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…

Recording artistes big up musicFIRST’s campaign for payment for US radio plays
Copyright / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, recorded music   Elton John, REM, Chuck D, Annie Lennox and Imogen Heap were amongst artistes who took to the social networks last week to express their support for the Fair Play Fair Pay Act which introduce a general performing right within the sound recording copyright in the US. Currently sound recording copyright owners in America have a performing right for digital, meaning that while satellite and online radio services do pay to use recorded music, clubs, public spaces and AM/FM radio do not. This means US artists and labels are deprived a revenue stream enjoyed by their counterparts in more or less every other country in the world (collected in the UK by PPL). It is also thought that the Act would contain an ‘performer equitable remuneration’ on performing rights income, meaning 50% of revenue is shared with featured artists and session musicians (45% to featured artists, 5% session musicians and vocalists) and 50% to copyright owners, oblivious of their label contracts via Sound Exchange. The Act is being resisted by broadcasters. musicFIRST Executive Director, Ted Kalo, told reporters: “This movement is built on a simple principle that grabs the imagination of everyone we touch – fair play for…

Should the Pirates get 10 Years, or just walk the Plank?
Copyright / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas   by Andy Johnstone writing on the 1709 Blog Some considerable time after the Gowers Review (pdf) recommended (recommendation 36) that the maximum term of imprisonment for online criminal infringement should be increased, the IPO has launched a consultation (pdf) on whether the term should be raised from the current 2 years to a maximum of 10 years. In an effort to stick to its policy of evidence-based decision making, the consultation document exhorts would-be respondents to say rather more than just Yes or No when replying. However the same document is very thin on justification, its argument being mainly the fact that the penalty for infringing copyright in physical objects or designs is 10 years and so it would be neater if the penalty for online piracy was the same. Would-be respondents therefore need to go to the 98 page Report on the subject commissioned, and published in March 2015, by the IPO, for some more detail about the pros and cons of the proposal. While there is no denying that online piracy remains a significant problem, one can’t help feeling that this has more than a hint of political grand-standing. The former MP and IP advisor to the Prime Minister, Mike Weatherley put…

High Court quashes UK’s right to private copy Regulations
Copyright / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas     The High Court in London has quashed provisions in the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014 introduced by the UK government in October 2014 to allow members of the public to lawfully copy CDs and other copyright material bought for their own private use. In June in  BASCA v Secretary of State for Innovation and Skills [2015] EWHC 1723 (Admin) the High Court ruled against the UK Government in a Judicial Review brought by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the Musicians’ Union (MU) and UK Music. These three bodies challenged the Government’s decision to introduce a private copying exception into UK copyright law, arguing that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to rightholders in line with European law. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said when introducing the new regulations that they would cause only zero or insignificant harm, thus making compensation unnecessary. But Mr Justice Green, sitting in London, ruled last month that the evidence relied on by the government simply did not justify the claim that the harm would be “de minimis”. The organisation that represents all sectors of the UK…

Doors and Neil Young songs pulled from BBC playlists due to digital rights complications
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, broadcasting     The BBC has warned staff not to play tracks by iconic artists including The Doors and Neil Young due to potential copyright infringement: the full list of songs, all controlled by Wixen Music, extends to recordings, covers and any samples of songs written or recorded by The Doors (Morrison/Manzarek/Densmore/Krieger), Journey (Cain/Perry/Schon) and Neil Young   The removal of the tracks from playlists is because “some rights holders have removed their rights from the MCPS collective agreement… until a new agreement can be reached, we cannot use songs owned by them without a breach of copyright” with an internal BBC memo saying that the publisher in question no longer wanted “wished to be party to the MCPS’s collective licensing arrangements” Bonnie Raitt is also on the excluded list although her works are not represented by Wixen Music. The BBC’s legal department say:   You can NOT use tracks by these composers on the radio and/or online.  You can NOT use tracks by these composers whether they are originals or covers.  You can NOT use the lyrics. You can NOT put performances using these compositions on line.  You can NOT use tracks which include samples of…

AFM takes Sony to court over musician’s film royalties
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
Canada
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing, Film & TV   The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) has filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment for ‘repeatedly violating its collective bargaining agreement’ – the Sound Recording Labor Agreement – in an action is brought under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. Among the alleged contract violations cited in the suit is recording work on Michael Jackson’s This Is It, a 2009 film documenting Jackson rehearsing and preparing for the series of live concerts shortly before his death. The law suit states that Sony called musicians for a recording session claiming it was for a “record” when the actual purpose was to lay down a film score for This Is It. The Sound Recording Labor Agreement (which Sony has signed up to) prohibits recording film scores. Musicians have been unable to collect residuals for the movie soundtrack. AFM International President Ray Hair said the AFM Motion Picture Agreement should have been used. The suit also charges Sony with refusing to make new use payments on a number of other projects including Pitbull’s 2012 version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and sampling of Jackson songs like “Billie Jean” and “Man in the Mirror”…

Prince and the Toddler – a universal case of forgotten fair use?
Copyright , Internet / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     Cast your minds back to 2007 and you might remember that Prince (or even ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’)(or ‘Squiggle’ being more unkind)(or Prince Roger Nelson, the 58 year old rock star) persuaded his publisher, Universal Music, to take down a slightly blurry user generated video on YouTube of a toddler dancing to a snippet from his song (and recording) “Let’s Go Crazy”. The mum who uploaded the video, Stephanie Lenz, was not amused. In fact Prince had publicly said in a September 2007 statement that he intended to “reclaim his art on the internet”. 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. Now the case has reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case that has all the trappings of the a PR fiasco for the Purple One: “The video bears all the hallmarks of a family home movie,” court documents said. “[I]t is somewhat blurry, the sound quality is poor, it was filmed with an ordinary digital video camera,…

Official One Direction re-mix competition prompts infringement takedowns
Copyright / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     Techdirt alerts us to a badly backfiring competition organised by Sony, One Directon’s record label, which resulted in entrants’ masterpieces being removed from Soundcloud by … errrrmm, Sony. Soundcloud has long been a key place for DJs and remixers to upload their works but has had a fairly testing relationship with the major record labels  – and now as Techdirt opine, Soundcloud has “clearly ratcheted up its takedown procedures leading to many vocal complaints from angry Soundcloud users.” The competition was advertised as this: Ready to make your mark in the music industry? Well here is your chance – One Direction are inviting remixers and producers from the UK to remix “Steal My Girl” the first single from their upcoming album FOUR, slated for release on November 17th, 2014. So, UK-producer and songwriter named Lee Adams did his remix, on the clear undrstanding the competition ws organised by One Direction and their label, Sony Music – so not a chance of copyright infringement (right?). The stems for remixing were released on Soundcloud. The rules of the contest required entrants to upload their remixes on Soundcloud… and that’s exactly what Adams did. And yet those works still…

Madonna hacker gets 14 months
Copyright , Criminal Law , Internet / August 2015
Israel
USA

COPYRIGHT / CRIMINAL Internet, recorded music   Adi Lederman who hacked and released a number of unfinished and demo tracks from Madonna’s Rebel Hart album in December 2014 when it was a work in progress has received a 14-month jail sentence from the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Thursday as part of a plea-bargain deal following his conviction for cyber crimes against the pop singer. Lederman, a former contestant on Kochav Nolad, Israel’s version of ‘Pop Idol’, hacked into Madonna’s computers last year, having accessed passwords from the email accounts of her manager and musical director. It’s thought Lederman also accessed part of the singer’s work schedule in addition to the unfinished tracks from her album ‘Rebel Heart’. He was charged with computer trespassing, fraud, and intellectual property offences against the superstar, After the leak Madonna released six tracks and moved up the release date of the full album to March saying “I have been violated as a human and an artist!”  Lederman had previously stolen a song from Madonna in 2012, which he sold rather than leaking himself. Lederman was also fined NIS 15,000 (US $4,000)  by the court, which said its sentence should “send a message of deterrence” and uncompromising commitment to the law to…

The Pirate Bay Four acquitted in Belgium
Copyright , Criminal Law , Internet / August 2015
Belgium
Sweden

COPYRIGHT/CRIMINAL Internet, technology   Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, the four original key Pirate Bay founders, have been acquitted by a Belgian court on charges of criminal copyright infringement and abusing electronic communications. All four defendants have denied having anything to do with the site since was seemingly sold to a Seychelles-based company called Reservella in 2006, and this proved a major hurdle for Belgian prosecutors as the crimes were allegedly committed between September 2011 and November 2013. A judge at the Mechelse Court ruled that it could not be proven that the four were involved in the site during the period in question. Indeed, for at least a year of that period, Svartholm was in jail in Sweden while connecting Lundström to the site a decade after his last involvement (which was purely financial) has always been somewhat difficult. In the end, even the site’s anti-piracy adversaries in the case agreed with the decision: “Technically speaking, we agree with the court,” said Olivier Maeterlinck, director of the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA). https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-founders-acquitted-in-criminal-copyright-case-150710/ and http://www.techworm.net/2015/07/the-pirate-bay-founders-and-financier-cleared-in-criminal-copyright-case.html

Sound recording copyright term extends to 70 years in Canada
Copyright / July 2015
Canada
EU

COPYRIGHT All areas     The sound recording copyright term in Canada is now 70 years, mirroring the term in Europe. Recordings previously had 50 years of copyright protection in Canada, but legislators have now followed the lead of the European Union in extending the term of protection to 70 years from release, despite opposition from various quarters, with some critics arguing that copyright terms are, in the main, already too long and shouldn’t get any longer. Welcoming the development, Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada, said yesterday: “In extending the term of copyright in recorded music, Prime Minister Harper and the government of Canada have demonstrated a real understanding of music’s importance to the Canadian economy. Thank you. We are thrilled to see Canada brought in line with the international standard of 70 years”.   https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/6612571/canada-offically-extends-copyright-term-to-70-years

Sirius settles pre-1972 sound recordings claim in USA
Copyright / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting   US satellite broadcaster Sirius XM has reached a settlement with all three major record labels over the long-rumbling pre-1972 copyright dispute in the US, which has been highlighted in the actions brought by Flo & Eddie of the band the Turtles in New York, California and Florida. The recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claim settlement also includes ABKCO – the owner of classic Rolling Stones copyrights – and the claimants (Capitol Records LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings Inc, Warner Music Group and ABKCO) have jointly been awarded $210m as part of a settlement with Sirius. In a statement, Sirius said: “The settlement resolves all past claims as to our use of pre-1972 recordings owned or controlled by the plaintiffs and enables us, without any additional payment, to reproduce, perform and broadcast such recordings in the United States through December 31, 2017. As part of the settlement, we have the right, to be exercised before December 31, 2017, to enter into a license with each plaintiff to reproduce, perform and broadcast its pre-1972 recordings from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022.” That license should ensure that the majors, at least, are compensated for the performances…

SiriusXM prevail in pre-1972 claim in Florida
Copyright / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting     SiriusXM has won a rare victory over its use of pre-1972 recorded music in the satellite radio broadcasters’ ongoing battle with Flo & Eddie, founders of The Turtles. The musicians filed separate lawsuits in California, Florida and New York in 2013, aiming to use state laws to stop SiriusXM using their sound recordings such as “Happy Together” without paying royalties. California and New York judges have both favored the argument that state laws protect the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings in the absence of federal legislation. The Florida judge was last to rule, but has gone the other way: U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles decided to rule in favor of SiriusXM’s summary judgment motion. The judge said he understands why his judicial colleagues in other states ruled differently noting that California and New York are creative centres of culture, and laws have been enacted there to protect artistic rights, and there have been prior cases that have touched upon the present controversy. But Judge Gayle said that “Florida is different” saying “There is no specific Florida legislation covering sound recording property rights, nor is there a bevy of case law interpreting common law copyright related to the arts.” Declining…

When claimants stand up for copyright, defendants can get sent down
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Phonographic Performance Limited v Fletcher is an extempore ruling by Mr Justice Arnold, sitting in the Chancery Division, England and Wales, last Monday; being extempore it isn’t available on BAILII but it was noted in brief on the subscription-only Lawtel service. It’s one of those rulings that reflects on the sad end which some defendants face when they just keep carrying on infringing, ignoring every cue to stop. In these proceedings Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), a UK music licensing company, applied to commit Fletcher for contempt of court, following his breach of an order prohibiting him from playing sound recordings without a licence at a nightclub. Fletcher himself was the premises licence holder of a night club. Despite PPL’s warning, Fletcher did not take out a licence to play music the rights to which were administered by it.  PPL then applied for judgment in default for copyright infringement, securing an injunction that ordered Fletcher not to play PPL’s songs in public without a licence. At this point Fletcher agreed to pay the outstanding licence fees by monthly instalments — but then he defaulted on payment. Subsequently allowed to make weekly instalments, he paid them late. PPL…

Apple Music v Taylor Swift
USA

COPYRIGHT Online, recorded music, artistes   On Monday 8th June, Apple launched its music streaming service, aptly named – Apple Music – at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (where else) in San Francisco.  Introduced by the rapper Drake and Beats Music co-founder Jimmy Iovine.   Apple Music will roll out in 100 countries at the end of June i.e. next week.  Initially announced, after a three month trial, the service will cost $9.99 a month or $14.99 for a family plan for up to six people.   Apple Music is combination service – first, a streaming on-demand service of millions of songs and videos; secondly a 24-hour radio station called Beats 1 curated by former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe; and thirdly Connect, a music-focused social network, a cross between Facebook and Soundcloud, where artists can connect with their fans by uploading and posting videos, music, photos and comments.   A storm of controversy has raged over the three month free trial.  At first, Apple said that during this period, no artists will be paid for music streamed. At issue is Apple Music’s 90-day free trial, which effectively cuts out any revenue from streams ­during that time period. According to Merlin, the…

Swift accused of hypocrisy by photographer after Apple dispute ends
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Live events sector     Having managed to reverse Apple Music’s ‘no royalties’ policy for the first three month launch period, Taylor Swift has come under fire from freelance photographer Jason Sheldon, who points out that photo waivers for the pop star’s concerts stipulate that a photographer can use their images from the show only once and only within the published report on that performance – meaning that whilst the copyright owner, they can’t sell their images to other editorial outlets, nor can they sell prints of the image in any way – and to add insult to injury – they have to sign over ‘publicity’ and non commercial right on a royalty free basis to Swift. For the life of copyright. “You say in your letter to Apple that ‘Three months is a long time to go unpaid,’” Sheldon writes. “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…”   http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/06/concert-photographer-calls-out-taylor-swift-for-hypocritical-apple-open-letter   And another complaint here, this one signed by another photographer Matthew Parri Thomas after Swift’s Hyde Park show…

Apple reverse ‘no royalty’ launch policy after Swift pulls out
France
Germany
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music    Apple Music has reversed its (non) payment policy, a day after the singer Taylor Swift said she was refusing to allow the company to stream her album 1989 because the computer and music giant were offering no royalties in a three month launch period free trial period for subscribers. Indepdent record labels and their trade bodies including AIM (UK), A2IM (US), UFPI (France) and VUT (Germany) had already voiced their critcims. Now Apple says it will pay artists for music streamed during trial periods. “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple,” tweeted executive Eddy @Cue. Swift had said the plan was “unfair”, arguing Apple had the money to cover the cost and AIM CEO Alison Wenham had written to AIM members to encourage them to “make their own decision” about Apple Music – but criticised the new streaming service for essentially “asking the independent music sector to hedge its risk, to fund their customer acquisition programme and to shoulder the financial burden for their global launch.” http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/german-and-french-organisations-latest-to-criticise-apple-music-terms/062110 And see Eamonn Forde’s article in the Guardian here   George Chin writes   On Monday 8th June, Apple launched its music streaming service, aptly named – Apple Music –…

EU Legal Affairs Committee moves copyright reform one step closer
Copyright / July 2015
EU

COPYRIGHT All areas     Following a vote by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, an amended version of its report on the implementation of the EU’s 2001 InfoSoc/Copyright Directive will now go forward for further likely amendment and vote a by the full European Parliament on 9 July 2015. The draft report amongst other things calls for: – An impact assessment in relation to any single European copyright title proposal – looking at issues arising from geo-blocking of access to certain content services within the EU. the draft report contains strong language in favour of protecting the rights of “cultural minorities” living in the EU to access content in their native languages, which they are now often prevented from doing because of geo-blocking practices. – Mandatory adoption of some copyright exceptions and limitations – whilst recognising that some difference may be justified on the grounds of specific cultural and economic interests – Assessment of proposed new exceptions to allow (for example):- Libraries to lend e-books; and text and data mining – An impact study of the Commission’s copyright modernisation initiative on the production, financing and distribution of films and TV content, and on cultural diversity. – The report rejected the…

High Court sides with music industry on copying levy
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing     In London the High Court has ruled against the UK Government in a Judicial Review brought by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the Musicians’ Union (MU) and UK Music.  These three bodies challenged the Government’s decision to introduce a private copying exception into UK copyright law, arguing that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to rightholders.  UK Music’s press release goes on to say “BASCA, MU and UK Music had welcomed a change to UK law which enabled consumers to copy their legally-acquired music for personal and private use. However, ahead of the introduction of the private copying exception, they consistently alerted Government to the fact that in such circumstances significant harm is caused to rightholders and European law requires fair compensation to be paid.  The High Court agreed with the music industry and found that Government’s decision not to provide fair compensation was based on wholly inadequate evidence – and that Government’s decision was therefore unlawful.”  Commenting on the outcome of the case, Jo Dipple, CEO UK Music emphasised the value of the music industry to the British economy and said: “The High Court agreed…

US appeals court revives claim against Bieber and Usher
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing     A federal appeals court has revived a copyright infringement lawsuit against Justin Bieber and Usher, marking the latest in a string of high-profile decisions attempting to clarify the nebulous difference between inspiration and copyright violation in the music industry. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that there is sufficient reason to allow a jury to consider whether “Somebody to Love,” a 2010 chart-topper from Usher and Bieber, bears too much resemblance to an earlier song of the same name recorded by two Virginia musicians, Devin Copeland and Mareio Overton. “After listening to the Copeland song and the Bieber and Usher songs as wholes, we conclude that their choruses are similar enough and also significant enough that a reasonable jury could find the songs intrinsically similar,” Judge Pamela Harris wrote for the court.   http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/justin-bieber-usher-copyright-lawsuit-sued-20150618

BUMA kickback scheme spark angry response from managers
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015
Netherlands

COPYRIGHT Live events sector     Dutch collection society BUMA’s recent practice of rewarding the country’s biggest promoters with a kickback for ‘helping’ to collect the levy on live music concerts to reward songwriters and music publishers has come under fire after a number of tour accountants for acts who pen their own material could not reconcile deductions made by promoters against revenues received by their songwriter clients from their own collection societies – even after taking into account usually collection society commissions which are generally accepted. BUMA apparently set up the practice around 1999 after forcing through a rate riise for the use of music to 7% of Box Office net of VAT  – but was offering a 25% kickback of that levy to some promoters and venues in the Netherlands. Two managers, Paul Crockford who manages Mark Knopfler, and Brian Message of ATC who manages Nick Cave & the Bad Seed,  both made arrangements with their artistes’ publishers and UK music collection society PRS for Music to make direct collections from promoters. Message also manages P J Harvey and Radiohead and Crockford also manages Level 42. Whilst many managers are asking for ‘transparency’, the UK’s Music Managers Forum…

BPI launches online portal to help labels and musicians
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artistes     The BPI has launched its new Copyright Protection Portal at a Midem The portal is intended to help labels, musicians and music businesses see where illegal copies of their music are being made available illegally online and track how BPI is responding. This tool will be available free of charge to all BPI members, PPL’s performers and members of AIM (The Association of Independent Music) who are registered with PPL. The portal will allow users to upload their repertoire into BPI’s bespoke crawlers and to view the ‘pirate activity’ that has been prevented or “disrupted”. It will show how many infringing links have been removed from Google and other search results, how many links have been removed via notice and take down from the source or website hosting them without permission, and which tracks from a label or musician’s repertoire are being pirated the most and on which sites. Commenting at the launch of the Copyright Protection Portal at Midem, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: “BPI is absolutely committed to protecting the creativity, hard work and investment of UK musicians and labels.  We are the leading force removing illegal copies of British music online and…

Kobalt relaunches AMRA as global collection society
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Music publisher Kobalt has launched what it calls the world’s first ‘global, direct, digital mechanical and performing rights society’. The new venture is based on the existing operation of AMRA (American Music Rights Association), which Kobalt acquired last year. What other music publishers make of a publisher owned collection society remains to be seen – but the new service promises two services to clients: (i) licensing of AMRA publisher members’ Anglo-American repertoire to DSPs operating in multiple territories and (ii) collection of writer’s share of public performance monies on behalf of AMRA writer members. AMRA plans to collect from th likes of YouTube and Spotify globally rather than in individual territories and promises to be “the most efficient way to handle the ‘high volume/low transactional value’ of music repertoire in a streaming world.” AMRA says this: “Despite the fact that the major digital music platforms today are all global companies (i.e. Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, etc.), the music industry traditionally collects its revenue at the local and regional levels. This ‘local’ approach creates glaring inefficiencies for all sides: the digital platforms are challenged to clear licenses locally, while the rights holders face an increasingly complex and fragmented collections process, causing…

Apple Music launch sparks anti-trust investigation and indie label backlash
USA

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Recorded music, internet, music publishing     Apple has launched its Apple Music streaming service at this year’s WWDC conference in San Francisco. Headline news is that the new platform will be available from 30th June for $9.99 a month, after a free three months period – with a ‘family’ package costing $14.99 a month for up to six family members sharing with the service promising to “change the way you experience music forever”, initially available on iOS, Mac and Windows, with an Android version following in autumn. Opening his presentation by explaining ““So now, 2015, music industry is a fragmented mess. Do you wanna stream music? You can go over here. If you wanna stream video, you can check some of these places out. If you wanna follow some artists, there’s more confusions with that… So I reached out to [Apple executives] Tim Cook and Eddy Cue and said ‘guys, can we build a bigger and better ecosystem with the elegance and simplicity that only Apple can do?”, Interscope Records / Beats by Dre co-founder Jimmy Iovine promised “one complete thought” around music. Labelled a “revolutionary music service”, the new service aims to streamline the experience of enjoying music. It also…

BMG look to Modular and UMG for Tame Impala mechanicals
Australia

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

Wenham speaks out on digital royalties
UK

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

UMP leak heats up the digital pie debate
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet   As the U.S. press said that Spotify’s total payments to rights holders rose by another $300 million in the first quarter of 2015, news also broke of a leaked UMPG internal email and in MIDEM German music publishers set out their thoughts on how the digital pie should be shared. Billboard revealed that Spotify has now paid out $3 billion to music rights owners since launching in 2008, $2 billion of which has come in since the beginning of 2014, but the big news was the boss of Universal Music Publishing boss, Jody Gerson, who was the centre of attention after a confidential internal memo was leaked in which Gerson expresses her annoyance over “self-interested parties” that are stoking worries amongst songwriters, particularly when it comes to to unallocated ‘breakage income’ from big advances. In her email Gerson said this: Over the past several months I’ve read or heard comments by self-interested parties that aim to mislead our songwriting community and ultimately devalue songs. These misrepresentations work against the mutual best interests of both songwriters and publishers. To paraphrase that old saying, sunlight is the best disinfectant. So let’s shed some light on the facts and make sure…

PRS extend live music consultation
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   PRS for Music have extended the consultation to review the terms of it’s Popular Music Concert Tariff (Tariff LP). Tariff LP is applied to ticketed live popular music events such as concerts and festivals.  Currently promoters pay 3% of Box Office receipts (after VAT)  to the PRS for songwriters. The extension has been granted following the Concert Promoters Association’s (CPA) stated interest in conducting its own research in response to PRS for Music’s consultation documentation which was announced on April 13. The extension will help the CPA respond more comprehensively to the tariff review and the PRS welcomed the CPA’s commitment to engaging in this process. The extension is also supported by a number of industry bodies in the live sector.  Tariff LP was originally agreed in 1988, though was last reviewed as recently as 2010/11, when the PRS decided to keep the system as it was. The deadline for the consultation’s completion has now been extended until 30 September.

Florida passes new law targeting infringing content
Copyright , Internet / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Governor Rick Scott has signed Florida’s “True Origin of Digital Goods Act” into law. The new law will require owners or operators of websites or online services that offer downloads or streams of music or music videos to “clearly and conspicuously disclose” the webste owner’s name, physical address, and telephone number or email address. The law will take effect July 1st 2015. The law applies to websites that distribute audiovisual content “to consumers in this state,” and is not limited to companies headquartered or with physical locations in Florida and can have apply to companies located outside of Florida, depending on its connections and business with consumers residing in Florida.   In particular, the law requires that:   A person who owns or operates a website or online service dealing in substantial part in the electronic dissemination of commercial recordings or audiovisual works, directly or indirectly, and who electronically disseminates such works to consumers in this State shall clearly and conspicuously disclose his or her true and correct name, physical address, and telephone number or e-mail address on his or her website or online service in a location readily accessible to a consumer using or visiting the website…

Grooveshark surrenders
USA

COPYRIGHT Online, recorded music   Music-sharing service Grooveshark has announced that it has shut down after 10 years. The controversial free streaming site, which once boasted 35 million users is owned by Escape Media which has agreed to a legal settlement with the major record companies that includes the termination of all operations, wiping its computer servers of all the record companies’ music, and surrendering ownership of its website, mobile apps and intellectual property, according to a statement from trade organization Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). “We started out nearly 10 years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music. But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes,” a statement from Grooveshark said. “We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize.” Urging users to now sign up for legal, licensed music services such as Spotify or Beats Music, founders Josh Greenberg and Sam Tarantino also pointed users to http://whymusicmatters.com/find-music and said “If you love music and respect the artists, songwriters and everyone else who makes great music possible, use a licensed service that compensates artists and other rights holders”.  A rumoured $75 million penalty clause in…

Pirate Bay domains to be seized
Sweden

COPYRIGHT Online, recorded music, music publishing     The Stockholm District Court has ordered that two key domains used by the always controversial Pirate Bay – including the service’s flagship thepiratebay.se domain – should be handed over to the Swedish authorities. However the court rejected arguments from prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad that the owner of the domains. Punkt SE, should be held liable for the alleged misuse of domains in its control.   Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij is to appeal the ruling. Neij was previously found guilty by Swedish courts of criminal copyright infringement and banned from having any involvement in the future running of The Pirate Bay and this appears to be an attempt to escape an further repercussions. In all events the appeal will delay any handover.   http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-founder-appeals-domain-seizure-decision-150525/

It’s clearly time for coalitions and comment – as copyright reform looms on both sides of the Atlantic
Copyright / June 2015
Australia
Canada
EU
Japan
USA

COPYRIGHT All areas     Along with the U.S., Japan, Canada and Australia (amongst many others), the European Union is currently looking to reform its copyright laws and in January 2014 launched a public consultation. And there is MUCH to ralk about and many stakeholders want to have their say. In the USA, Torrentfreak recently exposed what they say is the MPAA’s true position on “fair use” which was that it was “extremely controversial,” and the MPAA didn’t want it included in various trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Fair use in the USA – but not elsewhere then. Now fair use fans in the U.S. have formed a new coalition, Re:Create, to advocate for “balanced” copyright laws, which means ones that do not “encroach” on creativity and speech by being overly protective of those copyrights. Coalition members include the Consumer Electronics Association, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the American Library Association and other members of the group include the Association of Research Libraries, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Democracy Fund, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and the R Street Institute. Sherwin Siy, VP of legal affairs at Public Knowledge said “We and the other…

Where next with the European Digital Single Market?
Copyright / June 2015
EU
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas     This update is from George Chin: George has worked as a music photographer for the past 30 years and George has worked officially with the Rolling Stones, Guns n’ Roses, Whitney Houston, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi, among many others. He is now studying for an LLB (Hons) at the University of Law in London. George runs a boutique photo agency (www.iconicpix.com), largely based on his image archive and those of other music photographers.  He can be contacted by email at georgechin@iconicpix.com On May 6th, the European Commission published its proposals for a Digital Single Market (DSM), identifying it as one of its ten political priorities, with the aim of making “the EU’s single market fit for the digital age – tearing down regulatory walls and moving from 28 national markets to a single one” with the bold claim that harmonisation across the Member States could contribute €415 billion per year to the EU economy and creating 3.8 million jobs in the process. A Digital Single Market is one in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured and where the individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities…

Songwriting community take aim at safe harbours
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, online     BASCA chairman Simon Darlow has used his speech at the Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London in London to criticise current ‘safe harbour’ provisions in EU and US law, pointing out that the likes of YouTube undermine streaming services were exploiting safe harbour legislation telling an audience of the great and the good from the song writing and music publishing worlds that this was “undermining the value of our music”. This is what Darlow said We [BASCA] exist to promote the creators’ voice and help maintain the value of their work through lobbying, education, community and celebration. Its fantastic that, for 60 years we have been able to honour the nominees and winners who have contributed so much to a culture and economy and have given so much pleasure to so many with heir music. These awards are always so special to those who receive them as they are judged by their peers who clearly know how much dedication and hard work go into making music that touches our lives . BASCA is hugely grateful to all the judges this year who gave so generously of their time and expertise. The…

Spotify leak puts streaming royalties in focus
EU
UK
USA

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

Spotify leaked contract prompts more comment
EU
UK
USA

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

Musicians Union plans digital royalty action
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     The Guardian tells us that the Musicians’ Union is planning to take major labels to court in the UK over the royalty rates for digital music paid under contracts signed before the days of streaming and downloads. Its move follows a legal case in Finland earlier this year, when the sons of a musician from the band Hurriganes won a case against Universal Music for claiming internet rights over music released in the 70s. Horace Trubridge, who is the MU’s Assistant General Secretary who is a founding member of the successful R&B/doo-wop band Darts, told an audience at the Great Escape convention in Brighton last week that the three major record labels “don’t play fair” and “are screwing musicians”. The band are on a 12% royalty rate and this suffers from multiple deductions; Trubridge argues that heritage bands should be on a streaming royalty rate of roughly 30% with no deductions. Trubridge claimed Warner is deducting costs for packaging, “breakages” and “returns” on his royalty statements for the digital sales of Darts’ music. More here http://musiclawupdates.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/a-finnish-digital-rights-case-could-set.html and here http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/may/20/musicians-union-major-labels-digital-rights?CMP=share_btn_tw

Canada’s new ‘notice’ system pushes down piracy
Copyright , Internet / June 2015
Canada

COPYRIGHT All areas, online     Canada’s new “notice-and-notice” system to combat unauthorized downloading has led to a ‘massive drop’ in illegal downloading in Canada. New data from CEG TEK International shows that piracy of copyrighted material has plummeted in Canada since copyright holders started sending letters to accused infringers under the new law. CEG TEK, which describes itself as a “copyright monetization firm” (and is described by its critics as a copyright troll!) says piracy rates have dropped by 69.6 per cent on Bell’s internet network; by 54 per cent on Telus’ network; and by 52.1 per cent on Shaw’s network. There was less impact among Rogers internet subscribers, with piracy down by 14.9 per cent, and among TekSavvy users (down 38.3 per cent). The Copyright Modernization Act compels internet service providers to forward letters from copyright holders to subscribers who are allegedly involved in piracy. The law caps the maximum amount a copyright holder can sue for at $5,000 for non-commercial infringement. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/05/21/online-piracy-canada-ceg-tek_n_7372626.html

Happy Birthday – was the copyright ever abandoned?
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     U.S. District Judge George King wants to hear more about whether the 19th century schoolteacher who has been credited with writing “Happy Birthday to You” — the English language’s most popular song — had abandoned the copyright to the lyrics. On Monday, King directed parties involved in a fight over whether the song is copyrighted to brief him on the issue of abandonment – although its not all bad news for music publisher Warner/Chappell who make an estimated $2 million every year from the song – the Judge pointed out “the Parties would do well to bear in mind the analytical distinction between abandonment and loss of a copyright due to the failure to follow statutory formalities.”   https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6568805/happy-birthday-lawsuit-judge-wants-to-know-if-copyright-was-abandoned

Rock Follies? Heavy metal copying claims rock on
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The dust has yet to settle on the ‘Blurred Lines’ litigation in the USA – with a review of the damages awarded to the Gaye family, a revised settlement, an injunction against Pharrell and Robin Thicke, a new trial and/or an appeal are all being mooted, who wrote what remains a big question, as does the the difference between appropriation and inspiration: the recent settlement by Sam Smith and his co-writers with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne over allegations that “Stay With Me” plagiarised “I Wont Back Down” just adds to this confused conundrum, as does the recent news that Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars have added the five members of the Gap Band as co-writers of “Uptown Funk” because of similarities to ‘Ooops Upside Your Head”. Now its the turn of heavy metal:   The lawsuit  brought by the trustee of the late Randy California claiming that Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was plagiarised from an obscure song ‘Taurus’ by the band Spirit has survived its first legal challenge.  In 1969, Spirit and Led Zeppelin shared the bill at several concerts. U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez has now refused to dismiss the claim. If the suit succeeds, a…

Mind The Gap: Songwriters unsettled as ‘Uptown Funk’ gets five more writers
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The fallout from the ‘Blurred Lines‘ verdict in favour of the Gaye family and the $7.4 million in damages awarded against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” continues with news that the six strong team of songwriter’s behind Mark Ronson and Bruno Mar’s “Uptown Funk!” have added the five members of the Gap Band as co-writers, making a grand total now of eleven writers. According to documents from RCA Records, which released the song, the original writers – Ronson, Mars, co-producer Jeffrey Bhasker and Phillip Lawrence were writers of the song along with Nicholas Williams (aka Trinidad James) and producer Devon Gallaspy, whose “All Gold Everything” already had “portions embodied” in the song. They have now been joined by the five writers of the 1979 hit “Oops Upside Your Head” including The Gap Band members brothers Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson, keyboardist Rudolph Taylor and producer Lonnie Simmons.   The move follows a claim put forth by publisher Minder Music on behalf of the “Oops” songwriters and of course was set against the background of Blurred Lines and the settlement made by Sam Smith and hos co-writers of “Stay…

Timber plagiarism claim rejected
USA

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

Judge heads to find the truth in Loca copying claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     A U.S. judge who ruled that pop star Shakira’s 2010 hit single “Loca” plagiarised a Dominican songwriter’s work now says the songwriter may have lied to the court and is prepared to head to Puerto Rico to sort out facts. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said in the federal court in Manhattan that new evidence has caused him to “lose trust” in the trial testimony.   Judge Hellerstien had previously found that the Shakira track had copied from composer Ramon Arias Vasquez’s  song “Loca con su Tiguere” and found Sony/ATV Latin and Sony/ATV Discos liable for distributing the infringing song. In his ruling, Judge Hellerstein found that Arias’s song was recorded onto a cassette tape in 1998. A copy of the song on the tape was registered at the Copyright Office in 2011. However the Judge has now planned for a seven-day hearing in August on the basis of the allegation that a cassette tape was fabricated in 2011 and that Arias lied under oath. Defendants Sony have also submitted affidavits that purport to show that the underlying music to Arias’s song was composed in 2009, by a different artist.   As a number of…