INTERNET RADIO SERVICE RESTRICTED
Copyright , Internet / February 2003

COPYRIGHT Radio, Internet Yahoo have agreed to a settlement with Sony Music Entertainment as part of a lawsuit filed by the US recording industry against the web portal’s online music subsidiary, Launch Media. The lawsuit, filed in May 2001 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), alleged that Launch violated copyright laws by giving its web radio listeners too much control over their song choices – allowing users to ‘programme’ their own station with tracks of their own selection which means that at the very least users can create ‘virtual albums’. Yahoo will make a onetime payment to Sony for its past use, and the portal will enter into a nonexclusive license to broadcast Sony’s songs on its LaunchCast radio service. The financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed (seewww.cnet.com). This case again shows the recording industry’s determination to force new media to either pay for the use of copyright material itself or make sure users and subscribers pay for copying or ‘downloading’ music.

US SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS COPYRIGHT EXTENSION

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

CAN A TELEVISION FORMAT BE OWNED?
Copyright / January 2003

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…

NEW SOURCES OF INCOME FOR SONGWRITERS
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2003

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.

NEW ACTIONS IN CYBERSPACE

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishing, Internet Following on from the Recording Industry Association of America’s successful action against Napster (RIAA -v- Napster, Judge Marilyn Patel, July 2000) where a preliminary injunction was granted Effectively shutting Napster down, further cases have now reached the courts. In April 2001 Aimster applied to the US District Court requesting that it declare that its service was legal. A number of organisations including the RIAA reacted by filing lawsuits against Aimster alleging contributory and vicarious copyright infringements. The District Court agreed that Aimster had clear knowledge of the infringements taking place using its service and that Aimster materially contributed to these infringements, could supervise them if Aimster wanted and Aimster financially benefitted from the (infringements) on its service. A preliminary injunction was granted. A decision of the activities of KaZaA in the USA is expected soon. BUT in a Dutch decision, the activities of KaZaA were held NOT to infringe copyright in an action between KaZaA BV and the Dutch collection societies BUMA/STEMRA. The Court held that as KaZaA BV could not prevent the exchange of copyright material between its users the service itself was not unlawful although the acts carried out by some users were certainly…

NEW COUNTRIES SIGN UP TO INTERNATIONAL TREATIES PROTECTING INTELLECUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishing, Artists and Composers The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has announced that the total number of contracting states for the Berne Convention (which sets out and defines minimum standards of protection for economic and moral rights for authors of literary and artistic works) is now 149 nations and that the total number of contracting states to the Geneva Convention (protecting phonographic copyrights) has reached 69. Email: Publicinf@wipo.int for further information.