Is This Henley a Shirt or a Musician?
Artists , Trade Mark / November 2014

TRADE MARK Artistes, merchandise By Marie-Andree Weiss writing on the IPKat   Don Henley, a member of the Eagles music band and also a solo musician, is suing clothing retailer Duluth Holdings in the CentralDistrict Court of California, alleging that an advertisement created by Defendant is an infringement of his trade marks and right of publicity and is also false advertising. The advertisement at stake shows a drawing of two tee-shirts known as “henley,” side-to-side, with the phrase “Don A Henley AND Take it Easy” printed on the left of the ad. A henley tee-shirt is a tee-shirt which does not have a collar but has a front placket closing with several buttons, generally three. I read on the Web that the term “henley” originates from the town of Henley-on-Thames, as rowers practicing there in the 19th century sported such shirts, but I cannot assert that this really is the origin of the term. “Take It Easy” is a colloquial expression, often used in the U.S. as a way to say good bye and is also the title of the Eagles’ first hit single. It is featured on the Eagles album Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, which is, according to the Complaint, the bestselling album of all time in…

Pras sues New York Post over cancelled benefit gig allegation
Artists , Defamation / November 2014

DEFAMATION Artistes   One time Fugee Pras Michael is planning to  issue proceedings against the New York Post after the newspaper accused Pras of bailing on a “9/11 benefit concert” organised by his own charity, the Hope For Them Foundation. The article also apparently claimed that the Foundation had bounced a cheque to the venue, had falsely claimed its event was sponsored by MTV, and isn’t properly registered as a charity with state officials. But it seems the newspaper has added to the confusion as the benefit, whilst on the 11th September, was not actually a benefit related to the attack on the Twin Towers. Lawyers for Pras have also said he was not a board member for Hope For Them Foundation and the charity itself said “Pras is a good friend of the organisation and supports our cause but is NOT a board member”. A claim for $30 million in damages will be filed.

Deadmau5 v Disney – the Mousequitears Dual On
Artists , Copyright , Internet , Trade Mark / October 2014

TRADE MARK / COPYRIGHT Artistes, broadcasting, internet   Disney is going after Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) and his logo, opposing a trademark application he submitted in the US last year. The company made a move to block Zimmerman from trademarking his familiar Mau5 head in the U.S., claiming the image is too similar to its iconic mascot Mickey Mouse, who first appeared in the 1928 animated short Steamboat Willie. In a statement earlier this week, the producer’s lawyer Dina LaPolt pointed out that Deadmau5 has been using his logo, based on his on-stage headgear, for almost a decade and that he’s already managed to secure the trademark in 30 other countries, and she added that her client “will not be bullied by Disney and is prepared to fight to protect his rights to his property”. Zimmerman himself said ““Disney thinks you might confuse an established electronic musician/performer with a cartoon mouse. That’s how stupid they think you are” and Deadmau5 tweeted “Lawyer up, Mickey,” to his three million followers. But in a twist to this tale, Zimmerman found another way to fight back: he and his lawyer discovered that between 2009 and 2012, the Disney Channel ran a series called ‘Have…

A Nightingale sues
Artists , Contract , Live Events / October 2014

CONTRACT Artistes, live sector   London booking agency EC1 has reportedly issued legal proceedings against Lily Allen for allegedly breaching a 2012 agreement that would have seen the company and its director Alex Nightingale act as booking agents for the singer’s 2013 and 2014 touring activity. According to the Mail On Sunday, Nightingale claims that Allen broke her contractual commitments when she switched allegiances to rival booking agency CAA, it seems because she’d been told the bigger agency could secure her “higher gross fees” from promoters. EC1 had already begun work on Allen’s proposed tour when it was told she was moving to CAA. The company is now suing for £100,000. Mr Nightingale argues he is entitled to compensation for the ‘very large amount’ of work carried out, adding there was no break clause in their agreement. A spokesman for Allen has denied the allegations made against her, saying that the singer’s lawyers “will be defending the matter vigorously”.

Trindl takes on former bandmates in EDM mash up
Artists , Contract / October 2014

CONTRACT Artists   Kris Trindl, a founding member of EDM stars Krewella is suing sisters Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf for at least $5 million for kicking him out of the group and for allegedly violating an oath that dates back to the time when the three had “6-8-10” tattooed onto their bodies. The suit alleges that having quit alcohol after rehab, the Yousaf sisters (one of whom was a previous girlfriend) didn’t like the fact that Trindl wouldn’t party, mistook his condition for depression and began scheming to deny him membership in the group and subsequently removed his image from publicity shots and effectively ‘sacked’ Trindl by asking to get treatment for his “depression” for 60 days, meaning the Yousaf sisters could continue as a duo. The three met as students at Glenbrook North High School and it seems Kris’ career was already beginning to take off in the Chicago music scene, and on June 8th, 2010, the three are said to have marked “a vow to put aside any other career plans outside of music and commit to Krewella” with tattoos of the date. The three then moved into a loft together in Chicago and came up with an idea to mix heavy-metal…

Iggy Azalea tries trade mark tactic to head of porn tape
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2014

TRADE MARK Artistes   Singer Iggy Azalea’s lawyers have fired off a legal warning to Vivid Entertainment over use of the singer’s name in connection with sex tape which allegedly features Azalea and rapper Hefe Wine – who says the tape does feature the couple. The letter says Vivid are unable to use the name “Iggy” in marketing. According to TMZ, the legal letter warns Vivid that the name “Iggy” is protected by US. Iggy’s lawyers claim that the tape isn’t of her, but that if a tape does exist it was filmed without her knowledge or consent and that she may have been under eighteen but Wine says Iggy was both of legal age and aware of the tape. The pair met when Azalea was 17. Sources close to Iggy say that she feels “betrayed” by Hefe. Azalea has launched separate legal proceedings against the former boyfriend, who, it seems, also released an EP of her early recordings this summer.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pair worked on music together, as well as beginning a relationship. At some point during this time, her lawsuit alleges, “Williams downloaded the entire contents of Azalea’s personal computer”. Last month, early Azalea tracks…

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain loses trade mark battle
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2014

TRADE MARK Artists   The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (UOGB) has lost round one of a trademark infringement battle against a rival band over the UOGB name, having argued that its reputation could be tarnished by the German-based United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra (UKUO). The UOGB had sought an injunction against the rival group ahead of the UKUO’s upcoming UK tour but Judge Richard Hacon in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ruled in favour of the UKUO, saying it was not in competition and that, as the group had been performing in Germany for some years, the UOGB should have acted sooner. Issuing an injunction would have forced the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra to cancel an already booked tour, costing them tens of thousands of pounds. Both orchestras perform their take on contemporary pop songs. The UOGB, whose members dress like a traditional orchestra and sing and tell jokes on stage, have been performing for more than 25 years, released records and have appeared on television. Despite the refusal to grant the injunction, a full trial should follow late 2014 or early 2015. The UOGB (a partnership consisting of George Hinchliffe and Marian Lux) have a Community Trade Mark registered…

AIM and A2IM tell members to be wary of SoundCloud user licence
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Internet / September 2014

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artistes, internet   UK and US indie label trade bodies AIM and A2IM have warned their members to be aware of a number of clauses in SoundCloud’s terms and conditions for content-uploaders, and what rights those clauses ask rightsholders to give up when uploading music to the service. The warning appeared on the A2IM blog  and states: “When putting tracks up on SoundCloud, you should strongly consider turning API access off. If you do not do this, you are granting not only SoundCloud a royalty free licence to use your recordings, but also anyone else who uses their API and/or links to your recordings (eg internet radio stations, remix services or other music apps)”. It adds: “As a SoundCloud user, you have already warranted to SoundCloud that you control all rights when using the service. This means that publishing, which you may not control, is also included in this royalty free license for onward usage. User uploads are also covered by this, so if third parties are uploading your recordings, they are also passing on a free license to other sites and services beyond SoundCloud, which effectively creates an ecosystem of royalty free usage for your music”. SoundCloud…

Middle finger MIA settles with NFL
Artists , Contract , Live Events / September 2014

CONTRACT Artistes, live events   The ill-judged case brought by the NFL against MIA, after the singer raised a middle finger in her Super Bowl performance with Madonna – allegedly breaching her contractual commitment  to ensure her performance didn’t negatively impact on the “tremendous public respect and reputation” enjoyed by American football – has been settled. At one point the NFL was looking for $16.6 million in damages even though MIA’s actions only prompted a smattering of complaints and not action by the FCC. As MIA’s lawyer Howard King told the Hollywood Reporter at the time: “The NFL’s claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same”. MIA herself had previously said the lawsuit “was “a massive waste of time, a massive waste of money, it’s a massive display of powerful corporation dick-shaking. They want me on my knees and say[ing] sorry so they can slap me on my wrist.” The case has now been settled and the terms…

Clinton default means copyright can be transferred
Artists , Copyright / September 2014

COPYRIGHT Artistes, songwriters   Addressing the issue of whether a lower court abused its discretion by appointing a receiver and authorizing the sale of master sound recordings to satisfy monetary judgments, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that the Copyright Act did not protect the defendant from the involuntary transfer of his copyrighted works because the defendant was not the original author of the works (Hendricks & Lewis PLLC v. Clinton, Case No. 13-35010 (9th Cir., June 23, 2014) (Christen, J)).  The plaintiffs, Hendricks & Lewis, are a law firm who performed legal services for George Clinton.   Clinton failed to pay Hendricks for certain legal fees incurred and after securing an arbitration award, Hendricks petitioned for and received judgment from the lower court, which has now been confirmed on appeal.

Shakira hit was an indirect but infringing copy of another
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2014

COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing   This could be expensive: The BBC reports that one of Colombian pop star Shakira’s big hits has been found to be indirectly copied from another songwriter’s work. Judge Alvin Hellerstein in New York has found that Shakira’s 2010 Spanish-language version of Loca had infringed on a song by Dominican singer Ramon Arias Vazquez. The Spanish language version. Shakira’s missive, a collaboration with Dominican rapper Eduard Edwin Bello Pou, better known as El Cata – was widely released as a single around the world and borrowed from  Loca Con Su Tiguer – but that song was itself was based on the Arias Vazquez track of the same name.  Loca went on to sell more than five million copies and topped Billboard Magazine’s Latin charts. Her English language version of Loca – which featured Dizzee Rascal – was “not offered into evidence” at the trial. In his ruling Judge Hellerstein said that while the hit single had been based on an earlier version of a song recorded by Bello [El Cata], this itself was a copy of Arias Vazquez’s song saying “Accordingly, I find that, since Bello had copied Arias, whoever wrote Shakira’s version of the song…

Russia enacts law against profanity in the arts
Artists , Censorship / September 2014

CENSORSHIP Artistes, broadcasting, theatre   Russia has enacted new laws targeting publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theatre prompting fears that the new provisions may be used to target free speech. The new law provides for fines of up $1,400, however for works which may include profanities and words deemed inappropriate. However some say the new law will promote culture: Moscow State University History Professor Anna Kuzmina reportedly said the law will help promote a better artistic culture, telling VOA “My personal opinion, and I support this law, is that profane language has almost become the norm and even has acquired a certain charm. Frequently, people do not take the trouble of finding the words, but speak emotionally expressing themselves with five or six, four-letter words”. The profanity law also bans the public showing of films with swear words and forces music and books to have warning labels. Many see the law as part of a conservative movement to shape Russia’s youth into a more nationalistic culture distinct from the liberal West.

Korean teen stars face new legislation
Artists , Employment Law , Live Events / August 2014
South Korea

EMPLOYMENT LAW Live events sector, broadcasting, artistes   Teenage Korean ‘K-Pop’ stars are facing new legislation put in place to protect young people  from onerous work schedules. Two provisions of a new law will affect pop performers in particular: Firstly, performers under the age of 15 won’t be able to work more than 35 hours a week, and those between 15-18 won’t be able to work more than 40 hours. The devil is in the detail (as ever) – and the question remains what “work” is defined as, with Music Times asking: “Does doing publicity count?” and “Does being present at a concert venue prior to going onstage count?” The legislation does allow that “exceptions can be made for projects requiring long-distance travel.” Minors will also be barred from practicing their craft between the hours of 22.00 and 06,00 which may provide ;ogistical huredles for the live events sector and live T. That statute can be waived of parental permission is granted The second provision affecting young performers is the section preventing minors from wearing skimpy outfits or performing “suggestive” dance routines – but again critics say the provisions are ill defined. The strength or weaknesses of the law aside,…

Indies try to explain the digital deal
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / August 2014

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   The independent label’s global trade body, the Worldwide Independent Network has launched a new “ “Fair Digital Deals Declaration” to make clear their digital deals to artistes – with over 700 indie labels signed up including XL, beggars and Domino. It’s all a bit vague, and there’s nothing binding and it, it doest set minimum remuneration levels even as a percentage – and it doesn’t even remotely approach a standard of good practice – but it’s a lot more open than the position taken by the major labels   Key points in the Fair Digital Deals Declaration include: 1. We will ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form. 2. We will account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetisation of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances. 3. We will encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music. 4. We will support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorised uses of their music.   Announcing the…

Sony try NOT to explain the digital deal
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / August 2014

CONTRACT Record labels, artistes   The legal battle between 19 Entertainment and Sony Music in the US could result in some judicial consideration of the ongoing digital royalty debates in the music industry – although Sony seemingly would rather avoid this, after  it emerged that the major had filed a motion to have the case dismissed last month. 19 Entertainment is suing Sony on behalf of various ‘American Idol‘ winners who scored Sony Music record deals via the show, says it found “systemically incorrect calculations” on two separate audits of royalty payments made by the major, adding that the record company then failed to allow 19’s auditors to access all the data they required to do a full audit. The 19 litigation also includes disputes over the way digital royalties are calculated – and the question of  whether labels should be paying lower record sale royalties or higher licensing revenue splits on download and streaming income. The Hollywood Reporter also notes that 19 Entertainment is also asking if the major labels are obliged to share with their acts damages received from successful file-sharing litigation. In its motion to dismiss Sony argue that it isn’t obliged to share with artists the multi-million…

Disputed Hendrix recordings to be released
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / August 2014

CONTRACT Recorded music, artists   Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings is set to release a number of early Jimi Hendrix tracks after the conclusion of a legal dispute that has lasted nearly five decades. The disputed recordings were made between 1965 and 1967, and many feature Hendrix playing on records made by Curtis Knight & The Squires. The recordings were made by a label called PPX International run by producer Ed Chalpin, who famously signed Hendrix and Knight to an infamous “one-pound-advance-one-percent-royalty deal.” The arrangement caused issues within a couple of years as Hendrix’s career started to take off, and PPX and its business partners started to put out versions of the recordings that heavily implied – through title or artwork – that the records were Hendrix, rather than his role as a session musician or ‘sideman’. In 2001 the Hendrix Estate won a legal battle in the London courts, enforcing a 1973 decree which limited PPX’s ownership of recordings featuring Hendrix to just 33 masters made in 1965, rather than the larger catalogue of tracks put down in the following couple of years. This decision was upheld in both K and US appellate courts and in 2007, Experience Hendrix secured…

Adele’s son wins damages over papped photo
Artists , Privacy / August 2014

PRIVACY Artistes   The son of pop singer Adele has been awarded £10,000 in damages and legal costs after a privacy case brought by Adele and her partner Sumin Konecki against Corbis Images UK whose photographer had papped the 2 year old Angelo Adkins and his parents without their permission. In the Hugh Court the singer argued that the photographs infringed their child’s privacy. The legal action was launched after Corbis Images UK shopped a number of photographs featuring Angelo to the UK press. These, said Adele’s lawyer Jenny Afia of Schillings captured his “milestone moments, such as his first family outing and his first trip to playgroup, [and] were photographed and published worldwide expressly against his family’s wishes”. Afia added: “The parents’ view is that these images were of routine, everyday family occasions which the paparazzi has no right to intrude upon, profit from and file away in picture libraries for future reference and use”. The damages will be held in trust for Angelo, and legal costs, as well as agreeing not to use the photos again in future. The company also passed on the names of the freelance photographers who took the pictures, to whom Afia’s Schillings law…

One Direction lawyers cite privacy and copyright issues with leaked video
Artists , Copyright , Privacy / July 2014

COPYRIGHT / PRIVACY Artistes   Reps for One Direction have reportedly threatened legal action against Mail Online over the website’s ‘pop punks’ Peruvian pot puff’ exclusive after 1D boys Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik were seen and heard in a video, seemingly recorded on the former’s phone, smoking and discussing smoking cannabis, and possibly using a racial slur in the process. The band have alleged that the video was “stolen” from Tomlinson’s phone. According to the Press Gazette, law firm Lee & Thompson has written to the Mail and other news organisations stating that distribution of the video amounts to both an invasion of privacy (because the conversation happened in a private vehicle) and copyright infringement (because Tomlinson owns the copyright). The legal letter reads: “This video is a private ‘home’ video (filmed in a private vehicle) which has been stolen and the copyright in which is owned by our client Louis Tomlinson. Any publication of the video is unauthorised and unlawful and legal steps are being taken against the parties involved”. 1D member Liam Payne made a number of tweets saying  “I love my boys and maybe things have gone a little sideways, I apologise for that. We are only…

Eagles’ Don Henley defends legal action against Frank Ocean and Okkervil River

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music sector, artistes   In what might be a misguided move, The Eagles’ frontman Don Henley has taken aim at Frank Ocean and Okkervil River for reworking his band’s music, prompting Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff to respond in an article in Rolling Stone saying that copyright law is “strangling and depleting our culture”. Ocean used the instrumental version of The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ as the basis for the track ‘American Wedding’ on his 2011 free download album, ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ -a clear breach of US copyright law,  Writing on his Tumblr blog ahead of a performance at Coachella in 2012, Ocean said: “[Henley’s label Warner/Rhino] threatened to sue if I perform [‘American Wedding’] again. I think that’s fuckin awesome … They also asked that I release a statement expressing my admiration for Mr Henley, along with my assistance pulling it off the web as much as possible. Shit’s weird. Ain’t this guy rich as fuck? Why sue the new guy? I didn’t make a dime off that song. I released it for free. If anything, I’m paying homage”. In a new interview with Australia’s Daily Telegraph, Henley admitted that he had initiated this action, saying: “Mr…

Madonna faces lawsuit over Hard Candy fitness business
Artists , Trade Mark / July 2014

TRADE MARK Artistes   Madonna and her business partners in the Hard Candy fitness business have reportedly been sued by the Hard Candy cosmetics firm, the latter accusing the former of trademark infringement and unfair competition. Madonna, her manager Guy Oseary and gym entrepreneur Mark Mastrov launched their Hard Candy company in 2010, naming it after Madonna’s 2008 album of the same name. At the core of the operation are health clubs in Berlin, Mexico City, Moscow, Rome, Santiago, St Petersburg, Sydney and Toronto. According to, the Hard Candy cosmetics company, which formed in 1995, has filed a suit which says Defendants’ actions have caused and will cause Hard Candy, LLC irreparable harm for which money damages and other legal remedies are inadequate,” and the federal court papers state “Unless Defendants are restrained by this Court, Defendants will continue and/or expand the improper activities alleged in this Complaint and otherwise continue to cause great and irreparable harm and injury to Hard Candy, LLC.” The trademark infringement litigation has been filed in a Florida court seeking injunctive relief and damages.

Beastie Boys win $1.7 million in Monster dispute
Artists , Copyright , Trade Mark / July 2014

COPYRIGHT / TRADE MARK Artists   The Beastie Boys have prevailed in their legal battle with the Monster Energy drinks firm, and while the $1.7 million in damages rewarded by the jury hearing the Case: whlist less than the figure the band had argued for, it is substantially more than the $125,000 the drinks maker argued was a fair settlement figure. Monster had used a montage of Beastie Boys tracks in a promotional video relating to a snowboarding event the brand sponsored, which was posted shortly after the passing of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who had included a clause in his will prohibiting his name, image or music being used in advertising or marketing materials. Monster conceded that it had used the music without permission, but said that it had done so by mistake, after one of its marketeers mistakenly inferred from Z-Trip, the DJ the company had worked with on the party in the promotional video, that the music had been cleared. Given it had infringed by mistake, and it had removed the video as soon as the Beastie Boys made a complaint, and the promo hadn’t been so widely seen by that point, the drinks company argued that…

Paul Weller’s wife calls for new privacy laws
Artists , Privacy / July 2014

PRIVACY Artistes   Hannah Weller, wife of Paul Weller and mother of three of his children has called for a change in the law to make it a criminal offence for newspapers to publish photos of children without the consent of their parents. The Wellers had successfully sued MailOnline after it published photos taken in California showing the one-time Jam and Style Council frontman shopping with three of his children and his wife. The singer said the photos were “plainly voyeuristic” and a “blatant impediment to the natural social progress of children”, and were taken despite him specifically asking the photographer to leave them alone. The Mail argued that the paparazzi in question did not violate any Californian laws, the photos were harmless, adding that Weller had discussed his family in interviews, his wife had tweeted photos of their twin sons, and his teenage daughter had modelled with Vogue. The High Court ruled that the MailOnline was part of a UK based media group Associated Newspapers, was governed by European privacy law regardless of where the photos were taken, and that the website had breached those laws by publishing the snaps. Weller was awarded £10,000 in damages. Hannah Weller has…

Claudette Robison opposes Smokey’s motion
Artists , Copyright / July 2014

COPYRIGHT / FAMILY Artistes   The dispute between R&B singer Smokey Robinson and his ex-wife Claudette over the copyright to some of the singer-songwriters hits which include “My Girl” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” has moved on. After last month’s report (from Patrick Gould) that Smokey hoped to exercise his termination rights under federal copyright law to reclaim ownership over the song  and Claudette’s claim that because the songs were written during their marriage, they are community property under California state law – and she is accordingly entitled to fifty per cent of the royalties under a 1989 divorce settlement – Smokey sued Claudette in federal court seeking declaratory judgment that he may exercise his termination rights and that Claudette cannot claim any interest under California law. Smokey’s argument is that Federal law provides that Smokey  – alone – would recapture all rights in the copyright notwithstanding any agreements to the contrary” with his motion noting “On the other hand, Defendant asserts that under California community property and contract law, she is entitled to an undivided one-half interest in any recaptured copyrights Plaintiff may acquire in the future even though the marriage between Plaintiff and Defendant ended…

Termination Rights and Marital Property

COPYRIGHT Artists, music publishing   From 1957 to 1986, R&B singer Smokey Robinson was married to Claudette Robinson. During that time, Smokey wrote and assigned such hits as My Girl and You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me. In 1986, the couple divorced. Today, Smokey hopes to exercise his termination rights under federal copyright law to reclaim ownership over the songs. Claudette argues that because the songs were written during their marriage, they are community property under California state law and she is accordingly entitled to fifty per cent of the royalties. Furthermore she alleges that Smokey committed fraud by not disclosing this option during divorce proceedings. Smokey has sued Claudette in federal court seeking declaratory judgment that he may exercise his termination rights and that Claudette cannot claim any interest under California law. The leading case on the relationship between federal copyright and state community property law, Rodrigue v Rodrique, 218 F.3d 432 (5th Cir. 2000), holds that an author-spouse maintains exclusive control over his works, but nevertheless the non-author-spouse is entitled to some share of the net economic benefits. Yet, this appears to stand in some conflict to an older Californian case, In re Marriage of Worth, 195…

Beggars boss explains digital royalty change
Artists , Copyright / June 2014

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artists   Beggars Group boss Martin Mills has discussed the decision made by his company to cease paying a 50/50 royalty on streaming income to artists signed to its labels. At a MusicTank event last month, Beggars Head Of Digital Simon Wheeler confirmed that the company was reviewing its 50/50 split, saying that as streaming now accounts for 40% of the company’s total digital income and a core revenue stream, that split becomes unviable. Speaking to Billboard, Mills has now explained: “A record company such as us, needing to provide the services we do, cannot survive even paying artists 50% of net core income, let alone 50% of gross as we have been doing. As streaming becomes core income, it has to bear its share of all our costs: A&R, overhead, marketing, promotion, back office services, etc”. He added that while the final decision on what royalty will be paid on streaming in the future is yet to be made, it will be “significantly higher than the regular rate” offered by other labels, saying: “Beggars contracts actually only provide for the payment of a regular royalty on exploitation such as streaming. We have been applying the 50%…

Digital royalty rates under the microscope in the USA
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / June 2014

COPYRIGHT Artists, record labels   Elsewhere in the USA, A2IM, the organisation that represents indie record labels have criticised Sony and Universal Music Group in “the fight over digital dollars”. The American Association of Independent Music, whose artists include Mumford & Sons, Taylor Swift and Adele, argues that Universal and Sony are in effect a de facto “duopoly”— and use their dominance to grab a disproportionate share of streaming music royalties. Streaming services just have to deal with Sony and UMG, who control well over 50% of the recorded music sector (and yes – EU and US regulators let that happen!). The group, which represents around 325 indie labels in the US, has been lobbying lawmakers to take a fresh look at music licensing and outlined its issues in a filing submitted to the federal Copyright Office: The New York Post say that A2IM contends that the streaming music business “is essentially a zero-sum game: The music majors use their distribution muscle to extract the lion’s share of dollars from services such as Spotify and Pandora, leaving the indie labels to settle for whatever is left”. SoundExchange is making a push to change how pre-1972 recordings are treated is the U.S, The Washington D.C. based collection society…

Beastie Boy in court for Monster infringement case
Artists , Copyright , Image Rights / June 2014

COPYRIGHT / IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes, marketing   Fresh from their settlement with Goldieblox – the toy company who used one of their songs without permission – the Beastie Boys’ legal battle with the Monster Energy Drink has finally reached the courts in the US. The rap group sued the energy drink company in August 2012, just a few months after the death of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who had included a clause in his will that prohibited the use of his music, image or any other artistic creation in advertising.  The suit reads, “The text accompanying Monster’s internet postings, video and MP3 conveyed to consumers the impression that Beastie Boys permitted the use of their name and intellectual property, and participated in connection with Monster’s promotion of its products and events.” Moreover, it says, the Beastie Boys believe and allege Monster infringed on their copyrights “with a wilful disregard of the harm to” the group and it did it “wilfully, maliciously, and oppressively.” The group’s lawsuit claims that the drinks company used their music in videos and downloads without permission, and is seeking damages of $150,000 for each infringement. The lawsuit adds: “The public was confused into believing that plaintiffs sponsored, endorsed…

Joan Jett drops trademark lawsuit against US retailer Hot Topic
Artists , Trade Mark / June 2014

TRADE MARK Artists Law360 reports that Joan Jett has reached a settlement with US clothing retailer Hot Topic over the allegedly unauthorised use of her label Blackheart Records’ logo on a line of lingerie, Lingerie for Girls Who Rock & Roll”. According to Jett’s complaint, filed last June, Hot Topic had legitimately distributed products made by Blackheart itself for more than a decade, but then started using the company’s logo on its own range of underwear without permission. This, said Jett, constituted false advertising, unfair competition and was an attempt to trade of the “substantial goodwill associated” towards the record label. Hot Topic said in response at the time that it had compensated Jett “with mutually agreed-upon license agreements for the sale of t-shirts featuring her image”, arguing that Jett had actually given up her trademark on the logo anyway.

CJEU upholds ‘right to be forgotten’
Artists , Privacy / June 2014

PRIVACY Artists   The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled Google must amend some search results at the request of ordinary people in a test of the the application of the so-called “right to be forgotten” on the search giant. In a now already criticised ruling, the CJEU  said links to “inadequate, “irrelevant” and outdated (“no longer relevant”) or excessive data should be erased on request. The board of 13 judges ruled that information could be suppressed under the 1995 Privacy Directive and subject to data protection rules, even if it was ‘true, accurate and lawfully published’ saying “[T]he activity of a search engine consisting in finding information published or placed on the internet by third parties, indexing it automatically, storing it temporarily and, finally, making it available to internet users according to a particular order of preference must be classified as ‘processing of personal data’ within the meaning of Article 2(b) [of the Data Protection Directive] when that information contains personal data and, second, the operator of the search engine must be regarded as the ‘controller’ in respect of that processing, within the meaning of Article 2(d).”   According to the Court: “the operator of a search engine is obliged to remove from the list…

Photography spat puts snapper’s rights in the frame
Artists , Copyright / May 2014

COPYRIGHT Artists   When Sydney based photographer Rohan Anderson spotted one of his pictures on the Facebook page of  Florida-based alt-rock group Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, he was hoping that he might be credited and wondered why the band had posted – without permission or attribution –  a cropped and filtered version of his photo of their guitar player and indeed Anderson wanted to have that version taken off the band’s Facebook page. Having now added a credit, what followed was a Facebook exchange with the band claiming “You have no legal claim as the photo is credited and is not posted for a monetary gain and features our likeness and image not yours. Also you have just got your self banned from any festival or show we ever play again in that region for life! Congrats!” Anderson, a student at New South Wales University, asked one of his visiting lecturers (who happened to be a copyright  lawyer) to confirm his understanding that he did indeed own the copyright in his images he had taken – which he did – and Anderson, 22, told Digiday that this is not the first time he’s had to ask a band to either credit his work or take…

The (Dead) Mouse that roared at Mickey
Artists , Trade Mark / May 2014

TRADE MARK All areas, artistes   It was reported in several news outlets  that Disney Enterprises, Inc. will likely oppose a U.S. trade mark application filed on behalf of Canadian DJ and electronic music artist Deadmau5 (aka Joel Thomas Zimmerman). Deadmau5’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published trade mark application includes the design of a mouse’s head, which might be viewed as slightly similar to Disney’s iconic Mickey Mouse character in as much as it IS a cartoon mouse. The two marks though portray very different images to each other – the ‘wholesome’ Mickey Mouse image – and the dance music orientated (with its drug connotations) DJ and dance music world. One of Disney’s concerns may well be that the Deadmau5 application covers a broad range of goods and services including electronic devices (IC 009), off-road bicycles (IC 012), printed publications (IC 016), leather goods (IC 018), clothing (IC 025), toys (IC 028), food preparations (IC 030), beverages (IC 032), and entertainment services (IC 041).  The application was accepted by a USPTO examining attorney and published on March 4, 2014. Less than a week from being granted registration, counsel for Disney filed a 90 day Extension Request pursuant to 37…

Prince – the Legend and the Label kiss and make up

CONTRACT Artists, sound recordings   Since the infamous fallout between Prince and his record label Warner Bros, which resulted in Prince changing his name to a symbol that was virtually impossible to pronounce, the legend and the label appear to have kissed and made up. The pair have partnered up and the new deal will see the re-mastered re-release of the album “Purple Rain” in the midst of its 30 year anniversary, with new material also hinted at by Prince, with his new backing group 3rd Eye Girl. However, and perhaps most importantly (because Prince has sold approximately 14 million albums through Warner Bros.), at the heart of the deal lies the transference of ownership in Prince’s back catalogue currently with Warner Bros…. but now moving to Prince. At first glance it may appear as though Warner Bros. were unprecedentedly keen to get the artist back on side and rid themselves of the ‘slave-masters’ title he’d once given them. Yet, on closer inspection, a piece of American Copyright Legislation made in 1978 may have acted as the initiator and mediator. Subject to certain conditions, this particular legislation allows creators to reclaim ownership of their copyrighted work, if it was previously…

Warners settle digital royalty class action, but Paisley sues Sony for underpayments
Artists , Contract / May 2014

CONTRACT Artists, recorded music   Another digital royalties settlement seems to have been reached after Warner Music Group agreed to pay $11.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged the WMG failed to properly credit royalty payments to class members from the exploitation of digital downloads and mastertones of recordings under certain contracts. Sony have already settled a similar action. The plaintiffs, named as the members of Sister Sledge, Ronee Blakley; Simone Johnson Risko; Emlio Castillo; Mikael Johnston; and Gary Wright claimed Warner Music Group failed to provide proper royalty payments to them from digital downloads and mastertones and claimed the exploitation of digital downloads and mastertones should be considered a “license” instead of a “sale” resulting in a far higher share of income to artists. To compensate class members for downloads/mastertones that have already been the subject of a royalty payment, Warner will make available $11.5 million for settlement for income generated between January 1st 2009, and December 31st, 2012. The parties have stipulated that the total U.S. sales by WMG of subject masters as downloads and mastertones for the settlement class for the period is more than $381 million. As defined by the class action settlement, “Royalty Rate Basis” means a calculation based on…

Extortion and Theft added to the list of Jay Z’s ‘99 Problems
Artists , Criminal Law / May 2014

CRIMINAL LAW Artists, sound recordings   Chauncey Mahan, a producer who worked with rapper Shawn Carter, better known as Jay Z, between 1998 and 2002 was detained and taken into an LAPD station for questioning on 18 April 2014, for allegations of theft and extortion. The allegations centre on the fact that the producer was apparently in possession of several master recordings of Jay Z’s work, valued to be at the least worth $15 million. The issue being that Jay Z and ‘his people’ were under the impression that the master recordings in question had been lost when they went missing in 2002. Things appeared to sour quickly for the producer when he involved the entertainment company that is famous for its concert sales, Live Nation. Live Nation created its strong link to Jay Z in 2008, when it partnered with the 17 time Grammy Award winning rapper to create the global entertainment company and record label, Roc Nation, distributed by Universal Music Group. Mahan is said to have contacted Live Nation stating that he was in possession of several master recordings and that Live Nation could acquire these for a mere $100,000.00. But Mahan attempted to justify his price…

Sorry Mrs Jackson; Michael Jackson’s mother ordered to pay AEG court costs
Artists / May 2014

NEGLIGENCE Artists   Leeza Panayiotou writes that Michael Jackson’s mother has been ordered to pay AEG Live’s costs of successfully defending a negligence claim over Michael Jackson’s death. The ruling comes following the claim Mrs Jackson brought against the concert promoters of Michael Jackson’s 2009 comeback tour “This Is It”.  Mrs Jackson brought the claim against AEG in light of the fact that they hired and paid Conrad Murray (the Cardiologist and Doctor who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter) to supervise and assist Michael Jackson’s health care. A jury found that AEG were not negligent in hiring Murray due to the fact that at the time of hiring, Murray was neither unfit to do his job nor an incompetent medical professional, leaving AEG to assume that a licensed Doctor would administer safe health care and treatment. Katherine Jackson’s legal team were not granted leave to appeal the jury’s decision on this matter. While AEG’s costs have yet to be finalised, they had initially requested costs in excess of $1 million. A Judge ruled in line with Mrs Jackson’s legal team that this amount was excessive and ruled that costs should be in the region of $800,000.00. Mrs Jackson’s legal…

Kylie dancers get paid after outcry
Artists , Employment Law / May 2014

EMPLOYMENT LAW Artists   Warner Music Australia has agreed to pay the dancers who appeared with Kylie Minogue in her new ‘I was Gonna Cancel‘ video and those who performed during a performance at the Logie Awards at least the legal minimum wage for Australia. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a number of professional dancers were asked to work on the eleven hour video shoot for free, or below the standard rate. After complaints, some were then offered AUS$100 (about £55). Meanwhile, the dancers who appeared at the Australia TV awards ceremony were offered AUS$700 (£385) for their time. Director of the Equity Australia union Sue McCreadie said that Warner Music and the production company behind the video had now agreed to pay legal minimum rates to all of the 30 affected dancers for both performances. This ranges from AUS$174 (£95) to AUS$448 (£246) for the video (depending on each dancer’s experience) and up to AUS$1156 (£636) for the Loogie Awards show.

Paul Weller wins privacy action against the Mail Online
Artists , Media , Privacy / May 2014

PRIVACY Artistes, media   Paul Weller has won £10,000 damages after a number of pictures of his 16 year old daughter Dylan and then 10 month of twins John-Paul and Bowie were used on the Mail Online. The High Court in London ordered Associated Newspapers to pay the sum after Weller complained of an invasion of privacy on behalf of his family. Seven paparazzi photos were published in October 2012 under the headline “A family day out: Paul Weller takes wife Hannah and his twin sons out for a spot of shopping in the hot LA sun”. The couple said the shots were “plainly voyeuristic” : A paparazzo had followed the family on a shopping trip in Santa Monica, California, and took photographs without their consent despite being asked to stop. In court, Associated Newspapers argued the images, in which the children’s faces were not pixellated, were entirely innocuous and inoffensive and the Wellers had previously chosen to open up their private family life to public gaze to a significant degree. The High Court found that whilst the images could have been published legally in California, their appearance in the UK violated the right to privacy enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and…

Jay-z ordered to give deposition in roc-a-fella logo lawsuit

COPYRIGHT Artistes, recorded music, fashion   Jay Z has been ordered to give a deposition as part of a contract and copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Dwayne walker, who designed the Roc-A-Fella logo. Walker sued the rapper, his former partner Damon Dash and the Universal Music Group in 2012 for $7 million (GBP4.4 million) in unpaid royalties over the use of iconic symbol, which he created in 1995. A Manhattan federal judge has now approved a petition by Walker to move forward with the discovery portion of his suit and have the parties deposed. A partial motion filed by the defendants to dismiss one of Walker’s claims is currently pending.

Harry Styles gains permanent injunction against four photographers
Artists , Privacy / April 2014

PRIVACY Artists   One Direction frontman Harry Styles has secured a permanent injunction to stop four paparazzos from following and photographing him. Styles went to the High Court last December to get a court order prohibiting photographers from following him around or waiting for him outside his home. The singer’s lawyer stressed at the time that this was an injunction to stop the activities of “a certain type of photographer”, and that he was “not trying to prevent fans approaching him in the street and taking photos”. Yesterday, Styles was awarded a permanent injunction against four specific photographers, who were not named in court, under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997. The four people were identified using vehicle records from the DVLA. They are now prohibited from following Styles by car or motorcycle, loitering within 50 metres of his home, or placing him under any sort of surveillance. Prior to going to court in December, the court was told that Styles had attempted to get the photographers to agree to stop following him voluntarily, but had been unsuccessful. All four had apparently eventually agreed to do so before yesterday’s hearing, though Styles still decided to seek the permanent injunction against…

Betty Boop Famous faces and merchandising: A distinction to be made with fictitious characters
Artists , Trade Mark / April 2014

TRADE MARK Artists   As Mr Justice said  in the recent Rihanna v Topship litigation, that there is no such thing as a matter of UK law as a free standing general right by a famous person (or anyone else) to control the reproduction of their image – although in that case the judge did find in favour of Rihanna in her claim for passing off as the image had been lifted by Topshop from an official video shoot. Tis position has now been re-affirmed in Hearst Holdings Inc and another v A.V.E.L.A. and others [2014] EWHC 439 (Ch) a case involving the cartoon character Betty Boop. Nevertheless, a liability for infringement was found. Hearst maintained that they were the successors of the originator of the cartoon character Betty Boop, first shown in 1930s America, and that they were the only legitimate source of Betty Boop merchandise in the UK. AVELA said that it too was a legitimate source of Betty Boop “imagery” in the UK (TPTL being AVELA’s UK licensing agent, with Poeticgem and J Fox being AVELA’s UK licensees and U Wear both distributing AVELA-licensed goods to retailers and selling them directly to the public online).  Hearst alleged…

Appeal court upholds publicity rights for Hendrix in Washington State
Artists , Image Rights / March 2014

IMAGE RIGHTS Artists   A long running legal spat in the US over the extent of the rights the Jimi Hendrix estate has to prevent others from selling goods using the late guitarist’s likeness has moved forward, with an appeals court overturning a contentious 2011 ruling on the matter. The difficulty for the Estate is that so called ‘publicity rights’, or mage rights, are complex as US protection comes from state law, and some states protect the name and image of dead stars and others do not. The dispute involves the Hendrix Estate,  and Hendrix’s brother Leon has an involvement in, while their adopted sister Janie manages the Estate. Although Hendrix was resident in New York at the time of his death – a state where posthumous publicity rights do not apply – the estate’s company Experience Hendrix has endeavoured to stop from selling goods in Washington, a state where such rights are on the statute book. In 2011, in what was a surprising decision, a Washington judge ruled that using the state’s publicity right laws in this way was unconstitutional, in that it violated some rules set out by the US Constitution. That ruling limited the…

Jackson fans get one euro each from Murray for King of Pop’s death
Artists / March 2014

MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE Artists   A court in Orléans, France, has ruled that five Michael Jackson fans should receive damages of one euro each from Conrad Murray for the “emotional damage” they suffered following the late king of pop’s death. Murray was found guilty in 2011 of causing Jackson’s demise by providing negligence treatment while working as the singer’s personal doctor. A total of 34 members of the Michael Jackson Community fan club, which is based in France, sued the doctor. The Orléans court ruled that just five of them – two from France, two from Belgium and one from and Switzerland – had proven that they had legitimate claims against the former doctor. Each was awarded symbolic damages of one euro. The lawyer acting on behalf of the fans, Emmanuel Ludot, told AFP: “As far as I know, this is the first time in the world that the notion of emotional damage in connection with a pop star has been recognised”. Ludot added that none of the five fans intend to seek their payout from Murray, but instead hoped that their legal status as victims of Jackson’s death would gain them access to his burial site. A Californian court has…

Valuing Michael Jackson – a taxing issue
Artists , Taxation / March 2014

TAXATION Artistes   More on Michael Jackson and this time it’s a claim brought by the Inland Revenue service (IRS) in the UD against the Estate of Michael Jackson for a gross underpayment of tax – the IRS claim the Jackson estate was significantly undervalued – in particular his image rights and the value of the Beatles songs catalogue Jackson owned and which are administered by music publisher Sony ATV. Neil Wilkof on the IPKat explains: Based on filings with the U.S. Tax Court, the Jackson Estate claimed a value of a little more than $7 million, while the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gave a valuation of $1.125 billion. The discrepancy between the two valuations is not a typographical error. Indeed, the IRS sought to apply a seldom-used provision, known as the “gross valuation misstatement penalty”, to assess twice the usual amount of the penalty for underpayment (50%). Drilling down further, it appears that the dispute centres on two main assets. The first is the value of Jackson’s image, which the estate valued at only $2,105, while the IRS assigned a value of slightly more than $434 million. In addition, there is a dispute over the value of certain Jackson…

Money, money, money – Abba admit to fashion choices for tax
Artists , Taxation / March 2014

TAXATION Artists   Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus has admitted that the glittering hot pants, sequined jump suits and platform shoes the band wore were as much to save tax as they were to stand out from the crowd. Writing in a new book, Abba The Official Photo Book, Ulvaeus said “In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those days. Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were” but explains that the Swedish Tax Code allowed costumes to be deducted against tax – provided they were so outrageous that they could not be worn on the street – worn as ‘daily wear’. The UK tax code has similar provisions: The case of Mallalieu v Drummond [1983] 57 TC 330 established that no deduction is available from trading profits for the costs of clothing which forms part of an ‘everyday’ wardrobe. This remains so even where the taxpayer can show that they only wear such clothing in the course of their profession. It is irrelevant that the person chooses not to wear the clothing in question on non-business occasions, the only question is whether the clothing might suitably be worn as part of a hypothetical person’s ‘everyday’ wardrobe. The…

DJ Moyles ‘used car salesman’ tax ploy fails
Artists , Taxation / March 2014

TAXATION Artists   The former Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles had claimed to be a second-hand car dealer in a bid to save £400,000 tax, a British Tax Tribunal has found. The court named Moyles and two other men as having taking part in a scheme called “Working Wheels” which counted “450 fund managers, celebrities and other high earners between 2006 and 2008” as members and allowed members to assert  they had incurred large losses while working in the second-hand car trade . A published judgment from Judge Colin Bishopp, President of the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal, said Moyles’s self-assessment tax return for the financial year ending on April 5, 2008, when he was presenting Radio One’s Breakfast Show, said he “had engaged in self-employment as a used car trader”. The scheme was set up by NT Advisers, whose initials stand for “no tax”, in 2007. The DJ had appealed against an earlier HMRC ruling and claimed that Moyles had made a loss of £1 million selling £3,731 worth of used cars. Moyles paid £95,000 to enter the scheme Moyles did not give evidence directly to the tribunal but did submit “a brief witness statement”. Judge Bishopp, described…

19 take on Sony over alleged royalty underpayments
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / March 2014

CONTRACT Recorded music, artists   According to The Tennessean Simon Fuller’s 19, the owner of the ‘American Idol’ franchise is going to battle with its original record industry partner Sony Music in a lawsuit that seeks at least $10 million. 19 Recordings alleges that the major has short-changed both it and those ‘Idol’ champions signed by the label by underpaying royalties and adding too many deductions. 19 claims that it discovered what it calls “systemically incorrect calculations” on royalty payments during two separate audits, though adds that it is yet to fully audit the income of all the recordings in which it has a stake because Sony has allegedly not given them access to the files. 19 says that it has tried to reach a deal with the major on these issues, but that the record company won’t negotiate. 19 Entertainment’s Worldwide Head Of Music Jason Morey says: “We did not want to have to file this lawsuit, but Sony left us no choice, so this became necessary to protect our artists. Our complaint lays out the claims in great detail. Everything we have to say about the case is set forth in it”. Artists including  Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood,…

Survivor go legal over digital royalties
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / March 2014

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music   Survivor are the latest band to go legal over the payment of royalties for downloads, mainly in relation to their 1982 ‘Rocky III’ soundtrack epic hit ‘Eye Of The Tiger’. Founding Survivor members Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan, the latter still performing with the band, have sued Sony Music for a ‘licensing’ cut of the revenue generated by their recordings, which they say should be 50% of the income. The  lawsuit also claims that the major still owes the duo money stemming from settlements the American record industry reached with the big file-sharing platforms of old like Kazaa, and also alleges a number if other accounting irregularities including improper deductions. According to Billboard: “A Sony representative threatened that in the event Survivor persisted in its objection, Sony would exercise what it termed ‘the nuclear option’ – removal of the Survivor masters from the songs licensed to iTunes for download by consumers, thereby wiping out that revenue stream altogether. By threatening ‘the nuclear option’, Sony has conceded that its transaction with iTunes is a license subject to termination, and not a sale of the Survivor masters to iTunes. If it was a sale, Sony would have…

Partial settlement of “Blurred Lines” copyright dispute but Thicke battles on…

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music, artistes Guest post by by Lale Kemal, solicitor   The copyright action brought by musicians Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr (T.I.) against Marvin Gaye’s family and the owner of Funkadelic’s catalogue Bridgeport Music Inc (Bridgeport)  relating to the chart topping hit “Blurred Lines” has been partially settled.   Specifically, the Gaye family has settled its claim against Sony/ATV, owner of music publisher and producer of “Blurred Lines” EMI April. The complaint was initially filed by Thicke and others in the Californian District Court in August 2013 in reaction to multiple claims made by the defendants that the song “Blurred Lines” had the same “feel” or “sound” as Marvin Gaye’s critically acclaimed track “Got to Give It Up” and Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways”. The plaintiffs claimed declaratory relief against the Gaye family and Bridgeport on the basis of their respective rights to the copyright in the songs. At all material times, the plaintiffs denied copyright infringement and use of elements of “Got to Give it Up” or “Sexy Ways” in “Blurred Lines”. The plaintiffs sought a declaration from the Court confirming that the track did not infringe either song or otherwise violate the Gaye family…

Insane Clown Posse take to the law
Artists , Criminal Law / February 2014

CRIMINAL LAW Artistes   Rappers Insane Clown Posse, aka hip hop duo Violent J and Shggy 2 Dope, have filed a lawsuit against the US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, over a report which labelled their fans as ‘gang members’ and have announced that they have gained support for their legal action against the FBI from civil rights organisation the American Civil Liberties Union and law firm Miller Canfield. The band’s fans, known as ‘Juggalos’, were referenced in the FBI’s ‘National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends’ report in 2011, which said: “The Juggalos, a loosely-organised hybrid gang, are rapidly expanding into many US communities. Although recognised as a gang in only four states, many Juggalo subsets exhibit gang-like behaviour and engage in criminal activity and violence – law enforcement officials in at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo subsets”. Violent J, real name Joseph Bruce, and Shaggy 2 Dope, real name Joey Utsler, along with four fans filed the legal paperwork in the US Federal District Court in Michigan, claiming their constitutional rights of free expression and association and due process were violated by the 2011 Assessment. The fans also allege they have been subject to…

Chesney files suit in merchandise dispute
Artists , Trade Mark / February 2014

TRADE MARK Artists   Kenny Chesney has filed suit against a merchandising company for copyright and trade mark infringements. The Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper has reported that the country superstar has filed suit in federal court this week, alleging unauthorised sales of merchandise bearing his name and a logo that he owns. According to the complaint, country singer Chesney owns the trademark to a logo that features a guitar leaned against a palm tree. The huge popular US singer contracted with a licensing company called Latitude to license t-shirts and other branded merchandise bearing his name and that logo. Chesney’s suit alleges that although the singer was supposed to have final approval of any licensing agreements between Latitude and third-party merchandisers, a company called T&M Enterprises began selling t-shirts and other merchandise without Chesney’s consent. Chesney contacted T&M and instructed them to stop producing the unauthorized goods, and the two parties reached a settlement in January 2013 that would allow the company to sell off the remainder of its Chesney-related stock. But according to the singer’s filing, T&M continued selling the unauthorized merchandise even after it was supposed to have stopped. “We believed we had an equitable settlement in place,” a spokesman for Chesney…