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News blog7 January 2020Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

No sale of second-hand e-book is permitted / Copyright and videogames: Red Dead Redemption / Michael Jackson and Disney settle their copyright dispute

Good afternoon everyone and welcome back. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and we wish you all the best for this coming year. The world of IP has been slowly following its normal course with some highlights here and there.


No sale of second-hand e-book is permitted

One of the most important principles for copyright is “exhaustion of right”, meaning that the copyright owner’s right over the copies of its work ceases to exist with the first legal sale. Meaning, once you buy a book, CD or a DVD you are free to do whatever you want with this copy afterward (you can sell it second-hand, gift it, throw it away…). Does this apply only to physical copies? Or does it apply to digital ones too? Well, according to the latest CJEU decision, no it doesn’t since it considered that this would amount to copyright infringement as it is an unauthorized “communication to the public”. Under EU law, the exhaustion of copyright only applies to the right of distribution. Since, according to the CJEU, downloading an e-book is covered by the right of communication to the public, then no exhaustion is possible. This decision has a tremendous impact since it can be extrapolated to any digital copy whether it is a book, movie, song or videogame.


Copyright and videogames: Red Dead Redemption

Take Two, the original developer of Red Dead Redemption (RDR) wasn’t too pleased to learn that a fan project intended to bring to PC the first version of this video game that was initially launched exclusively for Xbox and PS3. By launching this project, the fans were indeed violating Take Two’s copyright by:

  • importing the entire game map of 2010’s Red Dead Redemption into the 2018 game Red Dead Redemption II (RDR2). This would mainly reduce any interest in purchasing a future release of RDR or an RDR add-on map for RDR2, should the company decide to do so in the future.
  • enhancing graphics and visuals in Take-Two’s Red Dead Redemption game and allowing players to play an enhanced version of the game on PC, a platform for which Take-Two itself has not yet released the RDR game. This would rob from Take Two a market for an official, updated version and create unfair competition for Take Two’s PC version of RDR2.

Apparently, the company tried to contact the project leader repeatedly and asked to cease and desist. When these contacts failed to stop the project, it was forced to take legal action.

As you can see, it all started with the best intentions of a group of fans. However, and as annoying it can be for fans who were not able to enjoy the first version of the game, deciding whether or not to release a game on another platform, improve graphics or adapt it is something only the copyright owner can do.


Michael Jackson and Disney settle their copyright dispute

Back in 2018, Jackson’s estate sued Disney in California because of a film called The Last Days of Michael Jackson. Apparently, the film was using “substantial portions” of the estate-owned copyrighted material (music videos, concert performances, documentary footage…) without permission. The estate claimed to only find out about this a few days before its premiere and protested the use of a Jackson image in promotional materials. Although ABC immediately removed the promotional images, it argued that said use of Jackson’s music and videos fell under the “fair use” doctrine.

Bella Hadid: systematic copyright infringement?

Bella is being accused of downloading five images and posting them to her Instagram account without authorization. 

According to a complaint filed by the company that owns the images (Xposure Photo Agency Inc.) Bella Hadid, or the person managing her social media, took five images owned by said company and posted them to her Instagram account on different dates, thereby causing “harm to the existing and future market for the original photographs”. According to Xposure, they have alerted Hadid and her representatives of said infringement through cease and desist letters, which seems to have no deterrent effect. The Court will now have to decide on the matter establishing whether or not Hadid is making commercial use of said images, establishing whether or not there is an infringement and the scope of the damages for the company. 

Twitch is facing an expensive copyright claim

For those unfamiliar with this platform, Twitch is a streaming platform used mainly for videogame streaming. The platform is now facing a copyright claim from a Russian company based on an alleged pirate broadcast of English Premier League games. Said Russian company (Rambler Group) seems to own the exclusive broadcast rights over said games in Russia. The question here is the following: is Twitch liable for the content broadcasted by users? Let’s see how this matter unfolds…

That is all for today. See you next week for a new update!

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Publication date
7 January 2020
Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises