Sunday, July 24, 2016

KickAss Torrents In Trouble

Authors don't have long tails.... when it comes to copyright enforcement news, and there was no mention of ebooks in the complaint against Artem Vaulin the 30-year-old owner of the hugely profitable KAT websites, that allegedly illegally shared billions worth of copyrighted materials without the knowledge or consent of the copyright owners. 

Kudos to Zachary T. Farden, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for going after KickAss Torrents and seizing associated domain names. According to the complaint, over 50 million visitors a month visit the website, presumably with the intention of not giving copyright owners and those who rely on royalties and residuals as fair compensation for their creative work.

Apparently, this particular website is valued at over $54,000,000 and is funded by advertising that is estimated at between $12,000,000 and $23,000,000 a year. 

This author finds it astounding that no one ever talks about prosecuting the companies that place the advertisements on file sharing sites!

Authors might be interested in following a publicity rights lawsuit that is an object lesson in what not to do (like using a celebrity's name in to promotion after being refused permission to do so).

Lexology is a great resource for articles about legal matters.

As the advent of ebooks make governments' treatment of authors and their works more and more similar to governments' treatment of songwriters and musicians, it becomes more important than ever for authors to go to the (minor) expense and trouble of registering their copyrights.

For one thing, you cannot bring a lawsuit against an alleged copyright infringer if you have not registered your copyright.

For another, some very prominent politicians appear eager to allow Big Tech to seize "orphan works" and profit from them, and --as musicians have found with Spotify-- if you cannot be found, you will not be paid.

To be clear, an "orphan" work is a work that has not been around long enough to be in the public domain (lifetime of the author plus 70 years), it's a more recent work that someone wants to exploit, and they cannot easily locate the contact information for the author or the author's heirs.

On the other hand, if politicians are in favor of TPP (and EFF is not!) the international copyright term will move from "life of the author + 50 years" (the Berne standard) to the American (life + 70).

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

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