Intellectual Property Roundup

IP News

Supreme Court Justices Appear Conflicted Over Aereo Copyright Case (Los Angeles Times)
Confronting a case that could reshape the television broadcast industry, Supreme Court justices sounded conflicted over whether upstart streaming service Aereo is violating copyright laws.

U.S. Aims to Defuse Tension Over Control of Internet (The Wall Street Journal)
World representatives are arriving in Brazil for Net Mundial, a two-day meeting about Internet governance. The meeting comes amid fallout over spying by the NSA that has renewed concerns over the U.S. government’s credibility and over longtime U.S. oversight of the Internet.

‘Notorious Market’ Blocks Privacy in its P2P Streaming Player (Torrent Freak)
A company labeled a notorious market by the USTR says it has taken dramatic steps to stamp out piracy. The China-based outfit behind the P2P-enabled QVOD file-sharing technology says it is no longer possible to stream or download unauthorized copyrighted content with their software.

Pandora Sued by Major Labels Over Pre-1972 Copyrights (Bloomberg)
Several major record labels, including Capitol Records LLC and Sony Music Entertainment, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Internet radio service Pandora for failing to pay for using music recorded before 1972.

Grams Lets You Easily Access the “Darknet” and Buy Illicit Things Online(Canada.com)
Grams, a new search engine and the darknet’s answer to Google, allows almost anyone to access unlisted merchant websites selling drugs, guns and other illegal items.


SIIA Announces New Intellectual Property Protection Division

SIIA is significantly expanding its enforcement efforts, and will now target a broad range of intellectual property violations, on behalf of both software and content publishers. The new program, now called the Intellectual Property Protection Division or IPP Division, will continue its anti-piracy efforts but will now investigate and resolve many more types of nefarious activities that can adversely affect a participating company’s brand, intellectual property or reputation, such as: counterfeiting, fraud, unauthorized access, fraudulent use of domain names, and more.

SIIA will also assist participating publishers with the protection of their intellectual property. These protection services will include such things as assisting publishers with registering their valuable IP with the U.S. Copyright Office and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, registering their brands with the new domain name Trademark Clearinghouse, and more. The IPP Division will also place a renewed emphasis on content piracy and offer a range of specialized services that address the varying needs of participating content publishers.

More information about the new SIIA IPP Division is available here.

Important Message About Protecting Your Brands: Late last year, ICANN began approving the first new gTLDs. Like all new domain names that are or will be approved by ICANN, these new gTLDs will not go live until after brand owners are given a brief window to register addresses using their own brands before anyone else can. For more information about this process see this SIIA alert and FAQs. SIIA has created a new domain name alert system for those companies that are interested in knowing what new domain names are approved, when they will go live and how to protect themselves. Those who sign up for the alert will receive a weekly email from SIIA notifying them what new gTLDs have been approved by ICANN, and other relevant information. If you are interested in receiving these alerts, please email me at keithk@siia.net so that we can add your name to the list of alert recipients.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Intellectual Property Roundup

D.C. Court Decision is an Important Victory for Whistleblowers Who Report Piracy

SIIA announced that it has prevailed in its nine-year battle to protect the identity of an anonymous informant who reported an alleged copyright infringement to SIIA. This case is a critical victory for SIIA and its anti-piracy efforts for corporate whistleblowers generally. The nine-year battle, and eventual win, demonstrates the lengths SIIA will go to protect against the disclosure of the identity of those who allege piracy. Read the full announcement here.

Enforcement News 

Apple Declines to Fund Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures (GigaOM)
Intellectual Ventures is seeking a major new investment to expand its controversial patent trolling operations, but Apple has turned down an invitation to join Microsoft and Sony in backing a new IV patent acquisition fund.

RIAA Sues Megaupload Over Copyright Infringement (Ars Technica)
Just three days after the Motion Picture Association brought a civil lawsuit against Megaupload, the Recording Industry Association jumped in with its own case, bringing the number of lawsuits filed against Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his colleagues to three.

Media, Rights Groups Urge Court to Revisit Takedown of Anti-Muslim YouTube Video(Ars Technica)
Several media groups and rights organizations, including the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, have rallied behind Google to urge a federal appeals court to revisit its takedown order of an inflammatory anti-Muslim video on YouTube, saying the decision allows subjects of news events to control coverage.

Broadcasters Seek an Aereo ‘Plan B’ (The Wall Street Journal)
The nation’s largest television broadcasters are considering contingency plans in case they lose a high-stakes Supreme Court battle against online video startup Aereo Inc.

IP Policy News

Leahy Walks Tightrope on Senate Patent Bill (The Hill)
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is hoping to advance a complex patent reform bill when the Senate returns from its two-week recess, but will have to balance the competing interests of Republicans and Democrats to get his bill across the finish line.

Keeping the Internet Free – For Now (The Wall Street Journal)
Less than a month after announcing its plan to relinquish control of ICANN, the White House is having second thoughts about surrendering America’s online oversight, following objections by Bill Clinton, a warning letter from 35 Republican Senators, and critical congressional hearings.

Pirated Downloads Now Prohibited in the Netherlands (PC World)
The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice has banned downloading pirated content following a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union, finally making this illegal for people in the Netherlands.
[Read more...]

SIIA Says D.C. Court Decision is an Important Victory for Whistleblowers Who Report Piracy

SIIA today announced that it has prevailed in its nine-year battle to protect the identity of an anonymous informant who reported an alleged copyright infringement to SIIA.

In 2005, an informant filed an online report with SIIA that accused Solers Inc., a Virginia-based technology company, of infringing the copyright in various SIIA members’ software.  Later that year, Solers sued SIIA’s informant for defamation and served a subpoena on SIIA demanding that SIIA disclose the identity of the informant.  Solers has always denied that it infringed any software, and SIIA terminated its investigation prior to Solers’ filing of the lawsuit.

For nine years, SIIA contested the subpoena, noting that in the two-decade history of its anti-piracy program it has never disclosed the identity of any informant who wished to remain anonymous.  Last month, Judge Judith N. Macaluso entered an Order granting SIIA’s Motion to Quash Solers’ subpoena to discover the identity of SIIA’s informant.  The Judge “agree[d] with SIIA’s argument and advisedly adopt[ed] in toto the analysis presented in [SIIA's] Post-Hearing Brief.”  The Judge found no evidence that Solers experienced any monetary loss, which would be necessary for Solers to obtain the identity of the informant in the defamation suit against John Doe.  The Judge also found, based on the record presented, that John Doe was neither reliable nor credible when he made assertions regarding Solers.  On Friday, the Judge entered a final order formally dismissing Solers’ suit and handing SIIA a victory in its quest to defend the identity of its informant.

SIIA will stop at nothing to protect the identities of those who report software and content piracy to us in confidence. The Court’s Order hands SIIA an important victory and vindicates the rights of whistleblowers.  For SIIA, this case has always been about protecting the informant’s identity and, after a long nine-year fight, we achieved that goal.

This case is a critical victory for SIIA and its anti-piracy efforts and for corporate whistleblowers generally.  The nine-year battle, and eventual win, demonstrates the lengths SIIA will go to protect against the disclosure of the identity of those who allege piracy.  In addition to hundreds of hours of staff time, SIIA spent well over a half million dollars on attorneys’ fees and other costs.

Reporting of suspected copyright infringement is essential for protecting U.S. software and content businesses and ensuring a strong innovation economy.  If whistleblowers’ identities are disclosed, fewer people will report suspected software piracy and  businesses will be hindered in their attempts to protect intellectual property.  This victory should have an impact for years to come, creating lasting protections for whistleblowers who report suspected copyright infringement.

SIIA was successfully represented in the case by Leo Rydzewski and Charles Tobin of Holland & Knight LLP, Washington, D.C.

To report piracy confidentially, visit SIIA’s website at www.siia.net/piracy/report or call SIIA’s or call SIIA’s Piracy Hotline at (800) 388-7478.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Intellectual Property Roundup

Enforcement News

ISP’s “Six-Strike” System is Now in Full Force, Says Industry Official (GigaOM)
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce official stated that the “six-strike” anti-piracy program involving major Internet service providers is now in full effect, more than a year after news of the so-called Copyright Alert System was first reported.

ICANN Chief: Russia, China Will Not Hijack Internet Oversight (Reuters)
The head of ICANN defended the U.S. government’s move to cede oversight of the body, and downplayed concerns that Russia, china or other countries could exert control and restrict the web’s openness.

Rightscorp Finds Shortcut to Expose Alleged Bittorrent Pirates (TorrentFreak)
Anti-piracy firm Rightscorp has found a shortcut to obtaining the personal details of account holders connected to pirating IP-addresses. Instead of having a judge decide, Rightscorp obtains DMCA subpoenas which only a court clerk has to sign off on.

Document Reveals When Copyright Trolls Drop Piracy Cases (TorrentFreak)
A submission to an Illinois court that was supposed to remain under seal has revealed when Malibu Media, a so-called “copyright-troll,” will dismiss cases against alleged pirates.

Diller Sees Aereo in Every Major City if Backed by Court (Bloomberg)
Barry Diller plans to expand Aereo’s streaming-TV service into every major U.S. city if the startup prevails in its fight with broadcasters before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Studios File New Lawsuit Against MegaUpload and Its Founder (The New York Times)
Hollywood’s major film studios added a new civil lawsuit on copyright infringement to the legal challenges facing MegaUpload’s owners.

Policy News

House Republican Working on Patent Demand Letter Bill (The Hill)
Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb) pledged to introduce a bipartisan bill to curb demand letters from “patent trolls,” saying the bill will likely establish requirements about what information must be included in demand letters.

Senate Patent Markup Pushed Back Again (The Hill)
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of Chairman Patrick Leahy’s patent reform bill, the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act, has been pushed back a third time as committee members negotiate contentious provisions.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Intellectual Property Roundup

Enforcement News

Apple’s War on Samsung Has Google in Crossfire (The New York Times)
Officially, it’s Apple versus Samsung Electronics in another tech patent face-off in a San Jose courtroom this week, but Google also has a lot at stake in the case.

Hollywood’s Antipiracy Efforts Add New Voice (The New York Times)
Ruth Vitale, executive director of CreativeFuture, is aiming to steer Hollywood’s digital future.

Top EU Court Backs Internet Bootlegging Ruling (The Wall Street Journal)
The European Union’s highest court said that Internet service providers may have to block access to websites that infringe copyrights.

Aereo to Supreme Court: We Have Broken No Law (CNET)
In a brief to the Supreme Court, Aereo says that it has stayed within the realm of U.S. copyright law and that TV broadcasters have no right to royalties from its television streaming.

Policy News

House Republicans Move to Block Internet Management Switch (The Hill)
A group of House Republicans introduced a bill that would prohibit the Obama administration from moving forward with its announced plans to relinquish oversight of the technical side of the Internet’s Web address system.

Pat Leahy’s Patent Reform Bill To Be Taken Up Again This Week (Washington Examiner)
The Senate Judiciary Committee took up the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act, or Senate Bill 1720, but was tabled until the April 3rd meeting.

U.S. Top Court Wary of Major Change to Software Patent Law (Reuters)
U.S. Supreme Court justices stepped gingerly into a raging debate over computer software on Monday, voicing concerns about vaguely defined patents but signaling they would avoid any radical change to existing law.
[Read more...]

Are You Copyright Compliant? SIIA’s New Program Works to Enforce Content Copyright Compliance

Are you copyright compliant?  Do you have a license to distribute copyrighted newspaper, magazine and newsletter articles to employees within your company or to your clients?  What about posting the latest article about your company on your website or Intranet — do you have a copyright license for that?

If you are not sure, now would be a great time to do your due diligence and ensure that you and your company have the proper  licenses in place to use the valuable content  you want. Newspapers, magazines, newsletters, journals and other content publishers have joined forces with the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) to start a new content compliance initiative aimed at ensuring that companies who are copying, distributing, posting and otherwise using their valuable content are properly licensed.

SIIA announced the new program at the end of January.  Since that announcement, numerous large, well-known publishers – like McClatchy, Financial Times and Advance Publications – have signed up to participate in the program, as have numerous other medium and smaller publishers, with more to come.

But, no worries, you have some time to get your “copyright compliance act” together. As the first step in its program, SIIA plans a sweeping educational campaign to let companies know about the program and its intent to pursue legal remedies against those companies that are using content in a way that fails to comply with the copyright law.

Education alone will not protect the publishers whose copyrights are violated.  For this reason, following a short grace period, SIIA will begin pursuing organizations that are making copies and distributing content internally or externally without the proper licenses.  Content piracy, including unlicensed distribution of full text via email or intranet, carries significant commercial and reputation risks.  Damages in these cases can easily range in the hundreds of thousands – and sometimes millions – of dollars.

To be clear, many organizations subscribe to and use these publications legitimately.  These companies benefit from legitimate access to the high-quality journalism found in these publications.  But, unfortunately, not all organizations respect these publishers’ copyrights.  Some organizations willfully ignore these publishers’ right to earn income from the valuable copyrighted content they publish.  The organizations that become SIIA targets are engaged in systematic, business-related copying and distribution that is not remotely close to being a “fair use.”  Why should these organizations – some of whom may even be your competitors – have an unfair business advantage by free-riding on the publishers’ hard work and not paying for content that other good actors are paying for.  Distributing information such as press clips is a traditional part of PR, but everyone needs to understand how they can operate in a manner that respects copyrights.

Reports of improper use of content sometimes come from within a company, or former employees, who provide detailed information about their organization’s illegal practices.  To encourage reliable reports, SIIA offers rewards of as much as $1 million to those who report illegal use of content and promises not to reveal the identities of those who submit the reports.

So take some time to make sure your company is copyright compliant.  If you think you don’t have the necessary licenses in place, now is the time to reach out and contact the publisher directly or a company that represents groups of publishers, like Burrelles Luce or the Copyright Clearance Center, for assistance.

The clear message SIIA is sending is that copying and distributing material without proper licenses is illegal and, the content publishing industry cannot continue to sit by and watch the value of their work being eroded by those who do not respect copyright law.  Staying in compliance with copyright law is not difficult or expensive.  You have a fairly easy choice to make – devote the attention and relatively modest resources necessary to ensure your compliance, or find yourself the potential recipient of an SIIA copyright enforcement letter.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Intellectual Property Roundup

Enforcement News

Web Domain Name Revolution Could hit Trademark Defense (Yahoo)
The UN’s intellectual property body warned that the mass expansion of Internet domain names could cause havoc for the defense of trademarks in cyberspace.

U.S. Plains to Give Up Oversight of Web Domain Manager (The Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. Commerce Department said it plans to relinquish its oversight of ICANN, a move that could bring more international cooperation over management of the Web, but will make some U.S. businesses nervous.

Viacom and Google Settle YouTube Lawsuit (Financial Times)
Viacom and Google have settled a $1 billion copyright infringement suit tied to Google’s YouTube digital video service, ending a seven-year battle between the two companies.

‘Netflix for Piracy’ Popcorn Time Saved By Fans (BBC)
Popcorn Time, a service that offers a Netflix-like interface for accessing pirated films, has already resurfaced just days after being closed down.

Policy News

Senate Takes Next Steps on Patents (The Hill)
The Senate is moving forward with its patent reform efforts and will begin considering Sen. Leahy’s bill at an executive session on March 27.

The GOP Freak Out Over the U.S. ‘Losing the Internet’ Has Begun (The Wire)
Republicans see the Obama administration’s decision to relinquish control of the Internet to the international community as a big, and even dangerous, mistake.

Congress Looms Large in Piracy Battle (The Hill)
While the content and tech industries are coming together to try and solve the problem of online piracy, Congress looms large in the background, threatening to step in if the stakeholders can’t come to an agreement.


SIIA Announces New Intellectual Property Protection Division

SIIA is significantly expanding its enforcement efforts, and will now target a broad range of intellectual property violations, on behalf of both software and content publishers. The new program, now called the Intellectual Property Protection Division or IPP Division, will continue its anti-piracy efforts but will now investigate and resolve many more types of nefarious activities that can adversely affect a participating company’s brand, intellectual property or reputation, such as: counterfeiting, fraud, unauthorized access, fraudulent use of domain names, and more.

SIIA will also assist participating publishers with the protection of their intellectual property. These protection services will include such things as assisting publishers with registering their valuable IP with the U.S. Copyright Office and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, registering their brands with the new domain name Trademark Clearinghouse, and more. The IPP Division will also place a renewed emphasis on content piracy and offer a range of specialized services that address the varying needs of participating content publishers.

More information about the new SIIA IPP Division is available here.

Important Message About Protecting Your Brands

Late last year, ICANN began approving the first new gTLDs. Like all new domain names that are or will be approved by ICANN, these new gTLDs will not go live until after brand owners are given a brief window to register addresses using their own brands before anyone else can. For more information about this process see this SIIA alert and FAQs. SIIA has created a new domain name alert system for those companies that are interested in knowing what new domain names are approved, when they will go live and how to protect themselves. Those who sign up for the alert will receive a weekly email from SIIA notifying them what new gTLDs have been approved by ICANN, and other relevant information. If you are interested in receiving these alerts, please email me at keithk@siia.net so that we can add your name to the list of alert recipients.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.