World IP Day: Time to Forge a Global Solution to a Global Problem (Blocking of Pirate Streaming Sites)

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I am writing today to mark World IP Day, April 26 and, as part of this salute to the work being done in protecting IP rights around the world, to highlight a growing global problem affecting IP stakeholders, streaming piracy. While the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) does a great job of promoting an awareness of IP and in moving forward (usually slowly) with international remedies, the technological revolution has been changing the landscape for IP rights-holders at break-neck speed, in the process often benefiting those who make a business model out of free-riding. A recent study in the US indicated that streaming piracy in 2019 cost Over the Top (OTT) providers (i.e. content platforms like Netflix that deliver content through the backbone of the internet) and pay-TV companies $9.1 billion (USD) in losses from piracy and illicit account sharing. The report appears to be limited to the US and it is not clear what percentage of the losses come from piracy and what is from account sharing (if you want to pay $7,500 to acquire the report, you can get this information), but there is no question that streaming piracy is a major source of income loss for content distributors and forms a significant part of the estimated cost of overall piracy and counterfeiting. Continue reading “World IP Day: Time to Forge a Global Solution to a Global Problem (Blocking of Pirate Streaming Sites)”

Holding Google to Account: France Takes a Stand

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The French Competition Bureau (l’Autorité de la Concurrence) struck a strong blow in the global effort to hold Google to account under national laws when it issued an order on April 9 requiring Google to negotiate with French press publishers and news providers regarding licensing fees for news content appearing in Google search listings in France. The Authority gave Google three months to negotiate “in good faith” (de bonne foi) and come up with an agreement that results in payment to publishers. This marks an escalation in the wrestling match between Google and European regulators over a new requirement in the EU Copyright Directive requiring search engines and news aggregators to compensate news content providers for excerpting snippets of their content when providing search results. Under Article 15 of the Directive a new “neighbouring right” has been given to press publishers expanding their ability to control the reproduction and communication of their work to the public. Continue reading “Holding Google to Account: France Takes a Stand”

COVID is Not an Excuse to Throw the Accepted Rules Out the Window: Copyright as the Canary in the Coalmine.

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As I write we are in the depths of the COVID pandemic. Each day brings new and more frightening predictions of what is to come, what we all need to do to “bend the curve”, and how it is affecting people globally from both a health and economic perspective. The pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge to the increasingly globalized world in whiche have grown up, and could have long-term ramifications for the way we conduct ourselves and interact in future. Thus it is all the more important that the accepted and established rules governing our behaviour be respected. Continue reading “COVID is Not an Excuse to Throw the Accepted Rules Out the Window: Copyright as the Canary in the Coalmine.”

A Fairy Tale with an Unhappy Ending: Could it Happen in Real Life?

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Friends, gather round and let me tell you a fairy tale about the imaginary Kingdom of Nonesuch, and recount something quite surprising and unfair that happened there. Nonesuch is a progressive place, endowed with a well-developed governance and legal system, and a vibrant cultural, technological and educational infrastructure. It is a large country governed through a federal structure, and composed of a number of constituent principalities. North Begonia is one of these sub-national principalities, but there are a number of others. Being a Kingdom, it naturally has a King. Sometimes the Kings have been wise and widely respected, even though they slept a lot; at other times the King has been vain and foolish, and spent all his time watching television. But that is the problem with being a Kingdom. You get what you get. Continue reading “A Fairy Tale with an Unhappy Ending: Could it Happen in Real Life?”