Monday, 28 August 2017

The back-to-school Copycat!

The famous rapper Eminem vs. copyright infringement, Eminem-esque!

During an election campaign ad, the New Zealand’s ruling political party used a piece of library music called “Eminem-esque”, which sounded like the famous track “Lose Yourself”. It sounded so much alike that the rapper’s publishing company decided to sue the political party for copyright infringement!

Last year, the dispute went to court, and the political party said that this track was licenced by a production music company, which was called Beatbox. However, some emails were produced between the political party and some third parties, arguing if their track sounded too much like “Lose Yourself”. 

The Eminem company used these emails to argue it showed that they were aware of copyright infringement, even if they apparently had a lookalike licence!

We are still waiting for the judge’s conclusion on that case, but the battle promises to be interesting!

RIAA vs. Lyor Cohen

The Recording Industry Association of America showed some 'badass' arguments last Friday against YouTube’s music chief, Lyor Cohen, while he was discussing the digital future of the music business.

YouTube is seen as the music industry’s enemy number one for a long time, with the copyright safe harbour that the platform is exploiting. According to the music industry, YouTube is exploiting this safe harbour to force music rights owners into much more preferential deals than those enjoyed by Spotify and Apple Music. In consequence, the music industry wants this safe harbour rewritten in order for YouTube to stop enjoying this protection. 

However, this safe harbour thing seems to be a distraction according to Cohen. He says that he wants to concentrate on a special mission, on how to direct some of YouTube’s revenues back to the music creators who drive its success. It surely is a wonderful goal, but it’s what he’s saying for a long time, with nothing done according to Cary Sherman, the trade group’s boss. “The numbers and YouTube’s actions tell a different story”, he said. 

He added: “Google's YouTube is the world's biggest on-demand music service, with more than 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users. But it exploits a 'safe harbour' in the law that was never intended for it, to avoid paying music creators fairly. This not only hurts musicians, it also jeopardises music's fragile recovery and gives YouTube an unfair competitive advantage that harms the digital marketplace and innovation. The safe harbour was intended to protect passive internet platforms with no knowledge of what its users are doing, not active music distributors like YouTube. As Lyor acknowledges in his blog, 'the majority of coming from recommendations, rather than people searching for what they want to listen to'". In so, he’s saying that YouTube is not the passive internet platforms it wants us to believe. 

He also added “YouTube likes to talk a good game, but it won't even make public its subscriber figures", he argues. "And it continues to under report the number of music streams played on its service, let alone substantiate any of its many different claims about payments to music creators. In fact, every time they're challenged on this point, Google and YouTube simply change their claims yet again".

Finally, he said that “It's long past time that the safe harbours - enacted 20 years ago, in the days of dial-up internet, and before it was ever imagined that users could upload 400 hours of video to YouTube every minute - must be clarified to apply to passive and not active intermediaries”.

"To be clear”, he ended, "we believe safe harbours should be preserved - and Google/YouTube claims that we're trying to eliminate them is nothing but a red herring. But if safe harbours are to drive innovation and fair competition in today's digital environment, they must be applied as originally intended, not as they are exploited by YouTube for its own competitive advantage".

Nigeria’s stolen books!

Nigerian Copyright Commission decries increasing book piracy in the country. Over the five last years, the Commission has seized about 18 containers of pirated books, which worth millions of naira. Several arrests have also been made and convictions secured with the two-year jail term without option of fine. 

The Commission and the Nigeria Publishers Association are currently stressing the need for relevant stakeholders to co-operate with the commission and support its programs. The aim is to ensure that right owners and investors benefit maximally from their creative works. 

Famous YouTubers in a copyright lawsuit

Ethan and Hila Klein are behind the famous H3H3 YouTube channel. They have been sued by Matt Hosseinzadeh, a.k.a. Matt Hoss last year, after they posted a reaction video mocking him. Instead of focusing on the criticism per se, he alleged a copyright infringement by featuring clips of one of his videos in their criticism.

H3H3 argued for fair use in this case. And it appears that they won. A tweet from the official twitter of H3H3 announced that they have won the lawsuit against Matt Hoss, and are calling for a “Huge victory for fair use on YouTube”. 

After this tweet, they released a video explaining the decision. They said that, in the case, Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled that the reaction video including clips of Matt Hoss could be counts as fair use. The video of H3H3 is clearly a constructive critical commentary of the video of Matt Hoss. In so, they are not making any copyright infringement. But she declares that the Court “is not ruling here that all “reaction videos” constitute faire use”. Indeed, if “reaction videos” abuse their fair rights, copyright infringement could be claim. However, it wasn’t the case here. 

You may see the video of H3H3 explaining the case here! 

And finally, remember Re-Digi? Well the long-running dispute between Capitol Records and tech firm ReDigi has reached the US's Second Circuit court of appeal. Can you re-sell digital music file without the copyright owner's permission - and can the first sale doctrine in the US apply to digital music files?  More here

This CopyKat from Lolita Huber-Froment

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