Clearance problems result in Jessie Ware title change
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2013
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, Music publishing   Jessie Ware’s debut album ‘Devotion’ will get a physical release in the US later this month but without the original version of the single ‘110%’ won’t be on it – the track will be renamed ‘If You’re Never Gonna Move‘ after Ware was unable to clear a sample on the track from ‘100%’ by late rapper Big Pun. The opening line of the song, which is taken from Big Pun’s track, “Carvin my initials on your forehead“, is replaced by a new line, “Coming on a mission like a warhead“. Ware told Billboard “We had to be imaginative and change the words. It’s annoying but it always happens”, she said. The rest of the album remains untouched though. CMU Daily  14 December 2012 www.thecmuwebsite.com

Kraftwerk’s 12-Year lawsuit over a two second sample comes to a bizarre end (nearly)
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2013
Germany

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, artistes   Techdirt reports on the rather confusing state of German copyright law related to music sampling, beginning the tale back in 1977 when Kraftwerk released a track called “Metall auf Metall“ that contained a “rather distinctive bit of percussion that ran the length of the track”. Twenty years later, a German rapper called Sabrina Setlur recorded a single called “Nur Mir,” which featured a two-second loop of Kraftwerk’s percussion. In 2000, Kraftwerk took the track’s producers Pelham and Haas to Hamburg’s lower civil court for using an uncleared sample and the court agreed, finding  that re-purposing even the smallest sample of a song counted as copyright infringement. The court also issued an injunction against Pelham and Haas forbidding further distribution of Nur Mir. It’s always worth remembering that in most sampling cases there will sampling of the ‘song’  – the melody, rhythm and lyrics’ and sampling of the actual sound recording itself. For the next eight years Techdirt say “the case bounced between courts before landing in Germany’s highest civil court”,  The Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), which in 2008 ruled against Kraftwerk, stating that “sampling musical notes does not, in principle, violate copyright” but conversely stating “that sampling a melody does…

Don’t disturb tha Ludacris peace
Artists , Trade Mark / January 2013
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Ludacris has launched a lawsuit against a Texas couple using the phrase “Disturb tha peace” in relation to audio equipment and recordings. He claims that they are infringing the trademark of his Disturbing Tha Peace record label, which he founded in 2000. TMZ reports that in papers filed last month the rapper is asking for a judge to rule that Demetri and Donna Evans-Brown should be forced to stop using the phrase, as well as pay him damages and his legal costs. http://www.tmz.com/2012/12/06/ludacris-chris-bridges-disturbing-tha-peace-trademark-lawsuit/

Aerosmith’s Tyler say ex-managers lawyer lawsuit is a ‘travesty’
Artists , Copyright / January 2013
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Steven Tyler has called a lawsuit being pursued by his former management against his current lawyer “an outrage and a travesty”. A court filing by the Aerosmith frontman and former ‘American Idol’ judge regards the litigation has been seen by TMZ and it seems US music industry veteran Allen Kovac began legal action against lawyer Dina LaPolt back in October. Kovac claims that he hired LaPolt to work on negotiations with ‘Idol’ producers when Tyler’s contract with the show was up for renewal in late 2011 but, he alleges, the attorney derailed the negotiations by telling ‘Idol’ producers that the star’s reps were overplaying their hand in a bid to up their client’s fee and further allege that LaPolt then persuaded Tyler to sack his managers, cutting Kovac’s management company out of the commission it was due on the severance fee paid by the ‘Idol’ production company when Tyler left the show. TMZ reports that Tyler says the personal management company he fired has no business complaining about it, because  Kovac was “disrespectful, rude, and insulting to his fiance and his family” and they parted company when it became clear (To Tyler) that he couldn’t stop the…

Universal settle with FBT over digital royalties dispute
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / December 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists   I am slightly disappointed to report that FBT, early producers of Eminen, have settled their dispute with Universal over the rate at which royalties should be paid on digital product, having successfully argued on appeal in the US courts (Ninth Circuit) that a bigger share of revenues applied to digital sales – a share of licensing revenues rather than the ‘per unit’ royalty applied to physical sales. The Supreme Court refused to hear UMG’s appeal. The case will spare UMG having to reveal what royalty rates it will pay FBT, aka The Bass brothers,  and as importantly will save UMG having to reveal what royalty reducers it applies to international royalties before any royalty calculation is made. FBT had planned to challenge how Universal deals with international revenues, and the tendency for substantial portions of revenues to stay with local Universal divisions, so that UMG only has to pay the artist a share of the 29% of total revenue that ends up with the US division to which Eminem and FBT have their direct deal. Again the producers planned to argue that this was unfair in the digital age, where the cost to the record…

Lil Wayne loses film case after failing to attend
Artists , Copyright / December 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes   Lil Wayne’s recent health scares have meant that the rapper has lost two legal battles on account of not being able to fly.  Both battles involved Quincy Jones III. Initially, Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit against Jones after it was revealed that he was working on a documentary on the rapper branding the work as a scandalous portrayal but also that Jones didn’t get appropriate approval to use many of the songs featured in the film. Unfortunately the hearing could not have been more poorly timed for Lil Wayne who hit headlines after TMZ leaked that he had had not one, but two seizures while onboard his private jet and so could not attend and testify. With the jury trial scheduled the judge in the case then had two options, either declaring a mistrial or forcing Wayne’s legal reps to plead their case without him there. The latter was chosen and Wayne’s lawyers were forced to display their client’s disposition, in which he is uncooperative and highly critical of the hearing. The disposition was via a pre-recorded video and it seems the judge became angered by the rapper’s tone and attitude in the video, claiming that Wayne seemed to…

Lawsuit against Britney Spears dismissed
Artists , Contract / December 2012
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   CMU Daily reports that the lawsuit being pursued against the Spears family by the one-time close friend of Britney, Sam Lutfi, was thrown out of court last week after two weeks of hearings. Lutfi was suing for defamation, assault and breach of contract; defamation over a book written by Britney’s mother that accused him of escalating her daughter’s very public mental breakdown in 2007/8; assault over an altercation between Lutfi and Britney’s father Jamie in 2008; and breach of contract in a bid to win a cut of pop star Spears’s earnings from 2007 and 2008, on the grounds Lutfi was her manager during this time and therefore was due a management commission. Although Britney herself was never due to testify, her mother had already taken to the witness stand as part of the trial, as had Lutfi himself, and the former boss of Spears’s record label. One time Jive Records boss Barry Weiss denied that Lutfi ever acted as Britney’s manager, saying that the singer managed her relationship with her record company herself while the star’s long term rep Larry Rudolph was out of the picture. Jamie Spears told TMZ he was “thrilled” by the quick ruling, adding that…

Sir Elton fails in challenge with Times over tax claims
Artists , Defamation / November 2012
UK

DEFAMATION Artistes   The High Court in London has rejected a libel claim brought by Sir Elton John against the Times newspaper after he was mentioned in one of the broadsheet’s tax avoidance exposés earlier in 2012. The singer’s financial affairs were referenced in a June report into the legal but arguably unethical schemes employed by some of the rich and famous to avoid paying taxes but the article also claimed, incorrectly, that John had engaged the services of the chief of Ingenious Media, Patrick McKenna, to work as his accountant in regards to a tax avoidance scheme. The next day the paper issued clarification that McKenna had never acted as John’s accountant, and the following month issued a second clarification stating that Ingenious had never offered to move money offshore for the singer. John sued The Times for defamation, claiming that the articles were “severely damaging” to his reputation and charity work. However, Mr Justice Tugendhat disagreed, ruling that, contrary to Sir Elton’s claims, he does not believe that the average Times reader would have inferred that the singer was, or was reasonably believed to be, involved in tax avoidance from the broadsheet’s report saying that “the words complained…

No Doubt settle with Activision in a long-running dispute over the ‘Band Hero’ game.
Artists , Image Rights / November 2012
EU
UK
USA

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes The recently re-launched No Doubt have settled their case  with Activision of the use of their name and images in Band hero. The iconic band were one of a number of artists who did a deal with the gaming firm to appear in an edition of the various ‘Hero’ games but subsequently complained that users could play any song using their avatar, and not just their own tracks. The gaming giant insisted participating artists knew of this facility, but No Doubt argued the games firm had breached its contract and rights. Various attempts by Activision to have the case dismissed failed, but an out-of-court settlement was reached this week, before the dispute could get a proper court hearing. CMU Daily  http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/no-doubt-settle-with-activision/

Black Eyed Peas face claim over game
Artists , Copyright / November 2012
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   The Black Eyed Peas have been sued for a million dollars by gaming company Ubisoft, after seemingly failing to provide feedback on a new version of a game featuring the group developed by Ubisoft who say they  have spent nearly quarter of a million dollars developing an iPad and iPhone version of ‘The Black Eyed Peas Experience’ game, which is already available for Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360,  According to reports, the gaming firm’s lawsuit against BEP Music says: “Since March 2012, and despite Ubisoft’s repeated requests, BEP Music has breached the contract by failing and refusing to either approve or disapprove the iOS game in writing or otherwise”.

South Africa: Broadcasters (Needle) Time To Pay Has Come
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / October 2012
South Africa

COPYRIGHT Record labels, performers, broadcasting ARTICLE LINK   “Life can be terribly complex. Take music copyright for example. A composer writes a song and the song enjoys protection under the Copyright Act as a ‘musical work‘, with the songwriter owning that copyright. A performer (who could also be the song writer) then goes to a recording studio and makes a recording of that song. The recording enjoys separate protection as a ‘sound recording‘, with that copyright belonging to the record company.   So two different copyrights – copyright in the musical work which belongs to the composer, and copyright in the sound recording which belongs to the record company.  And, on top of that, the performer who performed the song when it was recorded enjoys a so-called ‘performer’s right‘, something that was created by a piece of legislation called the Performers’ Protection Act.” This useful and practical article by Rachel Sikwane explains how the Copyright Act applies in South Africa and how the Copyright Tribunal has assessed how a ‘needletime’ royalty formula will apply: Broadcasters will pay royalties on 7% of their net income, and the amount will be calculated with reference to the amount of music played by the station…

Two more acts sue for digital royalty boost
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / October 2012
EU
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists   Boz Scaggs and REO Speedwagon have joined the ever growing list of artistes, many well established, who have filed digital royalty lawsuits against the  major bales for a bigger cut of digital revenue. The defendant in both suits is Sony.  FBT Productions have already won a court case against Universal to get a bigger share of digital royalties from ‘Eminen’ recordings they worked on, and Cheap Trick, the Allman Brothers and a number of other artistes have settled a case with Sony. Cases from Rob Zombie, Whitesnake, Toto, Weird Al janKovic, Dixie Chicks, Chuck D, George Clinton, Peter Frampton, Sister Sledge, Rick James’s estate, Kenny Rogers and James Taylor are pending. More on royalties and these claims at http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=4941

One Direction reach out to find new Uncharted Shores
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2012
UK
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   British-Irish boy band One Direction has settled its dispute with a US punk band of the same name. The dispute arose from applications for various stylised versions of trade mark ONE DIRECTION with the US Patent and Trademark Office resulting in the US One Direction commencing proceedings in the California Central District Court seeking an injunction against the UK One Direction that would stop it using the same name, plus $1m in damages. The two bands have now reached an agreement and their trade mark dispute has been ‘resolved amicably’. The UK One Direction will retain the name and the US band is to change its name to Uncharted Shores, the title of one of its two albums. The other terms of the settlement have not been released. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/19473197

Beach Boys out of harmony
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2012
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Founding members of The Beach Boys Al Jardine and Brian Wilson have expressed they annoyance tat fellow founder member Mike Love plans to continue touring using the band’s name, but without the other originals. Love can do this as he solely owns the rights to the band’s name although this year, to mark the band’s 50th anniversary, he has toured once again with Jardine and Wilson, both of whom have had rocky relationships with Love over the years. Love told reporters  “The 50th anniversary tour was designed to go for a year and then end. You’ve got to be careful not to get overexposed … There are promoters who are interested but they’ve said, ‘Give it a rest for a year’”. Jardine is now asking fans to sign a petition to try to force Love to tour with him and Wilson saying Love’s other Beach Boys is a “money-saving, stripped-down version”. Wilson told CNN  “I’m disappointed and can’t understand why Mike doesn’t want to tour with Al and me. After all, we are the real Beach Boys”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/sep/25/beach-boys-al-jardine

Ferguson sued by management
Artists , Contract / October 2012
UK

CONTRACT Artistes X-Factor runner up Rebecca Ferguson is being sued by her former managers for breach of contract. Modest Management and the soul singer were said to be experiencing differences this summer. There were tweets and emails fired off, one describing Modest as “vile” on Twitter, saying they had forced her to conduct interviews after she collapsed with exhaustion. The relationship came to an end. Modest Management has filed a High Court writ, asking for a declaration that Ferguson unlawfully ended her 5 year long contract which commenced on or about October 15th 2010, and asking for 20% of any future earnings. In June 2012 Ferguson wrote to Modest saying “I have lost all faith and trust in you as managers so I have no option but to terminate our working relationship with immediate effect.” Modest’s lawyers responded to Ferguson on 25 June 2011, saying it accepted her “renunciation and repudiation of the management agreement”. According to the court papers, Ferguson wrote back saying she “did not accept” this interpretation of events. Modest also represent One Direction and Leona Lewis. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19558624

McGraw free of Curb
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / October 2012
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, record labels   CMU Daily has reported that an appeals court in Nashville has upheld the 2011 court ruling that said that country star Tim McGraw had fulfilled his contractual obligations to his long-term label partners Curb Records, and was now free to work with other labels. At the centre of the litigation was whether McGraw’s album ‘Emotional Traffic’ fulfilled his contractual commitments to the label regards new recordings, whether he was due an advance on it, and whether he was now out of contract with the record company, with Curb saying that the songs on ‘Emotional Traffic’ were not sufficiently new and McGraw’s arguing that the new album was in line with his contract, and that he now considered himself to be a free agent label-wise after a twenty year relationship with Curb. A spokesperson for McGraw told Billboard that “the Court Of Appeals has affirmed the [original judge’s] ruling that Tim McGraw is now finished with being an artist on Curb Records. He’s now a Big Machine artist and he is no longer a Curb artist”. According to Billboard, Curb could still appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court, though could not then proceed to the federal…

Legal issues surrounding the recording and posting of concerts
Artists , Copyright / September 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes ARTICLE LINK By Randy Frieberg If you think your recording of your favourite band you made on your mobile deserves to be on YouTube or Vimeo – then think again and read this US article first! http://concertblogger.com/2012/08/legal-issues-surrounding-recording-posting-concerts/

Take Your Music Back, Folks! (Copyright Law 1976)
UK

COPYRIGHT Artistes, record labels, music publishing ARTICLE LINK: “Simply put, the Copyright Law of 1976 allows any songwriter, composer, arranger, or lyricist who assigned his or her work to a publisher from 1978 to the present to ask for his or her copyrights back 35 years after the work’s publication.  Add 35 to 1978, and you get 2013”. http://thyblackman.com/2012/08/14/take-your-music-back-folks-copyright-law-1976/

Bow Wow faces action from angry porn star after video lift
Artists , Image Rights / September 2012
USA

IMAGE RIGHT Artistes   Rapper Bow Wow is being sued by French porn star Celine ‘Katsuni’ Tran over allegations he used footage of her dancing in a music video without permission. Tran says that she appeared as a club dancer in a promo video for French band Electronic Conspiracy, but that Bow Wow and label Universal then sampled that footage for the pop promo for his track ‘Drank In My Cup’ earlier this year, without her permission and that the rapper engages in “intimate activities” with a Katsuni body double. As Tran is not the owner of the copyright to the clip (presumably owned by Electronic Conspiracy or their own label) Tran has sued for publicity rights violations, unfair business practices, false association and unjust enrichment, demanding over $75,000 in damages. http://www.businessinsider.com/french-porn-star-claims-bow-wow-illegally-used-a-clip-of-her-dancing-in-his-new-music-video-2012-8

Beastie Boys fight back against ads
Artists , Copyright , Image Rights , Internet / September 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT / IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes, advertising   CMU Daily reports that the Beastie Boys have filed a lawsuit against Monster Energy Drink, claiming that the company used their music in videos and downloads without permission. The lawsuit reportedly claims that the band’s music was used in a number of online videos – the first of which was posted five days after the death of the band’s Adam Yauch – and also in an MP3 download featuring a 23 minute mix of the band’s music. The use of the band’s name in these promotions too, say the band, incorrectly implied that they had granted permission. It was also revealed t that Yauch’s will prohibited the use of his music, name or likeness in any advertising following his death – although some US commentators have said the hand written provision may not be valid http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/adam-yauchs-will-prohibits-use-of-his-music-in-ads-20120809 and http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2012/08/13/part-of-beastie-boy-adam-yauchs-will-banning-use-of-music-in-ads-may-not-be-valid/

Dev looks for release from manager and label
Artists , Contract / September 2012
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Singer Dev, real name Devin Star Tailes – best known over here for her sampled vocals on Far East Movement’s ‘Like A G6’ and her guest vocals on JLS’s ‘She Makes Me Wanna’ – is suing her record label, whose owners became her manager, along with her former lawyer, asking that her record contract is declared “null and void”. Tailes claims that in 2008, then aged eighteen, she was tricked into signing a deal with Indie-Pop Music by its owners Benjamin Willis and Carlo Fox and lawyer Joshua Andriano. The deal also positioned Willis and Fox as her managers and was, legal papers filed this week say, “one-sided”, seeing Dev sign away 75% of her income from recordings, publishing, merchandise and touring. The suit adds that she later felt “pressured and manipulated” into signing amended agreements in 2011 and then again this year. The lawsuit argues that the men used “flattery and praise [and] made lofty statements to her regarding her future career, and manipulated her into believing that she could trust them fully”. However, it adds, she was never offered the opportunity of independent legal advice, and the contract extends beyond the seven year maximum allowed…

Facebook service for Flo Rida
Artists , Contract , Live Events / September 2012
Australia

CONTRACT Artistes, live events industry   By Iona Harding on the 1709 Blog In October 2011 Flo Rida failed to turn up to headline at the Fat As Butter Festival in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. As he was supposed to walk on stage the festival was forced to announce: “Flo Rida has slept in and will not be able to make the concert”. Understandably, fans were outraged. The festival organisers, Mothership Music Pty Ltd, sued Flo Rida and his manager for breach of contract: they had paid $50,000 for a performance that they had not received and alleged damage to their reputation. This isn’t a copyright case, however from it arise several interesting points of practice which will be relevant to all litigators. Because Mothership was never able to get close enough to Flo Rida to serve the claim on him whilst he was in Australia, it applied to court for alternative means of service. In April of this year Gibson DCJ ordered substituted service by email and by a post on Flo Rida’s Facebook page. The court order set out the text to be posted on Facebook. The Judge referred to the “international reach of Facebook” and to previous case…

Pussy Riot trio found guilty
Artists , Censorship / September 2012
Russia

CENSORSHIP Artistes   Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – have been found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred at the conclusion of their widely reported trial in Moscow for  performing a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin on the altar of the Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour Of The Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. All three pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.  Paul McCartney has now joined artistes including Madonna, Rufus Wainwright and Bjork in supporting the three saying “I’m writing to show my support for you at this difficult time. I would like you to know that I very much hope the Russian authorities would support the principle of free speech for all their citizens and not feel that they have to punish you for your protest. Many people in the civilised world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so I believe this is the best way forward for all societies. I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power…

Def Leppard solve digital dispute with re-recording plan
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / August 2012
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artistes   Def Leppard have announced plans to re-record their entire back catalogue because of an ongoing royalty dispute with their label of 30 years, Universal Music Group. Its more bad news for UMG who are seeking EU ad US regulatory approval to swallow up EMI’s recorded music division enabling the new group to control almost 50% of the global recorded music market. Along with the ongoing claim from Eminen producers FBT over digital royalties, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott told Billboard that the English band were “at loggerheads” with Universal over royalty payments, especially compensation for digital downloads. “We just sent them a letter saying: ‘No matter what you want, you are going to get “no” as an answer, so don’t ask,” adding “That’s the way we’ve left it. We’ll just replace our back catalogue with brand new, exact same versions of what we did.” Def Leppard have already recorded fresh versions of Rock of Ages and Pour Some Sugar on Me, two of their biggest hits, to coincide with the release of the film Rock of Ages  starring Tom Cruise. Elliott admitted to Billboard that it was no easy task  to recapture the sound of decades past – the band formed in Sheffield in…

Jessie J faces copyright claim
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2012
UK

COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing ARTICLE LINK:  Jessie J is the latest musician to face allegations of copyright infringement in 2012.  The claims against the British singer relate to her hit single, Domino, which has become far more popular than the song allegedly copied from. American singer and songwriter, Will Loomis, has accused Jessie J of infringing the copyright of certain compositional elements of his song, Bright Red Chords.  In particular, Loomis refers to the melody for the verses of each song, calling them “substantially similar” Including a look at claims brought against defendants including Sir Elton John and the Beastie Boys, this is very good piece on copying and sampling by authors Kate Duckworth, Thomas Huthwaite and James Morrison and can be found here http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=2f5b72b3-4f95-4311-9160-ea1ee0d033b7

EU plans collection society reform
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2012
EU

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, artistes   The European Commission has proposed measures to modernise collecting societies and put in place incentives to promote their transparency and efficiency saying “New digital technologies are opening up great opportunities for creators, consumers and businesses alike. Increased demand for online access to cultural content (e.g. music, films, books) does not recognise borders or national restrictions. Neither do the online services used to access them. This is where collecting societies come into play, in particular in the music sector, where they collectively manage the licensing of copyright-protected music tracks for online use on behalf of composers and lyricists and collect and redistribute to them corresponding royalties. However, some collecting societies struggle to adapt to the requirements of the management of rights for online use of musical works, in particular in a cross-border context. As a result of today’s proposal, those collecting societies willing to engage in the multi-territorial licensing of their repertoire would therefore have to comply with European standards. This would make it easier for service providers to obtain the necessary licences for music to be distributed online across the EU and to ensure that revenue is correctly collected and fairly distributed to composers and…

Rick Ross v Rick Ross will get a hearing via a Warner Music claim
Artists , Trade Mark / August 2012
UK
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Convicted drugs trafficker Rick Ross is suing Warner Music who are the label for rapper Rick Ross (sometimes Rick Ro$$) whose real name is William Roberts. Ross had previously tried to sue Roberts. but that action failed in the federal court under the US statute of limitations – time barred. Now ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross, who is currently a community worker having been released from prison early for good behaviour in 2010, has Warner Music in his sights and a California state court judge has confirmed that he can bring an action over the use of ‘his’ name against Warner Music who only began to release Roberts’ music under the ‘Rick Ross’ name in 2011. ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross was still in prison when Roberts started using his name, and his original claim the reformed drugs man claimed false advertising, unjust enrichment, unfair business practice, and common-law claims of misappropriation of name, identity and rights of publicity. In the new claim against Warners, Californian judge has held that music major couldn’t have the case dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, because of the 2011 agreement. Though the judge added that Ross’s lawsuit would need to be amended, because…

Katy Perry faces Indian claim for indecency
Artists , Censorship / August 2012
India
USA

CENSORSHIP Artistes   Being taught how to hold a cricket bat seems to have landed Katy Perry in a spot of bother in India after lawyer filed a complaint about an “obscene and lascivious” on-stage incident that occurred when the singer played at the launch of the Twenty20 cricket season earlier this year. It seems  Perry invited Australian cricketer Doug Bollinger on stage during her show, and asked him to demonstrate how to hold a cricket bat. This resulted in Bollinger standing immediately behind Perry, and both singer and cricketer holding on to Perry’s microphone at groin height. A sequence that lawyer K Jebakumar believes was designed to appeal “to prurient interest”. Neither Perry nor Bollinger have been formally charged as yet and will not attend the initial court hearing to consider Jebakumar’s complaint, though if the courts believe there is a case under India’s obscenity laws, then they might be forced to defend their performance in court later this year.

Black Keys sue of use of songs in adverts
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing, record labels The Black Keys have launched actions against both Pizza Hut and Home Depot, claiming the two companies have used their songs in adverts without permission. Pizza Hut and its ad agency are accused of using the song ‘Gold On The Ceiling’ without permission, while US DIY chain Home Depot is accused of using the band’s hit ‘Lonely Boy’. A lawyer for the Ohio duo say the two commercials were a “brazen and improper effort to capitalise on the plaintiffs’ hard-earned success”. They also claim that the band made both brands aware of the unlicensed use of their music last month, but as yet neither company has taken any action. http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/on-bold-infringement-or-unauthorised.html

Illegally Blonde?
Artists , Image Rights , Trade Mark / July 2012
USA

TRADE MARK / IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes The Hollywood Reporter says that a planned concert featuring a holographic Marilyn Monroe is under legal threat by the deceased icon’s estate. Organisers Digicon Media’s show “Virtual Marilyn” features  the projected blond bombshell singing and interacting alongside live music stars, but has attracted the attention of attorneys Sheppard Mullin who represent the Monroe estate in what might become a developing legal controversy. The holographic performance by dead rapper Tupac Shakur at the Coachella festival in 2012 proved that digital resurrection of deceased celebrities could be an emerging trend and you can find more on the copyright, trade mark, image right  and other legalities of holograms of deceased stars here  http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=4856 and here http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=4928 http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/marilyn-monroe-estate-hologram-legal-334817

Placebo CD cover a bitter pill to swallow
Artists , Image Rights , Trade Mark / July 2012
UK
USA

TRADE MARKS, IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes An unemployed chef whose boyish face featured on Placebo’s eponymous 1996 debut album is bringing a self funded action against the band claiming the image was used without his consent or permission. The photograph, of David Fox who was then aged twelve, shows the youth in a large red fleece pulling his own cheeks down. It was taken by Mr Fox’s cousin who was a professional photographer. Fox says that once the album was released and became a chart success, he was bullied at school and questioned by teachers. Eventually his mother had to drive him home from school because of the bullying and Fox said he went from being popular to a situation where “Nobody wanted me on their side or anything like that”. He left school before his GCSEs. Now aged 28 was made redundant recently due to the recession. Riverman Management, the band’s managers, said any action should be directed against the band’s label Virgin, who released the album. Former model Robert Christoff initially won a lengthy legal case against Nestle, owner of tasters Choice coffee, having been initially paid  $250 back in 1986 for the photo of the model “posed gazing at…

UK One Direction counter sue US name rivals
Artists , Trade Mark / July 2012
UK
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes The UK One Direction are counter-suing US’s One Direction after the US band brough a suit saying they had the use of the bands’ name. At the moment the UK’s X-factor creation are one of the biggest pop successes in the World.  The American band claimed they had been using the name since 2009, some time before the UK group was formed on ‘X-Factor’, and were also first to upload an album using the moniker to iTunes (albeit after One Direction UK had been formed). CMU Daily report that the US band have alleged that Simon Cowell, Syco and Sony Music knew this before launching their pop creations in the USA, because the US trademark registry had told them so. Syco and Sony Music therefore had no business launching their group under that name in the US, the American band argued, and as a result they were suing for damages. But in a counter suit filed last week, lawyers working for the Sony/Cowell empire have focused on the release date of the American band’s first album, February 2011. They note that One Direction UK were created on British TV the previous autumn, that there had been globally…

Morrissey and NME settle over racist claim
Artists , Defamation / July 2012
UK

DEFAMATION Artistes IPC, publisher of the NME and Morrissey have announced they are settling their recent legal dispute. Morrisey was suing the publisher and then editor of NME Connor McNicholas over an interview the music weekly ran with him back in 2007 in which the singer appeared to say that an “immigration explosion” had damaged Britain’s identity. Morrissey immediately hit out at the magazine and its then editor Conor McNicholas, arguing they had twisted his words to make him look racist, so that the interview would be more sensational and sell more copies. The NME always denied any such editorial meddling. In November last year Mr Justice Tugendhat allowed the case to proceed despite a four year delay. The NME have now published an apology for the ‘misunderstanding’ which reads “In December 2007, we published an article entitled ‘Morrissey: Big mouth strikes again’. Following this, Morrissey began proceedings for libel against us. His complaint is that we accused him of being a racist off the back of an interview which he gave to the magazine. He believes the article was edited in such a way that made him seem reactionary”. The apology continues: “We wish to make clear that we do…

UK tax avoidance scandal reaches Take That
Artists , Taxation / July 2012
UK

TAXATION Artistes   TAKE THAT became the latest celebrities caught up in the UK’s tax avoidance scandal after PM David Cameron said yesterday he would look into a £480million investment scheme used by some band members. The Prime Minister also lashed out at comedian Jimmy Carr, branding his tax avoidance “morally wrong”. Carr has subsequently apologised for investing in the contentious scheme known as K2 after it was revealed that he had paid £3.3million a year into a Jersey-based fund which cut his tax bill to just 1per cent by loaning him money back. Now an investigation has found that Take That stars Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild ploughed £26 million into a music investment partnership run by Icebreaker Management which enables them to cut their tax liability dramatically. Over 1000 people contributed £480m to 62 music industry partnerships that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) claim act as tax shelters. Some commentators have called for Gary Barlow to be stripped of his recently awarded OBE if the claims are true. Lily Allen reportedly said “how are tax avoiders the moral equivalent of benefit cheats? Surely they’re a hundred times worse” http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/jun/20/take-that-tax-avoidance-investigation?newsfeed=true

Universal’s royalty reducers in the spotlight
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / July 2012
EU
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, record labels Attempts by Universal Music Group’s lawyers to hide their royalty reducing practices from court scrutiny in the FBT (‘Eminen’) case have failed and indeed have provoked fairly forthright comment from the judge, Philip Gutierrez. UMG had argued that any royalty that had to be paid to FBT would be paid on a “net receipts” basis – but this was latterly challenged by FBT who had discovered that only about 29% of international revenue (here from the sale of Eminen recordings) actually returns to the major’s Aftermath division, with the other 71% being kept by the local Universal companies that actually sell the music: and 50% of 29% is a lot less than 50% of 100%. UMG felt that the Judge had accepted the “net receipts” basis but Judge  Gutierrez has made it clear he has not, saying in a written judgement that [a] he did not mean to make a ruling on this matter when asked for clarification on “our net receipts” last year, and [b] he doesn’t believe that FBT were aware that Universal intended for the international royalties issue to be resolved via that clarification either, because there would be no logic in them…

Hologram Musicians: The Legal Implications
USA

IMAGE RIGHTS / COPYRIGHT/ TRADE MARK Artistes ARTICLE LINK  Yvette Joy Liebesman, an assistant professor at St Louis University Law School, explains the legal implications of using a dead musicians’ image in the wake of the  ‘Tupac’ appearance at the Coachella Festival looking at image rights, trade mark issues and copyright. And Pepsi has done a deal with the Jackson Estate which will see the Michael Jackson’s image used in a new global ad campaign to coincide with a re-release of ‘Bad‘. Pepsi cans will also featured pictures of the singer and options to download some exclusive remixes as part of its ‘Live for Now” campaign . The Fix reports that control of the name and likeness of Kurt Cobain now sits with his daughter Frances Bean Cobain, and not his widow and her estranged mother Courtney Love. According to the website, in 2010 Love took a $2.75 million loan from her daughter’s trust fund, and as part of that transaction the trust gained control of Cobain’s image rights until the loan is repaid. Love also stood down as a director of the company which controlled those rights. Since Frances Bean turned eighteen in 2010 she has had direct control…

Rhyming & Stealing: Let’s honor late Beastie with better copyright laws
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, record labels, music publishing ARTICLE LINK: Just as the sad death of the Beastie Boys’ Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch from cancer was announced, aged just 47, Tuf America, Inc announced a new lawsuit against the band and co-defendants Universal Music, Brooklyn Dust Music and Capitol Records. Tuf America  administers the rights to the recordings of Trouble Funk’s catalogue, including the group’s 1982 funk classics, “Drop the Bomb” and “Say What” and the federal lawsuit relates to two songs on the Beastie Boys’ debut album, ‘Licensed To Ill‘, and two more on the follow-up, ‘Paul’s Boutique’. The company claims that the group illegally sampled the two Trouble Funk songs. The 20 years delay in pursuing the litigation is partly linked to the fact Tuf America only gained control of the copyrights in Trouble Funk’s catalogue in 1999, the additional ten year wait “seemingly being down to the fact it’s only recently that the label noticed the alleged infringements”. The law suit doesn’t surprise Kembrew McLeod, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, and co-author, with economist and researcher Peter DiCola, of the book “Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling” who says  “‘Paul’s Boutique’ and other albums of that era are like…

Willis wins YMCA rights reversion case
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, artistes In a court ruling which has significant implications for the music industry, a Californian judge has dismissed a suit by two song publishing companies aimed at preventing Victor Willis, former lead singer of The Village People, from exercising his right to reclaim ownership of YMCA and a number of other massive Village People hits he wrote and co-wrote in the 1970s. The right to reclaim arose when the Copyright Act amendments went into effect in 1978 and it meant that songwriters could terminate copyright grants to publishers and record labels 35 years later. If they were to do so, however, they need to send their termination notices not fewer than two or more than 10 years from the intended termination date. The floodgates have opened! But Willis met with resistance as music publishers Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions countered by arguing (a) that Mr. Willis had no legal standing to reclaim the song’s copyrights because he had “no right, title or interest in the copyright” as the songs had been created under the provisions of a “works for hire” relationship – in effect Willis and his co-writers were employees of the companies that managed the…

Morrissey’s battle with the NME approaches
Artists , Defamation / June 2012
Greece
UK

DEFAMATION Artistes   A July date for Morrissey’s High Court action against the New Musical Express has been set for  July 16th to the 19th – although his tour dates in Athens and Istanbul on July 16th and July have Not been cancelled which seems a tad odd. . Fans hoping to show support for Morrissey have been encouraged to “make their presence known outside the High Court in London on these dates.” The former Smith’s frontman is suing the NME over an interview published November 28, 2007 that the singer claims was defamatory and portrayed him as racist. The singer claims the magazine and its then editor Connor McNicholas doctored his words and fabricated material.  His website True to You notes that the magazine proposed a formal apology on its website (and not in print), but that Morrissey rejected the offer “as disproportionate to the damage done to Morrissey by the NME magazine itself.”   http://pitchfork.com/news/46565-morrisseys-case-against-nme-set-for-july/

Could musicians fall foul of US environmental law?
USA

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW Artistes A US senator has made it his mission to save musicians from a federal environmental law that could be cited to confiscate the instruments of US performers travelling abroad for the summer concert season? Republic Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee (its capital is Nashville, better known as Music City) says that the law should be clarified or ‘tweaked’ if necessary.   “I don’t want the musicians from Nashville who are flying to Canada to perform this summer to worry about the government seizing their guitars,” Alexander said in a statement. Why seize guitars? Because many of those instruments are made from exotic woods that were outlawed by a 2008 amendment to the century old  Lacey Act, an amendment Alexander himself proposed, by adding wood and forest products to Act, which was  first passed to protect endangered birds whose feathers were being used to decorate womens’ hats,   However, he now seemingly accepts that the law was not meant to apply to musical instruments made pre-2008 and wants to create a ‘safe harbour’ for instruments made before that date – saying “the law was never intended to apply to those instruments”. It’s no secret that American timber companies were being…

Weird Al joins digital royalties battle
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists CMU Daily reports that Weird Al’ Yankovic is the latest artist to enter the digital royalties dispute party in the US, in a wide ranging royalties lawsuit that accuses Sony Music of improper reporting of its costs, of failing to pass on any of the damages it won from file-sharing companies like Kazaa, and of paying him a record sale royalty on download sales when such revenues should be treated as licensing income. He joins Toto in the latest assault on the major, who had recently settled (subject to court approval) the 2006 lawsuit launched by The Allman Brothers, Cheap Trick, The Youngbloods and others which would see artists receive a 3% increase in their share of download revenue and a lump sum payment. Meanwhile EMI faces litigation on this issue from Kenny Rogers and early 80s new wave band called The Motels, led by singer Martha Davis; Warner Music from Sister Sledge and Tower Of Power; and Universal already have lost one case, brought by eminen producers FBT and face claims from Rob Zombie, Chuck D, David Coverdale (Whitesnake), Dave Mason (Traffic) and the estate of Rick James Whilst obviously (and perhaps unsurprisingly) less than…

50 cent faces sampling claim
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artistes Rapper 50 Cent is being sued by Robert Poindexter (The Persuaders) for allegedly sampling one of his band’s tracks without permission. The sampled recording in question, “Love Gonna Pack Up And Walk Out,” was allegedly sampled on a 2009 track called “Redrum” and then included on a mixtape called “War Drum” that 50 Cent posted online for free and the latter point appears to be the rapper’s initial legal contention in defence of his actions – he didn’t make any money out of it (which might beg the question – then why did he do it – were there any other benefits to 50 Cent?). The filed legal papers reportedly describe this contention as “frivolous and immaterial.” Poindexter is demanding $600,000 in punitive damages, as well as statutory damages of an unexpressed amount. http://www.tmz.com/2012/04/21/50-cent-lawsuit/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#.T5MF3o7GdYA

Musicians should protect their finances and art: ilive
EU
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, record labels, music publishing ARTICLE LINK:  Stephen Hollis, senior associate at law firm Adams & Adams encourages established and aspiring musicians to check out their recording label before they sign, and compares the choices made by Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson and the resulting state of their posthumous fortunes, and in particular compares revenue streams from record labels and music publishers and the importance of the latter. http://www.timeslive.co.za/ilive/2012/04/03/musicians-should-protect-their-finances-and-art-ilive

Idol winner faces royalties claim from ex-bandmates
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing Former ‘American Idol’ contestant Chris Daughtry says he is “very hurt” by claims by former band mates over what they say are unpaid royalties and unacknowledged song writing credits for four songs. After appearing on the 2006 series of ‘Idol’, Daughtry formed a band called Daughty but he is now facing a claim from former members of Absent Element, Daughtry’s pre-Idol band. Ryan Andrews, Scott Crawford and Mark Perry claim that four songs on the first Daughtry album were co-written by them before they disbanded, and that their former frontman previously acknowledged this fact and promised them a share of any revenues the songs generated. The lawsuit claim “constructive fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, unfair trade practices and other deceptive and wrongful conduct”. Daughtry denies that his former bandmates were in any way involved in the writing of the songs saying “I am very hurt by these false accusations. The songs listed in this lawsuit were written solely by me and no one else and at this time, I have no further comment”. North Carolina News & Record / http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/one-time-idol-finalist-sued-by-former-bandmates/

Decision looms on frontman’s claim to return of Village People copyrights
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing It seems that U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz will be deciding Victor Willis’s claim against his music publisher sooner rather than later, possibly by the end of this month.  The ex-lead singer of the Village People, is seeking to regain ownership of U.S. copyrights in the group’s hits, including “Y.M.C.A.,” “In the Navy” and “Go West” from music publisher, Scorpio Music SA. The claim is under 1976 US provisions that allow songwriters to regain control of their works after 35 years. The Songwriters Guild of America said the outcome was “critical to whether songwriters and other creators will be enabled on both a legal and a practical basis to pursue and enjoy their statutory rights, or whether publishers will be allowed to frustrate those rights through a protracted-litigation strategy” in court papers supporting Willis. Scorpio have said Willis can’t terminate the rights to the Village People songs because they are “joint works written by more than one person.” and that copyright law “unambiguously requires the agreement of the majority of authors” to invoke the right of termination. French producers Henri Belolo and Jacques Morali who created the Village People in 1977 are listed with Willis as the…

Bill Graham estate still in the courts
Artists , Probate / May 2012
USA

PROBATE Artistes, merchandise David Graham and Alexander Graham-Sult, the sons of the late rock impresario Bill Graham, who accused their father’s executor Nicholas Clainos, former president of Bill Graham Enterprises,  of cheating them out of millions of dollars’ worth of music memorabilia  have been ordered instead to pay more than $500,000 in legal fees by a judge who found their suit meritless. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in June 2011 that the alleged fraud was actually an above-board transaction that had been disclosed to the sons’ lawyer in 1997. She also said the suit was filed more than a decade too late. Now Judge Wilken has ordered Graham’s sons to pay $146,000 to Clainos, $240,000 to a law firm that had represented Graham’s estate, and $138,000 to the Bill Graham Archives, another defendant in their lawsuit. The Judge said that the suit had no chance of success and targeted Clainos’ legally protected actions as Graham’s executor. The sons have now asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn her ruling, arguing in court papers that they were “victims of a cynical, fraudulent scheme”  to deprive them of the memorabilia including 100 sets of original posters of such…

Leonard Cohen’s former manager guilty of harassment charges
Artists , Criminal Law / May 2012
USA

CRIMINAL Artistes Leonard Cohen has given evidence against his former manager Kelley Lynch, who he fired in 2004 amidst allegations she had stolen from the iconic singer, leaving him facing bankruptcy. Cohen subsequently successfully sued Lynch, though has struggled to claim the $9 million in damages the courts awarded him. He subsequently toured to rebuild his finances. Lynch has now been found guilty on criminal charges of harassing various people, including Cohen, and of violating previous restraining orders issued against her. In court the singer, who once had a brief romantic relationship with Lynch, said his former manager sent him long and rambling voicemail messages and emails which became increasingly frequent, with sometimes twenty to thirty messages received each day, and these sometimes included violent threats. The messages accused Cohen of drug addiction amongst other things. Lynch was held in custody as the case progressed in lieu of $25,000 bail and was found guilty of two counts of leaving or sending harassing or obscene messages and five counts of violating a restraining order. Whilst all charges were misdemeanours, Lynch was given an eighteen month custodial sentence as part of a five year sentence, during which time she will have to…

Cameron wants more action on over-sexed promo videos
UK

CENSORSHIP Artistes, broadcasting, record labels UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he is disappointed at the music industry’s efforts to regulate access by children to overly-sexualised pop promo videos, and plans to host a summit on the issue next month. An earlier report on the topic, authored by  Mothers Union boss Reg Bailey prompted the record industry to announce that it was extending its ‘parental advisory’ labelling programme, which identifies content that is possibly inappropriate for children on music CDs and DVDs, to the digital domain, with both audio and video services pledging to more clearly identify such tracks and videos.  However it seems that this has not far enough to satisfy Bailey and Cameron who think the music industry should be doing more to block access for children to more raunchy or violent videos, especially online and in particular the Sony / Universal owned VEVO platform, with Bailey as saying “Many of the industries mentioned in last year’s report have responded positively to our recommendations. I cannot say that has been the case with music videos. Age ratings should be introduced for music videos and there is also a clear case for age-verification for music video websites”….

BB King sued over – ermmmm – BB King biopic
Artists , Trade Mark / May 2012
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes, Film   Amanda Harcourt reports on the 1709 blog that the legendary BB King, before whom all blues lovers should kneel, is, according to the Hollywood Reporter being sued for allegedly interfering in the production of a biopic called ….errrr… The King and I.  King Size Film Productions allege that the blues legend is attempting to use trademark and rights of publicity to halt or thwart completion of the picture.  http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/b-b-king-sued-for-blocking-biopic-20120410

UK’s One Direction face name challenge from US band
Artists , General , Trade Mark / May 2012
Australia
UK
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes British boy band One Direction, among the hottest new acts in the music business on both sides of the pond, are being been sued for Trade Mark infringement by a Californian pop-rock group with the same name.  Attorneys for the California band are seeking an injunction that would stop X-factor supremo Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment as well as the UK band from using the name One Direction and they also want a share of the profits earned by the chart-topping British boys. In a federal lawsuit filed on Monday in California Central District Court the California band says it is entitled to three times the profits made by their rivals, as well as compensatory damages in excess of US$1 million. The lawsuit said the continued use by both bands of the same name was causing “substantial confusion and substantial damage” to the goodwill earned by the California group. The Northern California band has been using the name One Direction since late 2009 and has recorded two albums, the lawsuit states. It filed an application to register the trademark name in the United States in February 2011. The British band, made up of Niall…