Tuesday 2 April 2019


A federal judge in Manhattan has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Woody Guthrie's classic 1940 folk song "This Land is Your Land" belongs to the public. Guthrie, then 27, wrote "This Land," in reaction to Irving Berlin's 1918 war time song "God Bless America" which he thought glossed over wealth and land inequality in the country. U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts said members of Satorii, a New York band that recorded two versions of "This Land" could pursue federal copyright claims against two publishers who say they control rights to the song - Ludlow Music and The Richmond Organization. Readers will remember that "We Shall Overcome" and "Happy Birthday to You" have already returned to the  public domain. Satorii said the "This Land" melody was "substantially identical" to a Baptist gospel hymn from around the start of the 20th century, known by such titles as "Fire Song." It also said any copyright to "This Land" was forfeited several decades ago. The case is Saint-Amour et al v The Richmond Organization Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-04464.

Ten members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have said they voted against a crucial amendment to the EU's Copyright Directive by accident, and that if they had got their votes right it would have let MEPs take a further vote on the inclusion of Articles 11 and 13, the most controversial parts of the law (and named by the tech sector as the  “link tax” and “upload filter”). That vote was lost by just five votes but official voting records published by the EU show that 13 MEPs have declared they accidentally voted the wrong way on this amendment. According to the record, ten MEPs say they accidentally rejected the amendment when they meant to approve it, two MEPs accidentally approved the amendment, and one MEP says he intended not to vote at all on that matter. If these MEPs had voted as they said they meant to, the amendment would have been approved by a small majority, prompting further votes on whether the law would include Articles 11 and 13 (renamed articles 15 and 17 in the final draft). Whilst no one knows how that might have gone, it makes no difference now of course as the final vote has passed and stands, with a clear majority 348 MEPs voting in favor of the new reforms, and 274 against. YouTube 'creators' and the tech sector are now starting to re-voice concerns, and no doubt will continue lobbying, with one creator saying they will be forced to block content from being seen in Europe, and one of the most vocal activists leading a charge against the Directive, Dr. Grandayy, says it’s time for YouTubers to get serious about copyright activism.

And Poland's right-wing government has hinted that they may not fully implement the European Union's new copyright reform, saying it stifles freedom of speech. Ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Saturday that a copyright directive adopted by EU lawmakers this week threatens freedom. Of course the bloc's nations have two years to incorporate it into their legal systems. Without elaborating, Kaczynski said the Law and Justice party will implement it "in a way that will preserve freedom."

Vodafone in Germany has blocked access to a popular platform where users share links to infringing content after a complaint from music collecting society GEMA, but seemingly without GEMA securing an injunction to mandate the block. the German division of Vodafone has now blocked Boerse telling  Torrentfreak "On the basis of a notification from GEMA, we have set up a DNS blockade for the 'boerse.to' domain. The blockade affects Vodafone GmbH's fixed and mobile network" citing recent precedents in the German courts regarding the responsibilities and liabilities of internet companies saying "GEMA has officially sent us a notification and we have set up the DNS blockade in order to avoid a legal dispute in accordance with the principles established by the Federal Court Of Justice".
adding that whilst it was "critical of these blocking requests" it would nevertheless comply with its legal obligations. The site is still accessible via other ISPs in Germany. 

A fascinating article on Above the LawIn Your Face: How Facial Recognition Databases See Copyright Law But Not Your Privacy - and Tom Kulik, an Intellectual Property & Information Technology Partner at the Dallas based law firm of Scheef & Stone, LLP says "Like many legal issues involving evolving technology, there is more here than meets the eye". Well worth a read! Image by Mike Mackenzie via www.vpnsrus.com.

And finally, Lexology reports that the latest (and unanimous) US Supreme Court decision in  Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., holds that 17 U.S.C. § 505’s award of “full costs” is limited to the specific categories of costs defined in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1821 and 1920, which exclude expert witness fees, e-discovery expenses and jury consultant fees. “A statute awarding ‘costs’ will not be construed as authorizing an award of litigation expenses beyond the six categories listed in §§ 1821 and 1920, absent an explicit statutory instruction to that effect.”[2] This decision effectively limits the costs recoverable by a successful litigant as a matter of course in copyright litigation and in “exceptional” trademark and patent cases. More here

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