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This week's IP news round-up

30 March 2005

Hello again – and welcome to this week’s Own It intellectual property news round-up. And for no reason in particular, this week’s edition is firmly rooted in the entertainment business.

We kick off in California, with a strange IP-related twist in the Michael Jackson trial, courtesy of Australia’s Daily Telegraph. In a radio interview with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the king of pop claimed that the accusations against him are in fact part of a conspiracy to steal his intellectual property rights. Jackson, it seems, owns the rights to some of the world’s most financially lucrative songs including works by Elvis, the Beatles – plus of course his own works. Says Jackson: “It's a huge catalogue, it's very valuable and it's worth a huge amount of money, and there is a big fight going on right now as we speak about that.” Sadly a gag order prevented Michael from revealing who is behind the plot, or how exactly it’s supposed to work. All we know is that if Michael Jackson says there’s a plot then it must be true. Unless of course he’s lying.

And so to Japan – and also America – where electronics giant Sony has been hit with a $90m fine for adding a ‘rumble’ feature to their PlayStation II controllers. On Monday a court found in favour of US-based firm Immersion who invented and patented the ‘rumble’ technology that Sony have now started using. The case follows an earlier claim by Immersion against Microsoft who had to pay the company $26m after incorporating rumble technology into their Xbox controllers. Oops.

And finally, we arrive back in Britain for a curious case involving the BBC. The case involves a photographic agency, Fraser-Woodward Ltd, who sued a production company (Brighter Pictures) and the BBC for using their photos without permission in a programme called ‘Tabloid Tales’. According to the IPKitten, the photos had been published in a tabloid newspaper, a copy of which was shown briefly in Tabloid Tales. Fraser-Woodward claimed that showing the pictures constituted copyright infringement. Dismissing the claim, the judge said that [the photographs were] ‘clearly used for the purpose of criticism or review within the meaning of s.30 [of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988]. The programme contained many shots of newspapers, their mastheads and their stories, together with their pictures... They were all there to demonstrate a certain style of journalism, the coverage of celebrity, and to comment on (in the form of criticism) that style as manifested in the relevant publications. There was nothing unfair about this use.’

Until next week.

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