OINK uploaders receive low level community sentences in the UK as the Pirates go to court
Copyright , Internet / March 2009

COPYRIGHT Internet Four of the most prominent uploaders of illegal content to the OiNK BitTorrent tracker service have been sentenced for the various copyright infringement charges to which they had pleaded guilty in December. The sentences at Teesside Crown Court are at the low end of the community sentence spectrum – even after a reduction for the guilty plea: Steven Diprose got 180 hours community service and was ordered to pay £378 court costs, Michael Myers was ordered to pay a £500 fine, a third uploader three got 100 hours community service and £378 costs and a fourth got 50 hours community service and £378 costs. The case Alan Ellis who is alleged to have been one of the main organisers of the service, is ongoing and will return to court in March. Meanwhile in Sweden four men behind the now infamous BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay – Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi and Carl Lundström are finally facing copyright infringement charges. The key to the defence will be the way the Pirate Bay works; the site hosts no files itself, merely providing links to pirated content. Elsewhere internet service providers in Denmark are awaiting a decision…

Frank Zappa’s window loses Zappanale case
Live Events , Trade Mark / March 2009

TRADE MARK Live events industry The widow of Frank Zappa has failed to stop a German festival using her husband’s name and image. As previously reported, Gail Zappa and her family trust had sued the owners of a German Frank Zappa fan club over their annualZappanale Festival, demanding that they stop using the family’s name and remove a bronze sculpture of the avant-garde musician from the town where the fest takes place. They also sued for 250,000 euros in damages. The court in Dusseldorf has thrown out Zappa’s case, ruling that organisers of Zappanale can continue to use that name, plus the late musician’s image in its branding and on its merchandise holding that such use did not violate any of Gail Zappa’s rights. The widow’s case was seemingly weakened because she could not prove she used Zappa’s name and image herself in Germany, and also because she had known about the event since its launch in 1990 (three years before her husband’s death) and had only chosen to take action in 2008. Thomas Dippel, who runs the fan club who promote the festival, told reporters: “We have always been certain that we have the older rights. We have also patented (trade…

UK publishes ‘Digital Britain’ interim report
Copyright / March 2009

COPYRIGHT All areas Stephen Carter’s interim report on Digital Britain has just been published and the full document with annexes can be found at http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/5631.aspx. The UK Government has become fairly obsessed with regulatory authorities and building on the recent ‘memorandum of understanding’ between leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and copyright owners a new report proposes a new anti piracy agency to stamp out music and film piracy in broadband Britain. The report, an ‘interim’ version of Digital Britain has 22 recommendations covering areas such as universal access to broadband and the future of digital radio, but the section dedicated to rights and distribution will be the part of the report that is being scrutinised by the music industry and the ISPs. By the time the final document is published in late spring, the government says that it will have “explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators”. The approach is described as “civil enforcement of copyright” agreed by distributors and rights-holders. Such an agency would…

REM launch action against Hej Matematik
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2009

COPYRIGHT Music publishing A copyright dispute between Danish pop duo Hej Matematik and REM may backfire on the US band after REM’s label Warners filed an action against Hej Matematik’s Copenhagen Records of blatantly copying R.E.M.’s recent offering ‘Supernatural Superserious’ in a track ‘Walkmand’. As a consequence Hej Matematik are now blocked from uploading their new song ‘Walkmand’ to YouTube and MySpace. The twist is that the duo’s ‘Walkmand’ is a cover version of a 1980s Danish hit by Danish singer Michael Hardinger. Hardinger reportedly approves of Hej Matematik’s interpretation. R.E.M.’s song ‘Supernatural Superserious’ on the other hand appears to first have been released in February 2008. Nicolaj Rasted, one of the members of Hej Matematik, is cited as saying: “We really can’t hear the similarity ourselves and if there’s any at all, then it would be that ‘Walkmand’ originated from a sample of Michael Hardinger’s ‘Walk, Mand!!’ from 1981.” Hej Matematik’s is now reportedly trying to settle the matter with R.E.M. and Warner Music. The Copenhagen Post reports that angry Hej Matematik supporters are now flooding YouTube with negative comments. The IPKat has just noticed that busy Hej Matematik fans have already ‘amended’ the Wikipedia entry for ‘Supernatural Superserious’…

Was Vivaldi’s lost composition actually published in 1733?
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2009

COPYRIGHT Music publishing In a case concerning a lost composition by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, who died in 1741, the German Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) has clarified the concept of ‘published’ and indeed ‘not published’ under section 71 German Copyright Act. The claimant in the proceedings was the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, which owns an archive of handwritten manuscripts of musical compositions. In 2002, the long lost music sheets of the Vivaldi opera ‘Motezuma‘ were discovered in the Berlin archive. The question arose whether or not the work had been first published in or around 1733 (when a premiere took place). The court found that while the opera’s libretto was still available after the premiere, the music had been considered as lost. After the original handwritten composition was discovered in the Berlin archives, the claimant decided to publish and sell reprints of the original handwritten musical sheets. The claimant was of the view it had full copyright to the opera, contending that it was the first publisher of the first edition (‘editio princeps’) of this posthumous work and as such should be entitled to the exclusive exploitation rights to this ‘posthumous work’ under Article 71 which provides that “…any person who causes a work which has not previously…

EU Legal Committee approves 95 year copyright term for sound recordings
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / March 2009

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee has given its backing to the proposal to extend the term in sound recordings to 95 years from the current 50 year term. Despite this, some UK commentators remain lukewarm about the proposal and ministers remain unconvinced. The UK government’s 2006 Gowers Report said there was no case for more than fifty years of copyright on recordings although late last year Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said Britain would support an extension, though to 70 rather than 95 years. Now IP Minister David Lammy has said that debate and compromise would be needed before the EU’s Council Of Ministers could pass copyright extension proposals saying at a recent meeting at the Houses Of Parliament that while he and his colleagues had now accepted the case for extension, “opinions on this vary across Europe – so there needs to be some canny footwork to make this happen”. He repeated that the UK Government will only support an extension to 70 years saying that was sufficient to protect musician and performers saying “While the UK believes that performers should be protected throughout their lifetime, a period of 95 years goes beyond what is…

Weedman case against Lil Jon thrown out again

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishing A freelance musician called Redwin Wilchcombe has failed in his second attempt to sue Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz over the song ‘Weedman’, which appeared on the 2002 album ‘Kings of Crunk’. Wilchcombe has claimed that he co-created the track, and argues that he is therefore due a royalty share from it. He previously unsuccessfully sued for both copyright infringement and breach of fiduciary duty, but appealed the first court’s ruling. There was never any doubt that Wilchcombe was involved in creating the track – the issue was whether or not there was an assumption he would receive any ownership of it or a royalty share from it. Wilchcombe was in the studio with Jon and his posse when they were recording ‘Kings Of Crunk’. He said Jon had the original idea for ‘Weedman’ when one of the posse called their weed dealer. He adds that he then came up with the original hook for the track and, because Jon liked it, did more work on it, essentially authoring the final song in full.  So far so good for a royalty claim. The problem for Wilchcombe is that he handed over his track to…