Archive for February, 2010

Copyright fest in Melbourne

Friday, February 26th, 2010

IPRIA and CMCL at Melbourne Uni. are holding a half-day forum on 18 March on:

  • iiNet
  • Larrikin (Down Under)
  • Telstra v PDC

Speakers are:

 

David Brennan, Melbourne Law School
Melissa de Zwart, University of South Australia
David Lindsay, Monash University
Beth Webster, Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia
Philip Williams, Frontier Economics
Details and registration here.
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No copyright in telephone directories DownUnder

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Gordon J, sitting at first instance, has ruled that copyright does not subsist in Telstra’s White Pages directories or Yellow Pages directories confirming the revolution wrought by IceTV.

There are 347 paragraphs and time does not permit careful analysis at this stage. According to the summary in [5]:

For the reasons that follow, copyright does not subsist in any Work. None is an original literary work. By way of summary:
  1. among the many contributors to each Work, the Applicants have not and cannot identify who provided the necessary authorial contribution to each Work. The Applicants concede there are numerous non-identified persons who “contributed” to each Work (including third party sources);
  2. even if the human or humans who “contributed” to each Work were capable of being identified (and they are not), much of the contribution to each Work:
2.1 was not “independent intellectual effort” (IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at [33]) and further or alternatively, “sufficient effort of a literary nature” (IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at [99]) for those who made a contribution to be considered an author of the Work within the meaning of the Copyright Act;
2.2 further or alternatively, was anterior to the Work first taking its “material form” (IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at [102]);
2.3 was not the result of human authorship but was computer generated;
the Works cannot be considered as “original works” because the creation of each Work did not involve “independent intellectual effort” (IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at [33]) and / or the exercise of “sufficient effort of a literary nature”: IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at [99]; see also IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at [187]- [188].

It may be particularly interesting to see why copyright did not subsist in the Yellow Pages directories, which were classified directories.

At [46], her Honour explained why Desktop Marketing no longer represented the law in Australia following IceTV (here and here):

Before turning to the facts, mention must be made of the decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court in Desktop Marketing Systems Pty Ltd v Telstra Corporation Ltd [2002] FCAFC 112; (2002) 119 FCR 491 (Desktop Marketing). In that decision, copyright was found to subsist in certain editions of WPDs and YPDs. The Applicants submitted that the resolution of the present case remains governed by the outcome in Desktop Marketing [2002] FCAFC 112; 119 FCR 491 and that the High Court’s comments on copyright subsistence in IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 should be regarded as obiter dicta. I reject that contention. Firstly, IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 is binding authority on the proper interpretation of the Copyright Act. The reasoning of both plurality judgments establishes principles of law beyond copyright infringement. Secondly, the High Court directly warned of the need to treat Desktop Marketing 119 FCR 491 with particular care: see IceTV [2009] HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at [52], [134], [157] and [188]. Thirdly, Desktop Marketing [2002] FCAFC 112; 119 FCR 491 did not deal directly with the issue of authorship. Rather, all issues in respect of copyright had been conceded other than that of originality. In fact, Finkelstein J (at first instance) questioned the assumptions the parties had made about authorship: Telstra Corporation Ltd v Desktop Marketing Systems Pty Ltd [2001] FCA 612; (2001) 51 IPR 257 at [4]. Finally, the facts of this case are significantly different. The WPDs and YPDs in question are different. Moreover, the Genesis Computer System which stored the relational database and which was used in the production of some of the WPDs and YPDs in issue in these proceedings (after September 2001 in the case of YPDs and late 2003 in the case of WPDs) was not in use in Desktop Marketing [2002] FCAFC 112; 119 FCR 491. (The Genesis Computer System is considered in detail at [60]ff below).

Telstra Corporation Limited v Phone Directories Company Pty Ltd [2010] FCA 44

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Peer to patent Down Under

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The pilot project being run be QUT, with support from New York University Law School and IP Australia is nearing the end of its first phase: there are a number of applications open for review until 9 March 2010.

According to IP Australia

The pilot has made a successful start, following its launch in December 2009. The community of reviewers has identified 27 prior art references and contributed 57 comments in the first eight weeks of operation.

A second round of applications will be posted on the website at the conclusion of the first phase and IP Australia is now calling for nominations for potential candidates for review.

For more details and to register as a commenter, click here.

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New Chief Judge of the Federal Court

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The Attorney-General has announced  that Justice Pat Keane will become the new Chief Justice of the Federal Court on the statutory retirement on 21 March of Chief JusticeMichael Black.

Justice Keane is currently a Justice of Appeal in Queensland and will become the third Chief Justice.

Announcement here.

Lid dip: Peter Clarke

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Coffee plungers, tea pots, designs and passing off

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The Federal Court, Middleton J, has rejected Bodum’s allegations that

  1. the sale of the Baccarat Venice coffee plunger and Euroline’s Classic coffee plunger passed off Bodum’s Chambord coffee plunger or was otherwise misleading or deceptive; or
  2. Baccarat’s Devon teapot passed off Bodum’s Assam Tea Press or was otherwise misleading or deceptive.

Playcorp Group of Companies Pty Ltd v Peter Bodum A/S [2010] FCA 23

The judgment includes depictions of the products and their packaging in the appendices.

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Larrikin Merry As It Can Be

Monday, February 8th, 2010

While on the subject of Mars and darkened conference rooms, Men at Work have been found to infringe Larrikin’s copyright in Kookaburra Sits on the Old Gum Tree.

It would seem (from newspaper reports) that 2 bars were a substantial part – shades of the old Colonel Bogey newsreel case.

The video on the Age’s website has the clips of every kid’s favourite folk song and that flute riff.

Richard Acland highlights the crucial comparison in a vacuum:

Even though there was evidence that the pitch, key, rhythm, melodic shape, harmony, musical sentences and context are different, Justice Jacobson found that there was nonetheless a reproduction of a substantial part of Kookaburra in Down Under. This is not to say that Kookaburra amounted to a substantial part of the pop song.

but it all seems rather academic when Jacobson J found at [111]:

Mr Hay also accepted that for a period of about two or three years from around 2002, when he performed Down Under at concerts, he sometimes sang the words of Kookaburra at about the middle of Down Under, at the point at which he reached the flute line.

Looks rather like the crucial battle was last year’s fight over whether or not the Girl Guides or Larrikin owned the copyright in the first place.

Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd v EMI Songs Australia Pty Limited [2010] FCA 29

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ISPs, authorisation and copyright DownUnder

Friday, February 5th, 2010

In case you have been on Mars, or locked in a conference room writing submissions, you have probably heard that the Federal Court has rejected the music industry’s attempt to impose liability on iiNet, and ISP, for copyright infringement by authorising the infringing activities of users of its network.

Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Limited (No. 3) [2010] FCA 24 (636 para judgment) here.

Since I will find myself still locked in aforesaid conference room, I’ll simply quote (at this stage) from the 21 para summary:

 

The first step in making a finding of authorisation was to determine whether certain iiNet users infringed copyright. I have found that they have. However, in reaching that finding, I have found that the number of infringements that have occurred are significantly fewer than the number alleged by the applicants. This follows from my finding that, on the evidence and on a proper interpretation of the law, a person makes each film available online only once through the BitTorrent system and electronically transmits each film only once through that system. This excludes the possible case of a person who might repeatedly download the same file, but no evidence was presented of such unusual and unlikely circumstance. Further, I have found, on the evidence before me, that the iiNet users have made one copy of each film and have not made further copies onto physical media such as DVDs.
The next question was whether iiNet authorised those infringements. While I find that iiNet had knowledge of infringements occurring, and did not act to stop them, such findings do not necessitate a finding of authorisation. I find that iiNet did not authorise the infringements of copyright of the iiNet users. I have reached that conclusion for three primary reasons.
Looks like there will also be interesting obvservations on the operation of the Telecommunications Act and the role of iiNet’s policy vis a vis repeat offenders.

Howard Knopf and Michael Geist look at the decision from Canadian perspectives.

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Enforcement of PBR in Australia

Monday, February 1st, 2010

ACIP has published its final report into the Enforcement of plant breeder’s rights in Australia.

The report is here (pdf) – be warned 138pp, Exec Summary is 10pp.

Some recommendations:

 

Recommendation 1.

A new “purchase” right be added to s.11. This new right would only apply to those taxa that are specifically declared in the regulations. Industry sectors such as wheat breeders would apply to the PBR Office to have particular taxa so declared.

 

Recommendation 2.

The PBR Act be amended to clarify that harvested material that is also propagating material is to be considered as propagating material for the purposes of s.11, even if it is not being used for that purpose.

 

Recommendation 4.

There be no change to the operation of farmer’s privilege under s.17.

However, s.17 should be amended to state in easily understood terms that s.17 does not provide the farmer with the right to perform the acts listed in s.11(a) to (g). For example, the farmer will still require the PBR owner’s authorisation to sell the reproduced propagating material, the harvested material or the product of the harvested material.

Recommendation 5.

As part of IP Australia’s education and awareness programs, raise industry awareness of the opportunity under s.17(2) to have specific taxa excluded from the farmer’s privilege exemption.

Recommendation 6.

Encourage PBR owners to make clear to growers the conditions of sale of propagating material and their obligations in relation to future generations of it. This includes making clear that growers require the authorisation of the PBR owner to sell crops grown from farm-saved seed.

 

 

Recommendation 17.
Introduce an Information Notice system into the PBR Act based on the UK Information Notice system.
This would enable PBR owners to obtain information from suspected infringers on the
source of plant material. Where this is not supplied within a reasonable time, legal proceedings may be commenced in which the presumption is made that the plant material was obtained through unauthorised use of propagating material and that the PBR owner did not have a reasonable opportunity to exercise its rights in relation to the material.

Recommendation 14.

The jurisdiction of the second tier of the Federal Court of Australia to include PBR matters.

Appropriately qualified magistrates must be made available and there should be appropriate measures taken to ensure the processes of the second tier are faster and cheaper than in the first tier. Examples include simplifying and standardising procedures for expert evidence and DNA testing through the issuing practice notes, use of alternate dispute resolution where appropriate, and curtailing of the discovery phase.

Recommendation 12.

An on-going Expert Panel be established to provide guidance and opinions on general issues or specific cases concerning the PBR Act and related law. The Panel should comprise appropriate people with expertise in relevant areas who provide their services as required.

Upon request from any person and for a moderate fee, the Panel may provide detailed guidance and opinions on general issues or specific cases concerning the PBR Act and related law. The Panel should focus on the enforcement of granted rights and not provide advice on the registrability of individual applications for PBR. The Panel’s opinions should be made publicly available in a manner that respects commercially sensitive material. The Panel may refer matters to the Government or ACIP as it sees fit.

 

 

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