There is yet another copyright lawsuit against the appropriation artist Richard Prince, after Dennis Morris LLC, the London-based photographer’s corporation, filed a complaint on the 3rd June in a Californian federal court seeking unspecified damages and any profits the artist and his dealer Gagosian Gallery made from Prince’s alleged use of three photographs of the 1970s punk rock band the Sex Pistols. According to the complaint, Prince used the images in work included in the 2011 exhibition Untitled (Covering Pollock) at Guild Hall in East Hampton. The claim says that Prince made "derivative works” and accuses the defendants of “producing and distributing large scale reproductions incorporating those derivative works” based on Morris’s photos of Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious. Morris is seeking a jury trial and demanding, among other damages, all of Prince and Gagosian’s profits from sales of the disputed works. The complaint also alleges that Prince used Instagram to promote the work for sale and includes a screenshot of a post (since deleted but pictured, left) on Prince’s Instagram account, featuring one of Morris’s best known photos of Vicious who died in 1979 from a drugs overdose.
Arts Technica reports that the lawyers behind the Prenda Law "copyright trolling" enterprise have lost their key appeal and will have to pay more than $230,000 in sanctions. The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a 12-page ruling upholding the sanction order that began Prenda's downfall, issued by US District Judge Otis Wright in 2013. The ruling wholly supports Wright's sanction and dismisses John Steele and Paul Hansmeier claims that due process rights were violated: "These consolidated cases began as minor copyright infringement suits, until courts nationwide started catching on to the plaintiffs' real business of copyright trolling," the ruling states. "Prenda Principals were found contradicting themselves, evading questioning, and possibly committing identity theft and fraud on the courts" and "The Prenda Principals have engaged in abusive litigation, fraud on courts across the country, and willful violation of court orders," the opinion states. "They have lied to other courts about their ability to pay sanctions. They also failed to pay their own attorney’s fees in this case." The third appellant, Paul Duffy, died last year.
All three major record labels, along with 50 other rights owners and platforms, including Spotify, Pandora, SACEM and YouTube, have committed to creating a new system to “dramatically simplify the way that music creators and rights owners are identified and compensated”. The new initiative will hopefully replace and surpass the stalled Global Repertoire Database - and provide a 'one stop' centre for users who want to use songs and sound recordings. The Open Music Initiative (OMI) has been founded by Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE), and has been publicly backed by Universal, Sony, Warner and many more – although as MBW points out - despite Google's YouTube being on board, Apple’s name is conspicuous by its absence.
The European Commission's public consultation on "neighbouring rights" for publishers - otherwise known as the 'Google tax on snippets' CLOSES TODAY. The right could potentially allow publishers to demand payment from search engines and content aggregators where they include short snippets that link to the original text. You must use the questionnaire on the EU website to respond.
And the latest battle in what the difference is between 'inspiration' and what is 'appropriation' has kicked off in Los Angeles, where Led Zeppelin stand accused of copying of a song called “Taurus,” written by Randy Wolfe and performed with his band Spirit, into their epic "Stairway to Heaven". Those who have listened to recordings of each of the songs might think there is a strong similarity, but the legal team attorney for Zeppelin’s front man, Robert Plant, and lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, said any similarities were because the two songs both relied on “basic musical devices that are completely commonplace” and found in songs dating back centuries. "Taurus" was released three years before “Stairway to Heaven” surfaced on Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album, commonly referred to as “Led Zeppelin IV.” In the wake of the jury decision in the "Blurred Lines" case, its unsurprising Plant and Page cancelled sows to attend the trial.
And finally and this time from Canada, a federal court has ruled that that a number of companies must temporarily stop selling TV boxes that allow consumers to access content via streaming sites as they face a court battle over alleged copyright infringement. The plaintiffs, who include Bell and Groupe TVA, allege the TV boxes come with pre-loaded software that allows consumers to view copyrighted programming from illegal streaming sites . MTLFreeTV, one of the defendants, argued the boxes are similar to a tablet or computer, and the company does not develop, produce, service or maintain the software that comes with the boxes. Justice Danièle Tremblay-Lamer ruled that the companies must stop selling pre-loaded products until a the result of a trail in the matter.