As the creative industries continued to grow economically in importance in 2014, so have the stakes in copyright litigation. Increasingly, the courts have been challenged to resolve complex disputes arising from new uses of works and other subject matter brought about by innovations in technology. While content is often a core and indispensable element of new and innovative services, products or offerings, frequently parties dispute whether the use requires permission and payment to rights holders or can be engaged in without permission or payment. This post reviews some of the highlights of the court battles of 2014 in Canada and other Commonwealth countries, the United States and the European Union.
Archive for the ‘communication to the public’ category
On Friday, the Copyright Board released a decision and certified two SOCAN tariffs, Tariffs 22.D.1 (Internet – Online Audiovisual Services) and 22.D.2 (Internet – User-Generated Content). The years covered by the tariffs are 2007-2013.
The tariffs were certified based on agreements reached between SOCAN and objectors. Between the objectors and other entities which filed submissions, the heavyweights affected by the tariffs participated including Apple, Yahoo!, YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Cineplex, the members of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and the Canadian ISPS Rogers, Bell, and Shaw.
Earlier today, a number of international and foreign associations and copyright scholars filed an Amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in the ABC, Inc. et al v. Aereo, Inc case. The brief brings to the attention of the SCOTUS a number of international treaties and trade agreements respecting copyright that impose obligations on the United States to provide copyright holders with a broad technologically neutral communication to the public right that would cover all aspects of Aereo’s service and make its service infringing.
The England High Court recently made an order requiring ISPs to block two linking websites located at www.solarmovie.so (“SolarMovie”) and www.tubeplus.me (“TubePlus”). In doing so, the court in Paramount Home Entertainment International Ltd & Ors v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd & Ors  EWHC 3479 (Ch) (13 November 2013) ruled that the sites, which did not themselves host any content, were nevertheless liable for infringement because they facilitated streaming of content to users by hosting and organizing hyperlinks to the content without consent of copyright owners.
The nature of the sites in issue (the “Websites”) were describe by Justice Arnold as follows:
The annual Fordham IP law conference is, in my view, second to none. This year”s Fordham’s 21st Annual Conference on Intellectual Property Law and Policy was sensational. Great program and fabulous international faculty. IPkat reported on some of the sessions.
On Friday, I was on a panel Performance Rights in Copyright: Public, Private or “Digital”? The speakers and panelists with me were Profs. Tyler Ochoa (Santa Clara U. School of Law) and Jane Ginsburg (Columbia), David Ellen (GC Cablevision), Dr. Silke von Lewinski (Max Planck Institute for IP) and Janet Cullum (Cooley). It was a very timely panel, especially given the recent release of the opinion in WNET, Thirteen v. Aereo, Inc 2013 WL 1285591 (2nd.Cir.Apr, 1, 2013). Judge Chin who delivered the powerful dissent in the Aereo case was in the audience.
The Second Circuit released an important opinion yesterday ruling that Aereo’s New York based Internet streaming service does not infringe the US public performance right. In WNET, Thirteen v. Aereo, Inc 2013 WL 1285591 (2nd.Cir.Apr, 1, 2013), by a two to one majority, the Court ruled that the technical architecture of the service which is based on “renting” mini-antennas and transcoders to members of the public that are used to stream over the air live broadcasts renders the service non-infringing.
Central to the Court’s ruling was it prior decision in the Cablevision case which according to the Court established the following: .
The European Court of Justice ruled yesterday that retransmitting broadcasts over the internet infringes the communication to the public right, if done without authorization. The case involved TV Catchup Limited which operated an internet based live streaming service of broadcast television programmes.
The UK High Court in ITV Broadcasting Ltd & Ors v TV Catchup Ltd  EWHC 1874 (Pat) (18 July 2011) referred the case to the EU Court of Justice (the CJEU). The case involved answering two questions. First, whether grabbing the over the air broadcasts and retransmitting them over the Internet was a communication. Secondly, whether the transmissions were “to the public”. The court in Case C‑607/11 found both requirements were met.
Yesterday, I gave a talk at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s 17h Annual Intellectual Property Law: The Year in Review program. My talk canvassed developments in copyright in Canada and around the world in 2012. My slides are shown below. The associated paper prepared in collaboration with Glen Bloom, with the help of others, is available here.
The following copyright cases from Canada, the USA, UK and Ireland, Australia, and Europe are dealt with in the paper and slides.
Aga Khan v. Tajdin, 2012 FCA 12