Monthly Archives: March 2009

Just Deserts

I know, I know, terrible joke but at least I’m updating this in a spare moment on Honeymoon in Dubai!

Having read an awful lot about how this city and the Emirates are about to be in real trouble as the Credit Crunch continues to bite, it’s good to know that there are still a hell of a lot of opportunities out here, especially for Insolvency and Corporate Lawyers who will be calledu pon to deal with the interpretation of a set of laws that quite frankly never even expected this kind of situation to occur!

I suppose the other real surprise is seeing the prevalence of  so many western brands, althugh that’s only to be expected. I for one am going to be reading up on exactly how IP works out here as something tells me our work out here has only just started….

Performance without Cocktails….

Well, it’s the last post before I head off to get married and take a well-deserved break on Honeymoon with my stunning new wife. Smug comments aside,I felt the need to at least post something to keep myself aware of the need to keep updating and to show anyone who DOES read this that I’m putting as much effort into it as my (limited) free tine allows!

The major story over the past week, save for the requests for Privacy reform by Gerry McCann and Max Mosley (which I need to think about a bit more before commenting upon), has been YouTube’s apparent blocking of Music Videos (after muting their soundtracks to avoid copyright infringement previously) following a failure to agree royalty terms with the PRS.

There are two sides, as always, to this. On the one hand, YouTube claims that the PRS simply wants too much money from them and the PRS says that YouTube is trying to dictate terms for the songwriters which it represents.

I’ve got to nail my colours to the mast here. YouTube is owned by Google, serial ignorer of IP laws all over the world. It’s fine for them to post entire TV series as they have in the past, but now they’re eally expecting us to believe that they can’t put back into the industry from which they’re happy to take via royalty fees?

Not only that, but the video for “The Tide Is Turning” by Roger Waters was playing without a problem on my office PC on Friday night.

Sometimes, the PRS is plain unreasonable. This time however, they’ve probably got the right idea. Here’s hoping that Google do the right thing.

Until I get back from Honeymoon, take care. And for those who rail against my music taste, Roger Waters is a very talented man who also happens to be very unlikeable. Ask David Gilmour.

Fair play?

BBC News ran a story this morning about the growing number of Football Fans who can’t afford a ticket to see a Premiership Game or a Sky Subscription so turn to watching games over the web via unsanctioned websites.  

Once again, another example of Internet Piracy being at the forefront of media news. Rights holders in the entertainment industry have of course been fighting the problem for years, but this story just goes to show how far the issue can reach. TV companies will pay huge amounts of money for the rights to screen Premiership matches and, subject to any terms they may have with the clubs, will own copyright in the TV broadcast from which they generate subscription income. All that income needs to fund huge wage bills and keep the vast majority of fans who can’t afford a ticket feeling like they’re part of the experience.

It was only a matter of time! I’d be very surprised if a lot of the Clubs who have their own channles on Sky (Man. United, Chelsea, etc.) don’t start taking a tougher stance on this, but at least they’re being careful about the publicity angle by saying that they’ll go after the websites rather than their users.

Obviously there are two sides to this argument – that it’s illegal to copy or download content for which you don’t have a copyright licence and that season tickets and subscriptions are just too expensive. While the latter may be true, it’s the former that will always win out. Here’s hoping, however, that common sense prevails and fans don’t end up with warning letters similar to those sent out to Virgin Broadband customers earlier this year.

The clubs may end up biting the hands that feed them. On the contrary, however, the machine does need to be fed.

Facebook – What’s mine is mine, and so is what’s yours….

Social Networking and User Generated Content (“UGC” for those with less time on their hands) is perhaps one of the next real boom areas for IP Law, mainly in light of privacy issues, but also over the ownership of what you actually post on Facebook, BeBo et al. After all, if you were to come up with a really popular viral video (and a lot of people have started to do this), is it the videomaker who gets publicity, or do people just remember it as something funny they saw on YouTube?

What Facebook tried to do was to claim ownership and/or a licence over ANYTHING that’s posted on the site, even after users delete their account. In their defence, Facebook claim that they would need a licence to distribute and use anythign that’s posted onto the site legall, hence the need for a licence. What they’d need the data and/or content for afterwards is pretty obvious – so they could sell it or make money from it otherwise.

Nothing wrong with capitalism, of course, but there is a basic principle here. Under UK Law, if you can show that content is original (be it in written, musical or video form) and that you came up with it, then it’s protected by Copyright. Usually, terms of use of any social networking websites will obtain a licence for the site to use your copyright-protected material, and many may actually have similar terms to Facebook, but the site has been very sensible here. With the increased publicity generated by Facebook over negative stories such as the firing of employees after posting uncomplimentary information about their jobs and increasing fears over privacy, they can probably afford to be a little more generous.

The lesson here though has to be that what you create is usually almost always worth something. Commercialising it may be difficult, but stranger things have been very profitable. Ify ou are a serial UGC creator, blogger or online marketer, make sure you don’t sign your life away – read the terms of EVERY social networking site and remember – if it’s worth copying, it’s worth protecting.