3 Count: DOJ Backing

A stairway to litigation...

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1: YouTube is Changing How Some Copyright Claims Work, and It Could Result in ‘More Blocked Content’

First off today, Jacob Kastrenakes at The Verge reports that YouTube is changing how it handles a certain class of copyright claims and, while it may result in more blocked videos, it hopes to discourage rightsholders from seeking out very small clips of their songs being used.

Beginning in mid-September, the site will no longer allow rightsholders to take the monetization of videos with extremely short (identified as less than 10 seconds) clips of audio that appears in the video unintentionally. This policy is a follow up to a previous change that required timestamps on all manual copyright claims.

Such claims can still result in a video being blocked from monetization or even blocked completely. That said, YouTube is hoping that, without a financial incentive, rightsholders spend less time looking for such claims. The new policy does not apply to video claims and it only applies to manual claims, meaning that automated claims through the Content ID system will continue with the same policies.

2: Judge Allows Roadshow to Raise Piracy Cases Quicker, Blocks More Piracy Websites

Next up today, Campbell Kwan at ZDNet reports that, in Australia, a Federal Court has granted Village Roadshow, along with others rightsholders, the ability to more quick block access to pirate sites using the nation’s site-blocking rules.

Previously, rightsholders needed to notify service providers within six months of when they planned on raising a legal application to block a website or collection of sites. The aim was to give providers a chance to respond to the claim. However, the judge has agreed to reduce that to just two months, effectively reducing the turnaround for blocking websites.

The move was approved by the country’s major internet service providers, who felt the new time frame was reasonable. The court also approved the blocking of some 76 suspected pirate websites. The case is also unique in that it was the first time that Netflix took action in an Australian site-blocking matter.

3: Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

Finally today, Jem Aswad and Gene Maddaus report that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals siding with the band Led Zeppelin in its ongoing legal battle over their song Stairway to Heaven.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Randy Wolfe, the guitarist for the band Spirit. According to the lawsuit, Stairway to Heaven is a copyright infringement of the Spirit song Taurus. However, in 2016, a jury disagreed, ruling in favor of Led Zeppelin. The estate appealed and a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit overturned that jury award, saying that the case had to be retried with different jury instructions and evidence being allowed. However, that ruling is being appealed itself as the Ninth Circuit has agreed to hear the matter en banc, meaning in front of the full panel of judges.

Ahead of that appeal, which is due next month, the DOJ has filed an amicus brief saying that the trial judge was correct in the handling of the case and that the jury verdict should be allowed to stand. The DOJ agreed with the trial court’s limiting of the case to just the composition, which was the component registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, and that the relevant portions of the two songs are not as similar as the plaintiffs claim.

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