Sunday 16 September 2012

Filesharing: the size of the problem

The Financial Times has an interesting piece (not behind the paywall, at least not yet) on the extent of the filesharing problem in the UK. It quotes a report by Musicmetric, and comes up with a (literally) headline figure of £500 million for the loss to the record industry in this country. I suspect this falls into the trap of assuming that all, or a sizeable proportion of, the downloads from illegal sharing sites represent lost sales, which was never the case back in the old days before I knew what copyright was when I used to tape schoolmates' LPs and let them do the same to mine. Given that this was pre-Dark Side of the Moon and Tubular Bells, I'm fairly confident that I won't be pursued. And I will also argue in mitigation that the result of taping from an LP was in no way whatsoever an acceptable substitute: it was usually pretty difficult to make out what you were listening to.

Friday 14 September 2012

Dylan on copyright: "There are different rules for me"

Different rules, perhaps, about what infringes someone else's copyright - though that's not what the great wordsmith meant, as the context will make clear. Last year I blogged about the controversy surrounding some of his paintings (see here). Now the BBC has published a piece (hat tip to the IPKat) about "borrowings" dating back to 2006 and 2001 - and earlier. Of course, even the man's name is borrowed, but Dylan Thomas had few if any rights to stop Robert Zimmerman appropriating it, and little if any reason to try to prevent it anyway. And it's true that folk and jazz music have a rich history of borrowing, but not simply parasitic copying.

Well, Henry Timrod's copyright has long since expired, although Saga is still alive and kicking. Anyway, I don't know how extensive the taking might have been, although if I have time I am now interested enough to find out. It doesn't look to me as if this latest plagiarism accusation has the legs that the paintings thing did, but regardless of that I feel extremely disappointed that such an original, innovative artist should adopt so cavalier an attitude to others' work, whether protected by law or not.

Friday 7 September 2012

Forum shopping: you can't have your cake and eat it

An interesting posting on the always-worth-reading IP Whiteboard blog from King & Wood Mallesons here,  Marilyn Monroe's estate finding that the protection given to publicity rights under Californian law would be handy, but being stuck with the long-ago decision to rely on her residence in New York to establish domicile and avoid the estate taxes that would have been due had she been domiciled in California. Another nice illustration of a point about intellectual property law: the fundamental interconnectedness of all things means that there are always interesting interfaces and overlaps with other areas of law.

It's all about the rights

Here's an interesting piece from the BBC Radio 3 blog, describing the problems faced in getting all the necessary copyright clearances to put on a concert and in the process nicely illustrating how what looks like a unitary piece of work might involve a large number of different copyright works to which I will refer students. Presumably the missing link here - the rights in the dialogue - was Arthur Laurents's work, though (leaving aside Shakespeare's claim to be the author) if you asked me who wrote West Side Story I would immediately say Leonard Bernstein - and probably not bring even Stephen Sondheim to mind. Which just goes to show ...

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