Texas Justices Weigh Novel ‘Takings’ Copyright Fight — “The Texas Supreme Court questioned during oral arguments on Thursday whether a photographer can proceed with allegations that the University of Houston unconstitutionally ‘took’ his copyrighted image without permission. Photographer Jim Olive claims that because the university is part of the public University of Houston system, it’s a governmental entity that effectively took his private property by using his photos of the Houston skyline on its website. Olive filed the takings claim because he was barred from filing a more straightforward infringement lawsuit against the university by the Eleventh Amendment’s guarantee of state sovereign immunity.”
High Court Orders UK ISPs to Block Stream-Ripping & Cyberlocker Sites — Torrentfreak’s Andy Maxwell reports, “Under the umbrella of the BPI, major and independent recording labels in the UK have announced a key victory in their fight against so-called ‘stream-ripping’ sites and tools. Following a two-year process, this morning a judge at London’s High Court ordered major ISPs to block access to several platforms, including two of the most popular – Flvto and 2Conv.”
Stronger Protections for Content Will Keep Streaming Pirates At Bay — Zvi Rosen discusses the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act, which Congress passed at the end of its last session. Says Rosen, “As more resources and jobs go into producing content for streaming, it is more important than ever to make sure that these industries are secure in their knowledge that their hard work — and livelihoods — aren’t being put in jeopardy by criminal enterprises who aim to appropriate the hard work of these creative professionals. People can keep making Baby Yoda memes without fear of this new law, but those seeking to rebroadcast shows like the Mandalorian without compensating the people who brought those characters to life, may find that the law has more powerful tools for protecting creators from online theft by illicit streaming services.”
Kast-ing A Wide Net: Statutory Damages Under The Copyright Act — Scott Alan Burroughs discusses a recent 9th Circuit decision in Erickson Productions v. Kast which considered the issue of willfulness in statutory damages. Burroughs notes more broadly, “Crucially, and regrettably, in order to seek statutory damages under Section 504 and attorneys’ fees under Section 505, an artist must comply with the seemingly simple but actually quite baroque requirements of the Copyright Office registration process and must do so before an infringer copies their work. If she fails to satisfy either of those steps, she is barred from seeking statutory damages or attorneys fees in any case for which the infringement predates her registration. But, in contrast, the defendant is still able to seek attorneys’ fees against the plaintiff.”
AI Can Now Turn You Into a Fully Digital, Realistic Talking Clone — “In order to create the ‘AI Clone,’ Southern had to go into a studio and stand in front of a green screen so she could be captured from multiple angles. She also had to say several sets of words so that the program would be able to replicate her voice. In the video below, she describes the process as just reading a couple of scripts and singing a song. The entire process in front of the camera took just seven minutes. From there, hundreds of videos can be generated in a matter of minutes just by submitting text to the platform. A creator would not need to record any audio at all.”
Australia reruns Europe’s Big Tech copyright battle — Politico‘s Mark Scott reports, “This week, Australian lawmakers are finalizing new rules — known as the News Media Bargaining Code — that will require the two tech giants to pay local newspapers an as yet undefined sum whenever their material pops up on Google and Facebook’s digital platforms. On Tuesday, the Australian government said it would make minor tweaks to the legislation before it is submitted to the country’s parliament.”
Kat Von D’s Miles Davis Tattoo Draws Copyright Lawsuit — “In the filing, photographer Jeffrey Sedlik claims Von D’s tattoo constitutes copyright infringement of his image and alleges he is the sole and exclusive owner of the copyright of an iconic portrait of Davis . . . Sedlik further claims that Von D, who owns High Voltage Tattoo in Los Angeles, did not request or receive a license to reproduce his work.”
Google Takes Out YouTube Ripper with WIPO Domain Dispute — Torrentfreak reports, “Google has won its WIPO domain name dispute against Youtubeconverter.io, a site that allowed people to download music and video from YouTube. The WIPO panel concluded that the domain was not used for legitimate purposes and ordered it to be transferred to Google. The owner of the site didn’t put up a defense and simply switched to a new domain.”
How to Navigate the New Copyright Small Claims Court — Attorneys from Kirkland & Ellis provide a rundown of the new tribunal that will be created to adjudicate small copyright claims following successful passage of the CASE Act in December. Included are a number of pros and cons of the system for both petitioners and respondents.
Japan to clarify copyright rules for cosplay — “The government is not planning to revise the copyright law as it fears stricter regulations would drive people away from cosplay. Instead, it plans to share specific examples of situations in which cosplayers may be asked to pay copyright fees to enhance awareness. The government has already heard from creators as well as cosplayers, including Enako, who has been appointed the government’s Cool Japan ambassador on the issue. Some cosplayers have pointed to the need for a framework to enable them to contact copyright holders to secure permission.”
User-centric model would not lead to significant changes in the distribution of music streaming royalties — Emmanuel Legrand reports, “A new study into the impact of a music streaming User-Centric Payment System (UCPS) to remunerate rights holders concluded that a switch to the UCPS model rather than the current pro rata model, or Market Centric Payment System (MCPS), would not fundamentally result in massive shifts in revenues but could have some benefits for under-represented music genres in the current system.”1Generally speaking, a Market Centric Payment System apportions streaming royalties to rights owners based on total streams across an entire digital music platform. A User-Centric Payment System, by contrast, divides the streaming royalties generated by each individual user among the rights owners of songs that user listened to.
Generally speaking, a Market Centric Payment System apportions streaming royalties to rights owners based on total streams across an entire digital music platform. A User-Centric Payment System, by contrast, divides the streaming royalties generated by each individual user among the rights owners of songs that user listened to.
How one musician took on the world’s biggest TV network over copyright—and won — “You’ve heard Kerry Muzzey’s work (Bandcamp, Spotify), even if you haven’t heard of him. The 50-year-old classical music composer from Joliet, Illinois, who now lives in Los Angeles, produces haunting orchestral scores that soundtrack some of the most poignant moments in film and television. When Finn Hudson kissed Rachel Berry for the first time on TV’s Glee, it was Muzzey’s stripped-back piano playing in the background. Some of his works have been choreographed and performed on So You Think You Can Dance?, too.”
RIAA: Not Even Improper YouTube ‘Rolling Cipher’ Complaints Can Be Countered — Torrentfreak‘s Andy Maxwell reports, “In response to a lawsuit filed by YouTube-ripping service Yout, the RIAA is doubling down on its assertion that YouTube’s rolling cipher is indeed an ‘effective technological measure’ under the DMCA. The music industry group also states that seeking remedy for improper takedown notices under the DMCA is not possible since the relevant law does not penalize anti-circumvention complaints.”
Three New Year’s Resolutions for Songwriters — The US Copyright Office’s Holland Gormley provides helpful tips to musicians to make sure they take full advantage of changes in the law that went into effect at the start of 2021.
Google, French publishers sign copyright news payment deal — According to the Associated Press, “Google has signed a deal with a group of French publishers paving the way for the internet giant to make digital copyright payments for online news content. . . . The company was forced to negotiate with publishers and news agencies for reusing their material online under a ‘neighboring rights’ law that took effect after France became the first country to adopt new European Union copyright rules.”
Redbubble Keeps Win in ‘Lettuce Turnip the Beet’ Trademark Case — In “Trademarking phrases to use on t-shirts” news, “Online print-on-demand marketplace Redbubble Inc. again defeated LTTB LLC’s claims that its sale of t-shirts and other wares with the phrase ‘Lettuce Turnip the Beet’ infringed LTTB’s trademark rights when the Ninth Circuit affirmed Wednesday that the phrase failed to function as a trademark.”
Claims Tribunal, Music Rates Headline 2021 Copyright Issues — Bloomberg Law‘s Kyle Jahner reviews what may be the most significant copyright issues expected in 2021. They include implementation of a U.S. copyright small claims court, a Supreme Court decision in Google v. Oracle, and draft legislation amending the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Tillis Releases Text of Bipartisan Legislation to Fight Illegal Streaming by Criminal Organizations — “The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act would apply only to commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services. The law will not sweep in normal practices by online service providers, good faith business disputes, noncommercial activities, or in any way impact individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. Individuals who might use pirate streaming services will not be affected.”
France’s Hadopi counts cost of piracy: 12m users, €1bn loss of earnings — “The Hadopi’s study, the first to attempt to calculate the economic consequences of content piracy and illicit retransmission of sports events in the round, comes as proposals for a new audiovisual law designed to tackle the problem are being discussed. The Hadopi found that while peer-to-peer piracy – the original focus of the Hadopi when it was set up – had declined significantly, illegal streaming and direct download of content had risen and new forms of illegal consumption such as illicit IPTV and live streaming services had also blossomed.”
The MLC Presents: How Self-Administered Songwriters Can Connect to Collect — The Mechanical Licensing Collective recently hosted a webinar detailing what the Music Modernization Act means for songwriters who administer their own publishing and what they need to do to make sure they get the royalties their music generates when the new blanket mechanical license takes effect in less than a month.
IP Perception 2020 — The EU IPO Observatory published a report on a survey of EU citizens perceptions and attitudes toward IP, including copyright. Some key results: “The more people understand intellectual property (subjective understanding), the less likely they are to infringe it”; “100% increase (from 10% in 2017 to 20% in 2020) of those who think that intellectual property benefits artists and creators, among others”; and “People are more willing to pay for content, with a 69% increase since the last study (from 25% in 2017 to 42% in 2020).”
TPM circumvention and website blocking orders: An EU perspective — Eleonora Rosati examines recent developments regarding site blocking orders applied to sites alleged to offer tools to circumvent TPMs. Rosati concludes, “copyright owners appear entitled to seek injunctions against intermediaries to also block access to websites dealing with TPM-circumventing devices.”
‘Copyright Troll’ Liebowitz Suspended From Manhattan Court — Blake Brittain reports for Bloomberg Law, “Liebowitz is known for filing over a thousand lawsuits on behalf of photographers who claim their work was reposted by media outlets and others without permission. He’s been accused of filing frivolous suits to force settlements, and federal courts have called Liebowitz a ‘copyright troll,’ among other things.
Europe is a leader (and an exception) in the global collection of revenues from private copying levies — A new report from CISAC and BIEM details global collection of private copying levies for 2018. As Emmanuel Legrand explains, “Private copying levies are in place in a number of countries to compensate rights holders for the copying of copyrighted material within the private environment of content users. The levies can be applied of blank media such as CD-R, but also memory sticks, hard drives, TV boxes, smart phones, among others.”
Mixcloud founder: here’s what DJs need to know about music copyright — “When streamers and DJs are hit by music copyright takedowns on other platforms like Facebook or Twitch, it’s because those platforms have not – for whatever reason – secured the right music licenses. They are not paying the artists that are getting played. . . . At Mixcloud, we have invested time, energy and resources to get the right licenses. That is why music takedowns do not happen on Mixcloud.”
Google signs copyright agreements with six French newspapers — “The announcement follows months of bargaining between Google, French publishers and news agencies over how to apply revamped EU copyright rules, which allow publishers to demand a fee from online platforms showing extracts of their news. The world’s biggest search engine initially fought against the idea of paying publishers for the content, saying their websites benefited from greater traffic brought by Google.”
Is it Time for a DMCA Update? Senator Tillis Says Yes — “In 2019 and 2020, Tillis, in his capacity as chair of the Senate IP subcommittee, held a series of hearings focused on known problems with several DMCA provisions and has stated his intent to put forward a legislative fix for which there may be bipartisan support — and controversy.” Last week, the Senator sent a letter to stakeholders seeking input on potential tweaks to sections 512, 1201, and 1202.
Six Artists Are Suing a Property Owner for Painting Over Beloved Murals at a Famed San Francisco Gay Bar During Pride Month — “For the past three years, San Francisco gay bar the Stud, the city’s oldest, was fronted by colorful murals with suggestive titles like ‘Stepping Out’ and ‘Head First,’ which had been painted on the bar’s distinctive navy exterior to celebrate Pride Week in 2017. . . . On June 20, during Pride Month 2020, its new owners whitewashed them before painting the building over in beige. Now, six artists are suing the property owner, named only as City Commercial Investments, for damages under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), a law that has been cited in high-profile cases like the suit against the owners of the 5Pointz graffiti mecca in Queens, New York, in which a judge awarded a group of artists $6.75 million after their works were destroyed by a property developer.”
Senator Thom Tillis Seeks Suggestions for Reform of Digital Millenium Copyright Act — Jem Aswad at Variety reports on an open letter sent by North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, who recently won relection against Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham, to stakeholders addressing efforts to reform the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Tillis has held a series of hearings on the law over the past year, and the letter identifies a number of issues in sections 512, 1201, and 1202 of the Copyright Act which may be ripe for reform and seeks input on how to address those issues.
Administration Issues Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property — The U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator this week issued its Joint Strategic Plan for 2020-2022. The plan, which the IPEC is required to release every three years, focuses especially on trade-related efforts to enforce U.S. intellectual property as well as the sale and distribution of counterfeit and pirated goods on e-commerce platforms and other intermediaries.
Mandatory Deposit of Electronic-Only Books — The U.S. Copyright Office this week issued a final rule amending its regulations to make electronic-only books published in the United States subject to the Copyright Act’s mandatory deposit provisions if they are affirmatively demanded by the Office. The final rule largely adopts the language set forth in the Office’s June 2020 notice of proposed rulemaking, with one additional clarification regarding the rule’s applicability to print-on-demand books.
Enda: Kenya’s first home-grown running shoe — From WIPO Magazine: “We work with Kenyan athletes to design running shoes and sell them to runners around the world. Most running shoe companies are based in the United States or Europe. Enda is unique; it’s the only company of its kind in Africa. We are not simply testing or marketing technical running shoes made by others, we are actually making our own shoes. . . . Intellectual property (IP) is king. Without IP rights, we would have no legal means of defending ourselves against copycats or other unscrupulous operators. IP rights enable us to protect Enda’s business interests and grow the company, ensuring that when people buy our shoes, they get an authentic, high-quality product.”
Google Takes Down Repositories That Circumvent its Widevine DRM — “GitHub has removed several repositories that helped to bypass Google’s Widevine DRM, which is used by popular streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. Google requested the code to be removed as it would violate the DMCA. . . . Google sees the code, which was explicitly published for educational purposes only, as a circumvention tool. As such, it allegedly violates section 1201 of the DMCA, an allegation that was also made against the youtube-dl code last month.”