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This week's IP news round-up

26 May 2005

Hello and welcome to this week's Own It intellectual property news round-up.

The perils and opportunities presented to creative industries by the internet were both in the frame last week. On the dark side, there was an unprecedented level of copyright-breaching downloads of George Lucas' ‘Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith'. While few could summon up much sympathy for billionaire Lucas, film piracy is at least as damaging to less high-profile movies where budgets are smaller, margins are tighter and every cinema ticket and DVD sold counts. More on that story

Meanwhile, a conference at Cannes Film Festival brought together internet service providers, culture ministers, telecom companies and industry bigwigs to focus on the more positive aspects of the internet. The thinking is that with improved broadband speeds the internet could open up new markets for small films from Britain and elsewhere in Europe. While expressing concern about internet piracy, the conference hailed the ‘immense opportunities' of online distribution for filmmakers. Read more at EU Business.

Moving closer to home, at the Court of Appeal Hyperion Records last week failed to overturn a High Court judgment that they pay copyright royalties for using the work of musicologist Dr Lionel Sawkins.

The case concerned four editions Dr Sawkins produced of music by the French baroque composer Lalande. (Nope, we hadn't heard of him either.) Hyperion used Dr Sawkins' editions to make recordings of the works but refused to pay the good doctor royalties, arguing he had not contributed enough to secure copyright. The Court of Appeal disagreed and upheld the decision to award costs and damages against Hyperion likely to total an eye-watering £1 million. The judgment is encouraging news for anyone compiling or editing out-of-copyright works but comes as a huge blow to Hyperion which faces a penniless future as it struggles to scrape together enough cash for the costs award. For further details

And finally some good news for every software house that isn't Microsoft. The European Commission appears to be gearing up to impose massive fines on Bill Gates and co. for failing to implement anti-trust sanctions imposed last year. The measures, aimed at giving other developers a crack of the Windows whip, include enforced licensing arrangements and a version of Windows without Media Player. The fines could run to $5 million a day, every day until Microsoft plays ball. Read more

Until next week, may the force be with you ...

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