Copyright in compilations
Barrister Toby Futter recently wrote a handy update on originality, authorship, and copyright in compilations. He discusses the en banc Australian Federal Court appeal of last year’s Telstra ruling that there was no copyright in a White Pages or Yellow Pages telephone directory (see my post A Feisty copyright ruling on the original decision). The Court followed the Australian High Court IceTV decision and dismissed the appeal, meaning that the original finding of no copyright stands. As Toby says:
The big question in New Zealand is whether that approach will be adopted here, and, if so, in what form.
We may find out this year – as his article notes, Toby is involved in two cases currently before the High Court in which copyright in compilations is at issue.
My colleague Stuart Bradshaw also commented on the Telsra appeal here:
“‘The case is a reminder that copyright law does not protect everything you can’t put under lock and key and unless such a law comes along, and is actually enforceable, businesses will need to figure out how to add value to their directories and data-collections that cannot be duplicated.”
Aussie ISP liability
Another Federal Court decision has, in a 2-1 majority, dismissed the film industry’s appeal against last year’s ruling that Aussue ISP iiNet was liable for copyright infringment on its network. While the decision is welcome news for iiNet, which has spent over AUD$6m defending itself, the Court did rightly leave the door open for liability to exist:
It does not necessarily follow from the failure of the present proceeding that circumstances could not exist whereby iiNet might in the future be held to have authorised primary acts of infringement on the part of users of the services provided to its customers under its customer service agreements.
The case turned to a large extent on the process by which the studios notified iiNet of the alleged copyright infringment, and if further steps had been taken by the studios, iiNet may have been liable for failing to disconnect users. Also, it may not be the end of the road, with the movie studios fairly likely to appeal the decision to the High Court.
The full judgment is here.
Facebook photos fair game?
The Herald reports:
The Press Council has rejected a complaint against the Herald on Sunday by a man upset a picture off the social networking site Facebook was used in print… In its decision, the Press Council said using a photo off the website was not a breach of its rules.
While the Press Council was not making any comment about copyright, the situation does of course raise copyright issues.
It may be increasingly common for media organisations to reproduce social networking content without permission of the copyright owner. There is a copyright exception for news reporting, however this is limited to “current events”. Care must be taken when copying Facebook images (and other content) without permission. The copyright in material uploaded to Facebook remains with the owner. While users cannot expect privacy in social networking sites, using copyright material without permission is more black and white.