Copyright Blockbuster 2014

Dear Readers,

The information age brought with it mounds of new perspectives and facts. But is it enough that it’s all out there! We do want to be able to know a whole lot by reading very little. So, we bring you a quick look at all the major IP-related happenings of 2014. Copyright Law:

1. CJEU rules – ISP’s can be made to block Illegal Download access
As an endorsement to European Union’s anti-piracy policies, the European Court of Justice ruled on March 27th, 2014, that EU Internet Service Providers (ISP) can be forced to block access to copyright infringing websites. The CJEU answered questions placed by the Commercial Court of Vienna, in an application for ordering the Austrian telecommunication company, UPC Telekebel, to block website, which streams and/or makes available to the public, films of the German film production company, Constantin Film Veleih.

2. India leads by example by being the first to Ratify Marrakesh Treaty!
Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, aka Marrakesh Treaty. This international binding WIPO treaty, named after the city it was agreed upon, for the first time aims at ending the “book famine” that deprives millions of blind, visually impaired and print disabled persons to access knowledge hidden inside literary works. This treaty is the first Intellectual Property Treaty which signifies human rights in its Preamble.

3. “Digital Offenders! Beware of the Goonda Act”
On 28th July, 2014, the Karnataka State Government passed a legislature, under which a person can now be arrested in Karnataka even before he/she commits an offence, under the IT Act. In case you own a Smartphone and have a WhatsApp account, if the government thinks you are planning to send a ‘lascivious’ photo to a WhatsApp group, or forward a Copyrighted Song to a friend, you can now get charged under the Amended Act. The Karnataka Government in the Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum-Grabbers and Video or Audio Pirates (Amendment) Bill, 2014, also known as the Goonda Act, has brought most of the offences previously under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, now under the ambit of the Goonda Act.

4. E-Filing of Copyright Applications made compulsory from August 1, 2014
It is now mandatory that Copyright Applications are only filed online in India as per Notification – No. F. 27-25/2014-CP issued on July 22, 2014 by the Indian Copyright Office, where it was notified that the Copyright Counter will be closed from August 1, 2014 in order “to promote the online filing of copyright applications” the facility for which was already launched on February 17, 2014. As per the Guidelines available with the official website of the Copyright Office of India, the procedure is quite simple to file Form XIV for Application for Registration of Copyright.

5. Monkey Selfie and the bizarre Copyright Battle!
In 2011, David Slater, a British photographer traveled to Indonesia to photograph a Crested Black Macaque. While on this expedition, in the words of the Telegraph, Slater watched as “…one of the animals came up to investigate his equipment, hijacked a camera and took hundreds of selfies.” One of them – a selfie by a female Macaque went viral. The viral photo was uploaded on Wikimedia Commons. Later, Slater sent a notice-and-take down to the Wikipedia Foundation and TechDirt, but the request was denied by Wikipedia Foundation. When the battle for Copyright Ownership was underway, the Wikipedia community voted against Slater’s ownership claims and posted the photo online in its collection of public domain images, arguing that Slater did not own the picture’s copyright because he did not take the picture. The monkey did. And since the monkey could not own copyrights, nobody did.

6. Twitch introduces copyright protections
Video game streaming site Twitch had announced that it will be implementing what it calls “technology intended to help broadcasters avoid the storage of videos containing unauthorized third-party audio.” Accordingly, Twitch has flagged and partially muted videos in its archives with unlicensed music. This is exactly what YouTube does for copyrighted audio. Twitch has further advised streamers wanting to include music on their broadcasts, to stick to Creative Commons, Jamendo and SongFreedom.

7. Copyright Laws catch up with PM Modi for use of photo on FB page
Bimal Nepal, a photographer, claimed that Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, used what seems to be a photograph belonging to Bimal, on his Facebook page, for Deepavali. This photograph, he claims, was taken by him on a festive occasion at home. As news gets around, Bimal is already getting to be the talk of the town during this holiday season. Though he is not threatening to sue Mr. Modi for infringement, Bimal wants to be attributed as the photographer, which only seems fair.

8. Google’s Anti-Piracy Step.
Google, with its motive of anti-piracy and in order to deal with copyright violations, has taken a big step that hits copyright infringers right where it hurts the most – targeting search traffic coming in from Google. Google has made changes to its search algorithm to demote the largely “pirate” sites.

9. Is taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower, a violation of Copyright?
Taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower in Paris is equivalent to sharing copies of film without permission, meaning COPYRIGHT VIOLATION. The famous landmark built in 1889 falls within the public domain and that means daytime views from the Eiffel Tower are rights-free. But, the Eiffel Tower’s Illuminations, where the tower is spectacularly adorned with belles lumières (beautiful lights) is still protected by copyright hence requiring permission from the “Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel” (the Eiffel Tower’s operating company, or SETE) as given on their website.

10. Targeting ‘means’ rather than ‘the end’? – ISP sued for vicarious Copyright Infringement
BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music (hereinafter, “Plaintiffs”) collectively sued the Internet Service Provider (ISP), Cox Communications, for infringement of their copyright by Cox’s subscribers. Since ISPs do not have complete control over the activities of their subscribers and the manner in which their services are being utilized, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) under Title II (Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act), commonly known as Safe Harbour Provisions, provides for certain protection from liability in cases of Copyright Infringement by subscribers.

11. American Broadcasting vs. Aereo – Landmark Copyright Infringement case
On June 25th, 2014, the prolonged legal battle between Aereo, Inc. (Defendant) and the American Broadcasting Companies Inc. (Plaintiffs) – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, came to a screeching end. The US Supreme Court decided against the legitimacy of Aereo’s service on the grounds of Copyright Infringement. This is a landmark judgment in the Copyrights world since, if decided otherwise, there could have been a drastic impact on the market of television broadcasters.

12. Bombay HC clarifies first of several gray areas in Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012
Bombay High Court takes a leap to clarify one of the many issues causing Copyright Owners to have sleepless nights, after the passing of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012. In a recent order passed by Bombay HC in the matter of Leopold Café and others vs. Novex Communications Pvt. Ltd., Justice G S Patel clarified that Copyright Owners would be allowed to license their works themselves or through their authorized agents under Section 30 of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012.

13. Clips of Copyrighted Material constitute FAIR USE!
In a copyright dispute, a New York Court recently held that a database providing for television clips and snippets of transcript constitute fair use, protecting it from allegations of copyright infringement. TVEyes is a company that monitors and records all contents broadcast by more than 1,400 television and radio stations and transforms this content into a searchable database for its subscribers. TVEyes allows its subscribers to use search terms and obtain transcripts and video clips of the portions of the television show that used the search term and further are allowed to download and save these clips and can even email them to non-subscribers or post them on social media. Fox News, an international television news organization sued TVEyes for copying and distributing clips of its program.

Image Source/Attribution: here (Governed by Creative Commons License CC BY-SA 3.0)