Copyright and Technology London 2014: Registration Open; Panel Change

Registration for Copyright and Technology London 2014 is now live.  An earlybird discount is in place through August 8. Space is limited and we came close to filling the rooms last time, so please register today!

I am particularly excited about our two keynote speakers — two of the most important copyright policy officials in the European Union and United States respectively.  Maria Martin-Prat will discuss efforts to harmonize aspects of copyright law throughout the 28 EU Member States, while Shira Perlmutter will provide an update on the long process that the US has started to revise its copyright law.

We have made one change to the Law and Policy track in the afternoon: we’ve added a panel called The Cloudy Future of Private Copying.  This panel will deal with controversies in the already complex and often confusing world of laws in Europe that allow consumers to make copies of lawfully-obtained content for personal use.

The right of private copying throughout Europe was established in the European Union Copyright Directive of 2001, but the EU Member States’ implementations of private copying vary widely — as do the levies that makers of consumer electronics and blank media have to pay to copyright collecting societies in many countries on the presumption that consumers will make private copies of copyrighted material.  Private copying was originally intended to apply to such straightforward scenarios as photocopying of text materials or taping vinyl albums onto cassette.  But nowadays, cloud storage services, cyberlockers, and “cloud sync” services for music files — some of which allow streaming from the cloud or access to content by users other than those who uploaded the content — are coming into view regarding private copying.

The result is a growing amount of controversy among collecting societies, consumer electronics makers, retailers, and others; meanwhile the European Commission is seeking ways to harmonize the laws across Member States amid rapid technological change.  Our panel will discuss these issues and consider whether there’s a rational way forward.

We have slots open for a chair and speakers on this panel; I will accept proposals through July 31.  Please email your proposal(s) with the following information:

  • Speaker’s name and full contact information
  • Chair or speaker request?
  • Description of speaker’s experience or point of view on the panel subject
  • Brief narrative bio of speaker
  • Contact info of representative, if different from speaker*

 

Finally, back over here across the Atlantic, I’ll note an interesting new development in the Aereo case that hasn’t gotten much press since the Supreme Court decision in the case a couple of weeks ago.  Aereo had claimed that it had “bet the farm” on a court ruling that its service was legal and that “there is no Plan B,” implying that it didn’t have the money to pay for licenses with television networks.  Various commentators have noted that Aereo wasn’t going to have much leverage in any such negotiations anyway.

As a result of the decision, Aereo has changed tactics.  In the Supreme Court’s ruling, Justice Breyer stated that Aereo resembled a cable TV provider and therefore could not offer access to television networks’ content without a license.  Now, in a filing with the New York district court that first heard the case, Aereo is claiming that it should be entitled to the statutory license for cable TV operators under section 111 of the copyright law, with royalty rates that are spelled out in 17 U.S.C § 111(d)(1).

In essence, Aereo is attempting to rely on the court for its negotiating leverage, and it has apparently decided that it can become a profitable business even if it has to pay the fees under that statutory license.  Has Barry Diller — or another investor — stepped in with the promise of more cash to keep the company afloat?  Regardless, in pursuing this tactic, Aereo is simply following the well-worn path of working litigation into a negotiation for a license to intellectual property.


 

*Please note that personal confirmation from speakers themselves is required before we will put them on the program.

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