3 Count: ASCAPped

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1: Reports: Google to Launch Online Bookstore

First off today, Google has made a stunning announcement at the Frankfurt Book Fair, saying that it is preparing to launch Google Editions, an online bookstore where the books will be available to anyone via a Web browser. This will enable readers to access their books on an Internet-connected device, including phones, netbooks and computers.

This move comes at a difficult time for Google in its book scanning project. It’s settlement with the Author’s Guild and various publishers has been sent back to the drawing board after concerns from the Department of justice and that was before the announcement of the bookstore. Previously Google was to simply display books, including in-copyright but out of print works, and make print on demand copies available.

It is unclear how this will fit in with existing book scanning projects but Google has said that they have no plan to launch a standalone reader for this project, instead focusing on making the books available via the Web.

2: AFACT: Our Evidence Not 100% Reliable

Next up today, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft’s (AFACT) trial against iiNet has found itself in the news again. This time as an AFACT representative admitted that the evidence collection techniques it uses are not 100% reliable.

AFACT, which represents various copyright industries in Australia, sued iiNet, an ISP for, in its view, not doing enough to stop copyright infringement by its subscribers. iiNet, in turn, has claimed that there was nothing more it could have done.

According to testimony, the evidence gathered by AFACT is not completely reliable because many of the public records are out sometimes of date. This casts some doubt on the evidence of infringement presented by AFACT though records provided by iiNet do show that at least some infringement occurred, though there are discrepencies between the lists, which caused iiNet to accuse AFACT of exaggerating its claims.

The trial is ongoing and is expected to last into next week.

3: Court Rules That Phones Ringing in Public Don’t Infringe Copyright

Finally today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is reporting that a judge has ruled in the ASCAP v. Verizon case that playing a ringtone in public does not require the payment of a performance royalty. According to the court, all public playing of music without the expectation of a profit does not require such a royalty and that also protects families singing Happy Birthday, cars playing music loudly and taking a stereo to the park.

The American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) collects those royalties for distribution had claimed such plays did require payment and even pushed Verizon into paying a $5 million interim license fee. Verizon petitioned the court to determine what a reasonable licensing fee would be and the court has now come back saying that one is not necessary.

The carriers already pay a mechanical royalty for the selling of the actual copy, making the potential ASCAP royalty a “double dip” by which carriers would pay two separate fees.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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