Copyright Royalty Board reference cheers indie labels
Copyright , Internet / December 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music     The U.S. Register of Copyrights has delivered her Memorandum Opinion in response to a “novel material question of law” referred to her on September 11, 2015 by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) who will be setting royalty rates for the period of 2016-2020. The question asked whether the Board would be prohibited by the governing statutes from setting rates and terms that may differ across different types of categories of licensors – in essence, whether they can set statutory webcasting royalty rates that vary depending on the identity or category of the record company that owns the recordings performed by a webcaster. The Register of Copyrights concluded that the question was not properly referred to the Copyright Office for consideration, and therefore she could not offer an opinion on the question of differentiated rates for licensors; BUT and its a big ‘but’, the Register further stated that because all participants in the Webcasting IV proceeding had assumed a non-differentiated rate structure for licensors, that is the only reasonable outcome in the Web IV proceeding, effectively dismissing calls from the major record labels, Sony and Universal, for a variable royalty rate for internet radio play in…

One Year on, the UK’s Private Copying Exception is now Dead
Copyright / December 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas     Following the CJEU’s decision in the Reprobel case, it is perhaps not surprising that the UK Intellectual Property Office has announced that it is to abandon the UK’s private-copying exception which was introduced in October 2014, and which was effectively declared illegal by the High Court in July of this year, and so had to be withdrawn. For the background to Mr Justice Green’s decision in July’s Judicial Review, please see this blog post. It now seems clear that the IPO were never going to find a workable scheme which met the criterion of ‘fair compensation’ for rights holders demanded by the EU InfoSoc Directive, while at the same time avoiding unpopular levies on consumables and hardware capable of being used to copy, in particular, music, computer games, ebooks and films, for personal use. The Reprobel decision, although not specifically concerned with copying for private use, highlights just how complicated the levy system can become. Each EU member state has found its own way of tackling the issue, with no overall EU-wide harmonisation in prospect. It seems that the IPO and those representing rights owners could not find an existing model to achieve ‘fair compensation’. So where does this leave ordinary…

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

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

A fair share: should we take a lead from France on fair digital payments to artistes?
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet, music publishing, artistes     The new digital music Code Of Conduct ushered in by the French government and signed up to by the major and independent labels, publishers, digital services and artist representatives has laudable aims (even more laudable if you are French)  and seeks to ensure the following: – The development and vitality of the music industry; – The preservation of cultural diversity and growth in innovation; – The creation of greater transparency in interactions between participants; – A fair distribution of value created by musical recordings. The provisions relating the the share of the ‘digital pie’ allocated to the service itself, songwriters and their publishers, record labels, recording artistes and the services themselves have long been a bone of contention between artistes and their labels, between labels/artistes and songwriters/publishers, and between the content owners and the actual digital services. In the absence of a fiduciary duty being imposted on record labels to treat their recording artistes fairly, ongoing confusion about how equity stakes gained by the majors in services such as Spotify, and a general lack of transparency in who gets what from the digital pie, are these French reforms something the EU and US…

Music Streaming – a timely update
Artists , Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / November 2015
France
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, artistes, music publishing   As Music Law Updates finalised the November Updates, news broke that streaming platform Deezer had postponed its planned IPO (initial public offering) on the Paris Stock Exchange due to difficult ‘market conditions’. MBW opined that the least of Deezer’s worries were competition from Apple Music and Spotify, a declining subscriber base and a currently loss making business model. In a timely article, George Chin looks how streaming has developed and the major players in the field – against of background of the success of streaming being blamed for declining physical product and download sales, but conversely offering a workable alternative to piracy to many consumers as habits change, and a valuable new source of revenues, at least for the record labels.   The latest Music 360 report from Nielsen (9th Sept 2015) confirms that sales of recorded music are down and that streaming is growing with 75% of the population (in the USA) listening to music online.  Given that there is now a wide choice of music streaming services available, the report reveals that when making a choice, over 80% of users cite cost and ease of use as their deciding factor…

Happy Halloween – Physical formats are back from the dead
Copyright / November 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   By Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)   There is a terrible monster of which many speak. They say this monster is worse than anything that went before. They say it never sleeps and has left nothing but ruin and destruction in its wake. They speak of the empires it has crushed and the things it has murdered with fear in their eyes.   This monster’s name? The internet. Plenty of people have gravely accused the internet of slowing murdering the music industry. And while one of those people was Kanye West, that view point was so well regarded that for a time, it was heralded as something of a prophecy – the music industry would soon be dead and physical formats would be the first to go. This then morphed into the view that, excluding piracy (as pirates don’t pay anyway), digital consumption would come in and obliterate physical sales. So many people pronounced physical formats dead at the scene of the Spotify app. Much like their predecessors of new consumption formats/methods (think Cassettes, CD’s and mini-discs), streaming and digital downloads were blamed for more stuff than I have the time to write about. The physical doomsday envisioned a vinyl, cassette…

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

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

Deadmau5 looks to trap ‘unauthorised’ remixes
Artists , Copyright , Moral Rights , Trade Mark / November 2015
Canada

COPYRIGHT / TRADE MARK / MORAL RIGHTS Artist, recorded music     Deadmau5 has launched a legal action in Ontario, Canada, against his former business associates over allegations that her company has released remixes of his early work without the required prior written permissions. The Hollywood Reporter says that  a decade ago DeadMau5 (Joel Zimmerman) had worked with Canadian label Play Records at the beginning of his career. Initially he created remixes for the company, and later signed publishing and management agreements with the firm and its co-founder Melleny Brown (also known as Melleny Melody or Melleefresh). After relocating to London in 2007, Zimmerman switched his management contract, and negotiated the ending of his contracts with Brown. That deal saw Zimmerman pay a sum of money to Play Records, and he also assigned ownership of some of his early songs and recordings to the company. However, that deal seemingly provided that any future remixes of those tracks could not be released without his “prior written consent”. Zimmerman now claims that Play has released new remixes of his early work without his OK, and has plans for more releases, breaching his contact rights, as well as infringing his trademarks and moral…

The Dancing Baby grooves on
Copyright , Internet / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The ‘Dancing Baby’ case is not over – with BOTH sides aiming for a rehearing: Whilst at the time of the appellate court’s judgement, the EFF called it “an important win for fair use,” now both the EFF (which is representing the plaintiff, Stephanie Lenz, who filmed her then toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” ) and Universal Music Corp. have requested an en banc rehearing from the Ninth Circuit. It seems the EFF are looking to streng the case for ‘fair use’ by breathing new life in section 512(f), which allows the targets of illegitimate takedowns to sue the people who sent the invalid notices – potentially arguing that on the facts of this case, Universal could not possibly have acted in ‘good faith’ when issuing a DMCA takedown’ notice  The Universal petition claims that Lenz had no standing for an appeal in the first place because she was not injured by the takedown. UMG will also ask the court to clarify some of the language in the opinion.   And have a look at this excellent article by Serona Elton on the Music Business Journal here http://www.thembj.org/2015/10/the-fair-use-check/

Pandora settles pre-1972 claim – but CBS fights on
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings     An Illinois couple who own several recording companies specializing in doo-wop, jazz, and rhythm and blues have filed law suit against the major satellite and Internet radio companies in the US over their playing of pre-1972 songs. Following on from the actions from Flo & Eddie of the Turtles and and RIAA, it’s the third lawsuit that seeks to obtain payment for use of sound recordings under state copyright laws. Arthur and Barbara Sheridan filed two lawsuits in New Jersey federal court: one against Pandora and Sirius XM (PDF) and another against iHeartMedia (PDF), the parent company of online music service iHeartRadio. Their lawsuits seek class action status, looking to represent owners of pre-1972 songs. The action says that the companies have derived “significant benefits,” including “millions of dollars in annual revenue,” by playing those songs without permission, the suit alleges. In an action brought by ABS Entertainment, which owns the recordings of Al Green, among others, terrestrial radio broadcaster CBS has argued that not only does state law not apply to their use – a matter the recorded music industry had until recently accepted this interpretation of the law – CBS also says that as it only plays…

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

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

Aurous and Sampson face record label fury – and seemingly surrender
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings   The RIAA – on behalf of UMG, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic and Capitol Records – has filed a lawsuit against Aurous and its founder Andrew Sampson for what it calls “wilful and egregious copyright infringement”. It appears the recorded music sector’s trade body will look to shut down the site using injunctive relief, and seek actual or statutory damages. We first noted Aurous on the 1709 blog back in September. The trade group said in a statement: “This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale. Like Grokster, Limewire or Grooveshark, it is neither licensed nor legal. We will not allow such a service to wilfully trample the rights of music creators”.   An injunction then followed on Thursday (15.10.15) ordering Aurous founder Andrew Sampson to halt further distribution of the app. The injunction is a “temporary restraining order”, and shortly after receiving it Sampson announced on Twitter that “Aurous downloads have been suspended until further notice” and he appointed a legal team. This in turn was followed by news that Aurous had seemingly released the ‘back-end’ source code to the app on Github, announcing on…

Santa Clause copyright comes home to Fred Coot’s heirs
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” is back into the hands of the heirs of a songwriter who composed it.  The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that rights to the classic yulertide ditty – the all-time most performed holiday song – will revert to the heirs of J. Fred Coots – his daughter Gloria and his six grandchildren. Coots, who died in 1985, co-wrote the song with James Lamont “Haven” Gillespiein in 1934, and made a deal with Leo Feist, who ran a music publishing company that was eventually acquired by EMI.  In 1976, the U.S. Congress allowed authors or their heirs to terminate copyright grants to publishers after 35 years. Coot’s heirs sued EMI Feist Catalog Inc. in the Southern District in 2012, claiming entitlement to re-establish their share of publishing copyright ownership in December 2016. However, Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that EMI Feist (NYLJ, Dec. 19, 2013) could hold the rights until 2029. EMI Feist is an arm of the London-based music company EMI Group. During the long history of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Coots’ family and EMI’s predecessors made various agreements with each other. In particular, Coots granted renewal…

Ray Charles’ wishes may yet be honoured
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s dismissal of a suit brought by the sole beneficiary of the Ray Charles estate, the Ray Charles Foundation, concluding that the Foundation had standing to challenge Charles’s heirs in their attempt to reclaim several copyrights to the late singer’s works because the Foundation’s right to royalties from such works would be affected. Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson et al., Case No. 13-55421 (9th Cir. July 31, 2015) (Christen, J.). The case in question was initiated in 2012 by the Ray Charles Foundation against 7 of the musician’s 12 children, to block their attempted terminations of copyrights under §§ 203 and 304(c) of the Copyright Act in 51 of Charles’ songs, including “I Got A Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So.” to get the return of the copyrights. The charitable Foundation was Charles’ sole heir and received the entirety of his estate, including the rights to receive royalties for his songs.  Charles’ children each got a trust worth $500,000 apiece shortly before his death and were required to sign written contracts effectively waiving their rights to any other inheritance. Regular readers will recall the termination right…

Jersey Boys case heads for a thin trial
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Book publishing, theatre     According to The Hollywood Reporter, a judge has now partially denied a summary judgment motion in the trial in which The Four Seasons members Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio must defend themselves against allegations that the Tony Award winning smash hit musical Jersey Boys infringes an author’s copyright. Rex Woodard was the co-author of a biography of Four Seasons member Thomas Gaetano DeVito, jointly created with the musician, and based on a series of interviews and discussions between the pair over a number of years which revealed  that the wholesome foursome had actually been engaged in “criminal enterprises” and had “underworld contacts”.  The pair agreed to be co-authors and share in any profits. Woodard died of lung cancer in 1991 and subsequently DeVito registered the Work at the US Copyright Office, in his name alone. He subsequently granted defendants Frankie Valli and Robert Gaudio (also both Four Season’s members) an irrevocable, exclusive, perpetual, worldwide and assignable licence to freely use the Work and Gaudio and Valli further sub-licensed these rights, which allowed the Work to subsequently form the basis for the screenplay of the hugely successful ‘Jersey Boys’ musical. After the play was first staged in…

US Judge not happy with Malibu Media’s “fishing expedition” – and neither are Verizon
Copyright , Internet / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Porn producer Malibu Media, which has filed more than 4,000 copyright lawsuits since 2009 — several times more than any other company — is currently trying to compel Verizon to reveal the identities of Internet users Malibu believes are illegally sharing its movies. But lawyers for the telecom company  have told a court that they’ve had enough of Malibu’s “defective” and “unenforceable” subpoenas. As TechDirt rightly tells us that the giant telco has a history of protecting its users against so called “copyright trolling” and other forms of attacks: Verizon led the way in fighting back against the RIAA when it started demanding ISPs hand over information on customers before any lawsuits were filed. Verizon won. FightCopyrightTrolls details the case before Judge Katherine Forrest where Malbu were trying to ascertain the identity of a ‘John Doe’ defendant: Malibu’s counsel propounded a morass of irrelevant questions concerning, inter alia, Doe’s educational background (including factual and technical details about the courses Doe studied), the identity and location of Doe’s family members, the identity and location of Doe’s employers years before the relevant period herein (including factual and technical details about Doe’s job roles and responsibilities), the location of Doe’s residences years before the relevant…

Prince and Universal wrong to take down that ‘dancing baby’
Copyright , Internet / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet     In an important decision, and one which will undoubtedly have an impact on how content owners deal with what they consider is infringing content on the likes of YouTube, the Universal Music Group have been told by the U.S. appellate court that they should have considered whether a woman’s 29-second video of her two kids dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” was a fair use before issuing a takedown notice to YouTube. Cast your minds back to 2007 and you might remember that Prince persuaded Universal, his publisher, to take down a slightly blurry user generated video on YouTube of a toddler dancing to a snippet from “Let’s Go Crazy”. The mum who uploaded the video, Stephanie Lenz, was not amused. Prince had publicly said in a September 2007 statement that he intended to “reclaim his art on the internet” and Lenz was put on notice that her use of Prince’s music violated the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and that if she violated it again, she could lose her YouTube account and any videos she’d uploaded to it. Lenz sent a counter notification, and YouTube eventually reinstated the video that year. Lenz then  sued Universal Music, arguing…

Bandier urges songwriters to reject licensing changes
Copyright / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier has written to the publisher’s Nashville-based songwriters urging them to attend a National Music Publishers Association meeting to voice concerns about new proposals currently being considered in Washington as part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees – in particular proposals that would allow “100% licensing” by performing right organisations  ASCAP and BMI saying, “If either of these PROs controls any part of a song, no matter how small, they would be required to license the entire song without the approval of those who control the remainder” meaning songwriters could find their work licensed without consulation if a collaborator approved the use, saying “Requiring PROs to grant 100% licenses would be an unprecedented change to well-established licensing practices create widespread administrative confusion and potentially undermine a songwriter’s relationship with his or her chosen PRO,” he suggests. The DoJ’s review became necessary in the wake of both ASCAP and BMI’s rate court judges having ruled that partial withdrawals of digital rights were not allowed under the consent decree; publishers either had to be all-in or all-out. Bandier’s letter: To our Nashville based songwriters:   As you know…

France brings in new online music agreement
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
France

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, performers   The IFPI has welcomed the agreement struck by the music industry in France, aimed at boosting the legal digital music market and enhancing the value of music for all rights holders.   The voluntary agreement (the “Agreement for a fair development of online music”) was facilitated by France’s Minister of Culture and Communications Fleur Pellerin and brings together organisations representing French record companies, unions, recording artists, performers, online music services and others. They will work together to “help foster a sustainable music industry, diversity and innovation, clarity on revenue distribution and a fair value for music recordings.”   The agreement has been promoted by French government intermediary, Marc Schwartz, who was appointed in May 2015 to lead discussions on the development of the online music business between producers, performers and digital platforms. Universal, Sony and Warner have agreed to a new government-approved ‘code’ in France which sees them commit to new levels of transparency and “the fair sharing of value from the exploitation of music online”. The code will mean more clarity over the sharing of multi-million dollar advances from services such as YouTube, as well as the equity stakes that the majors own in…

RIAA and NMPA focus in on the value of music
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     The CEO and chairman of the RIAA has said that the current notice and takedown anti-piracy process is both costly and increasingly pointless. Cary Sherman says the USA’s safe harbor provisions contained in the DMCA have forced labels into a “never-ending game” of whack-a-mole while sites under its protection effectively obtain a discount music licensing system clarly highlighting the frustration the major record labels and their Hollywood counterparts feel about framework designed to facilitate the removal of infringing content on the Internet. Sherman also commemnted on “the flawed licensing regime in which we have to operate” saying “Government-set licensing has enabled services like Sirius XM to use music at below-market rates, based on a decades-old subsidy that has long outlived its purpose” adding “Even worse, under current law, AM/FM radio broadcasters pay absolutely nothing for the sound recordings they use to draw listeners and generate billions of dollars in revenue. In a marketplace that values innovation, it’s ironic that it’s the legacy technologies enjoying government-granted economic benefits and competitive advantage” and “while the music industry has embraced new technology and business models, the beneficiaries of this broken system cling to this antiquated law that was enacted at…

Russian court orders VK to implement effective technology to block illegal uploads
Copyright , Internet / October 2015
Russia

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music     Russian social network vKontakte (VK) has been ordered by a Russian court to use effective technology to prevent copyright infringement of the recordings of two record companies.   The IFPI say that the ruling, handed down in the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court on Monday, is a significant judgment which, when implemented, should improve the environment for developing a thriving licensed music business in Russia. The IFPI is the organisation that represents the global recording industry.  It was supported by the Russian National Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI).   Universal Music and Warner Music had brought copyright infringement cases against VK in April 2014.  The judge issued an oral decision on 28th September, and the full judgments will be handed down in due course.   The court granted the record companies’ request to require VK to use effective technology to prevent the upload of their sound recordings to its service, meaning that VK must remove the record companies’ recordings and prevent them from being uploaded again in the future. The claimaints said 98% of their sound trecordings featuring in the Top 40 UK chart from the past seven years are available on…

Johan Johansson uses ‘making available’ right – to exit Spotify
Copyright , Internet / October 2015
Sweden

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music     Swedish punk artist Johan Johansson has brought a successful civil action against his record label  MNW (formerly Musiknätet Waxholm) for making his music available on Spotify without his permission. The label owns rights to tracks recorded with Johansson’s former bands KSMB and John Lenin, who existed in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Johansson argued that MNW is not in possession of the digital distribution rights to his music, and that his bands’ contract with MNW only covered specific types of usage and not the right to make his recordings available on streaming services like Spotify – and it appears the Solna District Court has sided with Johansson, ordering the removal of his content. Under European law, both copyright owners and recording artists were provided with a new copyright provision called ‘making available’, which was put in place to ensure rights owners could control the distribution of its content online. The Swedish Musicians’ Union backed Johansson’s case. In May in Finland the sons of Finnish guitarist Albert Järvinen, best known for being in rock group Hurriganes, had argued in the Helsinki Market Court that Universal didn’t have the right to sell two Hurriganes albums featuring their late father digitally,…

SAG-AFTRA announce new streaming deal terms with record labels
Artists , Copyright / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, performers     The major record companies have agreed a new deal with a performers body in the US, improving the lot of their members from label streaming royalties. SAG-AFTRA represents around 160,000 members, including DJs and recording artists in addition to actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, TV presenters and voiceover artists. The body’s members have now voted to ratify a new National Code of Fair Practice for Sound Recordings (Sound Recordings Code) for online streaming and non-permanent digital downloads. This covers money generated for performers outside the US, with particular allowances for label contributions to artists’ Health and Retirement (H&R) savings and the agreement includes all three major record labels, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group as well as signatory independent record labels.   The benefits of the new contract for the artists include ‘Groundbreaking’ inclusion in payment formulas of label revenue generated from worldwide exploitation of member work in online streaming services and as non-permanent digital downloads’. There is also a new provision for the payment of AFTRA Health and Retirement (H&R) contributions on a portion of domestic and foreign streaming payments; Substantial restructuring of the compensation system for licensing of sound recordings, streamlining and making…

Happy Birthday IS in the public domain
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     In the USA, a federal judge has found that the song “Happy Birthday To You” is entirely in the public domain. U.S. District Judge George H. King held in a summary judgment that the song’s original copyright, assigned  Clayton F. Summy, who copyrighted and published them in a book titled “Song Stories for the Kindergarten” is now free of copyright claims. The rights to the song were bought for $15 million in 1988 by music publisher Warner/Chappell Music Inc. Any copyright now only covered specific piano arrangements of the song and not its lyrics. “It now belongs to the public,” Mark Rifkin, a lawyer representing a documentary filmmaker who filed the suit against the publisher told reporters adding “We did exhaustive historical research and none of it showed that the publisher owned anything other than copyrights to four very specific piano arrangements”. One of the co-plaintiffs, Ruypa Marya of the music group Ruypa & The April Fishes, also praised the decision as momentous, saying “I hope we can start reimagining copyright law to do what it’s supposed to do — protect the creations of people who make stuff so that we can continue to make more stuff.”  Marya, said she…

YMCA’s Willis triumphs again on costs claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Victor Willis, the ‘cop’ and a naval officer in the ‘70s disco group The Village People has been awarded more than a half-million dollars in attorney’s fees by a federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz granted Willis $527,236 to cover his attorney’s fees and $3,034 in costs incurred during copyright battles to reclaim ownership of his share of the songwriting and the associated revenues in over 33 of the songs Willis co-wrote, including Village People’s huge hit “YMCA” as well as “In The Navy”, “Go West” and “Macho Man”. The right to reclaim arose when the Copyright Act amendments went into effect in 1978 and it meant that songwriters could terminate copyright grants to publishers and record labels 35 years later. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that the 64 year old songwriter said the award sent a loud message to record producers “attempting to stop artists like myself” from asserting their rights to let them know “there are going to be repercussions” and commenting to the two music publishing companies and music producer Henri Belolo who fought his claims he said “I had to put out a lot of money to fight him,” says Willis, who was…

Everyday I’m hustlin’ ……. but now rapper’s case is shufflin’
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Rapper Rick Ross cannot copyright the words “Everyday I’m hustlin’,” a U.S. judge has ruled, putting an end to his claim against music group LMFAO for selling T-shirts with the similar catch-phrase “Everyday I’m shufflin’.” Ross sued LMFAO in 2013 over their 2010 hit ‘Party Rock Anthem’ because it contains the line “Everyday I’m Shuffling” which, the rapper claims, is a rip off of his 2006 track ‘hustlin’, which contains the lyric “Everyday I’m hustling”. In her ruling in the Miami federal court, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams said Ross’s slogan, a prominent part of his 2006 debut hit “Hustlin’,” is a short expression that courts have repeatedly said cannot be copyrighted. Ross, whose real name is  William Leonard Roberts II, has alleged the Los Angeles-based electropop duo, made up of Stefan Gordy and Skyler Gordy, copied “Hustlin’” into”Party Rock Anthem” – which contains the lyric “Everyday I’m Shufflin’.” The hip hop star said LMFAO’s song was “an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame and success of Hustlin’.” He also sued Kia Motors for using “Party Rock Anthem” in an advertising campaign. In the complaint, Ross claimed LMFAO also violated his copyright by selling T-shirts and other…

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

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

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

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

EMI production Music launch Song Sample Amnesty
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   The EMI Production Music catalogue, which contains thousands of tracks, spanning every genre of music, and which over the years have been sampled by artists including Jay Z, Mark Ronson, Nelly and Fatboy Slim, has set up a unique “sample amnesty”: Anyone who has sampled a song in the catalogue without getting the sample cleared will be able to come forward, declare it, and agree a legitimate release for the recording. The “sample amnesty”, believed to be the first of its kind, will run for 6 months, has been approved by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which owns EMI Music Publishing. Alex Black, EMI Production Music Global Director said “We’re offering those labels and artists the chance to legitimise their master recordings. We will not seek past royalties from the songs created before the amnesty and we will set up a licence going forward on sensible commercial terms.” adding “The artists can then licence their tracks for advertising for adverts and soundtracks without the fear that EMI will come knocking at the door. The original composer of the source work will get recognition. It works for everybody so we’re hoping that people will come forward with something…

Liverpool man arrested in Top 40 raid
Copyright / October 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Detectives from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) have arrested a Liverpool man on suspicion of illegally and regularly distributing the UK’s top 40 music singles on the internet. In a statement, PIPCU estimated the man’s actions ‘could be costing the music industry millions of pounds and depriving the rightful creators of the content’. The arrest came after a joint investigation with the PRS for Music. Police from PIPCU supported by officers from Merseyside Police arrested the 38-year-old at his home in Everton  before taking him to a local police station for questioning. Police seized several computers and mobile devices. The man is believed to have been illegally uploading the UK Official Top 40 Singles to various torrent sites on a weekly basis as they are published by the Official Charts Company, and PIPCU said he is ‘believed to have been generating significant advertising revenue’ through his own ad funded websites and other digital channels.   City of London Police Detective Inspector, Mick Dodge, said: “Today’s operation in Liverpool demonstrates how PIPCU are prepared to travel nationwide in the pursuit of those suspected of being involved in the illegal distribution of content online” adding “This is a crime…

PRS for Music announces signing of a new two year deal with Spotify for Europe
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2015
Ireland
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, streaming     PRS for Music confirms it has agreed a new two year Europe wide multi-territory licensing deal with music streaming and subscription service, Spotify. Continuing the ongoing relationship between the pair, the recent deal allows the music streaming and subscription service to continue to offer its users a vast bundle of repertoire in the UK and Ireland (including repertoire from over 100 affiliated societies from around the globe), plus PRS for Music’s and Eire based IMRO’s direct members’ repertoire across Europe. The repertoire PRS for Music licenses to Spotify across Europe further includes musical works represented by a growing number of IMPEL publishers. IMPEL currently represents the rights of 40 leading independent publishers, a number that is anticipated to grow further before the end of the year.   Ben McEwen, PRS for Music’s Head of Online said: “We are excited to continue working with Spotify, a relationship that allows millions of users across the globe to enjoy our members’ repertoire. The prodigious growth of Spotify is helping to shape a strong future for dynamic, legitimate streaming services, and we support this thriving online market that recognises and remunerates the works of the creator.”   James…

Temporary increase in PRS TV admin rates to cover Copyright Tribunal reference by ITV
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, broadcasting     UK collection society PRS for Music have written to members explaining an increase in administration rates for TV collections to cover the expected cost of a Copyright Tribunal referral by ITV, one of the UK’s leading broadcasters and home to X-Factor, Coronation Street, Midsomer Murders and UEFA Cup football. Rates range from 12.5% for BBC collections to 16% for Channel 5, MTV and other satellite and cable channels. A peak hour’s one minute play on BBC1 would currently generate £90.35 for the rights holder, whereas on Channel 5 it would generate £11.95.  The letter reads:   “After careful consideration by the Executive Board, it has been agreed that there will be a temporary rise to our TV admin rates by an additional one percent for one year. This will be implemented to cover the expected costs associated with defending the recent Copyright Tribunal reference brought against PRS by the broadcaster ITV.   Following prolonged negotiations, ITV referred the new deal (covering broadcasts from 1 January 2015), to the Copyright Tribunal. This was due to disagreements over the details of our licence renewal. We feel it is vital that we fully participate and vigorously defend this referral…

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

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

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

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

Breakbeats – time to judge the beat that’s on the street
Copyright / September 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     Producer Dr Luke is facing court over the use of a breakbeat in Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag’. If successful, the case could have serious implications for thousands of other artists and producers says The Hollywood Reporter. A breakbeat “is a portion of a percussion track played solo without other instruments. These have long been popular with producers because they can be sampled and looped to create new drum parts and “a staple in hip hop, electronic, funk, jazz and other musical genres”. Dr Luke is being sued over the alleged use of a popular breakbeat, taken from ‘Zimba Ku’ by Blackheat. New Old Music Group, which is owned by the writer of the 1975 track, Lenny Lee Goldsmith, sued the producer earlier this year claiming similarities between the Zimba Ku break and the drum part in ‘Price Tag’. In a ruling last week, a New York judge refused to dismiss New Old Music’s claim and proposed that the case should be put before a jury. Similarly to arguments raised in ongoing the “Blurred Lines” litigation, the producer’s lawyers have said that the drum part merely contains elements representative of a particular style. Judge Ronnie Abrams disagreed…

Mega lawyers argue that US Authorities should preserve and pay to keep blocked data
Copyright , Internet / September 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Lawyers for MegaUpload are asking the courts to ensure that the American government pays to preserve the servers that contain files once uploaded to the defunct file-transfer platform, so that the data stored on them can be kept as evidence, and be ultimately returned to the people who uploaded the content in the first place.   US authorities took controversial file-transfer set-up MegaUpload offline in 2012, at the same time charging its management with various crimes. Users of the service lost access to files they were storing on the company’s servers without warning and whilst it is alleged much of the material was infringing – much was also quite legitimate. MegaUpload server space was rented from other companies, and one server company in Europe, Leaseweb, then deleted the MegaUpload data it had stored. However, the biggest server firm, US-based Carpathia, is still storing its former MegaUpload files, not least because the American authorities said they might need access to them as part of the criminal investigation into the former file-transfer service and its management. Understandably, Carpathia, which was recently acquired by another company called QTS, is not keen on carrying on  covering the costs of storage. The server company…

PRS for Music begins legal action against SoundCloud
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / September 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing   PRS for Music has written to it’s members saying it is beginning legal action against online music streaming platform SoundCloud after “five years of unsuccessful negotiations”. The PRS says: “SoundCloud actively promotes and shares music. Launched in 2008, the service now has more than 175m unique listeners per month. Unfortunately, the organisation continues to deny it needs a PRS for Music licence for its existing service available in the UK and Europe, meaning it is not remunerating our members when their music is streamed by the SoundCloud platform.”. The PRS letter goes on to say: “We have asked SoundCloud numerous times to recognise their responsibilities to take a licence to stop the infringement of our members’ copyrights but so far our requests have not been met. Therefore we now have no choice but to pursue the issue through the courts.” The letter explains that whilst SoundCloud has taken down some of PRS repertoire, a recent list of some 4,500 musical works which the PRS say were being made available on the service which they were asking SoundCloud to licence or remove resulted in this: “SoundCloud decided to respond to our claim by informing us that…

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

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

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

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

Taylor Swift – The ‘godmother’ of pop?
Artists , Copyright / August 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, photography   By George Chin.   Hot on the heels of Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple on Sunday June 21st,2015 – UK music photographer Jason Sheldon published an open letter to Taylor Swift admonishing her for being hypocritical. In evidence, he published a 2011 Photography Agreement for photographers who were given access to photograph her during the first two songs on her concert dates on that tour. In a mild parody of her letter, he wrotes “…forgive me if I’m wrong, but if you take points 2 and 3 in that contract (which is provided to Photographers who need to agree to those terms before they are allowed to do their job in photographing you for editorial outlets), it appears to be a complete rights grab, and demands that you are granted free and unlimited use of our work, worldwide, in perpetuity.  You say in your letter to Apple that ‘Three months is a long time to go unpaid’.  But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity….” A…

More photography issues with The Foo’s  demands
Artists , Copyright / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, photography   By George Chin.   Before the dust has had time to settle on the Taylor Swift Authorization Form and the refusal of the Irish Times to publish photographs of her sold out arena show in Dublin on June 30, 2015 – today, July 3, 2015, the Washington City Paper (USA) have gone viral with an article headlined:  “Why we’re not photographing the Foo Fighters”.   On the same theme of Artist Photography Release Agreements, the paper hits the nail on the head by stating unequivocally that the Foo Fighters’ agreement “is exploitation of photographers, pure and simple. If a streaming music service tried to use the band’s music for free, they’d have none of it.”   When contacted by the paper, a spokesperson for the band’s management responded that these types of contracts are ‘standard’ and that they ‘protect the band’.  Photographers soberly refer to them ‘Rights Grab Agreements’.   Here it is, in full     I _______________________ (name of photographer) hereby agree to the following in favor of Foo Fighters (“you”) with respect to the photographs to be taken by me of the members of Foo Fighters(either as a group or as individuals) on the date referenced below (the “Photos”):…

Inflight gains extension in airline music battle with labels
Copyright / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     A U.S. federal judge has given the Inflight music service for commercial airlines 20 more days to fight record companies’ claims of copyright infringement. Universal Music, Polygram and others issued proceedings against Global Eagle Entertainment (Inflight Productions) in May 2014, claiming it provided using music on airlines in the United States without licenses. The federal complaint claimed that Inflight had provided sound recordings and music videos for passenger airlines that infringed copyright. Inflight filed a counterclaim in March, claiming it had contacted Universal through a UK-based intellectual property rights consultant in 2009, to negotiate licenses for the United States to fill gaps in its “patchwork of licenses around the world.”  Inflight claims that the companies agreed to licensing terms, and told Inflight it could reproduce and distribute the sound recordings in the United States. Inflight say that the record companies were secretly intending to hold Inflight liable for using the recordings without a license and the counterclaim alleges that “Ignoring their own misrepresentations and concealments, Universal Music is now attempting to use ‘statutory damages’ under United States copyright law as a so-called Sword of Damocles to extract large sums of money,” Inflight also claims that Universal also interfered with its business…

Youtube partially triumph over GEMA – but needs to do more
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2015
Germany
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing     Google has won a legal victory on over German performing rights society GEMA, which had sought to make the company’s video-sharing service YouTube pay each time users streamed music videos by artists it represents. A Munich court rejected GEMA’s demand that YouTube pay 0.375 euro cents ($0.004) per stream of certain videos. In its claim, GEMA had picked out a sample of 1,000 videos which it said would cost YouTube around 1.6 million euros. However the German regional court  ruled that Google’s video-sharing website YouTube must prevent users from posting material that infringes copyright law once such a video has been brought to its attention. “However, if such a service provider has been made aware of a clear violation of the law, it must not only remove the content, but also must take precautions to avoid further infringements of copyrights,” the court said in its ruling. Both sides had appealed an earlier 2012 ruling. “What obligations the service provider has in this context — in particular whether and to what extent it is obliged to block and then check and monitor the content uploaded to its platform — is determined by what it can reasonably be expected…

Rod in the dock over copying claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Rod Stewart  has been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit that claims he copied the song “Corrine, Corrina” for his 2013 album “Time.” The lawsuit was filed in U.S. district court in Georgia by Miles Floyd, the administrator of the estate of blues performer Bo Carter, whose real name Armenter Chatmon. Chatmon was the first artist to record the song “Corrine, Corrina” and, according to the suit, he also wrote the tune, first registering the song with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1929. The lawsuit claims that “Corrina, Corrina,” a bonus track from Stewart’s hit 2013 album “Time,” is “nearly identical” to Chatmon’s work, and contains “substantially similar defining compositional elements, including, but not limited to lyrics, melody, rhythm, tempo, meter, key and title.” On Stewart’s album the track is ‘traditional’ and a take on a country blues standard.  Bob Dylan recorded “Corrina, Corrina” on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton covered Lead Belly’s take on the song, which was named “Alberta,” on his multiple Grammy-winning Unplugged album.   http://www.thewrap.com/rod-stewart-hit-with-copyright-lawsuit-over-iconic-blues-song/

“Blurred Lines” Post Trial Order
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The Judge in the ‘Blurred Lines’ Trial has rejected a new trial and has ‘trimmed’ the damages awarded against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to $5.3 Million (from $7.3 million).  That said, U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt has accepted the Gaye family’s contention that record labels including UMG Recordings, Interscope and Star Trak Entertainment should be held liable for their distribution of the song that was found to be a copy of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” and he also ruled that Clifford “T.I.” Harris Jr., the rapper who contributed a verse on the blockbuster “Blurred Lines” song was liable. Judge Kronstadt denied the Gayes’ bid for an injunction, but has granted a request for an ongoing royalty rate of 50 percent of songwriter and publishing revenues. The post trial order can be found here.  In his order, Judge Kronstadt specifically stated that the damages awarded against Williams were excessive, as it had not been shown that Williams was a “practical partner” of Thicke’s, and thus is only liable for his share of the profits from the song. The damages were reduced down from $4 million to just under $3.2 million, while the award of profits from Williams was reduced from…

Turtles look to block SiriusXM settlement
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, sound recordings, broadcasting   Flo & Eddie, the Turtles founders who have led attempts to collect royalties for pre-1972 sound recordings under US state laws, have rejected the move by American major record companies to secure an out-of-court settlement secured with Sirius XM. The Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) announced that it had settled its separate legal battle with Sirius on the pre-1972 issue, with the three majors and ABKCO, which controls early Rolling Stones recordings, and are set to receive $210 million in a deal that also sees the music companies providing the satellite broadcaster with a licence on pre-1972 catalogue up to the end of 2017.  With post-1972 recordings, Sirius pays for recording rights through collection society SoundExchange, which then splits the money 50/50 between artists and labels. Flo & Eddie’s attorneys say that the RIAA’s agreement interferes with the musicians’ ongoing class action against Sirius. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo’s lawyers Henry Gradstein and Harvey Geller say the record industry’s legal claim against Sirius was a “coattail action” and the subsequent settlement a “brazen attempt to disrupt and interfere with the class action process”. They added: “In other words, Sirius XM and the major labels purported to…

Beatles ‘Lost Film’ blocked
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, Film & TV   Sony Corp has won a High Court ruling in London, blocking a documentary-maker from releasing a movie about the Beatles’ first concert in the U.S.  “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” had been due to open for a limited run in US theatres in 2012.   The film by WPMC Ltd. about the 1964 performance in Washington was found to have infringed Sony’s copyrights in the U.K. and the U.S. in eight of the twelve songs in the concert, including “From Me to You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. Sony and the Fab Four’s label, Apple Corps, took issue with the Ace Arts film’s release as it contained archival clips from the band’s historic Washington, DC concert back in February, 1964, when Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison performed, and other  tracks included “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout”. The film also included interviews with legendary guitarist Chuck Berry and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The 1964 gig took place two days after The Beatles were officially introduced to audiences in the US with a slot on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.   The concert, shown in cinemas and theatres across…

PRS for Music launches Streamfair
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, internet     PRS for Music, which represents over 111,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, has launched Streamfair. The campaign “aims to raise awareness about the critical need for legislative reform to ensure music creators are properly remunerated in the growing streaming music market.” The PRS say the online music market now accounts for approximately 50% of overall sales globally with streaming services increasingly driving the change. In the past year, PRS for Music’s royalties from streaming services at £38.8m exceeded those of downloads for the first time at £26.7m – a trend repeated in 37 markets worldwide.  Recent PRS for Music research also that shows that over 90% of UK consumers have accessed some kind of streaming service. Some online content providers such as User Generated Content (UGC) services relying on what are known as ‘safe harbour’ provisions to avoid obtaining a licence or paying proper licence fees, are threatening the long-term sustainability and growth of the online music market.  The lack of clarity about who is truly an ‘intermediary’ in the current European legislation has deprived creators of the ability to consent to the use of their works.  This has resulted in a transfer of…

SESAC buys Harry Fox Agency
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     The smallest of the USA’s music performing rights societies, SESAC,  is to acquire the Harry Fox Agency, creating an agency that can operate in both mechanical and public performance licensing. In Europe, there have been various efforts to provide combined mechanical/performing right licences to customers who need them. In the UK via the alliance between the publishing sector’s mechanical and performing rights societies the MCPS and PRS respectively means that rights can be combined. In the US, the main performing rights organisations, BMI and ASCAP, are barred from involvement in mechanical licensing by the consent decrees that govern their operations. SESAC is not governed by such a consent decree. The Harry Fox Agency is currently owned by the National Music Publishers Association. According to the New York Times the deal will have to be approved by NMPA members. The new structure should allow the combined agency to provide joint performing/mechanical licences for any of the songs that either of the organisation represent, and to offer songwriters and publishers a more efficient licensing and royalty processing service. It will also give SESAC access to a world of valuable data held by HFA regarding the use of songs on…

PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA establish world’s first ‘integrated licensing and processing hub’  to power the digital market
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA have signed completion documents announcing the launch of the world’s first fully integrated multi-territory music licensing and processing hub covering European territories.  Designed to drive growth in the digital music market, the hub will assist both music rights holders and digital service providers (DSPs) in maximising value by providing incomparable customer service through state-of-the-art technology.  The hub, powered by the copyright database, ICE, and new processing, finance and business intelligence systems, will hopefully increase the speed, accuracy and efficiency of music matching and invoicing to ensure that rights holders are paid more quickly and transparently than ever before while making it easier for music services to secure multi-territory licences.   The hub will offer a complete set of services for the market:   (i)                 State of the art data processing and matching (ii)                Authoritative copyright and audio-visual database (iii)               Business enhancing middle-office services (iv)              Consolidated licensing of PRS for Music, GEMA and STIM’s multi-territory online rights and options for other rights holders to join the same core licence or to operate separate solutions, such as Solar and ARESA.   DSPs will obtain a single, consolidated multi-territory licence for Europe for…