Do we still have blurred lines in the conflict between inspiration and appropriation?
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: From Hell to Heaven? Readers will remember that Led Zeppelin had asked the US Ninth Circuit appeals court to reconsider the original ruling in the “Stairway To Heaven” copyright lawsuit ‘en banc’ to determine some key elements of US copyright law,  in the case that involved the  allegation that the 1971 classic was a rip-off of the 1968 instrumental song “Taurus” recorde...

MAJOR LABELS: 1 (BILLION) v COX: 0
General / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: We have written about this ongoing litigation for a while now. In case, like us, you don’t want to scroll through the website to find it the background is: EMI, Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Universal Music (the majors) sued Cox Communications last year. The suit claimed that Cox had shoddy systems in place to deal with piracy. It was claimed that Cox’s subscribers were engaging in mass scale piracy and the majo...

Agent of change principle applied as court overturns noise abatement order
Live Events / May 2020

PLANNING: A long standing venue in Guildford venue has successfully appealed a noise abatement order after a court applied the “agent of change” principle.  Guildford Borough Council (GBC) had issued the noise abatement order last October against the Star Inn, a pub in the town that stages live music. The Council acted after receiving a complaint from the developer of a new block of flats nearby. The pub’s ow...

The Copyright in songs II – Ed Sheeran copyright case postponed pending Led Zeppelin ruling, but Katy Perry found liable for plagiarism
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: The ongoing litigation between Ed Sheeran and Ed Townsend has now been postponed pending the outcome of the ‘Stairway To Heaven’ litigation. Sheeran was sued in 2016 over allegations that his 2014 hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’ lifted “melody, harmony and rhythm compositions” from the Marvin Gaye song ‘Let’s Get It On’. The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Townse...

The copyright in songs I – Stairway To Heaven case to return to Ninth Circuit appeals court
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: The Stairway To Heaven case will return to Ninth Circuit appeals court, with the court now sitting en banc to hear the plagiarism case. Led Zeppelin are facing a legal action from the estate of songwriter Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California) that alleges that ‘Stairway To Heaven’ copies off a song written by Wolfe. In June 2016 Led Zeppling prevailed, with a jury concluding that ‘Stairway&#...

European Court Of Justice sides with Kraftwerk in sampling case
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: The European Court of Justice has sided with German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, ruling that unauthorised sampling of even brief clips of a sound recording can constitute copyright infringement as long as they are recognisable, in a long running case that has added some clarity to how sampling should be treated in the European Union. Kraftwerk brought the action against hip-hop producers Moses Pelham and Martin Haas i...

A ‘sample’ of the music industry’s issues ?
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: This week it has been reported that Ernie Hines, the American soul musician, has filed a lawsuit against Sony Music and Roc-A-Fella Records, whom published Jay-Z and Timberland 1998 track ‘Paper Chase’ and Timbaland’s 1999 track ‘Toe 2 Toe’. Uproxx reports that the claimed value of the suit is $2million. The allegations stem from Hines’ 1970 track ‘Help Me Put Out The Flame (In My Heart)’, a sample of which ha...

Were Ultra’s counter drone activities in violation of federal law?
Licensing / May 2020

LICENSING: Were the counter-drone company who had been brought in by Miami Police for the Ultra Music Festival actually operating in contravention of federal law? The FAA has now said that by jamming drone signals in the Festival’s Virginia Key’s home may indeed be a problem The FAA said in a statement that the agency had “looked into a report that the Miami Police Department (MPD) hired a company to provide...

Spotify beware – Indian broadcasting licensing scheme may not cover streaming
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: A recent ruling against and Indian streaming service could have important implications for Spotify in its battle with Warners in the country and it’s plans to launch in the Indian market. The Bombay High Court (Justice S.J. Kathawalla) has now made its decision Tips Industries Limited vs Wynk Music Ltd with (judgement dated April 23, 2019) and and has found for Indian record label Tips against a...

Woodstock 50 cleared for the summer – but who will foot the bill?
Contract / May 2020

CONTRACT: A Court in New York has ruled that the Woodstock Festival’s financial backers had no right to cancel the event without the agreement of the organisers of the Woodstock 50, although the court declined to force Dentsu to return $18 million to the Event’s bank account. The 50th anniversary celebration of the original Woodstock which is planned August, was thrown into doubt last month when Amplifi Live, a division of t...

Guns N’ Roses – a trade mark dispute
Trade Mark / May 2020

TRADE MARK: Guns N’ Roses (GNR) are knockin on a trade mark lawsuit against Oskar Blues, a Longmont, US, based brewery. Back in August 2018 Oskar Blues applied to register a figurative ‘Guns N’ Rose’ logo with the US Patent and Trademark Office: the trade mark application ultimately knocked on heaven’s door following objection from GNR. Despite this initial trade mark dispute, and according to the filed complaint, in 2018, Osk...

British Columbia Introduces Ticket Sales Act
Consumers / May 2020

CONSUMER: British Columbia is the latest Canadian province to introduce a Tickets Sales Act, banning bots and enforcing transparency requirements for the secondary market, and intended to “bring more fairness and transparency” to purchasing tickets to live entertainment events. The Ticket Sales Act, introduced by Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to the Legislative Assembly after a 2018 consultation which gathered in some 6...

BMG v Cox principles applied in finding liability for ISP Grande
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: The fallout from the BMG v Cox case in the USA continues, with a court denying ISP Grande Communications the benefit of safe harbour protection in a case brought by the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA). In the earlier case, BMG had accused ISP Cox Communications of running a deliberately ineffective system for dealing with repeat infringers:  At first instance the jury awarded $25 mill...

Coachella’s “radius cause” is ruled valid
Competition / May 2020

COMPETITION: A US District Judge has ruled that the Coachella festival’s controversial ‘radius clause’ that prevents other festivals booking artistes which it has secured exclusively is valid and does not fall foul of US anti-trust laws, despite the claim that the contractual restriction preventing acts on the Coachella bill from playing at any other festival in North America from 15 December to 1 May, amounts was anti...

Marc Jacobs looks to dismiss Nirvana case
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: In December 2018 there were a number if press reports that detailed that legal representatives for the grunge band Nirvana were suing fashion brand Marc Jacobs for copyright infringement, primarily for using an iconic wobbly yellow and black smiley face design. The brand recently released the Bootleg Grunge T-shirt and sweatshirt as a part of its overall ‘ Redux Grunge’ grunge-inspired collection and seemingl...

Is Kanye West going to send EMI south?
Contract / May 2020

 CONTRACT: A famous artist is suing a music publisher, again…..not quite. Kanye West v. EMI has all the hall marks of a juicy and exciting case. On one hand we have employment/ contract issues, on the other we have copyright and some very valuable rights at stake and on the other hand (if there is a third hand!) we have a multimillion dollar artist that wants to retire – but EMI are not having it. In January, Pitchfor...

Marley family triumph in coffee case
Contract , Trade Mark / May 2020

CONTRACT / TRADE MARK: A US appellate s court has upheld an earlier ruling in a trademark dispute between the Bob Marley estate and a coffee company that previously had the rights to sell coffe beverages using the legendary reggae musician’s name. Jammin Java Corp will now have to pay the Marley family estate $2.4 million in damages. Jammin Jave originally had a licence to use the Marley name, agreed with Fifty-Six Hope Road Music...

Live Nation executives cleared of secondary ticketing charges
Competition , Criminal Law / May 2020

CRIMINAL / COMPETITION: A Milan court has acquitted two senior Live Nation Italy executives and three executives from the live sector of any wrongdoing in a secondary ticketing case, which alleged the companies profited from illegally inflating ticket prices. Live Nation Italy’s  president Roberto De Luca and general director Antonella Lodi had been charged, along with Mimmo D’Alessandro, chief executive of Tuscan prom...

New Zealand’s High Court refuses to grant interim injunction against Viagogo
Consumers / May 2020

CONSUMER: Over the last year or so a number of regulatory authorities have gone after Viagogo, the now controversial secondary ticket resale platform based in Switzerland, over complaints from consumers. Complaints include the use of misleading statements referring to the availability of tickets and the failure to identify seat numbers and seller identities, and notably, the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the Australian Compet...

Rights owners call for a halt to EU Copyright reforms – but the creative sector disagrees
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: Rights holders from across the European Union, including the recorded music sector, music publishing, television and sport have called for a halt to the planned reforms to copyright laws saying that recent revisions to the draft legislation mean that  “regrettably under these circumstances we would rather have no directive at all rather than a bad directive”.  But this view ha been challenged by the actu...

What’s going on under the blanket?
Copyright / May 2020

COPYRIGHT: The Music Modernization Act (MMA) was signed into US law on 11 October 2018, it plans to do what it says on the tin, namely the overhaul of how copyright underpins the US music industry. One particular area in need of a revamp is the law relating to mechanical tights and digital streaming. Prior to the MMA becoming law in the US, digital music providers (iTunes, Spotify and Google Play…) would file clearance notic...

Director jailed for providing unlicensed security staff to UK events
Health & Safety / May 2020

HEALTH & SAFETY: Lee Szuchnik, The 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 be...

The battle over secondary ticketing goes on
Consumers / May 2020

CONSUMER: On the back of successful moves to prohibit Viagogo from re-selling Rammstien and Ed Sheeran 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 secondary ticketing platfo...

Gone With The Wind – de Havilland loses legal battle
Image Rights / May 2020

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 argued that she is...

Swedish Ombudsman rules that the ‘man-free’ Statement Festival violated discrimination laws
Discrimination / May 2020

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 disco...

French Constitutional Council confirms ticket touting ban is legal
Competition / May 2020

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’s StubHub....

Vinyl pirates face prison sentences
Copyright / May 2020

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 infri...

Gig-goers or bootleggers? Are phone recordings an irritant or potential copyright infringement?
Copyright / May 2020

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 or video...

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...