When Does Inspiration become Infringement? The Impact on Copyright

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Source: http://www.shutterstock.com

What is it about songwriters, musicians and copyright? Lately there has been an explosion of copyright infringement cases with bands, songwriters and artists accusing each other of stealing lyrics, riffs, parts of arrangements, melodies, harmonies and what have you. The high profile cases have involved such well known groups as Led Zeppelin, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran. In Sheeran’s case he is accused of taking key parts of a 1973 Marvin Gaye song, and is also being sued by two songwriters over his track Photograph. The plaintiffs claim that the chorus of Sheeran’s track contains no less than 39 identical notes with their song Amazing and that the chord structures are very close. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood have just had accusations of copyright infringement against them over their hit country song Remind Me dismissed after a three year process. The nub of the issue was the use of the phrase “remind me” repeatedly in both the Paisley/Underwood song and another Remind Me song written by the plaintiff. The judge ruled that the phrase was used quite differently in the two pieces. Continue reading “When Does Inspiration become Infringement? The Impact on Copyright”

To Link or Not to Link?: A Sensible and Balanced Decision by the European Court

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Source: curia.europa.eu

To link or not to link? And what to link to? That is the (copyright) question. (With apologies to the Bard). The question of whether unauthorized linking to copyrighted works constitutes copyright infringement is not new. It has been raised in a number of court cases globally involving alleged commercial infringement by content aggregators providing deep and shallow links to various websites containing copyrighted content. The aggregators then monetize the final, collated product. It is generally accepted that linking per se does not constitute infringement, but it gets more complicated when the link is to what I will loosely call “pirated content”. Continue reading “To Link or Not to Link?: A Sensible and Balanced Decision by the European Court”

The TPP (and its Copyright Provisions): There’s still a Chance

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Source: wikimedia commons

Will the Lame Duck Waddle?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may be a political pariah in the current US Presidential election, with both Mrs. Clinton (who ironically was Secretary of State at the time it was being negotiated) and Mr. Trump condemning it, despite endorsement from a wide range of business groups, but at least it still has the support of the Obama Administration. President Obama has reaffirmed his support for the agreement and has indicated that his Administration will go all out to try to get it ratified by Congress in this fall’s “lame-duck” session. If the TPP is not ratified before the new Congress elected in November takes office in early 2017 it will either be dead, or at the very least frozen in limbo, for a considerable period no matter who wins the White House. If the US does not ratify the agreement, it cannot come into force as there is a requirement that prior to implementation it must be ratified by at least six countries representing 85 percent of the total GDP of participating economies (2013 numbers). In effect, this gives both the US and Japan a veto over the entry into force of the agreement they have both signed. Continue reading “The TPP (and its Copyright Provisions): There’s still a Chance”

Blocking Offshore Pirate Websites: It can be Both Effective and Manageable

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Source: http://www.shutterstock.com

A recently released study by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) examines the effectiveness of internet site blocking to control copyright piracy in the UK, and comes to some interesting conclusions. The authors (Brett Danaher, Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang from CMU’s School of Public Policy and Management) compared their latest work to earlier research they had done where Pirate Bay—but only Pirate Bay—had been blocked in the UK (in 2012). The earlier action led to little change in total piracy and no change in paid legal streaming, suggesting that the blocking of a single site, when many alternatives remain available, is ineffective. This time, they examined the consumer response when 53 piracy websites were blocked in the UK in November 2014. To quote from their abstract,

“We found that these blocks caused a 90% drop in visits to the blocked sites while causing no increase in usage of unblocked sites. This led to a 22% decrease in total piracy for all users affected by the blocks (or a 16% decrease across all users overall). We also found that these blocks caused a 6% increase in visits to paid legal streaming sites like Netflix and a 10% increase in videos viewed on legal ad-supported streaming sites like BBC and Channel 5.” Continue reading “Blocking Offshore Pirate Websites: It can be Both Effective and Manageable”

Goodbye Gary Fung and Isohunt

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Source: http://www.shutterstock.com

The news a couple of weeks ago that Gary Fung, former CEO of BitTorrent site Isohunt had settled a lawsuit brought against him by the Canadian music industry (now known as Music Canada, formerly the Canadian Recording Industry Association-CRIA), for $66 million (CAD) brought back memories of Isohunt’s prominence in past years as one of the leading international websites promoting copyright piracy. It was a dubious distinction for a Canadian website to be up there among the Pirate Bays of this world, those kings of piracy whose principals are usually based in Eastern Europe and whose domain addresses represent parts of the world so obscure that even a geographer would have difficulty finding them on a map. (Yes, there is a domain registry for South Georgia “.gs”, a remote island in the South Atlantic populated full time only by penguins). Continue reading “Goodbye Gary Fung and Isohunt”

The Asian Dilemma: Leaps in Technology bring new forms of Piracy

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Source: http://www.shutterstock.com

We have all seen the famous photo of the Buddhist monk, clad in his saffron robes and riding his motorcycle, with his cell phone clamped to his ear. Who is he calling? The abbot? A fast food restaurant down the road? We don’t know but we do know that Asia has leapfrogged over more established wired markets in the use, in particular, of mobile technology, but also other technologies. Most of Asia skipped the land-line phase for telephony, and is now forging new paths in content delivery…and content theft, enabled by rapidly evolving technology. Continue reading “The Asian Dilemma: Leaps in Technology bring new forms of Piracy”

“Free” TV or “Free Riding”?

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Source: cbc.ca

“Watch TV for Free” screamed the online ad. What? No more cable bills? Never again pay for content? How is this possible? Well my friend, just buy this “fully loaded” streaming TV box and let the era of free entertainment begin! Continue reading ““Free” TV or “Free Riding”?”