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Australia The Courts

Australian Federal Court Awards Damages To Artist For False Copyright Claim 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-a-start dept.
New submitter BarryHaworth writes "In a decision handed down earlier this month, the Australian Federal Court awarded damages to Aboriginal artist Richard Bell over a false claim of copyright infringement. The claim related to a take-down notice claiming copyright infringement from film footage used in a trailer for a film being made by the artist. The court declared Mr. Bell the owner of the copyright and awarded him $147,000 in damages for lost sales of paintings and catalogues. At time of writing, YouTube does not appear to have caught up with the decision."
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Australian Federal Court Awards Damages To Artist For False Copyright Claim

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  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:11AM (#39522305)

    ... just one big case would be enough to bring some sanity to our system.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:21AM (#39523119)

      Who the heck is Tanya Steele, and how could she be so dumb as to claim that she owns the copyright over a film maker's video???

      ALSO: Didn't Megaupload win a False claim of copyright infrigement against a music company back in December? That would be a major win in our favor.

      (Unfortunately the music company then called their friends in the Obamahouse, and they executed a worldwide raid in January, and shutdown the foreign site. Winning a court case is bad form in the U.S. of Corporation.)

      • by Rasperin (1034758) on Friday March 30, 2012 @12:01PM (#39523561)
        No they were winning, but with the recent criminal charges against it, they dropped it (was an article on wired yesterday, which means it's likely week old news).
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Who the heck is Tanya Steele, and how could she be so dumb as to claim that she owns the copyright over a film maker's video???

        The director of the film in question. Quite possibly she was someone who felt she was owed a share in the film or silly enough to attempt to claim copyright for work done on contract (or perhaps withough a contract, which is very silly indeed) in the USA. Or never rule out the prospect of someone thinking they could get away with it (the approach of most big media companies.)

        Sucks to be her.

        • by g0bshiTe (596213)

          Between June 2009 and September 2011, while on a fellowship in New York, Mr Bell produced and directed approximately 18 hours of raw footage for a film “The Blackfella’s Guide to New York”. He engaged Ms Steele to help him make the film, and paid her for these services.

          TFA only states she was hired, says he was producer and director not her.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        What I'd like to know is what capacity she was hired for. Nothing anywhere states what she did, only that she was contracted and paid in both money and a piece of the artists work.
      • by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday March 30, 2012 @03:31PM (#39526779)

        She helped make the film and was paid for this. That does not mean she owned the copyright however. Probably she just had some dispute with the artist and tried to block things to aid negotiations.

    • ... just one big case would be enough to bring some sanity to our system.

      And that's why, my friend, it won't happen in the USA.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        And that's why, my friend, it won't happen in the USA.

        Well the artist is suing her there too, as Americans just ignore judgements made in other countries. He's got the money and he's pissed off enough to see it through.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:15AM (#39522337) Journal
    How could an artist be awarded a copyright? Only corporations are allowed to own those...
    • by Rasperin (1034758)
      How is YouTube liable for this? Shouldn't it be the one who put in the DMCA claim?
  • At time of writing, YouTube does not appear to have caught up with the decision

    It has now... Damn You Tanya Stele!

    • by Soruk (225361)

      No, that video is still down.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      I don't understand what this "youtube has not caught up" phrase means? Did they pull they pull the artists video & refuse to put it back? Well it IS google after all. They do evil.

      No wait. I think I got that motto wrong?

      • Yes, you did. The motto never talks about doing evil or not.

        • by jc42 (318812)

          [Google's] motto never talks about doing evil or not.

          Right; they're just doing evil; they're not being evil.

          I'm sure there's a real distinction hidden in there somewhere ...

          • In common terms, a person isn't necessarily evil even if they did in their lives evil things. How many people do you know that have never did anything evil in their life? Are all the others evil people?

            (This is not even going into whether what they did is actually evil; since I don't believe in objective moral standards, I don't think that can be determined).

            Note: I'm not saying Google is perfect, and I'm actually moving away from some of their services (and refuse to join G+) because I strongly dislike som

      • It means the video is still unavailable on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLTZgqSAjQs [youtube.com] You'll get the following kind message:

        "Blackfella's Guide to ..."
        This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Tanya Steele.
        Sorry about that."

        Seems to me that the Youtube pulling is a more recent development as it appeared to be available as of the writing of TFA: "The trailer for the video is now on YouTube. Click here to watch the trailer." The original complaint had to do with the video being pu

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:21AM (#39522407)

    And didn't bother having counsel show up.

    And lives on the other side of the world to the court's jurisdiction.

    Hooray for a meaningless judgement.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:31AM (#39522527)

      Is it meaningless? It sets precedence. The next case in that jurisdiction is more likely to go the same way; that seems meaningful to me.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:32AM (#39522531) Homepage

      1. Not showing up is often an indication that they have no leg to stand on.
      2. The Australian government has lots of ways to collect, the simplest being that if the defendant does any business in Australia the government can simply seize assets up to the amount of the judgment. If that isn't an option, they probably have agreements with other countries to collect judgments.

      So it's not meaningless - they lost their case, and have to pay.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nedlohs (1335013)

        Not showing up is also often an indication you don't care about that court.

        I predict not a cent of the judgement will ever be collected. Of course I could be wrong, but the US doesn't usually give a toss what some lowly foreign court says.

        • by sed quid in infernos (1167989) on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:02AM (#39522883)

          The courts in the U.S. enforce foreign judgments* on a regular basis. The big question here will be whether the Australian court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant, or whether there's some other defect to the fairness of the judgment. For example, if the defendant could show that she had no notice to defend the suit in Australia, then she could raise that as a defense in the U.S. court. See the Uniform Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act [upenn.edu], a version of which has been passed in many states, for more information.

          *In the U.S., "foreign judgment" can refer to either a judgment rendered in a foreign country or a a judgment rendered in another U.S. state.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            In this case they do, specifically because the case reflected her actions in Australia and not in the US. Once she acted in Australia she subjected herself to Australian laws part of which is any statement of fact must be true and the defendant in a accusation of defamation must prove their statements true or lose the case.

            Basically she was trying to hide behind American legal exceptionalism but got carried away with herself when she tried to take it out of the US.

    • by OzPeter (195038) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:35AM (#39522567)

      And didn't bother having counsel show up.

      And lives on the other side of the world to the court's jurisdiction.

      Hooray for a meaningless judgement.

      Yep .. the respondent didn't show up and also ignored the judges order to basically explain why she held copyright. So it seems that she cried wolf and couldn't back her claims up.
       
      While Bell may find it a bit hard to collect from Tanya Steele, I'd say that she has now lost out on a lot of future work - who'd want to employ someone on a "work for hire" basis if after the fact they are going to dick with you over who owns copyright?
       
      So in a sense it is a meaningless judgement, but I think it will have real world repercussions.

    • by Daas (620469)

      And didn't bother having counsel show up.

      And lives on the other side of the world to the court's jurisdiction.

      Hooray for a meaningless judgement.

      Yet they still want to claim copyright infringement there?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Of course. Eat cake and have it to, you know?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:05AM (#39522907)

      May be the FBI can extradite her to the Australia.

    • by Fjandr (66656)

      It might be one thing if it were a country where she might conceivably never be inconvenienced by the decision. However, given that she's in the film industry, having a judgment against her in a major 1st-world country which shares much culture, language, and (most importantly) professional players in the media industry could be seriously inconvenient down the road.

      Obviously she's already done business there once. This could, if not dealt with, forever close many doors of opportunity to her.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:24AM (#39522447)

    While the award was made in FCA246, it is based on background findings in Bell v Steele (No 2) [2012] FCA 62 (7 February 2012) [austlii.edu.au] which gives a bit more detail on what happened leading up to the award judgement.

  • is the new way. it's about time some sensibility is being pressed on the system.

    fyi though, the cases should also penalize the sites which do the take downs based on no merit. of course they don't take down stuff from emi&etc if some random guy claims copyright on them, on pictures used in them or in samples used in the music. that's just how sites like youtube roll right now. the takedown requests should always be accompanied with proof of ownership, if they can't provide that then it shouldn't be copy

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      False.

      According to the DMCA if someone takes-down your video, all you have to do is tell youtube, vimeo, etc that you DO in fact own the video and it should not have been taken down. The video then HAS to be restored per the Congressional Act (otherwise you could sue youtube, vimeo, etc).

      • by citizenr (871508)

        False.

        According to the DMCA if someone takes-down your video, all you have to do is tell youtube, vimeo, etc that you DO in fact own the video and it should not have been taken down. The video then HAS to be restored per the Congressional Act (otherwise you could sue youtube, vimeo, etc).

        Unless its Time Warner or Universal filing DMCA, then you are boned.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      What this really points to is the importance of net neutrality and the lack of bandwidth caps to ensure everybody can self publish, that no one can abuse the system by establishing anti-competitive publishing cartel contracts that lock the majority of people out of self publishing commercially viable content.

      More still needs to be done to protect individual rights over publishing cartel greed and corruption of due process.

  • That ain't a false copyright claim, THIS is a false copyright claim!
  • Looks like Tanya Steele is still at it, now on Youtube...

    "Blackfella's Guide to ..." This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Tanya Steele.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLTZgqSAjQs [youtube.com]

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