On Monday, 21 December, U.S. Congressional leaders passed a spending bill that included government funding and folded in several controversial intellectual property provisions that will expand the rights of intellectual property owners. These provisions include the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforce (CASE) Act, the Trademark Modernization Act (TMA), and a law to make certain illegal streaming a felony. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on 27 December 2020.Read More
In the recent judgment State of Escape Accessories Pty Limited v Schwartz  FCA 1606, Justice Davies of the Federal Court of Australia found a fashionable neoprene tote bag was not a “work of artistic craftsmanship” and therefore not an “artistic work” for the purposes of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (the Act). Since the Court found that copyright did not subsist in the State of Escape bag (the Escape Bag), there was no finding of copyright infringement.Read More
In April, we wrote about the judgement Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability)  FCA 535 (Decision), in which Glass Candy and Air France were found to have infringed the copyright in the well-known 1970s hit song “Love is in the Air” (Love).
Now, in the recent judgement Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Scope of Injunction)  FCA 1413, the Federal Court of Australia has finalised the injunctive orders necessary to give effect to the Court’s earlier conclusions on the issue of liability in the Decision, amongst other matters.
Principally, Justice Perram addressed the appropriate injunctive relief against Air France in relation to its use of the adaptation of the infringing song “Warm in Winter” (Warm) called “France is in the Air” (France).
Air France contented that the injunction should only go as far as preventing the act of infringement which it was found to have committed, being the use of France as hold music for callers to its Australian toll-free number. However, Justice Perram agreed with the applicants that a wider injunction to restrain Air France from communicating France to the public without the licence of the copyright owner was appropriate.
This would encompass:
- allowing France to be played on Air France’s YouTube channel (or other such channels) if the licensing arrangement with APRA was altered in the future such that ‘infringing uses’ of Love were no longer covered by the APRA licence
- further efforts by Air France to use France on services which do not hold an APRA licence, and
- the authorisation by Glass Candy of any such conduct.
Justice Perram ruled that a wide injunction was appropriate, as there was risk of Air France repeating the infringing behavior which, absent the licence of the copyright owner, ought to be restrained. This was especially so due to the fact that Air France had declined to undertake not to continue using France, leaving open the possibility for Air France entering into a fresh licence agreement for the use of France with Glass Candy and recommencing its ad campaign.
It was decided that the injunction would refer to the ‘copyright owner’ rather than a specific party, to account for any future ownership changes.
Declaration of flagrancy
Justice Perram held that it would be inappropriate to make a declaration regarding the flagrancy of Air France and Glass Candy’s conduct, since:
- the various factors for assessing additional damages set out in s 115(4)(b) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), which includes the flagrancy of the infringement, were neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for the award of additional damages. Rather, these factors, like any finding of flagrancy, are intermediate steps along the way to another legal conclusion, and
- the claim for damages against Air France failed as the owner of the communication right comprised in the right to digitally stream Love was incorrectly identified by the applicants (as detailed in the Decision).
Assessment of additional damages
Glass Candy submitted that the Court should not proceed to any assessment of additional damages since the conduct found to be flagrant in the Decision related to the creation of Warm and not the infringements that the Court found Glass Candy committed (which mainly related to the exercise of the communication right in Love). Justice Perram acknowledged that there might be some force in these submissions, but that the additional damages case should proceed.
While the Court found a broad injunction to prevent the widespread communication of a musical work was appropriate in this case, a declaration of flagrancy was not.
Further developments will be reported once damages are assessed.
One thing is clear about artificial intelligence (AI) and intellectual property (IP) at the moment: there are more questions than answers. Who should be author? Who is responsible for a work’s liability? What about moral rights? Is a computer programme capable of making an ‘inventive step’ or forming an ‘intellectual creation’ normally reserved for humans? And for those Matrix fans – should we let machines make decisions for us, lest we become seen as the planet’s true virus?
In September 2019, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) launched a much-needed conversation on IP and AI, and consulted with member state representatives on the potential impact of AI on IP. Over the course of the consultation, WIPO received more than 250 responses from a wide range of global stakeholders.Read More
Reforms to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act) are just around the corner, and after two years of extensive stakeholder consultation, the Government has finally proposed a limited liability scheme for use of orphan works. The proposed reforms were announced by Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, on 13 August 2020.
This proposed amendment will favour the cultural, educational and broadcasting sectors in Australia who will soon be able to use and display works for which a copyright owner cannot be identified or located without risk of copyright infringement, and will result in an important public interest benefit.Read More
On 11 June 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down its decision in the referral from the Belgium Companies Court (Tribunal de l’entreprise de Liège) arising from copyright infringement proceedings by Brompton Bicycle Ltd (Brompton) against a Korean company Get2Get Chedech (Get2Get) relating to its folding bike.
The decision is good news for designers and creative businesses as it lays a foundation for new opportunities for copyright protection and enforcement in Europe. This evolving area of law now requires a low threshold for protection, with a suggestion from the CJEU that minor creative choices in products will be sufficient for a finding of copyright protection.Read More
In its recent judgment (Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability)  FCA 535), the Federal Court of Australia has found that an American electronic musical duo copied the celebrated Australian disco song ‘Love Is In The Air’. The decision confirms that the sound of lyrics as sung forms part of a musical work. Furthermore, a short sung lyric with attending music can be the ‘essential air’ of a song.
While determining only “modest” levels of copyright infringement occurred and dismissing most claims for damages, Justice Perram described the copying as “flagrant” and indicated there will be a further hearing to assess damages.Read More
On April 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts that copyright protection does not extend to the annotations in Georgia’s official annotated code. In the case, Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc. (No. 18-1150), the majority held that because “Georgia’s annotations are authored by an arm of the legislature in the course of its legislative duties, the government edicts doctrine puts them outside the reach of copyright protection” even though the annotations themselves do not have the force of law.Read More
A district court in the recent Sinclair case found no copyright infringement by the website Mashable, where it used one of photographer Sinclair’s Instagram photos in an article, even after an unsuccessful attempt to license the photo directly from Sinclair. Sinclair v. Ziff Davis, LLC, and Mashable, Inc., No. 1:18-CV-00790 (S.D.N.Y. April 13, 2020).Read More
Late last year, Judge Baird of the Australian Federal Circuit Court handed down a decision in the case of Henley Arch v Del Monaco, a copyright infringement matter in respect of a project home design.
The claim was brought by well-known Australian builder Henley Arch, who readers might also recall from the 2016 decision in Henley Arch v Lucky Homes. The respondent in this case, Dorian Del Monaco, was an individual who owned a property in Pakenham (Melbourne), Victoria.Read More