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First off today, Krista Hughes at Reuters reports that the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Michael Froman, has told Congress that the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is “on a two-month trajectory” though there is no firm timeline for the treaty to be signed.
The TPP has been a controversial treaty largely due to its secrecy. It involves about two dozen countries that surround the Pacific rim including The U.S. Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. It’s a wide-ranging treaty that covers many areas of trade, including harmonization of intellectual property law.
Leaked drafts of the treaty show that controversial elements of U.S. law including its notice and takedown system, the protection of digital locks and more. The treaty has been in negotiations for years but the announcement from the USTR indicates that a final agreement may be imminent.
Next up today, Vladimir Kozlow at The Hollywood Reporter writes that a DVD screener copy of the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning film Leviathan has been leaked onto Russian and other pirate sites. However, the producer of another film has stepped forward and created a site to collect voluntary donations from those who have illegally downloaded the film.
The move was done by producer Slava Smirnov, who set up the site independently from the film’s producers. However, Alexandr Rodnyansky, Leviathan’s producer, said he welcomed the move adding, “We are very grateful for this show of empathy.”
The film is widely considered to be the most-anticipated and most awarded film from Russia in several years. However, a pirated copy, attributed to an Oscar screener, appeared on file sharing sites just hours before it was announced as a Golden Globe winning.
Finally today, Marilyn Tennissen at the Southeast Texas Record reports that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling ordering DM Records to pay nearly $2.3 million in damages over their use and licensing of the composition for the 1993 song “Whoomp! There it is” by the band Tag Team.
DM claimed to have purchased the rights to the composition when they bought the assets of Bellmark Records, which went bankrupt in 1997. However, Alvert Music, which was founded by the former president of Bellmark Records, filed a lawsuit in 2002 seeking a judgment that his publisher, not DM, was the purchaser. The case traversed several courts before finally finding a home in the Eastern District of Texas in 2007.
The jury in the case awarded Alvert over $2.1 million in actual damages, an amount nearly equal to all of the royalties the composition has earned over the years, and $132,000 in statutory damages. DM appealed to the 5th Circuit, saying that Alvert had only claimed to be half owner of the rights and should, at most, receive 50% of the royalties. They also claimed that statements made during closing arguments might have prejudiced the jury. However, the Fifth Circuit upheld the decision and the award saying that there was no error in the jury instructions and the allegations during closing arguments were supported by facts in the record.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.