BCM 113

Week 4

Can an animal own copyright? 

In 2015 PETA sued on behalf of a monkey (called Naruto) after the monkey had snapped a selfie with photographer David Slater’s camera. The legal issue explored within the case was copyright where a US appeals court debated whether or not a monkey can own the copyright to a selfie.The PETA group put forward the argument that the publication and selling of the monkey’s photo infringed on Naruto’s rights under the Copyright Act. However,  the US court rules no a monkey can not claim copyright and the copyright law only applies to humans therefore although Naruto ‘snapped’ the picture, he was not entitled to own a copyright.The outcome of the case ended with a settlement with photographer David Slater which then ended the lawsuit filed on Naruto’s behalf. Under the deal, Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of future revenue from the photos to groups that protect crested macaques and their habitat in Indonesia being $1.70 per picture. The case was then dismissed as both sides also asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “to dismiss the case and throw out a lower court decision that said animals cannot own copyrights,” The Associated Press reports. So simply, no, animals cannot own copyright.

Resources:
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/24/us/monkey-selfie-peta-appeal/index.html 
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/22/monkey-selfies-copyright-lawsuit-peta
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/12/550417823/-animal-rights-advocates-photographer-compromise-over-ownership-of-monkey-selfie

Week 5

The Morrison Government delivered on an election promise to strengthen Trespass laws in order to ‘protect farmers.’
1. How do trespass laws work in Australia? 
– If you own or occupy any form of land in Australia, you can ask anyone to leave at any time. If they refuse, you are allowed to use reasonable force to remove them.
– To sue for trespass you need to prove that the other party made a deliberate or negligent action which interfered with your right to enjoy exclusive use of your land.
– To prove a trespass action you need to prove: exclusive possession, land, direct interference, intentional or negligent, unreasonable interference, without consent.
– If someone is there for a particular purpose, such as door to door sales, they are not considered to be trespassing. Only when you remove their right to be on the land and they continue to stay on your land are they trespassing.
– Trespassing is a criminal offence in the ACT under the “Trespass on Territory land Act 1932” (ACT)

2. Explain background and context to the 2019 amendment. What brought on this pre-election promise?  
– The purpose of the Amendment was to alter the criminal code Act 1995 (cth).
– Aussie Farms is an animal rights charity organisation with the objective of ending ‘commercialised animal abuse and exploitation in Australia animal agriculture facilities by increasing industry transparency and educating the public about modern farming and slaughtering practices  
– This amendment was opposed by the greens but had the support of labour.

3. What are the most notable implications of this reform? How might it affect media practitioners? And how might it impact on activists who are flouting the new and tightened laws? 
– The new laws prevent animal activists and media members to incite or motivate others to take action (trespass) on farmers’ land. People who are found to do this can be sentenced up to 5 years in prison. The areas of agriculture that were highest at risk to suffering this type of trespassing are the meat and timber industries. 
– The Australian Forestry Products Association’s Ross Hampton said the new laws sent a strong message to timber workers “that they should be allowed to go about their lawful business without fear of having their livelihoods compromised by illegal protests”. 
– The new laws have been predicted to make significant financial impacts on the industry, who were previously being slowed down and prevented from functioning at an optimal rate due to protest. 
The amendments strengthen the protections available to journalists under the legislation by removing the requirement that a journalist must prove disclosure of offending material was in the public interest.

Legal Explainer Assignment

The purpose of this blog post was to help me to further my knowledge surrounding issues of copyright and plagiarism as part of my BCM113 studies by conducting a close study of two real life cases that I think are relevant to my discipline of communications and media.

In 2016 the World Intellectual Property Organization published a booklet entitled “Understanding Copyright and Related Rights” which explains the generally accepted basic copyright principles for all members of the United Nations. It states that ‘Copyright’ translates into ‘author’s rights’ in many other languages because it is the creator of the work and the ‘author’ of written works holds the right to reproduce their outputs. The word ‘copyright’ in English refers to that act itself – the ‘right’ to ‘copy’ something you have created. As the holder of that right, you have the legal power to license others to do so as well. It is agreed upon in most nations that as an individual you have a right to the exclusive use of your literary or artistic work the instant you create it – without the need for any kind of registration of the work as your own. You can use it in any way you like – as long as you do not break other laws in the process – and also have to exclusive right to authorise others to use it and to charge them for that use. You can prohibit or authorise the reproduction of your work in a range of formats, the distribution of copies of your work, its public performance, its broadcast or communication to the public in other way, its translation into another language or its adaptation form one format to another. An important difference between countries’ copyright laws is duration. Under international conventions, your communication outputs will remain in copyright until at least 50 years after your death, although that is exactly half a century more than should worry you. But some countries – including the United States and Australia, as well as all nations in the European Union – have extended this term to 70 years after the death of the creator. 

LeBron James sued over a copyright infringement lawsuit in a U.S District Court 

LeBron James who is an American professional basketball player for Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA got sued by the NBA professional photographer. Lebron James used and cropped of himself throwing down a dunk over Miami Heat centre Meyers Leonard which taken by the Steve Mitchell who is the seasoned photojournalist who was working as an NBA professional photographer when the Lakers’ against the Heat game on the 13th of December in 2019.  After the game, Lebron James posted the photos on his social media platform and attracted more than 2,000,000 likes and more than 10,000 comments. In the case, Mitchell is seeking the damages that “would reflect profits, incomes, receipts and other benefits derived by James and his co-defendants or, in the alternative, damages of up to $150,000 per infringement.” 

The target audience for this legal explainer directly applies to celebrities and other high-profile individuals. Despite being public figures who constantly have media and fans taking photos of them, they still have to be aware of media ownership for the photographs they share with their social media followers, including where they source the photo from and how they consequently use the photos. This explainer can also be applied more conceptually to the main general public of most developed societies. All internet users and accessors must pay attention and raise awareness about correct social media use and how to responsibly credit other creators and in a similar light to Lebron’s copyright case individuals must respect the ownership of photographs as well as the rights of people being used in such photos, this can be managed by asking for peoples permission before taking photo of them. 

The reason why I choose this particular case of copyright explainer is because I am a huge fan of basketball and LeBron James is my favourite player. As a fan of LeBron James, I follow his celebrity activities through social media and other news sources which enabled me to discover this particular copyright case. After reading the news headlines I immediately wanted to know more details about the case that he had been served and what actions Lebron to instigate it in the first place to violate any laws and how the case progressed. 

Copyright and plagiarism are similar in several aspects and can often be mistaken for one another, however, the two are distinctly different. Copyright infringement is the act of using someone else’s work without obtaining their permission and the Plagiarism is claiming attribution for a work you did not author or using someone else’s work without proper authority.

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams (two A-lister music artists) sued for allegedly copying a Marvin Gaye song to create their 2013 smash ‘Blurred Lines’

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Blurred Lines’ was a Billboard charts summer hit, but many listeners drew comparisons to late Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got To Give It Up”. Through 5 years of court battles Thicke and Williams were ordered to pay $5 million to the family of Gaye as well as being entitled to 50 per cent of the songwriter and publishing revenue. 

This explainer concerns everyone because it can help to raise awareness about creative ownership, for example the ownership of music and other forms of artistic expression (e.g. artworks, films and designs) and can help people to understand what factors determines whether something is considered to be plagiarised in the music industry and as an artist how you need to be conscious of these issues.

This case about “Blurred Lines” did not create any major legal shift, but instead a shift in perception because similar lawsuits in the music industry usually have low chances of ever succeeding. Gaye’s team themselves did not look like they had a real chance of winning but in doing so helped to change the perceptions for future law cases in this field. After winnthe case Gaye’s family claimed it was a “victory for the rights of all musicians… (a) wonderful recognition of Marvin’s creativity and the lasting value of one of his greatest songs”. It may help to encourage artists who believe their works have been plagiarised to come forward and fight for their artistic rights. It is true that legal disputes over songwriter credit and song theft rarely make it before judges because parties usually prefer to settle things more quietly and confidentially. This case received a lot of media attention and will make other composers think more carefully about their influences and the severity at which these cases can rise to.

I choose this particular case to illustrate a real-world plagiarism case because music is one of my greatest passions and hobbies, both listening to and creating my own. Thus, I have a high respect for all the creative workers who contribute to the creation of musical compositions such as song writers, producers and singers. I wish that all musical works can be published to the world in a fair, equitable and serious way, not through unfair means where people may record music illegally and post it online or take ownership for ideas that do not belong to them. By choosing this case for further study I have piqued my interests and enabled the combination of researching my passions and my studies.

Resources:
The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law by Mark Pearson P.331
https://www.si.com/nba/2020/03/23/lebron-james-lakers-photo-copyright-lawsuit
https://www.complex.com/sports/2020/03/lebron-james-copyright-lawsuit-for-posting-picture-of-himself-dunking
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-music-blurredlines/marvin-gaye-family-prevails-in-blurred-lines-plagiarism-case-idUSKBN1GX27P

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