SFX settle class action
Contract , Live Events / February 2016
Canada

CONTRACT Live events sector   SFX Entertainment has settled one of the two outstanding lawsuits against it. Last August, Paolo Moreno, who claimed he was behind the original idea for SFX, filed a class action lawsuit against the firm’s CEO Robert Sillerman alleging fraud and breach of contract. Moreno, along with two other men, claimed Sillerman had cut him out of the business once it began to take off. Documents obtained by Mixmag, show the class action lawsuit has now been dismissed. The EDM promoter still faces a separate lawsuit seeking compensation for allegedly misleading investors in Sillerman’s bid to take the company private. The lawsuit refers to the acquisition proposal as a “sham process” designed to make the firm attractive to a third-party purchaser and maintain the share price before it was caught by its liquidity problems. SFX recently secured $20 million in new financing, later revealed to have come from Canadian private equity firm Catalyst Capital Group. SFX stock slid 12.01% to $0.10 yesterday valuing the company at least than $10 million. http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/sfx-settles-class-action-lawsuit/063940

Radiohead sue Parlophone over unauthorised deductions
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / December 2015
UK

CONTRACT Recorded Music, Artistes     Radiohead are suing their former record label, Parlophone, over a deduction of £744,000 from digital download royalties which had been paid to the band from 2008 and 2009 sales, and which they contend were unauthorised. Radiohead’s contract with Parlophone ended in 2003 with the album Hail to the Thief. At the time the deductions were made the band were signed to EMI – but that catalogue has now moved to Warners.   Explaining the case, lawyer Howard Ricklow from Collyer Bristow said: “Most recording contracts contain a provision that royalties for recordings on ‘future formats’ will be paid at a rate to be agreed. The band contends that no such rate was agreed with Parlophone for digital downloads and that the deductions made in 2008 and 2009 for costs apparently incurred in 1992 and 1998, long before the advent of digital downloads, were in breach of the contract”. Warner Music had tried to have the matter dismissed on the basis that there is a contractual time limit for the band to dispute deductions made against their royalties, and that deadline had passed. But Radiohead’s team argued that, as there was no specific agreement about the band’s digital…

Hook looks to former bandmates for a revised new order
Artists , Contract , Trade Mark / December 2015
UK

CONTRACT Artistes, Trade Mark   The BBC reports that former New Order bassist Peter Hook is suing his ex-bandmates Bernard Sumner and Stephen and Gillian Morris for millions of pounds in a row over royalties. Hook claims he has lost out on more than £2.3m since the three other band members set up a company without him to handle the band’s income in 2011 and Hook has accused them of “pillaging” the group’s assets. The trio say they have treated Hook fairly and that the guitarist’s stake of the royalties is reasonable. At a High Court hearing, Judge David Cooke ruled that Hook was not acting out of “spite” and cleared the way for him to take his complaints to a full trial.   When record label Factory collapsed in 1992, the original bands members (including Hook) formed a company named Vitalturn to hold all of New Order’s rights. Hook leftr the band in 2007, but the other members carried on without him, and continued to use the New Order name. Hook still owns 25% of Vitalturn but was not involved when the other three – who own 75% – set up a new company, New Order Ltd, in 2011. They granted the new company worldwide…

Music Tank debate points out the reality of how the music industry uses the law to underpay performers
Contract , Copyright , Internet / December 2015
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, streaming     Performers and songwriters – the actual creators of recorded music – have been making noises recently in the ongoing debate about reforms to copyright.  Indeed the Featured Artists Coalition and the globally-focused International Artists Organisation have issued an urgent call to the European Parliament demanding That the Parliament ensures that performer rights be included in the European Union’s current review of copyright law. The move comes as part of the campaign called Artists In Europe which is a bid to “ensure that protection for artists’ intellectual property sits at the heart of the new legislation”. Songwriters have already had a say. BASCA chairman Simon Darlow has used his speech at the 2015 Ivor Novello Awards to criticise current ‘safe harbour’ provisions in EU and US law, pointing out that the likes of YouTube undermine streaming services, and were exploiting safe harbour legislation saying this was “undermining the value of our music”. But even those who do pay songwriters and their publishers don’t pay much. Internet radio service Pandora is currently appealing the US Rate Court’s decision to order it to pay 2.5% of revenues to compensate BMI songwriters and publisher members. The rate of rival PRO ASCAP…

Wilma Theatre venue management contract ends up in Court
Competition , Contract , Live Events / December 2015
USA

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST / CONTRACT Live events industry     The previous and current owners of the Wilma Theatre in Montana are being sued in U.S. District Court by concert promoter Knitting Factory Presents who claims they’ve engaged in “anti-competitive behavior” and the induced termination of  a nine year agreement in July 2014 to exclusively manage the theater and buy talent for it with Simba Entertainment, a company owned solely by then venue owner Rick Wishcamper. Simba Entertainment was to pay Bravo $85,000 each year, plus ticket fees and a percentage of concessions and sponsorship revenue Knitting Factory Presents (also known as Bravo Entertainment) says it lost at least $609,000, and is seeking to triple those damages to an estimated $2,210,255. The previous owner, Rick Wishcamper, counters that under Knitting Factory Presents’ management, the venue saw steeply increasing losses, a “fiasco” in a critical staff position after general manager after Marcus Duckwitz resigned and his replacement had “serious alcohol issues”, alienated other staff, upset other local companies and left after just four months, and other actions that breached the contract. The current owner, Nick Checota, says Knitting Factory is free to book concerts elsewhere in Missoula besides the Wilma and his Top Hat Lounge (a competing…

Performers speak up for their rights in the big IP debate
EU
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing, recorded music, internet   The Featured Artists Coalition and the globally-focused International Artists Organisation have issued an urgent call to the European Parliament demanding it ensure that performer rights be included in the European Union’s current review of copyright law. The move comes as part of the campaign called Artists In Europe which is a bid to “ensure that protection for artists’ intellectual property sits at the heart of the new legislation”. Continuing recent debates in the artist and songwriter communities, the FAC and IAO say that to achieve a “vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age” both the business and law-makers need to ensure there is transparency throughout the music value chain and that there is an enhanced duty of care from corporations so that artists know their interests are protected. Artists should also share in the profits from all the ways their music is exploited. FAC boss Paul Pacifico says: “To ensure a vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age, it is essential that the review of copyright currently underway in Europe puts the rights of creators and artists front and centre of any new legislation. If not, we stand to lose an…

Jay Z prevails in ‘Big Pimpin’ – a case which was never as simple as it looked
USA

COPYRIGHT / MORAL RIGHTS / CONTRACT Music publishing     Attorneys for Jay Z have told a U.S court in Los Angeles that the rapper had properly acquired the rights to an Egyptian musician’s melody to use for his hit 1999 song “Big Pimpin’,” as a trial in a longstanding copyright lawsuit Jay Z (Shawn Carter and hip hop producer Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley are among the defendants named in a 2007 complaint by the nephew of late Egyptian songwriter Baligh Hamdy, who argue that the rapper had used his uncle’s composition from the 1950s without permission. Jay Z’s lawyer Andrew Bart argued that the explicit lyrics of “Big Pimpin’” should not be discussed in relation to the lawsuit, as a depiction of the words as “vulgar” and “disgusting” could prejudice the jury against Jay Z, a move supported by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder who ruled that examining Jay Z’s lyrics would be irrelevant in this case, although Attorney Peter Ross, representing Hamdy’s nephew Osama Ahmed Fahmy, told the eight-member jury that the defendants had purposefully avoided asking permission to use Hamdy’s track because they allegedly knew it wouldn’t be granted given the risqué lyrics. Timbaland used Hamdy’s 1957 Egyptian tune…

Janet Jackson legal blitz shocks fans – and prompts an apology
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Live Events / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artiste, live events sector     Janet Jackson’s fans have accused the singer and her team of some heavy handed tactics after they posted pictures and short video clips of her current “Unbreakable” tour on their Instagram feeds. Numerous fans have claimed that after posting pics of Jackson live in concert, they’ve received e-mails from the social-media app explaining: “a third party reported that the content violates their copyright.” One Jackson concert-goer in Los Angeles told Page Six that the morning after the concert, her Instagram account was deleted, “Without warning. Every. Single. Photo. Gone.” Another blogger reported the same issue, claiming they had, “five e-mails from Instagram . . . about the five videos I had posted . . . It seems like Miss Jackson’s [legal] team is on fire. What a shame they don’t understand the times we live in.” Jackson’s team is said to be very ‘struct’ – accredited photographers are given just 30 seconds to catch images at her concerts at the beginning of her set.   A representative for  Instagram blamed the issue on “a bug.” “We have identified a bug that resulted in the removal of accounts that shouldn’t have been removed” adding in a statement “We…

Hendrix Estate seeks to reclaim ‘stolen’ Black Widow guitar
Artists , Contract / November 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes     The estate of Jimi Hendrix is suing an Arizona guitar shop owner for the return of a guitar once owned by the rocker, claiming it was stolen by an erstwhile member of the group Earth, Wind & Fire. When Hendrix died in 1970 his effects – including the disputed guitar, which may or may not have been played b Jimi  – went to his father, James “Al” Hendrix, who formed Experience Hendrix in 1995 and died seven years later, leaving the guitarist’s adopted sister Janie in control of the estimated $80m estate. According to a court filing, Experience Hendrix, the company responsible for Hendrix’s estate, alleges that Harvey Moltz, the owner of Rainbow Guitars in Tucson, is not the rightful owner of the Acoustic Black Widow guitar as  the Black Widow was in fact stolen by Sheldon Reynolds, a sometime singer and guitarist for Earth, Wind & Fire, who is also a former member of The Commodores – and a former husband of Janie. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Mr Moltz says he bought the instrument for $80,000 (£52,000) in June 2014 from Brian Patterson, who in turn acquired the instrument from Sheldon Reynolds;  Moltz says…

The UK’s secondary ticketing market is in the news again
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / November 2015
UK

CONSUMER / CONTRACT Live Events Sector     Secondary ticketing was again in the news, firstly with the announcement by the UK government’s Department Of Culture, Media & Sport that Professor Michael Waterson will lead the review of the secondary ticketing market which follows from the recently enacted Consumer Rights Act – after MPs Mike Weatherley and Sharon Hodgson managed to ensure that some (but not all) of their concerns regarding the secondary ticketing market were enshrined in the Act – although one key proposal – that people reselling tickets online must publish their identity, was not included. That information would have allowed anti-touting promoters to more easily cancel tickets being touted as they appear on resale sites. The new legislation did provide for a review of consumer protection measures in the secondary ticketing domain, including making it compulsory to display the face value of the tickets being sold, and information on the seating area, and any restrictions that apply. Prof Waterson, specialises in industrial economics, including the economics of retail will chair the review. Interested parties have been invited to submit evidence by 20 Nov. Speaking at the time the legislation was finalised, Conservative Peer Colin Moynihan, a former sports minister, said:…

UK consumers gain protection for digital purchases
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / November 2015
UK

CONTRACT / CONSUMER LAW Live events sector   “UK Shoppers know your rights: 30-day refund becomes law and includes digital purchases” Digital products from retailers such as Spotify and Apple’s iTunes are now covered by the newly revised Consumer Rights Act in the *United Kingdom, which introduces specific rules to protect online shoppers, including those of music and app download stores and streaming services.  Among the revised rules is users’ right to demand a replacement for faulty digital content such as films, games, apps, music and eBooks purchased. Another provision of the Act is that digital retailers will be required to offer financial compensation if users download a virus or their device becomes corrupted as a consequence of accessing a service. Consumers will also be able to challenge unfair terms and conditions or legal loopholes hidden in the small print, while all digital goods sold must be fit for purpose and “free from minor defects.” Business Minister Nick Boles said in a statement”Whether it’s downloading music or buying a fridge freezer, the Consumer Rights Act makes it easier to understand your rights” adding “These changes will also simplify the law for businesses so they can spend less time worrying about unclear and unwieldy…

Universal set to settle digital royalty suit
Artists , Contract , Copyright / October 2015
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, performers   Universal Music Group has as said that it ‘shortly’ expects to settle a major US class action lawsuit with a group of artists, having made a significant offer of monetary compensation. The lawsuit dates back to 2011, when a group of recording artists including Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Rob Zombie, the Rick James Estate, Whitesnake and Ron Tyson of The Temptations filed a claim seeking additional royalties for the online sale of downloads and master ringtones claiming that iTunes royalties should be paid on a ‘licence’ terms – 50/50 split between label and artist – rather than on a unit ‘sale’ basis which applies to physical sales a nd generates far lower royalty payments for artistes. In 2012, the production company who discovered Eminem, FBT Productions, settled with Universal out of court in a similar case. Warner Music concluded an $11.5m settlement with 2,000 artists making claims on the same basis, and Cheap Trick, the Allman Brothers and a number of other Sony artistes in settled a similar claim made against Sony.   This motion for approval was submitted to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston and according to UMG parent company Vivendi: “This settlement transaction is expected to be formally approved by…

The Queen of Soul succeeds in obtaining a ban on ‘lost’ documentary
Contract , Copyright / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Film & TV, performers     Aretha Franklin has been granted an injunction against the premiere of the movie Amazing Grace as Telluride Film Festival, on the basis that the film violates her right to her own name and likeness, invades her privacy abd interferes with her contractual right of approval. The film,  “Amazing Grace”, documents Franklin recording the live gospel album of the same name recorded at the New Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972, with Rolling Stone Mick Jagger one of many stars in rhe audience. Aretha was backed up by a gospel choir and the recording is the best selling gosepl album of all time in the USA. At the time a technical error meant that the sound was never synchronised with the film’s images as the film’s director, Sydney Pollack, who collected over 20 hours of footage, failed to bring along the equipment that would allow him to synchronize the sound to the live pictures. The (silent) movie then sat for decades in a vault unseen, until  it was completed recently by Alan Elliot.  Pollack died in 2008. Franklin sued Elliott in 2011 in a bid to stop the documentary ever being made public. The…

AFM launches legal action to force digital pension payments from the major labels
Artists , Contract , Copyright / September 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music   The American Federation Of Musicians has launched a legal action against the three major record companies in the New York courts relating to an agreement between the majors and the AFM pension fund, in which the American branches of the record companies promised to pay 0.5% of all receipts from non-domestic digital transmissions of recordings into the fund. This agreement includes the ever growing monies from streaming, non-permanent downloads and ringbacks, and dates back to the 1990s – when such income was marginal. The AFM says that independent auditors have identified missing payments last year, but attempts to settle the matter directly have been unsuccessful. AFM International President Ray Hair says: “The record companies should stop playing games about their streaming revenue and pay musicians and their pension fund every dime that is owed. Fairness and transparency are severely lacking in this business. We are changing that”.

Warner’s will share SiriusXM settlement with artistes
Artists , Contract , Copyright / September 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes     The Warner Music Group has pledged to share its portion of a recent $210m Sirius XM settlement with its artists, paid via SoundExchange. The money is due to be paid to major labels plus ABKCO – the owner of classic Rolling Stones copyrights – by the US satellite/digital radio giant, Warners has said that it will share its portion of the proceeds with artists on the same basis as it usually shares royalties from Sirius, which means the cash will be paid to artists via SoundExchange. However, both what Warner’s share of the settlement actually is, and the share of that paid to artistes remains to be seen http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/warner-well-share-sirius-xm-payout-artists-via-soundexchange/   And take a look at MMF Board Member Andy Edward’s blog “On a day-to-day level, many of us in the management world like and respect the individual label executives with whom we work; but a substantial overhaul of business practices at a corporate level is essential and not just in labels; PROs and publishers also need to change.” http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/transparently-obvious-the-music-business-has-to-change/

19 adds the ‘Spotify shareholding’ to its battle with Sony Music
Artists , Contract , Copyright / August 2015
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artistes     the lawsuits filed by 19 Management against Sony on behalf of former Pop Idols winners cover many of the usual areas where artists and labels fall out: the fees Sony charges as money moves around the company:  what happened to the cash Sony received from its LimeWire settlement, and the big ‘post-iTunes’ debate on sharing the digital pie’ : whether digital income should be treated as a ‘sale’ or a ‘licence’ (as artists usually gain a far larger share of the latter than the former which is still treated as a physical sale) In the latest development, 19 has amended its lawsuit to cover another contentious issue, the equity stakes Sony – and other labels – have in various streaming music start-ups, in particular Spotify – which could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars if and when the streaming firm floats. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the revised 19 lawsuit expresses the concern of many in the artist and management community that Sony took the equity stake, which it (arguably) doesn’t have to share with its artists, in return for accepting less favourable terms on royalty payments, a cut of which…

Sony says its Spotify position is all above board
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Record Labels / August 2015
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded Music, Artistes     Sony has responded to claims made by 19 Management that criticised a number of its business practices, and according to the Hollywood Reporter has said that “taking equity in Spotify, keeping advertising income and not sharing the spoils of piracy lawsuits is all proper”. This blogger feels many artistes may disagree and the stance taken by Sony, and their latest response may well reignite the argument that says the business practices of the major labels in the recorded music sector are now so artiste unfriendly, a fiduciary duty should be imposed on labels to ensure that when they are negotiating ‘on behalf’ of their artistes, they actually put the interests of their artistes first. Initially after details of the Sony-Spotify deal were leaked, both Sony, and subsequently Universal, was quick to point out that at least with the advances they have received from Spotify and other streaming services (the so called breakage), then of course they would share breakage with artists. So, labels are nice guys ……….But back to the current case: 19’s lawyers had said in filings that the majors had “significant power to exert control over Spotify in order to not…

Blackmore sues to share royalty settlement
Artists , Contract / August 2015
UK

CONTRACT Artistes   Former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore is suing two management companies for just over £750,000, claiming that he should have been included in a settlement reached with other members of the band over a decade ago. Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice sued HEC Enterprises and Deep Purple (Overseas) in 2003 over underpaid royalties, eventually reaching a settlement. Blackmore, who was a member of the band between 1968 and 1975, and again between 1984 and 1993, was not involved in that case. But heis now claiming that he is owed royalties on fourteen of the band’s albums, Blackmore says he has now audited the two companies audited to quantify his loss.   According to The Mail On Sunday, the guitarist is suing HEC Enterprises for £102,318, relating to claimed incorrect adjustments, for failing to report publishing income and for applying charges in excess of agreed limits.He also claims that Deep Purple (Overseas) owes him £607,797 for failing to report income, overcharging on fees, and using an incorrect exchange rates. He is also seeking £43,000 to cover the costs of auditing the two companies between 2007 and 2013. Blackmore’s lawsuit also reportedly claims that a former director…

Radar launches new contract for independent music video makers
Contract / July 2015
UK

CONTRACT Video production   Radar Music Videos will launch a new standard contract for independent music video makers today. Created in partnership with media law firm Wiggins, the document aims to provide a simple and fair agreement at minimal cost. Announcing the document, Radar said: “We hope this contract will standardise protocols in the unregulated world of low-budget music video production. Users are taken through all the common requirements for production, like cashflow, re-edits, ownership and promotional use – and are able to customise the contract as appropriate for each particular project. The contract is unique, in that it is equally fair to both parties. It’s also written in plain English and downloadable”. The contract will be made available to Radar members at a cost of £25 – or £35 for non-members. Full details of the document were announced at Music Vid Fest in the Roundhouse’s Studio Theatre in London. https://www.facebook.com/RadarMusicVideos

BMG look to Modular and UMG for Tame Impala mechanicals
Australia

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   The founder of Aussie independent record label Modular Recordings, Steve “Pav” Pavlovic, is being taken to court by BMG over an alleged non-payment of $US450,000 (about A$588,000) in unpaid mechanical royalties for Aussie rock outfit Tame Impala works. Modular, along with its co-owner, Universal Music Australia, Universal Group, Universal Music Australia and others have been accused by BMG of withholding substantial royalty payments and failing to meet agreed 45 day payment windows in each quarter, and ignoring legal advice to cease and desist selling operations with regard to Tame Impala’s recordings as mechanical royalties were not being paid for use of the songs This resulted in a law suit being filed with the New York Southern District Court early last month. BMG owns the rights to Tame Impala’s songs through its publishing agreement with songwriter Kevin Parker. Parker recently alluded to a lack of payment for international sales during a recent Reddit AMA. In his words “Up until recently, from all of Tame Impala’s record sales outside of Australia I had received zero dollars. Someone high up spent the money before it got to me. I may never get that money.” BMG’s allegations are that they haven’t received any…

Wenham speaks out on digital royalties
UK

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, artistes   The World Independent Network has welcomed Sony and Universal’s recent statements on on breakage which have come out after the leak of the Sony-Spotify 2011 contract which added further evidence that the major labels were receiving large advances from digital services – promoting many to ask what the major labels actually did with this money.   WIN says UMG and Sony’s statements simply echo commitments that the indie labels had previously all signed up to in their Fair Digital Deals Declaration – but added that “it is telling that there are no specifics in these recent statements from these corporations”. In an open letter, Alison Wenham, boss of both WIN and the UK’s Association Of Independent Music, said: “We don’t know how long these policies have been in place, how much of the revenue they are actually sharing, whether this applies to all types of non-unit revenue, or how this money is distributed across their catalogues. We don’t know what analogue-era deductions are still getting made against digital income. As usual these facts are withheld”. And Wenham celebrates the indie’s position which she says “makes it clear that signatory companies will share the benefits of dealing…

Spotify leak puts streaming royalties in focus
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Online, music publishing, recorded music     The Verge has published details of the hitherto unknown terms of the January 2011 deal between streaming service Spotify and Sony Music, one of the two big record labels. And it makes for fascinating reading. Perhaps what isn’t surprising (given the then near start up nature of Spotify in 2011) is a contract laced with ‘Most Favoured Nations’ provisions for Sony. The basic deal consists of annual advances paid by Spotify and a 70:30 split of advertising revenues in favour of Sony: On gross revenues the detail shows the actual split of revenue varies from rights owner to rights owner, but labels are usually getting somewhere between 55-60% and publishers 10-15%. The Sony contact unsurprisingly puts the world’s second biggest record company at the top end of the range, on a 60% split. There are some odd quirks – Spotify seems to have a 15% buffer zone in ad sales which it doesn’t have to account to Sony (and therefor cannot be shared by Sony’s artistes) to cover out-of-pocket costs paid to unaffiliated third parties for ad sales commissions (subject to a maximum overall deduction of 15 percent “off the top”…

Spotify leaked contract prompts more comment
EU
UK
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The fall out from the leaked 2011 Sony-Spotify contract continues as interested parties begin to digest exactly what Sony had secured from Spotify: In particular artistes are seeing some of their suspicions realised …. and now the International Artist Association has sent an open letter to European policymakers.The IAO is the umbrella association for national organisations representing the rights and interests of Featured Artists in the Music Industry.  Their letter reads: Andrus Ansip, Vice-President, Digital Single Market Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for Competition Dear Policymakers The International Artist Association welcomes this morning’s open letter from the International Music Managers’ Forum, which highlighted a number of significant questions raised by the leaked Sony-Spotify contract from 2011, which was published on www.theverge.com on Tuesday of this week, but which has since been removed. The leaking of that document is a turning point for Artists that cannot be underestimated. The recorded music industry, as any other content industry, lives on the creativity of individuals and it is of the utmost importance – if we want to see a sustainable and healthy content industry continue in Europe – to make sure that…

Timber plagiarism claim rejected
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artistes, music publishing, recorded music     A U.S. copyright infringement action arising out of the international release of the track “Timber” by Pitbull and featuring Kesha has been dismissed by the District Court. The claim centred on the allegation that Sony Music Entertainment, which obtained license from co-owner of allegedly infringed work, a distinctive harmonica melody in the 1978 track “San Francisco Bay” performed by Lee Oskar Levitin, had nevertheless infringed the plaintiff’s copyright. The claim is that the “Timber” harmonica player was, in fact, specifically instructed to emulate Levitin’s harmonica riff.   The Plaintiffs also alleged that the domestic defendants made the song “available” to the foreign defendants, which, in turn, released “Timber” in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Australia, France and South Korea. All defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, and the foreign defendants also moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and on the basis of forum non conveniens. The court granted dismissal of only the claims against the U.S. defendants. Judge Paul A Crotty accepted the defendants argument that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim because the defendants had a license to use the harmonica…

19 v Sony: the battles continue
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music   There has been another tranche of  pre-trial battles between management company 19 and former business partner Sony. 19 is suing Sony Music over the record contracts signed with the major by various ‘American Idol’ finalists. 19 of course owns the ‘Idol’ franchise and managed successful artistes who came out of the now cancelled show.  Sony was, for a time, the record company with the rights to sign finalists that appeared on the programme. 19 is alleging a number of breaches of contract and failures to account including an account of monies settled to Sonya s part of the ‘Limewire’ litigation  and whether digital income should be treated as a ‘sale’ or a ‘licence’ when artist royalties are calculated. Sony failed to have 19’s lawsuit dismissed back in March. It then filed its own countersuit that claimed some of the former Idols 19 represents had been overpaid by the record company, while also concurrently asking for the judgement on dismissal to be reconsidered. On the latter point Sony it had some success earlier this month, when a judge decided that, actually, 19’s claim that Sony had acted in bad faith over digital royalties should not be allowed to proceed, though breach of contract…

Finland follows US in digital rights ruling
Contract , Music Publishing / May 2015
Finland

CONTRACT Recorded music sector     A Finnish digital rights case could set interesting precedent over pre-iTunes catalogue is being brought by the family of a late artist who are in dispute with the local Universal Music subsidiary. The case centres on the so called ‘making available’ right.  Whilst record labels are usually the copyright owners when it comes to sound recordings – either through default ownership rules (eg in the UK S9 of the CDPA provides that the author of a sound recording is the producer) or by assignment in standard record contracts – in Europe there are also ‘performer rights’, which say that performers as well as copyright owners have certain controls over how their recordings are used. However when many contracts with heritage artistes were entered into ‘digital’ did not exist, as neither streaming or download platforms existing and there was no accompanying right meaning it can be argued that labels need to get new permission to licence services that are ‘making available’ recordings (which likely includes most digital platforms).   Many heritage acts appalled at the share of digital royalties they are receiving from the labels from digital income, not least as the major labels have…

Sony and UMG actions could re-shape the digital pie
Artists , Contract , Copyright / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes, streaming     Sony Music has failed to have a wide-ranging lawsuit filed by Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment a year ago dismissed, though some elements of the case have been thrown out. The federal lawsuit alleges that Sony Music Entertainment cheated 19 out of more than $7 million in royalties for “American Idol. Sony Music had traditionally signed ‘Idol’ winners. The suit claimed that it had found “systemically incorrect calculations” on two separate audits of royalty payments made by the major. It then added that the record company had failed to allow 19’s auditors access all the data they required to do a full audit. 19 Roster includes Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta and David Cook, Sony responded a few months later with a motion to dismiss, countering the various allegations made by the management company. U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams commented that the companies set up a “highly complex royalty structure” and said that four of 19’s eight claims in lawsuit should be allowed to proceed to court. 19’s claims includes the argument that digital income should count as ‘licensing’ or ‘sales’ income with artist contracts that don’t specifically…

Lufti’s claim against Spears will be heard in court
Artists , Contract / April 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Sam Lutfi, the one time self appointed manager for Britney Spears at the time when spear’s life seemed to be spinning out of control, is back in the news. Pushed away from Spears when her family took control of her life, the somewhat controversial Lufti subsequently sued the family claiming he had been defamed by Spears’ mother, Lynne, in a book about her daughter’s struggles. She accused Lutfi of “exasperating Britney’s problems and drug taking, whereas he claimed that he had actually pressured the singer to deal with her addictions.” There were also allegations that Spears’ father assaulted Lutfi, while the latter claimed that he had, for a time, been Britney’s manager and was therefore due a cut of her income from that period. That libel case reached court in 2012, with both Lutfi and Mrs Spears taking to the witness stand, but after two weeks Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bruguera  dismissed the proceedings, noting various weaknesses in Lutfi’s arguments and inconsistencies in his testimony. However Lufti’s claim breach of contract and outstanding commissions has continued, and appeal judges in California have now said that the dispute should be considered by a jury saying “We must determine whether Sam’s inconsistent testimony…

Korn’s former drummer thumps out his claim
Artists , Contract / April 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Korn have sold more than 10 million albums in their long career, with releases including “Life is Peachy” and  their third album, 1998’s “Follow the Leader” which debuted at No 1 in the U.S Billboard charts. Now one of the founding members, David Silveria, is suing his four former bandmates in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Silveria laims that lead singer Jonathan Davis, guitarists James Schaffer and Brian Welch, and bassist Reggie Arvizu owe him an accounting for revenue since 2006 and damages for breach of partnership agreement. He also seeks an order dissolving the Korn partnership. Silveria says he, Schaffer and Arvizu disbanded their heavy metal group L.A.P.D in 1989, and they then joined with Davis and Welch to form Korn and tat he and his bandmates formalised their partnership and agreed to share equally in Korn’s future successes and failures – including its trademarked name.  In 2005, Welch left the group, but retained his partnership interest in Korn. Silveria left in 2006 in a move he calls “a temporary hiatus” in his complaint, saying he always intened to return to the band and he retained his interest in the Korn Partnership, which entitled him to his percentage interest in profits…

Wonder faces $7 million claim from attorney’s widow
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / April 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes. Music publishing   Stevie Wonder (Stevland Morris) is being sued by the wife of his former attorney who claims the singer songwriter owes at least $7 million in unpaid royalties.  Susan Strack is the widow of Johanan Vigoda, a veteran entertainment lawyer with more tha 40 years service for Wonder, who died in 2011. The federal claim says that having helped Wonder escape onerous and oppressive contracts, Wonder agreed to pay her husband a 6 percent fee on royalties “forever.” She claims that several royalty fee agreements and a trusted witness always read the terms to the blind Wonder before he placed his mark on them, which was his fingerprint followed by the signature of the witness. Black Bull Music, Taurus Productions, Sawandi Music, and Stevland Morris Music are also named as defendants. Stack says that whilst payments were made for  a 20 month period they have now ceased and she clains “fees and compensation to which she is rightfully and legally entitled” as well as damages, and punitive damages, for breach of written agreement, intentional interference with contract, and conversion. Strack also seeks declaratory judgment that Wonder and his heirs and successors must continue paying her and Vigoda’s heirs and successors the…

Were YouTube within their rights to pull Rasta Rock Opera video?
Contract , Internet / March 2015
USA

CONTRACT Internet   After Rasta Rock Opera’s video “Luv ya Luv ya Luv ya” garnered more than 23,000 views in roughly two months on YouTube, the  video was pulled by YouTube, who deemed that the relative success of the unknown band must be due to the use of ‘bots’ to artificially inflate viewings. This has prompted a lawsuit from the band who claim that the action of removing the video – leaving viewers landing on a page showing a frowning face and the words: “This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service. Sorry about that” – caused many potential fans and sponsors to jump to negative conclusions. Rasta Rock Opera says it suffered damages when its original video was removed. After YouTube removed the video April 18th, Rasta Rock Opera complained to YouTube and four days later, YouTube reposted the music video under a new link that did not have the view counts or comments from the original posting. But Rasta Rock Opera says the link to the message regarding prohibited content was not removed until August, hurting its reputation. The band also say this prompted Nike to cancel an opportunity to have Rasta Rock…

Turk sues Cash Money for unpaid royalties
Contract , Music Publishing / March 2015
USA

CONTRACT Music publishing   Tab Virgil Jr. also known as “Turk,” is suing Miami based Cash Money Records claiming he’s owed $1.3 million for songs he wrote for Hot Boy$, a group that included rappers Lil Wayne, B.G. and Juvenile. Turk says he has not been paid any artist (recording) or music publishing royalties for the songs he had written, and that no accounting of royalties has ever been rendered by Cash Money. The claim also alleges that even though he has written songs for since1998 under an exclusive agreement, he has not received promised artist – either as a recording artist or as a songwriter – and that Cash Money has also failed to copyright any of his music, as required under the agreement. It seems Cash Money Records has been on the receiving end of similar claims in the past: Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit in Manhattan to end his contract with rapper Birdman and Cash Money Records for allegedly withholding millions of dollars in song royalties. http://www.entlawdigest.com/2015/02/09/3657.htm

Message’s message calls for more transparency in the digital pie
UK

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, digital distribution, artistes   Radiohead manager and former Chair of the Music Managers Forum Brian Message has used the launch of the Entertainment Retailers Association’s new manifesto to single out the secret deals concluded between content owners – in particular the major record labels and new digital services – for criticism. Pointing out that artistes and their management have the potential to be increasingly closer to the fan he added: “that economic chain isn’t without it’s challenges, as you probably know just as well as us; in fact, many of my colleagues would go as far as to say that it’s pretty well broken and needs fixing. For us, central to this structural failure is the NDA [Non Disclosure Agreement] culture that is now ingrained in the licensing of creator catalogues to retailers and digital services”. “The lack of transparency and the very real erosion of trust felt by many creators and managers in how the economic value chain now operates is an issue that the MMF and ERA needs to focus on together so we can add real value to our members”. He added “Since taking on my new role within MMF and having…

Monster sues Apple’s Beats Electronics saying the brand was “fraudulently acquired” brand through “sham transaction
Contract / February 2015
USA

CONTRACT / COMMERCIAL Technology   Headphones maker Monster and its chief executive yesterday launched legal action against Apple’s Beats Electronics for allegedly conspiring to dupe Monster out of a deal with Beats before it was sold last year to the iPhone maker for $3.2bn (£2.12bn). Noel Lee, whose firm Monster helped launch Beats by Dre in 2008, says his company was betrayed and its technology “pirated”. He alleges he “lost millions” after Dre and Iovine “improperly took control” of Beats through a “sham” transaction. After severing ties with Monster, Beats was purchased by Apple for $3 billion (£1.9 billion). In legal papers filed in California, Lee alleges rap producer Dr Dre was barely involved in creating the headphones that carried his name. But the range quickly became a highly desirable brand with celebrities and music fans, and Dre’s endorsement was key to its success. When the firm was sold to mobile phone manufacturer HTC in 2012, Dre and Iovine made $100m (£66m) each, Forbes estimated. But Lee claims the deal forced him to cut his share in the company from 5% to 1.25%. He says he then had no other option but to sell his remaining stake for $5.5m (£3.6m)…

Sky Stone wins $5 million royalty battle
Artists , Contract / February 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Sly Stone, the frontman of Sly & The Family Stone, who was left reportedly destitute after a contract and royalties dispute, with reports saying the singer living in a tiny van in Los Angeles. But now Variety reports that Stone has won an important law suit, with the singer awarded $5 million in misdirected royalties which resulted from a 1989 agreement when the singer allegedly handed over financial control to his manager Gerald Goldstein and Even St. Production. In his 2010 lawsuit the musician alleged that manager Gerald Goldstein and attorney Glenn Stone had convinced him to sign an employment and shareholder agreement with Even Street Productions in 1989. Through this, he claimed, they then failed to pay him around $2.5 million in royalties, instead keeping the money for themselves. The defendants argued that Stewart had been paid millions of dollars in royalties, and had renewed his agreement with them 40 times between 1994 and 2006. But he had, they said, broken the terms of his agreement by not delivering new music, and it was that which led to the dispute. A jury has now ruled that Goldstein must pay $2.45 million, lawyer Glenn Stone (not related…

‘American Idol’ owner faces contract challenge from 2012 winner
Artists , Contract / February 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Phillip Phillips, the 2012  ‘American Idol’ winner has  lodged a petition with the California Labor Commissioner which could test the contracts that competitors of talent shows such as ‘Idol’ enter into with the show formats’ owners, relationships which often begin with the terms contenders sign up to when first auditioning. It may also look into the legal problems that can occur when an artist has contracts with multiple divisions of one company, one of which is a management contract, as is the case with Phillips and ‘Idol’ owner 19 Entertainment, now part of the CORE Media Group (although this dispute relates specifically to California’s Talent Agencies Act, and will mainly test if Phillips’ deals with 19 fall under that legislation and, if they do, whether his management firm has complied with the rules and is empowered to secure bookings for him). Phillips signed a series of contracts with 19 governing his management, merchandising, recording and publishing. Explaining his action, Phillips says: “I am very grateful for the opportunities provided to me through appearing on ‘American Idol’. The value that the fans and the show have given to my career is not lost on me. However, I have…

Black Crowes split over band structure
Artists , Contract , Trade Mark / February 2015
USA

CONTRACT / TRADE MARK Artistes   It seems that the Black Crowes have split after frontman Chris Robinson attempted to restructure the band. His brother, the band’s guitarist Rich Robinson said in a statement last week: “It is with great disappointment and regret that after having the privilege of writing and performing the music of The Black Crowes over the last 24 years, I find myself in the position of saying that the band has broken up. I hold my time with the Black Crowes with the utmost respect and sincerest appreciation. It is a huge swath of my life’s body of work. I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished and deeply moved by the relationships people created and maintained with my music. That alone is the greatest honour of being a musician,” Robinson continued: “I love my brother [Robinson] and respect his talent but his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner, Steve Gorman, relinquish 100% of his share, reducing him to a salaried employee, is not something I could agree to”.  The band slit in 2002 when Gorman quit. They…

Music and sports figures rebuffed in call for ticket resale reform
Competition , Contract , Live Events / February 2015
UK

COMPETITION / CONTRACT Live events sector   Senior UK figures from the world of sport and entertainment who issued a call for new controls on websites selling event tickets have seen their bid for regulation of secondary ticketing fail after MPs voted 289 to 204 against an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill in the House of Commons. Campaigners wanted resale websites to be required to publish the names of ticket sellers and the tickets’ face value. The renewed call came in a letter to the Independent on Sunday signed by heads of sporting and cultural bodies and entertainers’ management companies. Government ministers prefer a voluntary approach. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has previously said a change in the law would be unnecessary. Secondary ticketing sites act as marketplaces that allow sellers to charge what they like for concerts, plays and sports events, and often earn a commission from selling on the tickets.  When tickets for a popular event go on sale, they may be snapped up in bulk either manually or using automated software in order to sell them on at a profit. The letter warns that the way the secondary ticketing market currently operates can seriously undermine efforts…

Viagogo argues against secondary ticketing regulation
Contract , Live Events / January 2015
UK

CONTRACT Live events sector   In an interesting response which impacts on the sports and events industry as much as live music, Secondary ticketing company Viagogo  has commented on efforts to regulate the resale of tickets online in the new consumer rights legislation that’s currently working it’s way through Parliament. The House of Lords voted to amend the Consumer Rights Bill so to include some secondary ticketing regulation, mainly stemming from a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Ticket Abuse. The proposed rules would oblige ticket sellers online to reveal their identity, to provide any specific information about the tickets being sold, to state the mark-up that has been added, and to draw a buyer’s attention to any terms and conditions on the ticket that could mean challenge any re-sale Viagogo notes that forcing sellers to reveal their identity and information such as seat numbers would do more than just show up the prolific touting operations (and promoters and artists who tout their own tickets). It would possibly make it easier for anti-touting promoters to cancel tickets that a buyer attempts to resell. Whilst tghere has been an ongoing debate about what a ticket actually is, with the secondary…

Rolling Stone’s Australian tour cancellation claim in dispute
Contract , Live Events / December 2014
Australia
USA

CONTRACT Insurance, live events   L’Wren Scott’s tragic and unexpected suicide prompted the Rolling Stones to cancel a number of Australian dates and resulted in a claim against the bands $23.9 million insurance policy. As Mick Jagger’s partner, Scott was named in the policy which would have covered cancellation in the event of the death of close family members of the band and indeed possibly senior tour personnel and the tour cancellation occurred after Jagger was “diagnosed as suffering from acute traumatic stress disorder” and advised by doctors not to perform for at least 30 days. However, reports in early November said that underwriters apparently argued that Scott might have been suffering from a pre-existing but undeclared mental illness at the time the insurance policy was agreed, which would, they argued, render cover in relation to her death invalid. It emerged that the insurers then refused to pay out $12.7 million on the claim – resulting in a further legal claim in the London courts by the band.  However the matter came to wider attention because of legal efforts in the US by the insurers to gain papers relating to Scott’s mental health prior to her death. According to The…

Gaga scout nets $7.3 million
Artists , Contract / December 2014
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Wendy Starland has won $7.3 million from Lady Gaga’s former producer Rob Fusari after a US court ruled yesterday that Fusari had broken an agreement to split his earnings from Gaga with Starland, the talent scout who discovered the Poker Face star. Starland was tasked by Fusari to find “the female equivalent to the lead singer of The Strokes” in 2005. She eventually discovered 20 year old singer Stefani Germanotta and introduced her to him. The singer and producer then began working together, eventually developing her into Lady Gaga.. Fusari himself sued Gaga in 2010, claiming that he was due a bigger cut of her income than what he was already receiving for production credits on her first album. The pair eventually reached an out-of-court settlement. Some of the details from the current case and Fusari’s own case have been kept confidential by the courts after Gaga asserted that information in papers relating to the case was “sensitive, private and personal” and would “inflict significant personal and professional harm upon” her if it was made public and whilst a partial seal was granted, details of the singer’s deposition in the current case, given in September, were made4…

EMI Publishing faces another lawsuit on foreign royalties from ‘Daydream Believer’ songwriter whilst War declare, well, war.
Contract , Music Publishing / November 2014
USA

CONTRACT Music Publishing   Last month we commented on the how the estate of Duke Ellington is hoping to resurrect a royalties lawsuit against EMI Music Publishing, (now controlled by Sony/ATV)  after a lower courts sided with the music company in the legal dispute – seeking to establish that EMI had artificially reduced the royalties received by the entity Ellington had signed to as a songwriter by using its own subsidiaries to siphon off royalties. That claim has now failed again after an appellate court held that the copyright renewal that Duke Ellington signed in 1961 does not unfairly deprive his heirs of a portion of foreign royalties on works such as “Mood Indigo” and “Sophisticated Lady“. In Ellington v EMI Music, The New York State Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 that while changes in the music industry over the past 53 years have tended to make the contract and others signed in that era by artists like Ellington more favourable to music publishers, “clear and unambiguous” provisions govern EMI’s obligations to Ellington’s grandson Paul Ellington and the composer’s other survivors. Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, writing for the majority, said a plain reading of the contract says Ellington or his heirs are…

Toto lose digital royalty battle
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artists, recorded music   Sony Music Entertainment does not owe digital music royalties to the rock band Toto, best known for its 1980s pop hits “Rosanna” and “Africa,” a federal judge ruled. Toto was dissatisfied with the terms of a $8 million class action settlement that their fellow bands The Allman Brothers Band, Cheap Trick and other recording artistes reached with Sony two years ago over digital music download and streaming royalties, Rolling Stone reports.  Its auditor claimed that Toto deserved “50 percent net receipts” on digital downloads. The band reunited in 2010, and two years later sued Sony in the federal court, seeking $605,000 in compensatory damages for breach of contract and other claims. During discovery, the parties “put music executives on the hot seat”, but also reportedly quibbled over whether a “lease” and “licensee” agreement applied to their contract. Toto contended that the words meant the same thing, but Sony disagreed. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan turned to Black’s Law Dictionary and Webster’s Dictionary before ultimately siding with Sony on this issue. “[T]he dictionary definitions of the terms reflect that they are not synonymous, with ‘lease’ generally pertaining to rights in real or tangible property, and ‘license’…

A Nightingale sues
Artists , Contract , Live Events / October 2014
UK

CONTRACT Artistes, live sector   London booking agency EC1 has reportedly issued legal proceedings against Lily Allen for allegedly breaching a 2012 agreement that would have seen the company and its director Alex Nightingale act as booking agents for the singer’s 2013 and 2014 touring activity. According to the Mail On Sunday, Nightingale claims that Allen broke her contractual commitments when she switched allegiances to rival booking agency CAA, it seems because she’d been told the bigger agency could secure her “higher gross fees” from promoters. EC1 had already begun work on Allen’s proposed tour when it was told she was moving to CAA. The company is now suing for £100,000. Mr Nightingale argues he is entitled to compensation for the ‘very large amount’ of work carried out, adding there was no break clause in their agreement. A spokesman for Allen has denied the allegations made against her, saying that the singer’s lawyers “will be defending the matter vigorously”.   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2746302/Tour-boss-sues-Lily-Allen-100-000-breaking-contract-American-company-run-comeback-tours.html

Trindl takes on former bandmates in EDM mash up
Artists , Contract / October 2014
USA

CONTRACT Artists   Kris Trindl, a founding member of EDM stars Krewella is suing sisters Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf for at least $5 million for kicking him out of the group and for allegedly violating an oath that dates back to the time when the three had “6-8-10” tattooed onto their bodies. The suit alleges that having quit alcohol after rehab, the Yousaf sisters (one of whom was a previous girlfriend) didn’t like the fact that Trindl wouldn’t party, mistook his condition for depression and began scheming to deny him membership in the group and subsequently removed his image from publicity shots and effectively ‘sacked’ Trindl by asking to get treatment for his “depression” for 60 days, meaning the Yousaf sisters could continue as a duo. The three met as students at Glenbrook North High School and it seems Kris’ career was already beginning to take off in the Chicago music scene, and on June 8th, 2010, the three are said to have marked “a vow to put aside any other career plans outside of music and commit to Krewella” with tattoos of the date. The three then moved into a loft together in Chicago and came up with an idea to mix heavy-metal…

AIM and A2IM tell members to be wary of SoundCloud user licence
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Internet / September 2014
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artistes, internet   UK and US indie label trade bodies AIM and A2IM have warned their members to be aware of a number of clauses in SoundCloud’s terms and conditions for content-uploaders, and what rights those clauses ask rightsholders to give up when uploading music to the service. The warning appeared on the A2IM blog  and states: “When putting tracks up on SoundCloud, you should strongly consider turning API access off. If you do not do this, you are granting not only SoundCloud a royalty free licence to use your recordings, but also anyone else who uses their API and/or links to your recordings (eg internet radio stations, remix services or other music apps)”. It adds: “As a SoundCloud user, you have already warranted to SoundCloud that you control all rights when using the service. This means that publishing, which you may not control, is also included in this royalty free license for onward usage. User uploads are also covered by this, so if third parties are uploading your recordings, they are also passing on a free license to other sites and services beyond SoundCloud, which effectively creates an ecosystem of royalty free usage for your music”. SoundCloud…

Middle finger MIA settles with NFL
Artists , Contract , Live Events / September 2014
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, live events   The ill-judged case brought by the NFL against MIA, after the singer raised a middle finger in her Super Bowl performance with Madonna – allegedly breaching her contractual commitment  to ensure her performance didn’t negatively impact on the “tremendous public respect and reputation” enjoyed by American football – has been settled. At one point the NFL was looking for $16.6 million in damages even though MIA’s actions only prompted a smattering of complaints and not action by the FCC. As MIA’s lawyer Howard King told the Hollywood Reporter at the time: “The NFL’s claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same”. MIA herself had previously said the lawsuit “was “a massive waste of time, a massive waste of money, it’s a massive display of powerful corporation dick-shaking. They want me on my knees and say[ing] sorry so they can slap me on my wrist.” The case has now been settled and the terms…

Indies try to explain the digital deal
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / August 2014
UK

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   The independent label’s global trade body, the Worldwide Independent Network has launched a new “ “Fair Digital Deals Declaration” to make clear their digital deals to artistes – with over 700 indie labels signed up including XL, beggars and Domino. It’s all a bit vague, and there’s nothing binding and it, it doest set minimum remuneration levels even as a percentage – and it doesn’t even remotely approach a standard of good practice – but it’s a lot more open than the position taken by the major labels   Key points in the Fair Digital Deals Declaration include: 1. We will ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form. 2. We will account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetisation of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances. 3. We will encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music. 4. We will support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorised uses of their music.   Announcing the…

Sony try NOT to explain the digital deal
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / August 2014
USA

CONTRACT Record labels, artistes   The legal battle between 19 Entertainment and Sony Music in the US could result in some judicial consideration of the ongoing digital royalty debates in the music industry – although Sony seemingly would rather avoid this, after  it emerged that the major had filed a motion to have the case dismissed last month. 19 Entertainment is suing Sony on behalf of various ‘American Idol‘ winners who scored Sony Music record deals via the show, says it found “systemically incorrect calculations” on two separate audits of royalty payments made by the major, adding that the record company then failed to allow 19’s auditors to access all the data they required to do a full audit. The 19 litigation also includes disputes over the way digital royalties are calculated – and the question of  whether labels should be paying lower record sale royalties or higher licensing revenue splits on download and streaming income. The Hollywood Reporter also notes that 19 Entertainment is also asking if the major labels are obliged to share with their acts damages received from successful file-sharing litigation. In its motion to dismiss Sony argue that it isn’t obliged to share with artists the multi-million…

Disputed Hendrix recordings to be released
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / August 2014
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music, artists   Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings is set to release a number of early Jimi Hendrix tracks after the conclusion of a legal dispute that has lasted nearly five decades. The disputed recordings were made between 1965 and 1967, and many feature Hendrix playing on records made by Curtis Knight & The Squires. The recordings were made by a label called PPX International run by producer Ed Chalpin, who famously signed Hendrix and Knight to an infamous “one-pound-advance-one-percent-royalty deal.” The arrangement caused issues within a couple of years as Hendrix’s career started to take off, and PPX and its business partners started to put out versions of the recordings that heavily implied – through title or artwork – that the records were Hendrix, rather than his role as a session musician or ‘sideman’. In 2001 the Hendrix Estate won a legal battle in the London courts, enforcing a 1973 decree which limited PPX’s ownership of recordings featuring Hendrix to just 33 masters made in 1965, rather than the larger catalogue of tracks put down in the following couple of years. This decision was upheld in both K and US appellate courts and in 2007, Experience Hendrix secured…