Tuesday, 23 October 2018


American Airlines has filed a legal action against the U.S. Copyright Office after it was denied the registration of American Airlines' logo.  American Airlines Group, Inc. merged with US Airways and introduced its new logo five years ago. The new logo features a diagonal blue and red line with a bird's head in the middle. The Fort Worth-based carrier applied to register the new logo, which it dubbed the Flight Symbol, in 2016. In a move that surprised American, the Copyright Office denied American's registration. At one point, the Copyright Office reportedly said about the logo: "While the bar for creativity is low, it does exist and the work cannot glide over even its low heights." American disagrees, arguing that its Flight Symbol "easily" meets the creativity threshold necessary to register for copyright protection. The airline said that in most cases the Copyright Office's decisions are consistent and well-reasoned - but filed the lawsuit as here the office’s refusal “arbitrary, capricious … and an abuse of discretion” More here

The Von Zobel family from Giebelstadt, C1770
The CJEU has backed the opinion of Advocate General, Maciej Szpunar in a German case that pitted a defendant (Michael Strotzer) who claimed he could not be liable for online infringement because he and his parents used the same internet connection, and the need to balance the (here) conflicting rights  of a right to family life against the right of a copyright owner to protect their rights. The conclusion?  The court have upheld the AG's opinion that  "The right to respect for family life, recognised in article seven of the Charter Of Fundamental Rights of the EU, cannot be interpreted in such a way as to deprive right holders of any real possibility of protecting their right to IP" and confirmed the AG's position that  Strotzer was "abusing the right to protection of family life by invoking that right, not in order to protect the members of his family against liability for the infringement of copyright with which they clearly have no connection, but solely in order to escape his own liability for that infringement" - whilst a fair balance has to be to be struck, an individual's right to a private and family life doesn't trump the right of a copyright owner who is seeking an effective remedy for an infringement.

For an opinionated but highly readable critique of the proposed reforms to South Africa's intellectual property laws - look not further that Sadulla Karjiker's article Shambolic Copyright Amendment Bill will favour Google and its ilk in Business Day:  "There is no point in mincing my words about the passage of the proposed Copyright Amendment Bill thus far: it has been shambolic and would embarrass a banana republic. The reason the portfolio committee arrogated to itself the responsibility of drafting the bill was because the draft bill produced by the department was so poorly drafted that it resulted in wide-ranging criticisms from various stakeholders. Well, the portfolio committee’s efforts have quite frankly not been much better. Not only has the technical drafting been poor, but the department, and now the portfolio committee, continue to try to railroad a particularly skewed agenda through parliament." There is more - and it's all here.

And more of the same - or similar:  The American Law Institute describes itself as the “leading independent organisation in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernise and improve the law” and periodically the ALI issues what have generally been regarded as well reasoned, well researched and academically sound ‘Restatements Of The Law’. But now the record music and music publishing sectors in the USA have taken great exception to the ALI's latest Restatement, on copyright, claiming that far from being independent lawyers and academics - they are comprised of those who have pushed to restrict copyright, with one comment being the authors are "notoriously anti-creator copyleft irritators". The Recording Industry Association of America and the National Music Publishers Association have written a joint letter to the ALI, and NMPA boss David Israelite said a statement yesterday. “The American Law Institute’s so-called ‘Restatement Of Copyright Law ... was written by extremist anti-copyright lawyers in an attempt to redefine copyright law” - with the letter saying "in recent years copyright law for music has faced repeated tests and challenges, including for those who legislate and interpret the law, in large part due to the transformation of the music industry from physical to digital” and  “Important copyright law issues for music are before Congress, the courts and agencies”, they add. “Under these circumstances, attempting to ‘restate’ copyright law for music now is a difficult, if not an odd, exercise” and that  “copyright law is ill suited for restatement by ALI at this time, especially as envisioned by the [authors]".

And finally, an interesting read on copyright law reform in the Financial Times and the positive and negative sides of YouTube - with a quote from our very own John Enser! 

Money for nothing: copyright law, YouTube, and the future of music [Part II]

More here Money for nothing: copyright law, YouTube, and the future of music [Part II]. And YouTube certainly hasn't given up on trying to get rid of Article 13, with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki warning video makers about the "threat" of Article 13 in a blog post, urging them to "take action immediately" and protest the ruling with videos and social media posts - more here https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/22/youtube-susan-wojcicki-creators-protest-eu-article-13-copyright-law.html

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