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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 [...]

Italy: Riccardo Pagani v. Leo Burnett Company S.r.l., Ordinary Court of Turin, 32855/2014, 31 March 2015

The Court of Turin held that the main idea for a finished work (a TV commercial for the FIAT 500) had been developed in an initial project carried out by the claimant and that this project was the basis for the subsequent authors’ work.  Consequently, the commercial was evidentially a development of his original idea.  His work was therefore entitled to copyright protection in line with Article 1 of the Italian Copyright Law which protects works ‘whatever their mode or form of expression’ and he was entitled to be named as a co-author of the advertisement.

A full summary of this case has been published on Kluwer IP Law

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In breach of EU copyright law, Paris Court refuses to protect Mankowitz’s photo of Jimi Hendrix

poznati,bwjimihendrix,blackwhite,jimihendrix,geredmankowitz,hendrix-3d940e6f3d92f277d66e8d68a9b5d962_hThis ruling, rendered by the IP specialist section of the High Court of First Instance of Paris, breaches the most basic EU and French copyright law, by refusing copyright protection to an obviously original photographic work. This very surprising ruling is unfortunately just another ruling contrary to the elementary rules of copyright law that has been given by the High Court of Paris.

On 21 May 2015, the High Court of First Instance of Paris (Tribunal de Grande Instance) rendered a judgment in which it ruled that a famous photograph of Jimi Hendrix, taken by Gered Mankowitz, is not original and therefore not protected by copyright. The photograph is reproduced hereabove. The 3rd Chamber o [...]

UK: John Kaldor Fabricmaker v. Lee Ann Fashions, High Court of England and Wales, Chancery Division, [2014] EWHC 3779 (IPEC), 21 November 2014

A claim for infringement of copyright and design rights failed. There was no good reason to reject evidence that the fabric in question was created without sight of the claimant’s fabric; the similarities between the designs were not sufficient to infer that there had been subconscious copying.

A full summary of this case has been published on Kluwer IP Law

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New Turkish Construction Regulations Impair the Copyright Protection on Architectural Works

Emre BayamlıoğluA brief outline of the copyright protection granted for architectural designs

In Article 2/1,  the Berne Convention counts architectural works, together with plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to architecture, as copyrightable subject matter.

Turkish law treats architectural creations in two different categories: as “literary works” and “works of fine art”. Accordingly, under Law No 5846 on Artistic and Intellectual Works, the architectural work itself and the plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to architecture are classed as two different types of work.

Article 4 of Law No 5846 titled “Works of Fine Art” grants copyright protection to archite [...]

Italy: Buma di Paolo Buscema v Data Bridge, Supreme Court of Cassation of Italy, 13524/2014, 13 June 2014

The Italian Supreme Court confirmed that software which derives from a pre-existing computer program is eligible for copyright protection provided it demonstrates a minimal level of originality, even if it reproduces the main structure of the pre-existing program.

A full summary of this case has been published on Kluwer IP Law

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France: no copyright protection for perfume

Brad-SpitzThe Supreme Court maintains its position in a case concerning a Lancôme perfume, stating that ‘copyright only protects creations in their tangible form, so far as this form is identifiable with sufficient precision to permit its communication; whereas the fragrance of a perfume … is not a form that has this characteristic, and therefore cannot be protected by copyright’.

Article L.112-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code (IPC) protects ‘the rights of authors in all works of the mind, whatever their kind, form of expression, merit or purpose’, without giving a definition of originality.

French case law has defined originality as the expression of the personality of the autho [...]

NL: Confusing slavish imitation of a painting style is not illegitimate.

Duijs Broer small“The law does not allow for additional protection of the maker of a work against so-called slavish imitation of a style or of elements of style.”

Supreme Court of the Netherlands, 29 March 2013 (Duijsens/Broeren).   

Although the legal concept of coat-tail riding is usually associated with trademark law, it is certainly not unfamiliar to copyright law. But whereas in trademark law the mere association with a popular brand is used to sell the non-identical brand of the coat-tail rider, in copyright law it is often the style of an artist or a work , that is used as a means to stay as close to these work(s) without literally imitating them.

Unfortunately for those whose coat-tails are r [...]

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 [...]

Originality of a computer program under French law

The usefulness of a computer program is not sufficient to characterise the originality of the program.

There is nothing more subjective, and often arbitrary and unfair, than the notion on which copyright protection is based: originality. Under French law, the Intellectual Property Code protects “the rights of authors in all works of the mind, whatever their kind, form of expression, merit or purpose” (article L.112-1), without giving a definition of originality. French case law has defined originality as the expression of the personality of the author. European case law validated the French conception of originality, in particular in Infopaq and in Painer (para. 88: “As stated in recita [...]

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