Popovitch estate sues for Bat Out Of Hell rights
Contract , Copyright , Record Labels / November 2011
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Record labels CMU Daily reports that the estate of the late record label exec Stephen Popovich is trying to seize ownership of the sound recording copyrights in the iconic Meat Loaf album ‘Bat Out Of Hell’, currently owned by Sony Music. Popovich, whose Cleveland International Records released ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ in 1977 in partnership with the exec’s former employer Epic Records, had various run ins with Sony. Sony has owned Epic from the late 1980s onwards. Popovitch claimed that the major frequently misreported royalties and underpay him his share, and he also sued when Sony failed to fulfil a contractual commitment to include the Cleveland International logo on all releases of the album. A 1998 lawsuit ended in an out of court settlement, while in 2002 litigation – in part based on allegations Sony had breached the 1998 agreement – resulted in  Popovich being awarded $5 million in damages Popovich died in June 2011and his estate has taken up the ongoing battle with Sony. In a new lawsuit the estate claims that Sony continues to violate the terms of its agreements with Cleveland International Records, accusing the major of a number of fraudulent acts to underpay…

Cassidy sues Sony over merchandise share
Artists , Contract / November 2011
USA

CONTRACT Artistes CMU Daily reports that singer David Cassidy is suing Sony over unpaid royalties. Cassidy says that he is owed 15% of all monies generated by merchandise associated with ‘The Partridge Family’, the 1970s US sitcom in which he appeared and Cassidy’s lawyers reckon the Sony TV studio has made $500 million in profits from the show’s spin off merchandise, and has failed to honour a royalty cut included in their client’s 1971 contract. Cassidy told CNN that he has been informed he has only ever received $5000 from Sony for merchandise sales. Sony is yet to respond. CMU Daily 7th October 2011  www.thecmudaily.com

The sweet smell of success for Revelation as Prince sniffs at damages award
Artists , Contract / October 2011
USA

CONTRACT Artists, Merchandise In November 2008 diminutive poster Prince was the subject of a lawsuit from Revelations Perfume and Cosmetics Inc. who took action against the singer and Universal Music Publishing Group for damages, claiming they failed to help push a fragrance inspired by his 2006 album 3121. They were seeking damages of $100,000. Prince did not file a defence to the claim and Prince’s then lawyer withdrew,saying his firm has not been paid ‘for months’ and that Prince has dialed ti compy with discovery obligations. The Referee conducting an investigation into damages, Louis Crespo, has now awarded the perfume company $3.9 million to cover the expenditures it had made in reliance on Prince’s commitment to promote the perfume, 3121. Mr. Crespo, however, rejected Revelations’ claim for an additional $3.4 million in lost profits, finding they were too “speculative.” He also denied Revelations’ assertion that it was entitled to punitive damages. Revelations’ lawyer said he will ask Manhattan Acting Supreme Court Justice Bernard J. Fried to confirm the referee’s award next week. Prince’s attorney has said they will oppose this. The licensing agreement was signed on Dec 2nd 2006, according to the complaint, but immediately the complaint says that Prince started backtracking saying…

Elvis Estate sues for unpaid royalties
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / October 2011
Germany

CONTRACT Artists, record labels Elvis Presley’s estate is suing Arista Music in Germany for $9m (£5.6m) in unpaid royalties dating back to 2002 for ringtones, downloads and apps. The lawsuit also alleges the label (then RCA) exploited Presley in a $5.4m (£3.3m) 1973 “buyout” of his catalogue. It claims that, as a result of the contract, Presley went on to receive just $10 (£6) a year for worldwide rights to each of more than 1,000 recordings and the estate is seeking  a share of future revenue. It seems that under the 1973 agreement, RCA bought the rights to Presley’s back catalogue – with the $5.4m fee split evenly between the singer and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker – parker famously took a 50% management commission. The Presley estate says the singer’s annual payment for each song of about $10 is “conspicuously disproportionate” to the revenue RCA made from master recordings. As well as seeking $9m (£5.6m) in unpaid royalties, the estate wants a share of future revenue until 2023 – 50 years after the deal was struck and the year when Arista’s copyright expires under German law. The estate says it wants “equitable remuneration” asking the court to redress the deal…

Mars seeks to escape Bug
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / September 2011
USA

CONTRACT Artists, music publishing Bruno Mars has filed papers ar the LA County Superior Court in a move to to end his music publishing contract with Bug Music. TMZ reports that Mars believes that he has fulfilled his commitments under his contract with the up-for-sale independent publisher, and that it failed to take up an option to renew in the renewal period previously agreed. Mars now says he is currently without any commitments to any music publisher. TMZ reports that Bug seems not agree and maintains that he is still under contact to the company. http://www.tmz.com/2011/08/30/bruno-mars-lawsuit-singer-music-bug-music-inc-publishing-rights-lawsuit-bughouse/?adid=recentlyupdatedstories

UMG face more artiste digital royalty claims
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / June 2011
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, record labels Hot on the heels of FBT’s appellate court victory determining the Eminen producers a share of licensing income from digital sales, and another action launched in the same basis launched by the estate of Rick James, Universal Music Group has been hit with a class action lawsuit, filed by artists Rob Zombie, White Zombie, Whitesnake and Dave Mason, who allege they are owed what may amount to millions of dollars in additional digital music royalties, All of the lawsuits argue that record labels violated their contracts by considering a digital song a “sale” rather than a “license” of the recording and therefor arguing to move the accounting away from the labels preferred calculation of a percentage paid on the sale price (subject to royalty reducers) to the far higher rate of a 50% cut of profits for artists. The new lawsuit against Universal alleges the label “analyzed internally the financial consequences of its misconduct and cast it in terms of the additional profit to be made by UMG by avoiding its contractual obligations. The first action in this area we saw was the Allman Brother action against Sony BMG which again alleged that the record label…

Cohl’s lawsuit against Live Nation allowed to proceed
USA

CONTRACT / COMPETITION Live events industry A US judge has denied Live Nation’s request that a lawsuit filed against them by the live music conglom’s former Chairman, Michael Cohl be dismissed. Live Nation and Cohl are in a legal dispute over the agreement the two parties reached when they parted company back in 2008. That agreement allowed Cohl to continue to work as a promoter with certain big name artists – most notably the Rolling Stones – in return for the former Chairman paying the live music firm nearly $10 million over a number of years. Live Nation sued Cohl last year claiming that he had defaulted on those multi-million dollar payments. Cohl then counter-sued claiming Live Nation were already in breach of contract for interfering in his efforts to secure the rights to promote a mooted Rolling Stones fiftieth anniversary tour. Live Nation requested Cohl’s countersuit be dismissed, partly on the grounds that the Stones tour at the heart of the specific dispute hadn’t, in the end, happened, and was only being vaguely considered by the band at the time the two parties squabbled about it. But, according to Billboard, US District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga this week said…

Copyright Fight Ensues Over Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’
USA

COPYRIGHT/CONTRACT Music publishing, record labels The internet viral hit of a 13 year old called Rebecca Black singing a song called “Friday” has sparked potential new litigation about who actually owns the sound recording – and the song. Black’s parents paid a company called Ark Music Factory (AMF) to produce a music video of a song that was written by Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson – who run AMF. Here’s the seeming legal conundrum – no one quite seems to know who owns what.  Jey and Wilson would have held the original rights to the composition as authors, while Black probably holds the copyright on the recording itself (though, there may be some questions about the musicians who played on the track). But its al dependent on the terms of the contract which was signed between the Blacks and AMF – and I am guessing behind that, the contracts that AMF itself has with Jey, Wilson and recording artists who put together the recording as well as the video director. A Rolling Stone Report says that “the agreement that Black signed with Ark in November stipulates that Black has 100 percent ownership and control of ‘Friday,’ including the master recording and the music video.” Seeming…

POD sues label
Artists , Contract / May 2011
USA

CONTRACT Artists Christian rockers POD are suing their record label, US independent INO Records, over claims that the label is in breach of contract for refusing to pay a $400,000 advance once the band confirmed they were ready to start recording a new album last November.  The band say the advance was due once work began on the follow up to 2008’s ‘When Angels & Serpents Dance’, which was their first long player for the indie after leaving former label Atlantic in 200.  POD are seeking damages while stating that, because of the breach, the band is “abandoning all its obligations to INO under the agreement”. The suit does not reveal in detail about INO’s position and the label has yet to respond. http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/w0011508.html

Rick James estate to test the FBT (‘Eminen’) court ruling
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / May 2011
USA

CONTRACT Artists, record labels Administrators of the Estate of Rick James are planning to test the extent of Universal’s unsuccessful defence to the claim in FBT Productions v Interscope where the court ruled that the music major’s relationship with services like iTunes should be treated as a licensing arrangement rather than a record sales relationship akin to that record companies have with traditional retailers meaning the artist (or here producer) was entitled t a large share of royalties. It’s an important distinction because many record contracts give artists a bigger cut of royalties when they are generated by licensing deals rather than record sales. The distinction seemingly applies to many contracts that pre-date the digital revolution, some of which still generate large revenues. The lawsuit says: “By this lawsuit, the plaintiff seeks to compel UMG to account to and pay its other recording artists and music producers (ie, those not directly involved in the FBT litigation) their rightful share of the licensing income paid to UMG for downloads and mastertones of the recorded music licensed by UMG to these entities”. Commenting on the action, Jeff Jampol, manager of the James estate, told Billboard: “In assessing and watching the Eminem case, the original…

Axl agrees to lateness clause for Rock in Rio booking
Contract , Live Events / May 2011
Brazil

CONTRACT Live events Axl Rose has agreed to a clause in his contract with the Brazilian Rock In Rio festival this October that commits him to pay a fine if Guns n Roses come n stage late. The band played Rock In Rio in 2001 and 2006 and in 2001 arrived two hours late. The festival’s vice president Roberta Medina told Brazilian magazine Epoca: “[Guns N Roses’ appearance this year was] the hardest to arrange on the history of the festival. Bands are usually on time, but Guns is a different case. Lateness like the one in 2001 … can make the public feel uncomfortable and cause them to possibly start a riot”. http://www.torontosun.com/entertainment/music/2011/04/03/17860996-wenn-story.html

Dre wins royalties claim against Death Row
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / May 2011
USA

CONTRACT Artists, record labels Dr Dre has won a royalties lawsuit against Death Row Records in relation to his 1992 debut album ‘The Chronic’, Dre sued the label over digital sales of the album arguing that Death Row did not have permission to sell ‘The Chronic’ digitally, while also claiming he hadn’t been paid proper royalties on the record since 1996.  The Federal Court agreed, saying that the digital release breached the label’s agreement with the rapper as it needed Dre’s permission and District Judge Christina Snyder ordered that 100% of the profits from digital sales of ‘The Chronic’ should go to Dre. A separate part of the same lawsuit, claiming Death Row was guilty of false advertising and trademark infringement for re-releasing the physical version of ‘The Chronic’, was dismissed last year. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1662444/dr-dre-the-chronic-lawsuit-death-row-records.jhtml

Universal refused appeal in ‘Eminen’ royalty case
Contract , Copyright / April 2011
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by the Universal Music Group in relation to lawsuit pursued by early Eminem collaborators FBT Productions against the label for an increased royalty split for digital sales via services such as iTunes which FBT successful argued should be treated  as a licensing deal. These recording agreements followed industry-standard forms at the time, and provide for different royalties for “records sold” and “masters licensed.” The royalty for “masters licensed” is substantially higher than that for “records sold.” The label wanted to pay on a ‘per unit’ sale and treat any download revenue as record sales money rather that licensing income – meaning a smaller royalty share to artists (and in this case producers). The Supreme Court has now refused to hear the appeal as it currently stands and in doing so, the Supreme Court let stand the Ninth Circuit’s 2010 unanimous decision that addressed royalties under a traditional music recording agreement for new methods of music distribution, such as iTunes and cellular phone ring tones. “By denying cert, the Supreme Court has finally answered the question about whether or not Eminem’s producers and other artists with…

Cohl countersues Live Nation
Contract , Live Events / March 2011
USA

CONTRACT Live events industry Promoter Michael Cohl has is countersuing his former employer Live Nation in their dispute over an agreement the two parties signed in 2008 when Cohl quit the live music group.  Live Nation sued Cohl late last year claiming he owed them multi-million dollar payments in relation to that agreement saying that Cohl,  the then outgoing Chairman, agreed to make sizable payments to Live Nation over a period of years in return for keeping certain assets of CPL, his former company which Live Nation had taken control of in 2006. It seems that these cash payments were conditional on Live Nation giving Cohl permission to continue to work with certain major league artists, something a non-compete clause in his original contract with live music firm would have prevented. Live Nation claimed that  Cohl had defaulted on those payments and currently owed the company in the region of $5.5 million. But Cohl has now filed a countersuit in which he reportedly argues that he has stopped making payments to Live Nation because it defaulted on that 2008 agreement with regards the Rolling Stones saying that Live Nation had told Cohl that they would bid for the 2011 Stones…

Ticketmaster takes $22 million hit for charges
Contract , Live Events / March 2011
USA

CONTRACT Live events industry Ticketing and concert promotions giant Live Nation Entertainment has announced that it is taking a one-time, $22.3 million charge for expense against earnings to settle a class action lawsuit over the delivery and processing fees its Ticketmaster division charges. Specific details of the settlement were not disclosed, but in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the company said it was not admitting any wrongdoing in relation to the lawsuit, which originally had been filed in 2003 by ticket buyers Curt Schlesinger and Peter Lo Re. The two fans had argued that Ticketmaster’s fees of between $14.50 and $25 were misleading because they were profit generators for the company and not simply passed on fees related to delivery. In a SEC filing Live Nation said “Ticketmaster and its parent, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., have not acknowledged any violations of law or liability in connection with the matter, but have agreed to the settlement in order to eliminate the uncertainties and expense of further protracted litigation” … “Pursuant to the terms of the settlement, among other things, Ticketmaster will pay the fees of the claims administrator as well as the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and certain…

You’re a pain – Simon loses coffee appeal
Contract / January 2011
USA

CONTRACT Artists Carly Simon has failed for a second time to win damages from Starbucks over the release of her album by their short-lived music venture Hear Music in a case that provides a stark warning to artists over the pitfalls of some of the new and as yet untested business models. Simon had become angry with Hear, a joint venture between Starbucks and Concorde Music Group, when the promised promotion for her album ‘This Kind of Love’ failed to materialise. Starbucks responded by saying that it didn’t have any marketing commitments to Simon with regards the record as the company didn’t have a direct contractual arrangement with the singer, and her contract with Hear Music specifically excluded Starbucks from having any liability for the  album’s marketing. In the first hearing the court ruled in favour of the coffee firm but Simon was given the chance to resubmit. Despite evidence that Starbucks executives had reassured Simon about their commitment to their music projects and to marketing ‘This Kind of Love’ the court again ruled that the contract did not make Starbucks liable for marketing the album. CMU Daily offered this wise advice – “If nothing else, it’s a lesson to other artists taking a…

Pink Floyd has ringtone decision affirmed on appeal
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / January 2011
UK

CONTRACT Artists, record labels The Court Of Appeal has upheld a High Court ruling against EMI which will determine the way Pink Floyds is sold online and how the label should account to the band. Pink Floyd had objected to the   sale of the band’s albums on a track-by-track basis on digital services like iTunes and claimed that their 1967 contract with EMI prohibited the record company from selling their music in this way. The dispute focused on a clause in that contract which referred to EMI not selling any Pink Floyd records as ‘single records’ without the band’s permission. EMI’s legal team (perhaps optimistically) argued that the use of the word “records” in that clause only referred to physical records – ie vinyl or CDs – and not digital albums or singles. The Floyd’s lawyers argued that that was not in the spirit of the original agreement, and that the clause referred to the sale of all of the band’s recordings, not just those on physical products. In March a High Court judge sided with Pink Floyd (at a private hearing). EMI sought to appeal that judgment, but the Court Of Appeal yesterday dismissed their case meaning the earlier…

Terra Firma lose Citigroup claim
Contract , General , Record Labels / December 2010
USA

CONTRACT Record labels The Wall Street Journal report that EMI’s parent company Terra Firma has lost its legal dispute with Citigroup, in which it had alleged the bank misled it into paying too much to acquire the label.  Citigroup was found not guilty of fraud in a federal court in New York, after Terra Firma founder Guy Hands had alleged he was misled by Citi about competing bids for EMI. Terra Firma acquired the major label and music publisher for $6.3 billion in 2007 and the label has carried a heavy debt and Terra Firma has struggled to meet loan repayments to Citigroup. After the jury had revealed its conclusion, Citigroup’s legal representative Ted Wells criticised Terra Firma for pursuing the litigation. He told reporters: “I think Mr Wormsley was put through a terrible ordeal. He was totally innocent, he did nothing wrong. He is a man of honesty and integrity”.  EMI chief Roger Faxon insisted that the major was unaffected by the ruling, telling reporters: “EMI has had a solid operational performance over the last six months, driven by considerable success in both recorded music and music publishing. We are wholly focused on further developing our business, and on…

Swift faces action by ex-manager
Artists , Contract / November 2010
USA

CONTRACT Artists Taylor Swift’s one-time manager, Dan Dymtrow has filed a lawsuit against the popular US singer, her father-manager and her record label Big Machine. Dymtrow worked with Swift back in 2004 on her early recordings but was fired by Swift’s father  in July 2005 ahead of him signing his daughter to country indie Big Machine. Dymtrow claims that Taylor Swift’s father conspired to cheat him out of millions of dollars earned by launching the Grammy-winning country star because he discovered Swift, signed her in April 2004 when she was 14 and played a key role in building her career before being dumped in July 2005. |he argues that his management deals with Swift and parents Scott and Andrea Swift provided that he be paid between 5 percent and 10 percent commission (or more) from Taylor’s music career but that after developing Swift and introducing her to industry heavyweights like Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta, he was strung along by the family and then fired to avoid paying him. In response, the Swifts claim that because Dymtrow failed to obtain the required court approval of his management contract with Taylor, then a minor, she legally disaffirmed the deal in 2005,…

Eminen dispute goes back to court
Contract , Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2010
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Last month we reported on FBT’s success in challenging royalty rates calculated by Universal. FBT were Eminen’s production company – and now the rapper himself has begun an action – or rather re-commenced an action – again against Universal. Last year Eminem’s company Eight Mile Style sued Universal, UMG’s label Aftermath and Apple Inc over the sale of Slim Shady’s track on iTunes, it appears on the grounds that Universal did not have the rights to licence Eminem’s music for download. Based on that claim, Eight Mile Style said it was due millions in damages but the case was settled by Universal and/or Apple and a promised payment in damages of over $2 million was agreed. Now it seems that Universal and/or Apple have not made good on that promise and, according to DetroitNews.com, Eight Mile Style has now filed a new lawsuit at the Detroit District court requesting a judge enforce the earlier settlement. Should this get to court this time round, it’s not clear if the case would centre on the contractual agreement made last October or on Eight Mile Style’s original claim regarding the download rights in Eminem’s music. In related…

Article: MUSIC BUSINESS CONTRACTS
Contract / October 2010
UK

ARTICLE: Why sign a music business contract? by Ben Challis General Information: If you are an artist or a performer, then at some stage in your career you will undoubtedly enter into contracts – whether it is as “simple” as buying a piece of equipment or a musical instrument, or being booked to play at your local pub or club, or engaging a web designer to built your website. Perhaps more significantly you may be asked to sign a formal written agreement with a manager, a music publisher or a record label.  A contact is a legally binding agreement and can be enforced by the courts. This website does not offer formal legal advice and the information on this website should not be construed as legal advice. If you are entering into an agreement, in particular one which will have a long term impact on your career in the music industry, then it is important that you take proper legal advice from a qualified lawyer who has experience in the music industry and the legal system that applies to the contract. There are the names of some of the United Kingdom specialist lawyers listed on our ‘links’ pages and another…

Bob Marley copyright claim against UMG dismissed – but digital royalty claim left open.
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Record Labels / October 2010
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Artists, record labels This dispute concerned the ownership of the renewal term copyrights in certain pre-1978 sound recordings embodying the performances of Jamaican reggae artist, Bob Marley. The Sound Recordings were created pursuant to exclusive recording agreements between Bob Marley and the predecessor-in-interest (Island Records, now owned by UMG) to defendant UMG Recordings, Inc. The Plaintiffs argued that the renewal term copyrights in the Sound Recordings reverted to them under the Copyright Act of 1909 upon Bob. Marley’s death in 1981. The Plaintiffs also asserted claims for underpayment of royalties against UMG. But District Judge Denise Cote ruled that Universal Music holds the rights to Marley’s music, because Marley’s work was done on a “work for hire” basis: Judge Cote concluded that Marley’s recordings were “works made for hire” as defined under U.S. copyright law, entitling UMG to be designated the statutory owner and “author” of those recordings, for both the initial 28-year copyright terms and for renewals. Marley signed a number of agreements with Island including agreements in 1972,1974,1975 and 1992.  The 1972 Agreement states  “ The Artist shall during the period attend at such places and times as the Company shall reasonably require and shall render to the…

Jackson clan face cancellation claim from 1990 tour
Contract , Live Events / August 2010
South Korea
USA

CONTRACT Live events industry A new lawsuit, specifically targeting Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine Jackson, is being brought by a South Korean newspaper called The Segye Times in relation to a Jackson family tour that never happened back in the early nineties. The Segye Times is owned by the Unification Church, often referred to as the ‘Moonies’ after the church’s founder, Sun Myung Moon. It seems that in 1990 the Church had the idea of putting the whole Jackson family back on tour for the first time since 1984, and used their Korean media firm to negotiate a deal. The original plan involved Michael Jackson, though he never actually agreed to take part. Because of this refusal the whole project collapsed, but not before the Church, via their media firm, had paid out considerable advances which they claim $5.5 million, to Katherine, Joe and Jermaine Jackson. Michael Jackson settled a specific litigation against him in 1992, but the rest of the family failed to negotiate a deal so the whole dispute went to court in 1994. According to reports in the US, Katherine and Joe Jackson ignored the litigation, and therefore a judgement was made against them to the tune of…

Rooney win highlights importance of restraint of trade considerations when contracting minors
Artists , Contract , Restraint of Trade / August 2010
UK

CONTRACT Artists Whilst Wayne Rooney might be one of the planet’s best known football stars, the England and Manchester United striker’s legal triumph is an important reminder about the role of restraint of trade in contracts, particularly those involving minors. Rooney was accused of withholding commission on multi-million pound deals that had been brokered by the sports management firm Proactive, which used to represent him in a claim totalling £4.3 million. Rooney made no payments after the football agent Paul Stretford, a director and founder of Proactive, left in October 2008, taking Rooney with him. The 24-year-old was signed by Stretford for Proactive in 2002 when he was then 17 and he went from being an £80-a-week Everton trainee living in his parent’s council house in Croxteth, Liverpool, to being a Manchester United and England star enjoying multi-million-pound sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike and Coca-Cola. Rooney was unhappy about certain financial disclosures in Court but the case revealed the value of his image rights – in addition to his weekly £90,000 club salary for playing football, he receives £700,000 a month for image rights, as well as £1 million per annum from Nike and £237,000 annually from EA…

EFF files brief in support of secondary ticketers
Contract , Live Events / August 2010
USA

CONTRACT Live events industry TicketNews.com has published an interesting story about the secondary ticket market in the US. Stressing its belief that allegedly violating a private company’s terms of service is not a federal crime, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief calling for the dismissal of a computer fraud case against ticket broker Wiseguys Tickets. Described as a “Brief of Amici Curiae,” the document piggybacks a motion to dismiss the case filed by the defendants late last week before U.S. District Court Judge Katharine S. Hayden. Joining the EFF in signing the brief were the Center for Democracy and Technology; the Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys of New Jersey; and law professors Gabriel “Jack” Chin, Eric Goldman, Michael Risch, Ted Sampsell-Jones, and Robert Weisberg. The case itself was detailed in a 43-count federal indictment filed earlier in the year where the principals of Las Vegas-based Wiseguy Tickets are accused of computer fraud in procuring more than 1.5 million event tickets by allegedly hacking into the computers of Live Nation Entertainment’s Ticketmaster division and Tickets.com. Wiseguy resold the tickets and allegedly generated about $25 million. But, the company paid for the tickets it resold, and the question…

Axl Rose fights back over Azoff’s claims
Artists , Contract / June 2010
USA

CONTRACT Artists Axl Rose has responded to the lawsuit from his former manager Irving Azoff which claimws unpaid commission with a countersuit. Azoff, now a co-chief of the combined Live Nation Ticketmaster conglomerate, sued Rose back in March, claiming the Guns N Roses frontman had reneged on an oral agreement to pay him 15% of earnings from the band’s‘Chinese Democracy’ tour, which would paid over approximately $2 million. Rose had previously parted company with Azoff and his Front Line management firm, which is now the management division of the Live Master. In his countersuit, Rose claims that Azoff tried to force him to reunite with the original Guns N Roses line-up for a world tour, and got so absorbed with those doomed plans that he failed to properly promote the ‘Chinese Democracy‘ album as a result. He also alleges Azoff lied about the potential of a Van Halen/Guns n Roses “supertour” and then bungled the management of the tour. Interestingly Rose also accuses Azoff of misusing his combined role of manager, promoter, venue owner and ticketing maestro to force artists into projects in which they’d rather not participate. The lawsuit notes “Ticketmaster recently merged with Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in…

LA court dismissed Carly’s coffee claim
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / May 2010
USA

CONTRACT Record labels, artists A judge in Los Angeles has rejected a lawsuit from singer Carly Simon against coffee shifters Starbucks. Simon signed up to release an album via Starbucks’ short lived record company venture, Hear Music. ‘This Kind Of Love’, was released just as the coffee firm decided to bring the label project to an end, and Simon alleged that this  had a negative impact on the way her record was promoted and indeed sales of the album were disappointing, Simon accused the coffee firm of failing to fulfil its promises to market and promote the long player. She also said that bosses at the coffee giant had misled her when negotiating her record deal because they must have known the Hear Music venture was about to be scaled down, but they failed to share that information with her. Simon also argued that the coffee firm’s subsequent decision to discount her album in their own stores damaged her reputation. Starbucks refuted the allegations and said the main problem with the record release was that people just didn’t like the singer’s Brazilian-influenced fourteen track album. District Court Judge George Wu dismissed the case saying the singer’s contract with Starbucks said…

Prince settles on Dublin cancellation
Contract , Live Events / April 2010
Ireland

CONTRACT Live events industry Irish promoters MCD have settled a court action with Prince for cancelling a concert scheduled at Dublin’s Croke Park in 2008. MCD had alleged that the last minute cancellation was the fault of Prince, or his booking agents the William Morris Agency. Prince’s defence was that the singer never agreed to the gig, and the William Morris Agency had no business in telling MCD he had. MCD were looking for damages of 1.7 million Euros in the Dublin Commercial Court and MCD representative Denis Desmond told reporters that he was “delighted” with the outcome of the lawsuit. http://newsblog.thecmuwebsite.com/post/William-Morris-agent-in-court-over-Prince-cancellation.aspx http://www.current-movie-reviews.com/industry/2010/02/26/prince-settles-irish-lawsuit-for-cancelled-concert/ http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0223/breaking24.html

Sly Stone sues manager of twenty years
Artists , Contract / March 2010
USA

CONTRACT Artists Recording star Sly Stone filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday, claiming that his former manager committed fraud and breach of contract for more than twenty years. The lawsuit also accused Jerry Goldstein of breach of fiduciary duty and conversion for diverting, converting and misappropriating Stone’s royalties and assets, and demands a full accounting from royalty collection companies to determine actual amounts taken, but they are estimated to be in the $20-30 million range. Robert J. Allan of Allan Law Group, who represents Stone, said in a statement. “Not satisfied with the royalties he diverted from Sly Stone, Goldstein, without Stone’s knowledge or consent, registered his trade name — Sly and the Family Stone — with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as owned by a Goldstein company and borrowed millions of dollars secured by Sly’s future royalties.” http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/Music/2010/01/28/Sly-Stone-suing-his-former-manager/UPI-78131264717313/

Dre looks for the Death Row money
Artists , Contract / March 2010
USA

CONTRACT Artists Dr Dre has launched a lawsuit against Death Row Records claiming that he is owed royalties by the company. In legal documents filed in february he claims that he has received no payments from the company since 1996 and that the label’s re-release of a  collectors’ edition of his 1992 album ‘The Chronic’ and a greatest hits package were without his consent. Dre’s lawyer Howard King told a judge at the Los Angeles Federal Court “When it came to paying artist royalties and honouring limits on Dr Dre recordings that could be released, the ‘new’ Death Row Records, to quote our client, ‘forgot about Dre’. This lawsuit will make sure they remember”. The hip hop star is seeking unspecified damages for breach of contract, false advertising and trademark infringement. Death Row was acquired by media company WIDEawake last year. http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=380461

Britney’s alleged lip synching prompts political debate
Contract , Live Events / December 2009
Australia

CONTRACT Live events industry It all started when Britney Spears was alleged to have mimed on her recent fourteen date tour of Australia and now the great lip syncing debate continues and has clawed its way up the political agenda with the country’s Musicians Union stepping in and backing an Australian politician’s call for promoters to make it clear when artists are going to mime on their marketing literature. The Fair Trading Minister of New South Wales, Virginia Judge, got the ball rolling by saying her state government was considering new rules to force promoters to tell ticket buyers if artists would not be singing live at events, either on promotional literature or printed tickets. The story gained momentum when some Australian media reported that fans had walked out of Spears’ first gig in the country in protest at all the miming and whilst the reports of fans leaving have strongly denied, Indeed the promoters of Spears’ dates said that the singer makes no secret of the fact she mimes and that fans understand this is because of the lengthy energetic dance routines which add to the overall entertainment experience. The Musicians Union of Australia says that it backs Judge…

Sony re-release plan prompts police raid
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / October 2009
Mexico

CONTRACT Record labels, artists Sony Music have said that they are “surprised and disappointed” that their Mexican offices were raided by the local authorities following a dispute with singer Alejandro Fernández, one of Latin music’s biggest stars. Fernandez had a ten year relationship with Sony in Mexico as part \of a seven album deal but recently signed a new deal with Universal after his seven album contract with Sony came to an end and the dispute revolves around the disputed ownership of the master recordings made during the time Fernandez was signed to Sony, especially of recordings never released, and also of Sony’s rights to repackage past recordings and release new albums featuring old work. Sony recently announced that it intended to release a new album of old recordings to compete with the singer’s first new album for Universal and this appears to have prompted Fernandez’s management to issue Sony with a cease and desist letter in relation to their re-release plans and, when they didn’t comply, an application to the Federal Court in Mexico City. That court claim led to federal police searching Sony’s Mexico premises and, seemingly, seizing over 6000 CDs and other materials relating to Fernandez. Responding…

Aerosmith pay up for cancelled Hawaii show
Contract , Live Events / August 2009
USA

CONTRACT Live events Audience report that rock megastars Aerosmith have settled a class action brought by 8,700 concert goers after the band cancelled a show in Maui, Hawaii in September 2007. The band cancelled the show at the 10,000 capacity War Memorial Stadium to reschedule another earlier cancelled concert, this time in Chicago. However, the Maui show was never rescheduled and at the time the band said they would not be able to get their equipment to Hawaii in time, opting instead to play a private performance in Oahu in Hawaii a few days later for a reported $1 million fee. Claims from the cancelled Maui show included ticket costs and out of pocket expense including hotels and travel. It is thought most of the claims were successful costing the band anything between $500,000 and $3 million. Audience Magazine June 2009 issue 113  www.audience.uk.com

Are Universal being shady on digital royalties?
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / April 2009
USA

CONTRACT Artists, record labels By Cassandra Williams, postgraduate student at the College of Law There is currently a battle being fought over the rate of royalties an artist should receive for online sales.    A Los Angeles jury said the record company doesn’t have to pay producers more for songs sold online, upholding the music industry’s business model.  This decision prevents an upheaval of the music industry that would have greatly changed the financial relationship between labels and artists. Mark and Jeff Bass, brothers who own F.B.T. Productions, involved in the rapper’s early works, including his 1999 Grammy-winning album, “The Slim Shady LP,” sued Universal Music Group’s Interscope Records, accusing the music label of underpaying them on royalty payments for music downloads and mobile ring tones. The FBT v Universal case centres on the level of digital royalties that are due to artists and their collaborators. Record companies treat digital sales like physical sales, and pay artists a cut of revenue as a royalty – 12% in this case. FBT argued that digital sales are more similar to licensing deals where record companies licence the use of their recordings rather than selling actual copies. The Bass brothers, said their contract entitled…

Disappointed Miley Cyrus fanclub members win lawsuit
Artists , Contract / April 2009
USA

CONTRACT Artists Miley Cyrus’ fanclub has been ordered to extend the memberships of 700 Pennsylvanian fans free of charge as part of a settlement relating to complaints that they were not given promised priority access to tickets for a sold out show in Pittsburgh in January 2008, despite possibly being led to believe they would be. Nashville-based Interactive Marketing will also have to pay a $20,000 fine and put a notice on the fanclub’s website explaining that paying for membership does not guarantee early access to tickets. Although it agreed to the settlement, the company maintains that it did nothing wrong. CMU Daily www.thecmuwebsite.com

AEG may have to ‘self insure’ Jackson dates
Contract , Live Events / April 2009
UK

CONTRACT Live music Industy The insurance industry is taking a pragmatic view of Michael Jackson’s 50 date sell out run at London’s O2 (which may be extended) with a near universal reluctance to insure against cancellation and the £300 million resultant bill from a full cancellation. The Daily Telegraph quote AEG chief Randy Phillips as saying: “We would be prepared to self-insure to make up the dates. It’s a risk we’re willing to take to bring the King of Pop to his fans”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/mar/16/michael-jackson-o2-arena-insurance

Idol faces lawsuit over record deal
Artists , Contract / December 2008
USA

CONTRACT Television, artists American Idol bosses are threatening to take legal action against a former contestant, Josiah Leming, because he is planning to release an album, but not through the TV show’s associate label, SonyBMG. Leming, who was homeless when he entered the talent contest, made it through the audition process but not to the final 24 contestants who appear in the main show. However, all those who are selected to appear in the show sign a contract which only allows them to release music through SonyBMG. Leming’s debut album is due to be released in January by Warner Music, which has prompted Idol chiefs to send him a letter threatening to sue if he goes ahead with the release. A spokesperson for the singer told the New York Post: “Josiah was the only Idol contestant ever to get a record deal who didn’t make the top 24, and one of only four contestants to get a deal this year. He has personal reasons for getting his music out, threat or not. His mother has terminal cancer, and nothing is going to stop him from getting his music out while she is alive to share it. His album on Warner…

Clint Black files suit against ex-manager
Artists , Contract / December 2008
USA

CONTRACT Artists By E Thomas Wood writing in the Nashville City Paper Fifteen years ago country star Clint Black fell out with his manager, ZZ Top co-founder Bill Ham. He filed a lawsuit over royalties and publishing rights, eventually spending seven months mired in litigation before reaching a settlement and signing on with a new manager/accountant, Charles Sussman. Now Black is suing Sussman and his firm, Gudvi, Sussman & Oppenheim. In a complaint filed in the Davidson County Chancery Court, Black asserts that Sussman and his firm “repeatedly engaged in self-dealing, negligence, and/or gross negligence” in steering his finances. The lawsuit says Sussman convinced Black to assign more than $500,000 in royalties to Equity Records, an independent record label in which both Sussman and Black have minority ownership. Black says he got nothing in return for this arrangement and was, in effect, “providing Equity an interest-free, unsecured loan.” Further, he claims, Sussman was taking monthly payments from Equity without his knowledge. Black claims Sussman also had him sign more than $1 million worth of personal guaranties for Equity. Black also claims that Equity did seem to have the benefit of a long term agreement with rising stars Little Big Town but last…

Use of Doors name needs all band members to agree – dead or alive
Artists , Contract , Trade Mark / September 2008
USA

TRADE MARK/CONTRACT Artists The Calilfornia Supreme Court has decided that two surviving members of the 70s group, The Doors, Raymond Manzarek And Robert Krieger, who wanted to continue to perform under that name and then under the name Doors of the 21 st Century can use neither name. The original band featured John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison and Robert Krieger but after the Manzarek/Krieger tour grossed $8 million and used photographs of the original Doors in publicity Densmore and the family of Jim Morrison and his estate joined forces to prevent the use of the name. In reports, Densmore states he is simply fulfilling the wishes of Jim Morrison, having refused other lucrative offers for commercials and other use. The IPKAt reports that this is possible due to a “veto power” common in music contracts of the 1960s which requires all members of The Doors to be unanimous in any business agreements. As a result, each band member has a vote and the Morrison estate the fourth. Densmore and the families claimed that if the pair continued to use the name, The Doors of the 21st Century, it would compromise the band’s legacy. The Los Angeles Superior Court agreed…

Ticketmaster win case against queue jump technology provider
Contract , Copyright , Live Events / August 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT/CONTRACT Live Events Ticketmaster have won a case in the Los Angeles court against a technology company who they claimed had developed software which enabled ticket resellers to circumvent restrictions on their website in order to get priority and repeat access to in-demand tickets where the numbers of tickets offered per sale were limited. The ticketing giant claimed RMG Technologies’ software, sold mainly to ticket brokers and scalpers (touts), infringed their copyrights and interfered with their contractual relations with tour promoters. The court had already issued a temporary injunction stopping the distribution of RMG’s ticket acquiring technology, and last week’s court ruling means they will have to pay Ticketmaster the profits they made from it (about $18K), plus their legal costs. Welcoming the court ruling, Ticketmaster General Counsel Edward Weiss told reporters: “Consumers understand that there often simply are not enough tickets to meet demand, but RMG’s technology was used by some to unfairly cut to the front of the line. Ticketmaster will continue to fight for an equitable ticket distribution process”. Ticketmaster had already secured a preliminary injunction against RMG when U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins issued a preliminary order against RMG. The court order stemmed from a…

BPI confirms internet service providers will warn filesharers
Contract , Copyright , Internet / August 2008
UK

CONTRACT/COPYRIGHT Internet Hot on the heels of Virgin promising to contact customers who illegally download films, TV programmes and sound recordings, record label trade body the BPI has confirmed that BT is sending warning letters to customers of its internet service provider packages who the labels believe are acquiring music from illegal sources, telling said customers that uploading or downloading tracks to or from such sources is illegal. It was reported on IT website. Confirming they were now working with both BT and Virgin Media on the warning letter programme, the boss of the BPI, Geoff Taylor, said on Friday: “Establishing partnerships with ISPs is the No 1 issue for the BPI, and we are beginning to form positive working relationships with BT, Virgin Media and most of the other major ISPs”. ISPs had been resistant to taking on a more proactive role, and some still are, but with BT and Virgin Media on board more are now expected to follow. The labels want the ISPs to ultimately cut off persistent copyright infringers. Whether the ISP would do that, or even hand over the contact information of the individual (customer) to allow the labels to take legal action, remains to…

Doyle and McPhail lose boy band Busted battle
UK

CONTRACT Artists, music publishing Ki McPhail and Owen Doyle, who claimed claimed that they had been forced to sign away royalty rights worth £10 million (E12.4 million) after “threats” and “undue pressure” when they were sacked from the band in 2001 have lost their claim in the High Court in London. The pair claimed that they were owed the money for songs they had co-written with James Bourne and Matt Willis when the group formed earlier that year including the massive Year 3000 and That’s What I Go To School For. Mr Justice Morgan dismissed all their claims and criticised the evidence they gave in court saying of McPhail “If he did believe the evidence he gave to the court, it can only be because he has indulged in very extensive self-serving reconstruction in the period between the relevant events and the time of the trial and has now convinced himself that his reconstructed version of events really happened” adding that Doyle was “not a reliable witness” who “manifested a high degree of confusion and a failure to grasp the detail in relation to many of the significant events.” McPhail and Doyle then issued a statement that they were “disappointed” with the High Court ruling, but that they…

Hawthorne Heights agree to Victory album
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / July 2008
USA

CONTRACT Artists, record labels US emo band Hawthorne Heights have agreed to drop their previously reported 2006 lawsuit against Victory Records and will release their new studio album through the US independent. Hawthorne Heights had sued Victory for breach of contract, copyright and trademark infringement, fraud and abuse. The label countersued claiming the band were simply trying to get out of their record deal so they could sign to EMI’s Virgin Records and subsequently sued Virgin, too, claiming that the major had paid the band an advance while they were still under contract and helped them to fight their legal battle.Tragedy struck last year when guitarist and vocalist Casey Calvert died suddenly of accidental ‘combined drug intoxication’ while the band were on tour. In a final chapter, last week, Victory Records announced that they will release Hawthorne Heights’ third studio album ‘Fragile Future’ on 5 August. Hawthorne Heights’ Drummer Eron Bucciarelli said “We now regret having begun the lawsuit we filed in 2006. We should not have listened to those, who, for whatever reasons, were then advising us to pursue this strategy. We are sorry for having put Victory Records and Tony Brummel through this ordeal, and regret any negative…

Crue sue manager number two
Artists , Contract / July 2008
USA

CONTRACT Artists Motley Crue have issued legal proceedings against their former manager Burt Stein, and his companies B Entertainment and Gold Mountain Entertainment, alleging that he cost the band large sums of money by putting his own interests, and/or the interests of a specific band member who he also managed on an individual basis, ahead of the general interests of the group. The lawsuit, filed in the LA Superior Court on Wednesday is seeking both damages from Stein, and also court backing to their claim that Stein’s activities put him in breach of contract, thus rendering the manager/band agreement void and removing any obligations for the Crue to pay a cut of their income to him. This is seemingly a separate action to the dispute between the band and another former co-manager Carl Stubner, who was accused of damaging the band’s career and reputation, in the main by prioritising the career of Tommy Lee, who he had a separate individual management relationship with. The band and Stubner settled that dispute last month. Also from CMU Daily.

Atlantic and the Stone Temple Pilots go to court
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / July 2008
USA

CONTRACT Artists, record labels Atlantic Records has issued legal proceedings in the US District Court in Manhattan against two members of Stone Temple Pilots accusing them of trying to prematurely end their recording contract with the Warner Music Group label. The suit against lead singer Scott Weiland and drummer Eric Kretz says the pair have threatened to stop performing under their contract and have indicated they would like to end the agreement unless Atlantic makes significant changes. The record company said in the suit it wants the group to record a seventh album and deliver up to two more if Atlantic decides to option these. The group, whose momentum was often curtailed by Weiland’s drug problems, had fallen apart shortly after a 2002 tour. In late 2003, the other two members of the group, guitarist Dean DeLeo and bassist Robert DeLeo, were released by Atlantic from their recording contract as they said they wanted to pursue separate careers. Atlantic said in the lawsuit that the group, Weiland, Kretz and a returned DeLeos were now touring successfully and had indicated its intention to record together again. The record company said its contract with Stone Temple Pilots was written under New York…

Court of Appeal calls time in Quo battle: Lancaster and another v Handle Artists Management Ltd[2008] All ER (D) 308 (Apr)
Artists , Contract / June 2008
UK

CONTRACT Artists by Cassandra Williams, postgraduate student at the College of Law In the case of Lancaster and another v Handle Artists Management Limited and others [ 2005] All ER (D) 128 (Nov) a claim was made by two former Status Quo band members Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan for payment of back catalogue royalties primarily against the two continuing band members Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi who continued with others as status Quo (seehttp://www.musiclawupdates.com/06Januarylawupdates.htm) and initially resulted in a victor for Lancaster and Coghlan, The claim centred on certain ‘Pye’ royalties (going back to the sixties) and other Phonogram royalties (going back to the seventies). As was normal at the time, the Pye contracts were made directly with individual band members but as Status Quo became more successful the contractual arrangements “merged” with contracts made with the band’s corporate vehicles. At the end of the trial the Pye royalty claims were upheld and it was declared that the royalty shares belonging to the Claimants, Coghlan and Lancaster, were held by the continuing band members on constructive trust despite the fact that they had signed a deed relinquishing their rights to further – the trial judge constructed the deed of release signed by the…

Apple Corp to take action over Hamburg tapes
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artists, record labels The Beatles company, Apple Corps, has confirmed that it is planning legal action against Miami based Fuego Entertainment, Inc., which is planning on releasing live recordings of the Beatles singing various cover version during their pre-fame residency days in Hamburg. Apple have filed a suit in the Miami Federal Court. Fuego say they acquired the rights to the recordings from Jeffrey Collins, a producer and promoter who says he represented the DJ who actually recorded the live Beatles show at Hamburg’s Star Club back in 1962. Collins says the DJ who recorded the gig had permission to do so from the venue and it appears the permission of the band. Under UK copyright law the copyright would be owned by the person who facilitated the recordings – here the DJ. Ben Challis adds “in the UK, S9 of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 does provide that, in the absence of any contractual provisions to the contrary, the person who makes the arrangements necessary for the making of the recording (eg makes the arrangements, pays for and/or facilitates a sound recording) will be the owner. The case of Bassey v Icon limits this to the…

Pumpkins to sue EMI/Virgin over Pepsi Stuff promotion
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / April 2008
USA

CONTRACT Artists, record labels The Smashing Pumpkins are suing Virgin Records alleging that the label has breached its contract with the band by using the band’s name and music in promotional deals without their permission. The band allege that this has hurt the band’s image credibility with fans. The lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and the group say they have “worked hard for over two decades to accumulate a considerable amount of goodwill in the eyes of the public,” and that Virgin’s use of the band in a “Pepsi Stuff” promotion with Amazon.com and Pepsi Co. threatens their reputation for “artistic integrity.” Pepsi Stuff was an MP3 giveaway promotion in the US which was designed to promote the launch of Amazon’s DRM-free download service. Three of the majors made tracks available for the promotion, which music fans could download for free in return for vouchers from Pepsi bottles and the like. The band claim that their agreement with Virgin does not give Virgin the right to use the band in promotional campaigns to sell outside products. The lawsuit demands that Virgin pay with the profits earned in the promotion and asks for an injunction against using the Pumpkins’ name or music in the future. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003732670

Universal faces royalty dispute
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / March 2008
UK

CONTRACTS Record labels, artists CMU Daily report that Universal Music and one of its subsidiaries have “pervasively and systematically breached” artist agreements since at least 1998 by employing devious accounting tricks that conned artists out of royalties they were due” in a claim brought by high profile classic artists in a lawsuit launched against the major record company in the New York courts last week. Among the artists making the claim (or the estates of artists in the case of the dead ones) were Patti Page, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Les Brown, Richard Hayman, Dick Hyman, Woody Herman, Kitty Kallen, Frankie Laine, Tony Martin, John Mills, Jerry Murad, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Sarah Vaughn. The litigation claims Universal provided false information in its biannual royalty reports to artists between May 1999 and February 2007. It says: “Despite a relationship based on trust and manifold contractual obligations, and despite the fact that defendants realised an overwhelming windfall to both its finances and reputation as a result of this relationship” the major “utterly failed” to meet its contractual obligations. The lawsuit is seeking $6.07 million in allegedly lost royalties plus legal costs and punitive damages. However, Universal has denied any wrong doing,…