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

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Music publishing. Collection societies   Country music songwriter Shane McAnally is taking one of the USA’s big two collecting societies, ASCAP, to arbitration in a dispute over $1.3 million of “premium payments” that he says should have been paid for his top performing songs. Having left ASCAP for the new rights organisation, Global Music Rights, McAnally’s works were still administered by ASCAP for radio until ASCAP’s then current agreements with the broadcasters expired. The disputed payments stem from that period. The dispute relates to premium payments which are paid to writers by ASCAP in addition to standard royalties where certain “threshold numbers” are reached (in any one quarter). McAnally claims that once he was in the process of pulling his rights from ASCAP he no longer received the same premiums as his co-writers on certain songs that topped the country radio charts and was thus allegedly unpaid or underpaid premiums. The matter was initially heard by the collecting society’s ‘board of review’, which ruled that the organisation had applied its royalty payment rules correctly. But the writer disagrees and with the support of GMR is now taking the matter to arbitration. McAnally is quoted by The Tennessean as declaring ASCAP…

BMI hail 100% licensing win
USA

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Music publishing, collection societies   The head  of American collecting society BMI has written an opinion piece for Billboard hailing what he says is a victory in the log running 100% licensing dispute as a deadline is passed with no appeal from the Department of Justice who had fought the USA’s four  music collection societies, by BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC, challenging the convention that anyone wishing to broadcast or perform a work that was co-written and also administered by different societies must have a licence from all relevant societies, and pay royalties to each, pro-rata according to what percentage it controls. When the US Department Of Justice reviewed the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP in 2016, it announced that the two big American collecting societies were obliged to operate a so called ‘100% licensing system’. Both BMI and ASCAP objected to the DoJ’s new interpretation of the rules, the former fighting the ruling in the courts, the latter lobbying against it in US Congress. BMI’s pro-fractional licensing position was then endorsed by the courts and just before Christmas last year an appeals court upheld the original judgement upholding the fractional licensing system. The DoJ could have pursued…

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

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, collection societies   The South African Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has noted “with grave concern” the article published in City Press and News 24 Online News platforms on 1st April 2018 into what is “alleged to be the biggest music rights scam in South African history involving the legendary and multi-platinum selling gospel artist Hlengiwe Mhlaba. The report goes into worrying detail into the alleged theft over a period of years of royalties amounting to millions of rand due to the artist in question.” The Minister has given a directive to the legal unit of the Department of Arts and Culture to immediately initiate a process which will culminate in the appointment of a Commission that will be headed by a retired Judge. More here on the allegations made against collection society SAMRO here https://city-press.news24.com/News/gospel-shocker-how-black-musicians-got-screwed-20180401 The Chief Executive of SAMRO, Nothando Migogo, responds here  http://www.samro.org.za/news/articles/samro-ceo-response-media-reports

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

COPYRIGHT Merchandising   The dispute and controversy surrounding Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s line of musically themed T-shirts is drawing to a close. The Jenner line boasted a plethora of major rick star names, including Notorious BIG, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne and Tupac Shakur to name a few, but it seems the Jenner’s didn’t ask for any permissions. Indeed most of the people featured on the T-shirts were not happy at all, and cease and desist letters followed from their legal representatives. The Jenners went onto adhere to the requests in the letters and removed the offending T-shirts from sale, claiming that the design of the T-shirts was “not well thought out”. But Mike Miller, the photographer of the images of Tupac used by the Jenners, was even less happy. Tupac’s image may have been used, but he had never been approached by the Jenner’s or asked to consent to the use of his copyrighted pictures. In his claim it was stated that “at no times [had the Jenners] notified Miller that they intended to exploit his photography, let alone obtained his authorisation”. The representatives for the Jenners said the base T-shirts were obtained from a company licensed to sell them and went onto…

Tulisa wins a massive ‘scream & shout’ pay out
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Former N-Dubz member and X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos has reportedly won a 10% share of the songwriting income from the Britney Spears and will.i.am track ‘Scream & Shout’ after a six year dispute over who should share the royalties from the hit song.   Contostavlos argued that she had collaborated on an original version of the song ( then called I Don’t Give A F**k) with producers Jean Baptiste and Jef Martens, who work with will.i.am, the plan being to include it on her album ‘The Female Boss’. However the producers didn’t use the song  and instead Will.i.am used the song for a track featuring Britney Spears, with Spears apparently providing the vocals using Tulisa’s original vocals as a guide. The track ended up on will.i.am’s album ‘#willpower’ in 2012, accredited to Britney Spears and will.i.am. Tulisa, 29, immediately filed a claim and all income for the Number 1 hit was frozen by the court.   As the legal dispute continued, Tulisa insisted that Will.i.am and Britney’s version still included parts she had written including the line: ‘When you hear this in the club, you’d better turn this s**t up.’ It also transpired that some of Contostavlos’s vocals were still present on the final…

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

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, film and TV   U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos has made a monumental decision in favor of members of The National Music Publishers’ Association (incl. Sony/ATV & EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music and Imagem Music). Judge Ramos ruled that the owners of Wofgang’s  – a collection of thousands of live concert performances such as those of legendary Rock and Rollers Keith Richards, David Byrne and Michael Stipe – had committed extensive copyright infringement by streaming the collection to the public. Wolfgang’s (formerly Wolfgang’s Vault) is described as “a private music-focused company established in 2002 dedicated to the restoration and archiving of live concert recordings in audio and video format and the sale of music memorabilia. It began with the collection of the late promoter Bill Graham”. This saga dates back to 2015, when the NMPA led its members to bring legal action, alleging that the licenses required to stream a collection of works that was acquired from promoter Bill Graham and other operators of concert venues, had not been obtained. The main issue in the case pertained to approximately 200 musical compositions (with a separate class action also pending). As there was no…

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

COPYRIGHT All sectors   The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has introduced the Music Modernization Act with the goal of encouraging innovation and rewarding creativity in this increasingly digital age. Some of the antiquated law surrounding copyright in the U.S. is considerably flawed, and after years of reviewing the system under the leadership of Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte the new legislation incorporates elements of four previously introduced bills: the Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act, the CLASSICS Act, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act and an earlier version of the Music Modernization Act that was specific to songwriting. Following this step, the reforms will go before the full House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress.   The MMA, which contains many important changes to music licensing laws, addresses the following key issues:   * Creating a new collection entity to ensure that songwriters always get paid for mechanical licenses when digital services use their work * Establishing the same fair, market-based rate standard for both artists and songwriters whenever the government sets royalty rates * Closing the “pre-1972 loophole” so that digital services will pay legacy artists the compensation they deserve * Recognising producers and engineers in copyright law for the first time and protecting their right to collect royalties…

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

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the 2015 jury verdict which found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ infringed on the copyright in Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song ‘Got To Give It Up’. The decision had attracted widespread criticism and comment, not least as many commentators felt that the jury made their decision by comparing the ‘sound’ or vibe of the songs, rather than the actual song itself. The appellate panel’s  decision was a split decision, 2-1, with a scathing dissent from US Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen who is openly critical of the majority and said that the Marvin Gaye Estate had been able to “accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style.” The decision means that Thicke and Williams remain liable for $5.3m in damages and ongoing royalties to the Marvin Gaye Estate from future revenues earned from ‘Blurred Lines’. The majority of the panel (Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr and Judge Mary H Murguia) held that “Got To Give It Up” was entitled to broad copyright protection because musical compositions are not confined to a narrow range of expression. That said, the panel accepted, without deciding, the merits of the district…

BMI hail 100% licensing win
Competition , Copyright / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Music publishing, collection societies   The head  of American collecting society BMI has written an opinion piece for Billboard hailing what he says is a victory in the log running 100% licensing dispute as a deadline is passed with no appeal from the Department of Justice who had fought the USA’s four  music collection societies, by BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC, challenging the convention that anyone wishing to broadcast or perform a work that was co-written and also administered by different societies must have a licence from all relevant societies, and pay royalties to each, pro-rata according to what percentage it controls. When the US Department Of Justice reviewed the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP in 2016, it announced that the two big American collecting societies were obliged to operate a so called ‘100% licensing system’. Both BMI and ASCAP objected to the DoJ’s new interpretation of the rules, the former fighting the ruling in the courts, the latter lobbying against it in US Congress. BMI’s pro-fractional licensing position was then endorsed by the courts and just before Christmas last year an appeals court upheld the original judgement upholding the fractional licensing system. The DoJ could have pursued…

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

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Music publishing, collection societies   Country music songwriter Shane McAnally is taking one of the USA’s big two collecting societies, ASCAP, to arbitration in a dispute over $1.3 million of “premium payments” that he says should have been paid for his top performing songs. Having left ASCAP for the new rights organisation, Global Music Rights, McAnally’s works were still administered by ASCAP for radio until ASCAP’s then current agreements with the broadcasters expired. The disputed payments stem from that period. The dispute relates to premium payments which are paid to writers by ASCAP in addition to standard royalties where certain “threshold numbers” are reached (in any one quarter). McAnally claims that once he was in the process of pulling his rights from ASCAP he no longer received the same premiums as his co-writers on certain songs that topped the country radio charts and was thus allegedly unpaid or underpaid premiums. The matter was initially heard by the collecting society’s ‘board of review’, which ruled that the organisation had applied its royalty payment rules correctly. But the writer disagrees and with the support of GMR is now taking the matter to arbitration. McAnally is quoted by The Tennessean as declaring ASCAP…

Miley Cyrus on receiving end of copyright infringement lawsuit
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Miley Cyrus is facing a lawsuit from the Jamaican dancehall star Flourgon (Michael May)  which has been described in the popular press as a $300 million claim for copyright infringement which focuses on the lyrics single Cyrus’s 2013 hit single ‘We Can’t Stop’. In Flourgon’s ‘We Run Things’ the lyric reads ‘We run things, things no run we’. The similarity between the lyrics  is the basis of the claim which alleges that this line was utilised when Cyrus sings ‘We run things, things don’t run we’ in her We Can’t Stop. But Cyrus is not the only one in the firing line; the lawsuit also names Sony Records label RCA, the songs co-writers Rock City (Timothy Thomas and Theron Thomas), Mike Will Made It, and manager Larry Rudolph.   The lawsuit references the popularity of Flourgon’s 1998  track:  the song became a ‘cultural hit gathering significant sales and popularity’. ‘We Run Things‘ was well known within reggae and dancehall circles, both upon its release and to this day in various countries around the world. As such, it has influenced Caribbean culture significantly, says the lawsuit. Cyrus’s single was an international hit and reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100…

PPL and PRS for Music combine for joint licence
Copyright / April 2018
UK

COPYRIGHT Collection societies   PRS For Music and PPL have officially launched a new joint venture company which will provide one licence to cover all public performance rights. The new company will administer the joint licence – called TheMusicLicence which will allow users to play recorded music publicly in venues including bars, offices, gyms, fishmongers and music venues. The licence will cover users for the performing right in both recordings and songs. Suzanne Smith is the new head of the JV, joining from credit rating company Experian: “We are very excited to now offer customers of both PPL and PRS For Music a more streamlined approach for licensing their businesses to play and perform music” Smith said, adding “With the launch of TheMusicLicence we are providing one licence and one contact, enabling companies and organisations to enhance their customer and employee experience by playing music in their premises”. PRS For Music chief executive Robert Ashcroft said: “We have invested years of effort and millions of pounds to simplify music licensing for UK businesses and on behalf of PRS For Music, I am delighted to launch what is the largest joint venture of its kind in the world. This is the beginning of a new era…

French Minister Clarifies Statutory Provision on Copyright Contracts
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
France

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, audio-visual, music publishing     One of the striking features of French copyright law is the protection it affords to authors in their contractual dealings with would-be licensees and assignees. One of the key statutory provisions that contributes to this high level of protection is Section L.131-2 of the Intellectual Property Code (IPC), which until recently provided as follows: “Contracts for public performance, publishing contracts, and audio-visual production contracts defined in this Section shall be in writing, as shall be free authorizations to publicly perform.     In all other cases, the provisions of Sections 1341 to 1348 of the Civil Code shall apply.”   This provision sets out a rule whereby certain named contracts (viz., public performance, publishing and audio-visual production contracts) must be in writing.  (To this list must also be added, pursuant to a different section of the Code, contracts for the acquisition of audio-visual adaptation rights of a literary work). Courts have long recognized that the requirement for a written instrument under Section L.131-2 IPC is merely for evidentiary purposes (ad probationem ) and not for the contract’s validity (ad validitatem). In all other cases, the ordinary rules of evidence under the Civil Code apply. …

Swift copyright infringement allegation fails – but has one last play
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The copyright lawsuit filed against Taylor Swift claiming the lyrics to her 2014 track ‘Shake It Off’ infringed on a 2001 hit by American girl group 3lw has been dismissed by the federal court of California. The plaintiffs, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, of the 3lw track ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ claimed there were similarities between the lyrics that infringed their copyright. As there was no dispute over whether Hall and Butler owned their lyrics, or that Swift’s team had access to the song or that the underlying musical composition was similar and the case focussed on the lyrics The lyrics to the 3lw track include: “Playas, they gonna play/ And haters, they gonna hate.”   The chorus to Swifts’ chorus is: “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Swift’s lega; team had dubbed the claim a “money grab”.   US District Judge Michael Fitzgerald has now granted Swift’s the ability to dismiss the lawsuit. Howeever the plaintiffs will be able to amend their complaint if they can cite more similarities by February 26th.   Judge Fitzegerald said: “The lynchpin of this entire case is thus whether or not the…

Big win for US songwriters and publishers with rate hike
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The streaming royalty rate for songwriters in the USA has jumped 44%. The Copyright Royalty Board has confirmed that compulsory royalty rates in the US market will rise by just under 44% for songwriters over the next five years. The National Music Publishers Association, who lobbied for the improvement, called the ruling a “huge win for music creators”.    The streaming companies will now have to pay songwriters and publishers 15.1 percent of their revenues, up from 10.5 percent with the rate rising over five years. The rate-setting hearing pitted songwriters and publishers against the top streaming companies, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google, Pandora and Amazon.  It is the largest rate increase in CRB history. NMPA President & CEO David Israelite: “We are thrilled the CRB raised rates for songwriters by 43.8% – the biggest rate increase granted in CRB history. Crucially, the decision also allows songwriters to benefit from deals done by record labels in the free market. The ratio of what labels are paid by the services versus what publishers are paid has significantly improved, resulting in the most favorable balance in the history of the industry.” the CRB  also removed the Total Content Cost…

How should Europe remould the digital market ?
Copyright / March 2018
Australia
EU

COPYRIGHT All sectors: audio-visual, sound recordings, music publishing   An open letter, addressed to the European Parliament has asked MEPs to back an effort to reform the safe harbour laws and implement legislation to narrow the so called ‘value gap’. Not much new there? Well, the letter had two prominent signatories: the godfather of electronic music, Jean-Michel Jarre, and the Grammy Award winning Angelique Kidjo.  In essence, under the E-Commerce Directive, safe harbour laws as they stand mean that Internet Society Service Providers are not liable if they are unsuspectingly hosting copyright infringing content. If we look at the YouTube example, so much content is uploaded every day that it is practically impossible to sieve through it all for copyright infringing works, therefore if YouTube is doing all that it can to root out the infringing material it is protected under the safe harbour principle. Liability may arise if YouTube was put on notice of the infringing content and failed to remove it in a timely fashion.  Due to the quantity of infringing material out there and with entities only being liable in certain circumstances, not everyone is happy. Artists are not happy that their content is out there and…

US appeals court tells ISP that safe harbor comes with obligations
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, internet   A US appellate court has reversed a $25 million verdict against the US Internet Service Provider Cox Communications in what might be seen as a defeat for record label BMG, which had sought to hold Cox liable for copyright infringement for its subscribers who were sharing pirated files online. But looking at the judgment, and despite what looks like a set back for BMG Rights Management, it can be argued that its actually a win in the battle against piracy The decision, by a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, returns the case to the District Court for a new trial, based on a decision that there was an error in jury instructions. Irrelevant of arguments about safe harbor protection at the heart of the case, Cox might not been responsible for users’ infringement as companies are only liable for contributing to infringement if the companies either know about acts of infringement, or are wilfully blind to them, and the appellate court ruled that the trial judge, District Judge Liam O’Grady, incorrectly told the jurors that they could find Cox liable if it knew or should have known about infringement by users. “The formulation ‘should have known’…

“We Shall Overcome“ is now in public domain
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   In September 2017, the lawsuit between music publishers The Richmond Organisation-Ludlow Music Inc (TRO-Ludlow) and the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF) and Butler Films LLC saw US District Judge Denise Cote’s ruling that placed the first and fifth verse of the time-honoured iconic protest song We Shall Overcome firmly in the publicdomain.  A hearing was scheduled for March 2018 to decide on verses 2, 3 and 4 of the 1960 version, and verses 7 and 8 of the 1963 version.  The late folk singer Pete Seeger had been credited with writing verse 2 of both versions and verse 8 of the 1963 version. However, it was announced on 26th January 2018, that a settlement had been reached between the parties that puts the lyrics and melody to both versions of the song into the public domain, and that the publisher would retain copyright on the song’s musical arrangement.  A spokesperson for TRO-Ludlow said the litigation had become expensive and had cost far more than the song had earned back in recent years. In a statement, the publisher said that songwriter royalties, since the early 1960s, have been donated to the Highlander Research and Education Center, a non-profit social justice…

US appellate court upholds fractional licensing
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishers, broadcasting   Songwriters and music publishers in America have welcomed an appeal court that has dismissed the Department of Justice move to introduce “100% licensing”, confirming the current system that the so called “fractional licensing” system for co-written songs with different publishers (and sometimes multiple collection societies with a ‘fraction’ of the song). With collaborating writers free to choose from four different societies in the US (BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC) a third party wishing to broadcast or perform that work must still be licensed by ALL relevant  societies, and pay royalties to each, pro-rata according to what percentage it controls. The US Department Of Justice had different ideas, and having reviewed the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP moved to force the two big American collecting societies to operate a so called ‘100% licensing system’ with any society able to offer a ‘100%’ licence,  a one stop shop for customers, provided the licensing PRO then passed on the relevant share(s) to other societies who owned a fraction of the work.  In September 2016 Judge Louis L Stanton (who oversees the BMI consent decree) ruled that the DoJ had been wrong to infer a 100% licensing obligation…

Eminen-esque to be appealed in New Zealand
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
New Zealand
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   In October 2016, New Zealand’s High Court ruled that the National Party had infringed on singer Eminem’s copyright in Lose Yourself  and awarded the rapper’s publisher NZ$600,000 (£315,000) in damages, saying that the political party’s use of a track titled ‘Eminem Esque‘ that was “sufficiently similar” to Eminem’s original song was infringement, noting that Lose Yourself was a “highly original work” and the “soundalike” version substantially copied it. Lose Yourself’ was composed by Marshall Mathers III (Eminem), Jeffrey Bass and Luis Resto (Eight Mile Style) in 2002. The court said: The differences between the two works are minimal; the close similarities and the indiscernible differences in drum beat, the ‘melodic line’ and the piano figures make Eminem Esque strikingly similar to Lose Yourself. Eminem Esque substantially reproduces the essence of Lose Yourself. The parts of Eminem Esque used in the National party’s campaign advertisements also substantially reproduce Lose Yourself.”   Now the two United States publishing companies that control and administer copyright for Eminem’s award-winning rap hit, Lose Yourself, are asking to have the award of damages increased. The advert was widely shared, but National Party is seeking a lower figure, saying Justice Helen Cull was wrong to accept evidence that the internet availability…

Music Modernization Act launched in the US
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Two US Congressmen have launched a proposed new statute that has the support of both music owners and music users in an effort to overhaul of the mechanical royalties system in the US. Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries say that the Music Modernization Act would “bring music licensing its first meaningful update in almost 20 years”. With no collecting society offering a blanket licence covering the so called ‘mechanical rights’ in songs, music users must identify the owners of every song they copy, and make sure those owners receive the licensing paperwork and fixed royalty rate set out in American copyright law. Its not easy – the streaming platforms, which concurrently exploit both the performing right and mechanical right elements of the song copyright. Last May, Spotify came to a proposed $43 million settlement to resolve a class action from songwriters led by David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick. The plaintiffs in that case had alleged that Spotify hasn’t adequately paid mechanical licenses for song compositions. In July, Spotify was hit with two lawsuits, including one from Bob Gaudio, a songwriter and founding member of the group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Now Spotify has been hit with a $1.6 Billion…

Is there a lawsuit creeping up on us?
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   For perhaps the first time this year it appears there may, or may not, be a Blurred Lines effect case on the horizons.     Lana Del Rey recently tweeted: “it’s true about the lawsuit. Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by ‘Creep’, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing. I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court”.” Whilst many took this to mean a lawsuit had been filed by Radiohead’s lawyers, that isn’t quite the full picture.   First a bit of background and in short the dispute revolves around Radiohead claiming that Del Rey lifted aspects of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and placed it in her song ‘Get Free’.  If you listen to the two you may feel the same. You may not!   It was alleged by Del Rey that she was being sued and that Radiohead’s lawyers were demanding 100% of the publishing rights to Del Rey’s song. However, in a twist, Warner/ Chappell, Radiohead’s music publisher have stated that there is no lawsuit and the company has not asked for…

YouTube adopts ISNI to help allocate payments
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / February 2018
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, music publishing   YouTube is to begin issuing International Standard Name Identifier  (ISNI) numbers to creators. The platform has become a registration agency which means it will now start requesting and issuing ISNI codes from and to any creators who publish content, including musicians and songwriters in a move which should help with attribution and royalty payments. ISNI numbers can cover “researchers, inventors, writers, artists, visual creators, performers, producers, publishers, aggregators, and more”. YouTube will use the ISNI code to identify musicians and songwriters on its platform, allocating numbers to those who don’t already have one. It also plans to share those codes with any one creator’s business partners, such as record labels and music publishers, to encourage wider adoption of the identifier system. YouTube’s Technical Program Manager FX Nuttall said “By adopting ISNI, artists, songwriters and other creators will be unambiguously identified, enabling better visibility and tracking on YouTube. Bringing the ISNI open standard to music opens the door to more accurate credit for creators, discovery for fans, and transparency for the industry”. The ISNI International Agency’s Executive Director Tim Devenport said: “We’re delighted to partner with YouTube on such an ambitious effort. Many organisations active in the…

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

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

Are YouTube gagging artists in the copyright debate?
Censorship , Copyright , Internet / February 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT / CENSORSHIP Internet   Hot on the heels of a report by Bloomberg that YouTube had asked musicians to agree not to disparage the streaming-video service in exchange for promotional support as a way to silencing criticism by artists, the Content Creators Coalition (C3) has urged Congress to investigate the so called  ‘non-disparagement agreements’. YouTube meanwhile is trying to stem the damage, and has played down reports that it includes non-disparagement agreements in contracts with some artists which would prevent those musicians from criticising the Google platform – although the company admits that a small number of current agreements tied to original content and/or promotional work may include “general language around conduct”. US artist-led lobbying group C3 has called on the Judiciary Committees to investigate the non-disparagement clauses in partnership agreements. In its report, Bloomberg conceded that such terms “are common in business”, but noted that it seemed only YouTube had extended the the music streaming marketplace. In a letter to the chairs of the Congressional Judiciary Committees in both the Senate and the House Of Representatives, C3 argues these clauses are “clearly aimed at thwarting the Congressional review of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s [provisions for] ‘safe harbor’ as well as the…

No safe harbour for Google in Oz
Copyright , Internet / January 2018
Australia

COPYRIGHT Internet   Google and perhaps more importantly YouTube will be excluded from new proposed extended safe harbour provisions which form part of the copyright law reforms in Australia. Australia had a very narrow definition of safe harbour and currently these only apply to commercial Internet service providers. After extensive lobbying by the technology sector in Australia, who of course want wider safe harbour provisions, the Australian media and music industries hit out at proposed reforms pointing out that current safe harbour systems that operate in America and the European Union under review. And the Austrlian government seems to have listened, and the new beneficiaries of the safe harbour under the latest proposals are libraries and educational or cultural institutions. Australia’s Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said that safe harbour protection would initially be extended to organisations that “provide beneficial services to all Australians and who are working collaboratively with copyright owners to address infringement”. The Government now plans further consultation on extending the safe harbour to the technology sector and in particular the likes of Google and Facebook but Fifiled added they would be “mindful of the need to ensure the rights of creators are properly protected” adding “Australia’s copyright industries make a significant…

Apple Music in hot water over unpaid mechanical royalty payments
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2018
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Mechanical royalties are the royalties paid to a songwriter when a copy of the songwriter’s song is reproduced. The term mechanical royalties dates back to the days when music was recorded on piano rolls. Nowadays, it relates to the sale of any sound recording that is within copyright. Therefore, every time a sound recording is manufactured into a CD, downloaded, or streamed this “mechanical” process will generate a royalty. The royalty will then usually be passed through the collection societies and to the songwriter, well not in Apple Music’s case.  Apple Music has found itself in “treble” ;) over allegations of not paying the correct mechanical royalties due to US songwriters. However, mechanical royalties and streaming platforms are having bit of a hard time as of late. Spotify, Tidal, Slacker and Google Play have all been on the receiving end of mechanical royalty payment lawsuits.  Generally speaking the streaming platforms are claiming that they want to pay songwriters their due mechanical royalties. But, because of inefficient US framework for the collection of mechanical royalties in the US it is difficult for the streaming platforms to pay every songwriter. In the streaming platforms’ defence, unlike the UK,…

Bjork: the new kid on the blockchain
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2017
Iceland
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music   The Icelandic singer, songwriter and DJ, Bjork, is very well known for being a “restlessly experimental creative force” and is releasing her new album, Utopia, on the blockchain. She has announced that the latest album will only be available for purchase by way of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain, at its core, is a decentralised distributed ledger that registers and validates transactions without the need for a central authority. Further, the information that is stored on the blockchain is virtually tamperproof because of cryptographic hashes. This all means that two parties are able to exchange currency, data, or almost anything else in a secure way. Bjork has teamed up with British start-up Blockpool to put blockchain on the centre stage for the new release. Fans will need Bitcoin, Litecoin, DASH, or AudioCoin if they wish to purchase the album. In fact, it will not be possible to purchase the album with usual currency. Further, whilst fans will need cryptocurrencies to purchase the album, they will also receive cryptocurrency for doing so. Fans of Bjork will be given 100 Audicoins, a cryptocurrency designed for the music industry and currently worth around $0.19 each, when they purchase the album. Fans will…

Two big decisions examine web blocking in the USA
Copyright , Internet / December 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   In the space of under a week there have been two big cases in the USA looking at web blocking – and with differing results.  First off, a federal judge in California has issued a preliminary injunction preventing Canada’s Supreme Court from forcing Google to de-list websites for Datalink on its American search engine. The Canadian Supreme Court (Google Inc v Equustek Solutions Inc, 2017 SCC 34) affirmed the decision from the Supreme Court in British Columbia and ordered Google to delist a tech company’s website(s) worldwide. The music industry trade body Music Canada welcomed the judgement saying it was “a crucial development given that the internet has largely dissolved boundaries between countries and allowed virtual wrongdoers to move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in search of the weakest enforcement setting”.   The web giant responded by saying the ruling conflics with the right to a freedom of expression  contained within the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and that the Canadian Supreme Court had no right meddling with the American Constitution. Google’s argued “This is about whether a trial court in a foreign country can implement a law that is violative of the core values of this country … imagine if we…

Owners of “Happy Together” lose Florida copyright case
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, broadcasting   Another court in another state has ruled that pre-1972 copyrights are NOT protected by state copyright law – and they never have been. The Florida Supreme Court, following in the footsteps of New York State’s appellate court, has ruled that its state law, which governs sound recordings made before 1972, doesn’t include a right to control public performances in sound recordings, including radio plays. Commentators said that both this decision and the reasoning behind it are good news for digital broadcasters and possibly their radio listeners,  but less so for the owners of copyrights. As readers will be aware, there is an unusual position in the USA when it comes to paying for the use of sound recordings on the radio – there is no such payment due from ‘traditional’ radio stations, and AM/FM radio has never paid royalties for using sound recordings, whether on current hits or  ‘golden oldies’ either. This changed in 1972 with new satellite and digital broadcasters liable to pay – but a number of copyright owners and in particular Flo & Eddie, former members of 1960s group The Turtles, argued that pre-1972 recordings would be protected by state law, so…

National Party’s use of ‘sound alike’ song DID infringe on Eminen’s ‘Lose Yourself’
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2017
New Zealand

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   New Zealand’s High Court has ruled that the National Party had infringed the copyright in Eminem’s iconic song ‘Lose Yourself‘ in a 2014 political campaign by using a ‘sound alike’ song and has awarded the rapper and his co-writers’ publisher NZ$600,000 (AU$535,000/ £315,000) in damages.  The publisher filed proceedings against New Zealand’s then governing party in September 2014 for using a version of the chart-topping song Lose Yourself in an election campaign advertisement.   The key issue for determination by the Court was whether the “sound-alike” production track, called ‘Eminem Esque‘, was sufficiently similar to the 2002 music of ‘Lose Yourself’, so as to constitute a breach of copyright.  ‘Lose Yourself’ was composed by Marshall Mathers III (Eminem), Jeffrey Bass and Luis Resto (Eight Mile Style) in 2002. The composition is regarded by Eight Mile Style as the most valuable work in their catalogue and had only rarely been licensed for use, and never as part of a political campaign.   The High Court ruled that Eminem Esque was “sufficiently similar” to Eminem’s original song that it infringed copyright and that ‘Lose Yourself’ was a “highly original work” and that the infringing song bore only minimal differences to the original,    The tensions between illegitimate copying versus permissive borrowing…

New copyright tariffs for Germany’s live sector
Copyright , Live Events / November 2017
Germany

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Following lengthy negotiations which involved court action from two of Germany’s live entertainment business associations, a new concert tariff rate has been agreed between representatives of the country’s live music sector (BDV and VDKD, which represent the majority of Germany’s concert promoters) and performance royalty collection organisation GEMA. Collected on behalf of songwriters and music publishers, the rate will now be calculated on a net basis of ticket sales, instead of gross, with other services including camping fees at festivals and sponsoring income taken into account. The new rate will be 5.75% of net receipts for events under 2,000 people (it is currently 5% on gross receipts), 7.6% for 2,000–15,000-capacity shows (currently 7.2%) and 8% for events with a capacity of 15,000+ (currently 7.65%).   The German PRO collected €1.02bn in royalty payments in 2016, including €371.1m in public performance fees, in its most successful financial year to date. GEMA has faced increasing criticism in recent years, and artists and event-organisers have demanded a revision of GEMA’s regulations with respect to better transparency, adjusted payment methods and other critical points.  In the live sector, the large discounts offered to some promoters have attracted criticism some of the…

Spotify face multiple mechanicals challenges
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, streaming   Another US lawsuit has been added to the mounting litigation against Spotify and the streaming platform’s alleged failure to pay mechanical royalties in the USA for the right to ‘copy’ a song (rather than the ‘performing’ right).    In fact there were three developments: an objection to Spotify’s proposed settlement of the original class action on this issue, a rebuttal of its most recent legal arguments, and a brand new lawsuit. Hypebot’s take is this: “The recorded music industry is in the midst of a renaissance thanks to revenue from a single source – streaming. But a growing string of lawsuits filed by songwriters and publishers, and an aggressive new legal tactic by Spotify, threatens the company’s pending IPO and could derail the industry’s delicate recovery” US law provides a compulsory licence covering mechanicals, but this put Spotify under an obligation to contact (and pay) the copyright owners of every song it streams (or in default of finding an owner, alert the US Copyright Office) and Spotify hired the services The Harry Fox Agency to undertake this role. The fact songwriters and music publishers were receiving payment for their performing right via collection societies such as ASCAP…

Sony and Dubset conclude ground breaking ‘remixing’ deal
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Sony Music have recently signed a deal with Dubset to ‘legalise’ remixes of their songs. The project follows on from the Content ID agreement between YouTube and music publishers in 2012.    ‘Sampling is just a longer term for theft … Anybody who can honesty say sampling is some sort of creativity has never done anything creative’. Those were the words of The Turtles’ Mark Volman during an interview with the L.A. Times during the 1991 lawsuit his group levelled against hip-hop group De La Soul for their ‘Transmitting Live From Mars’. As a result of the out-of-court settlement, the group’s iconic album 3 Feet High and Rising is still unavailable on major streaming services.   At the turn of the millennium, the costs of sampling were so great that scholar Wayne Marshall declared that the costs had led to the ‘giving up’ its firstborn, with the heavily-sampled layers of Public Enemy replaced by the authenticity articulated by band The Roots. Yet, Moses is not yet in the bulrushes.   As I pointed out in my recent article on Chance the Rapper, free mixes and mixtapes circulated in the grey area of SoundCloud’s free content have only gained in prominence….

Mixtape Mistake?
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Three-time Grammy-winning Chicago-native Chancellor Johnathan Bennett aka Chance the Rapper was sued for copyright infringement last week. The suit was filed by Abdul Wali Muhammad on the 12th September in an Illinois District Court. Muhammad is a musician-turned lawyer, who copyrighted the composition of ‘Bridge Through Time’ in 1979.  Muhammad’s claim rests on Bennett’s sampling of his composition in the track ‘Windows’ from his debut mixtape as Chance, 10 Day. The sampling of the track is quite clear with it forming the beat to ‘Windows’. The only modifications made by producer Apollo Brown were a slight move from 81 to 80 BPM and the track moved down a semitone. Whilst the use of copyrighted material is fairly obvious, Bennett’s particular approach to the music industry makes the case interesting. Bennett wrote 10 Day after being suspended from school in 2011. ‘Waves’ was released in December 2011 and soon after Complex listed him as one of ‘10 New Chicago Rappers To Watch Out For’ in February 2012. The mixtape itself was only self-released on DatPiff.com in April 2012. Since then it has been downloaded for free 538,617 times (as of 18th September 2017) from that…

“We Shall Overcome” – Free at last!
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   We Shall Overcome was labelled by the US Library of Congress as “the most powerful song of the 20th century”. It was a unifying anthem for the 1940s labour protests and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement led by Dr Martin Luther King, and came to symbolise the spirit of protest.     When back in 2012, the producers of the film “The Butler”, a film based on the African-American Civil Rights Movement viewed through the eyes of a White House butler, approached The Richmond Organisation (TRO) and Ludlow Music Inc, publishers of We Shall Overcome, to licence the rights to the popular protest song, they were met with a demand for $100,000 for the use of “Verse 1” in the film.  They eventually agreed to licence a three second clip for a payment of $15,000. Then in February 2015, the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF), a faith based non-profit organisation which took their name from the song, wanted to include a performance of the first verse of We Shall Overcome, sung ‘a capella’, in a documentary being made about the origins of the song.  A representative approached TRO-Ludlow Inc for a quote to licence the synchronisation rights and despite…

YouTube-MP3 agrees to shutter
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / October 2017
Germany
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   YouTube-mp3 has agreed to shut down and hand its domain(s) over to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With millions of visitors each day, the ‘steam ripping’ YouTube-MP3.org was one of the most visited websites on the Internet.  Last year, the Germany-based YouTube to MP3 converter website was sued by the RIAA for copyright infringing their rights.  It had also been sued by the record industry in its home country in 2013. Now in an agreed settlement, YouTube-MP3 will shut down indefinitely. The BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) were also parties to the action, which accused the site of not only copyright infringement, but also circumventing YouTube’s copy protection mechanism, and violating the USA’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A report earlier this year by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and PRS For Music said that stream ripping was now the “most prevalent and fastest growing form of music piracy”. According to an IFPI  report published last year, the site has been reportedly attracting more than 60 million monthly visitors. In the same report, it was mentioned that 50 percent of the 16 to 24-year-old survey respondents used stream ripping services…

“Uptown Funk” hit with one more writer
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   A complaint has been filed in the US District Court of New York by Lastrada Entertainment Company Ltd, the publishers of “More Bounce to the Ounce” written by Roger Troutman and ZAPP.  The suit is against Mark Ronson, Philip Martin Lawrence, Jeffrey Bhasker, Sony/ATV, Warner/Chappell, Vevo, Spotify, Apple and others.  Lastrada is seeking damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, a permanent injunction against profiting from the alleged infringement, and a jury trial to decide the matter.   The latest lawsuit draws parallels with “Blurred Lines” between the estate of Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, where the claimants asserted that the respondents unintentionally copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up”. The suit went to a jury trial who decided in favour of the estate and the claimants were awarded $7.4 million in damages and a share of the profits.   The background is that “Uptown Funk” is the lead single from the album of the same name by uber-producer Mark Ronson recorded with Bruno Mars on vocals and released by RCA Records on 10th November 2014.  It was a worldwide hit spending 14 consecutive weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and topping the charts…

Grande face new US claim in wake of Cox ruling
Copyright , Internet / September 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   US internet service provider Grande Communications is fighting back against the action iy faces which was commenced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).   Earlier this year, the RIAA sued the Texas internet service provider claiming that “Despite their knowledge of repeat infringements, defendants have permitted repeat infringers to use the Grande service to continue to infringe plaintiffs’ copyrights without consequence”.   The move comes in the wake of the recent ruling in the dispute between music rights firm BMG and internet service provider Cox Communications, in which the court found that internet service provider Cox was liable for the copyright infringement of its customers.  The judge held this because Cox Communications operated a (deliberately) poor system for dealing with copyright infringing customers, Cox could not rely on the safe harbour defence in US law.   Now the RIAA is looking to have Grande Communications held liable for the copyright infringement of its customers. The RIAA plans to do this on the basis that Grande Communications isn’t doing enough to deal with said infringers, and therefore will not be able to rely on the safe harbour defence. In 2014 Cox was accused of repeatedly refusing “to…

The European Copyright Directive, safe harbour and the value gap found in the middle of it
Copyright , Internet / August 2017
EU

COPYRIGHT Internet, digital   The EU’s E-Commerce Directive created the ‘safe harbour’ to protect Information Society Service Provides (ISP) where, subject to certain requirements, they unknowingly provided copyright-infringing material.   Take the YouTube example; due to the scale and amount of content that is uploaded to YouTube on a daily basis, it is almost an impossible task to monitor all content for copyright-infringing material. Therefore, and providing YouTube is doing all that it can in actively monitoring for copyright infringing content, it is protected by the ‘safe harbour’ rules. These rules mean that YouTube cannot be found to be liable for the infringement. However, with all rules there is an exception, the general exception for the safe harbour rules mean that if a ISP is put on notice that it is hosting infringing material it must act efficiently and expeditiously to remove the content, if this does not happen the ISP may be found to be liable.   It has been argued by both the music publishing and recorded music sectors that sites such as YouTube exploit the safe harbour rules. It is said that YouTube uses the safe harbour rules to effectively pay (much) lower royalties to copyright holders and this…

US music publishers up the stakes with Spotify
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, collection societies   Tensions between Spotify and National Music Publishers Association are reportedly rising in the USA with the arguments now focussing on the so called ‘mechanical right’ which generates a mechanical royalties on Spotify streams – and which cannot be collected bu US collecting societies BMI and ASCAP which only represent the performing rights in songs. Spotify can benefit from the compulsory licence schemes for mechanical rights Stateside, and hired The Harry Fox Agency (previously owned by the NMPA) to manage the process, but a group of independent songwriters and music publishers  who were  not represented by HFA went unpaid, and this resulted in class action litigation led by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick – a battle where the NMPA intervened as a peace maker: as the legal battle began in early 2016, the NMPA announced a settlement deal with Spotify over previously unpaid mechanicals. Subsequently Lowery and Ferrick’s class actions were settled in May this year. But now reports say that the NMPA has been pushing for new commitments from Spotify (not least as the major recorded music groups have equity stakes in the soon to be listed streaming giant – unlike the major music publishers) and are challenging the streaming company’s…

Cross party support to protect pre-1972 sound recordings and a new music database in the USA
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   US legislation has been introduced to close the long-standing anomaly in US copyright law which means that pre-1972 sound-recordings are nor protected by federal law, a position highlighted in the long running litigation between SiriusXM and Flo & Eddie, the California corporation with the rights to songs by the 1960s group The Turtles (“Happy Together,” “She’d Rather Be With Me”).   The Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service and Important Contributions to Society Act (CLASSICS) was introduced by a group of House Republicans and Democrats, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). Issa is the chairman of a key House Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property, and Nadler is the ranking member The legislation would make the owners of the pre-1972 recordings eligible for royalties for digital broadcast. The legislation also ensures that artists are entitled to the same share of royalties regardless of whether a label and a digital music platform reach an agreement on payment. “This an important and overdue fix to the law that will help settle years of litigation and restore some equity to this inexplicable gap in our copyright system,” Issa said. “For years, we have been working to ensure…

Will legalities rain down on the Purple Rain stage show?
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector, music publishing   It has been announced that a ‘jukebox musical’ made up of Prince’s songs will tour the UK next year and the current plan is that it will open very shortly with a string of dates across the UK.     I say plan because Prince’s family or the Prince estate has not given permission for the musical. In fact, Troy Carter, entertainment advisor to the Prince estate has explained that “Neither Prince’s family nor the estate have given permission to use his name, likeness or music catalogue for this event”,   But do they need permission?  With the music, there are two licensing issues that must be taken into account.    Firstly, let’s take the boring option, if the Purple Rain musical is in essence just a band performing Prince’s catalogue of music, nothing more, nothing less, so in effect a tribute band playing Prince songs (albeit under the guise of a musical) it would be likely that permission of the Prince estate would not be needed. This is because it is possible to obtain, or play a venues where  a PRS ‘blanket licence’ will cover the public performance of the musical works.   Now, the more…

Stream-ripping tops music piracy chart
Copyright , Internet / August 2017
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, digital   A study carried out by PRS for Music and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), has found that stream-ripping is now the most prevalent and fastest growing form of music piracy in the UK, with nearly 70% of music-specific infringement dominated by the illegal online activity.   Research revealed that the use of stream-ripping websites, which allow users to illegally create permanent offline copies of audio or video streams from sites such as YouTube, increased by 141.3% between 2014 and 2016, overwhelmingly overshadowing all other illegal music services.   In 2016, PRS for Music and the IPO jointly commissioned two separate studies by INCOPRO and Kantar Media to better understand stream-ripping and its impact on the UK market and online consumer behaviour. Over 9,100 consumers participated.    Stream-ripping can be carried out via apps, websites, plug-ins or specially developed software on any online audio and video content to create a permanent audio-only copy of the music, without the rightsholders’ permission. Once saved, the track/file can be listened to offline on any digital device such as smartphones and tablets.   YouTube was found to be the most popular source of content for these sites, used by 75 of…

France’s Highest Court Rules in Favor of Freedom of Expression of Director over Heirs’ Droit Moral
Copyright / August 2017
France

COPYRIGHT Theatre   This article was written by Marie-Andree Weiss   Readers of the 1709 blog may remember that the Paris Court of Appeals found in October 2015 that the staging of the opera Le Dialogue des Carmélites by Dmitry Chernyakov for the Munich Opera in 2010 violated the moral rights of composer and librettist Francis Poulenc, which adapted the eponymous theatrical play by Georges Bernanos.   Le Dialogue des Carmélites tells the story of French aristocrat Blanche de la Force who decides to enter the Carmelite Convent, possibly to be sheltered from life, as she is fearful and shy. The French Revolution upset her world and the Carmelites must leave the convent. Blanche leaves the congregation to return to her family. When the Carmelites are arrested and sentenced to death by the revolutionary tribunal, Blanche returns to them as they are each climbing the steps to the guillotine, and she is the last one to have her head cut off.   Dmitry Chernyakov had not modified the score or the dialogue. However, his interpretation did not take place during the French revolution, but in contemporary time. In the last scene, the Carmelites are locked up in a shed full of explosives. Blanche appears on the…

The Canadian Supreme Court brings music to the ears of the music industry
Copyright , Internet / August 2017
Canada

COPYRIGHT Internet, digital   The Canadian Supreme Court has brought music to the ears of the music industry, although it’s not a music case!  It’s no secret, Google regularly links to content that is an infringement of copyright. It is also no secret that Google de-lists specific web pages that link through to copyright infringing content, but does not actually de-list the whole website.  Now the Supreme Court has ruled that the internet giant Can be forced to remove results worldwide, although the decision criticised by civil liberties groups who argue the judgment sets a precedent for censorship on the internet. The landmark ruling from Canada’s Supreme Court, which will undoubtedly have a major impact in the music industry, comes in the case of Google v Equustek. The music industry has been complaining, for some time that whilst Google does remove individual web pages, it will not remove the whole website. And indeed it’s always a game of ‘whack a mole’ – as soon the infringing content is removed, it then just pops up again. And it should be noted, safe harbour obligations provide that Google should de-list the web page, but there is no obligation to de-list the whole website….

GMR and RMLC square up to each other in the US courts
USA

COMPETITION / COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, music publishing   Irving Azoff’s performing rights organisation Global Music Rights has a small catalogue of songwriters when compared to the two US giants,  ASCAP and BMI, but it is certainly not insubstantial,  with songwriter clients including the Eagle’s Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Billy Idol, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Drake, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams, Cathy Dennis, Drake, Don Henley, Ira Gershwin, John Lennon, Pharrell Williams, Boz Scaggs and Smokey Robinson, and music publisher clients including Prince, Imagen Global Music and Universal Television Global Music.    GMR is now squaring up to its latest battle with America’s Radio Music License Committee (RMLC): The radio industry’s RMLC, which has iHeart, CBS, Cox Media and Entercom amongst its members, is now seeking an injunction to force GMR to provide interim licences to radio stations in Pennsylvania.   BMI and ASCAP are regulated by the US Department Of Justice under the so called ‘consent decrees’ which are designed to mitigate competition concerns from ASCAP and BMI’s monopoly position, and provide a mechanism for settling disputes when the PROs cannot agree licence terms with licensees. The final of the four US PROs, SESAC, is not regulated by consent decree, but allows third party mediation on royalty…

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

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

Injunction available after claimed licence fees paid – PPL v JJPB
Copyright , Live Events / July 2017
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector By Rosie Burbidge writing for the IPKat    Should an injunction be granted when the licence fees which were the reason for a claim being issued have all been paid? What about if further licence fee payments (incurred after the claim form was issued) have not been paid?   Phonographic Performance Limited (or PPL) “licenses recorded music played in public or broadcast and then distributes the licence fees to its performer and recording rightsholder members.” It is one of the most regular users of the IP Enterprise Court.   One of its recent targets, Mr Gaughan, runs a bar called the Watkins Folly.  The owner, Mr Gaughan reached a settlement with PPL shortly after service of the claim form. He paid the licence fee for past infringements but: (i) did not set up the agreed Direct Debit to cover payments over the following year and; (ii) continued  to play sound recordings to the public. After failed attempts to persuade Mr Gaughan to pay up, PPL applied to the court for judgment in default and to lift the automatic stay which applies six months after the period for filing a defence has expired.  The big question was not whether Mr Gaughan was…

Mankowitz’s famous portrait of Jimi Hendrix is original and deserves copyright protection, says Paris Court of Appeal.
Copyright / July 2017
France

COPYRIGHT Photography   A couple of years ago the Paris Tribunal de Grand Instance (TGI) concluded (to much criticism at the time) that the well-known portrait of Jimi Hendrix realised by Gered Mankowitz would not be eligible for copyright protection in France. University of East Anglia academic Sabine Jacques has an update to report, this being the rather different outcome of the appeal decision in this case: “After the surprising judgment of the TGI Paris, the Paris Court of Appeal reversed the first instance decision with a ruling delivered earlier this week.  In this case, an electronic cigarettes and accessories sales company had reproduced and altered the famous portrait of music legend Jimi Hendrix taken by Gered Mankowitz for commercial advertising purposes. The defendant depicted Jimi Hendrix smoking an electronic cigarette instead of a real cigarette to promote its products. Having been made aware of this unauthorised use, Gered Mankowitz and his assignees decided to sue the electronic cigarettes sales company for copyright infringement. Let’s rewind back to May 2015… The decision of the TGI created somewhat a seismic shock amongst practitioners and photographers as without expressly acknowledging it, the High Court seemed to have interpreted the originality criterion as being based upon artistic merits, thus…