90 year old claims copyright in “vandalised” artwork

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.

 

 

 

US internet service provider loses court case

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.

 

TV and radio in teaching: Box of Broadcasts

By Hazel M Ingrey, on 1 August 2016

bob logo

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.

Copy up to 10% with the new CLA licence!

By Hazel M Ingrey, on 28 July 2016

CLA logo

 

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

 

Neighbours’ Copyright Dispute on Long Island

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stairway to Heaven Copyright Case

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Notices

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.

 

 

Beatrix Potter and Copyright

By Chris J Holland, on 12 April 2016

A recent IPKat blog post pointed out that  contrary to expectations a newly discovered and previously unknown work by Beatrix Potter, Kitty in Boots is still protected by copyright. The author died in December 1943 her published works came out of copyright after 70 years had passed, that is in January 2014. Kitty in Boots on the other hand is an unpublished work and is caught by the rule which keeps a vast number of unpublished works in copyright until 2039 (see previous blog posts explaining the 2039 rule and the recent Free our History campaign to have it changed). The copyright in Potter’s works was left to her publisher and now appear to belong to Penguin.

The 2039 rule is a peculiarity of UK law and is not found in the copyright regime’s of other EU member states, although anomalous differences in copyright duration are quite common. This has prompted organisations representing libraries and archives to lobby for a harmonisation of copyright term as part of the current review of  EU Copyright law. See for example Copyright for Knowledge and also LACA’s London Manifesto.

 

 

 

 

Digital Images: New IPO Notice

By Chris J Holland, on 4 March 2016

The UK Intellectual Property Office has published a revised IPO Copyright Notice on “Digital Images, Photographs and the internet” (November 2015). The Notice provides a clear and helpful explanation of this whole area of copyright, but there is a significant change, which is worth highlighting,  in way that it deals with digital images of earler artistic works:

“…according to the Court of Justice of the
European Union which has effect in UK law, copyright
can only subsist in subject matter that is original in the
sense that it is the author’s own ‘intellectual creation’.
Given this criteria (sic), it seems unlikely that what is merely
a retouched, digitised image of an older work can
be considered as ‘original’. This is because there will
generally be minimal scope for a creator to exercise
free and creative choices if their aim is simply to make a
faithful reproduction of an existing work”
(Crown copyright. Extract reproduced under the Open Government Licence)
It is interesting that this reinforces the point that in the case of a straight forward digital image of a work of art which is itself out of copyright it is unlikley that the digital image will be protected by copyright under EU law. It is likely to fail the originality test. It is not uncommon for art galleries to claim copyright protection for the digital images of works in their collections which can be found on their websites. The 1709 Blog recently mentioned copyright challenges to Wikimedia from various art galleries on this very issue, the  re-use of digital images of works of art which are themselves in the public domain.

Selfies, Betty the horse and copyright

By Chris J Holland, on 19 February 2016

Following the copyright questions raised by the famous “monkey selfie”, a horse called Betty grazing in a Welsh field photo bombed a selfie being taken by a young boy with his dad. Betty appears in the background with a big horsey grin. Subsequently the Bellis family entered their son’s selfie in a competition and won a £2,000 holiday as their prize. Unfortunately he owner of Betty the horse felt that she really deserved any share of the prize since her horse “starred” in the winning photo without her knowledge or consent.  You can see this reported on the 1709 blog and Walesonline along with the selfie itself. Is there a copyright issue? Not really: The boy and his father were on a public footpath. The copyright in a photograph belongs to the photographer, in this case the boy taking the selfie.  Presumably the father had the consent of the photographer when he entered the selfie in the competition.