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 offensive as it was an express consent to the confiscation of/destruction of camera equipment and the ensuing likelihood of bodily injury; including an indemnity against liability for any loss or injury suffered by the photographer.  The issues were freedom of the press to publish, criminal damage to property and agreement to bodily injury. Following discussions between Ms Swift’s representatives and the National Press Photographers’ Association representing fourteen professional photographers’ bodies including the Associated Press and the American Society of Media Photographers, the agreement was re-named ‘Photo Authorization Guidelines’ and re-worded to address the concerns. In Clause 2, the previous restriction on one-time use was lifted but limited to the reviewing publication only, and an express ban on the use of photographs for commercial purposes which met the artist’s concerns.  The offending Clause…

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 ago on November 10, 2017; it was revealed she had one year left to run on her then current contract.  UMG had distributed her albums and singles in an alliance with BMLG, so continuing the relationship developed “over the years” with Sir Lucian Grainge and Monte Lipman made commercial sense for all parties.  In a signed statement, Taylor Swift said she was “ecstatic”, “thrilled” and “incredibly” excited that under the deal she will own all her “master recordings”.  Under her old deal, BMLG will retain ownership of her master recordings now that she has departed.  However, she expressed her “heartfelt” thanks to Scott Borchetta, head of BMLG, for his belief in her and his guidance.  Another major deal clincher she admitted was “one condition that meant more (to her) than…

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 through Eventim’s own fanSALE platform and München Ticket. The tour will support the band’s first studio album for a decade, which is due for release in the spring. Rammstein has long campaigned against the sale of overpriced tickets via resale platforms When the tickets were put on sale MCT confirmed that all tickets resold through Viagogo and other non-authorised secondary ticketing sites will not be valid for entry – something affirmed today by the district court, or Landgericht, of Hamburg. Viagogo is now blocked and cannot “allow the sale of tickets for the 2019 Rammstein stadium concerts in Germany” and/or “assert that they are valid tickets for entry”, according to a MCT release. Rammstein’s legal team described the court’s decision as a “warning signal” to anyone considering touting their tickets to profit from the tour: “The band is pleased that…

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 physical product distribution, record labels would justify these deductions as releases were undertaken on a country by country basis with associated costs and risks. Now we have truly global music companies, and global streaming – and many artistes argue that these reducers (and many others) are unjustified and unjustifiable. Not all labels do this, but some do. The Nelson estate accuses Sony of applying the “intercompany charge” on international streaming revenue before calculating the royalties they are  due. It appears the estate has no problem with such deductions where a third party company involved which is making the additional charges, but it argues that international deductions are not allowed under Nelson’s record contract where another Sony Music label According to Law360, the The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in the U.S….

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 particularly offensive as it was an express consent to the confiscation of/destruction of camera equipment and the ensuing likelihood of bodily injury; including an indemnity against liability for any loss or injury suffered by the photographer.  The issues were freedom of the press to publish, criminal damage to property and agreement to bodily injury.   Following discussions between Ms Swift’s representatives and the National Press Photographers’ Association representing fourteen professional photographers’ bodies including the Associated Press and the American Society of Media Photographers, the agreement was re-named ‘Photo Authorization Guidelines’ and re-worded to address the concerns. [2]  In Clause 2, the previous restriction on one-time use was lifted but limited to the reviewing publication only, and an express ban on the use of photographs for commercial purposes which met the artist’s…

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 company “will be able to expand our international reach, explore new genres, reach new audiences, and take fan experience to a whole new level.”   Once the deal is complete, EMP will become a stand-alone, direct-to-fan business unit within WEA – WMG’s global artist and label services division.  Stu Bergen, CEO of International & Global Commercial Services, Recorded Music, WMG said the deal “will be a perfect complement to our global artist development and marketing strategies.”[2] This deal brings to WMG the expertise of a specialist merchandising company with a client base in 18 European countries. Warner Music Artist Services already provide tour services, campaign marketing, e-commerce merchandising and licensing for their roster of artists. Of the other two majors, Sony Music Entertainment have their own in-house merchandising company, The Thread Shop, whose artist services include…

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 based business to New York, and that it was itself tacking legal action in Germany against promoter Kilimanjaro Live and its boss Stuart Gailbraith over the promoters decision to cancel thousands of re-sold and touted tickets on a 2017 Ed Sheerhan tour. Viagogo’s usually silent PR department set up a Twitter account to comment on the German litigation, alleging that Kilimanjaro boss “Stuart Galbraith duped Ed Sheeran fans by confiscating thousands of genuine tickets at the gate, forcing fans to buy new tickets and pocketing millions of pounds in duplicate sales”. As a result, it said, it was now suing the promoter “for defrauding thousands of fans out of several million pounds on Ed Sheeran’s recent tour”. The resale firm alleges that Kilimanjaro set up Victims Of Viagogo booths at Sheeran’s shows. This meant it was the fans on the night who…

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 to fulfil agreed contractual payment commitments. At the time some commented that the shows had been cancelled by Carey’s organisation because of poor ticket sales. It was Carey’s company Mirage that first took action against  promoter FEG Entretenimientos for breaching agreed contractual payment terms and Mirage also argued that the cancellations had damaged Carey’s reputation and meant that she’d lost out on other possible revenue generating work. FEG had the case moved to New York and then filed counterclaims. It argued that it had paid nearly 75% ($703,100) of Carey’s agreed fee. Whilst acknowledging it was behind on payments, it has said this was customary in its business and that full payment would have been made on completion of the shows. The promoter also said…

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 he was switching his musical allegiances to Sony Music which will will release his next album in partnership with his management firm Wolf & Rothstein. This lawsuit relates to monies earned by Glover’s Glassnote released records which are collected by SoundExchange, which collects royalties for the use of recorded music from satellite and online radio services including Pandora or iHeart. The royalties collected are split 50/50 between copyright owners and performers and to that end SoundExchange pays the artists their 50% directly (10% of the 50% goes to session musicians via the talent unions). The artist’s statutory right to 45% of the money technically only applies where SoundExchange provides the licence. However, in the main, where labels have done direct deals with services like Pandora and iHeart, they have continued to allow 50% of the…

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 Bahamas – most of who had paid thousands of dollars to receive ‘VIP’ treatment. The festival was heavily promoted in the social media as ‘the cultural experience of the decade’ touting luxury villas and gourmet food, but instead, was a total failure.   MacFarland, who founded the online ad platform Spling, along with Magnises, which aimed to create an exclusive “black card” with social perks such as club membership, and Fyre Media with Ja Rule, is now facing various civil lawsuits and was arrested on charges of fraud and subsequently The 26-year-old business owner pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in a Manhattan federal court in a deal with prosecutors that suggested he serve between eight and 10 years in prison. McFarland also admitted to lying to investors and falsifying documents in a bid to raise funds for the lavish…

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 administered by ASCAP for radio until ASCAP’s then current agreements with the broadcasters expired. The disputed payments stem from that period. The dispute relates to premium payments which are paid to writers by ASCAP in addition to standard royalties where certain “threshold numbers” are reached (in any one quarter). McAnally claims that once he was in the process of pulling his rights from ASCAP he no longer received the same premiums as his co-writers on certain songs that topped the country radio charts and was thus allegedly unpaid or underpaid premiums. The matter was initially heard by the collecting society’s ‘board of review’, which ruled that the organisation had applied its royalty payment rules correctly. But the writer disagrees and with the support of GMR is now taking the matter to arbitration. McAnally is quoted by The Tennessean as declaring ASCAP…

Country music songwriter seeks $1.3 million in premium payments from ASCAP
Contract , Copyright / April 2018

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 administered by ASCAP for radio until ASCAP’s then current agreements with the broadcasters expired. The disputed payments stem from that period. The dispute relates to premium payments which are paid to writers by ASCAP in addition to standard royalties where certain “threshold numbers” are reached (in any one quarter). McAnally claims that once he was in the process of pulling his rights from ASCAP he no longer received the same premiums as his co-writers on certain songs that topped the country radio charts and was thus allegedly unpaid or underpaid premiums. The matter was initially heard by the collecting society’s ‘board of review’, which ruled that the organisation had applied its royalty payment rules correctly. But the writer disagrees and with the support of GMR is now taking the matter to arbitration. McAnally is quoted by The Tennessean as declaring ASCAP…

West wins payout in insurance battle
Contract , Live Events / April 2018

CONTRACT Live events sector   Rapper Kanye West has settled his battle against Lloyd’s of London, which began when insurers refused to pay out West’s claim stemming from the cancellation of several dates on his 2016 Saint Pablo tour.  The Stour ran from August to November. West performed 41 shows in 87 days before the stoppage. In all, 22 dates were cancelled. West has not ventured back on the road since those cancelled dates. According to TMZ, the insurer has agreed to pay most of what West was claiming. Initially, Lloyd’s had refused to make any payment on the grounds  that the mental health issues which West suffered had stemmed from his drug use, which would have voided the policy. West’s touring company Very Good Touring sued Lloyd’s for $9.8 million (plus interest) and Lloyd’s had originally counter-sued. West was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital in November of 2016 following a series of “bizarre incidents” including feuding with Beyonce and Jay-Z, telling a San Jose, California crowd that he would have voted for then President-elect Trump if he had voted, and stopping a show after two songs and 30 minutes in Sacramento. A source told NBC news at the time that police responded…

Enrique Iglesias takes legal action against Universal Music Group for “missing” millions in streaming royalties
Contract , Copyright / February 2018

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Enrique Iglesias has taken legal action against Universal Music Group in the US to claw back an alleged “shortfall of millions of dollars” in streaming royalties. The lawsuit, filed in Miami relies on the accusation that Universal failed to assign a royalty rate for streaming in two contracts with Iglesias: one signed in May 1999 with Interscope in tandem with Universal’s global company, plus an additional contract signed in May 2010. Recording contracts usually provide artists with a percentage share of any money their recordings generate. However, the percentage paid to the artist often varies according to how the money is generated. A traditional distinction was between sales income (eg selling CDs and downloads) and licence income (eg synch deals). A common royalty on the former was 15%, while on the latter it would be 50% of net income (although the definition of net income in itself can be a battle.  Iglesias’s legal team say that Universal should be paying 50% of net receipts from services such as Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and Pandora. UMG have (predictably) been paying a rate based on specified rate agreed for (sometimes) downloads and physical album sales – a significantly…

This is Spinal Tap – it’s gone past eleven
Contract / November 2017

CONTRACT Film & TV, recorded music   We previously reported about the ongoing ‘This is Spinal Tap’ litigation. In fact, I am sure that we are now running out of puns, I guess each time “it’s one louder, isn’t it?” But now the four creators, have amended their claim. The amendments have resulted in more specific claims against Vivendi and now Universal Music is also featured as a co-defendant.  The legal representatives for Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner have stated that “The amended complaint details the fraud by concealment and misrepresentation conducted by Vivendi and its agent Ron Halpern and others. The co-creators contend there was longstanding and deliberate concealment by Vivendi of material facts regarding the actual gross receipts of the film, soundtrack, music and merchandise sales, plus expenses and the profits owed to them” and “Further compounding this fraud, improper expense deductions were made in Vivendi’s accounting to the creators, allegedly representing print, advertising and publicity expenses (undocumented) totalling over $3.3 million and a further $1 million in freight and other direct costs, more than half of which extraordinarily appears to fall some 20 years after the film’s release. Vivendi has also recently charged over $460k in ‘interest’ on…

Jackson’s 3D Thriller heads back to court
Contract / October 2017

CONTRACT Film & Television, performers   Ola Ray, the then young actress who played opposite Michael Jackson in the iconic Thriller video has launched another legal against the Michael Jackson Estate on the back of news that director John Landis had reworked the original video as a 3D version of ‘Thriller’ and this short has now been premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Ray previously sued Jackson just before his untimely death in 2009, claiming that she had been promised a 2.5% share of the royalties generated by the iconic music-video-come-short-film, and although she had received some $200,000 this was an under payment. A settlement with the Jackson Estate followed in 2012, reportedly worth $75,000.  Landis settled his own legal action with the Jackson Estate in relation to royalties generated by the video.   Ray has now said she wasn’t consulted about the 3D version of ‘Thriller’. She told reporters: “I’m outraged, upset and in shock. When I heard rumours about a possible 3D version, I contacted the director and said ‘we need to talk about this’. But he never responded to my email. They haven’t tried to contact me or negotiate anything. How do they think they can just do this without…

Public Enemies
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / October 2017

CONTRACT Artists, recorded music   Flavor Flav has launched a legal action against his former Public Enemy collaborator Chuck D and various other parties associated of the seminal hip hop group over allegedly unpaid royalties.  That said it seems Flavor Flav and Chuck D will still perform together in upcoming live shows. According to TMZ, the lawsuit covers unpaid royalties and revenue shares from recording income, publishing, live performances and merchandising income generated by Public Enemy, including monies from the recent album ‘Nothing Is Quick In The Desert’ and money relating to a deal that resulted in Public Enemy action figures being sold. In the lawsuit, Flavor Flav (real name William J. Drayton) claims that he and Chuck D (real name Carlton Ridenhour) had a long-established agreement that profits from their music, merchandise and concerts would be split between them. Despite that alleged arrangement, Flavor Flav claims that Public Enemy’s business management firm Eastlink has not been sending the earnings he is owed, which have “diminished to almost nothing, and Drayton has been refused accountings, even on the items bearing his likeness, Responding to the litigation, Chuck D told TMZ: “Flav has his rights, but took a wrong road on…

Martin Garrix freed from contract with Spinnin Records
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / October 2017

CONTRACT Recorded music, artists   A Dutch court has sided with EDM producer and superstar Martin Garrix in a legal dispute with his former label and management firm, Spinnin Records and MusicAllstars. Both of the defendants were founded by Eelko Van Kooten.   In August 2015 Garrix said that he was parting company with both of Van Kooten’s businesses and then launched a legal action, accusing his former manager of having provided “false and misleading information” when Garrix, as a teenager, had signed his deals with Van Kooten’s companies.   The producer also alleged that, by signing an artist he managed to his own label in 2012, Van Kooten had a clear conflict of interest, and that he had signed a recording deal that was in Van Koote’s own interests, but that Van Kooten should have been representing the interests of his client  – Garrix. Garrix’s father countersigned the recordng agreement with the then teenager (he is now 21).    In the original lawsuit, Garrix sought to reclaim the sound recording rights that had been assigned to Spinnin Records and 4.35 million Euros in damages.  Spinnin counterclaimed, arguing that Garrix’s unilateral termination of contract had cost the label over 6.4…

“England’s loudest band will be heard”….in a courtroom in the US
Artists , Contract / October 2017

CONTRACT Film & TV, Artistes   The ‘This is Spinal Tap’ litigation has been ongoing for some time and now and it looks like it will go ahead. Last week it was ruled that the case will proceed on the provision that some new paperwork is filed.  Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner allege that Vivendi, owner of StudioCanal, who in turn is the rights holder of the ‘Spinal Tap’ movie, of deliberate under-payment of music and other royalties.  The action started when Harry Shearer began the lawsuit against Vivendi, and not long after Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner followed suit. They turned it up to eleven, and claimed that Vivendi “wilfully manipulated certain accounting data, while ignoring contractually-obligated accounting and reporting processes, to deny [the] co-creators their rightful stake in the production’s profits”. Vivendi called the litigation ‘absurd’ and stated that they planned to have the case dismissed. In the ruling last week the Judge stated that the creators of ‘Spinal Tap’ had not done enough to substantiate the claims of fraud, Judge Dolly Gee explained that: although the creators had “vaguely alleged the elements of a fraud claim, they have failed to plead…

Foos fight the touts
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / October 2017

CONTRACT / CONSUMER Live events sector   Foo Fighters have risked a PR disaster by turning away fans who had brought tickets for their show at London’s September 19th O2 from secondary re-sellers. Whilst the band  apologised to fans who were turned away from the O2 Arena  buying tickets from the secondary sites they and promoters SJM Concerts said they had made it very clear at the point of sale that each buyer’s name was printed on each ticket for the show and that buyers would be required to show ID to prove it was their name on the ticket before being granted entry.    It was reported that 200 people were turned away at the doors. In a statement, the band said: “The Foo Fighters show that took place at The O2 last night had a strict ‘names on ticket’ policy. The stipulation that ID would be required for admittance to the show was clearly stated at the time of announcement and was explicitly noticed at the point of purchase”. The band added that a number of other measures to ensure that tickets were not resold by touts were also put in place adding “despite these requirements being in place, some purchasers listed…

Sweet home truths for Artimus Pyle
Artists , Contract / September 2017

CONTRACT Artistes   You might have thought that having an ex-member of a legendary band involved in a film bio-pic would be an asset, but a new Lynryd Skynryd biopic has been blocked because of ex-drummer’s Artimus Pyle’s involvement.  Initially producers Cleopatra Records said that the biopic, Street Survivor: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash‘ was not an authorised project, and that it should be free to make the film – arguing that under its First Amendment free speech rights, it was allowed to make a film about the band and the 1977 plane crash in which two band members died. Initially US District Court Judge Robert Sweet agreed that Cleopatra was free to make the film in its own right, but then found that the involvement of Pyle in the movie venture violated the agreement (a’consent order’) he had reached with his former bandmates back in 1988. In that agreement, Pyle was given permission to tell his own life story, but he couldn’t use the band’s name or exploit the rights of the two band members killed in the 1977 crash, Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Granting an injunction, Judge Sweet said: “Cleopatra is prohibited from making its movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd when its…

Live on stage: Avenged Sevenfold face jury trial in battle with Warners
Artists , Contract / September 2017

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   Metal band Avenged Sevenfold’s troubles with Warner Bros continue, stemming from a legal action brought by the major label in January 2016. The action began when the label sued the band over the band’s failure to deliver a new album. In response, Avenged Sevenfold cited the “seven-year rule” set out in the California Labor Code which allows parties to leave personal service contracts under certain circumstances after seven years have passed.  The Hollywood Reporter reports that intense record industry lobbying had meant the the Code was amended in the 1980s to allow record companies to claim lost profits on uncompleted albums. Record companies, though, only have 45 days to do so when an artist exercises the right to terminate. At the heart of the didpute is Avenged Sevenfold’s album The Stage which was released via Capitol Records, and at the same time Warner Bros. put out a Avenged Sevenfold ‘Greatest Hits’. Most commentators then presumed the legal dispute had been settled – but not so – and now the “seven-year rule” will be tested before a jury. The Hollywood Reporter estimate that if Avenged Sevenfold (ultimately) lose the court battle, it could cost them between $5 million and…

Quincy Jones wins $9.4 million in Jackson claim
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2017

CONTRACT Recorded music   Quincy Jones has won a jury decision in the case he brought in the Los Angeles Superio Court against the Michael Jackson Estate, winning $9.4 million in what he alleged were underpaid or unpaid royalties. Jones had accused Sony Music and MJJ Productions (one of Michael Jackson’s companies, now controlled by the Jackson Estate) or depriving him of some $30 million in royalties, almost all from the period following Jackson’s death in 2009 and the utilisation of recordings which Jones had produced for Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad in projects such as the This Is It film and two Cirque du Soleil shows. At the trial Jones admitted he had not focussed on the contracts he signed in 1978 and 1985, but said the recordings had been re-edited and re-mixed to deprive him of an equitable share of income and that he had a contractual right to be offered and undertake at any re-edit or remix. MJJ had countered that Jones was incorrectly interpreting contracts he signed with Jackson on which the royalty claims were based and the Estate argued that the unpaid sums came to less than $400,000.  After the decision Jones commented: “As an artist, maintaining the vision and integrity of one’s…

Arcade under Fire
Contract , Live Events / August 2017

CONTRACT Live events sector   The Canadian indie rock group, Arcade Fire, has come under fire for requesting attendees to its Everything Now release show at Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall to wear ‘hip and trendy’ clothes. Apple has plans to live-stream the event on Apple Music and it has been reported that they were the ones to send the notice to ticket holders.   The notice that was emailed to the ticket holders for the intimate gig asked that they refrain from wearing “shorts, large logos, flip flops, tank tops, crop tops, baseball hats, solid white or red clothing,” the notice went on to say “We reserve the right to deny entry to anyone dressed inappropriately.”   The notice did not stop there, ticket holders were asked to make the show a “phone-free experience”. The notice explained that “all phones and smart watches will be secured in Yondr pouches that will be unlocked at the end of the show”.   Now this is Music Law Updates, so naturally the question arises as to the legal standing of the notice. Disclaimer: for the purposes of this article I will pretend that the Arcade Fire gig is to be held in England, and therefore English law…

Travis Scott takes action against former management
Artists , Contract , Employment Law / August 2017

CONTRACT / EMPLOYMENT LAW Artistes   Travis Scott (Jacques Webster), the US rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer, has accused the artist management company owned by music industry veteran Lyor Cohen (now  top music man at YouTube) of violating California’s Talent Agencies Act. It’s a two way battle: LCAR Management sued Scott earlier this year claiming that the rapper, who had been a client, owed the firm $2 million. Now, according to Billboard, Scott has responded by accusing LCAR of Talent Agencies Act violations by allegedly booking shows for him without the approval of his actual talent agent, and therefore acting as if a talent agency in itself – without a licence from the California state Labor Commissioner. Scott is seeking to void his contract with LCAR on the basis of the alleged violations. There are further allegations including that LCAR allegedly used Scott to promote Cohen’s other business venture, even though he had no affiliation with that business. LCAR is yet to respond to Scott’s claims.

Lil Wayne adds Universal to his ‘Cash Money’ litigation
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2017

CONTRACT Recorded music   Lil Wayne has added Universal to his ‘Cash Money’ litigation in a New Orleans law suit that accuses the Cash Money record company and its major label partner of colluding to deny Lil Wyane royalties that are properly payable to him.  Cash Money co-owners Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams are also added to the pending suit that asserts a conspiracy and seeks more than $40 million in actual damages.  Cash Money are Lil Wayne’s long-time label and the dispute includes both a complaint over the delayed release of his long awaited ‘Tha Carter V’ album, and the royalties Wayne claims are due from records released by his joint venture imprint Young Money, which includes albums from Drake. Last year Wayne sued Universal Music directly. In that case, the rapper argued that Universal, which distributes Cash Money and Young Money releases, was withholding monies generated by the latter label’s records in order to recoup advances previously paid to the former. Wayne argued that his share of Young Money income should not be applied be used to recoup Cash Money’s debts. That law suit, which also lists US collecting society SoundExchange as a defendant, was subsequently put on hold, because…

Connecting to free wifi at venues ? Make sure you read the small print!

DATA REGULATION / CONTRACT Live events sector Some 22,000 people have agreed to undertake 1,000 hours of community service – including cleaning festival toilets and scraping chewing gum from the pavement – in return for free wireless internet, reveals an experiment designed to illustrate a lack of awareness among consumers signing up for free in-venue wifi. Purple, who launched the experiment, said “We welcome the strengthening of data protection laws across Europe that GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] will bring. Not only will it give wifi end users more control over how their personal data is being used by companies, it will also raise the level of trust in the digital economy”. During the experiment users were given the chance to flag the unreasonable condition in return for a prize. But only one person did. In separate news, Belgium newspaper De Standaard reports that the Belgian Privacy Commission is investigating the way the Tomorrowland festival shares ticket buyer data with the federal police to screen attendees for security reasons. 8 ticket-buyers have been excluded from the Belgian festival this year –    

Sid Bernstein’s Estate fails in its copyright claim over the Beatles’ Shea Stadium film
Contract , Copyright , Live Events / August 2017

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Live events sector, film, TV   A New York judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought the estate of promoter Sid Bernstein, who staged the Beatles’ legendary 1965 show at Shea Stadium. The Estate had argued that band’s Apple Corps had infringed on the copyright of Sid Bernstein Presents by including footage from the concert in ron Howard’s  documentary film Eight Days a Week – the Toruing Years which was released in September 2016.     The Estate’s action sought ownership (or joint ownership) of the master tapes and copyright by Bernstein’s company, Sid Bernstein Presents, arguing that, “[w]ithout Sid, the mastermind of the event, this film would never have been made”.   Copyright to the film, originally released in 1966 as The Beatles at Shea Stadium, was acquired by Apple Corps and the band’s Subafilms, from their management company, Nems Enterprises. In a ruling on the 26th July, Judge George B. Daniels, in the US District Court for Southern New York, said the company could not claim ownership of the footage as Bernstein did not himself film the concert, instead signing over the rights to do so to Nems. Judge Daniels held:  “The relevant legal question is not the extent to which Bernstein…

One for the scalpers! Connecticut prohibits ticket resale restrictions
Competition , Contract , Live Events / July 2017

CONTRACT / COMPETITION Live events sector   Much to the dismay of those who are fighting back against ticket touts and scalpers, but in a move billed as “protecting consumers who purchase e-tickets”, the US state of Connecticut has passed legislation that will to prohibit terms that restrict the sale of non-transferable paperless tickets. Whilst a growing number of major artists, including, prominently, Iron Maiden, now use named electronic tickets which usually require proof of ID to enter the venue to clamp down on the rapidly escalating secondary ticketing industry (which regularly harvests large quantities of tickets before real fans can get their hands on them, forcing them to pay inflated prices to the scalpers), Connecticut House Bill 7114 (HB 7114) has been passed to block these moves and remove restrictions on the sale of entertainment event tickets on the secondary market. The Act has been signed into law by Governor Dan Malloy and outlaws the practice unless “the purchaser of such tickets is offered the option, at the time of initial sale, to purchase the same tickets in another form that is transferrable”. The new legislation also prohibits venues from denying admission “solely on the grounds that such ticket has been…

Fyre Festival failure prompts legal challenges
Contract , Live Events / June 2017

CONTRACT Live events sector     Why anyone thought the partnership of rapper, a young technology ‘serial entrepreneur’, neither of whom had organised a festival before, and an unbelievable Instagram video featuring models Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski sailing on a luxury yacht and posing on beautiful beaches would result in a mind blowing festival is anyone’s guess. Spending thousands of dollars on ‘artists passes’ is an equally misguided approach to the festival scene. The fact that the elite few who made the trip to the disastrous Fyre Festival had paid anything between $1,200 to over $100,000 to the two-weekend event on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas for the promised “once-in-a-lifetime” musical experience with beach cabanas and gourmet cuisine was almost certainly a recipe for a lawsuit. Especially when festival-goers then complained of delayed and cancelled flights, being stranded for hours without food, water or shelter, luggage being “unceremoniously dumped from shipping containers” and allegedly left for thieves to to rifle through, and a so called luxury village which consisted of refugee tents, rubbish piled high and burst water pipes.    Now a new lawsuit also alleges Fyre’s organisers warned musicians and celebrities not to attend the…

When will I see my royalties again?
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / March 2017

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   Three members of The Three Degrees, the female vocal group who had hits with  “When Will I See You Again”, “The Runner”, “Woman In Love” and “My Simple Heart”, are suing Sony Music Entertainment, seeking to recoup decades of royalties they say were withheld by a former manager and his widow. The Three Degrees were formed in 1963 in Philadelphia. The group’s membership has changed over the years, but for purposes of the lawsuit it is current members Valerie Holiday (a member from 1967 to present) and Helen Scott (1963-1966, and 1976 to present) and the estate of Fayette Pinkney (a founder member, and with the group until 1976). Pinkney died in June 2009. They were discovered by producer and songwriter Richard Barrett, who produced the original line-up on their first song, “Gee Baby (I’m Sorry)”, for Swan Records, in 1965. Barrett also signed Shiela Ferguson, who went to to become a member. According to the complaint, the group has “never received one penny” of royalties under an oral agreement struck in the mid- to late-1970s with former manager Barrett, for a 75% share of revenues. The plaintiffs say Barrett’s widow, Julie, and her company, Three Degrees Enterprises, have instead kept…

Battle for SOS 4.8 set to run
Contract , Live Events , Trade Mark / March 2017

TRADE MARK / CONTRACT Live events sector     Legal Music, the promoter of the successful Spanish festival SOS 4.8, has accused the Murcian government of illegally laying claim to the name of the event, and indeed the event itself, which it is says it is “sole and rightful owner” which has featured a host if international artistes over the last nine years including Pulp, Morrissey, The National, PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand, The Flaming Lips, Mogwai, The XX, Bloc Party, M83, Pet Shop Boys, Damon Albarn and Phoenix. In December 2016, Legal Music announced the April 2017 edition of SOS 4.8 would not go ahead following the withdrawal of funding from the Autonomous Community of Murcia (Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia, Carm), and the promoter accused the authority of violating its sponsorship agreement with the festival. It then emerged that Carm had trademarked the SOS 4.8 name in 2008, apparently without informing Legal Music, and Carm then said the festival would go ahead with or without Legal Music’s participation, and that Murcia would “not yield to any kind of threats” from Legal Music”  adding that Carm was “the sponsor of SOS 4.8 and the owner of the brand”. In turn…

Duran Duran granted leave to appeal against Sony/ATV

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Duran Duran have been granted leave by the High Court in London to appeal against the decision of Mr Justice Arnold in December 2015 when he ruled against the pop band in their dispute against Gloucester Place Music, which is owned by US company Sony/ATV. Arnold J found that the band would be liable for violating its contract with Sony/ATV by trying to avail itself of provisions in U.S. copyright law allowing Duran Duran to terminate license agreements after 35 years. Mr Justice Arnold ruled “not without hesitation” that the contractual interpretation suggested by Gloucester Place was the correct one.   On Friday, February 3rd, Duran Duran issued a press release outlining the details of the appeal. In a statement, Duran Duran founding member and keyboardist Nick Rhodes said: “It was enormously disappointing that Sony/ATV decided to mount this aggressive and unexpected action against us to try to prevent the simple principles and rights afforded to all artists in America regarding their copyrights after 35 years. We are relieved and grateful that we have been given the opportunity to appeal this case because the consequences are wide reaching and profound for us and all other artists. In his…

Will Prince’s musical catalogue return to Tidal?

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, streaming     There is speculation that Prince’s catalogue will come flooding back to Tidal, as details of the dispute between Prince’s estate and Tidal, the music streaming service owned by the rapper Jay Z and a number if other artistes including , Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, Jack White and Madonna have surfaced.    In November, reports say that the Bremer Trust, the interim administrator of Prince’s estate, sued Tidal via Prince’s NGP record label and publishing business. The lawsuit claimed that Tidal’s deal with Prince, which was made prior to the superstars’ unfortunate death, gave Tidal the rights to exclusively stream his penultimate album and not his whole catalogue. Tidal and Rock Nation, also owned by Jay Z, claimed that oral and written agreements had been made between Prince and themselves for use of the catalogue.  In January, Tidal and Roc Nation filed a claim against Prince’s NGP and Bremer Trust. In this claim they alleged that it was agreed that Prince would deliver four albums, for which an advance was paid. ‘Hit and Run: Phase 1’ and ‘Hit and Run: Phase 2’, the superstars final two albums, were expected…

Viagogo faces fresh legal actions for ticket re-sales
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / March 2017

CONSUMER / CONTRACT Live events sector   Hot on the heels of news that Viagogo were selling tickets for Ed Sheerhan’s Teenage Cancer Trust charity concert at the the Royal Albert Hall at vastly inflated prices, the now Geneva based secondary ticketing platform is facing fresh legal action from a coalition of Spanish promoters, “adding to its ever-growing collection of lawsuits”. The second lawsuit of 2017 follows the outcry over the speculative selling of tickets for a postponed show by Joaquín Sabina in A Coruña (Corunna), Spain, next July, and in a joint statement, the promoters of Sabina’s Lo niego todo (I deny everything) tour, TheProject, Get In and Riff Producciones, and his management company, Berry Producciones, say they are “outraged” and intend to bring legal action action against Viagogo for the fraudulent listing of “tickets that do not exist”.   A spokesperson told IQ magazine that the parties’ lawyers are currently in the process of filing the action and that the lawsuit mirrors one filed by SIAE in late January, in Italy in which the Italian collection society alleged Viagogo listed tickets for a Vasco Rossi show in Modena before they went on sale on the primary market in a move that dragged Live…

I Take the Dice – Duran Duran seek to reclaim their copyrights
Contract , Music Publishing / December 2016

CONTRACT Music publishing     Duran Duran have begun their action in the High Court in London in a case that will test the ability of UK songwriters to exercise their reversion rights under US copyright law.   The band are fighting Sony/ATV ownedEMI Music Publishing. EMI is seeking to block the band’s songwriter members from taking back control of the rights to songs on their early albums. Duran Duran members Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor and John Taylor, and former member Andy Taylor had put EMI Music Publishing subsidiary Gloucester Place Music on notice of the reversion of the American copyrights in songs on their first three albums and the James Bond theme ‘A View To A Kill’ in 2014. The publisher has argued that under the band’s (English) contract there is no option to reclaim American rights. According to the Press Association, EMI’s  lawyer, Ian Mill QC, said: “My clients entered into contracts and agreed to pay these artistes sums of money … in return for which the artistes promised to give them rights to exploit, subject to the payment of those sums, for the full term of copyright” and that  “these writers have agreed that they will…

Shearer launches Spinal Tap lawsuit against Universal
Contract , Copyright / November 2016

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Film & TV   This Is Spinal Tap star Harry Shearer is suing Universal parent Vivendi for alleged is deliberate under-payment of music and other royalties from the classic spoof rockumentary. His website, Fairness Rocks, opens with this Popular music and films make huge money for rights-owning corporations. Yet, too often, the artists and creators get a raw deal from exploitation of their talent. I want to help rebalance this equation. My case against Vivendi is simple, if perhaps a little shocking. It’s been 34 years since This Is Spinal Tap was released. Yet, the creators have been told that global music sales from the soundtrack album total just US$98. We’re also, apparently, only entitled to share US$81 (between us) from global merchandising sales. This shocks me, given Tap’s enduring popularity. So, Vivendi – it’s not a big ask. Just show us how you’re exploiting our creative work and pay us a fair share   In a lawsuit filed at the Central District Court of California Shearer accuses Vivendi of “fraudulent accounting for revenues from music copyrights” – through Universal – as well as mismanaging film and merchandising rights through UMG sister companies such as Studio Canal.   A press release from…

Avenged Sevenfold face a trial – AND a competing ‘best of’ from their former label
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / November 2016

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   Avenged Sevenfold surprise announcement of the arrival of their seventh studio album, on Vivendi SA’s Capitol Records, after playing several songs on the roof of Capitol’s circular building in Los Angeles that was streamed online via a virtual reality app, may have come as some surprise to their former; record label, Warner Music Group, who sued the band earlier this year in California state court for breach of contract after the band left the label without delivering the final album that was apparently due under that deal. The Wall Street Journal says the battle centres on provisions in California’s state labor law that prevents contracts for “personal service” – and that includes recording artistes, actors and athletes –  from extending beyond seven years, but also explicitly permits record companies to sue acts for damages if the departing artiste fails to deliver the agreed-upon number of recordings during that time. Warner Music’s case against Avenged Sevenfold seems to be the first such suit claiming damages.   The surprise release of the new album, titled “The Stage,” by a rival label ahead of the trial could be a welcome development for Warner Music, as it will test the band’s current…

WSJ probe Bon Jovi’s China cancellation
Contract , Live Events / November 2016

CONTRACT Live events sector   The Wall Street Journal has published an article which seemingly alleges that AEG Live used a video of Bon Jovi “performing in front of an image of the Dalai Lama” to convince Chinese censors to ban the rock act – and thus force the cancellation of a concert tour in China which was being promoted by AEG. The supposed reason?  The third party intervention by Chinese authorities would be an instance of ‘force majeure’ – forcing the cancellation of the tour which was not selling well, saving AEG some $4 million. WSJ say that whilst AEG did not offer any explanation for the cancellations at the time, it was widely reported at the time that the Chinese government withdrew permission for the tour after they became aware of a performance by the band a few years earlier in front of an image of the Dalai Lama – and WSJ say unnamed sources have said that individuals close to AEG Live ensured Chinese officials saw the videos with the intent of cutting potentially steep losses for the shows. Jay Marciano, chairman of AEG Live and chief operating officer of AEG, categorically rejected the account, telling the Journal….

Mobb Deep’s Prodigy looks to break free from UMG
Contract , Record Labels / November 2016

CONTRACT Recorded music   Having seemingly settled a legal action with Universal last November, Prodigy of Mobb Deep (Albert Johnson) is taking the industry powerhouse to court again, in efforts to completely break free from the major. HipHopDX reports that Prodigy’s attorney Corey D. Boddie said “This particular case involves Prodigy actually looking to get out of his contract based on what is called a ‘mutual mistake.’ There was a term in the actual agreement that was overlooked by both parties and because of that, Prodigy is looking to get out his contract.” The suit was filed in New York and Boddie told HipHopDX that the only motivation behind the new case is the expiration of the contract and that this particular legal action is targeted against the publishing side of Universal. “There is no motivation, in the contract there was what’s called a mutual mistake,” Boddie explains again. “That is a term of the contract that states that they were in the fifth option period. That fifth option period was exercised and over. They continued to refer to the fifth option period, so the lawsuit is basically saying ‘that’s a mistake, what option period are we in?’ We contend that we’re…

APA take on Gersh over ‘poaching’ of agent
Competition , Contract , Live Events / October 2016

CONTRACT / COMPETITION Live events sector   Two US booking agencies are battling it out in the Superior Court of Los Angeles over the alleged poaching of Beverly Hills-based agent Garrett Smith.  The Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), whose clients includes Paul Oakenfold, 50 Cent, The Proclaimers and Scorpions, is seeking damages for interference with contractual relations, interference with prospective economic advantage and unfair competition from the Gersh Agency, of which Smith is now an employee, despite being under contract with APA until September 2017. APA is also suing Smith himself for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the duty of loyalty and unfair competition.   The APA complaint alleges that Gersh “hired Smith despite being specifically advised by plaintiff [APA] that plaintiff was entitled to Smith’s exclusive services for the duration of the employment agreement” and “Defendant knew of the economic relationship between plaintiff and Smith, and intended to disrupt and interfere with that relationship”

SFX faces two decisions in the bankruptcy court
Competition , Contract , Internet , Live Events / October 2016

CONTRACT / COMPETITION Live events sector, online   A US bankruptcy judge has allowed Viagogo to proceed with a legal action against SFX Entertainment. modifying the “automatic stay” applied to SFX. Under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, creditors are usually barred from collecting debts from the debtor. and allowing the secondary ticketing platform to “assert and prosecute any and all counterclaims” against SFX. Having reviewed the request, Judge Mary F Walrath determined “sufficient cause exists to approve the motion”.  Viagogo is seeking “in excess” of US$1.6 million from SFX, which went into administration on 1 February, for allegedly failing to adhere to the terms if a five-year, $75m sponsorship agreement signed by the two companies in 2014. The deal granted Viagogo exclusive ticket resale rights some 50 SFX-promoted events and SFX agreed to “deliver exclusive marketing and ticketing rights with respect to a number of designated ‘major’ SFX events.   In other SFX news, an Italian EDM record label is requesting a probe into how third parties might be artificially influencing SFX’s digital music charts. Art & Music Recording (AMR) has requested the Delaware judge overseeing SFX’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case order the company to reveal what it knows about…

Roc Nation face claim for cancelled Rihanna show
Contract , Live Events / July 2016

CONTRACT Live events sector   A Nigerian concert promoter is suing Jay Z’s company Roc Nation for allegedly failing to pay back a US$160,000 deposit for a cancelled Rihanna show in Lagos. IQ report that The Barbadian singer is said to have pulled out of a May 2013 appearance in the Nigerian capital, booked by Chris Ubosi’s Megalectrics via Roc Nation, the Jay Z-owned label and production company. According to the New York Daily News, Megalectrics and Roc Nation agreed for Rihanna to perform a 65-minute set for $425,000, for which Ubosi made three deposit payments totalling $160,000. When Rihanna announced she had to postpone, Ubosi says he agreed as long as she listed a rescheduled date in her tour diary and on social media. The new date never surfaced, and Ubosi alleges that Jay Z – real name Shawn Carter – has ignored his repeated requests for a refund. However, a representative from Roc Nation toldTMZ: “Rihanna, Roc Nation nor anyone associated personally or professionally with either party was in contact with this person. Unfortunately this person was scammed. Rihanna nor Roc Nation collected any money for this event.”

Foos fight insurance underwriters and broker for cancellation pay out
Contract , Live Events / July 2016

CONTRACT Live events sector   Billboard reports that the Foo Fighters have accused Lloyd’s of London and insurance brokers Robertson Taylor of ‘despicable’ behaviour in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, alleging they have “failed to pay amounts that even they appear to recognize are due and owing” on insurance claims the band made on several shows cancelled during its 2015 world tour. The cancellations resulted firstly after Grohl broke his leg on June 12th, 2015, during a show in Sweden (a show that Grohl finished before going to hospital). The injury resulted in the cancellation of seven shows, three of which are at the core of the band’s complaint — two shows at London’s Wembley Stadium and one at Edinburgh’s BT Murrayfield Stadium. After his leg was treated, Grohl went on to perform 53 shows from the “throne” he designed (or crutches). The complaint says: “After paying certain amounts owed under the Cancellation Policy for four of the cancelled performances, [the insurers] began searching for ways to limit their payment obligations on the other three performances, including the two Wembley Stadium shows, which represented the largest potential gross income” for the band’s tour. The complaint continues,(insurance broker) “Robertson Taylor failed to…

Lil’ Wayne looks to UMG for his share of profits
Artists , Contract / May 2016

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music     Regular readers will no doubt have noticed recent articles featuring claims from Lil Wayne that he is owed tens of millions of dollars for discovering and nurturing successful recording artists Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga – but that this money has been unlawfully retained by Universal Music Group according to a federal lawsuit filed by the rapper-producer’s attorneys Monday in California. SoundExchange, the not for profit  CMO that collects and distributes digital performance royalties on behalf of copyright owners, is also named as a defendant in the suit. Lil Wayne (Dwayne Carter Jr.) claims Universal diverted tens of millions of dollars of his profits to repay itself for the $100 million it advanced to Cash Money Records Inc. Carter’s Young Money Label is a joint venture with Universal’s Cash Money Records, designed to manufacture, distribute, promote and exploit performances of new recording artists discovered by Carter and signed to the label.  Carter claims that Universal and non party Cash Money entered into a series of agreements which, among other things, diverted his “substantial” profits – to repay Cash Money’s debts. According to the complaint: “With Universal’s knowledge of Lil Wayne’s rights to partial ownership and profits…

Jay Z seeks rebate over TIDAL sale
Contract , Internet / May 2016

COMMERCIAL / CONTRACT Internet, streaming   Jay Z, who purchased  TIDAL from Nordic parent company Aspiro for 464m Swedish Krona ($57m) in March last year, is taking action against the vendors for over estimating the number of subscribers at the time of sale. Whist TIDAL said “We are excited that one year after TIDAL launched, we have surpassed 3 million subscribers globally” they added “It became clear after taking control of TIDAL and conducting our own audit that the total number of subscribers was actually well below the 540,000 reported to us by the prior owners.” According to Swedish news service BreakIt – quoting an article in Norwegian title Dagens Næringsliv (“Today’s Business”) – Aspiro’s former major shareholders, including Schibsted and Verdane, have been contacted by TIDAL. TIDAL now says “As a result, we have now served legal notice to parties involved in the sale. While we cannot share further comment during active legal proceedings, we’re proud of our success and remain focused on delivering the best experience for artists and fans.“ It is thought Jay Z and his finance vehicle, Project Panther Bidco will try and to claim back a sum in the ‘region of 100 million Krona’.   Schibsted…

19 denied access to claim against Sony’s Spotify equity
Competition , Contract , Internet / April 2016

COMPETITION / CONTRACT Recorded music, internet     Hot on the news that Sony had officially signed a licensing deal with SoundCloud, the last of the three major labels to sign an agreement with SoundCloud in an arrangement that involves the recording label major taking an equity stake in the streaming platform, comes the news that a federal judge has told 19 Recordings that it won’t be allowed to amend a lawsuit to address Sony Music’s equity stake in Sweden-based streaming giant Spotify. Between them, the majors – Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group – are believed to own somewhere around 15% in Spotify. In an ongoing US court case, Sony – which reportedly owns 6% in Spotify – was last year legally challenged by management company 19 Entertainment on the Spotify equity issue. Last June, in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit over royalties paid to artists including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, 19 attempted to add to their claim, saying that Sony had engaged in self-dealing by taking equity in Spotify, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in lieu of demanding fair-market royalty rates from the streaming company. 19 Recordings alleged this was a…

Supreme Court confirms Court of Appeal to block Bob Marley claim

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Music publishing     The Supreme Court in London has confirmed the Court of Appeal and High Court of Justice’s decisions that it is Blue Mountain Music, and not Bob Marley’ original publisher Cayman Music (CMI)(BSI), who owned the copyrights in a number of Marley’s songs. CMI were Marley’s original publisher but it is commonly believed that Marley claimed various friends wrote a number of his songs to avoid the contract terms with CMI which would have automatically transferred the copyrights in his work to the publisher – for ‘No Woman, No Cry’ the credit went to Vincent Ford. CMI had previously said ““It is now common ground between the disputing parties that the songs – including ‘No Woman, No Cry’ – were actually written by Bob Marley but that the music publisher’s share was never credited to Cayman Music, who have now been denied their contracted entitlement for more than 40 years”. CMI claimed these songs were not included when it sold some of its rights in 1992 to Blue Mountain Music, as Marley, who died in 1981, had penned them under other people’s names-  the ‘Misattribution Ploy’. However High Court  agreed the copyright had “passed” under…

Tik Tok on the Ke$ha Appeal
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / April 2016

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music by Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)   As readers will remember, in February 2016 the New York Supreme Court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to the singer Ke$ha (real name Kesha Rose Sebert) that would enable her to record outside of her contract with Kemosabe Records, an imprint label of Sony. As a result of the Court’s decision, Ke$ha was left under contract with Kemosabe to produce a further 6 albums[1].  Now, Ke$ha has filed an Appeal, claiming that the Court’s decision is akin to allowing modern day slavery.   By way of background, Kesha signed to Kemosabe when she was 18 years old and “her 2009 single Tik Tok is the biggest selling single ever by a female solo artist”[2] and Kemosabe label boss Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald), remains “one of the most successful songwriters and producers of the century so far, working on music for stars including Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Katy Perry”[3].   Ke$ha claimed in her 2014 lawsuit that she had grounds to be released from her record contract as Dr. Luke had sexually assaulted her, harassed her and intended to inflict emotional distress on her throughout her career[4]. Dr. Luke then countered with suits for breach of contract[5],…

AIF and the MU launch new terms for emerging talent at UK Festivals
Contract , Live Events / April 2016

CONTRACT Live events sector     Fair Play for Festivals’ is a joint initiative between AIF and The Musicians Union (MU). It is a code of conduct intended for use between AIF members and emerging artists who are defined as ‘Artists without representation from agents, managers or other third parties’. It sets out a series of pragmatic guidelines for artists and festivals in various areas, including remuneration, logistics, promotion and performance details. You can Download the agreement.