Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Copyright News

On Monday eBay won a US court battle with Tiffany that there were not liable for the sale of counterfeit jewellery on their site. This wasn’t a quick decision as the case had lasted 4years but it could be a significant one re the eBay service and those offered by similar sites.

Judge Richard Sullivan ruling, in Federal court in the Southern district of New York said that under current law Ebay should not be held liable, and it was up to lawmakers to decide if trademark owners were adequately protected. Earlier this year a similar case brought by LVMH against eBay had gone the other way, so the issue remains somewhat open.

Judge Sullivan said, Ebay’s efforts to prevent sales of fakes, including removing listings promptly when warned that the items were counterfeit, showed that it took adequate steps, and it was up to companies like Tiffany to police their own trademarks.

The ruling raises the question of how companies who aren’t as big as Tiffany ensure that their trademarks aren’t being violated. However, when we step back into the physical world that is exactly how it works and the onus is always on the holder to pursue the infringement, there are no parent police as such. The internet merely makes it easier to copy and easier to trace.

The second article reported that Brussels is expected to push ahead with reforms to extend copyright protection for performing artists from 50 to 95 for European singers and musicians. This move would move Europe into line with the US, and be applicable to all from rock stars to session musicians.

The Commission’s antitrust arm is also looking at “collecting societies” who collect and distribute music royalties. It is expected that societies are likely to see their domestic monopolies over broadcast material broken down. One objective would be to enable any collecting society to deal with the rights to use a piece of music across Europe.

Copyright continues, and rightly so, to be a major area of focus for all especially in the media sector. As the digital world expands, so do the opportunities and challenges of maintaining and protecting copyright within it.

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