Some Curiosities of the Copyright World

source: http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net

In Lewis Carroll’s classic (1865) children’s story, Alice in Wonderland, Alice remarked that things got “curious and curiouser” as she entered her mysterious world. Curious and curiouser is certainly one way to describe some of the things that have been happening in the copyright world lately. Copyright ownership has been contested in fields of creative expression as disparate as tattoos of NBA players to artificial language, in this case the Klingon language of Star Wars. It has involved high profile artists such as Led Zeppelin who were accused of illegally copying the guitar riff in their famous song “Stairway to Heaven” from musical group Spirit’s 1968 recording of “Taurus”, written by the late songwriter Randy Wolfe. The suit was based in part on allegations that Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had heard Spirit play Taurus before “Stairway” was written. They were acquitted by a jury that concluded that while band members had heard the song, there was not substantial similarity between the key elements of the two pieces of music. Alleged copyright infringement has even involved a photograph taken by a monkey, as I have written in my blog. In this case we know, thanks to a decision of the California Ninth Circuit, that Naruto the macaque does not own the copyright on the photo, but we are still not sure who does. Continue reading “Some Curiosities of the Copyright World”

The Copyright Alliance Celebrates its 10th Anniversary: Rights Holders (and Others) World-Wide Should Rejoice

Used with permission

On May 17, the Washington DC, based Copyright Alliance will celebrate its tenth anniversary. This organization, which represents some 82,000 graphic and commercial artists, 16,000 film and television directors, 125,000 film, television and stage workers, more than 44,500 photographers, 9000 plus authors, 160,000 music, screen and television performers, 1.3 million songwriters and composers, and over 120,000 recording artists is clearly the home port for the ship S.S. Copyright. The Alliance also has corporate members; 400 book publishers, 3000 music publishers, 160 magazine media companies, 350 record labels, two sports leagues, six motion picture studios, 2000 newspaper publishers, over 6,500 radio and TV broadcasters and 760 plus software and technology companies. And that’s not all! The membership also includes a number of industry associations, such as the Association of American Publishers, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Association of Independent Music Publishers, the Business Software Alliance, the Entertainment Software Association, the Motion Picture Association of America, the News Media Alliance, the Screen Actors Guild, and I could go on. In other words, it is a very big tent under which many varied elements of creativity and the copyright industries are welcome. Rights-holders and others world-wide have good reason to congratulate the Copyright Alliance on its success. Continue reading “The Copyright Alliance Celebrates its 10th Anniversary: Rights Holders (and Others) World-Wide Should Rejoice”

Calculating the Economic Impact of Counterfeiting and Piracy: It’s in the Hundreds of Billions

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Who says that piracy doesn’t really hurt anyone or have much of an economic impact? A recent report released in early February and published by Frontier Economics on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce and BASCAP (Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy), along with INTA (International Trade Mark Association), reports the disturbing figure that the value of international and domestic trade in counterfeit and pirated goods in 2013 reached a total of $710 to $ 917 billion. In addition, the study estimates that the global value of digital piracy in movies, music and software in 2015 was $213 billion. At the high end, that totals 1.13 trillion dollars in trade in counterfeited and pirated products, both physical and online. It gets worse. The study estimates this amount will grow to between 1.9 and 2.8 trillion dollars by the year 2022. This translates into digital piracy in film, music and software being valued at between $384 and $856 billion in 5 years time. As a result, the estimated employment losses due to counterfeiting and piracy will surpass 5 million by 2022. Continue reading “Calculating the Economic Impact of Counterfeiting and Piracy: It’s in the Hundreds of Billions”

To Celebrate World IP Day—An Interesting Copyright Conversation

http://www.wipo.intd

As most readers of this blog are aware, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has declared each April 26 to be “World IP Day”. Why April 26? This was the date on which WIPO was established back in 1970. According to WIPO, World IP Day, which was first celebrated 17 years ago in 2000, is celebrated in order “to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.” The event is loosely connected to “World Book and Copyright Day” celebrated by UNESCO each April 23 (the birthday of both Shakespeare and Cervantes). Continue reading “To Celebrate World IP Day—An Interesting Copyright Conversation”

The Xi-Trump “Mar-a-Lago” Summit: How will it impact US Copyright Industries in China?

Source: Xinhua–Lan Hongguang

The breathlessly awaited Mar-a-Lago, Florida summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump turned out to be much less dramatic than many expected. It was more about establishing a tone and a personal relationship than dealing with the many problems that the two countries face. These range from threatened US tariffs to offset Chinese trade surpluses, to Chinese bases in the South China Sea, to North Korean missile tests to human rights concerns, and so on. The timing of the US missile strike against Syria, coming as it did in the middle of Xi’s visit, also took away some of the media attention the visit would otherwise have had. The meeting was portrayed as almost a “love-in” between Trump and Xi although serious issues remain on the agenda. President Trump accepted Xi’s invitation to visit China later this year so there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss troublesome issues later. Continue reading “The Xi-Trump “Mar-a-Lago” Summit: How will it impact US Copyright Industries in China?”

Disabling Access to Large-Scale Pirate Sites (Site Blocking)—It Works!

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As I wrote back in August, recent studies conducted by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the Information Technology and Information Foundation (ITIF) have demonstrated convincingly that blocking offshore pirate websites works in terms of changing consumer behaviour (i.e. directing consumers away from infringing content to sources of legitimate content) while at the same time not interfering with normal internet operations. In other words, it does not “break the internet”. The growing awareness and rapid take up of this defensive measure globally illustrates the extent to which disabling access (sometimes called site blocking) can be a highly effective tool to curtail online piracy. Continue reading “Disabling Access to Large-Scale Pirate Sites (Site Blocking)—It Works!”

Nollywood: Is it Realizing its Full Potential?

Photograph courtesy of Aimee Corrigan/ This Is Nollywood. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

In the beginning, there was Hollywood. Then Bollywood, the Bombay (now known as Mumbai) based Hindi language film industry, which is the largest film production centre in the world. And then Tollywood cropped up, the term used to designate the not insubstantial Telagu language film industry in south India. And now there is Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry. Continue reading “Nollywood: Is it Realizing its Full Potential?”

Canada and NAFTA: When a “Tweak” becomes a “Hard Squeeze” (But Are There Upsides?)

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The “tweak” to NAFTA that President Donald Trump famously promised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during their initial meeting in Washington in February is rapidly morphing into more of a “hard squeeze” if recently leaked documents outlining the negotiating objectives that the US Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) will be submitting to Congress are to be believed. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has already talked tough in public, indicating that the US will be expecting concessions from both Canada and Mexico. The latest draft of the document that will be submitted to Congress, obtained by Inside US Trade and reported extensively in the Canadian press, indicates that the US has a long list of demands that it will be seeking. Continue reading “Canada and NAFTA: When a “Tweak” becomes a “Hard Squeeze” (But Are There Upsides?)”

Canada, Special 301 and NAFTA

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This is the time of year when the US Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) goes through its annual “Special 301” exercise to prepare a report for the US Congress evaluating the state of intellectual property (IP) protection in countries around the world with a view to identifying those states with shortcomings that negatively affect US industries that rely on IP rights. As I noted in my blog at about the same time last year, the Special 301 law was enacted by the US Congress in 1988 with a view to providing for;

“the development of an overall strategy to ensure adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights and fair and equitable market access for United States persons that rely on protection of intellectual property rights.” Continue reading “Canada, Special 301 and NAFTA”

Copyright in Canada: When Ten Percent is Too Much

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While the assault on writers and publishers by the university community in Canada continues, based on the dubious proposition that the educational exception for fair dealing means that institutions of higher learning no longer need to obtain licences to reproduce material in course packs and other classroom material, there is some hope for redress through the courts. On February 9 the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned a ruling from a year earlier by the Quebec Superior Court thus allowing the Société québécoise de gestion collective des droits de reproduction (Copibec for short) to bring a class action suit against Université Laval on behalf of all authors and publishers from Quebec, the rest of Canada and other countries.” The lawsuit in Quebec parallels the one in English Canada where the copyright collective, Access Copyright, is suing York University (and indirectly most other post-secondary institutions in the rest of Canada) for similar infringements. Continue reading “Copyright in Canada: When Ten Percent is Too Much”

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