Tuesday, 27 November 2018


Internet service provider Cox Communications efforts to move the copyright infringement case it is facing from the American recorded music sector looks like it has failed after the judge in the case published a written statement explaining why he has resisted the shift. The case was filed in the Virginian court that had already heard the partially successful case brought by BMG Rights Management against Cox: BMG argued that Cox should be held liable for the copyright infringement of its customers, because it only paid lip service to its obligations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to be able to benefit from safe harbour protection. BMG prevailed at first instance and and whilst that ruling was set aside on appeal many felt the comments of the appellate court were more than useful to rights owners. Cox subsequently settled with BMG. Judge Liam O'Grady has declined to give the case up saying that it makes sense to hear the new action in the court where the BMG dispute was argued out, as many of the issues will be the same saying "Although defendants claim this court's ruling on the DMCA's safe harbour provision will not be relevant to this case, this court's prior ruling will at the very least touch on the issues presented here. The considerable judicial resources this court expended on reaching this ruling on an issue of first impression - a ruling that was upheld by the [appeals court] - cannot be ignored".  The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal said that the DMCA provides a degree of protection to ISPS and other platforms that respond expeditiously to takedown requests. But one of the requirements is that the ISP and other intermediaries to have "adopted and reasonably implemented … a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers … who are repeat infringers" abd Cox wasn't entitled to rely on safe harbor because it did very little if anything even when told about repeat offenders.

Internet services company Cloudflare is also on the receiving end of another lawsuit in the US which could again test the liabilities of the net firm when it provides services to piracy websites - this suit from wedding dress makers Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs who are suing the net firm for contributory infringement because it allegedly provides services to websites based out of China that sell copies of the two companies' bridal wear to customers back in the US - and which uses pictures from the plaintiff's own websites to promote the counterfeit copies. The Recording Industry Association of America had previously accused Cloudflare of contributory copyright infringement and in a submission to a US government report on piracy, the RIAA states that: "[Piracy] sites are increasingly turning to Cloudflare, because routing their site through Cloudflare obfuscates the IP address of the actual hosting provider, masking the location of the site".

Universal Music has taken legal action over podcasts published by a global website for poker fans - PokerNews - which they say infringes their copyrights by including tracks controlled by the major label without permission. The major has sued PokerNews owner iBus Media (actually incorporated in the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland) for wilful copyright infringement in the Californian courts. The lawsuit states that: "Among the content made available by iBus Media on PokerNews, and through other forums, are hundreds of podcasts that intentionally incorporate significant portions of plaintiffs' copyrighted musical works". On the Pokernews website it does say “All Content published by PokerNews on the Site (apart from User-submitted Content), including, without limitation, images, photographs, graphics, animations, videos, audio and text . . . are owned by PokerNews and/or its licensors and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property or other proprietary rights.”  UMG clearly disagrees!

New Zealand's Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Hon Kris Faafoi, has released an issues paper marking the first stage of public consultation on changes to the Copyright Act 1994, saying all Kiwis should consider taking part. “Copyright affects all New Zealanders. We create copyright works when we take a photograph, record a video, or write an email, and we use copyright works by watching a sports broadcast, streaming a movie, listening to music, or reading a book,” says the minister.

A group of Satanists who sued Netflix and Warner Bros for $50 million (£38 million) in a copyright row over the TV drama series Sabrina have "amicably" settled the lawsuit. The Satanic Temple claimed the entertainment giants copied its depiction of goat-headed deity Baphomet in The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina. The only publicly released terms was that "The unique elements of the Satanic Temple's Baphomet statue have been acknowledged in the credits of episodes which have already been filmed."

MBW reports that  YouTube’s Global Head of Music, Lyor Cohen has called the implications of 'Article 13' into question within a monthly newsletter sent to a large group of industry executives as YouTube and Google continue to fight back against the planned copyright reforms in the EU. Cohen warned of what he sees as dangers surrounding the passage of the new European Copyright Directive – including provision Article 13, which would see platforms like YouTube become legally liable for copyright-infringing content uploaded by its users saying "“we believe that the current proposal will create severe unintended consequences for the whole industry. We still have a couple of weeks to work together towards a better final version of the law concluding that songwriters and recording artists might earn LESS money in the future if the reforms are implemented without change. In reply five major European music-industry trade organisations including the IFPI, the  ECSA  and IMPALA  fired off a strongly worded collective response titled “YouTube’s Fact Free Fear-Mongering" saying "“YouTube’s campaign against Article 13 of the Copyright Directive shows a lack of respect for the EU democratic process of law making ....[T]he revisions to the Directive have been under discussion for over four years already and the three main institutions of the European Union have all given their position. The Commission, Council and Parliament have all reached the same conclusion, that there is a value gap, also referred to as a transfer of value, where user upload services are making vast sums of money on creators’ content uploaded by their users, but not paying the right holders who own that content fairly. The result is a serious distortion in the European digital market place which harms right holders, other digital services and citizens. To correct that situation, platforms like YouTube should have to take responsibility for the content they use and monetize, by fairly remunerating their creators and right holders."  

One thing to add would be that even if YouTube were paying over a 'fair share' to the recorded music sector - are they in turn paying over a 'fair' share to the actual creators - the recording artistes? Many would say they receive a pittance and a tiny tiny share of digital revenues and little improvement has been made. Much still to think about! And does 'Big Content' need YouTube more than YouTube needs Big Content? More on this and the EU reforms from a BoingBoing perspective here .

A judge in the U.S. has issued a somewhat scathing opinion in connection with the activities of an alleged 'copyright troll'. In response to an early discovery request by Strike 3 Holdings, Judge Royce C. Lamberth describes the plaintiff as a "cut-and-paste" serial litigant whose lawsuits "smack of extortion". The company runs away at the first sign of a defense, he added, while noting his court is being used "as an ATM". TorrentFreak says that Strike 3 Holdings is one of the most active copyright trolls in the United States, filing more than 1,800 copyright infringement cases in the past 13 months. “Its feigned desire for legal process masks what it really seeks: for the Court to oversee this high-tech shakedown. This Court declines,” the Judge concludes.

AND finally....If you watch YouTube videos without a YouTube Premium subscription, you might have seen a recent pop up advert warning about article 13! And not to be left out of a strong reaction to the planned reforms,  and specifically Article 11, Google is threatening to (possibly) shut down Google News once news aggregators were subject to the 'link tax'.

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