1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Friday, 27 March 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ... Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY

U.S. District Judge George King of the Central District of California is set to decide whether Los Angeles-based music publisher  Warner/Chappell Music has unlawfully been collecting licensing fees for the copyright to “Happy Birthday to You.” The case was brought in 2013 by two New York music producers, a California musician and a film producer who had each paid between $455 and $3,000 in licensing fees to Warner/Chappell Music, the music-publishing arm of Warner Music Group Corp., to perform the song. A Warner/Chappell representative said it sometimes charges major motion pictures between five and six figures to license the most recognizable song in the English language.  The publisher claims that the copyright derives from a 1924 songbook (lyrics) and 1935 piano arrangement (the melody). At that time in America lyrical and musical works enjoyed 95 years of copyright protection from publication (and registration), meaning the music will stay in copyright until 2030.  Under European provisions, the copyright expires 70 years after the death of the longer-living sister, which is the end of next year.

The class action, filed on behalf of anyone who was forced to pay similar fees starting on June 18, 2009, sought a declaratory relief and the return of “millions of dollars of unlawful licensing fees.” The claimant, led by Good Morning To You Productions, argue that it has "irrefutable documentary evidence, some dating back to 1893, [which] shows that the copyright to 'Happy Birthday,' if there ever was a valid copyright to any part of the song, expired no later than 1921 and that if defendant Warner/Chappell owns any rights to 'Happy Birthday,' those rights are limited to the extremely narrow right to reproduce and distribute specific piano arrangements for the song published in 1935." Robert Brauneis, co-director of the Intellectual Property Law Program at The George Washington University Law School, cast doubt in a 2009 law review article that “Happy Birthday to You” was copyrightable.
In the current case, both sides agree that sisters Mildred and Patty Hill composed and wrote the melody to the song “Happy Birthday to You”. The original melody for "Happy Birthday to You" was composed in by school teacher Mildred Hill in St. Louisville, Kentucky. The song was part of the composition for a song then called called "Good Morning to All," with lyrics by her sister Patty Hill and written in 1889 or 1890. The sisters later sold the copyright to the Clayton F. Summy Company in return for a sheet music royalty, who published a songbook called “Song Stories for the Kindergarten.”  Warner bases its claim of ownership on two copyright registrations in 1935 by that company which it claims included the now familiar “text,” or lyrics, to “Happy Birthday to You.” Warner/Chappell acquired Summy’s successor, Birch Tree Ltd., in 1988.

The Plaintiffs allege those copyrights were for piano arrangements and that “Happy Birthday to You” by then had reached widespread popularity, putting it in the public domain and say 
“Our argument has been all along that the copyright in 1935 only covered that particular piano arrangement,” and “There’s no evidence they [Warner/Chappell] ever acquired rights to the song "Happy Birthday to You" from anyone before 1935 when they registered the copyright.”
    
If Judge King declines to rule in favour of either the plaintiffs or the music publisher, the case could still go to trial.
     
And another but different Happy Birthday case in Turkey, where the Court of Appeal has had to decide if using the song "Happy Birthday" in a film - with Turkish lyrics - could be deemed the use of a musical work that involved novelty. Now the CopyKat professes to have scant knowledge of Turkish law - and any input and comment from the 1709 readers would be most appreciated (although we have added a handy link to some FAQs at the end of this blog). Anyway it seems the plaintiff in the case had brought an action before the trial court asserting that he had written a song called "Happy Birthday" ("Mutlu Yıllar" in Turkish), and that all financial rights in this musical work had been transferred to a second plaintiff by agreement in 2005. Both plaintiffs asserted that the defendants – the director and producer of the film Alone (Issız Adam) – had used the song unlawfully in a new film without permission, without indicating the lyricist of the musical work, and had paid no royalties. The plaintiffs demanded "material and moral damages".

The defendants claimed that the plaintiff was not the lyricist of the song, and that registration at the Musical Work Owners' Society did not give the plaintiff ownership rights and further, the defendants argued that the song which they had used in the movie Alone could not be characterised as a musical work.

As the plaintiff could not prove that he had obtained the permission of the lyricist of the original song and the person who had translated the lyrics from English into Turkish (and as the date of translation was not clear), the Court of First Instance dismissed the case. The plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeal stated that "this song has been anonymously used by society for at least 60 years and the Turkish version of the song is not the original musical work." The Court of Appeal reviewed the case and decided that the song's original lyrics and melody belonged to a foreign party, and that using the song "Happy Birthday" with Turkish lyrics involved no novelty and therefore could not be considered a musical work within the scope of Article 1/B of the Code of Intellectual Property Rights. As a result, the Court of Appeal rejected the appeal. More on Turkish copyright laws here.

USA The National Law Journal

Turkey http://www.internationallawoffice.com/newsletters/detail.aspx?g=139de4a9-68fd-48ec-bd04-b6956dd80dfc / Decision of the 11th Civil Chamber of the Court of Appeals, 2013/8293 E, 2014/13652 K.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Perfect Fail - and a $5.6 million bill

Perfect 10, the adult magazine and now online company, which had previously litigated against the likes of Google &  Amazon, CCBill, Megaupload and Visa amongst many others, and which is often tarred with the 'copyright troll'' moniker, has suffered a bit of a set back in its litigation quest after a U.S. judge ordered the company to pay $5.6 million in legal fees and costs (Perfect 10 v. Giganews). Judge Andre Birotte Jr's judgment is a educational read on just why the Company faced such substantial fees and costs, and perhaps the background is a good place to start for this explantion: The judge noted that the action has involved more than 30 noticed motions, including a motion for change of venue, two motions to dismiss, three Daubert expert witness motions eight motions for summary judgment, and multiple discovery and sanctions motions. The docket in this action includes nearly 700 entries and exceeded 38,000 pages.

The Judge confirmed the award of fees and costs, not least as the almost complete success enjoyed by the defendant "weighs heavily in support of an award of attorneys’ fees under the Copyright Act. On each of Perfect 10’s three theories of copyright infringement, Defendants won unqualified victories: Livewire defeated Perfect 10’s claims of secondary infringement at the pleading stage without leave to amend, and Defendants won on each of Perfect 10’s remaining claims on summary judgment. This sort of complete victory on the merits is significant" . Including a very interesting review of the nature of 'frivolous' claims,  the judge puts out what might be seen as an interesting warning to other 'trolls': "All of the evidence before the Court demonstrates that Perfect 10 is in the business of litigation, not protecting its copyrights or “stimulat[ing] artistic creativity for the general public good.” Fogerty I, 510 U.S. at 527." 

Noting that Perfect 10 seemed to be run as a tax loss entity, the judge also noted "The evidence before the Court also demonstrates Perfect 10 continued that pattern in this litigation, which, as the Court previously noted, has been inconsistent with that of a plaintiff interested in actually protecting its copyrights from unauthorized use." He finally went on to consider the last 'Fogerty' factor, considerations of compensation and deterrence, of which which the judge said "weighs in favor of an award of attorneys’ fees under section 505. This aspect of the Fogerty analysis recognizes that “[d]eterring nonmeritorious lawsuits against defendants seen as having ‘deep pockets’ and compensating parties that must defend themselves against meritless claims are both audible ends”.

Judge Birotte ended this section of his judgment with this "In light of Perfect 10’s well-documented improper motive in bringing suit (see section III.A.1.c, above), the Court has little concern that an award of attorneys’ fees in this action will discourage “starving artists” from protecting their copyrights. If anything, it will discourage serial litigants from bringing unmeritorious suits and then unnecessarily driving up litigation costs in order to drive a settlement. Such a result is entirely consistent with the purpose of the Copyright Act, and this factor weighs in favor of an award of attorneys’ fees."

The judge also took time to comment on what he clearly regarded as another spurious argument from Perfect 10's - that it shouldn't have to pay legal fees because it is was in effect insolvent and heavily in debt. The court noted that Perfect 10 has been making this same exact claim for years in almost every case it had brought, and that president and CEO Norman Zada seemingly ran the business as a tax write off, making it somewhat unbelievable as a defence to meeting costs: As TechDirt notesPerfect 10 admits that it has likely “never been solvent” in more than 15 years of operation.... Indeed, Perfect 10 has repeatedly reported that it was on the verge of bankruptcy. See, e.g., Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, ... (noting Perfect 10’s argument the same year this action was filed that Perfect 10 was “very close to bankruptcy”). That is, despite the fact that Perfect 10’s primary business is copyright litigation: "Perfect 10 effectively argues that it could never be subject to any attorneys’ fee award under the Copyright Act because it is perpetually in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. The Court is not persuaded, particularly where, as here, the evidence suggests Perfect 10’s impecunity is intentional."

Perfect 10 is an online adult website - and formerly a monthly and then quarterly men's magazine - that features high resolution topless or nude photographs of 'all natural' women who have not had cosmetic surgery. 

https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1693604/2015-03-24-order-re-defs-mtn-for-attys-fees.pdf


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lost Lucille results in copyright claim

BB King at Glastonbury 2011 - with 'Lucille' (Denis O'Regan)
When Eric Dahl purchased a Gibson guitar at a Las Vegas pawnshop in 2009, little did he think it would lead to a copyright battle with Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. Having paid nearly $2,200 for the B.B. King Lucille model, Dahl then discovered it was the original “Prototype 1” ES-355 model that  the guitar company had presented to the blues legend on his 80th birthday in 2005. King had performed with the guitar until the summer of 2009, when it was stolen from his home. The Las Vegas Review-Journal tells us that In November 2009, Dahl went to King’s office in Las Vegas to return the guitar. To show his appreciation, King autographed another Gibson Lucille and gave it to Dahl during the meeting. All great so far!

Dahl then wrote about his experiences in three chapters of his 2013 book “B.B. King’s Lucille and the Loves Before Her.”  and it's this story that is now at the centre of a copyright infringement case filed by Dahl, alleging that  car manufacturer Toyota created a television advertisement that “presented an adapted visual interpretation of the story" along with co-defendants advertising agency Saachi & Saachi and video production company Smuggler Inc. The defendants have countered that Dahl’s book “is not substantially similar” to their 30-second advert for the 2015 Toyota Camry, which features a young woman who purchases a storage locker and finds a guitar labelled “Lucille” inside. The woman tracks down the previous owner, B.B. King, who autographs it and gives it back to her: The defence argued "Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, methods of operation, and/or any expression that is not original to the author” and “The concept of a musician who loses a musical instrument which is later found and returned is not unique to plaintiff nor can he claim copyright protection over all such stories”  and “Nor does the fact that the musician in both stories is Mr. King change that result.”

Denying a motion to dismiss by the defence, U.S. District Judge James Mahan in the federal court in Las Vegas, Nevada, has now allowed the case to go to trial, saying "Defendants misapply this rule of law to plaintiff's complaint. Although general themes and ideas are not copyrightable, parallels to more specific elements of a particular expression are protected," and concluded that Dahl’s complaint “adequately alleges similarities between the plot, characters, and sequence of events, among other factors, of the two works.”

http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/discovery-bb-king-guitar-heart-copyright-infringement-case

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The CopyKat - prowling

In the wake of the jury’s verdict in the "Blurred Lines case", Marvin Gaye’s children have filed a new motion to list three record labels and rapper TI as responsible parties in the case – and thus also hold them accountable for the already decided copyright infringement by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. Gaye’s three children Nona, Frankie, and Marvin III, have also written and published an open letter, clarifying their motivations behind taking the copyright case to court on their father’s behalf. In the original trial, the jury exonerated TI and the recorded music labels and distributors Universal Music, Interscope Records and Williams’s Star Trak Entertainment of infringement. A second motions seeks to halt the sale and reproduction of Blurred Lines until both parties reach an agreement on how the Gayes “may share in the copyright and all future proceeds of Blurred Lines, as is their right”. More here.

Rapper and producer RZA says there should be a limit on how much an artist can recover if their songs are sampled without consent. Speaking at SXSW, the Wu-Tang Clan co-founder said that while artists who inspire should be paid, there should be a limit to how much they can demand, especially if the money isn't actually going to the artist: “Art is something that’s made to inspire the future," he said during his stay in Austin, according to the Daily Beast. "If you utilize somebody’s artistic expression blatantly, to [the point] where it’s an identifiable thing, then there should be some sort of compensation to the person who inspires you.” Arguing the sampling itself is creative and an art form, the Shaolin producer, known for crafting unexpected beats from esoteric samples, called for a 50% cap for retroactive payments of sampled material saying "There should be a cut off. Fifty percent is the most” commenting "The Greeks could come sue everybody because one generation teaches the other” and “When you hear an A chord to the D to the E, there are over one million songs with that same progression. And each one of their songs is identified as their own. The point being that art will continue to inspire the next generation, and we will find duplication” before going on to reveal "“I’ve been in situations where I’ve sampled something and the original copyright holder took 90 percent .... That means they ignored all the programming, drumming, keyboard playing I played on top of it, they ignored every lyric, every hook, everything that we built to make it a song. And we wound up selling more copies than the sample[d] version—but yet they took 90 percent of the song.”

And Grammy winner John Legend is also concerned that the Blurred Lines verdict could set a worying precedent for artists creating music inspired by others. The Grammy winner told the Associated Press he understands why people say Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke's 2013 hit sounds like Marvin Gaye's Got To Give It Up from 1977, adding: 'I said that when I first heard it, too.' But he said he doesn't agree with the jury that determined the performers actually copied elements of Marvin's work but said  "There's a lot of music out there, and there's a lot of things that feel like other things that are influenced by other things" adding "And you don't want to get into that thing where all of us are suing each other all the time because this and that song feels like another song.'"

More copyright, more "Quality Works"? Not quite but maybe, says a study of Italian opera before 1900. As Italy had a wide variety of copyright law provisions until  the late 1860s when Italy itself was finally unified, Stanford economists Petra Moser and Michela Giorcelli compared the varying degrees of copyright protection to the output of operas, compiling a database of more than 2,598 Italian operas written between 1770 and 1900 - and then looked at the longevity of each opera right up to how many recordings of any opera were available in 2014 on Amazon. Vox explains "Copyright laws seem to have created significantly more operas that also had staying power and were of higher quality" and details:  "States with copyrights ended up producing 2.68 additional operas per year, a 121 percent increase over states without copyrights. Historically popular operas (as measured by the 1978 publication, the Annales of Opera 1597-1940) grew by 47 percent, and durable operas [those available on Amazon in 2014] grew by 80 percent.”


Is copyright a human right? Well, the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, has presented the first of two consecutive studies, “Copyright Policy and the Right to Science and Culture,” at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Shaheed addressed copyright law and policy issues, examining how they may run counter to human rights. The second part of her report will be submitted to the UN General Assembly later this year addressing the connection between the right to science and culture and patent policy. More by Pauline Lee on the excellent Washington College of Law website here.


And finally, The Verge tells us that after pressure from campaigners, SpaceX has published a first batch of more than 100 photos on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. The decision gives the public the ability to download and remix the images freely (as long as they're attributed properly) and has been welcomed as a success for both space fans and copyright advocates. Unlike images of space published by NASA, SpaceX's photos do have some rights reserved, meaning they can't be used for commercial purposes. SpaceX "designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets."

Friday, 20 March 2015

Fox News Files Motion for Interlocutory Appeal in 9/11 Photo Fair Use Case

Readers of this blog may remember  that Judge Edgardo Ramos from the Southern District of New York (SDNY) denied on February 10, 2015 Fox News Network’s motion for summary judgment in a copyright infringement suit filed by the copyright holder of an iconic 9/11 photograph. Fox News had unsuccessfully moved for summary judgment, claiming fair use. 

Fox News (Defendant) has now filed on March 19 a motion to certify the February 10, 2015 opinion and order for immediate appeal, under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), which gives a district judge the power to certify  an order of interlocutory appeal , if he believes that “such order involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.” Under Second Circuit case law, cited by Defendant, a question of law is controlling if the certified order would terminate the action, or could significantly affect the conduct of the action, or if the issue has precedential value for a large number of cases.

Fox News is arguing that the February 10, 2015 order is presenting the controlling question of law of whether...

For fair use purposes, whether a secondary user may transform a visual work by placing that work in a new context and for a new purpose, without substantial physical alterations.”

Fox News calls this area of law “murky” and further notes that “guidance is sorely needed” as “the use of visual works on social media… is widespread.”

Transformative Qualities of Social Media

Fox is asking the Second Circuit to recognize a “context-sensitive test” for transformative use, and claims that social media is “transformative by design.” It  argues that “transformative qualities of social media are not taken into account when considering a fair use defense” and that the “use’s particular context” should be taken into account in fair use cases. Such finding would have “massive implications for the millions of Americans who use social media on a regular basis.” Fox News also claims that not considering the use of protected works on social media to be fair "would effectively proscribe a wide swath of ongoing online speech. The public has a strong interest in having these fundamental free-speech concerns addressed at the earliest possible juncture. ”

Defendant further  argues that it had used Plaintiff’s photo “in an inherently transformative context: on social media.” As social media is not one-way to communication, but rather, a way to share ideas, expression on social media “is thus inherently intertwined with comments and criticism,” two of the purposes expressively mentioned by Section 107 of the Copyright Act.  

While this argument alone appears overbroad, as agreeing with it would allow for almost any use of copyrighted work on social media, Fox narrows the argument further along in its memorandum when arguing that interlocutory review is warranted because the order “implicate[d] fundamental free-speech questions,” as its and others’ speech may be chilled “from using copyrighted content on social media to discuss issues of public concern.”

Difference of Opinion Over Appropriate Standard for Transformation of Visual Works

Defendant also argues that certification is warranted because the fair use jurisprudence of the Second Circuit is divided.  While cases such as Swatch Grp. Mgmt. Servs. Ltd. v. Bloomberg L.P., and Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. held that a use can be transformative even if the copyrighted work has not been altered, the Second  Circuit placed great weight on transformative use in Cariou v Prince.  Defendant also cited the Second Circuit Authors Guild, Inc. v. Hathitrust case, where the court asserted that “[a]dded value or utility is not the test: a transformative work is one that serves a new and different function from the original work and is not a substitute for it” (at 96).

Transformative Content or Transformative Purpose?

Fox News is arguing that Judge Ramos relied on Cariou, which conflicts with Bill Graham.  It cites a blog post written by Professor Rebecca Tushnet , where she noted that, in Cariou, “the court, despite speaking of purpose, seemed to require transformation of content, contrary to the aims of much appropriation art” and also wrote that “Fox’s purpose… [of use]  was an issue of fact, not indisputably different as the publisher’s was in Bill Graham Archives.” Indeed, in Bill Graham, the Second Circuit found that a publisher’s purpose in using copyrighted images of posters in its biography of the Grateful Dead was “plainly different from the original purpose for which they were created” (at 609) and was fair use.  

Is publication on social media, a new context for the work, enough to warrant finding of a different purpose? Probably not, but the issue of the respective weight of transformative content and transformative purpose for fair use analysis purpose warrants further discussion in court. Many copyright practitioners  and scholars are now rooting for Fox’s motion to be granted, hoping it will lead to another Second Circuit  fair use case, which may clarify Cariou.


Image is courtesy of Flickr user Heather Paul under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The CopyKat - its greeeeeaaaat to be a copied cat

The author Jeffrey Archer has complained to the Indian Government in an attempt to stop Bollywood producers stealing his novels and turning them into films without his permission. Archer claims that his novel Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less  was turned into the 2011 romantic comedy hit Ladies v Ricky Bahl, and that Archer's Kane & Abel became the film Khudgarz. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it transpired Archer was in India promoting a new novel. As for future movies, The Times says he told prospective film makers to contact his agent in London. 

Jay-Z has settled a copyright claim brought against him by a Swiss musician who claimed the rapper lifted a sample from an original 1978 song and used it without the artist’s consent. Bruno Spoerri, a 79-year-old Swiss jazz musician, will get 50% of royalties from Jay-Z’s 2013 song “Versus,” reports the Daily Mail. The rapper agreed to a settlement after a year and a half-long legal battle in which Spoerri claimed Jay-Z used a portion of his 1978 song “On the Way” without first clearing the sample with his record label. You can compare the two tracks here http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2015/03/13/music-lawsuit-frenzy-jay-z-latest-to-settle-copyright-claim-awards-50-royalties-to-swiss-musician/

And more .... counsel for Jay-Z and Kanye West expressed confidence that musician Joel R. McDonald’s assertion that the famed rappers' 2011 hit "Made In America" ripped him off would fail, as a Manhattan federal judge prepared to give the songs a listen. The defendants' motion to dismiss is before U.S. District Judge Allison J. Nathan and will be fully briefed by the end of March. The defendants say their tune and McDonald's 2008 work of the same name are “are two completely different songs.”

And with Marvin Gaye's children now musing what other songs may have been 'copied' from their father's work (the last I heard, it was Pharrell Williams in the firing line again for his smash hit 'Happy', which Nona Gaye  says is a copy of Hayes 1966 song 'Ain’t That Peculiar') an appeal in the Blurred Lines case has been formally announced. Robin Thicke and William's lawyer Howard King told reporters "we owe it to songwriters around the world to make sure this verdict doesn't stand". Speaking to Fox Business News, he went on: "My clients know that they wrote the song 'Blurred Lines' from their hearts and souls and no other source. We are going to exercise every post trial remedy we have to make sure this verdict does not stand. We look at it as being in the seventh innings of a game that could go into extra innings". At the trial the Gaye family also said that that Thicke and his estranged wife Paula Patton's co-written track 'Love After War' plagiarised their father's song 'After the Dance'. 

The IP Court of Venice has held that a work created by a lawyer for their client in the performance of legal services was indeed protected by copyright law. The court found that the piece in question, a review of anti-counterfeit regulations, “possesses a creative quality, epitomised by originality and novelty” because the work was "“the result of a personal, original, new and creative elaboration of legal concepts and industry practices and of the experiences of the author” The third-party defendant in the case who was found to have infringed the copyright was ordered to compensate damages determined on an equitable basis (the fact that the regulation was available on the Internet did limit, according to the Court, the harmfulness of the conduct) and ordered the publication of the decision in two newspapers, one national and one local.

UK blocking orders against the Pirate Bay put in place by BT, EE, Virgin and TalkTalk are now seemingly ineffective, possibly as a result of The Pirate Bay switching to an SSL service provided by US company CloudFlare, which made the HTTPS version of the Bay site (rather than the HTTP version) the default address.

Talking of blocking, the Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, who is currently leading the European Parliaments review into the harmonisation of EU copyright law, has highlighted her view that geo-blocking within the Union is a threat to European culture saying "One cross-border issue users feel strongly about is 'geoblocking'. Most of us are familiar with the error message “This video/content/service is not available in your country.” There’s no digital single market when travellers can't use the services they pay for once they cross a border, linguistic minorities are denied access to cultural works in their native language, innovative services are only available in the big member states because of varying regional hurdles – or UK MEPs are blocked from following the cricket in Brussels." 

The CopyKat is scampering off out BUT just noted this : A Brussels court has ruled that Belgian ISPs don’t have to pay copyright levies for offering access to copyright protected materials online. In an action brought by collection society  Sabam against  the country’s three biggest ISPs (Belgacom, Telenet and Voo) the court of the first instance in Brussels and found that Internet access providers are not liable for information transmitted over their networks. 

Image from wikileaks
The EFF updates us on the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty: "We are deeply concerned about this situation in which important decisions for our nation’s culture and society are being made behind closed doors" reads a joint public statement from Japanese activists who are fighting the copyright provisions in the TPP. A group of artists, archivists, academics, and activists, have joined forces in Japan to call on their negotiators to oppose requirements in the TPP that would require their country, and five of the other 11 nations negotiating this "secretive agreement", to expand their copyright terms to match the United States' already excessive length of copyright.

And finally .... noting that the content industries have managed to blame everyone but themselves for their business woes, Rick Falkvinge, a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, opines: "The copyright industry has managed to kill civil liberties for their own children, ushering in a dystopian surveillance machine, merely to avoid taking responsibility for their own business failures. I lack words to quantify my contempt for these utter parasites." The piece is called "Piracy is just another copyright industry scapegoat" and It's WELL worth a read here!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

How commercial is "non-commercial"? A reader asks ...

One of our readers has written to this weblog to ask about the position under copyright law where teachers seek to use Creative Commons non-commercial (CC-NC) images in a lesson in which students are actually paying to attend the class. Says our reader by way of personal opinion:
"The use of the image does not seem to fall within CC terms of “primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation” -- but there could be different interpretations. In the United Kingdom as in other countries, many educational organisations now need to charge for attendance, including universities. The only definitive advice I can find is in this document ["Free Knowledge Based on Creative Commons Licenses" by Paul Klimpel] with a German viewpoint from 2012 which advises on avoiding NC licences".
Do readers have any ideas or personal experiences to share with our reader?

Friday, 13 March 2015

Your chance to shape a copyright event

Bill Rosenblatt, who runs the very fine Copyright and Technology blog, surveying the world of Copyright and Technology from a New York base but with a global perspective, has just published the date and call for ideas for this year's Copyright and Technology London event, taking place on 18 June (not the October of last year).

Last year, both 1709 (in the person of John Enser) and the IPKat (in the person of Eleonora) chaired panels and can vouch for the excellence of the event, so if you would like to have a say in this year's topics, head over to Bill's site and submit your suggestions.

Ideas on the list so far include:
  • Implications of the “Blurred Lines” decision on copyright in the age of sampling and remix culture 
  • The use of digital watermarking throughout the media value chain 
  • Progress of the UK Copyright Hub, Linked Content Coalition, and other initiatives for centralizing copyright information online 
  • Content protection technologies for browser-base over-the-top streaming video 
  • Progress of graduated response schemes in France, UK, Ireland, and elsewhere
but it is not a closed list.