Director jailed for providing unlicensed security staff to UK events
Health & Safety / February 2019

HEALTH & SAFETY Lee Szuchnik, a director of Welsh event security firm, LS Armour, has received a prison sentence of two years and three months after being convicted of providing unlicensed security staff at UK music events. The conviction followed an investigation by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) into how Szuchnik supplied unlicensed guards to music festivals in June and July 2017.  The SIA investigation began...

The battle over secondary ticketing goes on
Competition , Consumers / February 2019

CONSUMER / COMPETITION On the back of successful moves to prohibit Viagogo from re-selling Rammstien and Ed Sheerhan concert tickets in Germany, the German promoters’ association BDKV has won a legal victory against Ticketbande, a leading secondary ticketing site, securing a judgment that prevents its listing tickets where the resale of those tickets has been prohibited by the promoter.  Ticketbande is one of three main seco...

Gone With The Wind – de Havilland loses legal battle
Defamation , Image Rights / February 2019

DEFAMATION / IMAGE RIGHT  The US Supreme Court has decided not accept the law the suit brought by actress Olivia de Havilland against the makers of the FX series “Feud“. “Feud” is a TV dramatisation of the real-life rivalry between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In the miniseries, de Havilland (now 102) is played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and is a supporting character. De Havilland’s attorney argu...

Swedish Ombudsman rules that the ‘man-free’ Statement Festival violated discrimination laws
Discrimination / February 2019

EQUALITY Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) has ruled that describing an event as ‘man-free’ is discriminatory, dealing a blow to the ‘Statement Festival which was promoted as a music festival aimed at women in August earlier this year. Statement Festival, which took place in Gothenburg this summer, was organised following multiple reports of sexual assaults at other Swedish festivals including the now discon...

French Constitutional Council confirms ticket touting ban is legal
Competition , Consumers / February 2019

CONSUMER / COMPETITION France’s constitutional court (Constitutional Council) has ruled that the country’s 2012 anti-ticket touting laws are compliant with the French constitution, knocking back secondary platform Viagogo’s efforts to have the law ruled unconstitutional on the basis they are  “disproportionate breach of freedom of enterprise” – a move backed by rival platform, Ticketbis, owned by eBay’...

Vinyl pirates face prison sentences
Copyright / February 2019

COPYRIGHT Vinyl has become so fashionable again its attracted the attention of pirates – and now two UK men have been jailed and two others have received suspended sentences for their involvement in a bootleg vinyl operation that was manufacturing and selling unlicensed copies of mainly Northern Soul recordings. Alan Godfrey, Christopher Price, Robert Pye and Stephen Russell were variously accused of copyright and trademark infrin...

Gig-goers or bootleggers? Are phone recordings an irritant or potential copyright infringement?
Copyright / February 2019

COPYRIGHT “Go to any stadium gig and you’ll be met with a forest of arms holding up mobiles and blocking lines of sight, so people behind feel irritated,” says Katie McPhee, Head of Marketing at Eventbrite who commissioned a new report by ComRes – 1,031 adults who attended a live event in the past twelve months were interviewed.  The research found that: • 70% found it irritating when others constantly take pictures o...

National Trading Standards takes action over alleged ticket touting
Consumers / December 2018

CONSUMER: The UK’s National Trading Standards authority has begun legal action against nine alleged ticket touts on charges of money laundering and breaches of consumer rights law following an investigations. The nine are split between three secondary ticketing organisations – Connoco, BZZ and Ticket Queen. National Trading Standards is one of two UK government agencies that have been investigating the secondary ticketi...

Good news for snappers – an update on Photo Authorisation Agreement for Taylor Swift’s latest ‘Reputation’ stadium tour
Contract / December 2018

CONTRACT: Three years ago in June-July 2015, Taylor Swift was the subject of a controversial boycott by newspapers in Ireland and Canada as a result of the Concert Photo Authorization Form for The 1989 World Tour, which photographers were required to sign prior to taking photographs at concert venues.  Photographers and publishers objected to Clause 2 which limited photographs taken to one-time use only. Clause 5 was particularly o...

For ‘substantial similarity’ a song has to have at least a spark of similarity
Copyright / December 2018

COPYRIGHT: US District Judge Dolly M. Gee has thrown out a plagiarism lawsuit, giving summary judgement to Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, who had been accused of infringing copyright in their song “Spark the Fire”. Stefani and Williams were sued last year by Richard Morrill, a hairstylist, singer/songwriter and Korn member, over allegations of copyright infringement. Morrill contented that the Stefani and Williams’ song “Sp...

Spotify still face legal action in US mechanicals lawsuit
Copyright / December 2018

COPYRIGHT: It seems that so called ‘mechanical licensing’ is still haunting Spotify, despite the probgress of the new Music Modernization Act which will almost certainly soon become law. Now a federal court in Tennessee has denied Spotify’s bid to dismiss a copyright infringement lawsuit brought in July 2017 by Bluewater Music Services Corporation, the independent publisher and copyright administration company in the US ...

Europe’s songwriters seek to block Sony Music takeover
Competition , Copyright / December 2018

COMPETITION / COPYRIGHT: The European Composer & Songwriter Alliance has joined the increasing clamour urging the  European Commission to block Sony’s plans to take complete control of EMI Music Publishing. The organisation -says that Sony’s proposed deals would “threaten competition in the licensing market, endanger music authors’ revenues across the EU and ultimately jeopardise cultural diversity in th...

EU approves Sony takeover of EMI Music
Competition , Copyright / December 2018

COMPETITION / COPYRIGHT: Songwriters and independent music publisher have criticised the decision of the EU’s competition regulators to approve Sony’s deal to take complete ownership of EMI Music Publishing. Sony made no concessions to the European Commission who in turn said the deal “raises no competition concerns”.  Sony will become the world’s biggest music publisher and the World’s sec...

US Congressman calls for Ticketmaster investigation
Competition / December 2018

COMPETITION: Representative  Bill Pascrell, who helped instigate the planned Federal Trade Commission “workshop” to examining live event ticketing which is set for spring of 2019, and who was a critic of the 2010 Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger, has now asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the activities of Ticketmaster in the US. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Pascrell highlights “The concentrate...

Modern Talking take action to protect their name
Trade Mark / December 2018

TRADE MARK: Thomas Anders and Dieter Bohlen formed German duo Modern Talking in 1984 and they became a worldwide sensation with their hit “You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul”. They followed this up with a string of other worldwide hits, including “You Can Win If You Want”, “Cheri, Cheri Lady”, “Brother Louie” and “Atlantis Is Calling (S.O.S. for Love) before dissolving in 19...

Getting to grips with the MMA
Copyright / December 2018

COPYRIGHT: Hailed as a major milestone and major opportunity for the music industry, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) of the USA was signed into law by President Trump on  the 11th October 2018.  The MMA also has a global impact due to the USA being a signatory to the Berne Convention which dictates that the copyright law of the country where music is played, performed, streamed, downloaded, etc regardless of the country...

Led Zeppelin’s Stairway leads to the Ninth Circuit Appeal Court
Copyright / December 2018

COPYRIGHT: From Hell to Heaven? Led Zeppelin have asked the Ninth Circuit appeals court to reconsider its recent ruling in the “Stairway To Heaven” copyright lawsuit ‘en banc’ to determine the law in the case that involves allegations that the 1971 classic is rip-off of the 1968 instrumental song “Taurus” recorded by Spirit and written by Randy “California” Wolfe’s whose estate broug...

Italy’s competition regulator demands changes are SIAE
Competition / December 2018

COMPETITION: Italy’s Competition Authority AGCM had demanded that Italian music rights collection society SIAE  deal with monopoly concerns and to end what it calls proven market distortion tactics and to ensure such tactics are not employed in the future. SIAE has been given 60 days to comply.  Readers will note that the European Union has sought to make the European collecting societies more competitive, both...

Cheltenham Racecourse gets court backing to ban touts
Competition , Criminal Law / December 2018

COMPETITION / CRIMINAL: The UK’s Cheltenham Racecourse has been granted a landmark ruling by the High Court to ban ticket touts from the track, The injunction will run until  June 2019, covering the full rac season. Cheltenham boss Ian Renton hailed the verdict as a “landmark decision” for sport saying “We welcome the judgement of Mr Justice Nugee at the High Court today, when an injunction was granted agains...

Michigan moves to legalise scalping
Consumers / December 2018

CONSUMER: Whilst many countries around the world are re-examining their laws as consumer pressure grows to ban ticket touting, a Bill in Michigan could legalize ticket scalping in the state if  passed in Senate.  Michigan law currently prohibits a person from reselling an event ticket above its face value. Sales without the event organisers permission constitute a misdemeanor and penalties may include up to 90 days in jai...

Time to collect your thoughts about the MMA
Copyright / December 2018

COPYRIGHT: The Music Modernization Act (USA) was signed into law just over a month ago on October 11th, 2018 and will globally impact on songwriters and music publishers, irrespective of nationality or country, by providing for the creation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), a new digital music licensing entity which will begin operating in January 2021.  As the name indicates, the MLC will be a copyright licen...

Woodstock owner’s objection prompts name change
Trade Mark / December 2018

TRADE MARK:  Jade Presents, the promoters of next summer’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock at Bluestem Amphitheater in Moorhead,  Clay County, Minnesota, have had to make a name change for the two day event after the owners of the legendary music festival’s trade mark objected to the event as it was then named.  In October, and not long after advertising began for the event, the Moorhead event...

Swift Swoops for Spotify Shares
Contract / December 2018

CONTRACT: Taylor Swift announced on Instagram on Monday (19 Nov 2018) that she had signed a new label deal – an exclusive worldwide recording agreement with Universal Music Group and with UMG’S Republic Records for the USA.  She was previously signed with Nashville based independent Big Machine Label Group (BMLG) from 2006, aged 16.  Following the release of her last and sixth album for BMLG, Reputation, just over a year a...

Skrillex stage dive ends in $3.8 million pay out
Criminal Law / December 2018

NEGLIGENCE: A female fan who was injured by a  Skrillex stage dive has been awarded $3.8 million in damages for the injuries she suffered. Jennifer Fraissl sued the DJ and producer in connection with a 2012 concert in Los Angeles claiming that when Skrillex attempted to crowdsurf at the gig, she suffered head injuries that subsequently led to a stroke. Fraissl also claimed that by urging fans to move forwards before the stagedive, she...

Rammstein block Viagogo
Consumers , Contract / December 2018

CONTRACT / CONSUMER LAW: German industrial metal band Rammstein have secured an injunction from the District Court in Hamburg court that will block Viagogo from reselling tickets from their upcoming European stadium tour. The tour’s official ticket paertner, CTS Eventim, sold more than 800,000 tickets within a matter of hours on the 8th November and tickets are personalised, with promoter MCT Agentur only allowing resale thro...

Viagogo agrees changes with UK’s competition regulator
Consumers / December 2018

CONSUMER LAW: Another day, another court order against Viagogo. The High Court in London has ordered controversial ticket reseller Viagogo to “overhaul” the way it does business. The Competition and Markets Authority had launched legal action against the company in August over concerns it was breaking consumer protection law. The regulator claimed that unlike its competitors, Viagogo had failed to voluntarily comply wit...

Japan votes to outlaw ticket touting
Consumers , Criminal Law / December 2018

CONSUMER / CRIMINAL: Japan’s upper house, the House of Councillors has voted unanimously to approve a new criminal law that will encompass almost all ticket touting, just over two years after the #ResaleNO campaign first brought the issue to public prominence. The new law, which came out of the move to criminalise the re-sale of 2020 Olympic tickets,  comes into effect six months from the day of the vote, on the 8th June 201...

Ticketmaster face a new US action over scalping claims
Business , Consumers / December 2018

A class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster has been launched after a customer, Allen Lee, accused the ticketing giant of intentional fraud and over-charging consumers.The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims that Ticketmaster has violated the Cartwright Act, California Penal Code, and a handful of fraudulent business practices: “Have you ever wondered why Ticketmaster has b...

Rick Nelson’s Estate takes action over Sony streaming deductions
Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT   The estate of 1950’s pop star Ricky Nelson is taking legal action against Sony Music over the way the artist’s streaming royalties are calculated and the level of deductions (royalty reducers) are applied to earned revenues as the income moves its way around  various regional subsidiaries, before calculating what the artist is due under the terms of their record contract in their home country. In the days of...

Live Nation face US class action
Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER   Following on from the CBC and Toronto Star’s investigation into the activities of Live Nation’s Ticketmaster division in the secondary ticketing market, a class action has been filed in the US alleging a breach of consumer laws. After publication of the story, Ticketmaster issued a statement to CBC News saying it was “categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to...

Beyoncé vs Feyoncé – it continues
Trade Mark / October 2018

TRADE MARK In 2016 Beyoncé took legal action against the Texas based company, Feyoncé Inc, for “brazenly” selling merchandise that infringed her name and trade marks. The lawsuit was filed in the Manhattan federal court, naming the company and three defendants from San Antonio and seeking unspecified damages. The suit claims that Feyoncé has ignored the singer’s requests to stop selling their products, and that their items not...

National Trading Standards takes action over alleged ticket touting
Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER   The UK’s National Trading Standards authority has begun legal action against nine alleged ticket touts on chargesof money laundering and breaches of consumer rights law following an investigations. The nine are split between three secondary ticketing organisations – Connoco, BZZ and Ticket Queen. National Trading Standards is one of two UK government agencies that have been investigating the secondary ticketi...

Good news for snappers – an update on Photo Authorisation Agreement for Taylor Swift’s latest ‘Reputation’ stadium tour
Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT   Three years ago in June-July 2015, Taylor Swift was the subject of a controversial boycott by newspapers in Ireland and Canada as a result of the Concert Photo Authorization Form for The 1989 World Tour, [1] which photographers were required to sign prior to taking photographs at concert venues.  Photographers and publishers objected to Clause 2 which limited photographs taken to one-time use only. Clause 5 was particul...

UK Copyright if there’s no Brexit deal
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   The UK’s Department for Business, Energy& Industrial Strategy has now published it’s long awaited paper which offers guidance on what will happen with copyright if the UK leaves the European Union with ‘no deal’ outcome – an increasingly likely scenario (although the paper paints a more positive picture!). The key points? – The UK and other EU member states are already party to t...

For ‘substantial similarity’ a song has to have at least a spark of similarity
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   US District Judge Dolly M. Gee has thrown out a plagiarism lawsuit, giving summary judgement to Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, who had been accused of infringing copyright in their song “Spark the Fire”.   Stefani and Williams were sued last year by Richard Morrill, a hairstylist, singer/songwriter and Korn member, over allegations of copyright infringement. Morrill contented that the Stefani and Williams...

Spotify still face legal action in US mechanicals lawsuit
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   It seems that so called ‘mechanical licensing’ is still haunting Spotify, despite the probgress of the new Music Modernization Act which will almost certainly soon become law. Now a federal court in Tennessee has denied Spotify’s bid to dismiss a copyright infringement lawsuit brought in July 2017 by Bluewater Music Services Corporation, the independent publisher and copyright administration company in th...

Europe’s songwriters seek to block Sony Music takeover
Competition , Copyright / October 2018

COMPETITION / COPYRIGHT   The European Composer & Songwriter Alliance has joined the increasing clamour urging the  European Commission to block Sony’s plans to take complete control of EMI Music Publishing. The organisation -says that Sony’s proposed deals would “threaten competition in the licensing market, endanger music authors’ revenues across the EU and ultimately jeopardise cultural diversity in ...

EU approves Sony takeover of EMI Music 
Competition / October 2018

COMPETITION   Songwriters and independent music publisher have criticised the decision of the EU’s competition regulators to approve Sony’s deal to take complete ownership of EMI Music Publishing. Sony made no concessions to the European Commission who in turn said the deal “raises no competition concerns”.  Sony will become the world’s biggest music publisher and the World’s second biggest record...

US Congressman calls for Ticketmaster investigation
Competition / October 2018

COMPETITION   Representative  Bill Pascrell, who helped instigate the planned Federal Trade Commission “workshop” to examining live event ticketing which is set for spring of 2019, and who was a critic of the 2010 Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger, has now asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the activities of Ticketmaster in the US. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Pascrell highlights “The concentra...

Modern Talking take action to protect their name
Trade Mark / October 2018

TRADE MARK   Thomas Anders and Dieter Bohlen formed German duo Modern Talking in 1984 and they became a worldwide sensation with their hit “You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul”. They followed this up with a string of other worldwide hits, including “You Can Win If You Want”, “Cheri, Cheri Lady”, “Brother Louie” and “Atlantis Is Calling (S.O.S. for Love) before dissolvi...

Getting to grips with the MMA

Hailed as a major milestone and major opportunity for the music industry, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) of the USA was signed into law by President Trump on  the 11th October 2018.  The MMA also has a global impact due to the USA being a signatory to the Berne Convention which dictates that the copyright law of the country where music is played, performed, streamed, downloaded, etc regardless of the country in which it was create...

New trial ordered in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ copyright dispute
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   A U.S. appeals court has ordered a new trial in the lawsuit that accuses Led Zeppelin of copying an obscure 1960s instrumental into the classic 1971 Zeppelin  anthem “Stairway to Heaven.” Two years ago federal court jury in Los Angeles two years ago found Led Zeppelin did not steal the famous riff from the song “Taurus” by the band Spirit. The estate of musician Randy California of Spirit appeal...

American promoters take issue with proposed BMI music use rate rise
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   Hot on the heels of the now agreed settlement in the UK between the live sector and the UK’s performing right organisation, PRS for Music, which included a rate rise, but a decrease for festivals and an acknowledgement of so called ‘direct licensing’, comes news that in the US a proposed change to music use royalties from live events will be determined by the Rate Court. Unable to reach agreement for a...

Warners extend their reach in merchandising tie-up
Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT   Last week Warner Music Group (WMG) purchased the German merchandising company EMP for $180m,[1] Europe’s top provider of merchandise for video game (including Nintendo and Play Station; TV and film including Marvel, DC, Disney, Star Wars, Game of Thrones; and clothing and music for a catalogue of bands/artists’ almost exclusively in the heavy metal genre).  For EMP, CEO Ernst Trapp said that by joining WMG, his co...

Artists threaten to boycott SiriusXM over Music Modernisation Act objections  – UPDATED AS ACT IS PASSED
Copyright / October 2018

The Music Modernisation Act (MMA) is hot stuff in America at the moment and it plans to do what it says on the tin. It is looking to reform US copyright law, amongst other things it seeks to resolve the “small” issue of satellite radio stations not being required to pay music royalties for playing pre-1972 tracks. Other proposals include a  fix for the fairly muddled mess on how mechanical royalties are paid Stateside and r...

European Parliament vote on EU copyright law reform looms large (UPDATED)
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   Tomorrow (Wednesday 12th September) sees the European Parliament vote on what have become a series of somewhat controversial reforms to EU copyright law, in a battle which pits content creators and content owners against the tech giants of Amazon, Google, YouTube and Facebook. Its been a fertile feeding ground for the lobbyists as both sides fought to catch the eyes and attention of of politicians and the general public...

The Viagogo soap opera trundles on
Competition , Consumers , Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT / CONSUMER / COMPETITION   Hardly a day passes without Viagogo hitting the headlines, with news breaking that the Geneva based  secondary ticketing had finally complied with the Advertising Standards Authority’s demands on how it presented pricing information, that Viagogo had pulled out of a planned Culture Select Committee Parliamentary debate on secondary ticketing, that it was moving the firm’s London bas...

Mariah Cary lawsuit partially dismissed
Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT A judge in New York has dismissed brought by a South American concert promoter against Mariah Carey – although parallel  litigation targeting her company Mirage will be allowed to proceed. The case goes back to a number of shows that  were due to take place in Argentina and Chile in October 2016 but were cancelled at the last minute with the Carey camp explaining the shows had been pulled because the promoter had failed...

At Waterloo – who will surrender?
Trade Mark / October 2018

TRADE MARK Waterloo Records has filed a lawsuit against the new Waterloo Music Festival over the use of the name “Waterloo” saying it has used the mark to present live music events in its parking lot during South by Southwest for the past nine years.  The record store was first established in 1982. Waterloo Music Festival was scheduled to make its debut at Carson Creek Ranch at the weekend but Waterloo Records’ press releas...

New York Attorney General faces lawsuits over ticket actions
Competition , Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER / COMPETITION The acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is facing two lawsuits from the Connecticut based ticketing companies TicketNetwork and Ticket Galaxy in what they say is a response to a “deeply flawed interpretation of New York State Law” on the resale of event tickets. The new Attorney General (NYAG) after she announced plans to sue for millions of dollars to prevent the site listing tickets sellers d...