Archive for January, 2014

DEFAMATION HAS CHANGED - How does this affect your business?

The new Defamation Act 2013, passed into law on the auspicious date of 25th April 2013, has come into force on 1st January 2014.

It brings in a whole new look to defamation, enacting a series of new measures, including:

  • a “New serious harm threshold”, which is aimed at helping people to understand that a certain level of damage has to be done to someone’s reputation before a claim will be successful, and which discourages wasting the Court’s time;
  • enabling protection for scientists and academics who publish “peer-reviewed” material in scientific and academic journals;
  • enabling protection for those publishing material on a matter of public interest (where they reasonably believe that it is in the public interest);
  • reducing libel tourism by tightening the test for claims involving those with little connection to England and Wales;
  • introducing a new process aimed at helping potential victims of defamation online, by resolving the dispute directly with the person who has posted the statement;
  • bring in a single-publication rule to prevent repeated claims against a publisher in respect of the same material.
  • Please contact Roger Field or Ian Penman

    (roger.field@newmedialaw.biz or ian.penman@newmedialaw.biz)

    if you would like to know more about the new defamation law, and how this will affect your business, please get in touch.

    Tel: +44 20 7291 1670

    Ian Penman

    Partner, New Media Law LLP

    +44 20 7291 1670

    OSCAR NOMINATIONS!

    “Philomena” has been nominated for FOUR Oscars!!  

    For best picture, best actress, best adapted screenplay & best original score.  

    “Philomena” starring Judi Dench & Steve Coogan is produced by New Media Law’s client Gabrielle Tana whose producer credits include “The Duchess”, “Coriolanus” and the soon to be released “The Invisible Woman”. “Philomena” is also nominated for 4 BAFTA’s; 3 Golden Globe Awards; 5 London Critics Circle Awards; and 1 Screen Actors Guild Award.  The film won several awards at the 2013 Venice Film Festival including Best Screenplay.   

    Released in the UK on 1 November 2013, “Philomena” and has grossed over £10.5 million at the UK and Ireland Box Office, making it the highest grossing independent British film of 2013.  The film has only just started its international roll out but has already achieved a global haul of US$45m with particularly strong results in the US, Australia and Italy.     

    Exciting news for all those involved in this brilliant film including our very own Peter Dally!  

    EUROPEAN COMMISSION LAUNCHES COMPETITION INQUIRY INTO PAY-TV

     On 13 January 2014 the European Commission (Commission) launched a formal competition law investigation into pay-TV licensing arrangements (see press release at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-15_en.htm?locale=en).  The investigation focuses on the licensing provisions in agreements between major US film studios (Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, NBC Universal and Paramount Pictures) and Europe’s pay-TV broadcasters including BSkyB, Canal+, Sky Italia, Sky Deutschland and DTS.  The Commission will investigate whether the arrangements prevent cross-border provision of pay-TV services.   

    The investigation could have wide reaching effect on the business models of content owners who license their rights on the basis of exclusive territories. This development was foreshadowed in an earlier post on this blog written in collaboration with Suzanne Rab, independent competition law barrister and Alison Sprague, economist [see here for New Media Law News » Blog Archive » DO EXCLUSIVE LICENCES FOR MEDIA RIGHTS BREACH EUROPEAN LAW?].

    EU INVITES COMMENT ON COPYRIGHT REVIEW

    The European Commission has started a consultation on its continued efforts to review and modernise EU copyright rules. 

    The consultation “document” is focused on ensuring that the EU framework for copyright remains fit for the challenges of the digital world, exploits full potential for the single EU market, and stimulates growth and investment, while fostering cultural diversity.  It’s an ambitious aim and one which has been on the EU regulatory agenda for some time.

    The consultation comes in the wake of the Commission’s Content in the Digital Single Market communication of 2012 [http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/copyright/licensing-europe/index_en.htm]. There it asserted its efforts to update the EU copyright rules through an industry-led initiative.  That process has led to recommendations for multi-territory licences for the use of music online on a small scale.  The Commission is expected to decide later in the year whether it wants to back this up with legislation.

    The consultation invites views on a wide range of topics including whether there are limitations in the current regime due to a patchwork quilt of rules and fragmented protection.

    The consultation spans some 80 questions over 8 sections.  It is a portmanteau ‘catch all’ document reflective of the multiple interests at stake.  It covers such issues as: 

    • Have you faced problems when trying to access online services in an EU Member State other than the one in which you live?
    • Have you faced problems when seeking to provide online services across borders in the EU?
    • How often are you asked to grant multi-territorial licences?
    • Do you think that further measures (legislative or non-legislative, including market-led solutions) are needed at EU level to increase the cross-border availability of content services in the Single Market?
    • Does the territoriality of limitations and exceptions, in your experience, constitute a problem?
    • Should digital copies made by end users for private purposes in the context of a service that has been licensed by rightholders, and where the harm to the rightholder is minimal, be subject to private copying levies?
    • Should the EU pursue the establishment of a single EU Copyright Title?

    These issues are among the most perplexing issues facing rights owners, collecting societies and distribution platforms in a digital age.  The territorial aspects of licensing are particularly controversial.  Rightowners have traditionally licensed different EU countries individually taking account of the specificities of each territory.  Yet this model is coming under increasing pressure in the face of goals for a truly borderless EU and demands for a more flexible pan-European solution.

    On a different but parallel track, the Commission has also indicated that it will launch an inquiry in 2014 into exclusive licensing of ‘premium’ rights.  That inquiry has arisen in a sports rights context following FAPL’s legal challenge through the UK and EU Courts.  Its interface with the current copyright consultation cannot be ignored.  See, further,  New Media Law News » Blog Archive » Do exclusive licences for media rights breach European law?  

    The crux of the matter is that this has been a long standing debate and where copyright, competition law, free movement of goods and the raft of EU legislation interact.  There have been noble efforts at “solutions” including a move for an EU copyright but so far none of these have received widespread support.  The consultation is laudable for its aims.  Yet as any avid watcher of this area will know, it can take time for consultations to work their way through and for solutions to be implemented and effective.  So, is the EU licensing framework fundamentally broken or is it a case of tweaking around the edges?   

    Answers on a post-(Christmas) card to Brussels. The 5 December consultation document invites comments by 5 February, 2014.

    For details of the Commission’s consultation see: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-1213_en.htm?locale=en

    This briefing has been prepared with Suzanne Rab, a barrister specialising in EU competition and regulatory law at a leading chambers in Lincoln’s Inn and whom New Media Law instructs for competition law matters.

    Please contact Ian Penman or your usual NML advisor for further information on how we may assist you in responding to the consultation.

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