Monday 24 December 2018


The popular British sitcom “Only Fools and Horses” is at the heart of a copyright row between two theatre companies with the company behind the official “Only Fools and Horses: The Musical”Phil McIntyre Entertainments (PME) taking legal action against another company who have produced an allegedly unauthorised production based on  the original TV series. According to a letter seen by WIPR, PME has the exclusive right to produce live performances based on the sitcom. The company has accused Australian theatre company Interactive Theatre International (ITI) of infringing its copyright by producing Only Fools: The (cushty) Dining Experience” as “a loving tribute to the BBC series”. This production promises a “hilarious night out with the Trotters at The Nag’s Head”, including a three course meal. In 2016, WIPR reported that “Fawlty Towers” creator John Cleese was considering legal action against ITI after learning of its “Faulty Towers: the Dining Experience” production. 

The Los Angeles Times reports that after 3 rejections, the US Copyright Office has finally relented and decided that  American Airlines' logo is creative enough to copyright, ending a two-year-long dispute between the airline and the Copyright Office.

A link to a very useful review of the US's Music Modernization Act, The Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act which was met with approval by songwriters and music industry executives alike, and praised by stakeholders for addressing issues with digital music streaming services.  The Act combines three separate bills, The Music Modernization Act (MMA); Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act; and Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act.  These bills, as well as JD Supre's take-aways for copyright owners, are summarized here

Techcrunch was one of many online publications reporting that Spotify has settled the $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by music publisher Wixen Music Publishing in December 2017. The publisher, which represented artists including  Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and Neil Young, alleged copyright infringement, saying that Spotify was its catalogue without a proper license and that Spotify “neither obtained a direct or compulsory mechanical license. The financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Spotify has not filed a disclosure to shareholders with the SEC — an indication that the $1.6 billion was not awarded. Spotify and Wixen have put out a joint statement saying they’ve agreed to a final dismissal of the lawsuit saying “The conclusion of that litigation is a part of a broader business partnership between the parties, which fairly and reasonably resolves the legal claims asserted by Wixen Music Publishing  relating to past licensing of Wixen’s catalog and establishes a mutually-advantageous relationship for the future.” 

And finally, the Smithsonian tells us that at midnight on New Year’s Eve, all works first published in the United States in 1923 will enter the public domain - the first time in 21 years since a "mass expiration" of copyright in the U.S. The deluge of works includes hundreds of thousands of books, musical compositions, paintings, poems, photographs and films. After January 1, any record label can issue a dubstep version of the 1923 hit “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” any middle school can produce Theodore Pratt’s stage adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, and any historian can publish Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis with her own extensive annotations. Any artist can create and sell a feminist response to Marcel Duchamp’s seminal Dadaist piece, The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) and any filmmaker can remake Cecil B. DeMille’s original The Ten Commandments and post it on YouTube.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all who celebrate on the 25th December or another chosen date, and to everyone, can we wish you a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2019.  Joyeux Noël et bonne année, Prettige Kerstdagen en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar, Auguri di buon Natale e felice Anno Nuovo & Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo. 

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