Author: JeannyTsoi

Hip-hop sample OK under complex Indian law

A U.S. appellate court in Florida has upheld a lower court’s summary judgment for defendant Timberland, resolving an interesting legal question — not whether the music producer could sample a 1967 Bollywood tune for the rap “Put You on the Game,” but whether plaintiff Saregama India Ltd. owned that original tune’s copyright and had standing to litigate. To answer the question, the panel of judges reviewed “an Indian copyright statute from 1957, the types of customary agreements between film producers and musicians in the 1960s, and the specific contract between Saregama’s predecessor company and the producer of Aradhana,” the Bollywood movie from which the tune came. Indian copyright law can be confusing because “in old Bollywood films, there could be three separate owners of a sound recording copyright,” as THR Esq. noted in its report on this case. A first owner may have the exclusive right “to make any other sound recording embodying [the original sound recording].” A second owner may have the exclusive right “to sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire, any copy of the sound recording.” Finally, a third owner may have the exclusive right “to communicate the sound recording to the public.” Things are later simplified – the film producer is deemed the intial owner of the copyright and is allowed to transfer the other rights to the music producer via an expressed...

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Danes set a high bar in file-sharing cases

The Danish Supreme Court recently ruled that evidence, such as IP addresses, are too weak and insufficient evidence to prove liability in file-sharing cases. In that case, a person who was accused of sharing 13,000 tracks online was only ordered to pay $1,900 (krone) — an amount significantly lowered than that requested by the record labels — because the quality of the evidence provided by an anti-piracy group was inadequate. This court ruling has not only lowered the amount of compensation that accused file-sharers may owe to copyright owners, but has also set a high standard for the evidentiary support required in a file-sharing case. In the future, rights holders may need to gain physical access to an infringer’s computer in order to obtain sufficient evidence of alleged infringement. This type of discovery would be very expensive, according to a leading lawyer in the field, since a bailiff, IT experts, and a locksmith may be needed for such a process. Interestingly, this court ruling may also be a reflection of the recent moral standards study conducted in Denmark, which “found that a high percentage of the public found illicit downloading socially...

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A dissection of varied views in copyright debate

Peter Yu, a law professor at Drake University, has offered the entertainment industry “more convincing proposals for digital copyright reform” in his article, Digital Copyright and Confuzzling Rhetoric. Over the years, intellectuals “have advanced many different arguments for or against stronger copyright protection and enforcement.” To help the readers better understand the debate, Part I of Yu’s article examines four arguments he finds unpersuasive to support “reforms that strengthen copyright protection and enforcement in the digital environment.” Part II scrutinizes four arguments he finds equally unpersuasive to back “retention of the status quo or the weakening of the existing copyright system.” Calling industry arguments unconvincing to drive digital copyright reforms, Yu gives five strategies in Part III to make the industry’s reform proposals more persuasive. Finally, in Part IV, Yu “concludes with two short stories to illustrate the tremendous difficulty for the public to appreciate the complexities in copyright law.” Let’s look more at each part, skipping Part IV, which employs anecdotes that don’t easily summarize to make points: Part I Yu says one of the most common unconvincing arguments for stronger digital copyright protection is the “sky is falling” argument. Copyright owners initially complain often about “the adverse impact of new technologies,” but then “find these …  later opening up new markets for their products and services” Jack Valenti, the movies’ longtime lobbyist,  for example, called then-new VCRs a...

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A plea for a copyright fix to protect consumers

Yvette Joy Liebesman, a law professor of Saint Louis University, has written Downstream Copyright Infringers, an article that attempts to identify and propose a solution to a potentially significant online copyright infringement issue. While cyberspace has become a great venue for the recording industry, musicians, and songwriters to sell their works to the general public, this access potentially may turn digital music consumers into unintended copyright infringers. When consumers, for example, purchase a song and download a “copy” of the tune to their computer, this conduct may impinge upon a copyright owner’s reproduction right, which is protected by the Copyright Act. But didn’t the copyright owner authorize such reproduction, since the consumers paid for the downloadable version of the song? The simple answer is yes. But here’s the rub: If the song that the consumer downloaded itself infringes another copyrighted work, then the owner of that work could sue the consumer for unintentional infringement. Since copyright infringement, intentional or unintentional, is a strict liability tort, consumers most likely would be found liable in such litigation. Liebesman suggests that Congress should create an exception for “consumer downstream infringement,” which is a tort that Copyright Act never intended to punish. Sources: Entertainment Law Reporter Social Science Research...

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‘Oh, Really?’: Statutory bias, the ‘Incredibles’

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise. “The Incredibles” is a computer-animated film about a family of superheroes who are forced to hide their powers and adopt “normal” civilian identities due to the government’s “Superhero Relocation Program.” This program is motivated by a string of lawsuits against the superheroes, which puts extreme financial burden on the government and causes a political and public outcry. Ironically, one of the plaintiffs actually was rescued by Mr. Incredible, the dad in the family, from an attempted suicide. Rather than being thankful, the plaintiff argues that Mr. Incredible did not save his life, but ruined his death. To prevent further lawsuits, no matter how ridiculous they are, the government wants the superheroes’ “secret identity to become their only identity.” This program has caused Mr. Incredible and his family to live in turmoil. He is forced to work as a miserable insurance specialist. One day, he throws his boss through a series of walls because he prevents him from rescuing an innocent. Like any “normal” employee who assaults a boss, Mr. Incredible is fired. His children with superpowers themselves, Violet and Dash, also struggle with “normal life.” Elastigirl, his mom, keeps Dash out of...

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