Associated Press is suing a digital news agency, claiming that it uses unlicensed content without paying licence fees. AP, which claims to be the world’s biggest news agency, said on Tuesday it had filed a lawsuit against Meltwater News in a district court in Manhattan. Meltwater News allows its clients to monitor breaking news stories from around the world, including content from AP and other agencies. AP is seeking an injunction and substantial damages from Meltwater News in the copyright infringement action. Tom Curley, outgoing chief executive of AP, accused Meltwater News of a “parasitic” use of content produced by news agencies. AP claimed in its court filing that Meltwater News refuses to pay licence fees for the content it allows users to monitor in the US. The Norway-based firm also has a “vast archive” of AP stories dating back to 2007 which users can store and access despite them not being available online, according to the filing. AP has fought a long-running battle against websites and search engines listing its content. In 2009, the agency went head-to-head with Google over its Google News index, but has since struck licensing deals with the search giant and other internet portals such as Yahoo and AOL.
YouTube has scored a legal victory in its copyright case with Viacom. A US district court has ruled that the video-sharing site and its parent company Google complied with the “safe harbour” requirements of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The ruling strikes down Viacom’s USD 1bn legal action against YouTube, which the media giant accuses of profiting from trade in pirated videos of Viacom television programmes. Dating back to early 2007, Viacom had accused Google of allowing hundreds of thousands of Viacom-owned video clips to be posted to the site and gathering advertising profits from the video traffic. The case was among the largest of YouTube’s remaining legal battles, and had recently turned ugly when the two firms accused one another of blackmail and fabricating copyright infringement cases. Viacom said that it will be appealing the decision.
The United States will go after foreign websites that pirate American music and movies as part of a new strategy to stop sales of counterfeit and pirated goods at home and abroad, Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday. U.S. businesses estimate they lose billions of dollars each year to piracy and counterfeiting of items including films, music and consumer goods. They also blame the illegal trade for hundreds of thousands of lost U.S. jobs. U.S. computer and video game makers also cheered the promise of tougher enforcement. The National Association of Manufacturers urged the administration to focus especially on China, which it has called “ground zero” for piracy and counterfeiting. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has battled for years to close websites in Russia, China and other countries that sell pirated American music and films. Biden said the United States would exert more pressure on foreign governments to shut down the sites by “being as public as we possibly can” about illegal activity.
Some of the biggest and most respected Web services have come to the aid of Google and YouTube, which are defending themselves against accusations that they violated copyright on a grand scale. Yahoo, Facebook and eBay on Wednesday filed a friends-of-the-court brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. That’s where Viacom, parent company of MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures, filed a USD 1bn copyright lawsuit against Google in March 2007. The three companies have urged District Judge Louis Stanton to dismiss Viacom’s suit, arguing that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects Internet service providers from liability for copyright violations committed by users. They say that a decision against Google could stifle the growth of important Internet services. Viacom alleges that YouTube, which Google acquired in 2006, encouraged users to upload unauthorized clips from Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, and MTV Networks to the video-sharing site. Those clips helped YouTube attract users as well as generate ad sales, Viacom claims. The amicus brief filed on Wednesday follows a similar type of filing made by NBC Universal, Warner Bros., Disney, the Screen Actors Guild, and Directors Guild of America on behalf of Viacom. That so many powerhouse companies are weighing in is testament to the importance of the case. The court’s decision will likely help establish copyright law as it applies to the Web
Swedish file sharing website The Pirate Bay is up and running again hours after an indictment in a Hamburg court persuaded its German ISP to pull the plug, having found a new home with its anti-copyright brethren, the Pirate Party. “We got tired of Hollywood’s cat and mouse game with The Pirate Bay and have decided to offer the site bandwidth ourselves,” Rick Falkvinge, leader of the Pirate Party, said in a statement on Tuesday. The Pirate Party is providing bandwidth for the webpage and search engine of The Pirate Bay while the tracker and torrent files previously listed on the page are located on other servers at undisclosed locations across the world. The Pirate Bay meanwhile offered a typically defiant response to continued entertainment industry efforts to curb illegal file sharing through the courts. The Pirate Bay was closed down late Monday after German internet service provider Cyberbunker decided to comply with a preliminary decision by a Hamburg court under the threat of substantial fines. The Pirate Bay returned to service at around 11am on Tuesday. The Pirate Party (Piratpartiet) was founded in 2006 and strives to reform laws regarding copyright and patents. The party claimed 7.13 percent of the vote in the 2009 European Parliamentary elections and currently holds two seats. Four men linked to The Pirate Bay – Carl Lundström, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde – were convicted by Stockholm District Court of being accessories to copyright violations in April 2009. Their appeals court hearing is due to open in September.
An organization that collects royalties for musicians and songwriters wants YouTube to remove hundreds of videos in a dispute over how much the Web site pays for music used on its site. A group representing Germany’s performing artists and musicians has called on online video Web site YouTube to remove 600 videos it says are being “used illegally.” GEMA, an organization that represents 60,000 German songwriters, composers, and music publishers, charges Web and airwave broadcasters a fee each time they use a piece of music produced by one of their members. It had been in negotiations with YouTube owners Google for the past year, trying to come up with a successor to their last contract, which expired on April 1. GEMA and its international partners represent the rights-holders for up to 60 percent of the world’s music. It collects more than EUR 800m in fees per year, from everything from doctor’s offices where music is played in waiting rooms to discos and radio stations. Google said it was “disappointed” by GEMA’s decision. It said that if it paid the group’s asking price, it would lose money every time someone watched a clip by a professional musician
A news agency and a Haitian photographer are suing each other in New York over photographs the agency distributed across the world after they were loaded on to the Twitter micro-blogging site. The case is over photographs of the aftermath of the 12 January earthquake in Haiti taken by Haitian photojournalist Daniel Morel, according to an e-bulletin by Charles Swan of law firm Swan Turton. Morel, who was in a school in Port au Prince teaching students how to make their own Facebook page when the earthquake struck at 4.53 pm, took some of the first photographs of the devastation before sunset, Mr Swan reported. He managed to connect to the internet, opened a Twitter account – it was first foray into the social networking site – and uploaded a series of photographs. AFP picked the pictures up from Twitter that same evening and they appeared in numerous publications around the world. The main issue in the proceedings was whether by posting his photographs on Twitter Morel gave a licence to the world to use them, Swan said. AFP was relying on Twitter’s Terms of Service under which users grant Twitter a licence (with the right to sub-license) by submitting, posting or displaying content on or through the service, arguing that Twitter users intend their postings – known as tweets – to be publicly available and to be broadly distributed through the internet and other media. But Morel denied that posting his images online via Twitter gave rise to any licence to AFP to distribute them, and was claiming damages, including statutory damages of up to USD 150,000, for each infringement, against AFP and its North American and UK exclusive licensee, Getty Images