Posts by Sherwin Siy:

This Tuesday, the Chair of the WIPO committee deliberating the broadcast treaty released its latest draft. To put it mildly, it's not an improvement over its immediate predecessor, as problematic as that was.

For those of you just tuning in to this odd little corner of the ongoing IP debate, here's a quick summary. The World Intellectual Property Organization is debating a new treaty that will extend an IP right to broadcasters, on top of existing copyright laws. (The same international process was used to create the WIPO Copyright Treaty, which in turn spawned the DMCA.) The broadcast treaty creates a host of problems in addition to the circumvention issue, though. Here's some previous posts on the topic.

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A federal court in New York has ruled that online stores selling digital music didn't have to pay songwriters two separate licensing fees. In a dispute between ASCAP (which manages licensing rights for songwriters) and online music sellers (Yahoo, AOL, and Real), Judge Conner of the Southern District of New York ruled that music download services only had to pay the license fee for "reproducing" the work, and not an additional fee for "performing" it. ASCAP had argued that anytime an online store sells a track, it not only makes a new copy for the buyer's use, but that it also "performed" the purchased song by transmitting it over the Internet to the user's computer.

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The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears appeals on patent cases, has agreed to stay a district court's injunction against Vonage. This means that Vonage can continue signing up new customers, even though the lower court found that Vonage was infringing Verizon's patents on voice-over-IP technology.

This ruling doesn't deal with the larger, more important question of whether or not Vonage was in fact infringing–that question is still being appealed, and the Federal Circuit expects to hear arguments on that on June 25. Briefs from Verizon and Vonage are expected May 30.

Until the Federal Circuit makes a decision on the underlying infringement suit, Vonage will pay a percentage of its profits into an account that will be turned over to the winner of the case.

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The Copyright Royalty Board has refused to reconsider NPR's arguments on its recent decision to raise the fees they have to pay in order to continue webcasting. Cnet's coverage is here.

The new rates, which are retroactive back last year, are set at .08 center per track per listener, increasing to .19 center per track per listener by 2010. Given the number of tracks that any 'caster plays in a given day, this adds up very, very quickly. These higher fees may shut down many small and nonprofit webcasters, only leaving those who have other sources of revenue to continue using the 'net as an outlet for the music they choose.

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The US delegation is holding another roundtable on the WIPO Broadcast Treaty next month to discuss the latest draft of the treaty and the next round of negotiations. As others have noted, it’s open to the public, so long as you RSVP to the Copyright office by May 5th. The official announcement of the roundtable is here.
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Today, a judge in the Southern District of New York ruled against Cablevision in a copyright infringement suit. PK's initial statement on the outcome is here. Apparently, it's now a crime to provide digital video recorders to your customers–at least if they're operated remotely. This decision not only goes against any logical application of copyright law, it shows how copyright law is being wielded not to encourage creativity, or even to enforce artists' rights. Instead, it's being used as a tool to scrape more money from wherever the studios can get some.

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A group of music publishers (EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Sony/ATV Music, and Famous Music) has lined up a lawsuit against XM for it XM+MP3 players. This suit follows the same lines as a lawsuit filed by the record labels: it accuses XM of not paying for a license to distribute copies of the music–in other words, the plaintiffs think XM should pay as though it were selling downloads, in addition to paying fees for broadcasting.

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I'm left wondering at how much the NAB spent on its print ads opposing the XM-Sirius merger, because their overall effect is, well, priceless.

The ads are patterned after Mastercard's ad campaign–here's an example.

Mastercard apparently isn't too happy about this.

Now, it's no secret that we have a different take on the merger, and disagree on a host of the NAB's other policies. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're in the wrong on their use of this ad.

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I just got back from the 8th annual meeting of the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, a coalition of consumer organizations in the US and Europe. The meeting covered a large amount of ground, setting out the future course for the group, and also meeting with government officials to give them the consumer perspective on a wide variety of issues, from IP to information policy to food safety (you can guess which groups we were involved in).

The whole point of the coalition is not just to make sure that consumer groups in different developed countries communicate to each other, it also gives groups a way to address issues that can arise due to international agreements. Also, since the US and EU often take very different approaches to some issues, members can exchange information on how different regulatory tactics and business practices affect consumers around the world.

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The Patent and Trademark Office has just released a report on filesharing programs and inadvertent information sharing. While the report itself takes on a subject that needs to be addressed (whether it does that well is the subject of another post), the report's foreward and the accompanying press release betray a panicky confusion of several different ideas.

The Director of the PTO, Jon Dudas, brings up copyright infringement and national security in the same breath:

A decade ago, the idea that copyright infringement could become a threat to national security would have seemed implausible. Now, it is a sad reality.
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