Posts Tagged ‘copyright’
There’s going to be some changes ’round here according to Google. They’re going to introduce changes to their search engine in the hope that it’ll discourage you from getting anywhere near pirated content by placing legit copyrighted stuff higher in the results of your online queries.
Basically, they’re tweaking their algorithms so that pirate material is shunted further down the search results, so it’ll still be there, you’re just going to have to fanny about a bit more to source it.
“We are optimistic that Google’s actions will help steer consumers to the myriad legitimate ways for them to access movies and TV shows online,” said Michael O’Leary, a senior executive vice president at the Motion Picture Association of America, in a statement.
Amit Singhal, Google’s head of engineering, says: “Since we re-booted our copyright removals over two years ago, we’ve been given much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online. In fact, we’re now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009 – more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone.”
Start bookmarking your favourite streaming and torrent sites, now.
Uh-oh! YouTube have been told in a court-of-law that they are indeed responsible for copyright-infringing videos that are uploaded to their platform. This could be a massive problem for Google couldn’t it?
At the weekend, the Hamburg regional court ruled in favour of GEMA, the German rights collection society, in a lawsuit that focused on 12 example videos which had been uploaded without the permission of the copyright holders.
Currently, YouTube only take down videos when someone has notified them that copyright has been infringed. The court ruled that YouTube must now add digital fingerprints to all the videos uploaded and that it also had to install a word filter to pick up copyright-infringing videos.
“We reached our primary goal one hundred percent, to have the court confirm that YouTube is fundamentally responsible for videos posted by users,” GEMA chairman Harald Heker said in a statement. ”YouTube must implement appropriate measures to protect our repertoire and cannot simply pass on this obligation to the copyright holders. This is an important victory for us.”
Google, who own YouTube, can still appeal the verdict and they probably will because they’ve got a terrifying amount of money behind them. Meanwhile, all the major label German bands will all disappear from YouTube again. What a shame.
You have probably all heard of Claire’s Accessories, that virulent strain of accessory shops owned by Claire’s Stores Inc that turned in a $4.323m profit after tax last year. You have probably never heard of Tatty Devine, a small exclusive designer jeweller based in the UK. What on Earth could a bargain basement price ‘jewellery’ retailer have to do with some British craftspeople? You can see it coming can’t you, in the same way those ‘designers’ over at H&M saw a sign by the side of the road.
Tatty Devine were understandably surprised recently to discover that some of their unique designs were actually available in Claire’s Accessory shops. At first they thought it must be a mistake, as they only supply their exclusive work to selected outlets. Or perhaps the necklaces aren’t actually absolutely identical. Let’s have a look (the Tatty Devine piece is always shown on the left).
Tatty Devine sell these necklaces for between £24 and £125. We can only assume that Claire’s is selling them somewhat cheaper. After all, perhaps they haven’t had to pay the designer…
But surely Claire’s would do such a thing. It must be a mistake. After all, in its own annual report, the company states that:
The Company is, from time to time, involved in litigation incidental to the conduct of its business, including personal injury litigation, litigation regarding merchandise sold, including product and safety concerns regarding heavy metal and chemical content in merchandise, litigation with respect to various employment matters, including litigation with present and former employees, wage and hour litigation and litigation to protect intellectual property rights.
The Company believes that current pending litigation will not have a material adverse effect on its consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
A cynical person might suggest that Claire’s thinks it is too big to be bothered by pesky law suits from smaller independent designers, leaving them free to ‘design’ at will. I couldn’t possibly comment.
The full story can be found on Tatty Devine’s blog.
Over in East Atlanta Village, in Georgia, USA, there is a sign. It was hand-painted in 2008 by local resident Tori LaConsay, as a ‘love letter’ to the neighbourhood.
Tori tells regresty: “This was on the side of the sign that I thought people would see on their way to work. On the other side of the sign (the side I thought people would see the most on their return back to the neighborhood) I painted, “I’m So Happy You’re Here” with another little heart. It was a small gesture that I genuinely hoped would make my neighbors feel good.” So far, so hippy-dippy, but a nice enough sentiment anyway.
Fast forward to 2012, and let’s have a look at what H&M are flogging on their UK website…
Hmm, that looks pretty similar to us. Tori got in touch with H&M, raising her concerns about what looks like an open-and-shut case of copyright theft. But no, it’s okay, because H&M told her…
“We employ an independent team of over 100 designers. We can assure you that this design has not been influenced by your work and that no copyright has been infringed.”
Let’s take another look.
Yes, they’re right. Sorry Tori, no case to answer. Now keep calm and carry on.
It was announced in March that MasterCard and Visa would be withdrawing their payment services on websites which sell copyright infringing music. Since this move they have removed their payment facilities from 24 music service site. These two are massive players in the payment industry and now with them on board the next logical step for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (representatives of the recording industry worldwide) was to approach, with the City of London Police, arguably the next biggest player – PayPal.
Now, PayPal is joining forces with the City of London Police to combat music piracy. Their Acceptable Use Policy of PayPal states it will not tolerate the use of activities which will:
a) ‘violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation’
b) ‘relate to the sales of items that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity
c) ‘items that infringe copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy or any other proprietary right under the laws of any jurisdiction’
If the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry anti-piracy investigators believe that they have enough evidence to prove that they have found an infringing site then they will provide the City of London Police with their evidence. Once the police have verified the evidence, they are able to notify PayPal who can then take action. PayPal will then request the relevant music licence from the retailer and quite possibly in the meantime suspend its services to that retailer until this is provided.
Carl Scheible, PayPal UK’s managing director, commented:
“This announcement shows that PayPal is very serious about fighting music piracy. We’ve always banned PayPal’s use for the sale of content that infringes copyright, and the new system will make life even harder for illegal operators. Our partnership with the music industry helps rights holders make money from their own content while stopping the pirates in their tracks.”
Got any issues that you would like me, heavyweight consumer wrestler Len Dastard to consider? Get in contact – email@example.com. Adios!
The delightfully named US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (or ICE, if you want to be all cool and that) is claiming that all .com and .net sites are theirs. That includes sites that don’t even have their servers in America.
And while this sounds like some kind of weird net colonialism, what it means in practical terms is that should you own a site or blog that contravenes copyright law, the Americans will be coming after you.
Erik Barnett, assistant deputy director of ICE said told the Guardian that the agency is going to come after you if you’re breaking their laws. The freedom of the internet, eh? It is reported that the ICE won’t just be going after sites with illegal content on them. They’re also going to run after any sites linking to dodgy content with legal pitchforks.
Barnett said, “By definition, almost all copyright infringement and trademark violation is transnational. There’s very little purely domestic intellectual property theft.”
“Without wishing to get into the particulars of any case, the general goal of law enforcement is to arrest and prosecute individuals who are committing crimes. That is our goal, our mission. The idea is to try to prosecute.”
Good luck with that, America… you massive mentalists.
The makers of the Oscar-winning flick The Hurt Locker are going to sue people. Yep, they’ve joined a scheme that yells ‘pay up or else’ and will target tens of thousands of U.S. BitTorrent users (that’s if the ISPs are willing to co-operate that is).
The war film has been a huge success on torrent sites. The day after the movie bagged an Oscar or two, ‘the hurt locker’ was the most typed in search phrase on torrents and obviously, download numbers skyrocketed.
However, what is sticking in the craw of the makers is that, despite success with awards, the U.S box office revenue has been relatively low at $16.4 million. In an attempt to increase the film’s revenue, the makers are now going to sue thousands of downloaders. Expect a letter later in the month.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the team behind the film have signed up for the services of the U.S. Copyright Group, who will launch a mass lawsuit targeted at tens of thousands of Hurt Locker sharers. All infringers that have been identified thus far were asked to settle the dispute, or face further legal action.
“You can guess that relative to the films we’ve pursued already, the order of magnitude is much higher with Hurt Locker,” said Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the U.S. Copyright Group. Dunlap also said that 75 percent of ISPs have cooperated thus far and that 40% of the BitTorrent users that were targeted early this year have already settled.
Naturally, the Copyright Group aren’t being altruistic. The ‘pay up or else’ scheme is sees them taking 70 percent of the ‘winnings’. This action will invariably hit snag after snag and will no doubt meet great opposition.
You know the story by now; avid Bitterwallet reader Chris noticed the BBC had used his photographs on their website without permission. Chris asked for a credit or a link back to his own website, a reasonable request since BBC staff had ignored a very obvious copyright notice when purloining the images. Instead, the BBC refused to acknowledge Chris and deleted the images instead. He pushed the corporation for an explanation, caught them in a lie and consequently invoiced them for £600 for unauthorised use and copyright infringement.
That was the story last week. Yesterday, we updated you with news of the BBC trying to fob Chris off with a minimal payment. Chris refused. He’s now been back in touch, and the BBC has agreed to pay his invoice in full. Below is the email trail between the two; you’ll notice how the BBC hasn’t got a leg to stand and drops to its knees like a Swansea hooker:
I will exceptionally agree that, due to our error, we should pay you £100 per still for the unlicensed use on our web-site.
But you must accept that there were only 3 stills – not 6.
With all due respect, this is still unacceptable.
A photography license will refer to the single use of a single image, that license agreement does not count re-runs or minor changes, it is simply one licence for one use per image as defined by the NUJ advice for online use of images. The BBC stole three images from a third party website and each was used on two separate pages with separate web addresses and separate page content, hence six licences. That is and shall remain my bottom line.
This has been a hugely frustrating experience and this continued arrogance from the BBC is appalling. For the sake of expediency I will have to insist that this matter is resolved to my satisfaction on or before the 23rd of this month, that is this Friday. After this date I will refer the matter to the BBC Trust complaints and the small claims court.
I will arrange for payment of £600 to be forwarded to you.
Please forward you bank details as follows:
It isn’t the first time the BBC has lifted photos for their use, and it probably won’t be the last. Well done to Chris for sticking to his guns and getting a result.
When avid Bitterwallet Chris noticed his photos were being used by the BBC website without his permission, he played nice and asked for a credit, or a reciprocal link to his own site. It seemed a very reasonable request, especially given that BBC staff had made a point of ignoring an obvious copyright notice above the images.
When the BBC told Chris they had permission, but took the images down anyway for reasons that didn’t make much sense, Chris pushed them for answers. The BBC proceeded to tell Chris a series of stories that contradicted one another, and caught themselves in a lie. The truth and a small acknowledgment would have been perfectly acceptable, but instead the BBC tried to cover up the fact they had used the images without permission.
Chris has now received a somewhat sheepish reply from the BBC after numerous emails to the corporation:
In response to your correspondence regarding unauthorised use of 3 images on our web-site.
Our Blast Team do not have a budget for use of stills and this was an error on their part to include your stills.
We usually pay £60 per still for On-line use by our Learning Department. Can we therefore agree a payment of £180 on this occasion.
Please let me know if this is acceptable and once again apologies for the oversight.
Chris’s has turned down the amount, and fired back a reply to reiterate his concern:
There was no ‘oversight’ nor was there an error. If the BBC Blast team do not have a budget for stills photography then they should be very clear in their understanding of how images are licensed and managed. The only oversight appears to be in the level of training offered to staff.
Ouch. £60 per image isn’t even the minimum rate set by the NUJ for editorial use online by a news organisation; not that Chris is necessarily a member of the NUJ, but he hasn’t even been offered what the BBC would have paid a freelancer for agreed use.
We’ve reported in the past about the BBC disregarding its own procedures and using copyright photographs without permission. Time for round two, as another avid Bitterwallet reader steps forward with a similar tale of familiar photos and confused explanations. Here’s a screengrab from the former BBC Blast homepage in Northern Ireland:
The images used by the BBC to create the homepage were taken by Chris, our avid reader and a keen photographer:
BBC Blast had been involved with a youth project at a local music centre and broadcast a live show and discussion programme. I’ve helped along the music centre out in the past, by taking pictures of the gigs and popping them up on the centre’s site:
Whenever images taken by Chris appear on the music centre’s website, they always appear with a clear and explicit copyright notice directly above them:
After a few minutes of watching the show it occurred to me that the images that had been incorporated into the BBC Blast logo were in fact mine. I sent the BBC an email and asked if I could get a link added to the page, perhaps a credit. The response was a little surprising – they couldn’t post a link because of “child protection fears”, and would therefore have to remove the images. They were sorry for any misunderstanding.
The BBC had used the images for their own website without the permission of Chris, but he was happy to let that go if they gave him a credit. Seems reasonable. When they suddenly decided to pull all the images and fob him off with a nonsense of an excuse, Chris decided to investigate what “misunderstanding” they were referring to:
I asked the BBC where the pictures were sourced, and they informed me that those working on the project had emailed them and the BBC had assumed they had the rights to use them. I checked, and those involved insisted that they certainly hadn’t, as they they were aware of the copyright issues.
So the BBC’s story was that they were sent the images and assumed permission for use was granted:
I asked the BBC if they could send me the email that the images were attached to. The individual I had spoken to then suggested he wasn’t involved directly, and he would ask somebody else to help. I pushed a little harder, and was then told the BBC had been informed the images were available to them online and they were sure someone had given them permission.
Now, there never was an email and they’d lifted them directly off the website instead:
I made a point of telling them there was no room for ambiguity; the images were taken from a third party website and there was no question of who took the images – if the BBC staff had visited the site to lift the images, they must have seen the copyright notice above and must have chose to ignore it. One would imagine if the scenario was reversed there would be no ambiguity from the BBC.
So far, nobody at the BBC can tell Chris how the images appeared on the corporation’s website, probably because somebody has realised a bollock has been dropped; copyright belongs to the creator, so at the very least Chris should have received an email direct from the BBC seeking permission before they were used. In retaliation, Chris has taken a leaf out of Bitterwallet’s well-thumbed book:
I’ve sent an invoice for the sum of £600 for unauthorised use and suggested that this was a bargain considering the settlement agreed by BBC Birmingham. And just to ensure there are no further complications I hand delivered a copy of the invoice, email and screenshot to the Belfast office. I’ll keep you posted.
The Digital Economy Bill has irritated as many people as it’s bored to the point of prescription pills.
For those who are irritated by it, there’s some news for you to be thrilled or suspicious about.
Basically, for those wondering what this is all about, the thing that’s been bugging people is Clause 18 – that’s the one where the people who own the copyright to something being given the power to force ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block websites that they think are guilty of widespread copyright infringement.
Basically, that would make our elected government the bitch of the recording industry and anyone putting tunes on a website (whether they’ve got permission or not) could face site closure or legal proceedings.
Now the government has published a replacement Clause 18 in an attempt to say “we’re listening, honest we are”, just before we all start voting in a general election.
In short, this new clause says that courts will now have to consider the effect on legitimate uses and users of sites before granting an injunction. This means that YouTube should be pretty much safe from harm.
Also, ISPs won’t have to cough up coins for court costs. This means that people like BT (or whoever) are more unlikely to agree on blocking websites until there’s a proper court hearing.
Have a look at this article, with attached PDFs written by Peter Mandelson explaining the new developments. Feel free to pick them to pieces and show your findings in the comments… if you can be arsed.
Zahavah Levine, YouTube’s Chief Counsel has posted a blog about the spat between the company and Viacom. I say ‘spat’, it’s more like a $1 billion lawsuit.
Basically, Viacom think that YouTube have been creaming money from them and there’s a whole bunch of copyright infringement to boot.
After talking up how great and democratic they are, YouTube have said: “YouTube and sites like it will cease to exist in their current form if Viacom and others have their way in their lawsuits against YouTube.”
The Viacom vs. YouTube lawsuit (which have been made public today and you can read leaked documents here), Viacom are claiming that YouTube aren’t doing enough to keep their copyrighted material off the site.
YouTube argue that “all videos are automatically copyrighted from the moment they are created, regardless of who creates them. This means all videos on YouTube are copyrighted… The issue in this lawsuit is not whether a video is copyrighted, but whether it’s authorized to be on the site. ”
Away from all the legal gumf, the real meat of the story lies in what YouTube claim to be the dodgy practises of Viacom, stating: “For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users.”
Of course, Viacom feel differently and claim to have correspondence from YouTube which state that: “80 percent of user traffic depended on pirated videos. He opposed removing infringing videos on the ground that ‘if you remove the potential copyright infringements… site traffic and virality will drop to maybe 20 percent of what it is.” You can see the ‘smoking gun’ emails here.
There’s a lot to chew on with all this and the outcome will invariably revolve around net ‘freedoms’ and rights for the artist. This will get messy.
Our digital future is in one fat mess, as the masters of social media look to rob us of our privacy, our government dreams up new ways to punish unlawful downloading and the traditional dead tree media crumbles to dust. Now adding to the fracas is the House of Lords, in a move which would see search engines exempt from any liability for copyright infringement in the UK.
According to Paid Content, Conservative Lord Lucas is proposing an amendment to the already controversial Digital Economy Bill – a clause for the “protection of search engines from liability for copyright infringement” which goes something like this:
“Every provider of a publicly accessible website shall be presumed to give a standing and non-exclusive license to providers of search engine services to make a copy of some or all of the content of that website, for the purpose only of providing said search engine services.A provider of search engine services who acts in accordance with this section shall not be liable for any breach of copyright.”
Publishers of online content could still block the advances of search engines by adding a machine-readable file denying a licence to copy and republish the content, but it would mean everything on the internet is fair game for Google with no comeback for websites, unless individual publishers act to restrict their content. The requirement to proactively enforce copyright would also mean revising the current laws on the subject.
It may never happen since the bill has several stages of approval to pass through, and it’s just one of nearly 300 proposed amendments which are being heard in the Lords next week. Chances are they’ll be asleep after the first dozen.
[Paid Content] via Bitterwallet reader Graham
Some of us are inspired by faith, religion or spirituality. Others may find role models and family provide positive motivation. And then there are those who understand their true calling upon witnessing the Lord’s image in a dissected vegetable.
But if you’re clothing retailers Urban Outfitters, then you’re seemingly inspired by the ideas other people have, which you then claim to be your own.
Urban Counterfeiters is standing up for the little people, by highlighting the instances of a designer or small company unexpectedly finding their designs being “re-imagined” for Urban Outfitters and other stores. For example, there’s this example created in 2001 by an Australian designer, and a shower curtain which appeared in Urban Outfitters last year:
Once might be a mistake, twice may be careless, but half a dozen examples of independent designs migrating to a larger company’s product lines without permission suggests flat-out douchbaggery.
[Urban Counterfeiters] via Bitterwallet reader Emma
As time trickles by, you begin to reach an inescapable conclusion about digital media – it’s hardly safe as houses. Or course books can be lost in a flooded garage, CDs and DVDs are scratched and smeared with jam by three year-olds – it’s not like physical media is impervious to loss – but short of a burglary, you can protect it. Kindle owners on the other hand, have just discovered their libraries can be done over without warning, by none other than Amazon themselves.
The works of George Orwell have been in the public domain for some time, except in the US where terms of copyright last 95 years after the publication date of Orwell’s classics. These rights are held by Orwell’s estate, inherited by his adopted son Richard Horatio Blair, who has vigorously defended unauthorised use of the author’s works in the past.
A publisher specialising in public domain works made Orwell’s novels available on Amazon in the US, and hundreds of Kindle owners paid for and downloaded the works. When the estate objected, Amazon decided the best way to resolve the matter would be to delete all traces of the disputed material from the Kindles in question. Customers were compensated with a $5 voucher for their payment and received an apology for any inconvenience caused, such as reaching page 283 of 1984 and not being able to finish the chapter without visiting Barnes & Noble.
If this was a physical purchase, it’s unlikely Amazon would be knocking at doors demanding the return of books. Amazon should have withdrawn the disputed works from sale and compensated Orwell’s Estate for those already sold, since the fault in this case was with the retailer, not the purchaser. Instead, Amazon have now proved they’re not afraid to police the material they sell, even after the fact.