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First off today, Ted Johnson at Variety reports that potential renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is sparking a battle between content creators and tech companies over the importance of safe harbor.
NAFTA is a trade agreement between the U.S, Canada and Mexico that President Donald Trump has publicly threatened to withdraw the United States from unless it can be renegotiated. However, tech companies and content creator groups have sent dueling letters to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on the issue of safe harbor.
Safe harbor is the protection granted to ISPs and other online services providers when their users commit copyright infringement on their service. In the U.S., service providers are generally exempt from liability as long as they expeditiously remove infringing material after notification. However, creators have long decried this approach saying it discourages proactive steps to stop infringement and creates a Whac-A-Mole style game to keep infringing works off line. Internet companies would like to see greater safe harbor protections, especially in Mexico where there are none, and creators would like to see stronger protections for their work. It is unclear if the issue will even be a part of any negotiations or if any such negotiations will take place.
Next up today, Akin Kuponiyi at The News Nigeria reports that a Federal High Court in Nigeria has ruled that Multichoice Nigeria, a cable and internet access company, must pay the Music Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) 6 billion Nigerian Niari ($16.7 million) for infringing copyright of music they control.
The case was actually started by Multichoice in 2011 with them filing a proactive lawsuit against MCSN. However, MCSN quickly filed a counterclaim and, with Multichoice’s claims tossed, won big in court with a judge siding firmly with them.
The damages include both thee cost of licensing the music, the value added tax as well as both general damages and aggravated damages. The judge noted that Multichoice had “bluntly refused or neglected to voluntarily apply for and obtain permission” to use the works involved, thus warranting the heightened damages.
Finally today, Anthony Cuthbertson at Newsweek reports that Kim Dotcom has filed a lawsuit against the New Zealand government seeking some $6.8 Billion in damages claiming that his property was unlawfully seized from him and his company wrongfully closed.
Dotcom was arrested in January 2012 for running the file sharing website Megaupload. He is currently in the middle of a pitched extradition battle with the United States government wanting to bring him to the U.S. to face trial. In the meantime, Dotcom has long argued that the raid on his house and the seizure of his assets was unlawful.
According to Dotcom, Megaupload would be worth $10 billion if it were still in operation today and, since he was a 68 percent stakeholder in the company, he is asking for $6.8 billion in compensation. If granted, that amount would equal roughly 3.5 percent of New Zealand’s annual GDP.
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.