By Chris J Holland, on 5 January 2017
Public performances of other people’s music must be licensed in order to avoid copyright infringement and also infringement of performance rights (when playing recorded music). Currently there are two separate licensing bodies in the UK who are able to assist: PRS for Music represents the interests of composers, song writers music publishers, whereas PPL deals specifically with recorded music and represents the interests of producers and performers.
It follows that if you are organising a public performance of musical works then you are likely to require both a PRS and a PPL licence (particularly if recorded music is involved). The good news is that it should become simpler to obtain licences for public performance of music. PRS and PPL are working together on a joint venture the aim of which is to offer a single licence. Apparently this is will be ready at some point during 2017.
By Chris J Holland, on 16 December 2016
Fans of the well known TV series may be interested to read up on a current copyright case before the Central District of California Court. Follow the link to the 1709 Blog for a full account of the case: Paramount v. Axanar The Ars Technica Blog also covers the case here. The defendents are producing a short film which is a prequel to the Star Trek series. The work in question is intended as a mockumentary by the producers who are firm Star Trek fans. It is not they say designed to compete with anything produced by the rights owners of the original series. Axanor are also working on a longer film in a similar vein.
The plaintiffs on the other hand claim that the mockumentary infringes their copyright as an unauthorised derivative work and cannot be regarded as sufficiently “transformative” to be covered by the US doctrine of “fair use” (although the latter is much wider in scope than the more familar UK concept of “fair dealing”). Neither can it be justified as a parody in their view.
Possible topics to be discussed include: What constitutes fan art, how far fictional characters are protected by copyright and whether having “pointy ears” might be a protected characteristic.
By Chris J Holland, on 14 September 2016
The long awaited EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (COM(2016) 593 final) has just been published. At this point it is just a “proposal” and will need to complete the EU legislative process. In addition, as a “Directive” it will not have immediate effect in the member states when it has become law. It needs to be implemented in each EU member state and there may be variations in the way it is eventually implemented, although the provisions are mandatory, not optional like most of the current EU copyright exceptions. It includes some positive features offering modest improvements. The negatives will be covered in a follow-up post:
- Text and Data Mining exception (Art.3). Currently the UK is the only EU members which has a TDM exception.
- Education exception (Art.4) covering the use of digital material for teaching. This complements the existing exception and covers providing digital material in a secure environment such as a VLE. It covers distance learning and cross border delivery within the EU.
- A broader Preservation exception than we currently enjoy in the UK (Art. 5) for cultural heritage organisations which looks as though it might cover collaborative and cross border preservation schemes.
- Framework for applying Extended Collective Licensing (Art. 7) to out-of-commerce works (the UK already has this – it is a weaker solution than providing a new exception, depending as it does on the willingness of rightsholders and collective management organisations).
Perhaps the most positive aspect is that these new exceptions (being mandatory) will apply to all EU member states and will apply to cross-border activities within the EU. [Part 2 on the less positive aspects of the Directive to follow]
By Chris J Holland, on 22 August 2016
A 90 year old German woman on an organised visit for senior citizens to the Neues Museum in Nuremberg was misled by the instructions on a work of art in the form of a crossword puzzle. She followed the instructions to “insert words” using her biro. Unfortunately the Museum regarded this as vandalism and felt obliged to pursue criminal charges (for insurance related reasons). The artwork by Arthur Kopcke from the 1970s has been valued at around £68,000.
Hannelore K’s lawyer has rebutted the claims of the museum and has gone so far as to claim that by filling in the crossword Hannelore has created a separate work of art in which she can legitimately claim copyright. On that basis they are taking issue with the Museum for having Hannelore’s contribution to the work (the writing in biro) removed and thereby destroying her own copyright-protected work.
The lawyer also claims that Hannelore K’s contribution has had the affect of increasing the value of the artwork by attracting media attention to an artist who is not very well known.
The story is reported fully in the Arstechnica Blog.
By Chris J Holland, on 22 August 2016
US copyright legislation in the form of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) offers a degree of protection against legal liability if their services are misused by customers for illegal file sharing or other activities which infringe copyright. However the 1709 Copyright blog reports a recent case in which an internet service provider (ISP), Cox Communications lost an appeal against an award of US$ 25 million to a music rights management company, BMG. In this case the ISP had failed to do enough to try to stop the online infringement in music and films. The eastern Virginia District Court found that in the circumstances Cox Communications could not claim the “safe harbor” protection afforded to ISPs in the US legislation. This is an interesting example of the large sums which can be involved in cases of copyright infringement on a commercial scale.
By Hazel M Ingrey, on 1 August 2016
In a previous post I mentioned UCL’s CLA licence for digitising course readings. UCL holds several other licences useful for teaching: take advantage of them to deliver imaginative teaching to your students. They can also simplify complex copyright issues.
The ERA (Educational Recording Agency) licence is for recording broadcast TV and radio for educational purposes. There is a helpful ERA licence booklet; however it is even easier to avoid the paperwork and head straight to Box of Broadcasts (BoB).
BoB makes the best use of our ERA licence, with no administrative fuss: no record-keeping, recording from the TV or labelling of DVDs. It is similar to on-demand streaming services like the BBC iPlayer or 4oD, but across 65 channels, you can request programmes, and it is for educational purposes only. You can provide students with a link to a full programme, a clip you can create yourself, or to whole playlists you have created. We encourage adding the links into your online reading list for the best experience for students.
If you already use BoB in your teaching you will have had an email notifying you of the summer upgrade, which will be complete by September. Watch a short promotional video to see the improvements outlined in 60 seconds. These include:
- Improved video quality
- A platform which works across all devices
- Better searching capabilities
- Better programme coverage and automatic requesting with a permanent archive of all programme content from 9 channels (BBC1 London/BBC2 London/BBC4/ITV London/Channel 4/More 4/ Channel 5/BBC Radio 4/BBC Radio 4 Extra)
- Better thumbnail previews on search results
- Email alerts when a requested programme is ready to view
- More detailed citation data
Please note that during the upgrade the full archive may not be available, however everything will back as usual by September.
BoB is powered by Learning on Screen, the British Universities and Colleges Film and Video Council (formerly BUFVC) which has interesting resources relating to teaching with moving image. UCL also holds a membership to this body.
Follow BoB on Twitter: @OnDemandBoB
Teaching & Learning Services: for ReadingLists@UCL, digitised course readings and copyright support.
By Hazel M Ingrey, on 28 July 2016
UCL, like many universities, owns a CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency) licence, which allows readings to be digitised for taught courses, where they meet certain conditions.
The licence has just been re-negotiated with representatives from the HE community, resulting in some beneficial changes. From August 1st the amount that can be digitised will increase, rising to 10% or 1 chapter / 1 article (whichever is greater) of a text. The CLA issued a press release with an update on the new licence agreement for HE institutions.
In order to take advantage of the CLA licence and digitise readings for your teaching, other conditions must be met, including a requirement to report which readings have been used. UCL submitted its annual report in June 2016 and around 3400+ thousand readings were reported, which were used on taught courses across UCL this academic year.
To remove the burden from academic departments, and ensure the CLA conditions are met, UCL library manages a course readings service. The Teaching & Learning Services (TLS) team copyright check readings, digitise and upload them in the required format and security level, and also maintain records for reporting. See the full low-down plus how to submit readings for digitising.
Please note, if your digitised readings do not pass through this service, then they are not covered by the CLA licence.
There is already a great deal of high quality digitised material available, from e-books and e-journals to Open Access articles in UCL’s institutional respository and UCL Press, which mean that you can sidestep copying issues altogether. Linking to a resource in an online reading list using ReadingLists@UCL will give easy access for your students, whilst avoiding headaches about licensing for you. You don’t need a licence or permission to link to legitimate or subscribed resources.
For more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the TLS: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/teaching-support
By Chris J Holland, on 15 July 2016
A couple living on Long Island have accused neighbours of deliberately copying the architectural design of their new house. This is reported in full in the New York Daily News.
Having designed what they thought of as their own unique home Mr and Mrs Fortgang were angered to discover that some neighbours had built a property in the vicinity which was (at least in their eyes) suspiciously similar in design.
The Fortgangs appear to be starting legal proceedings alleging infringement of the copyright in their architural design on the part of their neighbours. Although this is an amusing story in some respects, it is also a useful reminder that buildings, plans and drawings are all protected by copyright in the UK as well as in the USA. They are categorised as “artistic works” under Section 4 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
The article in the New York daily news includes photographs of both properties so you can make your own mind up as to whether there is an infringement of copyright.
By Chris J Holland, on 23 June 2016
High profile copyright cases arising from the music industry are quite common. There are often impressive amounts of money involved because of the commercial value of rights in recorded music. Those rights can be complex, potentially involving rights in the recording itself, performers’ rights and separate copyrights in the music and lyrics.
In addition, there seems to be something peculiar to the nature of music which easily gives rise to claims of plagiarism or copyright infringement.
The latest case concerns the Led Zeppelin hit “Stairway to Heaven”. Follow the link to read the Guardian’s report on the court proceedings in Los Angeles. The claim is that a significant part of the music of the Led Zeppelin number was taken from “Taurus”, a song written by the late Randy Wolfe for his group, Spirit.
There are some similarites with the well known case concerning George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” which was judged to have reproduced the music from the Chiffons’ hit “He’s so fine”. A major difference in this case is that the members of Led Zeppelin deny that they were familiar with the music of “Taurus”.
Copyright infringement need not be intentional and can be completely inadvertent, as was held to be the case with “My Sweet Lord” and still be infringing. On the other hand you can only plagiarise a piece of music if you have actually heard the music, otherwise any similarity would presumably be coincidental.
By Chris J Holland, on 31 May 2016
UCL authors sometimes ask about suitable copyright notices to add to their works to ensure that they are protected. In the UK and in the European Union generally there is no requirement for works to be registered for copyright protection. Copyright applies automatically once a work is “fixed” in some form, regardless also of whether it has been published or not.
It follows that adding a copyright notice such as “Copyright 2016. All rights reserved” does not increase copyright protection in the least. It may still serve other useful puposes such as reminding people about copyright restrictions and indicating the likelihood that a rights owner may take action against infringement.
If the notice identifies the rights owner it also serves the purpose of advising whom to contact for permission to reuse the work. It can even be a form of licence if it specifies what is acceptable, such as “You are permitted to make one copy for non-commercial educational purposes” or the like and may be a DIY alternative to attaching a Creative Commons licence to your work if you are happy to allow certain kinds of reuse.