MPA wins case against controller of Newzbin

26 August 2014


Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation v David Harris [2014] EWHC 1568 In a curious twist in this long-running tale, the former barrister who previously represented Newzbin Limited has been found to be the primary controller of two of the Newzbin websites by the High Court. David Harris was found personally liable for infringing the claimants’ copyright in many films and TV programmes as a result of owning the controlling shares in Newzbin Limited and his personal involvement in two Newzbin websites. ...

Ofcom fines Discovery for pre-watershed graphic material

19 August 2014


Ofcom has fined Discovery Communications Europe £100,000 for broadcasting unsuitable and violent graphic material on television before the watershed during the school holidays. The fine follows Ofcom’s January 2014 adjudication on Deadly Women, a true-life crime series about female killers, which Ofcom ruled to be in serious breach of the Broadcasting Code’s rules on children, unjustified violent material and inappropriate scheduling. Background Investigation Discovery, a channel dedicated to documentaries on crime and criminal investigations and operated under a licence held by Discovery ...

Modernising film tax credits

12 August 2014


The enhancements to the UK Film Tax Relief (FTR) announced in the 2014 budget have now received state aid approval. They will now have retrospective effect from 1 April 2014. The government’s main aim in introducing the changes is to simplify the use of the FTR and to make the UK more attractive to film producers from around the world. The revisions introduce an increase in the rate of relief from 20% to 25% for the first £20 million of ...

Facebook’s Community Standards: Severed heads are okay, but nipples are bad (unless accompanied by a baby)

5 August 2014


For the first time in history, unfiltered publication is possible from almost anywhere.  Amongst many other things, this means that graphic images can be shared from areas all around the world where acts of extreme violence are being committed.  This in turn means that certain organisations (principally social media companies, whose platforms are predominantly used to share such images) are cast in the role of moral arbiter: as they try to establish standards of what is, or is not, socially ...

Copyright exceptions on parody, quotation & private copying approved by Parliament – changes in effect 1 October 2014

1 August 2014


On Tuesday, the House of Lords approved two statutory instruments implementing exceptions to copyright infringement for parody, quotation and private copying.  This was the final stage in the parliamentary approval process for these proposals, and we can now expect the legislation to come into force on 1 October. The introduction of these exceptions has been the subject of some considerable debate in Parliament, with particular concern being expressed that such significant changes to our copyright laws are being brought forward in ...

Playboy Club wins damages claim against Italian bank for negligent customer reference

31 July 2014


Playboy Club London Limited and Ors v Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Spa [2014] EWHC 2613 (QB) The Mayfair casino, Playboy Club (Club), has won its High Court claim against Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Spa (BNL) for negligently providing a financial reference for a customer. Facts In October 2010, a Club customer requested a cheque cashing facility for £800,000. Through an intermediary company, the Club requested and obtained a financial reference from the customer’s Italian bank, BNL. The bank’s reference stated that its customer was “financially healthy” ...

Opinion: An Australian Court issues a “gagging order” which is being called an “abuse of process”. Fair assessment or not?

31 July 2014


An Australian court has granted an injunction to prevent the publication of bribery allegations involving a number of senior international political leaders. There has been outrage expressed by some, see for example Guardian Russia Today Daily Mail The media are reporting that the Judge made such a “Draconian” court order: “to prevent damage to Australia’s international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings.” But ...

Reporting, the courts and young people: time to reconsider?

22 July 2014


For decades section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 has prevented the media from identifying minors involved in court proceedings. In a recent decision of the High Court, a leading judgment by Sir Brian Leveson P has called on Parliament to consider the effect of the section and whether it should remain in force in its current form.1 In its ruling, the court found that section 39 automatically expires when all individuals who have been the beneficiaries of ...

Winners of the Ivy’s 80′s Music Quiz

22 July 2014


    Congratulations to the team for winning the 80′s Music Quiz at the Ivy Club last night.             The quiz was hosted by Sara Cox and Scott Mills in aid of the charity Centrepoint. The team included the following people (from left to right): Ben Todd – Head of Media, Syco Entertainment UK Scott Mills – Host Bryan Johnson – Artist Ambassador, Spotify Sara Cox – Host Matt Angel – Global Head of Business Affairs, Syco Entertainment Sunil Singhvi – Head of Entertainment, Twitter UK Seeta Gharu – Director, Socialdipity Gideon Benaim ...

New Guidance: Relief from sanction, Mitchell Clarified

16 July 2014


The Court of Appeal has recently clarified the decision in Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd on relief from sanction by setting out a three stage approach for Judges to use when applying relief from sanctions under CPR 3.9.  The Court of Appeal’s Judgment can be found here. The guidance in Mitchell had been applied inconsistently in three cases in which a party had sought relief from sanctions pursuant to CPR 3.9. These were conjoined as one case in the Court ...

Ownership of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” determined

15 July 2014


A claimant music publisher has failed to obtain a declaration of ownership of copyright in certain Bob Marley songs, including “No Woman No Cry”.1 Ownership of the copyrights depended on the interpretation of assignment wording under a March 1992 agreement with Island, which covered all of Marley’s “presently-existing musical compositions”. Marley had misattributed the songs to other writers to try to divert royalties from his record company. Rejecting the claimant’s attempt to identify the parties’ intentions from the surrounding circumstances, the ...

The parody exception – seeing the funny side of it

10 July 2014


Case C-201/13 Johan Deckmyn v Helena Vandersteen (Opinion of Advocate General) 22 May 2014. This is the first case to be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union on the parody exception under the Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC). Advocate General Cruz Villalón has issued an opinion, at the time of writing available in various languages except English, addressing the interpretation of the exception, the related requirements and its interaction with fundamental rights. In the Advocate General’s view, parody is an ...

Bloomberg: ” ‘Google It’ Becomes ‘Hide It’ After Right to Be Forgotten “

10 July 2014


    Simkins’ Gideon Benaim is quoted in an interesting article for Bloomberg News about Google and the “right to be forgotten”. The article can be found here:         Gideon’s full contribution is set out below:  “We will have generations of people growing up with vast amounts ofinformation about them online, some put there by themselves, but also materialuploaded by others. Much of that information will be outside their control andavailable at multiple online locations. It’s unacceptable that a person can beJudged forevermore by one thing that has ...

Google’s “Transparency Report” is an interesting read

8 July 2014

  For those of you who are interested in what types of things Google is asked to remove, the quantity of requests, where they originate from, and Google’s policies, it is worth looking at their “Transparency Report“. Over the last 6 months they received 46 UK Court Orders and complied with 63%. That compares with 438 US Court Orders of which they complied with 55%. The US, followed by Brazil, then Turkey sent the most Court Orders during the first half of ...

The Prince of Wales’ letters case – information access ban unlawful

7 July 2014


A recent case generated high-octane headlines at the time – “Prince Charles’s ‘Meddling’ Lobbying Letters MUST be Released, Appeal Court Rules” being a fairly representative example.1 This is an interesting ruling by the Court of Appeal on the circumstances in which the Attorney General is justified in exercising the statutory “veto” under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), which enables the Attorney General to block disclosure. The issue for the court was whether the Attorney General had been wrong to ...

Renewed calls to tackle “revenge porn”

2 July 2014

There are renewed calls for changes to the law to assist bringing those responsible for “revenge porn” to justice. The issue is again making front page news in the UK with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who regards the issue as a “growing problem”, confirming that the Government is “very open” to the idea of changing the law. His comments followed a question raised by Maria Miller, the former Culture Secretary. There is no doubt that the issue causes intense embarrassment and ...

UPDATE: Google and the “right to be forgotten”

30 May 2014

Google’s form for asking for material to be removed from search results against a person’s name went live today (30 May 2014), following the recent high profile decision of the European Union Court of Justice. The judgment is undoubtedly going to have major ramifications for Europeans and Google alike. Much has been written about the potential negative effects of the judgment (and there are going to some), but there are also many positives. There are many situations where it would ...

Opinion: The Right to Be Forgotten: A Good Thing?

16 May 2014

This week’s decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in a case concerning proceedings brought by a Spanish national against Google is already being widely heralded as creating ‘the right to be forgotten’. At the time of writing we understand that Google (for one) regards the decision as binding (albeit wrong), and is working on a mechanism to implement the decision, which could come into being in the coming weeks. The judgment makes it clear that:   The operator ...

Opinion: A future with social media: Wild West or Utopia? You have a stake in the outcome

14 May 2014


In late March MPs said that stronger action must be taken to protect children from online bullying and pornography, and warned that internet firms “may face prosecution for failing to show commitment to safeguarding youngsters”. At the time John Whittingdale MP said that “those who profit from the internet must demonstrate the utmost commitment to protecting children”. If the MPs’ statements are followed through it will be a giant step in the right direction. Yet, it seems like horror stories regarding peoples’ ...

Digitisation after Google Books – is fair use fair dealing?

13 May 2014


Recent advances in technology have had a huge impact on the creative industries, posing difficult challenges for copyright law. In November 2013 a New York court dismissed a class action by authors in the Google Books case over Google’s mass digitisation of books for its online library without the authors’ permission.1 The US circuit judge ruled that scanning the books and making searchable text extracts available online amounted to fair use under US copyright law. Under English law, there is no doctrine ...

‘Revenge porn’: whether you are a film star; girl next door; or daughter of an executive, greater legal protection is needed for victims

7 May 2014


Reportedly Facebook has 1.23 billion monthly active users and Twitter has 550 million tweets a day. Our constant interaction online and the speed by which data spreads makes information accessible like never before. Most of the interaction is good, but a worrying trend is emerging known as ‘revenge porn’. It can be described as when an individual uploads sexually explicit images of their ex-partner onto the internet without the permission of the ex-partner. Images are sometimes accompanied by personal information ...

Health spa takes a bath at the CJEU

29 April 2014


The Court of Justice of the European Union has found that a spa transmitting copyright-protected musical works to its guests by radios or televisions in their bedrooms is liable to pay licence fees1. Essentially, the court found that the transmission was a “communication to the public” within the meaning of Article 3(1) of the Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC). The authors of the copyright works therefore had the exclusive right to authorise or to prohibit their communication in such circumstances and, as ...

Seminar: E&O Insurance & Clearance Issues

9 April 2014


Michael Simkins LLP hosted a seminar for producers, distributors and broadcasters on errors and omissions insurance and clearance issues for film and TV on 19 March 2014. Due to popular demand, we will be re-running the seminar at our offices on Wednesday 14 May 2014, starting at 5.00 pm (with registration at 4.30 pm). We have a limited number of spaces still available. For more information and to reserve your place, please contact

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