European Commission Blueprint On IP

The European Commission has set out its blueprint on Intellectual property rights (IPR). According to a Commission Press Release, …”technological change and, in particular, the growing importance of online activities, have completely changed the world in which IPR operate. The existing mix of European and national rules are no longer adapted and need to be modernised. That is why the Commission has adopted today a comprehensive strategy to revamp the legal framework in which IPR operate. Our objective is to enable inventors, creators, users and consumers to adapt to the new circumstances and to enhance new business opportunities. The new rules will strike the right balance between promoting creation and innovation, in part by ensuring reward and investment for creators and, on the other hand, promoting the widest possible access to goods and services protected by IPR. Getting this balance right will make a real difference to businesses (from the individual artist working alone to the big pharmaceutical companies) by encouraging investment in innovation. This will benefit the EU’s growth and competitiveness which is delivered through the single market. Consumers will benefit from wider and easier access to information and cultural content, for example online music. The strategy deals with many issues to ensure IPR are covered comprehensively – from the patent a business needs to protect an invention to tackling the misuse of such inventions via a proposal also adopted today which will strengthen action on counterfeiting and piracy. Among the first deliverables of this IPR overall strategy are today’s proposals for an easier licensing system for so-called “orphan works” that will allow many cultural works to be accessible online, and for a new regulation to reinforce customs actions in fighting trade of IPR infringing goods…”.

 

 

 

 

 

Access Industries To Acquire Warner Music Group

Warner Music Group and Access Industries, the U.S.-based industrial group, announced the execution of a definitive merger agreement under which Access Industries will acquire WMG in an all-cash transaction valued at $3.3 billion. The purchase includes WMG’s entire recorded music and music publishing businesses (Access Industries Statement).

It is interesting to see how such a merger will effect licensee and distributor relationships worldwide. That, may depend on the interests Access has in media companies around the world. To take the Israeli example, Warner has been represented by several entities over the years, including Hed Arzi Group and now Lev Group Media. But, Access has a stake  in R.G.E. Group Ltd., a media group based in Israel. Does this mean that a change in local representation for Warner in Israel is looming?

 

 

EMI Taking Back Digital Rights From ASCAP

According to HypeBot, “…In a radical shift, EMI Music Publishing today announced that it is taking back the responsibility for licensing digital rights in North American from ASCAP. The performance rights society will continue to license EMI’s performance rights for traditional media services, including television and radio stations…

…For EMI, the change is designed to streamline the performance rights licensing process for its EMI April Music catalog to for audio streams, streaming video, cloud music and other similar services. April Music is one of EMI’s two largest catalogs, featuring almost  200,000 songs. Now, they can easily license many digital services  whether they need a mechanical license, a synchronization license, a  performance license or all three…” (Bruce Houghton, HypeBot).

China’s New Internet Regulator

According to the The Chinese Government’s Official Web Portal: “…the Chinese government announced Wednesday the setting up of an office to manage Internet information. The department, known as the State Internet Information Office, will: direct, coordinate and supervise online content management and handle administrative approval of businesses related to online news reporting…, work to implement the policies of Internet communication and promote legal system construction in this field…, direct the development of online gaming, online video and audio businesses and online publication industries…, [be] engaged in promoting construction of major news websites and managing government online publicity work…, investigate and punish websites violating laws and regulations… [and]… oversee telecom service providers in their efforts to improve the management of registration of domain names, distribution of IP addresses, registration of websites and Internet access…”.

Camden Lock Denied DotCom

A WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, administrative panel decision has denied Camden Lock Limited and others, the entities owning the famous North London market, a transfer of the domain name “camdenlock.com” registered with eNom in Malaysia. As per the decision, the “…Complainant has failed on the present pleadings and evidence to carry its burden of proving rights in the mark CAMDEN LOCK…”.

Tyson’s Tattoo

“…In “The Hangover Part II”, the sequel to the very successful what-happened-last-night comedy, the character played by Ed Helms wakes up with a permanent tattoo bracketing his left eye. The Maori-inspired design is instantly recognizable as the one sported by the boxer Mike Tyson, which is part of the joke (Mr. Tyson makes an appearance in both films, playing himself).   But S. Victor Whitmill, a tattoo artist designed the tattoo for Mr. Tyson, called it “tribal tattoo,” and claims it as a copyrighted work…” (Noam Cohen, NY Times).

A tattoo may be entitled to copyright protection. So in order to avoid copyright infringment issues relating to uses of the tattoo, it is recommended for a commissioner and artist to set out the terms on which any work of art is commissioned and later used. A question that arises in this case is which entity gave the  the film’s production company the right to use the tattoo and under what terms…?

 

 

Digital Opportunity

A new report commissioned by the UK government proposes a clear change in the strategic direction of IP policy designed to ensure that the UK has an IP framework best suited to supporting innovation and promoting economic growth in the digital age.

The Review recommends:

  1. an efficient digital copyright licensing system.
  2. an approach to exceptions in copyright.
  3. a patent system capable of preventing heavy demand for patents.
  4. reliable and affordable advice for smaller companies.
  5. refreshed institutional governance of the UK’s IP system.

Digital Opportunity – A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth (Prof. Ian Hargreaves, May 2011).

Twitter & Super Injunctions

The British legal system seems to be in a tangle …”due to the ability of Twitter users to break any legal ‘super injunction’ a ‘celebrity’ (usually footballers) has on the reporting of their private life (usually affairs)…” (Mike Butcher, TechCrunch Europe).

Apple’s Cloud

Apple plans to announce the launch a new cloud music service later in the year. “…It has deals with three of the big music labels. And it is in talks to close a deal with Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music company. But when Apple gets its Universal deal done, it still won’t be ready to launch. That’s because Apple has yet to nail down terms with the big music publishers, who own a separate set of rights…” (Media Memo by Peter Kafka – Wall Street Journal).

 

Down Under

EMI has lost an appeal in Australia over a 2010 Federal Court ruling that the well knwon flute rift of the Men at Work song Down Under copied a substantial part of a children’s folk song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree. EMI are to pay Kookaburra’s composer five per cent of Down Under‘s royalties since 2002 (CBC News).