Stoned Again

Last month, I commented on a story on the BBC website that the Rolling Stones's agent had complained that the German Christian Democrats had played the Stones' recording "Angie" at party rallies without their permission to highlight the difference between copyright and rights in performances. There is now another article of interest to IP connoisseurs on the same website: "Stones fall victim to web pirates" (2 Sept 2005).

The article reports that files of tracks from the Stones new album which appear to have been culled from broadcasts and the internet were discovered on the internet on 29 Aug 2005. It also reports that the Stones' recording company were congratulating themselves on the "major achievement" of keeping the album secure so close to the date planned for its commercial release. The story also says that "Coldplay, Radiohead, Oasis and U2 are among the other stars who have fallen victim to internet pirates."

Bearing in mind that every track on the album is already available to the public on the Rolling Stones' website, I can't quite appreciate the magnitude of the "Major achievement", but that is not really the reason why I mention this story. I refer to it because it highlights the reason for the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the legislation around the world the give effect to it such as our Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 which implemented Directive 2001/29/EC and the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

When I first started practising intellectual property law in the mid-1980s, copyright infringement had costs because it involved making and moving things such as tapes or games. That's why Anton Piller orders were invented at that time. It was possible to disrupt supplies by raiding a warehouse armed with such orders. Nowadays, it is possible to make any almost any number of almost perfect digital copies of almost any type of creative work and transmit them instantaneously around the world at virtually nil expense. Hence the shift in enforcement from civil remedies to criminal in piracy and counterfeiting as embodied in art 61 of TRIPS. Hence also the downturn in the market for search orders over recent years.


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