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.