Monday 30 September 2019


1)    Record Labels in the United States claim Copyright Infringement against COX

In another US case on the question of liability of intermediaries such as Internet Service Providers and the ambit and threshold required to prove  Contributory/Secondary infringement, US Magistrate Judge, Judge F. Anderson has taken a stance on evidentiary presentations and has blocked the request of COX to not admit certain evidence presented by the Record Labels due to alleged non-credibility, as reported by Law 360. COX had gone on to argue certain issues with the credibility of the evidence, wherein they said that the record labels had not kept all the data related to the finding of infringement (worked by the Record Labels in collaboration with Anti- Piracy agencies – Mark monitor and Audible Magic) on record.

For a claim of such secondary liability to be conclusively established, firstly a user having performed primary infringement must be shown, after which, the burden shifts upon proving actual knowledge of the infringement with the intermediary, and a positive role in promoting the same. A safe harbor protection is available to the intermediaries, which do not conclusively pursue an actual knowledge of infringement. The main argument brought in by the record labels herein is that the ISP COX deliberately had shoddy systems for dealing with infringement and infringers on their networks and produced certain evidence on it, using the worked data, but not all of it. The Judge went on to hold that, whatever is the issue with the evidence, it needs to be brought before the jury, and cannot be blocked, due to such reasons. The court concluded (as reported by Complete Music Update) that the labels weren’t under any obligation to keep all the data which they and their partners had gathered, on record.

2)    Robert “Bobby” Prince sues Gearbox, its President as well as Valve for unauthorized exploitation of copyrighted music.

The original music for the video game Duke Nudem 3d was created and composed by music composer Robert Prince, but has seemingly been used without unauthorisation (without a license or a compensation) by Gearbox Software LLC., in its new game - Duke Nukem 3d World Tour. Further, these allegedly infringing copies were conveniently distributed by another defendant, “Valve Corporation”, which even ignored a takedown notice, hence denying a claim to safe harbor. Another interesting fact to note is that the allegedly infringing game includes text specifically giving accreditation to Mr. Prince for his music, but has not compensated or even contacted Prince to get a license in the use. In light of the same, Robert Prince has filed an infringement suit in the United States District Court Eastern District of Tennessee, Northern Division. The Petition can be found here.  The game is supposed to be released on October 11th and It will be interesting to see, how this one plays out.

3)    CJEU clears the air over conflict between Design and Copyright Protection and the ambit of Copyright.

The CJEU, in the case of Cofomel (C-683/17) decided on the issue as to whether Copyright would subsist in the designs of G-Star Raw’s Jeans and T-Shirts. The question peculiarly concerned itself with whether member states had the freedom to choose the threshold which works of applied art, industrial designs and works of design are required to meet for Copyright Protection. The Court held that, even in the cases of functional products, the ambit required for it being a work is the same and that is “the author’s own intellectual creation”, that is one reflecting free and collective choices, which could give the non-functional aspect of the work, Copyright Protection. Most importantly, as reported by IAM Media, the judgement makes it clear that an analysis of artistic merit or aesthetic impression need not be done, as it is extremely subjective and non-precise, to conclude whether a work is copyrightable or not.

This makes it clear that the aesthetic aspects of useful articles can also be protected as Copyrightable, insofar as they fulfill the originality standard of “Author’s own intellectual creation”. Read more on this on the IPKAT.

4)    STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN back in court!!

The US Deptartment of Justice had recently released their Amicus Brief in favour of Led Zeppelin in the now infamous copyright suit, covered herein by the blog. In a latest update to this case, as reported by The Rolling Stone, the case started with a filing by Michael Skidmore, a trustee representing the estate of Randy Wolfe, and this accused Led Zeppelin of stealing the opening guitar riff from Spirits' 1968 instrumental track Taurus. The case is now back in court before an 11 judge bench in the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals. A request to make available the sound recording was made and a claim was brought in by the plaintiff attorney saying that if these were made available, Led Zeppelin would lose out on the case. However the court observed that if the law limited the claim to the 4 corners of the deposited sheet music, and the currentthinking is that the justices feel that on that basis there was no chance the plaintiff could establish an infringement. Led Zepplin's attorney Peter Anderson argued that “There is no similarity between these two songs, but they both combine a scale, little pairs of notes that are in different melody and an eighth note rhythm.” It will be interesting to see how the court proceeds this time, in light of the Justice Deptartmen's Amicus brief.

5)    GOOGLE undercuts new EU Copyright Law

Google has decided to not pay European Media Outlets to display and use their content on its search engine and Google News platform. It has decided that it will only portray content from those media groups that have allowed free usage of the content. The EU Copyright legislation was brought in to ensure that media companies could get adequate compensation for the display of their items on platforms of these tech giants, however google has played a trump card, mostly propagating free content higher access philosophy. Google’s vice president has announced that it is upon the Europe based news published to decide if it would allow Google to show “snippets” of content or thumbnail images, however there will be no compensation paid for the same. If they don’t allow, only a headline and a bare link to the content will appear in the results. This is a major blow to media organisations which hugely depend on Google for facilitating access and to reach out to more of online audiences. This move by Google has been criticised by the EU Copyright rapporteur, referncing the move as a 'digital dictatorial' practice, with an intention to create a monopoly. This move makes the situation even worse for the publishers. This move has taken place post French legislating this EU directive in its Domestic Law. In Germany, recently after the EU Directive was complied with, some publishers decided to allow Google to publish their content free of cost, due to a drop in traffic (as hreported by Politico). In light of this, it will be very interesting to see the implications of the same and how this practice affects the news industry in the future across Europe.

This update by Akshat Agrawal

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