US Appellate Court majority rules that ‘Blurred Lines’ DID infringe Gaye classic
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the 2015 jury verdict which found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ infringed on the copyright in Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song ‘Got To Give It Up’. The decision had attracted widespread criticism and comment, not least as many commentators felt that the jury made their decision by comparing the ‘sound’ or vibe of the songs, rather than the actual song itself. The appellate panel’s  decision was a split decision, 2-1, with a scathing dissent from US Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen who is openly critical of the majority and said that the Marvin Gaye Estate had been able to “accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style.” The decision means that Thicke and Williams remain liable for $5.3m in damages and ongoing royalties to the Marvin Gaye Estate from future revenues earned from ‘Blurred Lines’. The majority of the panel (Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr and Judge Mary H Murguia) held that “Got To Give It Up” was entitled to broad copyright protection because musical compositions are not confined to a narrow range of expression. That said, the panel accepted, without deciding, the merits of the district…

Miley Cyrus on receiving end of copyright infringement lawsuit
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Miley Cyrus is facing a lawsuit from the Jamaican dancehall star Flourgon (Michael May)  which has been described in the popular press as a $300 million claim for copyright infringement which focuses on the lyrics single Cyrus’s 2013 hit single ‘We Can’t Stop’. In Flourgon’s ‘We Run Things’ the lyric reads ‘We run things, things no run we’. The similarity between the lyrics  is the basis of the claim which alleges that this line was utilised when Cyrus sings ‘We run things, things don’t run we’ in her We Can’t Stop. But Cyrus is not the only one in the firing line; the lawsuit also names Sony Records label RCA, the songs co-writers Rock City (Timothy Thomas and Theron Thomas), Mike Will Made It, and manager Larry Rudolph.   The lawsuit references the popularity of Flourgon’s 1998  track:  the song became a ‘cultural hit gathering significant sales and popularity’. ‘We Run Things‘ was well known within reggae and dancehall circles, both upon its release and to this day in various countries around the world. As such, it has influenced Caribbean culture significantly, says the lawsuit. Cyrus’s single was an international hit and reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100…

Tennessee moves to take action on workplace sexual harassment
USA

EQUALITY All sectors, recorded music, live, music publishing   Two legislators in Tennessee, Representative Brenda Gilmore and Senator Jeff Yarbro, have submitted a new bill addressing sexual harassment in the music business. The pair have co-authored proposed state legislation HB 1984/SB 2130, which seeks to address the fact that independent contractors in Tennessee (including many people working in the music business) cannot file claims against their employers over verbal sexual harassment in the workplace, no matter how many how many hours they work.  In January, Rolling Stone Country published the findings of an extensive investigation that uncovered a climate of sexual harassment and misconduct in country radio. Now Nashville’s musical community, including Rodney Crowell, Lilly Hiatt, Andrew Combs, Katie Armiger and Lorrie Morgan, are lending their support for the proposed legislation.  One of the many challenges in this area in the music industry is that artists are not employees of their record labels. Instead, unless they have specifically detailed as such their contract, they are classified as freelance. That means that they can only report physical harassment (where that is a crime) and not verbal harassment.   “There’s been significant reporting showing real problems with harassment in parts of the music industry, and…

French Minister Clarifies Statutory Provision on Copyright Contracts
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
France

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, audio-visual, music publishing     One of the striking features of French copyright law is the protection it affords to authors in their contractual dealings with would-be licensees and assignees. One of the key statutory provisions that contributes to this high level of protection is Section L.131-2 of the Intellectual Property Code (IPC), which until recently provided as follows: “Contracts for public performance, publishing contracts, and audio-visual production contracts defined in this Section shall be in writing, as shall be free authorizations to publicly perform.     In all other cases, the provisions of Sections 1341 to 1348 of the Civil Code shall apply.”   This provision sets out a rule whereby certain named contracts (viz., public performance, publishing and audio-visual production contracts) must be in writing.  (To this list must also be added, pursuant to a different section of the Code, contracts for the acquisition of audio-visual adaptation rights of a literary work). Courts have long recognized that the requirement for a written instrument under Section L.131-2 IPC is merely for evidentiary purposes (ad probationem ) and not for the contract’s validity (ad validitatem). In all other cases, the ordinary rules of evidence under the Civil Code apply. …

Swift copyright infringement allegation fails – but has one last play
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The copyright lawsuit filed against Taylor Swift claiming the lyrics to her 2014 track ‘Shake It Off’ infringed on a 2001 hit by American girl group 3lw has been dismissed by the federal court of California. The plaintiffs, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, of the 3lw track ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ claimed there were similarities between the lyrics that infringed their copyright. As there was no dispute over whether Hall and Butler owned their lyrics, or that Swift’s team had access to the song or that the underlying musical composition was similar and the case focussed on the lyrics The lyrics to the 3lw track include: “Playas, they gonna play/ And haters, they gonna hate.”   The chorus to Swifts’ chorus is: “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Swift’s lega; team had dubbed the claim a “money grab”.   US District Judge Michael Fitzgerald has now granted Swift’s the ability to dismiss the lawsuit. Howeever the plaintiffs will be able to amend their complaint if they can cite more similarities by February 26th.   Judge Fitzegerald said: “The lynchpin of this entire case is thus whether or not the…

Big win for US songwriters and publishers with rate hike
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The streaming royalty rate for songwriters in the USA has jumped 44%. The Copyright Royalty Board has confirmed that compulsory royalty rates in the US market will rise by just under 44% for songwriters over the next five years. The National Music Publishers Association, who lobbied for the improvement, called the ruling a “huge win for music creators”.    The streaming companies will now have to pay songwriters and publishers 15.1 percent of their revenues, up from 10.5 percent with the rate rising over five years. The rate-setting hearing pitted songwriters and publishers against the top streaming companies, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google, Pandora and Amazon.  It is the largest rate increase in CRB history. NMPA President & CEO David Israelite: “We are thrilled the CRB raised rates for songwriters by 43.8% – the biggest rate increase granted in CRB history. Crucially, the decision also allows songwriters to benefit from deals done by record labels in the free market. The ratio of what labels are paid by the services versus what publishers are paid has significantly improved, resulting in the most favorable balance in the history of the industry.” the CRB  also removed the Total Content Cost…

US appeals court tells ISP that safe harbor comes with obligations
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, internet   A US appellate court has reversed a $25 million verdict against the US Internet Service Provider Cox Communications in what might be seen as a defeat for record label BMG, which had sought to hold Cox liable for copyright infringement for its subscribers who were sharing pirated files online. But looking at the judgment, and despite what looks like a set back for BMG Rights Management, it can be argued that its actually a win in the battle against piracy The decision, by a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, returns the case to the District Court for a new trial, based on a decision that there was an error in jury instructions. Irrelevant of arguments about safe harbor protection at the heart of the case, Cox might not been responsible for users’ infringement as companies are only liable for contributing to infringement if the companies either know about acts of infringement, or are wilfully blind to them, and the appellate court ruled that the trial judge, District Judge Liam O’Grady, incorrectly told the jurors that they could find Cox liable if it knew or should have known about infringement by users. “The formulation ‘should have known’…

“We Shall Overcome“ is now in public domain
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   In September 2017, the lawsuit between music publishers The Richmond Organisation-Ludlow Music Inc (TRO-Ludlow) and the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF) and Butler Films LLC saw US District Judge Denise Cote’s ruling that placed the first and fifth verse of the time-honoured iconic protest song We Shall Overcome firmly in the publicdomain.  A hearing was scheduled for March 2018 to decide on verses 2, 3 and 4 of the 1960 version, and verses 7 and 8 of the 1963 version.  The late folk singer Pete Seeger had been credited with writing verse 2 of both versions and verse 8 of the 1963 version. However, it was announced on 26th January 2018, that a settlement had been reached between the parties that puts the lyrics and melody to both versions of the song into the public domain, and that the publisher would retain copyright on the song’s musical arrangement.  A spokesperson for TRO-Ludlow said the litigation had become expensive and had cost far more than the song had earned back in recent years. In a statement, the publisher said that songwriter royalties, since the early 1960s, have been donated to the Highlander Research and Education Center, a non-profit social justice…

US appellate court upholds fractional licensing
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishers, broadcasting   Songwriters and music publishers in America have welcomed an appeal court that has dismissed the Department of Justice move to introduce “100% licensing”, confirming the current system that the so called “fractional licensing” system for co-written songs with different publishers (and sometimes multiple collection societies with a ‘fraction’ of the song). With collaborating writers free to choose from four different societies in the US (BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC) a third party wishing to broadcast or perform that work must still be licensed by ALL relevant  societies, and pay royalties to each, pro-rata according to what percentage it controls. The US Department Of Justice had different ideas, and having reviewed the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP moved to force the two big American collecting societies to operate a so called ‘100% licensing system’ with any society able to offer a ‘100%’ licence,  a one stop shop for customers, provided the licensing PRO then passed on the relevant share(s) to other societies who owned a fraction of the work.  In September 2016 Judge Louis L Stanton (who oversees the BMI consent decree) ruled that the DoJ had been wrong to infer a 100% licensing obligation…

Eminen-esque to be appealed in New Zealand
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
New Zealand
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   In October 2016, New Zealand’s High Court ruled that the National Party had infringed on singer Eminem’s copyright in Lose Yourself  and awarded the rapper’s publisher NZ$600,000 (£315,000) in damages, saying that the political party’s use of a track titled ‘Eminem Esque‘ that was “sufficiently similar” to Eminem’s original song was infringement, noting that Lose Yourself was a “highly original work” and the “soundalike” version substantially copied it. Lose Yourself’ was composed by Marshall Mathers III (Eminem), Jeffrey Bass and Luis Resto (Eight Mile Style) in 2002. The court said: The differences between the two works are minimal; the close similarities and the indiscernible differences in drum beat, the ‘melodic line’ and the piano figures make Eminem Esque strikingly similar to Lose Yourself. Eminem Esque substantially reproduces the essence of Lose Yourself. The parts of Eminem Esque used in the National party’s campaign advertisements also substantially reproduce Lose Yourself.”   Now the two United States publishing companies that control and administer copyright for Eminem’s award-winning rap hit, Lose Yourself, are asking to have the award of damages increased. The advert was widely shared, but National Party is seeking a lower figure, saying Justice Helen Cull was wrong to accept evidence that the internet availability…

Music Modernization Act launched in the US
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Two US Congressmen have launched a proposed new statute that has the support of both music owners and music users in an effort to overhaul of the mechanical royalties system in the US. Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries say that the Music Modernization Act would “bring music licensing its first meaningful update in almost 20 years”. With no collecting society offering a blanket licence covering the so called ‘mechanical rights’ in songs, music users must identify the owners of every song they copy, and make sure those owners receive the licensing paperwork and fixed royalty rate set out in American copyright law. Its not easy – the streaming platforms, which concurrently exploit both the performing right and mechanical right elements of the song copyright. Last May, Spotify came to a proposed $43 million settlement to resolve a class action from songwriters led by David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick. The plaintiffs in that case had alleged that Spotify hasn’t adequately paid mechanical licenses for song compositions. In July, Spotify was hit with two lawsuits, including one from Bob Gaudio, a songwriter and founding member of the group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Now Spotify has been hit with a $1.6 Billion…

Is there a lawsuit creeping up on us?
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   For perhaps the first time this year it appears there may, or may not, be a Blurred Lines effect case on the horizons.     Lana Del Rey recently tweeted: “it’s true about the lawsuit. Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by ‘Creep’, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing. I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court”.” Whilst many took this to mean a lawsuit had been filed by Radiohead’s lawyers, that isn’t quite the full picture.   First a bit of background and in short the dispute revolves around Radiohead claiming that Del Rey lifted aspects of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and placed it in her song ‘Get Free’.  If you listen to the two you may feel the same. You may not!   It was alleged by Del Rey that she was being sued and that Radiohead’s lawyers were demanding 100% of the publishing rights to Del Rey’s song. However, in a twist, Warner/ Chappell, Radiohead’s music publisher have stated that there is no lawsuit and the company has not asked for…

YouTube adopts ISNI to help allocate payments
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / February 2018
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, music publishing   YouTube is to begin issuing International Standard Name Identifier  (ISNI) numbers to creators. The platform has become a registration agency which means it will now start requesting and issuing ISNI codes from and to any creators who publish content, including musicians and songwriters in a move which should help with attribution and royalty payments. ISNI numbers can cover “researchers, inventors, writers, artists, visual creators, performers, producers, publishers, aggregators, and more”. YouTube will use the ISNI code to identify musicians and songwriters on its platform, allocating numbers to those who don’t already have one. It also plans to share those codes with any one creator’s business partners, such as record labels and music publishers, to encourage wider adoption of the identifier system. YouTube’s Technical Program Manager FX Nuttall said “By adopting ISNI, artists, songwriters and other creators will be unambiguously identified, enabling better visibility and tracking on YouTube. Bringing the ISNI open standard to music opens the door to more accurate credit for creators, discovery for fans, and transparency for the industry”. The ISNI International Agency’s Executive Director Tim Devenport said: “We’re delighted to partner with YouTube on such an ambitious effort. Many organisations active in the…

Georgia’s music tax incentives are now law
Music Publishing , Taxation / February 2018
USA

TAXATION Live events sector, recorded music, music publishing, video games   The first-ever tax incentive for Georgia’s music industry, the Georgia Music Investment Act is now in effect The legislation is the result of the Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter and Georgia Music Partners’ joint advocacy efforts for over seven years to enact the first-ever targeted incentive specifically for music in Georgia, designed to reward investment in the music industry through a refundable tax credit. Supporters argue that the incentive will create jobs in music for musicians, logistics consultants, caterers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, producers, stage designers, lighting designers, managers, promoters and booking agents and could created thousands of new jobs in Georgia, following on from the success of Georgia’s film tax credit. Billboard reports that Georgia has a rich musical heritage and has been the home of globally recognised artists inclusdingg  Ray Charles, James Brown, the Allman Brothers, REM, the B-52s, Alan Jackson, Usher, OutKast, Ludacris and many others. Georgia also boasts world class recording facilities and 48 music training and education programs and 15 professional orchestras. The Act, signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal, provides a 15% refundable tax credit granted for the following in-state expenditures: * Musical Recording: An artist, record label or other…

RMLC’s anti-trust suit against GMR dismissed in Pennsylvania
Competition , Music Publishing / January 2018
USA

COMPETITION Broadcasting, music publishing   A federal magistrate judge has recommended that a lawsuit filed by the Radio Music License Committee against Global Music Rights should be dismissed, concluding it was improperly filed in the state of Pennsylvania. U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynne Sitarski of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania rejected arguments advanced by RMLC for filing the antitrust suit in Pennsylvania, a state where neither the plaintoff or the defendant had offices or employees, where no relevant songwriters or publishers live, and where no relevant meetings or business have ever taken place. Magistrate Judge Sitarski stated “There is no basis in fact or law to assert personal jurisdiction over GMR in Pennsylvania and therefore, venue in this judicial district is improper” concluding that the RMLC suit was filed in Pennsylvania solely for tactical advantage. Magistrate Judge Sitarski recognized that Global Music Rights’ home state is California, where the company has filed its own antitrust suit alleging that the RMLC’s 10,000 member stations are conspiring to suppress payments to Global Music Rights’ songwriters. Global Music Rights describes itself as a music rights management company focused on licensing, surveying and distributing public performance royalties to songwriters, composers and publishers who “represent today’s…

Apple Music in hot water over unpaid mechanical royalty payments
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2018
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Mechanical royalties are the royalties paid to a songwriter when a copy of the songwriter’s song is reproduced. The term mechanical royalties dates back to the days when music was recorded on piano rolls. Nowadays, it relates to the sale of any sound recording that is within copyright. Therefore, every time a sound recording is manufactured into a CD, downloaded, or streamed this “mechanical” process will generate a royalty. The royalty will then usually be passed through the collection societies and to the songwriter, well not in Apple Music’s case.  Apple Music has found itself in “treble” ;) over allegations of not paying the correct mechanical royalties due to US songwriters. However, mechanical royalties and streaming platforms are having bit of a hard time as of late. Spotify, Tidal, Slacker and Google Play have all been on the receiving end of mechanical royalty payment lawsuits.  Generally speaking the streaming platforms are claiming that they want to pay songwriters their due mechanical royalties. But, because of inefficient US framework for the collection of mechanical royalties in the US it is difficult for the streaming platforms to pay every songwriter. In the streaming platforms’ defence, unlike the UK,…

Bjork: the new kid on the blockchain
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2017
Iceland
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music   The Icelandic singer, songwriter and DJ, Bjork, is very well known for being a “restlessly experimental creative force” and is releasing her new album, Utopia, on the blockchain. She has announced that the latest album will only be available for purchase by way of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain, at its core, is a decentralised distributed ledger that registers and validates transactions without the need for a central authority. Further, the information that is stored on the blockchain is virtually tamperproof because of cryptographic hashes. This all means that two parties are able to exchange currency, data, or almost anything else in a secure way. Bjork has teamed up with British start-up Blockpool to put blockchain on the centre stage for the new release. Fans will need Bitcoin, Litecoin, DASH, or AudioCoin if they wish to purchase the album. In fact, it will not be possible to purchase the album with usual currency. Further, whilst fans will need cryptocurrencies to purchase the album, they will also receive cryptocurrency for doing so. Fans of Bjork will be given 100 Audicoins, a cryptocurrency designed for the music industry and currently worth around $0.19 each, when they purchase the album. Fans will…

Owners of “Happy Together” lose Florida copyright case
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, broadcasting   Another court in another state has ruled that pre-1972 copyrights are NOT protected by state copyright law – and they never have been. The Florida Supreme Court, following in the footsteps of New York State’s appellate court, has ruled that its state law, which governs sound recordings made before 1972, doesn’t include a right to control public performances in sound recordings, including radio plays. Commentators said that both this decision and the reasoning behind it are good news for digital broadcasters and possibly their radio listeners,  but less so for the owners of copyrights. As readers will be aware, there is an unusual position in the USA when it comes to paying for the use of sound recordings on the radio – there is no such payment due from ‘traditional’ radio stations, and AM/FM radio has never paid royalties for using sound recordings, whether on current hits or  ‘golden oldies’ either. This changed in 1972 with new satellite and digital broadcasters liable to pay – but a number of copyright owners and in particular Flo & Eddie, former members of 1960s group The Turtles, argued that pre-1972 recordings would be protected by state law, so…

National Party’s use of ‘sound alike’ song DID infringe on Eminen’s ‘Lose Yourself’
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2017
New Zealand

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   New Zealand’s High Court has ruled that the National Party had infringed the copyright in Eminem’s iconic song ‘Lose Yourself‘ in a 2014 political campaign by using a ‘sound alike’ song and has awarded the rapper and his co-writers’ publisher NZ$600,000 (AU$535,000/ £315,000) in damages.  The publisher filed proceedings against New Zealand’s then governing party in September 2014 for using a version of the chart-topping song Lose Yourself in an election campaign advertisement.   The key issue for determination by the Court was whether the “sound-alike” production track, called ‘Eminem Esque‘, was sufficiently similar to the 2002 music of ‘Lose Yourself’, so as to constitute a breach of copyright.  ‘Lose Yourself’ was composed by Marshall Mathers III (Eminem), Jeffrey Bass and Luis Resto (Eight Mile Style) in 2002. The composition is regarded by Eight Mile Style as the most valuable work in their catalogue and had only rarely been licensed for use, and never as part of a political campaign.   The High Court ruled that Eminem Esque was “sufficiently similar” to Eminem’s original song that it infringed copyright and that ‘Lose Yourself’ was a “highly original work” and that the infringing song bore only minimal differences to the original,    The tensions between illegitimate copying versus permissive borrowing…

Spotify face multiple mechanicals challenges
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, streaming   Another US lawsuit has been added to the mounting litigation against Spotify and the streaming platform’s alleged failure to pay mechanical royalties in the USA for the right to ‘copy’ a song (rather than the ‘performing’ right).    In fact there were three developments: an objection to Spotify’s proposed settlement of the original class action on this issue, a rebuttal of its most recent legal arguments, and a brand new lawsuit. Hypebot’s take is this: “The recorded music industry is in the midst of a renaissance thanks to revenue from a single source – streaming. But a growing string of lawsuits filed by songwriters and publishers, and an aggressive new legal tactic by Spotify, threatens the company’s pending IPO and could derail the industry’s delicate recovery” US law provides a compulsory licence covering mechanicals, but this put Spotify under an obligation to contact (and pay) the copyright owners of every song it streams (or in default of finding an owner, alert the US Copyright Office) and Spotify hired the services The Harry Fox Agency to undertake this role. The fact songwriters and music publishers were receiving payment for their performing right via collection societies such as ASCAP…

Sony and Dubset conclude ground breaking ‘remixing’ deal
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Sony Music have recently signed a deal with Dubset to ‘legalise’ remixes of their songs. The project follows on from the Content ID agreement between YouTube and music publishers in 2012.    ‘Sampling is just a longer term for theft … Anybody who can honesty say sampling is some sort of creativity has never done anything creative’. Those were the words of The Turtles’ Mark Volman during an interview with the L.A. Times during the 1991 lawsuit his group levelled against hip-hop group De La Soul for their ‘Transmitting Live From Mars’. As a result of the out-of-court settlement, the group’s iconic album 3 Feet High and Rising is still unavailable on major streaming services.   At the turn of the millennium, the costs of sampling were so great that scholar Wayne Marshall declared that the costs had led to the ‘giving up’ its firstborn, with the heavily-sampled layers of Public Enemy replaced by the authenticity articulated by band The Roots. Yet, Moses is not yet in the bulrushes.   As I pointed out in my recent article on Chance the Rapper, free mixes and mixtapes circulated in the grey area of SoundCloud’s free content have only gained in prominence….

Mixtape Mistake?
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Three-time Grammy-winning Chicago-native Chancellor Johnathan Bennett aka Chance the Rapper was sued for copyright infringement last week. The suit was filed by Abdul Wali Muhammad on the 12th September in an Illinois District Court. Muhammad is a musician-turned lawyer, who copyrighted the composition of ‘Bridge Through Time’ in 1979.  Muhammad’s claim rests on Bennett’s sampling of his composition in the track ‘Windows’ from his debut mixtape as Chance, 10 Day. The sampling of the track is quite clear with it forming the beat to ‘Windows’. The only modifications made by producer Apollo Brown were a slight move from 81 to 80 BPM and the track moved down a semitone. Whilst the use of copyrighted material is fairly obvious, Bennett’s particular approach to the music industry makes the case interesting. Bennett wrote 10 Day after being suspended from school in 2011. ‘Waves’ was released in December 2011 and soon after Complex listed him as one of ‘10 New Chicago Rappers To Watch Out For’ in February 2012. The mixtape itself was only self-released on DatPiff.com in April 2012. Since then it has been downloaded for free 538,617 times (as of 18th September 2017) from that…

“We Shall Overcome” – Free at last!
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   We Shall Overcome was labelled by the US Library of Congress as “the most powerful song of the 20th century”. It was a unifying anthem for the 1940s labour protests and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement led by Dr Martin Luther King, and came to symbolise the spirit of protest.     When back in 2012, the producers of the film “The Butler”, a film based on the African-American Civil Rights Movement viewed through the eyes of a White House butler, approached The Richmond Organisation (TRO) and Ludlow Music Inc, publishers of We Shall Overcome, to licence the rights to the popular protest song, they were met with a demand for $100,000 for the use of “Verse 1” in the film.  They eventually agreed to licence a three second clip for a payment of $15,000. Then in February 2015, the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF), a faith based non-profit organisation which took their name from the song, wanted to include a performance of the first verse of We Shall Overcome, sung ‘a capella’, in a documentary being made about the origins of the song.  A representative approached TRO-Ludlow Inc for a quote to licence the synchronisation rights and despite…

YouTube-MP3 agrees to shutter
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / October 2017
Germany
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   YouTube-mp3 has agreed to shut down and hand its domain(s) over to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With millions of visitors each day, the ‘steam ripping’ YouTube-MP3.org was one of the most visited websites on the Internet.  Last year, the Germany-based YouTube to MP3 converter website was sued by the RIAA for copyright infringing their rights.  It had also been sued by the record industry in its home country in 2013. Now in an agreed settlement, YouTube-MP3 will shut down indefinitely. The BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) were also parties to the action, which accused the site of not only copyright infringement, but also circumventing YouTube’s copy protection mechanism, and violating the USA’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A report earlier this year by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and PRS For Music said that stream ripping was now the “most prevalent and fastest growing form of music piracy”. According to an IFPI  report published last year, the site has been reportedly attracting more than 60 million monthly visitors. In the same report, it was mentioned that 50 percent of the 16 to 24-year-old survey respondents used stream ripping services…

“Uptown Funk” hit with one more writer
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   A complaint has been filed in the US District Court of New York by Lastrada Entertainment Company Ltd, the publishers of “More Bounce to the Ounce” written by Roger Troutman and ZAPP.  The suit is against Mark Ronson, Philip Martin Lawrence, Jeffrey Bhasker, Sony/ATV, Warner/Chappell, Vevo, Spotify, Apple and others.  Lastrada is seeking damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, a permanent injunction against profiting from the alleged infringement, and a jury trial to decide the matter.   The latest lawsuit draws parallels with “Blurred Lines” between the estate of Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, where the claimants asserted that the respondents unintentionally copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up”. The suit went to a jury trial who decided in favour of the estate and the claimants were awarded $7.4 million in damages and a share of the profits.   The background is that “Uptown Funk” is the lead single from the album of the same name by uber-producer Mark Ronson recorded with Bruno Mars on vocals and released by RCA Records on 10th November 2014.  It was a worldwide hit spending 14 consecutive weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and topping the charts…

Public Enemies
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / October 2017
UK
USA

CONTRACT Artists, recorded music   Flavor Flav has launched a legal action against his former Public Enemy collaborator Chuck D and various other parties associated of the seminal hip hop group over allegedly unpaid royalties.  That said it seems Flavor Flav and Chuck D will still perform together in upcoming live shows. According to TMZ, the lawsuit covers unpaid royalties and revenue shares from recording income, publishing, live performances and merchandising income generated by Public Enemy, including monies from the recent album ‘Nothing Is Quick In The Desert’ and money relating to a deal that resulted in Public Enemy action figures being sold. In the lawsuit, Flavor Flav (real name William J. Drayton) claims that he and Chuck D (real name Carlton Ridenhour) had a long-established agreement that profits from their music, merchandise and concerts would be split between them. Despite that alleged arrangement, Flavor Flav claims that Public Enemy’s business management firm Eastlink has not been sending the earnings he is owed, which have “diminished to almost nothing, and Drayton has been refused accountings, even on the items bearing his likeness, Responding to the litigation, Chuck D told TMZ: “Flav has his rights, but took a wrong road on…

Martin Garrix freed from contract with Spinnin Records
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / October 2017
Netherlands

CONTRACT Recorded music, artists   A Dutch court has sided with EDM producer and superstar Martin Garrix in a legal dispute with his former label and management firm, Spinnin Records and MusicAllstars. Both of the defendants were founded by Eelko Van Kooten.   In August 2015 Garrix said that he was parting company with both of Van Kooten’s businesses and then launched a legal action, accusing his former manager of having provided “false and misleading information” when Garrix, as a teenager, had signed his deals with Van Kooten’s companies.   The producer also alleged that, by signing an artist he managed to his own label in 2012, Van Kooten had a clear conflict of interest, and that he had signed a recording deal that was in Van Koote’s own interests, but that Van Kooten should have been representing the interests of his client  – Garrix. Garrix’s father countersigned the recordng agreement with the then teenager (he is now 21).    In the original lawsuit, Garrix sought to reclaim the sound recording rights that had been assigned to Spinnin Records and 4.35 million Euros in damages.  Spinnin counterclaimed, arguing that Garrix’s unilateral termination of contract had cost the label over 6.4…

Quincy Jones wins $9.4 million in Jackson claim
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music   Quincy Jones has won a jury decision in the case he brought in the Los Angeles Superio Court against the Michael Jackson Estate, winning $9.4 million in what he alleged were underpaid or unpaid royalties. Jones had accused Sony Music and MJJ Productions (one of Michael Jackson’s companies, now controlled by the Jackson Estate) or depriving him of some $30 million in royalties, almost all from the period following Jackson’s death in 2009 and the utilisation of recordings which Jones had produced for Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad in projects such as the This Is It film and two Cirque du Soleil shows. At the trial Jones admitted he had not focussed on the contracts he signed in 1978 and 1985, but said the recordings had been re-edited and re-mixed to deprive him of an equitable share of income and that he had a contractual right to be offered and undertake at any re-edit or remix. MJJ had countered that Jones was incorrectly interpreting contracts he signed with Jackson on which the royalty claims were based and the Estate argued that the unpaid sums came to less than $400,000.  After the decision Jones commented: “As an artist, maintaining the vision and integrity of one’s…

Lil Wayne adds Universal to his ‘Cash Money’ litigation
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music   Lil Wayne has added Universal to his ‘Cash Money’ litigation in a New Orleans law suit that accuses the Cash Money record company and its major label partner of colluding to deny Lil Wyane royalties that are properly payable to him.  Cash Money co-owners Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams are also added to the pending suit that asserts a conspiracy and seeks more than $40 million in actual damages.  Cash Money are Lil Wayne’s long-time label and the dispute includes both a complaint over the delayed release of his long awaited ‘Tha Carter V’ album, and the royalties Wayne claims are due from records released by his joint venture imprint Young Money, which includes albums from Drake. Last year Wayne sued Universal Music directly. In that case, the rapper argued that Universal, which distributes Cash Money and Young Money releases, was withholding monies generated by the latter label’s records in order to recoup advances previously paid to the former. Wayne argued that his share of Young Money income should not be applied be used to recoup Cash Money’s debts. That law suit, which also lists US collecting society SoundExchange as a defendant, was subsequently put on hold, because…

US music publishers up the stakes with Spotify
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, collection societies   Tensions between Spotify and National Music Publishers Association are reportedly rising in the USA with the arguments now focussing on the so called ‘mechanical right’ which generates a mechanical royalties on Spotify streams – and which cannot be collected bu US collecting societies BMI and ASCAP which only represent the performing rights in songs. Spotify can benefit from the compulsory licence schemes for mechanical rights Stateside, and hired The Harry Fox Agency (previously owned by the NMPA) to manage the process, but a group of independent songwriters and music publishers  who were  not represented by HFA went unpaid, and this resulted in class action litigation led by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick – a battle where the NMPA intervened as a peace maker: as the legal battle began in early 2016, the NMPA announced a settlement deal with Spotify over previously unpaid mechanicals. Subsequently Lowery and Ferrick’s class actions were settled in May this year. But now reports say that the NMPA has been pushing for new commitments from Spotify (not least as the major recorded music groups have equity stakes in the soon to be listed streaming giant – unlike the major music publishers) and are challenging the streaming company’s…

Cross party support to protect pre-1972 sound recordings and a new music database in the USA
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   US legislation has been introduced to close the long-standing anomaly in US copyright law which means that pre-1972 sound-recordings are nor protected by federal law, a position highlighted in the long running litigation between SiriusXM and Flo & Eddie, the California corporation with the rights to songs by the 1960s group The Turtles (“Happy Together,” “She’d Rather Be With Me”).   The Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service and Important Contributions to Society Act (CLASSICS) was introduced by a group of House Republicans and Democrats, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). Issa is the chairman of a key House Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property, and Nadler is the ranking member The legislation would make the owners of the pre-1972 recordings eligible for royalties for digital broadcast. The legislation also ensures that artists are entitled to the same share of royalties regardless of whether a label and a digital music platform reach an agreement on payment. “This an important and overdue fix to the law that will help settle years of litigation and restore some equity to this inexplicable gap in our copyright system,” Issa said. “For years, we have been working to ensure…

Will legalities rain down on the Purple Rain stage show?
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector, music publishing   It has been announced that a ‘jukebox musical’ made up of Prince’s songs will tour the UK next year and the current plan is that it will open very shortly with a string of dates across the UK.     I say plan because Prince’s family or the Prince estate has not given permission for the musical. In fact, Troy Carter, entertainment advisor to the Prince estate has explained that “Neither Prince’s family nor the estate have given permission to use his name, likeness or music catalogue for this event”,   But do they need permission?  With the music, there are two licensing issues that must be taken into account.    Firstly, let’s take the boring option, if the Purple Rain musical is in essence just a band performing Prince’s catalogue of music, nothing more, nothing less, so in effect a tribute band playing Prince songs (albeit under the guise of a musical) it would be likely that permission of the Prince estate would not be needed. This is because it is possible to obtain, or play a venues where  a PRS ‘blanket licence’ will cover the public performance of the musical works.   Now, the more…

GMR and RMLC square up to each other in the US courts
USA

COMPETITION / COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, music publishing   Irving Azoff’s performing rights organisation Global Music Rights has a small catalogue of songwriters when compared to the two US giants,  ASCAP and BMI, but it is certainly not insubstantial,  with songwriter clients including the Eagle’s Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Billy Idol, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Drake, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams, Cathy Dennis, Drake, Don Henley, Ira Gershwin, John Lennon, Pharrell Williams, Boz Scaggs and Smokey Robinson, and music publisher clients including Prince, Imagen Global Music and Universal Television Global Music.    GMR is now squaring up to its latest battle with America’s Radio Music License Committee (RMLC): The radio industry’s RMLC, which has iHeart, CBS, Cox Media and Entercom amongst its members, is now seeking an injunction to force GMR to provide interim licences to radio stations in Pennsylvania.   BMI and ASCAP are regulated by the US Department Of Justice under the so called ‘consent decrees’ which are designed to mitigate competition concerns from ASCAP and BMI’s monopoly position, and provide a mechanism for settling disputes when the PROs cannot agree licence terms with licensees. The final of the four US PROs, SESAC, is not regulated by consent decree, but allows third party mediation on royalty…

Drake’s transformation prevails in plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, music publishing   Drake, along with his record labels and music publishers, have won a difficult lawsuit that had claimed his song “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” which featured on the 2013 album “Nothing Was the Same” sampled a 1982 spoken-word recording titled the “Jimmy Smith Rap.” The use complained of is where Deake used a cut down version of lyrics spoken by jazz musician James Oscar Smith which originally read “Jazz is the only real music that’s gonna last ….. All that other bulls**t is here today and gone tomorrow. But jazz was, is and always will be.” Drake’s version is “Only real music’s gonna last …. All that other bulls**t is here today and gone tomorrow.” Drake’s record label engaged a music licensing company to obtain all necessary licenses. They obtained a license for the use of the sound recording of “Jimmy Smith Rap” but clearing the composition became problematic. The Estate maintained it would not have granted a license for the composition because JSmith “wasn’t a fan of hip hop.” District Court judge William H. Pauley III has now isssued a summary judgment for the defendants and against the Estate of James Oscar Smith, and…

State law not relevant to protect the broadcast of pre-1972 sound recordings in Illinois
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings   A federal judge in Chicago had dismissed a class action in another US case that looked at the performance right in sound recordings made before 1972, and which are not covered by federal copyright law.   In his June 5th ruling, Judge John J. Tharp Jr. sided with defendants iHeartMedia in the action brought by Arthur and Barbara Sheridan, who own own the copyrights in a number of pre-February 15th 1972 master recordings  The Sheridans said they and other copyright holders should be entitled to royalties when iHeartMedia played their sound recordings in radio and internet broadcasts and the Sheridans claimed that the defendants had infringed their Illinois state law copyright infringement, and claimed unfair competition, conversion and unjust enrichment. Defendant iHeartMedia argued the Plaintiffs failed to state any viable claim. In the 1950s and 50s the Sheridans owned and operated “several recording companies specializing in recording and selling doo-wop, jazz, and rhythm and blues music” including artists like the Flamingos, J.B. Lenoir and the Moonglows. In addition to owning audio masters, they also assert ownership of “intellectual property and contract rights associated with the recordings” which they continue to market to receive “revenue from licenses granted to…

PRS for Music launches new live concert tool for members performing overseas
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2017
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     PRS for Music has launched a new live concert tool for members performing overseas which will show local tariffs across global territories and  could potentially help touring acts who write their own material additional royalties with the PRS for Music saying the tool will “help members who perform their music internationally negotiate full and fair royalty settlements.”   Unique to PRS for Music, the live concert tool removes the difficulty of calculating a specific country’s local tariff, which often varies significantly from territory to territory and has historically been a complex area for bands and their tour managers.   The live concert tool features a tariff calculator which can provide advance estimates of royalty value per concert across the globe, as well as ensuring the correct licence tariff rates are applied for major concerts. PRS for Music say the are the first ever collective management organisation to have developed and implemented this technology and has made it accessible to its members upon request.   The tool can also be used for royalty reconciliation post-performance, enabling members to review the progress of a royalty payment, as well as access a summary of the royalties they will…

Insane Clowns face infringement claim
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   An Ohio poet says Detroit rap-metal group the Insane Clown Posse and in particular member Joseph Bruce have used a poem he wrote without his consent. Stanley Gebhardt filed the copyright infringement suit in the federal court in Detroit. The action seeks monetary damages and asks the court to restrain Bruce and the group from using Gebhardt’s 1993 work “But You Didn’t” which the suit  is about a father-son relationship. The suit alleges that in 2015 a video of Bruce reciting the poem had been posted on YouTube. Bruce, who goes by the stage name Violent J, called it “Violent J’s Poem.” http://www.wfsb.com/story/35033766/poet-files-copyright-lawsuit-against-insane-clown-posse

PRS for Music and GEMA announce record results
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The UK’s Performing Right Society (PRS) has announced it paid out more than half a billion pounds sterling in royalties to songwriters, composers and publishers ib 2016, in its strongest performance to date. The organisation, which represents the rights of over 125,500 music creators in the UK and two million worldwide, paid out £527.6m to its members last year, up 11.1% (£52.5m) on 2015.   It was also able to deliver more money to more creators than ever before, with 33% more members receiving a payment compared to 2015. The number of unique musical works and songs earning money also rose by 45% to 4.2 million. In turn, revenues collected by PRS increased by 10.1% (£57.2m) in 2016 to £621.5m.   Of the music licensing company’s four main revenue streams, international income generated from members’ music played abroad saw significant growth, with £233.7m received from equivalent societies overseas. This represents an increase of 5% (£11.2m) year-on-year. Revenue from music played via online platforms saw the largest uplift at 89.9% (£38.1m) to £80.5m, while public performance income grew 4.6% to £183.2m and broadcast revenues were stable at £124.1m(a decrease of 0.1% on 2015).   In 2016, over…

Appeal filed in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The case which claims that iconic rock band Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” rips off the Spirit song “Taurus” is back in court.  A unanimous jury verdict in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles decided last June that the two songs were not sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement. Lawyers for the estate of the late Randy Wolfe (Randy California), author of “Taurus”, have now filed a 90 page brief. Wolfe’s legal team, led by attorney Francis Malofiy, has now filed a lengthy submission with the Ninth Circuit appeals court, arguing that a series of “erroneous” jury instructions resulted in Led Zeppelin winning the case. Other complaints from the trial include “Limiting plaintiff’s trial time to 10 hours violated due process and was not even close to an adequate amount of time to try this case” as well as “The Court seriously erred when defining originality.”   According to The Hollywood Reporter, Malofiy wrote in his submission: “The most important of these errors was that the trial court refused to let the jury hear the full and complete composition of ‘Taurus’ embodied in the sound recordings that Jimmy Page possessed, instead limiting the comparison to an outline…

iHeart radio: Another pre-1972 sound recording case – with a twist
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2017
USA

BROADCASTING / COPYRIGHT  Broadcasting, recorded music   The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in favour of iHeart in another lawsuit concerning pr-192 sound recordings, whoch are protected by state laws rather than by federal copyright law.  Here, iHeart have defeated a copyright claim made by Arthur and Barbara Sheridan over iHeart streaming pre-1972 recordings they control – without licence.   As readers will remember the USA is a bit of a mess when it comes to who pays what for the use of recorded music. Federal law means that AM/FM stations have never paid royalties when playing post 1972 sound recordings. Digital online and satellite broadcasters are treated differently and do have to pay to use post 1972 copyrights (and there is a collection society, SoundExchange, set up to manage the collections).  But these broadcasters decided they could use pre-192 sound recordings without a licence. The Turtle’s Flo & Eddie have led the challenge against the likes of Sirius XM, arguing in California, New York and Florida arguing that state law there actually provides a general performing right for sound. They won at first instance in California, won at first instance in New York but lost on appeal, and lost in…

Custodial sentence appropriate for sustained online infringement
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music, Music Publishing, Internet     In an interesting decision, the Court of Appeal in London has upheld a custodial sentence imposed on Wayne Evans by HHJ Trevor Jones at the Crown Court in Liverpool for two offences of distributing an article infringing copyright contrary to section 107(1)(e) of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 and also to a further offence of possessing an article for use in fraud contrary to section 6(1) of the Fraud Act 2006. Evans operated a number of websites which were responsible for the illegal distribution of licensed and copyrighted material. He did not himself have the material on his own websites, but he facilitated internet users by operating websites which permitted them to go elsewhere in order to find digital material via what are called “torrent” websites which permitted such downloading. The appellant himself had three websites which he administered. They were hosted through a proxy server, a computer system or application which facilitated access to material on the internet and which also provided a degree of anonymity to those who were supplying or accessing it and which bypassed other sites which might have been blocked by UK internet service providers. The three website…

The US Supreme Court has declines Vimeo appeal
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a final appeal in Capitol Records’ legal battle with video-sharing site Vimeo for hosting unauthorised recordings from The Beatles, Elvis Presley and other classic artists. The court  has left in place a federal appeals court ruling which said websites are protected from liability even for older music recorded before 1972 under the DCMA’s ‘safe harbor’ provisions.  Capital Records and other music companies had sued Vimeo for violating copyright laws for videos uploaded by users of the site and federal judge ruled a federal “safe harbour” law did not cover pre-1972 audio recordings. which are generally protected by state law. But a New York federal appeals court overturned that ruling, saying service providers would incur heavy costs to monitor every posting or risk “crushing liabilities” under state law. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that exempting older recordings from the safe harbor principle would “defeat the very purpose Congress sought to achieve in passing [it]”. The appellate court then refused to reconsider the case in August, resulting in the recorded music industry taking the matter to the US Supreme Court last December. The Supreme Court has now declined to hear the case, meaning…

China’s Music licensing revenues increase – but still low by international standards
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2017
China

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   According to the statistics released by the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC), music industry licensing revenue amounted to RMB184 million (approx. £21 million) in 2016, an increase of 8.2% from last year. Digital licensing accounted for most of the growth and now represents 37% of the total. Revenues from broadcasting and public performances dipped. Music licensing revenues in China remain low by global standards. Draft amendments to the Chinese Copyright Law may help, with proposals for new statutory rights for sound recordings. In November 2016 the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) including a commitment that “China will urge copyright owners and broadcasters to timely perform their respective obligations in accordance with the Interim Measures for Payment of Remuneration by Radio and Television Stations for Broadcasting Sound Recordings”.    And in Kenya, The Music Copyright Society of Kenya has lost the licence to collect music royalties. The moved followed the decision by the board of directors of Kenya Copyright Board to approve the licensing of a new body, Music Publishers Association of Kenya Limited, to collect royalties on behalf of authors, composers and publishers from March 2017 to February 2018, effective immediately. The decision was made after the new…

Florida appellate court to hear Turtles’ appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments beginning on April 6th in the copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by founding members of the 1960s rock group the Turtles against SiriusXM satellite radio. Flo & Eddie Inc., the California-based company whose principals are Turtles vocalists Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, filed the lawsuit in 2013 alleging copyright infringement involving music made prior to 1972. Flo & Eddie have won suits against SiriusXM in California and New York (the later subsequently over turned) but a federal district court judge in Florida sided in 2015 with the satellite broadcaster, finding nothing in Florida statutes or common law dealt with copyrights of recordings made before 1972 (and the federal Copyright Act). Judge Darrin Gayle said that “Florida is different”  (from New York and California) saying “There is no specific Florida legislation covering sound recording property rights, nor is there a bevy of case law interpreting common law copyright related to the arts.” Declining to fill the void in the state’s legislation the Judge said “If this Court adopts Flo & Eddie’s position, it would be creating a new property right in Florida as opposed to interpreting the law”  adding that it’s…

Can ReDigi re-sell its self to the Court of Appeal?
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet It appears that ReDigi is making a comeback with some high-profile support. Back in 2013 we were listening to the case of Capitol Records, LLC v ReDigi Inc. The case asked if the digital music purchases were capable and eligible for resale under the first sale doctrine.  The doctrine of first sale is (of course!) the legal concept that has been enshrined into US and other copyright laws. It provides that purchasers of copyrighted material are afforded the right to re- sell the material. In the UK we like to explain it to be that once the copyrighted or trade marked product is sold, the proprietor of the copyright or trade mark has exhausted his/ or her rights and cannot use the rights to stop the product being re-sold.  In ReDigi the issue was that of the purchasers of digital music being afforded the right to re-sell the music.  Capitol Records were not fans of this, they said that it was a infringement of copyright. They argued that the infringement came about when  copies of the music files were made during the transmission from users of ReDigi to the ReDigi servers and then again in transactions between users. …

ITV loses Copyright Tribunal appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2017
UK

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, music publishing     UK national broadcaster ITV has lost its appeal to the  High Court appeal against the 2016 Copyright Tribunal ruling that set rates for the current (2014-2017) period with PRS for Music, the collection society which represents composers, lyricists and music publishers in the United Kingdom. The Tribunal agreed that PRS could increase the tariff beyond the 2013 fee payment of £23 million per annum to a new base rate of £24 million for all ITV uses (including breakfast TV) adjusted by (a) BARB viewing figures for ITV during each year and (b) the percentage change in RPIJ (the RPI inflation measure). On appeal the High Court told ITV that the Tribunal  “had not made an error of law in reaching its decision”. Commenting on the decision, PRS Commercial Director Paul Clements said: “In June 2016, the copyright tribunal decided a dispute over the terms of ITV’s broadcast licence in PRS For Music’s favour. The tribunal decision set down clear and compelling reasons for an increase in the licence fee, reflecting the right value for our members’ music”. “While ITV chose to appeal this decision, I am pleased that the High Court has now rejected their arguments and upheld…

New Spanish decision might offer support for direct licensing
Spain

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, live events sector     A Spanish court has ruled against collection society SGAE in favour of a venue which had negotiated to pay performance royalties directly to artists. The ruling, by Judge Pedro Macías in the commercial court of Badajoz in Extremadura, centres on two shows by veteran Spanish rock group Asfalto and comedian Pablo Carbonell at Badajoz’s 325 capacity Sala Mercantil in 2010. When SGAE (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) noted that the usual fees for the concerts had not been paid, it announced its intention to collect, only to be told that  “the artists had reached a private agreement between them” and the Mercantil, according the venues legal team, OpenLaw. Judge Macías’s affirmed the composers “exclusive rights to the exploitation of the work, without any limitations other than those established by law”    “The owners of these rights are the authors, so they are the ones who should be able decide what to do with them,” comments OpenLaw’s Andrés Marín. “If a composer and performer negotiate directly with a third party and agree to give away or even collect their copyrights directly, the SGAE has no right to try to collect, or recover, the rights the…

When will I see my royalties again?
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / March 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   Three members of The Three Degrees, the female vocal group who had hits with  “When Will I See You Again”, “The Runner”, “Woman In Love” and “My Simple Heart”, are suing Sony Music Entertainment, seeking to recoup decades of royalties they say were withheld by a former manager and his widow. The Three Degrees were formed in 1963 in Philadelphia. The group’s membership has changed over the years, but for purposes of the lawsuit it is current members Valerie Holiday (a member from 1967 to present) and Helen Scott (1963-1966, and 1976 to present) and the estate of Fayette Pinkney (a founder member, and with the group until 1976). Pinkney died in June 2009. They were discovered by producer and songwriter Richard Barrett, who produced the original line-up on their first song, “Gee Baby (I’m Sorry)”, for Swan Records, in 1965. Barrett also signed Shiela Ferguson, who went to to become a member. According to the complaint, the group has “never received one penny” of royalties under an oral agreement struck in the mid- to late-1970s with former manager Barrett, for a 75% share of revenues. The plaintiffs say Barrett’s widow, Julie, and her company, Three Degrees Enterprises, have instead kept…

Major labels take aim at mixtape app
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet   The digital platform that specialising in the distribution of unofficial hip hop mixtapes is in the sights of the US major labels, with the Recording Industry Association Of America accusing Spinrilla and its founder Jeffery Dylan Copeland of rampant copyright infringement. The record labels have, until now, seemingly turned a blind eye to smaller underground labels who release unlicensed mixtapes, which often include multiple unauthorised samples from their catalogues, but Spinrilla has attracted their attention and the Recording Industry Association of America’s complaint reads: “Through the Spinrilla website and apps, users with an artist account can upload content that any other user can then download or stream on demand for free, an unlimited number of times – although the site does have DCMA takedown protocols.  A substantial amount of content uploaded to the Spinrilla website and apps consists of popular sound recordings whose copyrights are owned by plaintiffs”.   Spinrilla is indeed a business – and has a nominally priced premium version available, and the Spinrilla app has appeared in a number of recommended music service lists recently alongside licensed platforms like Spotify, and licensed sites such as MixCloud and SoundCloud.  In a statement, the…

Duran Duran granted leave to appeal against Sony/ATV
UK

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Duran Duran have been granted leave by the High Court in London to appeal against the decision of Mr Justice Arnold in December 2015 when he ruled against the pop band in their dispute against Gloucester Place Music, which is owned by US company Sony/ATV. Arnold J found that the band would be liable for violating its contract with Sony/ATV by trying to avail itself of provisions in U.S. copyright law allowing Duran Duran to terminate license agreements after 35 years. Mr Justice Arnold ruled “not without hesitation” that the contractual interpretation suggested by Gloucester Place was the correct one.   On Friday, February 3rd, Duran Duran issued a press release outlining the details of the appeal. In a statement, Duran Duran founding member and keyboardist Nick Rhodes said: “It was enormously disappointing that Sony/ATV decided to mount this aggressive and unexpected action against us to try to prevent the simple principles and rights afforded to all artists in America regarding their copyrights after 35 years. We are relieved and grateful that we have been given the opportunity to appeal this case because the consequences are wide reaching and profound for us and all other artists. In his…