Marie-Andree tells us that photographer Donald Graham has filed a copyright infringement suit against notorious 'appropriation artist' Richard Prince, the Gagosian Gallery, and its owner Larry Gagosian. Graham claims that Prince used the “Rastafarian Smoking a Joint” photograph without permission in the New Portraits exhibition. Prince presented inkjet prints on canvases of images he had found on Instagram, complete with his own comments as @richardprince4nd. This did not fare well with several authors of the photographs, but so far Donald Graham is the only one who has taken legal action - despite the earlier mostly unsuccessful attempts by Patrick Cariou to claim infringement on a similar basis. TechDirt have a robust examination of the issues here including the view "The next we heard of Richard Prince -- who, it should be admitted, sounds like a real jerk -- he had set up an exhibit where he had printed out people's Instagram photos along with some fake "comment" text added by Prince himself, and was charging obscene amounts of money for them" ........
PETA, the not for profit organisation that campaigns to for animals' rights, has failed in its attempt to get copyright in the infamous monkey selfie transferred to the black macaque monkey Naruto, who too the snap. US District Judge William Orrick ruled that the monkey, who borrowed British photographer David Slater's camera and took the selfies, cannot own the copyright in the pictures. During a brief hearing the judge, dismissing the suit, stated: "I'm not the person to weigh into this. This is an issue for Congress and the president. If they think animals should have the right of copyright they're free, I think, under the Constitution, to do that." Works "produced by nature, animals, or plants" cannot be granted copyright protection, the US Copyright Office said in 2014. Slater's Motion to Dismiss said "A monkey, an animal rights organization and a primatologist walk into federal court to sue for infringement of the monkey's claimed copyright." .... "What seems like the setup for a punch line is really happening" adding "monkey see monkey sue is not good law".
BoingBoing tells us that Tommy Funderburk, who was previously was known as a "copyright troll" and whose company, Payartists, sent legal threats to people accused of copyright infringement, has ditched that business model and his new startup, Muzit, uses the same Bittorrent surveillance software and DMCA process to send letters on behalf of musicians, but these letters don't demand money - instead, they invite fans to collaborate with musicians, offering them membership in fan clubs and asking them to sign up for mailing lists. "Fans not Foes." is the new company's mantra it seems.
A group of German publishers has filed a civil complaint against Google. The group, constituted as VG Media, claims to be enforcing Germany’s “Ancillary Copyright” Law, passed in 2013. This is the latest episode in an ongoing dispute between German news publishers and Google.
And finally, a private company in China has been found to be unlawfully acting as a collecting society. The Jiangsu High People’s Court has ruled that Shenzhen Shengying Internet Technology Ltd had, since 2013, wrongfully collected license fees from karaoke bars and had filed lawsuits across the country to enforce its 'rights'. The company acted on behalf of record companies but was also alleged to have fraudulently obtained copyright certificates for other works. The Court reiterated that only the five collective management societies designated by the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) have legitimate authority to carry out collective rights management. More here (in Chinese).