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Letters and copyright in the news

Chris JHolland9 October 2019

One of the issues faced regularly by archives which hold the correspondence of a prominent person is that the letters will have multiple copyright owners. Copyright in a letter belongs to the author and typically there will be many authors. This becomes an issue when you need permission to digitise or publish letters from the archive.

The ownership of copyright in letters has been thrown into the spotlight by the legal action brought by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex against Associated Newspapers with regard to the alleged publication of private correspondence in the Sunday Mail. Infringement of copyright is one of the claims, perhaps the main claim.

The underlying copyright issues are discussed in depth here on the IPKat blog including the difficulty the newspaper might have if they try to claim their use of the letters was covered by one of the exceptions to copyright contained within Section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA), which deals with “fair dealing” for the purpose of criticism, review and quotation more generally. The difficulty for the publisher is that the letters in question must have been previously “made available to the public” with permission of the copyright owner (the Duchess in this case), otherwise the exception does not apply (by virtue of CDPA Sub Section 30,1ZA,a). It seems unlikely they could claim that this condition has been fulfilled.

Although copyright is often in the headlines with respect to the music business it is less common to find copyright in unpublished literary works featuring so prominently.

 

 

Kraftwerk sampling in the Court of Justice of the European Union

Chris JHolland30 July 2019

Members of the veteran electronic music group, Kraftwerk (Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben) have an answer from the CJEU to their claim that copying extracts from their recordings to be used in other musical recordings in the form of “sampling” should only be carried out with their permission. The case which concerns the sampling of a brief extract from their song “Metall auf Metall” which was then played as a continuous loop in a 1999 song produced by Moses Pelham and Martin Haas and performed by Sabrina Setlur called “Nur mir”. The CJEU case number is C-476/17.

The court ruled  that in terms of EU copyright law, particularly the Information Society Directive, sampling from someone else’s recording generally requires permission, because it is a reproduction “in whole or in part” of the original work.

On the other hand, if the extract sampled has been modified to the extent that it is not recognisable as the original work (“unrecognisable to the ear”), then that would be justifiable in terms of  Article 13 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which deals with freedom of artistic expression. Can we conclude that the sampling of Metall auf Metall in the production of Nur Mir would be covered by the latter proviso? After all, the sample consists of a 2 second rhythm sequence, which is arguably not recognisable as the original work (even though it might sound strangely familiar to a really dedicated admirer of Kraftwerk’s music).

This decision could have far reaching implications for the music industry, given that sampling is a widely used technique, particularly in Hip-Hop recordings and that producers are not always in the habit of assiduously seeking permission from the copyright owners of the original recording. The judgment of the CJEU can be found here.   The case itself is also something of a “veteran” as Kraftwerk have been pursuing it for some 20 years.

 

Author power

Chris JHolland21 June 2019

An interesting  blog post by Shaun Khoo on the Scholarly Kitchen website takes a sceptical look at whether academic authors are likely to gain more leverage in an open access publishing environment.  With current publishing models, the publisher is generally in a more powerful position and the author at a disadvantage in any negotiation. Is that likely to change?

Shaun Khoo quotes some research carried out in the USA by Charbonneau and McGlone the results of which show that 97.8% of the relevant faculty members simply signed the agreement “as is”.

When delivering copyright training to groups of post-graduates I usually stress the importance of reading the terms and conditions of publishing agreements very carefully before signing on the dotted line.

The issue is that the pressure to get their work published in the “high impact” journals in their field leads authors to disregard questions of whether they are assigning copyright to the publisher and, if so, whether the agreement grants them any specific concessions to reuse their own work in ways that they might wish to in the future.

One should underline the importance of being prepared to the negotiate the details with the publisher if there are terms they object to or don’t fully understand. A student recently pointed out  (wisely I think) that, if an author is intending to negotiate, they had better start at as early a stage as possible, before time pressures take over.

On the other hand open access publishing models which apply Creative Commons licences do certainly allow academic authors to retain ownership of the copyright in their papers and with it the freedom to reuse their own work as they wish.

 

EU Directive: Copyright in the Digital Single Market

Chris JHolland4 April 2019

The new copyright directive, the DSM Directive is nearing the completion of its long journey through the EU legislative  procedure. The latest version, has been approved by the European Parliament and now goes back to the Council. Previously there were very few mandatory exceptions to copyright in EU legislation. One of the important aspects of the DSM Directive is that it introduces a number of exceptions which are indeed mandatory for all member states, departing from the smorgasbord approach of the previous Infosoc Directive which presented a number of exceptions from which member states could pick and choose.

The new exceptions, such as Text and Data Mining exception and Preservation exception are generally favourable to libraries and research. The UK is already ahead of the game to some extent, for example in having a TDM exception, but in some cases the DSM exceptions would enhance and go further than what we have already and also have the advantage of operating across borders within the EU.

It is a moot point whether the DSM Directive will ever be implemented in the UK  or whether the timing of Brexit will prevent that happening.

Spare Rib and the threatened EU Orphan works exception

Chris JHolland26 February 2019

Back in October we blogged about the threat posed to the the EU Orphan works exception by a no deal Brexit and the LACA campaign to highlight the issue.

A recent article in the Guardian highlights a concrete example of the effect of the removal of the exception, namely the case of the digital archive of content from Spare Rib, a ground-breaking feminist magazine. The Spare Rib archive has been made available online by the British Library (BL) using the Orphan works exception to good effect.

In the event of a “no deal Brexit” however the BL, in common with other cultural institutions, will no longer have the benefit of this exception simply because it can be enjoyed only by institutions in the EU (and the EEA) which, obviously, will no longer include the UK. Orphan works will no longer be covered by the exception and UK institutions such as the BL will be obliged to take down this very significant content to avoid the risk of copyright infringement.

The current process of vetting applications for orphan work status, moreover, is an EU process, run by EUIPO. The UK IPO could in principle establish a UK procedure to replace that run by EUIPO for the benefit of UK institutions, but seems to have no current intentions of doing so.  You can read what the IPO has to say about copyright and a no deal Brexit  here

No copyright protection for the taste of cheese

Chris JHolland19 December 2018

The Court of Justice of the EU was recently asked to rule on whether the taste of a food could be a “work” in terms of the EU Directive on copyright in the information society (Directive 2001/29/EC). If a taste could be a work then it could in principle be protected by copyright. The context was a case  for infringement brought by Levola Hengelo BV, manufacturer of a cheese called Heksenkaas against a rival food company, Smilde Foods BV, manufacturers of Witte Wievenkaas (C310/17).

As reported by the Kluwer copyright blog,the court ruled that taste of a cheese could not be regarded as a “work” for copyright purposes because it was a requirement that the subject matter of a “work” must be represented in a manner that makes it identifiable with sufficient precision and objectivity and the taste of Heksenkaas did not meet those criteria. So is that a case of hard cheese for Heksenkaas?

Open Education and related IPR issues: Guest post from the UCL Open Education project

Chris JHolland14 December 2018

In August this year we introduced UCL’s Open Education (OE) initiative through the UCL Open Access blog (which you can read here) the article provides an overview of what Open Education is, including benefits, and information about what UCL is doing.

When publishing open educational resources it is essential to consider Intellectual Property issues, such as copyright, open licensing and third-party content.

Intellectual property (IP) and copyright

When an OER is created at UCL, whether by a staff member or student, it remains the property of that creator. This also means that creator owns the copyright in that work.

(Open) licences

A licence provides information to a user about how a resource can be used, and is usually prescribed by the copyright owner.

There are a variety of licences, and they express different types of use of a resource. For example, one licence may express that a resource can be reused as long as the creator/owner is credited for their work, another licence may express that a resource can be reused as long as it is not modified, and so on. There can be combinations of different uses.

To ensure that OER remain open and reusable, UCL encourages the use of open licences.

Creative Commons (CC) is an organisation which provides open licences which can be freely applied; this table provides an overview of the different licences CC provides, and what uses each prescribes.

 

Copied image “Creative Commons licences” by Foter, which is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

 

The Creative Commons website also offers a tool to make the selection of an open licence easier.

Once the desired licence has been selected, e.g. CC BY-NC, this information needs to be noted somewhere on the resource (ideally on the front page) to indicate to the user how they are allowed to reuse that OER. A hyperlink to the licence information can be useful.

A good example would be: “This work by [author’s name] is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.”

UCL’s licence to use educational materials created by UCL staff

Although UCL waives its right to ownership of copyright in research outputs and teaching materials created by UCL staff, it does claim a wide-ranging licence to re-use those materials, including re-use for OER purposes. The details are in the UCL IPR Policy and a link to the updated UCL IPR policy will be added when it is available on the website.

Educational materials created by UCL students

Students generally own the copyright in their own material and UCL requires permission or a licence from the individual student in order to re-use their work.

Third-party content

Third-party content is content that is licensed or owned by another person or organisation other than yourself. The most common type of third-party content related to OER are images and quotations.

You can re/use third-party content in your OER as long as:

  • you have obtained permission to do so,
  • it is covered by a statutory exception and passes the Fair Dealing test, or
  • there is a licence which allows for the reuse of that work.

Where the licence and re/use information for an OER is not explicitly stated, you must obtain clarification and permission from the creator/owner of the teaching content before you use it. It is your responsibility to retain permission information; the Open Education team and UCL Copyright Support Officer can provide support information.

Attribution and citation

If you are reusing third-party content, you are required to attribute it or provide a citation.

An example of an attribution may be: “Copied image “Creative Commons licences” by Foter, is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

We encourage the citation of OER and you can find information about correct citations here:

 

Support

If you require support or advice about anything related to OER and IPR, please contact the Open Education team or UCL Copyright Support Officer; we are here to help!

 

 

 

Help save the Orphan works exception: Support the LACA campaign.

Chris JHolland16 October 2018

The UK IPO has made it clear that in the event of a no-deal Brexit it intends to amend the Orphan works exception out of UK copyright legislation. Yet this is a very useful exception which permits a range of cultural institutions including libraries, archives, film heritage bodies and universities  to make orphan works from their collections available online. The distinctive feature of orphan works is that the owners of copyright in the work cannot be identified (or if they can be identified cannot be located) so that there is no possibility of seeking permission.

The exception (introduced by the EU in its Orphan works directive and then implemented in the UK in 2014) is easily justified and very useful to cultural institutions planning to make significant collections available online. The details can be found in Schedule ZA1 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Anyone using the exception must first carry out a “diligent search” for rights-holder information to ensure that the work in question is really an orphan work  and then register it with EUIPO (the EU Intellectual Property Office). So far UK institutions have been big users (“beneficiaries” in EUIPO terminology) of the exception. According to the database the BFI and the BL have registered the largest number of works.

The exception could easily be retained in the UK legislation in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The “diligent search” guidelines which also apply to the IPO’s separate licensing scheme will need to be retained in any case.  A UK registration procedure would need to replace the function of the EUIPO database, but the data recorded for each item is quite succinct and the task is not particularly complex. If your institution is already using the exception or just thinking of using it then LACA (the Library and Archives Copyright Alliance) would really like to know. This is a link to the LACA campaign flyer. You may also wish to let the UK IPO know about your concerns or pose any questions you may have about their plans for the Orphan works exception.

 

IFLA Statement on Copyright Literacy

Chris JHolland29 August 2018

Promoting copyright literacy is a significant task for library and information professionals, wherever they happen to work. IFLA  (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) has just published an important statement on Copyright Literacy The statement is measured and comprehensive, stressing the importance of the role of libraries in maximising access to copyright-protected materials for their patrons within the legal framework of copyright. Copyright literacy is about understanding what you can do, legitimately, with copyright-protected material as much as understanding what copyright prevents you from doing. In the words of the IFLA Statement:

“…alongside the responsibility to recognise intellectual property rights, there is a parallel duty not to impose unnecessary restrictions on users’ right to access information. In short, libraries should use all possibilities provided by the law to give access and enable learning.” The statement also emphasises, quite rightly, the important role of Librarians in advocating for reform of copyright legislation and in particular advocating for robust limitations and exceptions to copyright. All those who have been involved in promoting the Copyright Literacy agenda within IFLA and in creating the Statement should be congratulated.

Dispute about photograph in school project referred to CJEU: Land Nordrhein-Westfalen v. Renckhoff

Chris JHolland14 August 2018

The Renckhoff case, C-161/17 is fascinating for a number of reasons: Firstly there is the bizarre fact that the reuse of a photograph of an historic bridge in Cordoba, copied from an online travel magazine and used in the Spanish language project of a school pupil, posted on the school’s website, should require a decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union. The words “sledgehammer” and “nut” spring to mind.

Secondly the conclusion of the Court is diametrically opposed to the lengthy preliminary opinion of its own Advocate General (in this case AG Campos Sanchez-Bordona). The Court does not always follow the opinion of the AG but in this case the contrast is quite striking and the Court does not address the reasons for this divergence of views.

Thirdly both the AG’s opinion and the judgment of the Court discuss the boundaries of the important concept of “communication to the public”. The latter is one of the restricted acts which are the preserve of the author (copyright owner). The question to be addressed by the CJEU was whether the re-posting on one website of a photograph previously posted without any (stated) restrictions and with the consent of the copyright holder on another website constitutes “communication to the public.” Both sites were freely available to users of the internet. If the answer is “yes” the re-use of the photograph is potentially  infringing, if “no” then it is not infringing.

The Court came to the conclusion that re-posting the photograph in these circumstances does count as “communication to the public” and is therefore infringing (unless in the given circumstances the re-use is covered by one of the exceptions to copyright ). There is interesting discussion of the concept of a “new public” which has become significant in copyright decisions by the CJEU and this discussion tends to reveal the limited usefulness of the “new public” concept in drawing a line between infringing and non-infringing reuse of copyright protected material. See also the coverage of this case on the IPKAT blog.