Month: February 2012

In Australia, a win for commercial radio on fees

  The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia, a collection society representing record labels and artists, sought a declaration from a court that streaming Internet radio should not be considered a “broadcast” under Australia’s Copyright Act, and therefore, should be subject to a separate fee. The Federal Court down under, however, held that Internet simulcasts are incorporated within existing licensing agreements for traditional broadcasts. This result: dismay by labels and artists over a lost opportunity to recover more payments from streaming Internet radio stations. In deciding that a streaming Internet radio program is a “broadcast” under the Copyright Act, Justice Lindsay Foster concluded that the simultaneous transmission is “…a service which combines various delivery methods or platforms and which delivers the same radio program using the broadcasting services band.” The court, in siding with Commercial Radio Australia, has declared that Australia’s commercial radio stations will not have to pay additional royalties to artists for the online transmissions of recorded music. The head of the PPCA, Dan Rosen, was disappointed by this recent ruling but maintained that his organization “…will continue to work hard for a better deal for artists and...

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In Denmark, a legal trend in Grooveshark case?

Biedermanblog editor Jasleen Ahuja contributed to this post. The days in which an internet service provider could sit idly by and allow users access to any website they choose may be coming to an end: A Danish court has issued an order forcing ISPs to block access to Grooveshark, an online music website that serves as a blend between a P2P and music streaming service. What makes Grooveshark unique is that its users have a large amount of control over playlists and songs they want to hear.  Unlike Pandora, where users pick stations based on an artist or style of music, Grooveshark’s audience members can select an infinite amount of songs and add them to their playlists. Geek.com says Grooveshark has the biggest, best library of any music streaming service and the service also lets users upload their music so they can listen to songs anywhere. But might Grooveshark and the legal challenges against it all be swept up in a developing European approach to copyright enforcement and anti-piracy? Where other sites like Pandora and Spotify get licenses for content, Grooveshark, at least in the United States, has been sued by major record labels with EMI joining Universal, Sony and Warner in a legal action against the company for failing to pay royalties.  EMI was the only company that Grooveshark had a licensing deal with; after finding evidence that Grooveshark executives knew...

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In Spain, anti-piracy law looms over key ruling

In Spain, the entertainment industry has suffered a loss in its running battle against copyright piracy as a Spanish court dismissed a case against Cinetube.es, a video-indexing site that directs users to copyrighted material.  While in some jurisdictions simply linking to infringing content in certain instances can constitute copyright infringement, Spanish courts generally have been unwilling to hold such websites liable. This view has enabled Cinetube to successfully argue that the video-sharing site did not violate any laws merely by linking to potentially infringing material.  In a recent Billboard article, Andres Cala discusses why the judge ruled that Cinetube has not committed any crimes — though the issue also may prove moot, if lawmakers adopt a new anti-piracy law. Even though this decision may offer a breather to those pursued in Spain as pirates, there’s more choppy waters ahead as Madrid in just weeks will take up new anti-piracy legislation named after the former Spanish Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde and known as the Sinde law.  Under the current system, a copyright holder can have infringing material removed only after demonstrating lawful ownership.  The Sinde law will create administrative commissions to replace courts in interpret and decide infringments under copyright legislation.  A BBC article explains that this law would allow for rights-holders to report websites that contain or are hosting infringing content to a government commission, which then would rule if...

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In Britain, a legal win for recording industry

The record industry in Britain is celebrating a recent win in its legal battle against The Pirate Bay, after the High Court of Justice Chancery Division ruled that the site was and in essence continues to be an illegal operation.  In the written judgment, [2012]  EWHC 268 (Ch) (20 February 2012), Pirate Bay describes itself as “the world’s largest bittorent tracker.  Bittorent is a file-sharing protocol that in a reliable way enables big and fast file transfers.” The claimants, represented by British Recorded Music Industry Ltd (BPI) and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), included nine record companies: Dramatico Entertainment Ltd, EMI Records Ltd, Polydor Ltd, Rough Trade Records Ltd, Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd, Virgin Records Ltd, Warner Music UK Ltd, and 679 Recordings Ltd.  BPI sought and won an injunction against Pirate Bay under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the 1988 Act), which implements Article 8(3) of European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29/EC of 22 May 2001 on aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (as describeed in the Information Society Directive). The defendants included: British Sky Broadcasting Ltd., British Telecommunications PLC, Everything Everywhere Ltd., Talk Talk Telecom Group PLC, Telefonica UK Ltd. and Virgin Media LTD. They are six main internet service providers (ISPs) with a fixed line market share of nearly 94% of UK internet users.  Although the defendants failed to attend the hearing or to...

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Activists derail ACTA in Europe, for now

In a move that could delay ratification by more than a year, the European Union has announced  that it has suspended ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a move that acknowledged both the public outcry regarding the accord and the legitimacy of the public’s concern. Commissioner Karel De Gucht stated in the announcement: We are planning to ask Europe’s highest court to assess whether ACTA is incompatible — in any way — with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression and information or data protection and the right to property in case of intellectual property. Supporters of the pact argue that its purpose is to create an international standard to protect creators of film, television, music, fashion goods and the like from copyright infringement. Opponents reply the accord is a thinly veiled attempt to censor free speech and the internet. ACTA has been in the works for years, with many industrialized nations (including the United States, South Korea, and Japan) already have signed on. For the EU to be a party to the agreement, all 27 European member states would need to ratify it. Response to the measure has echoed the response to SOPA in the United States, with internet blackouts and protests occurring throughout the European Union. A primary complaint of opponents has been the secrecy surrounding the  negotiations on the agreement. The largest protests...

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