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1: Pirate Bay liable for Copyright, Says ECJ

First off today, the BBC reports that the EU Court of Justice (ECJU) has ruled against The Pirate Bay saying that “making available” copyrighted works can be a copyright infringement.

The lawsuit pits the Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN against two local ISPs. BREIN wants the ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. However, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands asked the ECJU for clarification on the EU’s copyright directive and how it applies to The Pirate Bay.

That clarification came in today with the court affirming that The Pirate Bay was liable for violations of copyright. While it’s unclear what, if any, impact this will have on The Pirate Bay it may be a major deal for other sites who had previously argued that simply “making available” copyrighted works was not an infringement in the EU. In short, it may give rightsholders greater tools to shutter pirate sites in Europe.

2: VidAngel Changes Course With New Netflix and Amazon Filtering Service

Next up today, Gene Maddaus at Variety reports that streaming and filtering service VidAngel has altered course and, instead of offering streaming films directly to customers, will provide a filtering overlay on Amazon, Netflix and other streaming services.

The move comes at VidAngel is embroiled in a lawsuit with movie studios over its previous incarnation. In that version VidAngel would “sell” customers a DVD for $20, allow them to stream it and then buy the DVD back for $19, making it effectively $1 per stream. VidAngel  was sued by major film studios for both copyright infringement for circumvention of digital rights management software on the DVDs it was streaming. VidAngel was just before the 9th Circuit appealing an injunction, though the judges seemed skeptical of their arguments.

However, this new incarnation aims to avoid those issues. The service will be $7.99 per month and will require subscriptions to one or more streaming services. It will act as a layer on top of those services to provide the filtering. While this may bring it more in line with the Family Movie Act, Netflix and Amazon have not given their blessing, possibly setting the stage for a game of technical cat and mouse if they don’t wish to allow VidAngel to operate. Currently though VidAngel is not offering filtering of films from the plaintiffs in the lawsuit pending a ruling that it doesn’t violate the current injunction.

3: ‘Friday the 13th’ Producer Points to Writers’ Union Membership in Bid to Retain Franchise Rights

Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the battle over the Friday the 13th series is reaching a turning point as both sides have filed motions for summary judgment.

The lawsuit pits Victor Miller, the screenwriter for the original film, against its producers. Miller is seeking to terminate the license he granted the producers and reclaim ownership  over his work. This is permitted under copyright termination, which allows original creators to terminate agreements and licenses after a set number of years. However, the producers argue that Miller was an employee and the screenplay was a work-for-hire, making it ineligible for copyright termination.

The producers are specifically pointing to Miller’s membership in the Writers Guild of America (WGA), saying that the organization negotiates the terms of his employment on his behalf. Miller, on the other hand, points to the lack of payments to his WGA pension to show it was not a WGA job. However, even if the court finds the notices of termination valid, Miller could be severely limited in what he claims as, according to the producers, he did not come up with the title or the lead character of the series, Jason (who was not the villain in the first film). This could lead to the rights in the film being split, creating challenges for future adaptations.

Suggestions

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.

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