Updates on US copyright law
Copyright / January 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas The U.S. government has seized control of dozens of websites it says are offering unauthorized copyrighted or counterfeit content. The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division took over 82 domains including Torrent-Finder.com, RapGodFathers.com, DVDProStore.com, Cartoon77.com, NFLJerseySupply.com and Handbag.com. The seizure orders come from courts in eight states and take place shortly after a U.S. Senate Committee approved the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which aims to empower the Justice Department to use tactics similar to those just employed by Homeland Security and ICE. Wired.com report that EMI has asked the federal judge overseeing its copyright infringement lawsuit against music locker service MP3tunes to bar digital civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) from submitting a “friend of the court” brief in the case saying that the EFF brief is “a pure advocacy piece, not a ‘friend of the court,” and also that the brief is “duplicative,” “contains unsupported speculation,” and exceeds the court’s page length restriction. EMI also argues that, should EFF’s brief be allowed, parties supporting EMI’s position should be allowed to submit additional briefs. TorrentFreak reports that the US Copyright Group, which has filed copyright infringement lawsuits against…

Google moves to combat online piracy
Copyright , Internet / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet Google has announced a number of new initiatives it says will help combat copyright infringement online, including a new promise of 24-hour turnaround on takedown requests, and preventing terms associated with piracy from appearing in its “autocomplete” search results. ” Google general counsel Kent Walker said “We respond expeditiously to requests to remove [infringing] content from our services, and have been improving our procedures over time. But as the Web grows, and the number of requests grows with it, we are working to develop new ways to better address the underlying problem”. The company said it will build tools to improve the submission process for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests, and reduce its average response time to under 24 hours, while also improving tools for those who believe content was removed in error to file a “counter-notice.” Google also promised to improve its AdSense anti-piracy review, and expel infringing sites making money off infringing content from AdSense and also said that it will experiment to make authorised preview content more readily accessible in its search results. Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, which represents the recorded music industry worldwide said “Google’s announcement is a very positive…

Right royal ruckus up over new Bollywood copyright proposals
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Film industry, music publishing It seems that Indian film music composers may have to look for other avenues of employment if Bollywood film producers make good their threat and stop producing films in protest against proposed new copyright legislation – or find music from other sources.  The Times of India reports that a Parliamentary Standing committee has recommended that the Copyright Amendment Bill 2010 should provide that film producers give authors, lyricists and composers an ongoing royalty from a film – and shared ownership.  Award winning producer Yash Chopra, who along with other film producers had made several presentations before the Committee said, “Ours is the entertainment business, yet like the alcohol or tobacco industry we have to pay huge taxes in the form of VAT, service tax and stamp duty. Now if the Copyright Bill is passed it will be the end of us as it will be very difficult to make films.” Echoing this was producer Boney Kapoor who told the Times of India: “We are already burdened with so many taxes and if this is implemented it would be difficult to sustain ourselves”. Another producer said that if the revisions are implemented iit will only lead…

Limewire goes into oblivion (but pirates remain at large!)
Copyright , Internet / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet Limewire is no more and the company has said that it will close its small (legal) download business and cease trading. In a statement, Team Lime said: “Given our current situation, plans to bring our separate, legal music service to market have been cancelled. The beginning of 2011 will mark the closing of LimeWire’s New York office and cessation of business by LimeWire. We attracted some of the top talent from the technology community over the years to build our new music service. We’ll be helping our team members commence their job search over the next few months”. Pirate copies of the software almost immediately became available online. Next on the radar of content owners may well be RapidShare which has attracted particular interest in Europe, notably in Germany, where the Regional Court of Hamburg ordered RapidShare to put in place filters that would stop users illegally sharing 148 specific text books in reponse to a claim by book publishers. It seems that RapidShare failed to comply and the publishers went back to court with the result that the court have now imposed a 150,000 euro fine on the tech company with the court saying that the company…

Eircom re-launches three strikes in Eire
Copyright , Internet / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet Eircom, the Irish internet service provider, has resumed its policy of cutting off the internet connection of customers who illegally share music online. The company had suspended its policy earlier this year but before this the company sent out about 1,000 warning notifications each week to people who were allegedly infringing copyright by illegally downloading music. Its “three strikes” policy allows customers three official warnings before their internet connection is suspended. The move is especially interesting given that the Mr Justice Charleton in Irish High Court had (somewhat reluctantly) agreed with rival broadband supplier UPC in a battle against several record companies, ruling that internet service providers were not liable for a customer’s illegal downloading nor did Irish law provide any basis for a ‘three strikes’ approach. In an very impressive presentation on recent case law in this area at the recent Music and IP conference in London  (8th December) 5RB barrister Christina Michalos explained that Mr Justice Charleton said that there was no injunctive relief available in Ireland in the matter and that Irish copyright legislation made ”no proper provision for the blocking, diverting or interrupting of internet communications intent on breaching copyright” – and that the powers of…

Early Law Hadopi results disappoint French music industry
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet In October France’s “Creation and Internet” law formally went into effect but Jared Moya at ZeroPaid reports that it seems that it has yet to warn as many suspected file-sharers as the music industry had hoped. The French “three-strikes” measure to fight P2P in that was first proposed back in June of 2008. The Director General of the French record labels trade body David El Sayegh said the music industry has already been identifying and submitting to the  the HADOPI Agency the IP addresses of more than 25,000 suspected file-sharers per day, and recently raised their daily submission to 50,000, but it appears that HADOPI is so far only notifying a mere 2,000 IP addresses per day – just  4% of what the music hoped for. The Ministry of Culture had said that it hopes to send at least 10,000 warning letters per day. http://www.zeropaid.com/news/91562/french-three-strikes-warnings-far-below-music-industry-hopes/

Spain rejects ‘US influenced’ copyright bill
Copyright , Internet / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet After a narrow vote, a Spanish parliamentary commission has rejected a controversial bill aimed at protecting content owners from internet downloaders. All of the main Spanish parties, except for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialists rejected the so-called Sinde Bill, named after Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde. The draft legislation would have set up a government commission which would have then provided courts with details of websites offering access to copyright-protected material such as music, movies, video games or software. A judge could then have ordered the closure of offending websites. The bill sparked furious opposition from internet users who accused the government of violating the freedom of expression but Gonzalez-Sinde said the law only intended to put an end to Spain’s position as a ‘paradise of piracy.’ Techdirt put a different slant on things, firstly praising Spain’s “somewhat more reasonable copyright laws than other parts of the world” highlighting provisions that say that “personal, non-commercial copying is not against the law and also says that third parties should not be liable for copyright infringement done by their users” adding that obviously Hollywood ‘hates’ this and that Spain’s recently introduced reform package seemed like a “checklist of the…

Post Meltwater musings
Copyright / January 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas The ramifications of Mrs Justice Proudman’s decision in the Meltwater continue to niggle away in my mind and I noticed that the London Metro’s headline yesterday (pub: Associated Newspapers) was “Anarchy in the UK”, the title of the infamous sound recording and song, written by Messrs Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon and Glen Matlock in 1976 which formed the A side of the Sex Pistol’s debut vinyl release in the UK. Now IF copyright can subsist in a headline and a headline can be an independent literary work ……. and Meltwater tells us it can, then what if that headline itself is copied – here from a song title? Surely the logical conclusion is that the owners of the ‘title’ of song should have the right to protect their work in turn, independently of the lyrics of that the song …… if it is worth copying, isn’t it worth protecting? I also noticed the news that 60 artists including Mr Hudson, Guillemots, UNKLE, The Big Pink, The Kooks, Enter Shikari, Coldcut, Orbital, Heaven 17, Jon McClure, Suggs, Gallows and Pendulum have recorded two versions if John Cage’s famous ‘silent’ composition, ‘4’33″‘, as part of the Cage Against The Machine project. Billy…

“Neighbourhood Watch”
Copyright , Live Events / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Live Events industry ARTICLE LINK – A fascinating article by Dr Johannes Ulbricht, a German lawyer in Hamburg at Michow and Partner, about the German ‘neighbouring rights of the concert promoter’ – an overlooked potential revenue source from Germany where it seems possible that those who stage events which are filmed or recorded (anywhere in the world) could collect a payment if the recording of that concert is then exploited in Germany. A very interesting read indeed. IQ Magazine January 2011 Issue 33 page 10. A pdf should shortly be available to download from the International Live Music Conference website at www.ilmc.com

ACS: Law’s claims against alleged filesharers rejected
Copyright , Internet / January 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas, internet ACS:Law, the now the controversial legal firm which works for various content owners in anti-file-sharing litigation, has failed in an attempt to secure a default judgment against eight alleged file-sharers. ACS:Law had filed the actions on behalf of Media CAT and said all eight defendants had failed to respond.  ACS law contended that the court should therefore find in their client’s favour by default. Judge Colin Birss QC did not concur noting that three of the defendants had actually responded and also noting that ACS failed to provide evidence that any action had been taken against three others. But perhaps more importantly Judge Birss ruled that in copyright actions only a copyright owner or exclusive licensee can sue (which is why when trade bodies such as the BPI or in the USA the RIAA lead copyright litigation the actual lawsuit lists the labels they represent as plaintiffs): in the current case Media CAT was merely an agency that represents content owners and thus could not bring the actions. Judge Briss also commented on ACS:Law’s arguments that even if the alleged downloads were not undertaken by the named defendants, they could still be guilty of copyright infringement…

BREIN shutters 30 file sharing sites in Holland
Copyright , Internet / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet Nearly 30 websites associated with BitTorrent, Usenet and other file-sharing networks have been shuttered by authorities in The Netherlands, according to TorrentFreak. The closures were made at the behest of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Dutch anti-piracy agency BREIN. The 29 sites were all hosted in the U.S., but taken down under Dutch law because they are “directed at the Dutch public” and “unlawful under Dutch law” BREIN director Tim Kuik told TorrentFreak.  “This year we have made over 600 of these sites inaccessible. Some seek refuge in a foreign or hosting provider. These 29 apparently thought that in America they could go undisturbed. That is incorrect,” Kuik said.  “Through cooperation with our foreign colleagues we can make sites in other countries inaccessible.” http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2010/12/15/report-netherlands-shutters-30-filesharing-sites-mpaa-aid

Music fans – purchasers or parasites? The BPI decides
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Record labels, Internet Around 7.7m people have illegally downloaded music this year in the United Kingdom according to research commissioned by the BPI, the British record industry’s trade association. Its latest report suggests more than 1.2bn tracks were pirated or shared, costing the industry £219m. The BPI’s research, based on internet users’ habits, claims that more than three quarters of music downloaded in the UK is illegally obtained, with no payment to the musicians, songwriters or music companies producing it. The research shows that 28.8% of the UK online population are involved in illegal downloading although I suspect from my own research that with the under 25 age group this is probably more like 90% – although getting music for ‘free’ is just one of a myriad of reason people use illegal sites and swap files – sometimes they just want to sample new music before buying, sometimes they are finding new bands, some support bands through paying for live shows and merchandise etc. Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI said illegal downloading was becoming a “parasite” despite a digital music market in the UK which is served by 67 legal downloading services. The report said that illegal…

Newzbin back in the UK courts
Copyright , Internet / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet The US based Motion Picture Association (MPA) has filed a complaint that would compel ISP BT to block UK  users from accessing Newzbin2, a site that indexes media files available for download on Usenet, TorrentFreak reports. The MPA had previously won a UK High Court victory that resulted in the shutdown of the original Newzbin. Now a similar index, Newzbin2, has since sprung up online. The MPA is citing 8.3 of the European Union Copyright Directive (Section 87A CDPA 1988), which “has been used successfully in Denmark to block rogue sites hosting illegal material, with further cases pending in Germany, Holland and Belgium.”  But has not been used against internet intermediaries before in the UK. Newzbin said it intends to contest the action and that it is not connected with Newzbin2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/dec/16/mpa-bt-newzbin2

Bluebeat’s Beatles ‘simulations’ infringe copyright
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2011

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet A US federal judge has found that BlueBeat.com, the website that began selling Beatles songs online for 25 cents each in 2009, guilty of copyright infringement. BlueBeat, which is also home to a streaming service, had argued that it actually owned new copyrights as they had created “psycho-acoustic simulation” versions of the Beatles recordings but U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton Tucker rejected this claim in her ruling last week saying “[The] obscure and undefined pseudo-scientific language appears to be a long-winded way of describing ‘sampling,’ i.e. copying, and fails to provide any concrete evidence of independent creation”. It is expected that the owners of the Beatles’ copyrights, including EMI and others will now seek monetary damages on those illegal distributions – Bluebeat said that 67,000 tracks had been downloaded before the court ordered a stop. The Beatles’ catalogue is now (finally) available for legal digital purchase on Apple’s. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/gear-up/blogs/November29/241500/238012

You’re a pain – Simon loses coffee appeal
Contract / January 2011

CONTRACT Artists Carly Simon has failed for a second time to win damages from Starbucks over the release of her album by their short-lived music venture Hear Music in a case that provides a stark warning to artists over the pitfalls of some of the new and as yet untested business models. Simon had become angry with Hear, a joint venture between Starbucks and Concorde Music Group, when the promised promotion for her album ‘This Kind of Love’ failed to materialise. Starbucks responded by saying that it didn’t have any marketing commitments to Simon with regards the record as the company didn’t have a direct contractual arrangement with the singer, and her contract with Hear Music specifically excluded Starbucks from having any liability for the  album’s marketing. In the first hearing the court ruled in favour of the coffee firm but Simon was given the chance to resubmit. Despite evidence that Starbucks executives had reassured Simon about their commitment to their music projects and to marketing ‘This Kind of Love’ the court again ruled that the contract did not make Starbucks liable for marketing the album. CMU Daily offered this wise advice – “If nothing else, it’s a lesson to other artists taking a…

Pink Floyd has ringtone decision affirmed on appeal
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / January 2011

CONTRACT Artists, record labels The Court Of Appeal has upheld a High Court ruling against EMI which will determine the way Pink Floyds is sold online and how the label should account to the band. Pink Floyd had objected to the   sale of the band’s albums on a track-by-track basis on digital services like iTunes and claimed that their 1967 contract with EMI prohibited the record company from selling their music in this way. The dispute focused on a clause in that contract which referred to EMI not selling any Pink Floyd records as ‘single records’ without the band’s permission. EMI’s legal team (perhaps optimistically) argued that the use of the word “records” in that clause only referred to physical records – ie vinyl or CDs – and not digital albums or singles. The Floyd’s lawyers argued that that was not in the spirit of the original agreement, and that the clause referred to the sale of all of the band’s recordings, not just those on physical products. In March a High Court judge sided with Pink Floyd (at a private hearing). EMI sought to appeal that judgment, but the Court Of Appeal yesterday dismissed their case meaning the earlier…

Scottish clampdown on binge drinking in disarray after sheriff’s ruling
Licensing , Live Events / January 2011

LICENSING Live events industry A Dundee bar has won a legal challenge against ban imposed by licensing board on its student discount cards after a Judge ruled that the cars for drinks were legal in a test case on ‘irresponsible’ drinks promotions. Dundee’s Sheriff Court ruled in favour of Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) “Yellow Card” student discount card used at its Scream pub the Nether Inn in Dundee. M&B, which has since sold the pub, appealed against a warning issued by the licensing authority that the discount card breached new licensing laws on irresponsible promotions. It is believed to be the first appeal of the new rules on drinks promotions that came into force with the Licensing Act’s introduction in September 2009. Dundee City Council’s Licensing Committee argued that the cards contravened the irresponsible promotions ban under the 2005 Licensing Act because different prices are offered to a distinct group of people — in this case students. Deals available include 35p off all pints and spirits. However, Sheriff Robert Dunlop QC said the act ruled that drinks discounts had to be in place for 72 hours but did not outlaw different prices for different groups of people. Dundee City Council…

Ruthin nighclub wins back licence and substantial costs
Licensing , Live Events / January 2011

LICENSING Live events industry A NIGHCLUB IN North Wales has won back its licence and left the Local Authority  with a £25,000 bill for costs. The V2 Nightclub in Ruthin successful in overturning a decision to revoke its premises license by Denbighshire County Council who had to meet the club’s £25,000 costs – making history under the 2003 Licensing Act. The V2 had its licence revoked in July after ‘failing to adhere to strict licensing laws’ following complaints by residents, and an incident in June but Gareth Turner, managing director of Birch House Business Centre who own V2, said: “We felt we were very unfairly treated by the council, we had spent a vast amount of money improving the premises since taking over last October and to suffer three reviews in a matter of eight months was unmerited.” Local businesses such as licensed premises, taxi services and food retail outlets wrote in support of the club as trade in Ruthin town centre was severely affected by the closure. The Authority also refused to agree tp a compromise agreement put to them at the beginning of the scheduled three-day hearing resulting in considerable expenses being incurred by both parties. http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/2010/12/15/ruthin-nightclub-decision-overturned-on-appeal-55578-27827477/

Brazilian rappers arrested for glorifying drugs trade
Artists , Criminal Law / January 2011

CRIMIMAL LAW Artists Police in Rio de Janeiro have arrested four Brazilian rappers on charges that include glorifying drug traffic in their music. The four men, Wallace Ferreira da Mota, Fabiano Batista Ramos, his brother Frank Batista Ramos and Max Muller da Paixao Pessoa were indicted on charges of inciting crime, glorifying drug traffic and associating with drug gangs. Investigators say the four defendants have refused to comment until they are before a judge. http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-entertainment/ci_16866727 

Australia decides on light touch regulation for secondary ticketing
Competition , Live Events / January 2011

COMPETITION Live events industry Government officials in Australia have decided to take a “hands-off approach” to the secondary ticket market, a move that can be seen as a victory for the country’s small resale industry according to Tciketnews.com.  In a report released by the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC)  the Council concluded that consumer claims that an abundance of ticket scalpers were unfairly buying up loads of live entertainment tickets and reselling them at high prices were largely unfounded. While the council did not dismiss the fact that some brokers and fans buy tickets with the purpose of flipping them for a profit, it said that the “onselling” market — the name for the resale market in Australia represented well under 10 percent of all ticket sales in the country, and that existing consumer protection laws are adequate to keep the industry in check. “CCAAC recognises that consumer dissatisfaction can be widespread. However, this is often a result of market forces when high demand exceeds limited supply, particularly for popular events, rather than as a direct result of ticket onselling,” the report stated. “CCAAC found that technology is a major contributor to tickets being sold out quickly. The internet…

Talk Talk top poor customer service chart
Consumers / January 2011

CONSUMERS Internet, mobiles Talk Talk, have come top of the Times’ league table of worst customer service. “Our Scrooge of the Year award goes to ‘bullying’ Talk Talk” puts the poor level customer service from the phone and broadband service provider  as the worst in the UK ahead of other woeful efforts from Santander, Easyjet, Paypal and the UK tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Would that be the same Talk Talk who joined BT is asking for a judicial review of the UK’s three strikes law enshrined in the Digital Economy Act – because the Act fails to meet current EC rules on data protection and privacy (alongside complaints that the legislation was rushed, that it might fail to comply with current European e-commerce regulations and fourthly that that it lacks proportionality’). Talk Talk – a friend of the consumer? Really???? The Times Saturday December 18th 2010