Wednesday 4 May 2016

The CopyKat

Maurice Ravel in 1925
There were a myriad of reports that almost 90 years after it was first performed in Paris, the copyright in Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" expired on May 1st. Ravel died in 1937.  Written in 1928 and performed on November 22nd of that year at Paris' Opera Garnier, the symphonic work, which grows steadily louder as it progresses, was originally a ballet piece ordered by Russian dancer Ida Rubinstein, a friend and sponsor of the French composer Ravel and famously was danced to by Olympic gold medal winning ice skaters Torvill & Dean in 1984.  More here. HOWEVER ...... France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers (SACEM) has now been presented with a dossier which seeks to take advantage of a legal loophole which could extend Bolero’s international copyright - worth an estimated €1m a year - for another 20 years. The challenge is based on the fact that Bolero was originally a score for a ballet and whilst it is not disputed that Ravel wrote the music, the challengers claim that the original choreographer, Bronislava Nijinska, and the director and scene-maker, Alexandre Benois should be credited as joint authors. As Benois died in 1960 - the argument is thus the final term of copyright must run from HIS death? SACEM, the body that administers copyright payments in France, said that it had rejected the claims as baseless. The copyright of Bolero belonged to the composer Ravel alone, the organisation told the Independent.

Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, overwhelmingly passed a bill for a new Act on Collective Management Organisations (CMO Act) on Thursday, April 28. The new law replaces the 50-year-old Copyright Administration Act. More here

Canadian singer/songwriter Nelly Furtado, who has sold more than 40m records worldwide is the latest artiste to hit out at Google's seeming reluctance to 'play fair' with payments to artistes from YouTube streaming - rightly pointing out that as a technology company YouTube has been fairly poor at developing software that can identify and remove infringing content. In a blog the Grammy Award-winner discusses the recent wave of artists standing up to YouTube over royalty payouts – and adds her name to the cause. 

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. where the court will rule on the appropriate test to determine when a feature of a useful article is protectable under section 101 of the Copyright Act [text]. The case deals with designs on cheerleader uniforms, but the case is expected to have a broader impact. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had ruled that Varsity Brand's designs were copyrightable. Image by Jeff Hitchcock from Vancouver, BC, Canada.

A new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives is being introduced in Congress this week which would give producers, engineers and mixers a piece of the digital royalty pie. The Allocation for Music Producer Act, or AMP Act (H.R. 1457), is being formally introduced by congressmen from both sides of the aisle: Reps. Joe Crowley (D-New York) and Tom Rooney (R-Florida). The AMP Act would create a statutory right for producers to receive royalties that would be managed through CMO SoundExchange.

An Australian government commission, the Productivity Commission, has published a new reports on copyright exploring how well Australia's intellectual property laws are working. Titled  "Copy(not)right" you can probably guess that the report is not very sympathetic to current regime and holds the opinion that Australia’s copyright arrangements are "weighed too heavily in favour of copyright owners, to the detriment of the long-term interests of both consumers and intermediate users. Unlike other IP rights, copyright makes no attempt to target those works where ‘free riding’ by users would undermine the incentives to create. Instead, copyright is overly broad; provides the same levels of protection to commercial and non-commercial works; and protects works with very low levels of creative input, works that are no longer being supplied to the market, and works where ownership can no longer be identified."  More on TechDirt

The New York Appellate Court has agreed to rule on the case which Flo & Eddie from 60's band The Turtles have brought against Sirius XM Radio over the issue of whether the copyright owners of recordings made before 1972 have a common law right to make radio stations and others pay for their use. The case has been referred to the Court of Appeals from a federal appeals court. Federal law established limited copyright protections to recordings after Feb. 15, 1972, while preserving state law property rights on earlier recordings.

Green members of the French National Assembly have voted to strike Hadopi from France's lawbooks - and with just 7 MPs in the house, they had  enough members to see the motion to remove the law from the statute books in 2022 passed. It's unlikely the motion will pass the Senate, but the Greens have used the opportunity to call attention what they say is the "uselessness and expense of Hadopi." French President François Hollande called for the end of Hadopi before his election, a position he later retracted.

The leaders of two major Android app piracy groups have pleaded guilty to copyright infringement charges. Aaron Blake Buckley (22) and Gary Edwin Sharp II (29), ran the Applanet and SnappzMarket groups before they were shut down by the FBI in 2012. U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. of the Northern District of Georgia will pass sentence in August.

And finally - The CopyKat's profound thanks to qurgh lungqIj who made some wise and lucid comments, correcting my headline for the article on the Klingon Language. I have never been advised on and in Klingon - thankfully this time with translations into English! Forbes have also published a very interesting article on WHY the film companies behind the Star Trek series and films (CBS and Paramount) are taking action - having previously ignored or tolerated fan fiction, fan films and the like. 

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