COPYRIGHT TV, Film, Artists and Composers, Record Labels, Music Publishing, Internet Eldred -v- Ashcroft (2003) In this case, the US Supreme Court finally confirmed the provisions of the US Copyright Extension Act 1998. This Act, known as the ‘Sonny Bono’ Act after the late recording artist and congressman, extends US copyright protection to life of author plus 70 years (up from 50 years) and 95 years (up from 75 years) for works owned by corporations. The Act, passed after lobbying from Walt Disney and other media corporations (worried about older works falling into the public domain) returns certain works to copyright and gives extended protection to other works. It could be argued it is the end of public domain as hundreds of thousands of works which would have become freely available are now protected by copyright laws. (John Naughton, The Networker, Observer Newspaper 19/01/03). See : www.observer.co.uk/business See : www.briefhistory.com/footnotes
COPYRIGHT TV, Film CBS -v- ABC (2003) US District Court NY, Judge Loretta Preska The protection of the format to television formats has become a complicated area for programme makers and lawyers. The leading UK case of Green -v Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand (1984) held that there was no copyright in an idea and that on the facts of that case the format rights to the programme Opportunity Knocks were not protected under copyright law. This case reaffirms that principle. CBS claimed that the programme I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Herewas a copy of their programme Survivor and sought injunctive relief against ABC to prevent the programme going to air. ABC successfully argued that their show was an original format and that injunctive relief was not an appropriate remedy. Despite the judgement it is clear that the global television industry does licence format rights – indeed both the programmes in this dispute were themselves formats licensed from third parties. (Duncan Lamont, The Guardian Media, 20/01/03) See : www.aftrs.edu.au/studwork/essays/legalprot.html This opinion is from Johnathan Coad a solicitor at the Simkins Partnership. The last format rights dispute to go to trial was some 15 years ago, when Hughie Green sued the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation over his huge hit programme, “Opportunity Knocks”. Despite the…
TRADE MARK Merchandising Slecmann -v- Deutches Patent und Markenamt European Court of Justice C273/00 (2002) EC law provides that a trade mark may consist of any sign capable of being graphically represented particularly words including personal names designs letters numerals shapes of goods or their packaging provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings (EC 89/104) The Court’s decision was that a smell (defined as balsamically fruity with a slight hint of cinnamon) could not be registered as a trademark whether as a chemical formulae, a description in words or by depositing a sample. For background information on trade mark law see www.fjcleveland.com
COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, Artists and Composers A recent study by the Informa Media Group shows that downloading mobile phone rings is a fast growing and lucrative business. Informa found that in 2002 songwriter’s collection societies collected in excess of £44 million for composers and publishers and that the global income from mobile tone rings was in excess of US$1 billion. See www.cnet.com for further information.