2018 Anti-Piracy, Copyright and Trademark News


‘Players and Haters’ Copyright Lawsuit Against Taylor Swift Dismissed

On Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit where plaintiffs accused Taylor Swift of copyright infringement. Songwriters Nathan Butler and Sean Hall claimed that the chorus of Swift’s song “Shake It Off” borrowed from the pair’s 2001 composition, “Playas Gon’ Play.” Whereas Butler’s and Hall’s song has the line “Playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate,” Swift’s song includes the line, “Players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled that the phrases “playas gonna play” and “haters gonna hate” were too short and uncreative as to warrant copyright protection. Variety, February 13, 2018 (Gene Maddaus)


Netflix, Amazon and Hollywood Studios Sue Subscription Service for Piracy

Usually when studios fight against piracy, they’ll go after free streaming services, software add-ons or occasionally a device. However, this time, Netflix, Amazon and several Hollywood studios like Fox, Disney, Warner Bros, Sony and Universal are suing paid service SET Broadcast. They allege that the SET TV service is primarily used for piracy. Although there is a set-top box, the company features a $20 monthly subscription that boasts access to more than 500 live TV channels and thousands of movies and shows on-demand. This includes Netflix programs and films that are still exclusively in theaters. Damages could add up to millions of dollars. Engadget, April 22, 2018 (Jon Fingas)


EU Approves Contentious Copyright Directive, with Upload Filter and Internet Link Tax

The European Parliament has approved the Copyright Directive, which intends to update copyright laws. This controversial bill has two key provisions. Article 11, referred to as the “link tax,” aims to levy a tax on companies like Google to pay publishers for stories that they link to. Article 13 requires platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to stop their users from sharing copyrighted material that is unlicensed. Those who support the bill say it’s a win for content creators. Those against say that the new laws have catastrophic implications. The Verge, September 12, 2018 (James Vincent)


The Music Modernization Act is Now Law

President Trump has signed into law the MMA (Music Modernization Act), the most significant changes to copyright law in decades. This bill has wide support from musicians, labels and politicians. It was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate before arriving at the president’s desk. With an eye towards revising copyright law to keep up with today’s streaming services, the bill updates Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act. The Music Modernization Act simplifies music licensing, so rights holders get paid for streams of their music. The Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act (CLASSICS) addresses recordings prior to 1972. And The Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act allows engineers and producers to receive royalty payments from SoundExchange for recordings that are used on Pandora and other online or satellite radio services. The Verge, October 11, 2018 (Dani Deahl)


Gamer Who Helped Players Cheat at Grand Theft Auto Gets Raided

A Melbourne gamer is one of many who is being sued by worldwide gaming companies for creating an unauthorized plug-in that give players an advantage over their adversaries. He has also had his assets frozen. This case raises questions about how copyright law is applied to online games, and how—or if—online civility and sportsmanship should be policed. The unauthorized plug-in, called Infamous, gives players of the Grand Theft Auto Online video game access to unlimited vehicles, money and weapons, and allows them to teleport. Rockstar Games and parent company Take-Two Interactive Software, makers of the game, consider these unlawful cheats, and they’ve filed lawsuits in the U.S., Australia and Europe. The New York Times, November 7, 2018 (Livia Albeck-Ripka and Ariel Bogle)

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