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.


IP Conference in Memory of Arnan Gabriel

March 28, 2016

Seligsohn Gabrieli & Co., together with the Haifa Center of Law and Technology are hosting what seems intended to become an annual event in memory of Arnan Gabrieli.

The conference seems to be in Hebrew. It is titled “קניין רוחני באינטרנט: הזדמנויות וסיכונים” which means IP on the Internet, Opportunities and Risks.

The event is scheduled for April 5, 2016, with registration at 4 PM.

Awards will presented to students, in memory of Adv. Arnan Gabrieli.

Professor Eric Goldman, the Director of the High Tech Law Institute, Santa Clara University School of Law, USA will speak on “Trademarks on Social Media” the language is not specified.

This will be followed by a session chaired by son-and-heir, Nahum Gabrieli on “Music Copyright, the Future on the Web”. The panelists include Professor Niva Elkin Koren of Haifa University, Law blogger and Adv. Chaim Ravia and Ms Orli Freund Maya, legal counsel of AKUM, the collecting society for Israel music.

I understand that the event is to be held at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

COMMENT

Arnan was a leading IP lawyer, scholar and part time lecturer who litigated a number of Israel’s leading IP cases. I did part of my training in the firm, and subsequently managed the patent and design department that was formally headed by semi-retired patent attorney (and Rabbi) Alfred Thee before setting up on my own. I owe a lot to the firm for what I learned there.

An obituary to Arnan Gabrieli may be found here.

This combination of student awards and a conference directed to cutting edge IP issues seems a fitting tribute.


Pop Group Anthrax Sued for Ripping Off a Hannuka Sweater

February 8, 2016
Anthrax photo by Jonas Rogowski

Anthrax Photo by Jonas Rogowski

Anthrax is an American heavy metal band from New York City. It was formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. The group was considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene during the 1980s. Of the “Big Four” thrash metal bands (the others being Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer). The name was chosen as being “sufficiently evil”.

Anthrax were the only thrash metal band from the East Coast. As of 2014, the band has released ten studio albums, a number of singles and an EP with American hip hop group Public Enemy. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Anthrax sold 2.5 million records in the United States from 1991 to 2004, with worldwide sales of 10 million.

Cummin's Hannukka sweatshirt

Aaron Cummins, claims he created the original design for the Ugly Hanukkah Sweater in 2012 and has exclusive copyrights to it, but that it’s being ripped off by others to promote the famous Anthrax rock band. According to his lawsuit, the sweater’s design was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2013, and has since been marketed and sold through his Detroit company, Wet House.

Cummins claims that sometime around September, Cummins’ Hanukkah sweater design started showing up on the Internet as an Anthrax sweatshirt and continues to be sold online at Rockabilia.com as an Anthrax sweatshirt.

More details of this strange copyright infringement case may be found here.

Apparently the sweater design actually came from a joke post on Metal Sucks by writer Axl Rosenberg, who jokingly headlined that the band was selling Hanukkah sweaters and photoshopped an Anthrax logo onto an existing hanukkah sweater. The band actually ended up making and selling some of the sweaters…


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