Author: Rosalind Read

DC case ricochets into big mess for cable giant

A federal judge in Washington, in a mass-litigation matter tied to online file-sharing, has issued a controversial decision that casts a cable giant into what it terms a big, onerous situation. This case concerns three film production companies, Call of the Wild Movie LLC, Maverick Entertainment Group Inc. and Donkeyball Movie. They filed separate complaints targeting thousands of individuals, who, the firms say, illegally traded copyrighted movies on BitTorrent. According to TorrentFreak, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, in her ruling, essentially brushed off procedural objections, jurisdictional concerns and First Amendment arguments, allowing the companies to pursue what some have termed “mass-suing” of individuals it calls pirates. Time Warner found itself caught between the plaintiffs and thousands of anonymous Internet customers when the companies demanded names and information on users from the cable giant and net service provider. In her opinion, Howell states: “Time Warner claims that the subpoenas issued to it in each of the three cases should be quashed due to the undue burden that Time Warner faces with compliance. Alternatively, Time Warner argues that the subpoenas should be substantially modified to require production of the requested information on a schedule that would likely take about three years. All are cases in which copyright owners of separate movies allege that their copyrights are being infringed in the same manner. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that varying numbers of defendants, who are...

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Tunes up in cloud, legal woes to rain down?

Amazon.com has launched a new  ‘music locker’ service allowing fans to access their collections of tunes on any device of their choice, beating both Google and Apple to the punch. The top-flight online retailer launched two new services called the Amazon Cloud Drive and the Amazon Cloud Player, which let users to store up to 5GB of a music library at Amazon, with storage increasing to 20GB upon purchasing digital music from Amazon itself. Amazon’s move is daring, to say the least, and the risk of legal action against the retail giant is high. The reason: it launched its new cyber service without securing content licenses from any major record labels and movie studios. It says it is still working out key legal issues related to the service, the Wall Street Journal reported. Sony Music Entertainment expressed dismay at Amazon’s plans, echoing concerns of others in the industry: “We are disappointed that the locker service that Amazon is proposing is unlicensed by Sony Music,” a spokeswoman said Tuesday evening according to CNN Money. When they actually do begin to seek licenses, it seems Amazon will soon be asking for forgiveness rather than permission. Another similar ‘music locker’ service, started by entrepreneur Michael Robertson in the United States, was sued by EMI for copyright infringement. MP3.com lost this fight in A U.S. District Court in New York when a judge concluded...

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iPad app channels new fury for Time Warner

With all the technological innovations affecting the entertainment industry, two things, it seems, inevitably occur: (1) new means for presentation of media crop up and (2) litigation, fueled by a desire to cash in and derive profits from the new innovations, is spearheaded by angry interests whose stake in the status quo has changed, usually to their detriment. And so the latest situation plays out: When Time Warner Cable, without securing permission or initiating discussion over contract modification, released an iPad app as the first of its kind to stream channels that cable-service provider carry on traditional TV, the television industry bristled in fury.  The owners of MTV, Discovery Channel,  Food Network and the like slammed the nation’s second largest cable company for its recently launched app, gripping that they’re owed compensation for the 32 Time Warner channels streamed to viewers on the iPad. Media companies like Viacom and Scripps Networks screamed contract breach and threats of legal action from several studios followed. According to the Wall Street Journal, the major point of contention is the contrasting interpretations of provisions within the tightly negotiated— and loooong—agreements between media companies and cable operators. Several TV executives say their contracts specifically delineate rights for “cable television.” Nat Worden, of Dow Jones Newswire pointed out that Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. asserted it “had not granted iPad video streaming rights to any distributor...

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‘Hope’ leads to more disputes for the AP

The Associated Press and Shepard Fairey reached a settlement earlier this year, ending a two-year dispute as to whether the artist violated copyright terms in using a 2006 photo by a photographer from the news collective of Barack Obama as inspiration for the iconic presidential campaign “Hope” poster.  The New York Times reported that both parties agreed that “neither side surrendered its view of the law” and agreed on undisclosed financial terms. But it seems Fairey’s argument that his use of the photo was covered by a fair-use defense has not swayed the AP from further litigation, now with others who employ the imagery in other fashions. Fairey created his poster to back Obama in 2008, and, in  2009, he preemptively sued the national news collective after it accused him of copyright infringement. AP released a timeline of key events pertinent to the suit, buttressing their argument. In settling the dispute, Fairey has agreed not to use another AP photo without permission. He and the AP also will share rights to the Hope image. But fueling the litigious saga, the AP discussed fresh federal complaints it launched Wednesday against three clothing retailers: Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Zumiez. The AP asserts the retailers infringed its copyrights with clothing emblazoned with the Hope image. Obey Clothing, embroiled in a separate copyright suit by the AP since 2009, supplied the retailers with the disputed clothes...

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A quick Q-and-A on ‘copyright recapture’

As an intern for Mr. Jefferson this past summer, and as a music lover, I thought it would be interesting to get his thoughts on the effects and importance of the stipulations in the Copyright Act of 1976, that now allows musicians to recapture their copyright interests for song so long ago written.

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