Sebastia – an Iconic Image

November 14, 2016

sabastia

In addition to copyright, photographers also enjoy the moral right to have their photographs identified as being taken by them.

YNET, the Internet portal of Yediot Aharonot, used an archived photograph from 1975 of the attempt to establish a Jewish settlement in Sebastia. The photographer, Moshe Milner, was not attributed. He filed a complaint with the District Court and received compensation of 12000 Shekels, with the judge accusing Yediot Aharanot of being in that area between intent and innocence that is characterized by laziness, closing one’s eyes and acting rashly.

I believe the image concerned, is the one shown above. Showing Rabbis Hanan Porat (Z’L) and Moshe Levinger.


Statutory Damages for Reproducing Photographs

August 2, 2016

copyrightUnder the Israel Copyright Law 2007 there are statutory awards available for copyright infringement of up to 100,000 Shekels without proof of damage. There is a separate statutory award for damage to the moral right to be acknowledged as an author of a creative work that is up to an additional 100,000 Shekels .

Photographs are considered creative works and it is the photographer, not the subject of the photographer that owns the rights.

However, the would-be-plaintiff should be aware that although the courts can award up to 200,000 Shekels for copyright infringement by a photograph being reproduced without permission, they generally make much smaller awards.

Whether one sues under copyright infringement or under the Law of Unjust Enrichment the statutory damage despite lack-of-proof merely enables the court to grant compensation for estimated damages where the plaintiff has trouble proving the damage. Not every photograph is considered as automatically worth tens of thousands of shekels.

Here are four recent cases:

  • A website for an aluminium factory used an image taken from a competitor’s website without permission. The damages awarded were 3,500 Shekels.
  • A photographer took pictures of landscaped gardens, and the landscape architect reproduced these without permission. The name of the photographer was not mentioned. The compensation awarded for copyright and moral rights infringement was 10,000 Shekels.
  • A beautician and her husband sold cosmetics via eBay from a virtual shop. The cosmetics were made by Holyland Cosmetics. The beautician and her husband used photographs and text taken from  Holyland Cosmetics’ website and were fined 65,000 Shekels.
  • amir-peretzVery few photographs become iconic images. One that did was the famous picture of then Israel Defense Minister Amir Peretz looking interestedly at military maneuvers through binoculars without noticing that the lens caps were still in place. A journalist called Ephraim Shrir took the photo, and has since been busy suing every newspaper and media outlet that failed to acknowledge his moral rights to be recognized as the photographer, and that failed to pay him copyright compensation.  We have written about his claims in the past, see here and here, where both his copyright and moral rights were recognized by the courts. In a recent ruling however, Shrir sued HaAretz for reproducing the photograph, but they claimed that they had obtained the image legally from Associated Press (AP) who was acknowledged. The case was thrown out.

 

 


There would be one long staircase just going up…

June 25, 2016

stairway to heaven

I think Stairway to Heaven is far to long a song, and consider it over-rated. It lasts for over ten minutes, and Bohemian Rhapsody is only six minutes, and has rather more going for it. Besides, being ex-Imperial and having a PhD in physics, I feel a certain kinship with lead guitarist Dr Brian May, however I am not sure it is reciprocated.

That as may be, after an eight-day jury trial, it was ruled that the guitar riff did not infringe copyright of Spirit’s song Taurus.

I think that the media should differentiate more carefully between copyright infringement which is a crime, and plagiarism which is not.

Men at Work’s Greg Ham were accused of plagiarizing Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree in  Down Under. He committed suicide, leaving a note that said “I’m terribly disappointed that that’s the way I’m going to be remembered – for copying something…”. This was a tragedy.

Now it can happen that a song is based, possibly unintentionally on the work of another. George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord was found to have the same melody as Ronnie Mack’s He’s So Fine. The melody of Naomi Shemer’s Lu Hehi (literally let it be), bears more than a casual similarity to Paul McCartney’s Let it Be.

Of course, sometimes an unmistakable similarity does not imply that one piece is a copy of the other. A good example of this is HaTikveh (The Hope) – Israel’s national Anthem, the melody of which may be found here. there is a clear similarity to the melody of  Vltava by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. However, although Samuel Cohen, the composer, admitted that he was influended by a Moldovian song, it is far from clear where the melody originated and it may well have Jewish origins. That as may be, sometimes a composer will reference a line from the work of another, and this should be considered fair use. A good of example of this is the Swan-song from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake which has a four-stroke drum beat that echos Beethoven’s fifth symphonyfifth symphonyfifth symphony (Death at the Door).  I don’t see this as copyright infringement, but rather as a cultural reference. Copyright now lasts a ridiculously long 70 or 95 years. Do we really want to prevent any discernible similarities to the work of anyone in living memory in new works? The jury got it right, even if it took them over a week.

POST SCRIPT I showed this article to a client who is part of the Israeli music world. The Client studied at Netiv Meir and is not now Hallachically Observant. He told me that in the Nineties a noise-rock outfit called Plastic Venus played at the club where he worked. After the show, he asked the lead singer, Ronit Bergman, who wrote the music, and she pointed to the drummer Ilan Diamond. He went over to him and asked if he could ask him a personal question, and when Diamond agreed, asked him what Hassidic Court he grew up in. The answer was Vishnitz. If one listens to Plastic Venus’s music under the psychedelic overtones and all the distortion, one can discern Hassidic melodies. People listen to, absorb and rework the melodies of their childhood and other music they once heard. There are interesting historical reasons why Chabad Hassidim sing Napoleon’s March to this day. The reasons are linked to why the early Rebbes were incarcerated by the Tzar.

 


Mein Kampf Distributed in Italy

June 24, 2016

worthington_meinkampf

Now that it is no longer under copyright protection, Mein Kampf is being distributed freely in Italy as a supplement to the Saturday edition of the Italian newspaper Il Giornale distributed copies of the book in a decision that drew heavy criticism from Italian Jewish groups.

The president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Renzo Gattegna has been quoted as saying: “The free distribution … is a squalid fact that is light years away from all logic of studying the Shoah and the different factors that led the whole of humanity to sink into an abyss of unending hatred, death and violence.”

“It must be stated clearly: The Giornale’s operation is indecent,” Gattegna said on the announcement of the paper’s decision.

Il Giornale is a center-right daily owned by the family of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The paper says that its version of the text was annotated by an Italian historian and was distributed with the goal of preventing the mistakes of the past from being repeated.

n an editorial, Alessandro Sallusti, the paper’s director, said that most of the discussions related to the publication were “legitimate and understandable”and that “The worries of our friends within the Italian Jewish community, who have always seen us as unconditional allies, deserve all our respect.” However, he also said that he strongly disagreed with those saying the paper published the autobiography with an“apologetic intention.” Critics had previously argued that the newspaper might have distributed the book in an attempt to underplay Hitler’s crimes.

For more on this, see here.

COMMENT

I believe that copyright protection is too long. That as may be, I think that all works should enter the public domain after they come off copyright. I am generally against banning books. I don’t think that Mein Kampf should be banned. Nor do I think that Torat HaMelekh, Baruch HaGever or other extreme right Israeli books should be banned. If anything, banning them gives them publicity that they would not otherwise have. I think that banning books and political opinions that one disagrees with is unhealthy. However, I am NOT Charlie. I don’t believe in being offensive of other’s religious beliefs.

I do however agree with Israel Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, that the government does not have to use tax payers’ money to fund anything and everything posing as culture. Tax funding can be used to subsidize cultural expressions that are mainstream or that the government sees as educational or positive. Not everything should be paid from by the public purse.

As to Mein Kampf, whilst reference libraries should have copies, I do not think that this particular work is the appropriate weekend supplement or gift for widespread distribution and if I subscribed to Il Giornale, would cancel my subscription.

The British Red Cross edition shown above goes a long way to explain why  I refuse to donate to the British Red Cross. I think that even in the 1930s it was less anti-Semitic than the Red Cross of other European countries. This explains a lot about why the International Red Cross wouldn’t recognize Israel’s Magen David Adom badge, and why I opposed Olmert from agreeing to replace it with a red diamond. I note that the Palestine Red Crescent Society was founded in 1968, by Fathi Arafat, Yasser Arafat‘s brother.[1]  This goes a long way to explain the use of ambulances to smuggle weapons.

I fully support the proposed Israel Law for transparency regarding sources of income of humanitarian organizations financed mostly by foreign governments. Whilst the organizations in question are indeed, mostly left-wing affiliated, that does not make the need for transparency any less. The government did not propose this out of narrow political interests but because it is imperative for people to realize that not ever humanitarian organization is a neutral observer on what happens in Israel. Not every left wing organization is a fifth column, but some are, and people should be aware of this.


All for a $ Store Fined 30,000 Shekels for IP Infringement

June 22, 2016

dollar_redThe ‘All for a Dollar’ store in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff’s Center was sued by Times Warner for selling goods that were decorated with images to which Time Warner owned the rights. The images included Tom & Jerry, Power tom and jerryRangers, Superman and Looney Tunes. Although statutory damages in lieu of evidence of 100,000 Shekels were sought, the damages awarded were only 30,000 Shekels (about $800 US), based on an attempt to strike a balance between the number of goods, the type of goods and the need to punish the offender and to warn others.


Photos of Real Estate Are Copyright Too…

April 22, 2016

images

Estate Agents as they are called in English, or realtors as the Americans refer to them, help owners sell or rent out properties, and take a commission for so doing.

A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes. One estate agent who took photographs of properties and used them on his websites, discovered a marketeer marketer who used the same photos on a competing website. The estate sued for copyright infringement and succeeded in proving ownership of the copright in the photographs. A competing estate agent cannot claim ‘innocent infringement’ and the plaintiff was awarded 2500 Shekels damages.

COMMENT

Bearing in mind the low level of originality in such images, but that one estate agent is entitled to expect that his competitors will take their own photographs or come to an arangement with him to use his pictures for a fee, the ruling seems reasonable. True, statutory damages wihout proof are considerably higher, but these are a maximum, not automatically given, and a standard photo of an apartment block or similar is not high art.


Restaurant Fined for Screening Euroleague Football

April 13, 2016

UEFA

A Nahariya restaurant screened Euroleague football matches in 2012, using them as a way to attract customers. Charlton who has the broadcasting rights and deals with satellite and cable TV companies claimed that their license was for private use, not commercial use.

The Israel court ws not neither convinced that the match was inadevertently shown on the large television screens in the restaurant nor that it was the only match screened to customers, and fined the restaurant 45,000 Shekels as a warning to other businesses.