Sunday, 20 December 2015

The CopyKat - a grumpy cat extends its claws

The three exceptions that the Pan-Democrats are seeking to add to the new copyright bill in Hong Kong are too broad, according to Copyright Tribunal deputy chairman Anthony Tong Tat-hay, who sought to allay web users’ concerns over civil and criminal lawsuits. Instead of opposing the bill, which will be tabled to the Legislative Council he added, the public should accept it and then continue to press for further consultation already pledged by officials. Tong said the Hong Kong law’s adoption of the British model for specifying what acts are to be exempted under a “fair dealing” doctrine (for parody, satire, caricature, pastiche, reporting and commenting on current event and quotation) is preferable to the US approach of a blanket “fair use” exemption, which internet users say offers the most protection. As to the exception for user generated content (UGC) Tong said  “It is imprudent to adopt UGC as it is still a guinea pig overseas [in Canada]“ adding "As responsible lawmakers, when it comes to a new law, they should not rush into it.” The third proposed exception of contract override, which would restrict contractual terms from overriding exceptions for parody, caricature and pastiche, would not directly affect end users, Tong said.  More here and here and here (in Chinese). To the frustration of government, opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong finally managed to push back discussion of the proposed Copyright (Amendment) 2014 bill until next year.

Ok Kat fans: Grumpy Cat Limited, the company behind the ever-angry feline, filed a lawsuit against coffee company Grenade Beverage LLC  for copyright and trademark infringement as well as trademark dilution, cybersquatting, breach of contract, and accounting. The lawsuit demands Grenade to stop using Grumpy Cat naming and imagery for products and sales, and seeks damages in the Californian federal court. The coffee company also operate the domain name Grumpy Cat image by Gage Skidmore.

A Virginia federal jury has reached it's verdict (PDF), ordering Cox Communications to pay $25 million to BMG Rights Management for turning a blind eye to music piracy with the jury finding that the company's behavior amounted to a willfully infringed copyright. In what could be a landmark copyright case, an ISP loses its "safe harbor." The verdict comes at the close of a two-week trial, which took place after US District Judge Liam O'Grady issued an opinion (PDF) slamming Cox's behavior, saying that the ISP isn't protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act "safe harbor" because the company did not "reasonably 
implement" a policy to terminate repeat infringers. More on ArtsTechnica here.
Abbott & Costello

Music Week reports that three Members of US Congress have introduced a bill aimed at modernising and changing the status of the country's Copyright Office. The bill, known as the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act or the CODE Act, is sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congressman Tom Marino and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. The draft bill was first released in June and, following months of discussion with various stakeholders, it now reflects "a consensus across various industries and public interest groups,” according to the sponsors of the legislation. The CODE Act would "ensure that our country has a Copyright Office that reflects the 21st century,” according to Congresswoman Chu.

A federal judge has dimissed claims by the heirs to Abbott and Costello against the producers of a Broadway play in which a character uses a sock puppet to perform part of the comedians’ famous “Who’s on First” routine. The copyright holders sued “Hand to God” producers, promoters and playwright Robert Askins in the Manhattan federal court for copyright infringement. Federal Judge George Daniels in Manhattan rejected the lawsuit Thursday, saying the play transforms the original routine enough that it does not violate copyrights. The lawsuit had claimed the play “copied the very heart” of “Who’s on First.”

And finally, The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has filed criminal charges against MTN Nigeria Communication and its Nigeria’s Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, over alleged copyright infringements. In the two-count-charge, MTN and Moolman are alleged to have infringed on copies of the musical work of an Abuja based musician, Dovie Omenuwoma-Eniwo (aka Baba 2010). More here.

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