Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses

Harry Potter downloads spell trouble for e-book site

Harry Potter downloads spell trouble for e-book site

Published: 06.04.09 at 14:11

After music and films, it looks like books are the next entertainment medium to feel the pinch from illegal online distribution. No less a luminary than round-up regular and Harry Potter author JK Rowling has weighed in against a US site that allows users to share, download and even edit electronic text files. Scribd.com, which opened for business in March 2007, has been used for all manner of legitimate ends (including publishing Barack Obama's policy documents during last year's US presidential race) and is probably best thought of as a YouTube for print media, allowing users to publish their own work to the world as well a upload copyright infringing material. But now, with the increasingly popularity of electronic book readers, authors including Rowling, Ken Follett and Aravind Adiga have lambasted the site for hosting copyright material. Like YouTube, Scribd's policy is to remove copyright infringing material form the site when notified of it, but not to actively police hosted content. Thanks to The Guardian for bringing that story to our attention.

US guitar maker Fender lost out in the US last week after it attempted to register the shapes of three of its most famous guitars as trade marks. The Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars and the Precision bass, the contours of which will be familiar to music fans around the globe, were developed by Fender in the late 1940s and early 1950s. So successful were the guitars that they have been comprehensively copied by rival guitar makers ever since and it seems this was a key factor in the US Patent and Trademark Office's decision to deny the applications. The once-unique shapes of the guitars, said the USPTO,  now no longer function to indicate that they were made by Fender, with the Stratocaster shape in particular now being the generic shape for electric guitars. Industry website MI-Pro has more on that story.

Finally this: a well-worn subject we know but we thought you might be interested to hear how our European neighbours are tackling online file-sharing. In Sweden, the introduction of a law making it easier for rights holders to get hold of the details of habitual copyright miscreants has caused internet traffic to drop by 40% in a single week – check out The Independent.

Meanwhile in France, the government has introduced the controversial 'three strikes and you're out' law that spells disconnection for the naughtiest file-sharing offenders. Out-law has more.

That's it from us for this week – we'll be back after Easter.

Photo credit: Nic's events


Please note that this article provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.


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