QuickLinks - Copyright, trademarks and patents
QuickLinks - Copyright, trademarks and patents
Issue no. 391 - 31 August 2008
- IT - Italian media company sues YouTube
(IDG News Service)
Italian media conglomerate Mediaset Group has sued YouTube for €500 million (US$780 million), alleging the Google video-sharing site illegally hosts thousands of video clips that belong to Mediaset. The suit, filed in civil court in Rome, names both YouTube and parent company Google. The company claims that on June 10, there were 4,643 video clips on YouTube, totalling more than 325 hours of material, owned by Mediaset.
- UK - Illegal filesharing: Government hits back at BPI over last-minute letter
A hardline letter sent by the BPI at the 11th hour threatened to undermine a deal to tackle illegal filesharing, prompting the government to express its displeasure of the music industry body in a terse response to record label executives. The BPI's letter, signed by the body's chief executive, Geoff Taylor, was sent to Baroness Vadera, the business minister; the UK's six biggest internet service providers; and the Motion Picture Association of America, the Hollywood studios' trade organisation.
- UK - Leading ISPs agree to warn illegal file-sharers
The UK's six major internet service providers (ISPs) have agreed to write to 1,000 of their subscribers a week on behalf of the music and film industries warning them not to engage in copyright-infringing file-sharing. The announcement came as the Government admitted that an industry-wide voluntary agreement to tackle illegal file sharing is unlikely to emerge. The Government has brokered a deal between content owners and the UK's six major ISPs on the writing to subscribers and on negotiation over what action to take against persistent illegal activity. Those ISPs and the film and music industries will create a code of conduct governing what to do with subscribers who do not stop their activities when warned. No decision has yet been made on whether or not the code will require ISPs to terminate accounts which have been used for illegal file-sharing. See: The Government consultation, including the Memorandum of Understanding(66-page / 499KB PDF) .
- US - Judge: Copyright owners must consider 'fair use'
A Federal judge refused to dismiss a suit claiming that Universal abused the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when it issued a takedown notice to YouTube over a 30-second video of a baby dancing to a Prince song. Judge Fogel held that copyright owners must consider fair use before sending DMCA takedown notices. See also Sampling a song can be fair use (OUT-LAW News).
- US - Microsoft patents 'Page Up' and 'Page Down'
Microsoft has been granted a patent on 'Page Up' and 'Page Down' keystrokes. The software giant applied for the patent in 2005, and was granted it on August 19, 2008. US patent number 7,415,666 describes "a method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed". However, Page Up and Page Down keyboard buttons have been in existence for at least quarter of a century, as evidenced by this image of a 1981 IBM PC keyboard.
- US - Open source licence conditions are backed by copyright law
Breaching the open source licence that came with free software amounted to infringement of copyright, a US Court of Appeal has ruled. The landmark ruling has been welcomed as a major boost to the free and open source software publishing models.
Issue no. 390 - 20 July 2008
- EU - European Commission proposes copyright extension Directive
The European Commission has proposed a Directive that would give performers rights over recordings for 95 years after the recording. The change would give a player on a recording rights for the same length of time as the writer of the material. EU Competition Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has tried before to increase the term of copyright protection for performers but has previously lost the argument. The EU's commissioners have now decided to propose a Directive, though, extending the term from 50 to 95 years. See Terms of Protection page (Europa). See also Veteran rockers set for windfall (BBC).
- EU moves to free up music rights
Music download stores like Apple's iTunes could soon be able to operate one shop for the whole of Europe, under new rules brought in by EU regulators. Currently, iTunes has to negotiate the right to sell music with a different society in every European state. The European Commission says musicians should be free to choose from among the many collecting societies that handle music royalties in the 27-nation EU. The ruling will also let the societies license music in more than one country.
- Europe votes on anti-piracy laws
Europeans suspected of putting movies and music on file-sharing networks could be thrown off the web under proposals before Brussels. The powers are in a raft of laws that aim to harmonise the regulations governing Europe's telecom markets. Other amendments added to the packet of laws allow governments to decide which software can be used on the web. Campaigners say the laws trample on personal privacy and turn net suppliers into copyright enforcers.
- FR - EBay to pay out millions over French counterfeit sales
Online auction site eBay has been fined £31.5 million and ordered to forbid the sale of some luxury perfumes in a French court order designed to battle the sale of counterfeit luxury goods. Handbag, clothing and perfume company Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) sued eBay in the French courts, claiming that the company did not do enough to combat the sale of counterfeits of its goods. EBay claims that it cannot police all the sales through its site and that it makes no guarantee that goods are genuine, and that it suspends counterfeit auctions when notified of them. The French court, though, found "serious faults" in eBay's processes that led to auctions of counterfeit goods going ahead. By allowing the sales, it said, eBay had damaged the reputation of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.
- FR - Riposte graduée : la France propose son modèle à ses homologues européens
Le 1er juillet, la France prendra la présidence de l'Union européenne pour six mois. La ministre de la Culture entend en profiter pour dégager un consensus général sur la lutte contre le téléchargement sur les réseaux peer-to-peer. Christine Albanel, ministre de la Culture, veut transposer le modèle français de lutte contre le téléchargement illégal à l'ensemble de l'Europe. Elle a présenté à la presse ses objectifs en la matière, alors que la France s'apprête à prendre la présidence de l'Union européenne à partir du 1er juillet. voir aussi Projet Hadopi : retour sur les enjeux et les forces en présence.
- UK - Virgin admits disconnection threat mistake
Virgin Media has said that a threat sent out to 800 of its customers that they could be disconnected from the internet because of alleged copyright infringement was a mistake. The envelope containing a letter warning subscribers that their account was being used for illegal file-sharing was printed with the words "Important. If you don't read this, your broadband could be disconnected". A Virgin Media spokeswoman told OUT-LAW that the message was a mistake. "We are not accusing our customers of doing anything, we are alerting them to the fact that illegal file sharing has been tracked to their account. This could have been someone else in the house or an unsecured wireless network. This is an education campaign," she said. The company has shared information with music rights holders' group the BPI in order to identify accounts which may have been used for copyright-infringing file sharing. The spokeswoman said, though, that no names or addresses were passed to the BPI and that it had been responsible for the envelope, a mistake that it was "rectifying immediately".
- US - Tiffany loses legal fight against eBay over counterfeit goods
eBay has won a four-year legal battle with Tiffany over the jeweller's complaint that the online website amounted to a "rat's nest" auction of counterfeit watches, bracelets and necklaces. A judge in New York ruled that eBay could not be held responsible for policing the contents of its site, and that it was Tiffany's role to draw fake designer jewellery to the auctioneer's attention. The verdict is a relief to eBay which lost a similar case in Paris two weeks ago when a French court ordered it to pay 38.6m in damages to the luxury goods manufacturer LVMH for allowing the sale of fake bags, perfumes and designer clothes.
Issue no. 389 - 22 June 2008
- FR - France to ban illegal downloaders from using the internet under three-strikes rule
Anyone who persists in illicit downloading of music or films will be barred from broadband access under a controversial new law that makes France a pioneer in combating internet piracy. Under a cross-industry agreement, internet service providers (ISPs) must cut off access for up to a year for third-time offenders.
- Privacy Principles for Digital Watermarking
CDT released a paper offering a set of principles for addressing potential privacy considerations when deploying digital watermarking technology. Digital watermarks encode information in a media file by making subtle changes to the image, audio, or video. Much like watermarks on stationary, these changes typically would not be noticeable to a person viewing or listening to the content.
- UK - Virgin sends file-sharing warnings to customers
Virgin Media has begun sending letters of warning to some of its customers saying that artists' lobby group the BPI has evidence of illegal file sharing from their accounts. Virgin, the UK's second largest ISP, is the first to take such action. The BPI and other content producers' lobby groups and the Government have urged internet service providers (ISPs) to operate a 'three strikes and you're out' policy to cut off internet access from people found to be engaging in illegal file-sharing. The Virgin letters contain no threat of disconnection, but do use a BPI-produced report of alleged illegal file sharing as the basis of the warning to customers to stop the activity.
Issue no. 388 - 1 June 2008
- BE - Belgian papers seek €49m in copyright damages from Google
Belgian newspapers are pushing for up to €49m in damages from Google for publishing and storing their content without paying or asking permission. Last year the search website lost a lawsuit filed by a number of French-language Belgian newspapers and was forced to remove their content which had been posted on Google News and stored in its search engine cache without the copyright owners' permission. Copiepresse, an organisation that represents the French and German language Belgian press, has summoned Google to appear again in September before a Brussels court that will decide on the claim for damages.
- DE- Bundesrat segnet Gesetz zur besseren Durchsetzung geistigen Eigentums ab
Der Bundesrat hat das Gesetz zur besseren zivilrechtlichen Durchsetzung geistiger Eigentumsrechte abgesegnet. Rechteinhaber erhalten damit erstmals einen Auskunftsanspruch gegen an Rechtsverstößen unbeteiligte Dritte wie Internetprovider. So soll die Identität möglicher Rechtsverletzer etwa in Tauschbörsen einfacher aufgedeckt werden können. Über die Herausgabe von hinter einer IP-Adresse stehenden Nutzerdaten muss ein Richter entscheiden. Das Gesetz soll nun nach der Unterzeichnung durch den Bundespräsidenten und der Veröffentlichung im Bundesgesetzblatt in Kraft treten. Siehe auch GVU-Vorstand wirft Providern Verweigerung im "Kampf gegen Raubkopierer" vor.
- EU - European Commission proposes forum on future of copying levies
(Intellectual Property Watch)
Charlie McCreevy, the EU commissioner for the internal market, has suggested that a forum of those directly affected by private copying levies should be set up with a view to finding "common ground" on the surrounding issues between the collecting societies, which administer levies, and electronics firms, which are required to pay them. Artists and consumers groups should take part in this forum, too, he told a Brussels conference. See Opening speech, Conference on 'private copying levies' - Public Hearing, Centre Borschette, Brussels - 27 May 2008.
- US - YouTube law fight 'threatens net'
A one billion dollar lawsuit against YouTube threatens internet freedom, according to its owner Google. Google's claim follows Viacom's move to sue the video sharing service for its inability to keep copyrighted material off its site. Viacom says it has identified 150,000 unauthorised clips on YouTube. In court documents Google's lawyers say the action "threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information" over the web. They also maintained that YouTube had been faithful to the requirements of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act and that they responded properly to claims of infringement.
Issue no. 387 - 12 May 2008
- ISPs, Web Sites Must Tackle Piracy, Says CBS, Viacom Chief
Internet service providers, Web site operators and manufacturers of devices that are used by some to pirate content should play a part in stamping out that piracy, Sumner Redstone, chairman and controlling shareholder of both Viacom and CBS, said.
Issue no. 386 - 20 April 2008
- EU - Europe rejects anti-piracy plans
European politicians have voted down calls to throw suspected file-sharers off the net. The idea to cut off persistent pirates formed part of a wide-ranging report on creative industries written for the European parliament. But in a narrow vote MEPs backed an amendment to the report which said net bans conflicted with "civil liberties and human rights".
- US - Big tech companies accused of overstating patent problems
Patent lawyers beat up on large technology companies lobbying for a U.S. patent system revamp, arguing that their efforts could discourage start-ups, prompt foreign competitors to rip off inventions, and tear apart the economy more generally. The debate over patent system changes that has been raging for several years now largely pits a coalition of major Internet and technology companies--including Microsoft, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Amazon.com, eBay, Oracle, Dell, and Comcast--against seemingly every other industry that relies on patents.
Issue no. 385 - 21 March 2008
- Online Scrabble Craze Leaves Game Sellers at Loss for Words
(New York Times)
The latest bane of office productivity is Scrabulous, a virtual knockoff of the Scrabble board game, with over 700,000 players a day and nearly three million registered users. Everyone seems to love the online game - everyone, that is, except the companies that own the rights to Scrabble: Hasbro, which sells it in North America, and Mattel, which markets it everywhere else. In January, they denounced Scrabulous as piracy and threatened legal action against its creators.
- SE - Swedish court rules against ads
Sweden's Supreme Court has ruled that advertising breaks inserted into films violate the film-makers' copyright. The case was brought by directors Vilgot Sjoeman and Claes Eriksson, who sued television channel TV4 for introducing ad breaks into their films. The two directors never gave permission for ads to be shown during their films. The ruling will not stop all ads on movies shown on Swedish TV as most directors have signed waivers to allow ads in order to obtain funding.
- Warner drops locks across Europe
Warner Music has signed a deal with media site 7digital.com to offer its music without copy protection. Customers in the UK, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany will be able to download albums by artists such as Madonna and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Issue no. 384 - 24 February 2008
- CN - Record labels sue China's top search engine
Three major record labels have launched court actions against three Chinese internet companies accusing them of building a business on copyright infringement. One of them is China's biggest search engine, Baidu.com. Music trade body The International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI) said that it, Warner, Sony BMG and Universal have all filed suits against Baidu, Sohu and a company associated with it, Sogou. The actions demand that the internet firms remove links from their services to copyright infringing material in which the three firms hold rights.
- EU - Extend performers' copyright to 95 years, says commissioner
Performing artists, such as Cliff Richard, and session musicians would get copyright protection on their recordings for 95 years instead of the current 50, under plans put forward yesterday by Charlie McCreevy, the EU's internal market commissioner. McCreevy took issue with the Gowers report in Britain which rejected such a change despite intensive lobbying from long-standing artists such as Richard. "I disagree with Gowers," said McCreevy, who has been lobbied hard on the issue. See Extension of term of copyright protection for European performers speech by Charlie McCreevy, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Press Conference, Brussels, 14 February 2008 and Commission Press Release.
- EU - Parliament demands action on criminal IP penalties
The European Parliament has asked EU member states to press ahead with a plan to criminalise copyright infringement. The Parliament wants a proposal it agreed last year to be approved by ministers from each member state. The proposed EU directive would create new rules on copyright protection, and would require each EU country to pass laws criminalising intellectual property infringement. It must be approved by the Council of Ministers before it takes effect.
- UK - IPO changes software patent advice
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) will not appeal against a High Court ruling that some computer programs can be patented. It has amended its guidance to firms on the controversial issue. In January the High Court demanded the re-examination of six companies' patent applications, saying that the UK-IPO was wrong to reject them on the grounds of their being software.
Issue no. 383 - 27 January 2008
- UK - Writers' digital row with library
Scores of writers are refusing to let their works be scanned for an online archive at the National Library of Wales because they are not being paid. A year after a near-£1m project was awarded to digitise modern Welsh writing, a dispute between authors and the library has not been resolved. The library is putting some 3.5m words from 20th Century English and Welsh periodicals and magazines on the web.
- Web disconnection threat to downloaders
Internet users who illegally share music could face having the plug pulled on their web connection after record labels yesterday called for new legislation to tackle digital piracy. New figures showed music sales continued to decline, down by about 10% in 2007 as strong growth in digital revenues failed to offset the continuing slump in CD sales and the effects of piracy. Global sales via the internet and mobile phones grew by 40% to an estimated $2.9bn (£1.48bn). The 2008 IFPI digital music report said that for every song sold legitimately through services such as Apple's iTunes music store, an estimated 20 were downloaded illegally. John Kennedy, chief executive of the IFPI, said it was time internet service providers (ISPs) took responsibility for file sharers and predicted that the threat of disconnection would prove a greater deterrent than legal action.
Issue no. 381 - 8 December 2007
- EU - European scientific information - too late on open access?
The recent meeting on 22-24 November 2007 of the Competitiveness European Council meeting adopted its conclusions on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation. The conclusions underline the importance of scientific output resulting from publicly funded research being available on the Internet at no cost to the reader under economically viable circumstances, including delayed open access.
- Filter this: new YouTube filter greeted by concerns over fair use
After months of threats, pleadings, and lawsuits from content owners, YouTube finally rolled out its video content identification system. Consumer groups aren't quite as thrilled about the news as are content owners, however. Even content owners might turn out to be a bit wary. The new system isn't magic; it requires that copyright holders submit copies of every piece of material that they want protected.
- FR - France unveils anti-piracy plan
French web users caught pirating movies or music could soon be thrown offline. Those illegally sharing files will face the loss of their net access thanks to a newly-created anti-piracy body granted the wide-ranging powers. The anti-piracy body comes out of a deal agreed by France's music and movie makers and its net firms. The group who brokered the deal said the measures were intended to curb casual piracy rather than tackle large scale pirate groups. See Accord pour le développement et la protection des ?uvres et programmes culturels sur les nouveaux réseaux and Rapport sur le développement et la protection des oeuvres culturelles sur les nouveaux réseaux. Voir aussi Mission Olivennes : le détail des engagements du gouvernement, des ayants droit et des FAI. L'AFA (Association des fournisseurs d'accès et de services internet) n'a pas signé cet accord. Ce sont les principaux opérateurs (France Télécom, Iliad, Neuf Cegetel, Numéricâble et Télécom Italia), qui l'ont paraphé en leur nom propre.
- FR - New agreement between the French ISPs and record industries
Under the patronage of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, an agreement was signed on 23 November 2007 between some French ISPs and the music and movie representatives in order to act directly against the big illegal file-sharers. These could be warned in the first stage and then their connection could be even cut-off.
- FR - Téléchargement illégal : rapport de la mission Olivennes
Le rapport du P-DG de la Fnac préconise que la future Autorité de régulation des mesures techniques puisse réclamer aux FAI de suspendre, voire de résilier l´abonnement des clients s´adonnant au téléchargement illicite. L´UFC dénonce la « surenchère répressive ».
- GPL defenders say: See you in court
A legal team enforcing the most widely used license in the open-source and free software movement has shown that it's not afraid to take its cases all the way to court. For years, violations of the General Public License, or GPL, have been met with quiet discussions to resolve compliance problems that can result when open-source software is used improperly. Now, however, the Software Freedom Law Center is taking a hard-line approach, filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against Monsoon Multimedia for allegedly failing to abide by requirements of the GPL.
- SE - File-sharing pirates attempt new software standard
A Swedish Web site that promotes trading of pirated movies is developing a new software standard for Internet downloads in a move that could make it easier to swap media files, which is illegal in many countries. The Pirate Bay is the biggest ad-supported site using the software of BitTorrent. The program has been a good match for Internet denizens looking to pick up free downloads of copyrighted media, from Harry Potter movies to Xbox 360 video games.
- Singer threatens to sue his fans over online images
The artist currently known as Prince has threatened to sue thousands of his biggest fans for breach of copyright, provoking an angry backlash and claims of censorship. His lawyers have forced his three biggest Internet fansites to remove all photographs, images, lyrics, album covers, and anything linked to the artist's likeness.
- UK - Huge pirate music site shut down
British and Dutch police have shut down a "widely-used" source of illegally-downloaded music. A flat on Teesside and several properties in Amsterdam were raided as part of an Interpol investigation into the members-only website OiNK. The UK-run site has leaked 60 major pre-release albums this year alone, said the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). A 24-year-old man from Middlesbrough was arrested.
- US - Media groups challenge Google on copyright
Some of the world's largest media companies have agreed on a set of standards to govern the way that copyright law and anti-piracy measures should be applied to video and music on the internet - a move that could push them into conflict with Google. The group includes Walt Disney, News Corp, NBC Universal, CBS, Viacom and Microsoft. People involved in the discussions said the intention was to avoid a round of expensive copyright lawsuits with the technology companies that have become distributors of their video online, or relinquishing the matter to Congress, which could impose legislation with unintended consequences. However, the effort also appears to have been designed to gain leverage over Google, whose YouTube site is the largest destination for online video, and has represented a major source of frustration for traditional media companies.
- US - RIAA tries to pull plug on Usenet.
The Recording Industry Association of America has found a new legal target for a copyright lawsuit: Usenet. In a lawsuit, the RIAA says that Usenet newsgroups contain "millions of copyrighted sound recordings" in violation of federal law. Only Usenet.com is named as a defendant for now, but the same logic would let the RIAA sue hundreds of universities, Internet service providers, and other newsgroup archives. AT&T offers Usenet, as does Verizon, Stanford University and other companies including Giganews.
- YouTube rolls out filtering tools
Video site YouTube is launching filtering tools to clamp down on the sharing of video without permission. The tools, called Video Identification, will block copyright material from appearing and spreading on the site. YouTube, which is owned by Google, is currently fighting a billion-dollar legal battle with Viacom over the spread of pirated files. The firm says it currently removes copyright works when it has been told of their existence on the website.
Issue no. 380 - 30 September 2007
- FR - Free ferme 14 newsgroups
Free ferme 14 newsgroups utilisés pour le piratage de films. Des newsgroups ont été détournés pour le téléchargement de copies illicites de films et de logiciels. Le FAI aurait procédé à leur fermeture sous la pression de la justice.
- UK - Prince sues over internet copyright
Prince, the US rock star, has joined the list of media content owners suing internet distributors to try to recoup lost copyright revenues. A spokeswoman for the artist said he had taken legal action against YouTube, Ebay and Pirate Bay for "failing to filter out" unauthorised Prince content.
- UK - UKIPO consults on fast-tracking patent and trade marks
The UK Intellectual Property Office has launched a public consultation on proposals to introduce a fast-track system for patent and trade mark applications. The plan builds on a suggestion made in the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.
- US - A patent improvement
The number of patent applications has soared in recent years, but patent offices have been unable to keep up - resulting in huge backlogs and lengthy delays. Standards have slipped and in America the number of lawsuits over contested patents has shot up. In an attempt to fix these problems, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office are evaluating a radical change: opening the process up to internet-based collaboration. The scheme, known as "Peer to Patent", was created by Beth Simone Noveck, a professor at New York Law School. It applies an unusual form of peer review to a process which traditionally involves only a patent applicant and an examiner. Anybody who is interested may comment on a patent application via the internet. The scheme was launched as a one-year pilot programme in America on June 15th. The project is being supported by big technology firms including IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.
- US - Defendant claims RIAA abusing courts to shore up "failing business model"
Another file-sharing defendant who says she has never installed or used file-sharing software is fighting back against the RIAA, accusing the music industry of waging war in the US court system to "shore up the American recording industry's failing business model."
- US - DirecTV faces setback in dubious antipiracy campaign
DirecTV lost an important case : Programmers, security researchers, and anyone who believes in a limited government won. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a default judgment against a pair of alleged DirecTV television pirates, saying an "unauthorized decryption device" law the company invoked against them does not apply. That law promises statutory damages of $100,000 per violation.
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