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Performers’ Rights and the Performance Right: A Constitutionally Confusing Conflation of Constructs

halpern_env-page-001The bizarre saga known as Garcia v. Google has finally come to end with an eleven judge en banc decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Garcia v. Google, Inc., 786 F.3d 733 (9th Cir. 2015)). That holding came in response to a remarkable, if not astonishing holding by a two to one majority of a Ninth Circuit panel. The en banc hearing, and its result, overturning the panel majority, was not at all surprising. The issue, however, was disturbing enough to have generated  the filing of thirteen different amici curiae briefs on behalf of more than forty different purported amici.

While the end result was fully anticipated the case itself raises significant issues a [...]

The Netherlands: NSE v. Stichting BREIN, Court of Appeal of Amsterdam, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2014:3435, 19 August 2014

The Court of Appeals held that a European Usenet Service Provider (‘USP’), ‘NSE’, was excluded from liability for infringement of copyright and neighbouring rights, pursuant to the provisions for mere conduit service providers and hosting service providers in Articles 12 to 15 of Directive 2000/31/EC (The E-Commerce Directive) as implemented into Dutch law. In the context of an Usenet service, an efficient Notice-and-Take-Down procedure is sufficient to establish an expeditious act to remove or disable access to the information in the situation where the USP obtains knowledge or awareness of copyright infringing material. Although NSE was excluded from liability, other measures c [...]

Time limitation in French copyright infringement cases

Brad-Spitz“Civil proceedings for infringement of copyright are barred after 5 years from the day the holder of a right knew or should have known of the facts necessary to exercise his right.”

In a judgement of 3 July 2013, the French Supreme Court clarifies the time limit for taking action to obtain damages for copyright infringement. Oddly enough, the French Intellectual Property Code provides that civil proceedings for infringement for designs and models (article L.521-3), patents (article L.615-8) and trade marks (article L.716-5) shall be barred after 3 years, but is silent about copyright and neighbouring rights actions.

In 1979, the singer of the song Just Because Of You, recorded to be synchron [...]

France: a digital file in iTunes is a phonogram

Brad-SpitzThe right to exploit a recording “in the form of a phonogram published for commercial purposes”, includes the right to exploit it not only in the form of a tangible medium, such as a vinyl record or a CD, but also in the form of a downloadable digital file.

The judgement of 11 September 2013 is yet another recent important ruling of the French Supreme Court, the Cour de Cassation, in the field of neighbouring rights. In less than a year, the Cour de Cassation has ruled that collecting societies may only take action for their own members (see France: Supreme Court makes music synchronisation safer), that participants in a reality TV show are employees and not performers (see France: parti [...]

German copyright reform: the first part of the third basket

PhilippZimbehl“Concerns have been expressed by the German blogosphere that this mere “Lex Google” will put bloggers and smaller news-aggregators under the risk of being targeted by mass legal procedures of the publishers and that quotation rights are undermined.”

It is no exaggeration to say that nearly the whole German copyright community is waiting for the next big round of amendments to the German Copyright Act, the so called “Dritter Korb” (literally the “third basket”).  Since not every reader might be familiar with the German legislation, I will begin with some remarks about the history of the major amendments the German Copyright Act has undergone in recent years.

The first big refo [...]

France: participants in Temptation Island are employees, not performers

Brad-Spitz“The Supreme Court considers that the participants in the reality TV program had no role to play and that there was no text. They were simply asked to be themselves and express their reactions to the situations they faced. The artificial nature of these situations was not enough to give them the quality of actors.”

L’Ile de la Tentation is the French version of the American reality television program Temptation Island, in which couples agree to live on an exotic island with a group of singles of the opposite sex, in order to test the strength of their relationships.

53 participants in this television series applied to the Labour Court on the grounds that the “set of rules applicable to [...]

France: Supreme Court makes music synchronisation safer

Brad-Spitz“The Supreme Court puts an end to a French oddity and makes the business of music synchronisation safer. (…) The Supreme Court took the opportunity to settle two major issues in French neighbouring rights: (1) a collective management organisation may only take action for the defence of its own members; (2) the collective agreements entered into before the Act of 3 July 1985 granting neighbouring rights to performers, are still in force.”

The Franco-Belgian movie Podium, released in 2004, tells the story of a Claude François lookalike who prepares for a contest. Claude François, AKA ‘Cloclo’, was a famous French pop singer of the 60s and 70s. In order to use recordings from the 60s an [...]

Goodbye, Geschriftenbescherming!

Bernt-HugenholtzBesides tulips, cheese, football and other recreational matters, the Netherlands are famous for its copyright protection of non-original writings. Geschriftenbescherming, as the Dutch call this legal anomaly (and only they know how to pronounce it), is a remnant of an ancient eighteenth-century printer’s right that lives on until this day in the Dutch Copyright Act of 1912. Deviating from the idea of author’s right (droit d’auteur) to which Dutch law otherwise subscribes, the Dutch Act protects ‘writings’ that do not meet the test of originality. Article 10 (1), first item, of the Act, mentions as protected subject matter ‘books, brochures, newspapers, periodicals and all other wri [...]

France: Presumption of ownership extended to neighbouring rights

Brad-Spitz“In the absence of any claim from the phonogram producer, or its assigns, the natural or legal person who publicly, peacefully and unambiguously exploits recordings, is deemed to be the holder of the rights in the recordings as regards third parties against whom an infringement case is brought.”

The French Intellectual Property Code deals with copyright and neighbouring rights separately. As regards copyright, the French case law has long established a presumption of ownership to facilitate infringement proceedings initiated by natural or legal persons who exploit copyrighted works against alleged infringers.

On the grounds of article L.113-5 of the Intellectual Property Code, which provides [...]

[Updated] As had long been suspected: The proposed Press Publishers Right is meant as a lex Google after all (Germany)

“Some said this would be like an Opera House charging the taxi drivers for taking the audience to the venue.”

It has been more than three years now since the infamous idea of a new neighbouring right for press publishers appeared in the coalition agreement of the second Merkel government out of thin air. On the face of it, the approach seemed somewhat reasonable: To give press publishers a neighbouring right just like the ones enjoyed by other key players of content production, f.e. film and phonogram producers.

First ideas for an implementation circled around a kind of online press levy, to be payed by any commercial or public entity. There were reports about the respective collecting socie [...]

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