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...

Not so easy – Commodores claim partially succeeds
Trade Mark / October 2018

TRADE MARK   A US judge has ruled in favour of the Commodores in their legal fight with a past member over his continued  use of the word Commodores. Commodores Entertainment Corp, which represents the current version of the Commodores which includes founding member William King along with Walter Orange and James Dean “J.D.” Nicholas took, legal action against former member Thomas McClary accusing him of infringing their tra...

Turn it up even louder – This is Spinal Tap claim moves forwards
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   We previously reported here about the ongoing ‘This is Spinal Tap’ litigation in the US and also the fact that we were running out of puns. Nonetheless, we are happy to report that Harry Shearer is having a good time…all the time following a development in the litigation. In short the case revolves around Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner’s allegations that Vivendi have been...

9th Circuit Court of Appeals re-masters the law for pre 1972 copyright
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT 1972  and copyright, mixed up with satellite radio and internet ‘broadcasting’, has been a rather a touchy subject in the US. Tracks (sound recordings) created before this date have, in the opinion of some, no performance right attached to them for said satellite radio stations – whereas songs created after 1972 benefit from compulsory licences administered by the Copyright Royalty Board and grated under fed...

Stream ripping is taking another hit in the US court system
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT In 2016 a number of major record labels, including Universal, Warner Bros and Sony filed a federal lawsuit against the operators of YouTube-mp3.org. As the domain name suggests, the website allows for YouTube videos to be converted into permanent MP3 format, thus circumventing the profit that YouTube generates for artists by way of advertising. At the time of the lawsuit YouTube-mp3.org was accused as being responsible for up ...

Will drones make live events safer in Illinois?
Health & Safety / October 2018

HEALTH AND SAFETY Illinois lawmakers have proposed an interesting new solution to the risk of a mass shooting similar to the one that happened in Las Vegas last year. The new proposal for large-scale events would allow drones to be used to  supervise events. This would include music festivals, state fairs, and concerts and  events held in arenas or stadiums. During a Senate debate, Senator Martin Sandoval, the lead sponsor, said more...

AEG files to dismiss Ozzy’s anti-trust action
Competition , Live Events / August 2018

COMPETITION Live events sector   The almighty spat between O2 owner and promoter AEG, artist Ozzy Osbourne and AEG’s rival Live Nation, which also includes the joint venture between manager Irving Azoff and Madison Square Gardens (MSG) has gone legal, with Ozzy accusing AEG of anti-competitive behaviour.   The case revolves around the reported requirement set by that AEG that links bookings at venues it operates in London an...

Will drones make live events safer in Illinois?
Health & Safety , Live Events / August 2018

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector   Illinois lawmakers have proposed an interesting new solution to the risk of a mass shooting similar to the one that happened in Las Vegas last year. The new proposal for large-scale events would allow drones to be used to  supervise events. This would include music festivals, state fairs, and concerts and  events held in arenas or stadiums.   During a Senate debate, Senator Martin Sand...

Glassnote take on Childish Gambino in royalty dispute
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2018

CONTRACT Recorded music, broadcasting   US independent label Glassnote Records has brought a legal action against their former artist Childish Gambino – aka Donald Glover – in a dispute over what should happen to royalties that are earned by his recordings which are paid to the US collecting society SoundExchange. Glover released three albums with Glassnote between 2011 and 2017, before announcing earlier this year that...

Sir Cliff triumphs in privacy claim against the BBC
Privacy / August 2018

PRIVACY Broadcasting   Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sir Cliff Richard has won his privacy battle with the BBC and has won a substantial damages payment from the state broadcaster.   You will probably remember that this litigation spewed from the BBC’s coverage of South Yorkshire Police’s (SYP) raid on Sir Cliff’s Berkshire home in 2014. The raid was the result of a claim against Sir Cliff for historical sexual abuse. Whilst the ...

EU Copyright Reforms Stalled
Copyright / August 2018

COPYRIGHT All areas   European MEPs who voted on the Copyright Directive in Strasbourg today have failed (by a small majority) to move the legislative process forwards whereby the European Union Council, Commission and Parliament could have negotiated a final text for passage into law. The vote was close, with 278 in favour, 318 against and 31 abstentions. The outcome rejects the earlier Legal Committee decision to approve the draf...

Fender at centre of price fixing claim
Competition / July 2018

COMPETITION Musical instruments and technology   The world-famous guitar maker Fender and four leading keyboard manufacturers are at the centre of a price fixing investigation after “dawn raids” were carried out at their British offices by staff from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Although the companies have not been officially named, The Sunday Telegraph named the four companies as Yamaha, one of the biggest musical...

Viagogo faces criminal action from FIFA

COMPETITION / CRIMINAL Live events sector   World Cup organisers FIFA have filed a criminal complaint in Switzerland against the ticket website Viagogo as part of a crackdown on unauthorised World Cup sales, the latest in a line of legal challenges to the company’s business practices. Last week, a UK government minister urged consumers to boycott Viagogo as National Trading Standards launched an investigation into allegations th...

Pokémon Go fiasco costs festival organisers $1.575 million
Contract , Live Events / June 2018

CONTRACT Live events sector   The disastrous Fyre Festival, organised by entrepreneur Billy MacFarland, is one example of what happens when technology innovators believe the myth that it’s easy to organise a successful music festival. It’s not. The festival, held in April 2017, experienced a number of serious management, administration and organisational issues and was cancelled after guests had begun to arrive in the B...

Planned EU legislation for lighting efficiency could be ‘catastrophic’ for culture

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   Venues and theatres have warned that new EU legislation will see their ‘lights going out’ after new legislation is introduced which will not provide any exemption for stage lighting and will make specialist lighting subject to the same environmental rules that govern lighting sold domestic and office use. The Artistic Director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris, has estimated...

Viola player’s claim for damaged hearing succeeds in the High Court

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   Chris Goldscheider, a former Royal Opera House viola player has won a landmark High Court judgment after he suffered a life-changing hearing injury at a rehearsal of Wagner’s Die Walkure in 2012. The claim came from a rehearsal on the 1st September 2012, Mr Goldscheider was seated directly in front of the 18 strong brass section of the orchestra for a rehearsal in the orchestra pit a...

Country music songwriter seeks $1.3 million in premium payments from ASCAP

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Music publishing. Collection societies   Country music songwriter Shane McAnally is taking one of the USA’s big two collecting societies, ASCAP, to arbitration in a dispute over $1.3 million of “premium payments” that he says should have been paid for his top performing songs. Having left ASCAP for the new rights organisation, Global Music Rights, McAnally’s works were still administere...

BMI hail 100% licensing win

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Music publishing, collection societies   The head  of American collecting society BMI has written an opinion piece for Billboard hailing what he says is a victory in the log running 100% licensing dispute as a deadline is passed with no appeal from the Department of Justice who had fought the USA’s four  music collection societies, by BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC, challenging the convention that anyone...

Rights scandal alleged to be the “biggest music rights scam in South African history”

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, collection societies   The South African Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has noted “with grave concern” the article published in City Press and News 24 Online News platforms on 1st April 2018 into what is “alleged to be the biggest music rights scam in South African history involving the legendary and multi-platinum selling gospel artist Hlengiwe Mhlaba. The report goes into w...

That Jenner and the Tupac T-shirt legal dispute has been settled
Copyright , Merchandising / May 2018

COPYRIGHT Merchandising   The dispute and controversy surrounding Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s line of musically themed T-shirts is drawing to a close. The Jenner line boasted a plethora of major rick star names, including Notorious BIG, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne and Tupac Shakur to name a few, but it seems the Jenner’s didn’t ask for any permissions. Indeed most of the people featured on the T-shirts were not happy at all, a...

Commodores take further action against founder member’s continued use of their name
Artists , Trade Mark / May 2018

TRADE MARK Artistes   Commodores Entertainment Corp, the corporate body behind the current incarnation of The Commodores, has asked a court in Florida to consider sanctioning a founder member of the group, Thomas McClary, as part of a long-running trademark dispute citing McClary’s continued use of Commodores Trade Marks despite a court order that should prevent him from doing this. The band formed in 1968 when two other ...

Tulisa wins a massive ‘scream & shout’ pay out

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Former N-Dubz member and X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos has reportedly won a 10% share of the songwriting income from the Britney Spears and will.i.am track ‘Scream & Shout’ after a six year dispute over who should share the royalties from the hit song.   Contostavlos argued that she had collaborated on an original version of the song ( then called I Don’t Give A F**k)...

Coachella’s ‘radius clause’ is challenged
Competition , Live Events / May 2018

COMPETITION Live events sector   COMPETITION: The promoters of an Oregon music festival have filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Coachella Music Festival and its organizers, alleging that Coachella’s parent company uses its market clout to unfairly restricts artists from performing at other festivals. The suit, filed in Portland’s United State District Court on Monday, was brought by Soul’d Out Productions, LLC, and names...

Wolfgang’s Vault looks buried in copyright dispute
Copyright , Media / May 2018

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, film and TV   U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos has made a monumental decision in favor of members of The National Music Publishers’ Association (incl. Sony/ATV & EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music and Imagem Music). Judge Ramos ruled that the owners of Wofgang’s  – a collection of thousands of live concert performances such as those of legendary Rock and...

Music Modernization Act moves forwards in the US
Copyright / May 2018

COPYRIGHT All sectors   The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has introduced the Music Modernization Act with the goal of encouraging innovation and rewarding creativity in this increasingly digital age. Some of the antiquated law surrounding copyright in the U.S. is considerably flawed, and after years of reviewing the system under the leadership of Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte the new legislation incorporates elements of four pr...

Viagogo faces more problems in the UK market

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has indicated that it will take action against Viagogo, the online secondary ticketing site. CMA announced last year that it has secondary ticketing sites in is sights. That was last year, and this week the CMA has stated that a number of secondary ticketing sites, namely StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave had updated their policies to ensure...

Viagogo fined one million Euros by Italian competition regulator

CONSUMER/COMPETITION Live events sector   Viagogo has been fined one million Euros by the Italian competition (antitrust) agency, AGCM, for failling to comply with instructions issued by the agency in April 2017. At the time, Viagogo and three other resale sites were fined a collective €700,000 for failing to provide complete ticket information to consumers   According to Pollstar, AGCM found that Viagogo misled customers by not...

SABAM’s tariff hike ruled illegal
Competition , Live Events / May 2018

COMPETITION Live events sector   SABAM’s unilateral move to raise live music concert tariffs in Belgium last year has been ruled to constitute unfair commercial practices by a Brussels court A coalition of Belgian festival and concert promoters filed a lawsuit against Sabam (Société d’Auteurs Belge/Belgische Auteurs Maatschappij), Belgium’s performance rights organisation, last May after tariffs were increased across th...

US Appellate Court majority rules that ‘Blurred Lines’ DID infringe Gaye classic
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2018

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the 2015 jury verdict which found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ infringed on the copyright in Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song ‘Got To Give It Up’. The decision had attracted widespread criticism and comment, not least as many commentators felt that the jury made their decision by comp...