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First off today, Alison Flood at The Guardian reports that, with the new year, a battle is being fought over the diary of Anne Frank as Anne Frank Fonds, the charity that claims to hold the rights, is arguing against others who believe that it is now in the public domain and are posting it freely online.
Anne Frank was a teenage girl who, during World War 2, kept a diary as her family hid from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam. Though she was discovered in 1944 and she died in 1945, her diary survived to be published by her father. The diary went on to become a major cultural touchstone, making the young Anne Frank a face of the horrors of the holocaust.
But while in Europe, copyright usually expires on such work 70 years after the authors death, Anne Frank Fonds argues that the editions published in 1947 and 1991 were works of co-authorship, and that copyright vests with Otto Frank (Anne’s father) and Mirjam Pressler (the editor of the 1991 edition) respectively. However, at least two versions of the diary have been posted online since the New Year, one by a a French MP and one by a French academic, despite legal threats by Anne Frank Fonds. To date, Anne Frank Fonds has issued a statement of their position but has not followed through on those threats.
Next up today, Andrew Orlowski at The Register reports that the Europan Court of Justice’s Advocate General has said that, while members of the European Union must compensate copyright holders for private copying, they are not required to do so through a device levy and can do so through a general fund.
In most of the EU, it is legal for individuals to make copies of legitimately-acquired copyrighted works for the purpose of format shifting (IE: Moving a song from a CD to an MP3 player). However, the law makes it clear that rightsholders must be compensated for those particular copies, something usually achieved through a levy placed on devices used for private copying, such as blank CDs and smartphones. Other countries, however, don’t provide for device levies and, instead, pay rightsholders through a general fund collected directly from taxpayers.
That led to a court case between some Spanish copyright societies and the country of Spain, which opt for this approach. However, the Advocate General has come out in favor of the tactic and, while the court has not issued its ruling, it is widely expected to follow the Advocate General’s guidelines. In the UK, a new law legalizing private copying was struck down because the court ruled it didn’t provide adequate compensation for rightsholders, something that may change if the European Court of Justice rules as expected.
Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “respect programmers’ discretion” when it comes to making their content available online.
The issue stems from a battle two years ago between Time Warner Cable and CBS. The two sides had failed to reach a retransmission agreement to continue carrying CBS programming on Time Warner. When the agreement expired, CBS took the additional step of blocking Time Warner Internet customers from accessing versions of CBS programming available legally online, a move decried by both Time Warner and the cable industry.
The law requires that both cable companies and networks negotiate in “good faith” when handling such retransmission disputes. However, the FCC is looking into whether such blockades are a violation of good faith practices. The MPAA, however, has filed a petition stating that it is the first amendment right of broadcasters to choose who allow access to their content. The cable companies, despite attempting to defeat net neutrality rules in court, cite open Internet rules in their arguments saying such blocks violate the FCC’s regulations.
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.