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FCC announced enforcement efforts again illegal set top boxes and devices

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made an announcement on its website for set top box manufacturers and sellers, that all set top boxes which are not in accordance with FCC rules could face six figure fines. The announcement is made for anyone marketing or operating non-compliant devices (users, manufacturers, importers, and retailers) and hence violates FCC marketing and operating rules.

U.S. Government adopted ‘Memorandum on combating trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods’.

In its efforts to efficiently fight infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR), the US government has adopted a ‘Memorandum on combating trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods’. The memorandum recognised once again the importance of the protection of intellectual property (IP) of US companies and its economy, considering that the USA is one of the countries that is most affected by IPR infringement. The memorandum sees co-operation in preventing the manufacture, importation, and sale of counterfeit and pirated goods as a priority for federal law enforcement agencies. It especially recognises the important role of intermediaries and their co-operation. Based on this memo, in the next 210 days, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in co-ordination with other relevant governmental bodies and relevant stakeholders, will prepare and submit a report to the President. The report should present relevant data about intermediaries’ role in IP infringement; evaluate existing procedures and policies about intermediaries and their role in IPR enforcement;  identify appropriate administrative, statutory, regulatory, or other changes, including enhanced enforcement actions, that could substantially reduce trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods or promote more effective law enforcement regarding trafficking in such goods and all other measures that would be necessary in combating pirated and counterfeiting goods.

European Parliament approves new Copyright Directive

The Copyright Directive was approved by members of the European Parliament. 348 members voted in favour while 274 voted against it. Members states have 24 months from now to transpose the directive rules into their national legal systems. The content of the Copyright Directive has been subjected to lobbying from businesses, copyright holders and digital rights lawyers. The most controversial article 13 (renamed article 17) have passed almost with the same terms of the last proposed draft. The rule requires from websites new duties to stop users from uploading copyrighted content. Advocates against the Directive say that the new rule can lead to the implementation of filters that will monitor the content before it is uploaded to block any content that breaches copyrighted material. 

UN Special Rapporteur urges the European Union to align its Copyright Directive proposal with international human rights standards and reasonable liability regime

The UN Special Rapporteur David Kayne stated that the European Union’s Copyright Directive proposal should not impose a liability regime on online platforms that put in risk freedom of expression. Article 13 of the latest version of the proposal provides that content sharing platforms must license copyright protected material from the rights holders. The service provider will be held liable if it cannot prove that the content was licensed, the rights were not available and that it acted quickly to remove infringing material. Kayne considers that article 13 seems to drive online platforms toward monitoring and restriction of user-generated content. He claims that this pressure for pre-filtering content is “neither necessary nor proportionate” to address copyright violations online.​​

UN human rights expert Kaye warns about EU copyright directive Article 13

UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye, speaking about the controversial proposed Article 13 of the European Union Copyright Directive, said 'Europe has a responsibility to modernise its copyright law to address the challenges of the digital age. ... But this should not be done at the expense of the freedom of expression that Europeans enjoy today.' He especially criticised pressure to implement pre-publication filtering to monitor and restrict user-generated content to prevent copyright infringement 

UN Special Rapporteur urges EU to align Copyright Directive with HR standards

UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye stated that the European Union’s Copyright Directive should not impose a liability regime that weakens freedom of expression online. Article 13 of the latest version of the proposal provides that content sharing platforms must license copyright protected material from the rights holders. The service provider will be held liable if it cannot prove that the content was licensed or that it acted quickly to remove infringing material. Kaye considers that article 13 drives online platforms toward monitoring and restriction of user-generated content. He notes that this pressure to pre-filter content is 'neither necessary nor proportionate’ to address copyright violations online.

Dutch man sentenced for card sharing

In a case led by the Dutch police, VodafoneZiggo, and members of the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) the Dutch operator of illegal card sharing network a conviction of six months and three years of probation for copyright infringement by a court in The Hague. Card sharing occurs when a person steals and retransmits a regularly changing control word that is passed between a smart card and a set-top-box (STB), allowing subscribers to watch TV content they have not paid for.

Court of Rome vests judgement against Facebook

The Court of Rome has ruled that Facebook will have to pay fines for committing copyright infringement by making RTI protected work available to the public via hyperlinks. The court relied on the previous European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions in cases C-527/15 and C-161/17, were it was stated that copyright infringement can be committed by making work available to public (on a new website or on the Internet in general) without authorisation of right holders via hyperlinks. The fact that hyperlinks posted by Facebook users made RTI copyrighted content publicly available without permission, was sufficient proof for the court to find Facebook liable. The court stated that Facebook is liable "for having concurred, at least with an omissive conduct, to the violations committed by users who have effectively created the Facebook profile under dispute’. According to this decision, Facebook was expected to take ‘due care’ in its commercial activities, remove illegal content upon notification, and prevent further occurrence. Facebook’s defense was based on the fact that notice and take down sent by RTI was not precise enough since it did not specify URL of infringing content, but the court rejected this argument. The court considers specification of infringing content is not of relevance (just technical detail) if right-holder reported violation of its copyright.

EU Parliament and EU Council reaches agreement on Copyright reform

EU Parliament and EU Council reaches agreement on Copyright reform. The EU institutions decided not to impose filtering obligations but right-holders will get their fair share of any revenue due to copyright. According to the agreement, right-holders (especially musicians, performers, script authors, and news publishers) will have a much better position in negotiation remuneration for sharing their work via Internet platforms.  They will have the right to get information on how their work is exploited by publishers and producers, so they can negotiate their contracts with relevant information. Also for the first time, the criteria for ‘appropriate and proportionate remuneration’ for authors and performers will be defined which will allow them to ask for additional remuneration if the one agreed in the first place is disproportionately low. As for users, the situation will be easier since they are allowed to upload copyrighted work for quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody or pastiche purposes. However, Internet platforms such as YouTube will need to ensure that they have agreements in place with right holders for copyrighted work available on their platforms. If not, they can be subjected to liability if they cannot demonstrate that they have given their best efforts to ensure such deal or to ensure that copyrighted work is not made available without permission, or expediently remove it upon notification (some small companies will be exempted from this requirement). Finally, the new rules will loosen up when it comes to data mining, research, educational, and cultural heritage purposes. The text needs to be confirmed officially by the EU Parliament and EU Council, and published to be officially adopted.

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