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First off today, Jon Blisten at Rolling Stone reports that an en banc appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the band Led Zeppelin and overturned precedent in the circuit.
The case pits the estate of musician Randy Wolfe, who was the guitarist and songwriter for the band Spirit, against Led Zeppelin. The estate accused Zeppelin of ripping off the Spirit song Taurus in Led Zeppelin’s hit song Stairway to Heaven. However, a jury trial found in favor of Led Zeppelin and that prompted the estate to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit originally overturned that jury verdict, setting the stage for a new trial.
According to the original appeal, the judge was wrong to deny the jury the chance to hear Taurus and there were other issues with the trial. Both sides appealed that judgment en banc, meaning before a cross-section of the full panel of judges, and that panel has now ruled the jury verdict was proper. In its new verdict, the larger appeal has also upended the inverse ratio rule, which makes it so that increased access to a work lowers the threshold for substantial similarity. That rule had been normal for the Ninth Circuit but not across all circuits. The Plaintiffs have said they plan on appealing but do not know if it will be to the full Ninth Circuit or to the Supreme Court.
Next up today, The Japan Times reports that the government of Japan has approved a new bill to expand the nation’s anti-piracy law to encompass manga (printed comics), magazines and academic texts.
Currently, the country’s tough anti-piracy law only impacts the illegal downloading of music and videos. However, the government is now aiming to expand the law and have it take effect by January 1st next year. The law offers stiff penalties for those illegally downloading such materials, including jail sentences of up to two years for repeat offenders.
The bill has moved forward after the addition of some exemptions at the request of artists and experts, who said that the original bill could lead to extremely minor offenses becoming criminal acts. The bill is moving forward at roughly the same time as another to make “leech websites”, which enable easy BitTorrent downloads, illegal as well. That bill is set to take effect on October 1.
Finally today, Andy at Torrentfreak writes that The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has obtained a DMCA subpoena in a bid to unmask an anonymous YouTuber and critic that they say was also uploading material that infringed their copyright.
The user in question, known as JW Apostate, described himself as a place for “leaking Watch Tower videos”. However, rather than filing a copyright notice to get the videos removed from the channel, the organization filed a DMCA Subpoena in a bid to unmask the user’s identity. That subpoena has been signed off on by a judge and a clerk of court, sending it YouTube for either action or an appeal. The channel involved has since been removed, most likely by JW Apostate themselves.
The move comes on the heels of a defeat for the organization as a judge ruled that Reddit did not have to turn over details about a user named Darkspliver. All totaled, the organization has filed some 60 separate DMCA subpoenas since June 2017, mostly targeting critical Facebook and YouTube users.