Court Reinstates Music Antitrust Suit
Competition , Internet , Record Labels / February 2010
USA

COMPETETITON Record labels, internet An appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit that accused major record labels of price fixing and trying to cut competitors out of the digital market – a ploy that spectacularly backfired and allowed internet piracy to run rampant over other fledgling business models.  The suit had been previously dismissed by a federal judge. The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision to reinstate the antitrust case could affect millions who download music over the Internet. Filed on behalf of internet user who (legally) download music over the Internet, the plaintiffs accused the record labels of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The defendants include Bertelsmann AG (owners of BMG), EMI Group, Sony, Vivendi SA (owners of Universal), and Warner Music Group, as well as some of their affiliated units.In October 2008 the lawsuit –Starr et al v SonyBMG et al – was dismissed by a lower court who said the plaintiffs didn’t have a case against the major music companies for the litigation to go to a full court hearing. The lawsuit centred on the music industry’s first forays into the digital market – Pressplay and MusicNet, the first backed by Sony and Universal, the latter by EMI,…

US Police seize counterfeit gods worth $26 million
Record Labels , Trade Mark / January 2010
USA

TRADE MARK Merchandising, record labels The partners of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), state and local law enforcement and the Government of Mexico announced the seizures of millions of dollars of counterfeit products in Operation Holiday Hoax, a week of joint law enforcement activities targeting counterfeiters and trademark pirates, their distributors, associates, shippers, warehouses, salesmen and vendors in the United States and Mexico. More than 708,250 products were seized in 41 locations around the United States. Seven persons were arrested and charged in New York and Texas. Mexico seized 255 tons of counterfeit products during parallel operations. In Houston, more than 33,000 items were seized with an estimated value at more than $4.3 million. During Operation Holiday Hoax, which ran from December 8th 2009 to December 13th, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and other federal agents and officers in 41 U.S. cities worked in partnership with local law enforcement agencies targeting small businesses, stores, swap meets, flea markets, shippers and vendors involved in the distribution of counterfeit products.  The items seized included counterfeit Christmas ornaments, toys, DVDs, CDs, clothing, footwear, handbags, sports clothing, perfume, stationery, cosmetics, hygiene products, electronics, phones and pharmaceuticals. Early estimates…

CD Pirates ordered to hand over proceeds of crime to music companies
Copyright , Record Labels / January 2010
Czech Republic
UK

COPYRIGHT Record labels A joint press release from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) reports that a gang of CD pirates have been ordered to hand over the proceeds of an illegal operation that had seen imported pirate CDs from the Czech Republic sold at market stalls and record stores across London and the South East of England. The Crown Court confiscated the £70,000 profit and made a compensation order in favour of the music companies whose repertoire was being sold illegally.  The press release sys that this is the first time that record labels in the UK have been awarded compensation from assets that have been confiscated in court from music pirates. The money is payable to BPI, which represents the recorded music industry in the UK, and will be distributed by PPL, the music licensing company that collects revenue from broadcast and public performance licences on behalf of producers and performers. The judge made the ruling under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002) at Snaresbrook Crown Court against two of the four pirate traders who had been convicted of conspiracy to infringe copyright in March 2008.  It is believed that the gang…

Canadian record industry faces piracy claim
Canada

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, record labels The major labels in Canada are facing an unprecedented legal action for infringement of copyright – yes, you read that correctly: “The infringed party in this particular case consists of, among others, Chet Baker, a leading jazz musician in the 1950s, who played various instruments and died in 1988. His legacy is maintained by his estate, which owns the copyright on 50 of his works. The infringing party has already admitted the infringing behaviour, meaning they owe at least 50 million USD. Now, here’s the real shocker: the infringing party is none other than… The Canadian music industry: Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada – the four main members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.” The case revolves around apparent uncompensated use of musical compositions on compilation albums. You can read the article in full at: http://www.osnews.com/story/22590/Canadian_Recording_Industry_Faces_Massive_Infringment_Claims  and see http://www.mediacastermagazine.com/issues/ISArticle.asp?aid=1000350453

Copyright Time Bomb Set to Disrupt Music, Publishing Industries
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, record labels, artists ARTICLE LINK By Eliot Van Buskirk The late 1970s, when punk exploded and disco imploded, were tumultuous years for the music industry. A time bomb embedded in legislation from that era, the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, could bring another round of tumult to the business, due to provisions that allow authors or their heirs to terminate copyright grants — or at the very least renegotiate much sweeter deals by threatening to do so.http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/11/copyright-time-bomb-set-to-disrupt-music-publishing-industries/  and see http://www.411mania.com/music/columns/122017

The Beatles “download” site ordered offline by US Judge
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / December 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet             At the start of the month the internet was alive with rumours and then reports that a US website had made the Beatles catalogue available online – with tracks selling at the bargain price of 25c each. The news prompted the fab four’s label EMI to issue legal proceedings against BlueBeat.com which in turn prompted the boss of Music Rights Technologies, owners of Bluebeat, to produce a novel argument that his company were not infringing EMI’s copyrights – because they were their’s. Hank Risan’s argument was this – before making music files available via the BlueBeat.com service, his company made a new recording of each track using what he calls “psychoacoustic simulation”. By doing this, Risan says his company creates a new master recording and one in which they, rather than EMI or Apple Corp, own the recording copyright. So Risan’s argument was that providing BlueBeat pay a mechanical royalty to the songwriter or publisher who owns the actual song, they don’t need any licence from a record company or recording artist. The matter escalated when EMI realised that other recordings from the EMI catalogue were online including Blondie, Blur, Coldplay, Radiohead and Norah Jones and…

The Song Remains The Same: A Review of the Legalities of Music Sampling
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists, music publishing ARTICLE LINK: By Ben Challis A new abridged and updated version of Ben Challis’s 2003 essay on music sampling, “The Song Remains The Same”, has just been republished in the WIPO Magazine which is free both online and as a pdf. Ben’s article is followed in this issue by another essay, “Is Sampling Always Copyright Infringement?” by Polish lawyers Tomasz Rychlicki and Adam Zieli?ski, co-authors along with DJ Twister of “Sampling and scratching in US copyright and Polish law: a comparative analysis”, published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Law Practice earlier this year. In turn this is followed by a third article looking at  contemporary copyright issues – “Legal Use of Digital Content – Making it Clear and Simple” by Lesley Ellen Harris. http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2009/06/article_0006.html http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2009/06/article_0007.html http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2009/06/article_0008.html A pdf of the entire magazine (Issue 6/November 2009) can be downloaded athttp://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/pdf/2009/

Guns n Roses face sampling claim
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / November 2009
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists Two British independent labels, Independiente and Domino, have launched a lawsuit against Universal’s Interscope-Geffen-A&M division, claiming that one of their artists, Guns N Roses, used samples taken from two recordings by German musician Ulrich Schnauss, who is represented by the two Brit labels without permission. It is claimed that portions of Schnauss’ ‘Wherever You Are’ and ‘A Strangely Isolate Place’ reportedly appear on GNR’s ‘Riad N The Bedouins‘ from GNR’s 2008 Chinese Democracy’ album. Independiente and Domino are seeking $1 million in damages in relation to the infringements. GNR manager and Ticketmaster boss Irving Azoff responded to the lawsuit saying “The band believed when the record came out and still believes that there are no unauthorised samples on the track. The snippets of ‘ambient noise’ in question were provided by a member of the album’s production team who has assured us that these few seconds of sound were obtained legitimately. Artists these days can’t read the minds of those they collaborate with and therefore are unfortunately vulnerable to claims like this one. While the band resents the implication that they would ever use another artist’s work improperly and are assessing possible counterclaims, they are confident this situation will be satisfactorily resolved”. www.thecmuwebsite.com  7th…

Will new music streaming business models survive the dawn of the digital age?
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2009
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels The word on everyone’s lips in the music industry (this month) is ‘Spotify’ – and it’s ‘all you can eat’ business model for providing unlimited music streams to music fans either for free – if fans are prepared to put up with advertising – or for £9.99 per month as a premium service. As Spotify, launched by Swedish internet entrepreneur Daniel Ek, reached its first birthday, attention turned to figures released by Ek about the success of the service and his self declared problems in getting what he considers workable deals with the record labels who control the rights to sound recordings and music publishers (and their collection societies) who control the rights to songs. Many media commentators are saying that the service will soon be out of business unless they can get more people to pay for music – with commentators arguing that the adverting funded model will not work and Spotify needs to rapidly increase the number of its two million UK users who pay the subscription – currently it is thought only about 10% pay and indeed Ek, writing on the company’s blog to mark the first anniversary this week, said “Spotify has…

PPL to appeal Copyright Tribunal ‘one size fits all’ decision
Copyright , Record Labels / November 2009
UK

COPYRIGHT Record labels PPL have said they will appeal the Copyright Tribunal’s ruling on the disagreement between the recording royalty collecting society and the pub industry over how much bars, shops, cafes and offices should pay to play recorded music in their establishments. PPL say they are disappointed with the Tribunal’s decision, which sets a standard rate for all businesses who play recorded music in public places, and that they will appeal the ruling in the High Court. Responding to the decision this morning, PPL boss Fran Nevrkla told CMU: “We are extremely disappointed by the decision of the Tribunal which, even by its own admission, is ‘ill-equipped’ to perform its new investigatory role. The Tribunal has failed to have proper regard for the real value of music to businesses, ignoring PPL’s extensive consultation with licensees. On behalf of our 42,000 performer and 5,000 record company members, many of whom themselves are small businesses, we are appealing this decision in the High Court”. He continue: “The Tribunal’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which was proposed by the hospitality industry, is particularly unfair to small pubs and shops that in future would pay exactly the same as much larger businesses. Despite a total absence…

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

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

VPL lose key Copyright Tribunal case
Copyright , Record Labels / October 2009
UK

COPYRIGHT Television, record labels, broadcasting In a world where nineteen out of every twenty downloads are illegal and therefore not paid for, just how important is promotion to the record industry now? Well, according to the Copyright Tribunal it certainly seems to have a value. CSC Media Group, the company that operates a number of UK TV music channels including Chart Show TV, Flava, The Vault and NME TV, has scored a notable victory at the Copyright Tribunal which will see the broadcaster’s royalty obligations to collection society Video Performance Limited (VPL) considerably reduced. VPL’s ongoing deal with CSC is based on the broadcaster paying the collection society a percentage of gross revenue for using promotional videos and the collecting society had been demanding a 20% cut of the revenues, a figure which CSC argued was “unreasonably high” putting forward the argument that their service provide promotional benefits to the labels who own the material licensed by VPL.  After negotiations failed to reach an agreement (with VPL maintaining the 20% share and CSC looking for a royalty of 8%) CSC took the issue to the Tribunal, the statutory body that has the right to rule on royalty disputes relating to…

Knockback for labels in US streaming decision
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Intenet, record labels A three judge federal appeals court has upheld a 2007 decision that a Yahoo Inc Internet radio service is not required to pay “per play” fees to the copyright holders of sound recordings. In a second defeat for the labels who brought the appeal (including Arista Records, Sony BMG, Capitol Records Inc, Motown Records Co and Virgin Records America) the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2007 jury verdict that Yahoo’s Launchcast did not give listeners enough control to be an “interactive service” that and that Launchcast only needs pay the licensing fees set by SoundExchange, the organsiation that collects royalties on sound recordings. Launchcast lets users create personalised “radio stations” that play songs in a particular genre or match pre-determined selection such as similarity to the listeners favorite artists or songs. The original 2001 copyright infringement claim (and subsequent appeal) really comes down to one question – what constitutes an “interactive service” – defined is US law as a service “that enables a member of the public to receive a transmission of a program specially created for the recipient, or on request, a transmission of a particular sound recording … which is selected…

Music fans still prefer CDs to Downloads
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / August 2009
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Another set of figures from the recent research by The Leading Question show that perhaps the CD isn’t quite as doomed as the music industry thought – with two thirds of music lovers saying that they still prefer CDs over any other media – including digital downloads – and 66% of 14-18 year olds saying that they prefer the CD format. The Leading Question spoke to over 1000 music fans as part of their annual Speakerbox survey into the state of music consumption in the UK. Despite the growth of digital download sales, the research showed that overall 73% of music fans are still happy buying CDs rather than downloading and that fans still value a physical CD much more than digital downloads. With a bedrock of sales from online stores and supermarkets (these channels represented 46% of all UK CD sales in 2008), even the demise of the specialist high street music store may not spell the end of the CD just yet. For less tech savvy music fans their first experience of digital music often starts when they put a CD in their computer – and 59% of all music fans still listen to CDs…

Victory for record industry in Jammie Thomas download case
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / July 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The second run of the illegal file-sharing case against single mum of four Jammie Thomas-Rasset has ended with the same result as the first, finding the 32 year old Minnesota resident guilty of violating music copyrights and ordering her to pay hefty damages to the recording industry  – set by the federal jury at $80,00 per song – or $1.92 million in total. The award is substantially higher that the first case where penalties were set at ‘just’ $220,000. The Jury found that Thomas-Rasset has posted 24 songs on the Kazaa website so others could illegally download these – tracks included “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls and “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘n Roses. The action was one of 35,000 brought by the Recording Industry Association of America against people it claims were illegally sharing music before changing its policy in December but was then only case to go to trial (thus far) in the U.S. The case came back for a second trial after District Judge Michael J Davis dismissed the first verdict, saying he gave the jury incorrect instructions on what could constitute infringement – in effect what constituted distributing music files. Thomas-Rasset, whose lawyer claimed that she had tried to settle the case, said. “Now the record industry…

Danger Mouse mixes up trouble
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2009
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet Both the Register and the Electronic Frontier Foundation bring news that Danger Mouse, the US remixer who courted controversy (well copyright controversy) when he produced the innovative, un-cleared mash-up album titled The Grey Album which fused material from rapper Jay Z’s The Black Album and The Beatles’ The White Album, now seems to be suggesting that fans illegally download his next album which has yet to be released because of the artist’s ongoing row with EMI. The thing is, Danger Mouse HAS released the album – but it’s a blank recordable CD on to which buyers can – potentially – record illegally-downloaded versions of the album. The CDR is on sale in a package which includes a luxurious poster and a book of photographs by cult film director David Lynch and sells for $50. Danger Mouse has issued this statement saying: “Danger Mouse’s new project Dark Night Of The Soul consists of an album length piece of music by Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and a host of guest vocalists, along with a collection of original DavidLynch photography inspired by and based on the music. The photographs, which provide a visual narrative for the music, are compiled in a limited edition, hand numbered 100+ page…

The ‘skinny tail’ of music downloading
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2009
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels A new report from Will Page, Chief Economist of PRS for Music and Eric Garland, CEO of digital research group Big Champagne hopes to lay to rest the theory of the long tail in copyright when it comes to music consumption – pointing out that whilst it was first thought that the long tail could be applied to the digital music world – where 20% of products would provide 80% of sales and 80% of products provide the remaining 20%, when it comes to music its actually a very very ‘skinny tail’, and that illegal download sites just reflect the popular mainstream. Page and Garland, who outlined their findings at the very civilized Great Escape conference in seaside Brighton on the 14th May, gave some interesting examples of the effect of both legitimate music industry practices and download sites in the digital sphere, pointing out that the Beatles sound recordings, which are not legally available anywhere in the digital realm, consistently top download charts. Using the fact that Lady Gaga’s latest hit Poker Face which topped the UK’s charts was illegally downloaded 388,000 times during one week of the Pirate Bay Trial alone, they said that consumer demands…

Term extension plans stumble and fall – and then rise from the ashes as the European Parliament comes to the rescue
EU
UK

COPYRIGHT  Record labels, artists The British music industry’s attempts to extend the recording copyright from the current 50 years, possibly to as much as 95 years, were dealt a blow at the end of March after the UK pushed for greater clarity in the workings of a ‘session fund’ to ensure musicians (rather than just record labels) benefit form the term extension need to be debated. EU Minister Charlie McCreevy, who put the original extension proposals forward at a European level, included provisions to ensure that musicians benefited from the extension, mainly by increasing the royalties that are automatically paid to artists and session musicians oblivious of contractual arrangements once the initial fifty year term is up (currently in the UK, the only royalties musicians have an automatic right to is a share of broadcast royalties collected by PPL). McCreevy proposed a ‘session fund’ into which a cut of fifty-year plus royalty revenues are paid, which are then distributed to musicians involved in those recordings. The UK’s IP Minister David Lammy has made it clear that it is the musicians who he cares about and the UK Government is adamant that the fund system must be properly set up. A…

EMI links with lotteries for digital prizes
Copyright , Record Labels / May 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels The start of April heralded an interesting new move by record labels to find new ways to monsetize copyrights when  EMI announced that they had entered into a deal with a leading US based lottery company that will see musical prizes such as downloads, ringtones, merchandise and ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experiences added as prizes on scratch card based lottery promotions. The major’s partner is Pollard Banknote, which runs 45 lotteries around the world.  Confirming the partnership, Pollard Banknote’s Sina Aiello told reporters: “Lotteries all over the world will now have the ability to work with EMI Music’s entire digital roster of music from today’s stars and legendary artists as a marketing tool to create an emotional connection with fans in the coveted 18- to 35-year-old demographic. We are pleased to offer our customers a vast, new array of compelling instant prize and second chance draw options that will really resonate with music fans”. EMI Music Services’ Ronn Werre added: “Adding music as a prize element to a lottery program is an entirely new and exciting enterprise. This was the result of a great collaboration between Pollard Banknote – a very creative and innovative partner – and EMI’s Brand Partnership…

China gets new ad sponsored Google music service
China

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet Google, the four major music labels and 14 independent labels have launched an ad-supported music service in China in an attempt to make online music profitable there. The venture will have to compete with the numerous search engines which link users to illegally hosted free files but Google hopes that the new service will make it even easier for users to find what they want online while ensuring artists get paid for their work. The service is run through the partially-Google-owned Top110.cn which is responsible for selling advertising space and dividing revenues between the music labels. The site will be limited to users with IP address in mainland China. The move follows a numb er of legal actins brought by both the Music Copyright Society of China and the IFPI against leading Chinese search engines including Baidu and Yahoo – which have had mixed results in the Chinese courts. http://arstechnica.com/media/news/2009/03/china-gets-ad-supported-music-through-google.ars

Sampling creates controversy in music industry
USA

COPYRIGHT Record industry, artists, music publishing ARTICLE LINK  By Ott Tammik  Dailyemerald.com. (University of Oregon) Is music sampling without permission simply copyright theft – or is there more to this debate? This article details a new film Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport which hopefully adds to this to the ongoing tension between what many see as a legitimate transformative art and others see as illegal sampling. http://media.www.dailyemerald.com/media/storage/paper859/news/2009/04/13/Features/Sampling.Creates.Controversy.In.Music.Industry-3707371.shtml

EMI – a deal that struck a discordant note
Business , Record Labels / May 2009
UK

BUSINESS Record labels ARTICLE LINK:  On the day it was announced that Pink Floyd are taking legal action against EMI over the alleged underpayment of royalties and join a long list of dissatisfied artists including Radiohead and Paul McCartney, Simon Bowers looks at Terra Firma’s acquisition of the troubled major label and asks “Guy Hands called securitisation the crack cocaine of finance, so why didn’t he kick the habit” The Observer (Business, p9) 19th April 2009 http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/apr/19/emi-securitisation-guy-hands

US Radio royalty rate row rumbles on
Copyright , Record Labels / April 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, radio Traditionally US radio stations, unlike their European counterparts, haven’t had to pay the owners of sound recordings (usually record companies) to play recorded music, arguing that the exposure on radio benefits the recording artists and record labels by stimulating record sales. But moves are afoot to introduce a statutory royalty and Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan made a rare public appearance in his rock-star-goes-to-Washington suit and tie to face questions by the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill where Corgan spoke out in favor of a bill that would require broadcasters to compensate performers for radio airplay of their songs saying that it was simply unfair that artists, and their labels, received nothing from radio stations which had built their entire businesses around music the labels and artists had, respectively, funded and created adding saying: “I was able to find an audience, in no small measure, because of the long support of my music by terrestrial radio. I am a big fan of radio, and am very interested in its continued health and well being. Terrestrial radio has helped me to discover many of the artists that became influential to my life and artistic pursuits….

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

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

Guns n Roses uploader could get six moths jail
Copyright , Record Labels / April 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels Kevin Cogill, who leaked Guns N Roses’ ‘Chinese Democracy’ onto the internet ahead of its release last year, could get a six month jail term if the FBI get their way. Wired magazine report that federal prosecutors want Kevin Cogill to get a six month prison sentence with prosecutor Craig Missakian saying “Making a pre-release work available to the worldwide public over the internet where it can be copied without limit is arguably one of the more insidious forms of copyright infringement”. Cogill could also face a $371,622 fine. Sentencing is set for May 4th. http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/03/feds-demand-6-m.html

EU Legal Committee approves 95 year copyright term for sound recordings
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / March 2009
EU
UK

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee has given its backing to the proposal to extend the term in sound recordings to 95 years from the current 50 year term. Despite this, some UK commentators remain lukewarm about the proposal and ministers remain unconvinced. The UK government’s 2006 Gowers Report said there was no case for more than fifty years of copyright on recordings although late last year Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said Britain would support an extension, though to 70 rather than 95 years. Now IP Minister David Lammy has said that debate and compromise would be needed before the EU’s Council Of Ministers could pass copyright extension proposals saying at a recent meeting at the Houses Of Parliament that while he and his colleagues had now accepted the case for extension, “opinions on this vary across Europe – so there needs to be some canny footwork to make this happen”. He repeated that the UK Government will only support an extension to 70 years saying that was sufficient to protect musician and performers saying “While the UK believes that performers should be protected throughout their lifetime, a period of 95 years goes beyond what is…

Weedman case against Lil Jon thrown out again
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishing A freelance musician called Redwin Wilchcombe has failed in his second attempt to sue Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz over the song ‘Weedman’, which appeared on the 2002 album ‘Kings of Crunk’. Wilchcombe has claimed that he co-created the track, and argues that he is therefore due a royalty share from it. He previously unsuccessfully sued for both copyright infringement and breach of fiduciary duty, but appealed the first court’s ruling. There was never any doubt that Wilchcombe was involved in creating the track – the issue was whether or not there was an assumption he would receive any ownership of it or a royalty share from it. Wilchcombe was in the studio with Jon and his posse when they were recording ‘Kings Of Crunk’. He said Jon had the original idea for ‘Weedman’ when one of the posse called their weed dealer. He adds that he then came up with the original hook for the track and, because Jon liked it, did more work on it, essentially authoring the final song in full.  So far so good for a royalty claim. The problem for Wilchcombe is that he handed over his track to…

Nine Inch Nails: The future of music?
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / February 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Artists, Record Labels By Cassandra Williams, postgraduate law student at the College of Law Nine Inch Nail’s frontman Trent Reznor is no stranger to non-traditional distribution arrangements. He’s used alternate reality games in order to promote Year Zero working with 42 entertainment in order to give his fans a taste of life in a massively dysfunctional theocratic police state. He has also used secret scavenger hunts which resulted in fans rummaging all over LA, looking for hidden tickets to a dress rehearsal. Using real life treasure hunts as promotion has already been used by authors (Who remembers the hunt for the jewelled golden hare inMasquerade by Kit Williams?) – the most recent ‘real-life’ treasure hunt book is ‘The Secrets of the Alchemist Dar’ by Michael Stadther, where readers were invited to commence searching for more than $2 million worth of hidden jewelry. He has also released full CDs under a “pay for it if you feel like it” arrangement. T he first volume of their album ‘Ghosts’ was put up on torrent sites, under a creative commons license. The band said about BitTorrent: “ Now that we’re no longer constrained by a record label, we’ve decided to personally upload Ghosts I, the first of…

For the Loser Now/Will later be a win: Sony Music Entertainment (Germany) GmbH v Falcon Neue Medien Vertrieb GmbH
Copyright , Record Labels / February 2009
Germany

COPYRIGHT Record labels ARTICLE LINK: By Jeremy Phillips, at the paw lickingly cool IP Kat Scholars and cognoscenti of twentieth century culture will instantly identify the source of the title of this post: Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’“, in which copyright in the classic Dylan recording is now, it seems, safely in Sony’s hands following the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Communities this morning in Case C-240/07 Sony Music Entertainment (Germany) GmbH v Falcon Neue Medien Vertrieb GmbH. The Advocate General’s Opinion in this reference remains frustratingly beyond the linguistic grasp of this blogger, but today’s ruling has been lovingly translated into his mother tongue from the original German (though Birgit, the most recent recruit to the IPKat team, would have been perfectly equipped to deal with it). So what is this ruling, on a request for a preliminary ruling from the Bundesgerichtshof, all about? Falcon distributed two CDs containing recordings of performances by the artist Bob Dylan: “Bob Dylan – Blowin in the Wind” and “Bob Dylan – Gates of Eden”. These CDs featured tracks that were originally featured in the long-playing vinyl albums “Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home”, “The Times…

UK Government moves towards term extension for sound copyrights
Copyright , Record Labels / January 2009
EU
UK

COPYRIGHT Record labels The UK’s Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, speaking at the UK Music’s Creators Conference at the ICA in London has said he would now support an extension of the term in UK copyright protection for sound recordings from the current 50 years to 70 years. Record labels and some high profile artists have argued that the current term is unfair compared to the life plus seventy years term granted to writers and songwriters, and have been pushing for an extension from fifty to 95 years, which would bring the UK in line with the US. There is a sense of urgency about all this because some of the most profitable records of the rock ‘n’ roll era, including Elvis Presley, are already in the public domain, with early Beatles and Stones recordings are all due to come out of copyright in the next decade. Performers have been broadly supportive of the move but the Music Managers Forum have expressed some concerns, not least as the copyrights are normally owned by the record companies – and cynics argue that most artists don’t see that share until they have ‘recouped’ on the label’s initial investment, and that for many artists…

Mother in legal fight on music downloads
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels From an article by Katie Mulvaney in the Providence Journal A Providence woman has attended federal court to fight a music company’s efforts to seize her computer in its pursuit of allegations that her son illegally swapped songs online as a student at Classical High School. Capitol Records have filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts which accuses Joel Tenenbaum of violating copyright laws by downloading and sharing seven songs while a teenager living at home in Providence. Tenenbaum, 24, now lives in Boston, where he is studying toward a doctorate in physics at Boston University. The company has asked the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island to compel his parents, Judith and Arthur Tenenbaum, to turn over the family computer so experts can inspect it. Judith Tenenbaum said before proceedings were to begin yesterday that the family disposed of the computer her son used as a teen years ago.  “That was two computers ago,” she said. She is reluctant to turn over her current computer, she said, because it contains personal information.  Yesterday’s hearing before Magistrate Lincoln D. Almond was postponed after he concluded that Tenenbaum’s lawyer, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, was not eligible to argue before the court….

RIAA end lawsuits against individual downloaders
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The Recording Industry Association of Americas much criticised and sometimes ridiculed policy of suing individual fileswappers and downloaders is to be stopped. The group which represents the US recording industry has now said that it abandoned its policy of suing people for sharing tracks and will now work with Internet service providers to cut abusers’ access if they ignore repeated warnings (a policy already law in France and being mooted in the UK). The move ends a controversial program that saw the RIAA sue about 35,000 people for swapping songs online since 2003. The high legal costs for defenders saw virtually all of those hit with lawsuits settle, on average for around $3,500. However, the RIAA’s legal costs are thought to exceed the settlement money it brought in and artists benefited not one cent. The RIAA have said that they stopped sending out new lawsuits and warnings in August, and then agreed with several leading but as yet unnamed U.S. Internet service providers to notify alleged illegal file-sharers and cut off service if they failed to stop. The RIAA has credited the lawsuit campaign with raising awareness of piracy and keeping the number of illegal file-sharers in check while…

New lobby group for featured artists
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / November 2008
UK

COPYRIGHT Artists, record labels Hot on the heels of British Music Rights’new UK Music initiative, over sixty artists have signed up to (another) new music industry body – this time the Featured Artists’ Coalition launched at theOctoberIn The City conference in Manchester. ´Featured artists´ signed up to the new body include Radiohead, Robbie Williams, Iron Maiden, The Verve, Kaiser Chiefs, David Gilmour, Billy Bragg, Klaxons and Kate Nash. The body will lobby primarily on copyright issues, which will see it joining with the rest of the recorded music community in demanding an extension of the recorded copyright, but also taking on the record companies in a bid to increase the rights and controls artists have over their recordings, and to secure artists a cut of any upfront payments labels receive in deals that are done based on the value of their recording catalogues (eg the upfront payments – in cash or equity – labels often receive from new download services in a bid to secure their involvement). The Coalition will also advocate the ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy, whereby artists who find their labels are unwilling or unable to make their music commercially available could regain control of the recordings, so they…

Jammie Thomas file swapping decision back in the news
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels From The CMU Daily Jammie Thomas, whose legal team successfully argued that the RIAA had failed to prove that anyone actually did share the music Thomas had made available, and therefore actual infringement had not been proven has proved to be an inspiration in another peer-2-peer file swapping case against a Whitney Harper. She actually admitted to making 37 songs available via Kazaa in court earlier this year, though added as a defence that at the time she was unaware that doing so was illegal. Ignorance of the law isn’t usually a good defence, but the judge in that case, Xavier Rodriguez, expressed sympathy for the defendant and proposed a more lenient damages package of $200 per track. The RIAA weren’t impressed, though subsequently decided to accept the proposed $7400 settlement. Except, now her lawyer is pushing for a full trail in the case, presumably because he knows the US trade body doesn’t have any evidence the files Harper put into her Kazaa sharing folder were ever actually downloaded and, given the Thomas precedent, his client could get away with paying no damages. The RIAA continue to fight the technicality defence used in the Thomas case…

So Def chief Dupri and Daz Dillinger face defamation claim
Artists , Defamation , Record Labels / October 2008
USA

DEFAMATION Record labels, artists So Def chief Jermaine Dupri is facing a defamation lawsuit because of the use of a recording of a private phone-call that appeared on Daz Dillinger album ‘So So Gangsta’ back in 2006. A woman called Aika Kendrick claims that the Dupri and Dillinger recorded a personal conversation with her and then used it as a background to the song ‘The One’, which is about an emotionally abusive relationship; the conversation ends with Dillinger launching a tirade of abuse at Kendrick. Kendrick says that as soon as she was aware that the call had been recorded she sent a cease-and-desist to Dupri’s label, but they ignored it, and adds that her inclusion on the album track has made her “the subject of embarrassment, humiliation, and degradation”. She’s seeking $250,000 in damages on the grounds of negligence, copyright infringement, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. CMU Daily 12 th September 2008 www.cmumusicnetwork.co.uk

Payola – could an old idea save online radio and the music industry?
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / October 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, radio, record labels ARTICLE LINK: Remembering that in the US terrestrial stations (but not satellite or online) pay nothing to labels to use music, this interesting article looks at the illegal practice of record labels paying radio stations to get airtime (“pay for play” or payola) and asks if a reworked idea could be a boon to the music industry. http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/9/could-payola-save-online-radio

UK CD Pirate jailed for three years
Copyright , Record Labels / October 2008
UK

COPYRIGHT Record labels A UK man has been jailed for three years after running a bootleg CD business from his South East London home, in which he counterfeited all kinds of goods, including CDs, DVDs and video games, and then sold them via a website and eBay pretending they were the legitimate. Neil Norton was tracked down as the result of a three-year investigation involving Lewisham Council, Bromley Police, the Federation Against Copyright Theft and record label trade body the BPI. It’s estimated he made up to £850,000 as a result of his counterfeiting over an eight year period, funds which helped him buy the Porsche, BMW, personalised number plates, cameras and computer equipment found at his home – belongings the authorities will now seek to confiscate. A destruction order will also be sought to enable all the remaining counterfeit goods, which include fake designer label clothes as well as the CDs and DVDs, to be destroyed. www.bpi.org

Girl talk album prompts music sampling debate
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishers ARTICLE LINK:  If you have heard of the new Girls Talk album you may or may not be aware than none of the 300 or so eclectic music samples appears to have been cleared with copyright owners. Will fair use be enough to protect the artist and his label? http://futureofmusiccoalition.blogspot.com/2008/08/girl-talk-and-sample-license-clearance.html

McCain fried? Campaigning senator upsets Paris and Jackson
USA

COPYRIGHT / IMAGE RIGHTS Music publishing, record labels, artists First US presidential candidate Senator John McCain liked Barak Obama’s cultural appeal to Paris Hilton, and Hilton hit back with a rather amusing and somewhat damaging video which mocked the ‘white haired dude’ and rather put McCain on the back foot. Now Jackson Browne’s management have taken action over the use of one of his iconic songs, “Running On Empty” in one of the Senator’s ads. When Browne’s management began receiving emails from people who wondered why the legendary singer and songwriter – an Obama supporter who doesn’t allow his songs to be used in advertisements of any kind – would allow “Running on Empty” to play in a John McCain campaign commercial – they decided to investigate. It turns out Jackson never granted permission for any such use and according to a lawsuit in US District Court in Los Angeles, the Ohio and National Republican Parties and McCain himself are responsible for two illegal actions by infringing Browne’s copyright and creating the false impression that Browne had endorsed John McCain. Browne’s lawyer Larry Iser said “When you’re a senator, or you’re elected president, you take an oath to preserve, protect,…

Atlantic v Andersen draws to a sorry close for the RIAA
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The RIAA’s much criticised pursuit of an disabled Oregon woman in Atlantic v Andersen has finally drawn to a close and the RIAA must pay Ms Anderson $107, 951 representing the amount of her attorneys fee judgment plus interest. But as some commentators have pointed out, the sum does not compensate Ms. Andersen for the other damages she’s sustained, and that’s where the case may switch around as Tanya Andersen does the hunting, as she pursues the record companies for malicious prosecution. Should be interesting. http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/08/15/1145236

BPI release new revenue statistics
Copyright , Record Labels / August 2008
UK

COPYRIGHT Record labels The BPI has, for the first time, released statistics showing growth in non-traditional revenue streams at the record which now account for 11.4% of UK record companies’ income. The data offers some hope that labels can weather the threat from illegal; downloading as alternative revenues rose 13.8% in 2007 to £121.6 million. A big part of that rise comes from licensing which is an increasingly important revenue source. Revenues from so called 360 degree deals (“multiple-rights revenues”) where labels secure their investment in new talent on more than recording revenues – in particular touring, merchandising and sponsorship revenue were up 16.2% in 2007, though the total amount of such revenues probably weren’t very significant to start with, so actually that increase is probably quite small. Commenting on the stats, BPI boss Geoff Taylor said this: “The core business of record companies is investing in talent, working in partnership with artists to create great music and to help to find it an audience. Selling CDs and digital downloads remains the main way in which we recoup that investment, but increasingly new streams of revenue are coming into the picture. As consumption patterns change, music companies are finding new…

European Commissioners look at business practices and consumer rights
EU

COMPETITION / COPYRIGHT Music publishing, record labels The Guardian has reported on a draft decision from the European Commission which, if adopted, would lead to major reforms of Europe’s music collecting societies. According to the report, the draft, which has not yet been signed by EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, berates the fact that the collecting societies operate as monopolies within their national borders, partitioning the EU market on national lines. It gives the collecting societies 90 days to terminate their agreements and calls on them to cross-license. The draft has been criticised for not going far enough to break down national monopolies. The IPKat notes that, from what little information is available, it seems that the Commission isn’t too worried about the notion of collecting societies, but rather about the way in which they operate territorially. This territoriality is understandable, since copyright has grown up as a system of national rights with a slightly different focus in the different Member States. http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/index.php?p=1156 http://www.mcps-prs-alliance.co.uk/monline/news/Pages/EuropeanCommission.aspx Here are edited highlights of what NeelieKroes said at the OpenForum European Breakfast seminar,‘Being Open About standards’ : “It is simplistic to assume that because some intellectual property protection is good, that such protection should therefore be…

European Court overrules Court of First instance on annulment of Sony-BMG merger
Competition , Record Labels / August 2008
EU

COMPETITION Record labels Bertelsmann and Sony Corporation of America v Impala C-413/06 P The European Union’s highest court has set aside the Court of First Instances ruling that annulled the European Commission’s approval of a merger between the Sony Music and BMG record labels. The European Court of Justice also ordered that the lower court to reconsider its decision in order to review three of five pleas it had not dealt with. The court said that “since the Court of First Instance examined only two of the five pleas relied on by Impala, the Court of Justice considers that it is not in a position to give a ruling itself on the dispute. It is accordingly referring the case back to the Court of First Instance”. In July 2006, the lower Court of First Instance threw out the Commission decision at the request of Impala, an independent group of music producers. The lower court said the Commission had taken insufficient care in giving its approval. It should have looked more carefully at whether collective market dominance existed in the music industry and could grow after the merger, the court said. There has been no practical effect of a flurry of…

Mum turns on Prince over YouTube takedown
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / August 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels A mother who uploaded a video of her son dancing to a Prince track is taking the artist and his label to court over their efforts to have the video taken off YouTube. Stephanie Lenz of Pennsylvania made a video of her 13-month-old boy dancing to an almost inaudible song, and posted it on YouTube as thousands of parents do world wide. In the background “Let’s go Crazy” is the “barely distinguishable song” in the background – it is by Pirnce and the copyright is owned by Universal Music’s copyright and they issued a “take down notice”. YouTube initially took it down but Lenz fought back and he sent a letter to YouTube, demanding her video be reinstated. They in turn sent a letter to Universal Music, which represents Prince. Eventually YouTube posted the video back up because Universal Music never answered. And that’s where it would have ended, except Lenz decided to file a lawsuit against Universal Music with the legal help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. A federal judge in San Jose will hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by Lenz. She claims Universal Music misused the takedown notice, are abusing…

FBI Interview Guns n Roses blogger
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / August 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels The blogger who allegedly leaked nine tracks from the long awaited album from Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘Chinese Democracy’, has reportedly been interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US. According to reports Kevin Skwerl was visited by two FBI agents yesterday and questioned about his source of the files, which were taken down almost as soon as they were posted after GNR issued a cease and desist order. But the take down was too late to stop some file swappers getting their hands on the tracks and digital files are already in circulation Skwerl is a former Universal Music employee and Guns N Roses were signed to Universal’s Geffen label. Speaking about the whole episode to Rolling Stone magazine, Skwerl stressed that GNR weren’t threatening when they got in touch to request the removal of the tracks off his website, and he adds that he’s hopeful he will avoid any further legal action regarding the leak – civil or criminal. He told the magazine: “A really cool guy from the GNR camp that was a middle man between someone who was very angry and me. He was trying to reach out and see if I’d…

Culture Secretary open to “extending the term”
Copyright , Record Labels / July 2008
UK

COPYRIGHT  Record labels  UK Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said he would keep an “open mind” when it came to the copyright term for sound recordings, currently protected for 50 years in the UK and Europe, when speaking at the Annual General Meeting of UK recording royalty collecting society PPL. The record label’s campaign to extend the term has had produced a mixed reaction from Government. The UK government’s Gowers Review of intellectual property laws recommended that the copyright term for recorded music stay at the current 50 years, despite calls from across the record industry to increase it – either by bring it closer to the 95 years awarded to recordings in the US or to run parallel with the rights of composers and songwriters whose works are protected for their life plus 70 years. But EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has been more supportive of proposals for a term extension and Burnham said that he would “take a close look at McCreevy’s details when they are revealed later in the summer. I understand the issues and will engage constructively in the process and join in the debate with my European counterparts”. During a Q&A session that Burnham added that…

Virgin warns internet users to respect copyright
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / July 2008
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Virgin Media will send letters to thousands of its own customers in households where music is either being downloaded or illegally shared as part of a joint approach to online piracy with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). The BPI ultimately wants internet companies to implement a “three strikes and out” rule to warn and ultimately disconnect the estimated 6.5 million customers whose accounts are used for regular criminal activity (a procedure already in the process of being introduced in France). This news prompted a response from journalist Bill Thompson on the BBC website, calling continued attempts by traditional content owners to curb online piracy a “doomed enterprise as the growth of a fast internet coupled with the ability to make perfect copies of digital content means that all of the assumptions that underpin film studios, TV broadcasters and record companies have been stripped away, leaving them flailing around, threatening and suing the people who should be their best customers and hoping to persuade politicians to pass new laws to give them special privileges online. He did, however, acknowledge that the situation was changing saying “As more licensed download services become available, many offering songs without usage…

London DJ arrested over leaked albums
Copyright , Record Labels / July 2008
UK

COPYRIGHT Record labels The international recording industry today welcomed the arrest by UK police of a man suspected of selling a over 150 pre-release albums on eBay, weeks before their official release. The man, a DJ and music reviewer based in London, was arrested on suspicion of theft and money laundering.  The case centres on the alleged sale of pre-release copies of albums by artists including Foals, Delays, Grand National and Kelly Rowland and it is believed that he used his position to obtain promotional copies of albums from record companies which he then sold on. If charges are brought, it is thought this would be the first ever prosecution involving the sale of pre-release music in the UK.  www.ifpi.org

US first sale doctrine does apply to promo copies
Copyright , Record Labels / July 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels Music giant Universal Music Group has lost its court battle to stop an eBay trader from reselling promotional CDs he had bought from second hand stores after a US court found in favour of Troy Augusto who makes money by snapping up rare albums circulated as promotional copied by Universal and selling them on the online auction site. Universal accused Augusto of copyright infringement, saying that promotional copies were not authorised for sale to the public. Specialist music shops often sell promo albums or review copies that record labels send out to journalists and radio stations before the regular editions go on sale. Record companies have long maintained that they continue to own these items and can ask for them back at any time. They can be recognised by markings such as “For promotional use only” or “Not for resale”, visible on the record or CD artwork and sometimes on the disc label itself. US District Court Judge S James Otero dismissed the case and said that Mr Augusto was protected by the “first sale” doctrine in copyright law. This says that once a copyright owner gives away a copy of a CD, DVD or book, the recipient is entitled…

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

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