit that is now being settled. The deal also calls for the Aurous site's developer, Florida resident Andrew Sampson, and others associated with the site to pay the RIAA $3 million in damages. Although it's a sum that likely won't ever be paid, it's a judgement hanging over their heads and a sum that the RIAA believes sends a message of deterrence. "Aurous appropriately agreed to shut down," Cary Sherman, the RIAA chairman, said in an e-mailed statement. "It was the right thing to do. We hope this sends a strong signal that unlicensed services cannot expect to build unlawful businesses on the backs of music creators."

Intellectual Property Watch tells us that two new proposals concerning the rights of artists seemed to bring new energy to the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee last week. Proposals encouraged delegates to create a legal framework to help artists benefit from use of their works and royalties by intermediaries. The 31st session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) took place from 7-11 December. According to the summary by the chair, adopted by the SCCR on 11 December, both topics will remain on the agenda of the 32nd session of the SCCR, from 9-13 May 2016, under the agenda item “other matters.”  Meanwhile, a new text on broadcasting is being prepared for next session. More here.

And finally, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center has published the first edition of its new quarterly Newsletter WIPO ADR Highlights yesterday. If you are interested in receiving future editions, you may subscribe at  

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