Tuesday 16 July 2019


The United States Copyright Office has chosen the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) as the new entity tasked with licensing and administering rights under the Music Modernization Act. The MLC is seen as the 'establishment choice' in the music rights industry and  is backed by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and the Songwriters of North America (SONA). Music Business Worldwide reports that One of the group’s first tasks will be the negotiation of a budget with streaming services who, by law, must fund the collective. It will also include setting up administration and matching services and development of a user portal through which publishers and songwriters will be able to manage rights and royalties. If a funding agreement cannot be voluntarily determined, the MLC and the digital services will go before the Copyright Royalty Board which will set the MLC’s budget through an assessment proceeding.

GMA reports that Japan's Bureau of Immigration (BI) has arrested a fugitive who is said to be one on Japan's "most wanted" list - for copyright infringement. the BI press release says that Romi Hoshino alias Zakay Romi, a Japanese-German-Israeli fugitive, was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. The BI said Hoshino, 28, manages "Manga-Mura," allegedly an illegal viewing website of Japanese comics or graphic novels, popularly known as manga, that operated from January 2016 to April 2018. n what is said to be the worst violation of Japan's copyright law, Manga-Mura's operation allegedly cost 320 billion yen or US$2.9 billion in damages, the Bureau reported, citing Japanese authorities.

BoingBoing reports that attorney John Steele, one of the Prenda law copyright 'trolls', has been  sentenced to 5 years in prison. Last month, Paul Hansmeier was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.5m in restitution for his role in the firm that BoingBong says "used a mix of entrapment, blackmail, identity theft, intimidation and fraud to extort millions from its victims by threatening to drag them into court for alleged infringement of copyright in eye-watering pornography". Steele cooperated with authorities, while Hansmeier fought the system for longer before entering a plea. Like Hansmeier, Steele has to pay $1.5m in restitution. Both men have also been disbarred. Hansmeier is appealing both the conviction and the sentence. In August 2015 a third Prenda law attorney, Paul Duffy, died. Along with Steele and  Hansmeier, Judicial sanctions had been upheld against him by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for engaging in “abusive litigation” and failing to pay attorney's fees in a porn-downloading lawsuit. In June that year US District Judge David Herndon ruled that Steele and Duffy had "engaged in unreasonable, willful obstruction of discovery in bad faith" in its case. 

And whilst on the fruity topic of trolls, The Electonic Frontiers Foundation has warned that the new Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act would "supercharge" a “copyright troll” industry. IPPro reports that  The CASE Act aims to make it easier for independent creators to better defend their IP from theft, and was proposed in May by Democrat congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Republican Doug Collins - and it has had wide support from the creative industries, in particular photographers and songwriters, musicians and artists. But the EFF argues that the bill would increase the number of trolls filing “many ‘small claims’ on as many internet users as possible in order to make money through the bill’s statutory damages provisions”. Under the bill, the US Copyright Office would gain a Copyright Claims Board, which would reduce costs and easing the burden for creators defending their intellectual property. The legislation would allow the Copyright Office to create a determination process for claims seeking up to $5,000 in damages which the EFF suggest is a "most trivial nod towards due process”. There again, many in the creative sector argue that the CASE Act "addresses a decades-old inequity in America's copyright system: a copyright system that all too often denies individual creators and small businesses a viable means of protecting their creative efforts. When it passes, the bill will give smaller individual creators the same kind of protections that larger scale creators have enjoyed for years."

YouTube has been updating its ways of handling copyright claims with changes that give the owners of the copyrighted content more control over their content - much to the horror of some YouTube users and creators who use other people's content in their work. - but to the delight of others. Digital Information World says "With the new policies, owners of any copyrighted content will now exactly mention the part in the video where the copyrighted material appears. With this feature, they can easily verify whether the claim is legitimate or not and to edit out the content if they don’t want any issues like losing revenue or having the video taken down. With this new update, the whole system will be more clear and very smooth to operate. Video creators will be able to see the part that’s been claimed, and YouTube will allow them to mute the audio during that portion or to easily replace the audio with any free-to-use song from YouTube’s library. If they chose any of these options, the copyright claim will automatically be removed." In February The Verge reported that an anonymous blackmailer has caught at least two YouTube creators in a scheme involving cash ransoms and "esoteric copyright laws". Both creators shared stories of how their channels were being threatened with a third copyright strike — and the possible termination of their channels — from an anonymous extortionist. The scammer offered to reverse the strikes in return for payment to a bitcoin wallet or to an adjoining Paypal account. YouTube now requires copyright owners to provide timestamps for all new manual Content ID claims.  and YouTube said in a blog post that it’s going to be vigilant about policing false claims: “We’ll be evaluating the accuracy of these timestamps. Copyright owners who repeatedly fail to provide accurate data will have their access to manual claiming revoked.”

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