Sunday 25 September 2016

The CopyKat

A photograph of the Northern Lights sparkling above a village in Belarus (right) has no artistic merit whatsoever according to a recent court ruling in a copyright dispute between a well-known photographer and Belarus's state-run television network.
Belteleradiocompany, which ran a feature using photographer Anton Motolko's work that compared the hues in his photos to the red and green Belarusian flag. The television channel did not pay or credit Motolko, and had not asked permission to use the pictures.  The unauthorized use of their work is something photographers have become accustomed to in Belarus, Motolko told RFE/RL. "They [the television network] do it all the time." Motolko decided to sue. "I was asking for about 1,000 euros ($1,100)," he said. But as the case wore on, he decided to drop the amount in damages he sought to just one kopek -- less than a cent. "I wanted to be clear that this wasn't about the money, that I just wanted professional respect." But the snapper failed - key to the television network's case was testimony from an expert (paid for by Motolko) who said that Motolko's photographs did not have "any signs of creative freshness, originality, uniqueness, or exceptionality" and were simply a record of a "social event," and therefore copyright protection did not apply - that despite thet fact he drove some 60km North of his home in Minsk to find the perfect location, framed the image and used his skill and judgment editing the shot. But the decision is certainly not that out of step with decisions in some other European nations - the  French decision to deny copyright protection to the iconic image of Jimi Hendrix by Gered Mankowitz springs to mind. An appeal is planned. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).

So you thought copyright law for libraries was the same across the world. It isn’t! There’s a patchwork quilt of differing interpretations and applicable rights and exceptions, and this applies even within the EU!. Dr Kenneth Crews, on behalf of WIPO, has compiled a Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives that brings together information that relates to the activities of libraries and archives from 188 countries. The study shows that whilst some 66 countries have amended or updated their copyright laws in the past 6 years, many countries still have no provision for library activity within their domestic law! Nearly half do not even explicitly allow libraries to make copies for research or study. As for adapting to the fast paced changes driven by the internet and digital activities some countries are incredibly slow to make their laws fit for purpose. Teresa Hackett, writing CILIP blog about this also points the reader to a EIFL Core Library Exceptions Checklist which is based on the findings and provides a way to assess what you think about your laws (and perhaps identify areas where you need to find more information) in relation to library activity. It’s described as ‘a practical and, we hope, a fun way to help librarians’ and those interested in this area. Image by Marcus Hansson. 

In its much awaited judgment in the Delhi University photocopying case (The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Rameshwari Photocopy Services), the Delhi High Court has dismissed the copyright infringement claim initiated in August 2012 by three publishers (Oxford, Cambridge and Taylor & Francis) against a photocopy shop located in the premises of Delhi University. The publishers argued that the creation of course packs and the photocopying of academic material amounted to an infringement of the exclusive copyright of the authors and publishers, the defendants argued that the reproduction of materials for educational purposes fell within the exceptions to copyright under Section 52(1)(i) of the Indian Copyright Act - and prevailed with the court noting changes in both technology and student approaches to studying, and saying: "Copyright, specially in literary works, is thus not an inevitable, divine, or natural right that confers on authors the absolute ownership of their creations. It is designed rather to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public. Copyright is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors in order to benefit the public." An excellent report fro Lawrence Liang on Hindu,com here and comment on Forbes here and TechDirt here who add that the court also noted the hypocrisy of lawyers who regularly photocopy things "now complaining about students doing the same". Image courtesy of Solomon203.

And finally - whilst there have been some dark mutterings in Europe from songwriters and self composing performers about the activities of CMOs, including Buma-Stemra and GEMA, who have been offering established concert promoters 'discounts' or 'kickbacks'  on published public performance tariffs - and indeed in Spain the Supreme Court ruled that SGAE's tariff was abusive and ordered the CMO to scrap the rate and set up a new fair tariff - in Macedonia things have gone a lot further: Local music CMO ZAMP, previously the sole music copyright collection organization for Macedonia, has withdrawn ALL broadcast licences because Macedonia's culture ministry allowed the formation of a second collection group alongside new rules governing how much money ZAMP can deduct from its members for its administration services.  ZAMP has informed Macedonia's broadcasters that they may not play any music created by Macedonian artists, whom ZAMP claims to represent with ZAMP saying “Their goal is to divide the authors and to put a hand on the money collected by ZAMP. Thus the new association, SOKOM MAP, has become an instrument in the culture ministry’s hands,” SOKOM MAP says it is an independent non-profit group representing songwriters.

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