Wednesday, 11 October 2017

THE COPYKAT spins around the world of copyright, the massive Chinese e-commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals, has been hit with a class action lawsuit claiming that its network of e-commerce websites is home to rampant copyright infringement of visual artwork.The lawsuit has been brought at the instigation of professional Indiana artist Michel Keck who is seeking to certify a class of copyright holders who have seen their work copied and sold on Alibaba’s network of websites. The 81-page complaint, filed  in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, outines the frustration Keck faced as she attempted to get dozens of China-based sellers to stop selling cheap copies of her work, primarily modern abstract canvas prints that feature dog portraits and religious themes.Keck claims that she repeatedly filled out online forms to report the alleged infringement to Alibaba, only to run into error messages, requests for documentation, or messages in Chinese. Often, she claims, she simply received no response. Alibaba has just announced that it will invest more than $15 billion over the next three years in a global research and development programme.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a decision to dismiss a class action lawsuit against Teranet Inc., which is the company that manages the province’s electronic land registration system (ELRS). In Teresa Scassa, University of OttawaIn Keatley Surveying Ltd. v. Teranet Inc., 2007 ONCA 748, the court heard that the plaintiff, Keatley Surveying Ltd., had brought action in 2007 on behalf of all land surveyors in Ontario who registered their plans of survey in the provincial land registry offices. Keatley claimed that Teranet Inc., the defendant, infringed their rights. The plaintiff, representing the class of surveyors, objected to what it saw as Teranet profiting from the commercial reproduction and dissemination of their copyright-protected works. Finding against the surveyors, the appellate court said it agreed "with the motion judge that copyright in the registered or deposited plans of survey belong to the Province. ... In summary, I would hold that the extensive property-related rights bestowed on the Crown by the land registration scheme in Ontario compel the conclusion that the publishing of those plans, by making copies of the plans available to the public, is done under the “direction or control of Her Majesty.” Section 12 of the Copyright Act declares that the copyright in the registered or deposited plans of survey belongs to the Crown." Read more here Crown copyright alive and well in new decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal

In the US, it seems web blocking is now on the cards for copyright owners whose rights have been infringed, after Magistrate Judge John Anderson in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia recommended a ruling in favour of the American Chemical Society in their action against Sci-Hub (sometimes dubbed the “Pirate Bay of science” whom the ACS accused of copyright infringement for making available online copies of the former’s academic papers without licence. Sci-Hub lost its domain during an earlier (and separate) legal action against the site by science publisher Elsevier. More on CMU Daily here

And continuing with acaedemia, and the same to claimants, and copyright alleged infringement: scholarly publishing giant Elsevier and the American Chemical Society (ACS) have filed a lawsuit in Germany against ResearchGate, a popular academic networking site, alleging copyright infringement on a mass scale. The move comes after a larger group of publishers became dissatisfied with ResearchGate’s response to a request to alter its article-sharing practices. Sciencemag explains that ResearchGate, a for-profit firm based in Berlin that was founded in 2008, is one of the largest social networking sites aimed at the academic community. It claims more than 13 million users, who can use their personal pages to upload and share a wide range of material, including published papers, book chapters, and meeting presentations. Science funders and investors have put substantial funds into the firm; it has raised more than $87 million from the Wellcome Trust charity, Goldman Sachs, and Bill Gates personally - but the claimants say that published papers now include copyrighted papers whch are usually accessible only behind subscription paywalls. Initially, the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers wrote to ResearchGate on behalf of more than 140 publishers, expressing concerns about its article-sharing policies, and proposed that ResearchGate implement a “seamless and easy” automated system to stop their copyrighted works appearing on the site. This was rejected and a 'take down' system suggested by ReserachGate - which the publishers are not happy with, saying  hat the company’s “business model depends on the distribution of these in-copyright articles to generate traffic to its site, which is then commercialised through the sale of targeted advertising" Two coalition members, ACS and Elsevier, have now opted to go to court.

A small claims procedure for IP in the USA? Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Tom Marino (R-PA), along with Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Lamar Smith (R-TX)  have introduced a new bill in the House of Representatives that photographers and others involved in the visual atrts say will be a valuable tool to complement the current “ one-size-fits-all copyright system" which "leaves out most visual artists.” The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act is intended to give creators a cost-effective way to enforce their rights. The idea of a copyright small-claims court, which has been discussed in Washington D.C. for several years, could make it easier for small companies and independent creators to enforce their rights,  And Billboard says it could be a game-changer for photographers and visual artists, especially where merchandise is concerned.

Nigeria has presented four key Copyright ratified Treaties to the Assembly of member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the presentation was made at a 57th WIPO General Assembly meeting in Geneva.  Ambassador Audu Kadiri, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, whopresented the treaties to the Director General of WIPO, Dr. Francis Gurry said, Nigeria was committed to the implementation of the treaties in support of the country’s drive to revatilise its economy. The treaties were listed as the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the Performances and Phonograms Treaty, the Beijing Treaty on Audio Visual Performances, and the Marrakesh Treaty.

There has been another delay by the EU's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) on EU copyright reforms set out in the Draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (COM 2016(593). It was anticipated that JURI would have its final vote on the amended wording on the 10th October 2017. However, the draft Copyright Directive had been removed from the agenda for that date. For now, it seems that we will all have to wait until JURI’s next session on 7th December 2017 to see how the bill progressing. Axel Voss assumed the role of the rapporteur in June this year. More on Lexology here.

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