3 Count: Breaking Up

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1: 9th Circuit Breaks Up Copyright Class Action Over Concert Archives

First off today, Blake Brittain at Reuters reports that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has broken up a class action lawsuit filed against the concert footage repository Wolfgang’s Vault in what is a major win for the defendants.

The lawsuit was originally filled by musician Greg Kihn, who claimed that Wolfgang’s Vault had streamed concert recordings of his work. He had sought to make the case a class action lawsuit and received approval from the district courts. However, Wolfgang’s Vault was able to prove that, for some of his works, Kihn had given permission meaning that the case needed to separate the licensed versus unlicensed uses.

With that in mind, Wolfgang’s Vault appealed the class action status to the Ninth Circuit, which agreed with them. According to the Appeals Court, there are multiple issues particular to this case that need to be addressed, making it not right for class action status. Wolfgang’s Vault has faced multiple lawsuits from musicians including one it settled in 2008 and a judgment against them for $200,000 in 2020.

2: YouTube Rippers Oppose $82 Million ‘Piracy’ Damages Recommendation

Next up today, Ernesto Van der Sar at Torrentfreak writes that a pair of YouTube ripper websites are opposing a recommendation that they and their operator be hit with an $82 million judgment over allegations of piracy.

The lawsuit was filed against Russian citizen Tofig Kurbanov, the alleged operator of the sites FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com. However, though Kurbanov participated in the lawsuit in the beginning, he stopped partway and failed to produce required evidence. This earned him a default judgment in favor of the record labels that were suing him.

After the default judgment, the matter was handed to a magistrate judge, who produced a report recommending a some $82 million in damages as well as an injunction. Though that recommendation has not been accepted by the main court yet, Kurbanov is now attempting to get involved again. He says that the decision is improper as the plaintiffs failed to prove that the alleged infringement happened in the United States and other jurisdictional issues make it improper. The record labels are yet to respond to this filing.

3: Rare Lou Reed Demos Released by RCA in Copyright-Extending Move, and Then Quickly Withdrawn

Finally today, Jem Aswad at Variety reports that RCA/Sony Music briefly released a 17-track album of demos from Lou Reed before removing it days later in a bid to extend the copyright on the various tracks.

The album, entitled I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos, was a collection of previously unreleased demos from Lou Reed’s self-titled 1972 debut album. The album was released on December 23 on iTunes and then removed from the site a few days later. The album was not available anywhere else.

The reason for the release is that sound recordings are protected for 50 years after they are created in the European Union. However, that copyright can be extended another 20 years if they are “lawfully communicated to the public” meaning that other artists from this era have done similar brief releases to extend the rights to the recordings.

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