McCartney moves to reclaim his US copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2016
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Following the news that Sony Corp was buying the Michael Jackson Estate out of its music publishing joint venture Sony/ATV at a cost of $750 million comes the revelation that Sir Paul McCartney is in the process of reclaiming US publishing rights for a huge chunk of The Beatles’ catalogue from Sony/ATV.  The former Beatle is using the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that writers of pre-1978 tracks can reclaim their US publishing rights – if they’ve previously signed them away – after 56 years. The publishing rights for McCartney’s share of Beatles songs will begin expiring in 2018 – 56 years after the Fab Four’s first hit, “Love Me Do”, was penned and recorded in 1962. The Lennon/McCartney repertoire is amongst the most prized of Sony/ATV’s catalogue. Music Business Worldwide trawled through the US Copyright Office’s records and discovered that McCartney filed termination notices last year for two batches of Fab Four tracks – “All You Need Is Love” and  23 other titles’. In addition “All Together Now” & 32 other titles had been filed. Between them, these filings included hits ranging from “Back In The USSR” to “Helter Skelter”, “Hey Jude”,…

Blurred Lines – are costs really appropriate the Gayes’ legal team?
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The claim for $3.5 million in legal costs filed by the Gaye family and their lawyers after winning the ‘Blurred Lines’ plagiarism case may well hit a block in the form of Judge John A Kronstadt who seems less inclined to award costs than might be expected – it was after all Pharell and Thicke who actually started the litigation – seeking a declaration that they HADN’T plagiarised Gaye – only for the Jury to find the opposite. The Gaye’s attorney, Richard Busch says that the Gaye family’s successful litigation against Williams and Thicke over the ‘copying’ of ‘Got To Give It Up’ on ‘Blurred Lines’ “encourages the meritorious prosecution of copyright claims” but adds that if the Gaye’s have to pay his costs out of their winnings of $5.3 million (reduced by the court from $7.3 million), that will stop said people from taking action, even if meritorious with Busch saying (according to The Hollywood Reporter) : “They gambled and they lost and they should pay the consequences for doing so”. William and Thicke’s lawyer Howard King countered, saying that awarding legal costs in a case like this would set the dangerous precedent because the case “demarcated…

TimeWarner red faced after copyright claim in Spain
Spain

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, live events sector   Time Warner is in trouble in Spain for using recorded music by local artists in its theme park for six years without paying a licence fee. The Supreme Court of Spain has ordered the Parque Warner Madrid resort theme park (co-owned by Time Warner and Parques Reunidos) to pay €321,450 (£250,539) in damages for playing the music of Spanish artists on loudspeakers to park visitors between 2002 to 2008. The music was played in public areas across the park, including attractions, restaurants, retail outlets and transportation without any permssions or payment of licence fees. In 2009 The Association of Management of Intellectual Rights (AGEDI) and the Association of Artists and Performers (AIE) filed a joint lawsuit demanding that Parque Warner pay licencing fees for all the music that had been paid in public at the park, as well as demanding that the park stop using all copyright music until the case was decided. In May 2010, Madrid’s Commercial Court Number 7 ruled in favour of the copyright holders, and the appeal to the Provincial Court of Madrid also found in favour of AGEDI and AIE. Parque Warner defence was founded on the argument that an annual…

Tik Tok on the Ke$ha Appeal
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / April 2016
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music by Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)   As readers will remember, in February 2016 the New York Supreme Court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to the singer Ke$ha (real name Kesha Rose Sebert) that would enable her to record outside of her contract with Kemosabe Records, an imprint label of Sony. As a result of the Court’s decision, Ke$ha was left under contract with Kemosabe to produce a further 6 albums[1].  Now, Ke$ha has filed an Appeal, claiming that the Court’s decision is akin to allowing modern day slavery.   By way of background, Kesha signed to Kemosabe when she was 18 years old and “her 2009 single Tik Tok is the biggest selling single ever by a female solo artist”[2] and Kemosabe label boss Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald), remains “one of the most successful songwriters and producers of the century so far, working on music for stars including Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Katy Perry”[3].   Ke$ha claimed in her 2014 lawsuit that she had grounds to be released from her record contract as Dr. Luke had sexually assaulted her, harassed her and intended to inflict emotional distress on her throughout her career[4]. Dr. Luke then countered with suits for breach of contract[5],…

The Higher Regional Court in Munich decides that licensing duties lie with the uploaders, not YouTube
Internet , Music Publishing / March 2016
Germany

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet     The Higher Regional Court Munich (OLG) has decided that YouTube and its service cannot be called to account for any copyright infringements. Instead, the judges found that the sole responsibility lies with individual uploaders, even though GEMA is keen to point out “YouTube generates substantial economic profits by making the videos available”. Based on this decision, YouTube is presently not held financially accountable within the current legal framework when works protected by copyright are used on the platform.. The action against YouTbe was brought by GEMA which represents the copyright of more than 70,000 members (composers, lyricists and music publishers) in Germany, and more than two million copyright owners globally. It is one of the largest collective rights management organisations for authors of musical works in the world. The GEMA press release says this: On 28 January 2016, the Higher Regional Court Munich (OLG) pronounced the decision regarding the claim for damages against YouTube (file number 29 U 2798/15). This was another instance where the judges could not bring themselves to recognise YouTube as a copyright infringer and subsequently hold it accountable for payment of an adequate remuneration for authors. “Today’s decision is most regrettable. The court has obviously followed YouTube’s argumentation that it is only the…

PRS Launches New Anti-Piracy System ‘MAPS’
UK

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, online     PRS for Music has announced the launch of its new anti-piracy take-down tool ‘MAPS’. The newly developed system will “revolutionise” the way PRS for Music tackles copyright infringement of its members’ repertoire in the continued fight against online music piracy. Working in partnership with The Publishers Association, the trade body for the UK book publishing industry, MAPS has been developed for PRS for Music to deliver a bespoke notice and takedown system. MAPS will initially be available to a selected number of publisher members in March 2016. The tool will locate unlicensed and infringing content made available online and will then allow users to automatically generate and serve notices to remove the content.  It will also allow users to remove links to the content found on Google and elsewhere. PRS for Music’s Head of Litigation, Enforcement and Anti-Piracy, Simon Bourn said: “We are very excited to be rolling-out our new anti-piracy system to publisher members.  Where opportunistic and illegal use is made of our members’ repertoire online, without the necessary business model to sustain a legitimate licensed marketplace, it is important that we take action to protect the rights of our members and to…

Timberlake faces plagiarism lawsuits
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Justin Timberlake and will.i.am (William Adams) are facing a lawsuit from PK Music Performance claiming that their song “Damn Girl” (from Timberlake’s 2006 “FutureSex/LoveSounds” album) is too similar to the disco track “A New Day Is Here At Last,” according to TMZ. The latter was originally copyrighted back in 1969 by Perry Kibble and performed by J.C. Davis. PK Music Performance renewed the copyright license in January after Kibble’s sister Janis McQuinton granted them the rights: she inherited the copyright on Kibble’s death in 1999.   “A substantial amount of the music in ‘Damn Girl’ is copied from ‘A New Day Is Here At Last,’” the lawsuit reads. “Specifically, a substantial part of the drum, conga drum, organ, bass guitar, electric quitter and saxophone parts in ‘Damn Girl,’ were all copied from ‘A New Day Is Here At Last.’” . PK is reportedly seeking injunctive relief and an undisclosed claim for damages which includes an “award for actual damages,” song profits and attorney fees. PK also wants known copies of the song handed over to them to be destroyed, as well. Timberlake is also facing a separate legal battle over his song “Suit & Tie,”…

C’MOn C’MOn – Music Publishing
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2016
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Ahh, music publishing. While the Collective Rights Management Directive technical review by the UK IPO is still underway (coverage of the Directive on the 1709 blog here), discussions on music publishing are lively.  Today a group of researchers, industry and policy makers gathered at Birkbeck workshop to debate recent research on music publishing. We started with a trip down memory lane with Fiona Macmillan and Jose Bellido presenting on the history of Collective Management Organisations (CMOs). Granted by access by PRS for Music to the PRS legal archives, the researchers detail the evolution of PRS from the early 1900s. As is often the case, starting a CMO ain’t easy, and the early days of PRS required negotiation with other organisations (including a boycott in 1918 by the Amalgamated Musicians’ Union) and recruitment struggles. PRS’s early litigation was very strategic, typically successful and ran about one case per year from the early 1920s to the early 1940s. (These cases likely represent only about 10% of disputes, with the rest settling out of court.) Interestingly, the young PRS was very protective of its reputation, and took pains to set the record straight in the reporting of the cases and brought actions for libel. While PRS was a bit late to the CMO…

PRS live music consultation prompts a range of responses
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector, music publishing   The music publishing sector’s collecting society PRS For Music has confirmed that it has received 111 direct responses to its consultation on the way the organisation licenses live events – the so called ‘Tariff LP’ (Popular Music Concerts Tariff’). Concert and festival promoters, as well as their trade bodies such as the Concert Promoters Association (CPA) and the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), clubs and other venues submitted their views, along with the PRS membership (which comprise songwriters and music publishers). There was some disquiet about the way PRS for Music attempted to structure responses, and indeed how a body seeking to increase a rate could be allowed to run an ‘independent’ consultation. The current rate is 3% of gross box office, but PRS for Music would like to expand this to secondary ticketing, sponsorship and ancillary income. The PRs reviewed the rate just 5 years ago, and were again criticised not only for yet another review, but also for launching the review in the busy summer season, leaving the live events sector little time to respond, although the deadline was later extended at the request of the CPA.  The Report can be found…

Something for the Weeknd?
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Cutting Edge Music Limited has issued proceedings against The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), his producers and music giants Universal, Warner Chappell, Sony/ATV and others in the federal courts in California.  The plaintiff identifies itself as a company that finances films and acquires interest in film score compositions and sound recordings. The Machine, about cyborgs created for a war, was one of the films, released in 2013 and had a score by Tom Raybould – which has allegedly been infringed.  The key evidence in the complaint — is an alleged message sent through Twitter by co-defendant Emmanuel “Mano” Nickerson, a prominent music producer who worked on “The Hills.” The Hollywood Reporter says that according to the complaint “On or about March 9, 2015, Defendant MANO sent Raybould a Twitter direct message stating ‘I sampled your music might make it 2 the weeknd next album. Huge fan of what u did 4 the machine movie!’ ” “The Hills” was released in May as the second single from The Weeknd’s album, “Beauty Behind the Madness.” It’s topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for several weeks and has been remixed by Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. As for alleged substantial similarity,…

PRS and Soundcloud settle
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / January 2016
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, Internet     PRS for Music has written to its membership informing them that it has settled the recently launched legal action against the online music platform, which is widely used by PRS members. The licence covers the use of PRS for Music repertoire from SoundCloud’s launch, and extends to. cover SoundCloud in its plans to introduce subscription and advertising supported platforms across Europe in 2016.   Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive of PRS for Music said: “On behalf of our members, I am pleased that we have been able to reach a settlement with SoundCloud without extended legal proceedings. This ends over five years of discussions on the licensing requirements for the platform, resulting in a licence under which our members are fairly rewarded for the use of their music.” adding “The safe harbours in current legislation still present ambiguity, and obstruct the efficient licensing of online services, but our agreement with SoundCloud is a step in the right direction towards a more level playing field for the online marketplace.”   The letter from Karen Buse, Executive Director, Membership and International, reads:   I wrote to you earlier this year to explain our action against the online music streaming service SoundCloud. After five…

Horan libel case proceeds in the right direction
Artists , Defamation , Music Publishing / January 2016
UK

DEFAMATION Artistes, publishing   A libel case brought by One Direction’s Niall Horan against the Daily Star will proceed, after a judge refused the tabloid’s request to have the case dismissed. The case centres on an allegation made in an article in July 2015 that implied Horan had used drugs during a night out with Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson. Horan’s legal team have claimed that claims their client was “staring blankly” and that there were “rumours the singers were using hard drugs”, coupled with some ‘Breaking Bad’ references, made it very clear what the Star was alleging. The newspaper has countered by saying that there is enough doubt its story – at one point stating of hard drug use that “there is no suggestion that this is the case”  that readers would not have interpreted the article in the defamatory way that Horan claims. Mr Justice Dingemans said that the tabloid’s piece was at least capable of bearing the defamatory meaning that Horan claims. Therefore, he said, this case should proceed to a full hearing, and the Star’s application for dismissal was rejected.   http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/niall-horan-wins-in-round-one-of-libel-action-against-the-star/

Radiohead sue Parlophone over unauthorised deductions
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / December 2015
UK

CONTRACT Recorded Music, Artistes     Radiohead are suing their former record label, Parlophone, over a deduction of £744,000 from digital download royalties which had been paid to the band from 2008 and 2009 sales, and which they contend were unauthorised. Radiohead’s contract with Parlophone ended in 2003 with the album Hail to the Thief. At the time the deductions were made the band were signed to EMI – but that catalogue has now moved to Warners.   Explaining the case, lawyer Howard Ricklow from Collyer Bristow said: “Most recording contracts contain a provision that royalties for recordings on ‘future formats’ will be paid at a rate to be agreed. The band contends that no such rate was agreed with Parlophone for digital downloads and that the deductions made in 2008 and 2009 for costs apparently incurred in 1992 and 1998, long before the advent of digital downloads, were in breach of the contract”. Warner Music had tried to have the matter dismissed on the basis that there is a contractual time limit for the band to dispute deductions made against their royalties, and that deadline had passed. But Radiohead’s team argued that, as there was no specific agreement about the band’s digital…

Russia’s Culture Ministry proposes collection society reforms
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
Russia

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     Russia’s culture ministry has made a series of proposals aimed at improving the way collection societies operate in the country, although the societies say the proposals are unfeasible. According to the ministry’s proposals, collection societies would have to pay at least 75 percent of all collected money to rights holders, with the remaining 25 percent spent on operation costs and other uses. The proposals also stipulate that collecting societies must provide rights holders’ access to their records, including data on collected and paid royalties. The ministry’s proposals are apparently aimed at increasing the transparency of collecting societies’ operations, and stepping up payments to rights holders.  Artemy Karpychev, deputy general director of RAO, the state-approved authors’ rights collecting society, tells Billboard that whilst the proposals might seem ‘excellent’, there would be substantial obstacles in implementing them saying:  “The 75-percent figure is what we already have, on average,” he said. “But if it has to be applied to every type of authors’ rights separately, for some of them, collection will have to be stopped. Take, for instance, collecting public performance royalties from restaurants and cafes,” he explained. “Transaction expenses for that type of collection are very high.” And…

ICE announces new Nordic partners and new brand
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
Denmark
Finland
Norway
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     PRS for Music have announced that the Koda (Denmark), TONO (Norway) and Teosto (Finland) performing rights societies are integrating their copyright data and services with the ICE.  ICE’s mandate is to hold a single multi-territory, multi-rights entry for a copyright work.  The decision was taken by the societies to set up the ‘Polaris Nordic initiative’ to offer their members a more efficient and cost-effective service.  PRS for Music also tells us about its new branding for ICE and tells us in marketing babble: “The existing ICE branding refreshes with a new master logo and an additional set of service descriptor logos”.   In addition, ICE partners announced the first appointments to the new expanded ICE offering.  Ben McEwen will transfer from PRS for Music to take up post as Commercial Director of ICE Licensing to lead the licensing and front office rightsholder acquisition and management functions.  Neil Jones will be seconded from PRS for Music as the Services Director for ICE Services and will drive the setup of the operational and professional functions.   Robert Ashcroft was appointed as the CEO of the ICE Licensing and ICE Services arm of the hub earlier this summer,…

PRS set up “Extensive tariff review “
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Already reviewing the Tariff LP rate for concerts, live events and festivals, PRS for Music have announced an extensive review of more tariffs with the stated aim to “simplify, streamline and consolidate more than 40 public performance licensing tariffs as part of a Public Performance Tariff Simplification programme” although detractors will be looking to see if hidden rate increases are included in conclusions. The programme will involve a series of customer consultations across the public performance licensing tariffs PRS operate who say “responses will help inform and shape a set of tariffs that are simple to understand, operate and fit for purpose.” Rob Kirkham, PRS for Music Head of Business Development, said: “The purpose of the simplification programme is to create tariffs that are easy to understand and use. By reviewing public performance tariffs across a number of sectors, our aim is that customers can continue to utilise and enjoy PRS for Music’s repertoire in a simpler and more efficient way. The consultations will provide opportunities to engage with our customers offering them open lines of communication with us, as PRS seeks to ensure that we continue to operate modern and appropriate licensing schemes.” The…

Amen for crowdfunding
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     One of the musicians behind the most-sampled pieces of music in history has finally been rewarded for the work. Not by the courts – but by a crowdfunding page. The Amen Break – a six-second drum solo in The Winstons’ 1969 track “Amen, Brother” – was performed in 1969 by drummer Gregory Cylvester “G. C.” Colem   The six second riff has been sampled by artists including The Prodigy, Oasis and NWA. It became very widely used as sampled drum loops in breakbeat, hip hop, breakbeat hardcore, hardcore techno and breakcore, drum and bass (including old school jungle and ragga jungle), and digital hardcore music. The Amen Break was used extensively in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the basis for drum-and-bass and jungle music— “a six-second clip that spawned several entire subcultures.” It is one of the most sampled loops in contemporary electronic music and arguably the most sampled drum beat of all time.   But its writers never received any royalties from those recordings. In an effort to correct that, British DJs Martyn Webster and Steve Theobald set up a crowdfunding page (GoFundMe) and Spencer  urged musicians who had used…

Swift settles T-shirt claim, and walks away free from plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Record music, music publishing, merchandising     Taylor Swift has settled out of court with a US clothing company that accused her of copyright infringement. Blue Sphere, a clothing company based in California, had alleged that the singer infringed on its ‘Lucky 13’ trademark for her own run of T-shirts. The company’s head, Robert Kloetzly, accused Swift of targeting a similar audience to that of Blue Sphere. Swift’s lawyers responded by alleging that Kloetzly attempted to bully their client into a settlement. The settlement means that Swift  will not have to face deposition. The full details of the settlement are confidential between the two parties.   And U.S. District Court Judge Gail Standish has dismissed a copyright lawsuit against Taylor Swift by using some lyrical terminology. Musician and songwriter Jessie Braham has accused Swift of stealing “Shake It Off” lyrics from his song “Haters Gonna Hate,” and attested that he had the song copyrighted back in February. Braham was suing Swift for $42 million in damages and a writing credit on her hit song. Standish wrote, “At present, the Court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court. But, for now, we…

Performers speak up for their rights in the big IP debate
EU
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing, recorded music, internet   The Featured Artists Coalition and the globally-focused International Artists Organisation have issued an urgent call to the European Parliament demanding it ensure that performer rights be included in the European Union’s current review of copyright law. The move comes as part of the campaign called Artists In Europe which is a bid to “ensure that protection for artists’ intellectual property sits at the heart of the new legislation”. Continuing recent debates in the artist and songwriter communities, the FAC and IAO say that to achieve a “vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age” both the business and law-makers need to ensure there is transparency throughout the music value chain and that there is an enhanced duty of care from corporations so that artists know their interests are protected. Artists should also share in the profits from all the ways their music is exploited. FAC boss Paul Pacifico says: “To ensure a vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age, it is essential that the review of copyright currently underway in Europe puts the rights of creators and artists front and centre of any new legislation. If not, we stand to lose an…

A fair share: should we take a lead from France on fair digital payments to artistes?
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet, music publishing, artistes     The new digital music Code Of Conduct ushered in by the French government and signed up to by the major and independent labels, publishers, digital services and artist representatives has laudable aims (even more laudable if you are French)  and seeks to ensure the following: – The development and vitality of the music industry; – The preservation of cultural diversity and growth in innovation; – The creation of greater transparency in interactions between participants; – A fair distribution of value created by musical recordings. The provisions relating the the share of the ‘digital pie’ allocated to the service itself, songwriters and their publishers, record labels, recording artistes and the services themselves have long been a bone of contention between artistes and their labels, between labels/artistes and songwriters/publishers, and between the content owners and the actual digital services. In the absence of a fiduciary duty being imposted on record labels to treat their recording artistes fairly, ongoing confusion about how equity stakes gained by the majors in services such as Spotify, and a general lack of transparency in who gets what from the digital pie, are these French reforms something the EU and US…

Music Streaming – a timely update
Artists , Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / November 2015
France
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, artistes, music publishing   As Music Law Updates finalised the November Updates, news broke that streaming platform Deezer had postponed its planned IPO (initial public offering) on the Paris Stock Exchange due to difficult ‘market conditions’. MBW opined that the least of Deezer’s worries were competition from Apple Music and Spotify, a declining subscriber base and a currently loss making business model. In a timely article, George Chin looks how streaming has developed and the major players in the field – against of background of the success of streaming being blamed for declining physical product and download sales, but conversely offering a workable alternative to piracy to many consumers as habits change, and a valuable new source of revenues, at least for the record labels.   The latest Music 360 report from Nielsen (9th Sept 2015) confirms that sales of recorded music are down and that streaming is growing with 75% of the population (in the USA) listening to music online.  Given that there is now a wide choice of music streaming services available, the report reveals that when making a choice, over 80% of users cite cost and ease of use as their deciding factor…

Jay Z prevails in ‘Big Pimpin’ – a case which was never as simple as it looked
USA

COPYRIGHT / MORAL RIGHTS / CONTRACT Music publishing     Attorneys for Jay Z have told a U.S court in Los Angeles that the rapper had properly acquired the rights to an Egyptian musician’s melody to use for his hit 1999 song “Big Pimpin’,” as a trial in a longstanding copyright lawsuit Jay Z (Shawn Carter and hip hop producer Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley are among the defendants named in a 2007 complaint by the nephew of late Egyptian songwriter Baligh Hamdy, who argue that the rapper had used his uncle’s composition from the 1950s without permission. Jay Z’s lawyer Andrew Bart argued that the explicit lyrics of “Big Pimpin’” should not be discussed in relation to the lawsuit, as a depiction of the words as “vulgar” and “disgusting” could prejudice the jury against Jay Z, a move supported by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder who ruled that examining Jay Z’s lyrics would be irrelevant in this case, although Attorney Peter Ross, representing Hamdy’s nephew Osama Ahmed Fahmy, told the eight-member jury that the defendants had purposefully avoided asking permission to use Hamdy’s track because they allegedly knew it wouldn’t be granted given the risqué lyrics. Timbaland used Hamdy’s 1957 Egyptian tune…

Santa Clause copyright comes home to Fred Coot’s heirs
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” is back into the hands of the heirs of a songwriter who composed it.  The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that rights to the classic yulertide ditty – the all-time most performed holiday song – will revert to the heirs of J. Fred Coots – his daughter Gloria and his six grandchildren. Coots, who died in 1985, co-wrote the song with James Lamont “Haven” Gillespiein in 1934, and made a deal with Leo Feist, who ran a music publishing company that was eventually acquired by EMI.  In 1976, the U.S. Congress allowed authors or their heirs to terminate copyright grants to publishers after 35 years. Coot’s heirs sued EMI Feist Catalog Inc. in the Southern District in 2012, claiming entitlement to re-establish their share of publishing copyright ownership in December 2016. However, Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that EMI Feist (NYLJ, Dec. 19, 2013) could hold the rights until 2029. EMI Feist is an arm of the London-based music company EMI Group. During the long history of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Coots’ family and EMI’s predecessors made various agreements with each other. In particular, Coots granted renewal…

Ray Charles’ wishes may yet be honoured
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s dismissal of a suit brought by the sole beneficiary of the Ray Charles estate, the Ray Charles Foundation, concluding that the Foundation had standing to challenge Charles’s heirs in their attempt to reclaim several copyrights to the late singer’s works because the Foundation’s right to royalties from such works would be affected. Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson et al., Case No. 13-55421 (9th Cir. July 31, 2015) (Christen, J.). The case in question was initiated in 2012 by the Ray Charles Foundation against 7 of the musician’s 12 children, to block their attempted terminations of copyrights under §§ 203 and 304(c) of the Copyright Act in 51 of Charles’ songs, including “I Got A Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So.” to get the return of the copyrights. The charitable Foundation was Charles’ sole heir and received the entirety of his estate, including the rights to receive royalties for his songs.  Charles’ children each got a trust worth $500,000 apiece shortly before his death and were required to sign written contracts effectively waiving their rights to any other inheritance. Regular readers will recall the termination right…

France brings in new online music agreement
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
France

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, performers   The IFPI has welcomed the agreement struck by the music industry in France, aimed at boosting the legal digital music market and enhancing the value of music for all rights holders.   The voluntary agreement (the “Agreement for a fair development of online music”) was facilitated by France’s Minister of Culture and Communications Fleur Pellerin and brings together organisations representing French record companies, unions, recording artists, performers, online music services and others. They will work together to “help foster a sustainable music industry, diversity and innovation, clarity on revenue distribution and a fair value for music recordings.”   The agreement has been promoted by French government intermediary, Marc Schwartz, who was appointed in May 2015 to lead discussions on the development of the online music business between producers, performers and digital platforms. Universal, Sony and Warner have agreed to a new government-approved ‘code’ in France which sees them commit to new levels of transparency and “the fair sharing of value from the exploitation of music online”. The code will mean more clarity over the sharing of multi-million dollar advances from services such as YouTube, as well as the equity stakes that the majors own in…

RIAA and NMPA focus in on the value of music
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     The CEO and chairman of the RIAA has said that the current notice and takedown anti-piracy process is both costly and increasingly pointless. Cary Sherman says the USA’s safe harbor provisions contained in the DMCA have forced labels into a “never-ending game” of whack-a-mole while sites under its protection effectively obtain a discount music licensing system clarly highlighting the frustration the major record labels and their Hollywood counterparts feel about framework designed to facilitate the removal of infringing content on the Internet. Sherman also commemnted on “the flawed licensing regime in which we have to operate” saying “Government-set licensing has enabled services like Sirius XM to use music at below-market rates, based on a decades-old subsidy that has long outlived its purpose” adding “Even worse, under current law, AM/FM radio broadcasters pay absolutely nothing for the sound recordings they use to draw listeners and generate billions of dollars in revenue. In a marketplace that values innovation, it’s ironic that it’s the legacy technologies enjoying government-granted economic benefits and competitive advantage” and “while the music industry has embraced new technology and business models, the beneficiaries of this broken system cling to this antiquated law that was enacted at…

Happy Birthday IS in the public domain
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     In the USA, a federal judge has found that the song “Happy Birthday To You” is entirely in the public domain. U.S. District Judge George H. King held in a summary judgment that the song’s original copyright, assigned  Clayton F. Summy, who copyrighted and published them in a book titled “Song Stories for the Kindergarten” is now free of copyright claims. The rights to the song were bought for $15 million in 1988 by music publisher Warner/Chappell Music Inc. Any copyright now only covered specific piano arrangements of the song and not its lyrics. “It now belongs to the public,” Mark Rifkin, a lawyer representing a documentary filmmaker who filed the suit against the publisher told reporters adding “We did exhaustive historical research and none of it showed that the publisher owned anything other than copyrights to four very specific piano arrangements”. One of the co-plaintiffs, Ruypa Marya of the music group Ruypa & The April Fishes, also praised the decision as momentous, saying “I hope we can start reimagining copyright law to do what it’s supposed to do — protect the creations of people who make stuff so that we can continue to make more stuff.”  Marya, said she…

YMCA’s Willis triumphs again on costs claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Victor Willis, the ‘cop’ and a naval officer in the ‘70s disco group The Village People has been awarded more than a half-million dollars in attorney’s fees by a federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz granted Willis $527,236 to cover his attorney’s fees and $3,034 in costs incurred during copyright battles to reclaim ownership of his share of the songwriting and the associated revenues in over 33 of the songs Willis co-wrote, including Village People’s huge hit “YMCA” as well as “In The Navy”, “Go West” and “Macho Man”. 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. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that the 64 year old songwriter said the award sent a loud message to record producers “attempting to stop artists like myself” from asserting their rights to let them know “there are going to be repercussions” and commenting to the two music publishing companies and music producer Henri Belolo who fought his claims he said “I had to put out a lot of money to fight him,” says Willis, who was…

Everyday I’m hustlin’ ……. but now rapper’s case is shufflin’
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Rapper Rick Ross cannot copyright the words “Everyday I’m hustlin’,” a U.S. judge has ruled, putting an end to his claim against music group LMFAO for selling T-shirts with the similar catch-phrase “Everyday I’m shufflin’.” Ross sued LMFAO in 2013 over their 2010 hit ‘Party Rock Anthem’ because it contains the line “Everyday I’m Shuffling” which, the rapper claims, is a rip off of his 2006 track ‘hustlin’, which contains the lyric “Everyday I’m hustling”. In her ruling in the Miami federal court, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams said Ross’s slogan, a prominent part of his 2006 debut hit “Hustlin’,” is a short expression that courts have repeatedly said cannot be copyrighted. Ross, whose real name is  William Leonard Roberts II, has alleged the Los Angeles-based electropop duo, made up of Stefan Gordy and Skyler Gordy, copied “Hustlin’” into”Party Rock Anthem” – which contains the lyric “Everyday I’m Shufflin’.” The hip hop star said LMFAO’s song was “an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame and success of Hustlin’.” He also sued Kia Motors for using “Party Rock Anthem” in an advertising campaign. In the complaint, Ross claimed LMFAO also violated his copyright by selling T-shirts and other…

EMI production Music launch Song Sample Amnesty
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   The EMI Production Music catalogue, which contains thousands of tracks, spanning every genre of music, and which over the years have been sampled by artists including Jay Z, Mark Ronson, Nelly and Fatboy Slim, has set up a unique “sample amnesty”: Anyone who has sampled a song in the catalogue without getting the sample cleared will be able to come forward, declare it, and agree a legitimate release for the recording. The “sample amnesty”, believed to be the first of its kind, will run for 6 months, has been approved by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which owns EMI Music Publishing. Alex Black, EMI Production Music Global Director said “We’re offering those labels and artists the chance to legitimise their master recordings. We will not seek past royalties from the songs created before the amnesty and we will set up a licence going forward on sensible commercial terms.” adding “The artists can then licence their tracks for advertising for adverts and soundtracks without the fear that EMI will come knocking at the door. The original composer of the source work will get recognition. It works for everybody so we’re hoping that people will come forward with something…

PRS for Music announces signing of a new two year deal with Spotify for Europe
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2015
Ireland
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, streaming     PRS for Music confirms it has agreed a new two year Europe wide multi-territory licensing deal with music streaming and subscription service, Spotify. Continuing the ongoing relationship between the pair, the recent deal allows the music streaming and subscription service to continue to offer its users a vast bundle of repertoire in the UK and Ireland (including repertoire from over 100 affiliated societies from around the globe), plus PRS for Music’s and Eire based IMRO’s direct members’ repertoire across Europe. The repertoire PRS for Music licenses to Spotify across Europe further includes musical works represented by a growing number of IMPEL publishers. IMPEL currently represents the rights of 40 leading independent publishers, a number that is anticipated to grow further before the end of the year.   Ben McEwen, PRS for Music’s Head of Online said: “We are excited to continue working with Spotify, a relationship that allows millions of users across the globe to enjoy our members’ repertoire. The prodigious growth of Spotify is helping to shape a strong future for dynamic, legitimate streaming services, and we support this thriving online market that recognises and remunerates the works of the creator.”   James…

Temporary increase in PRS TV admin rates to cover Copyright Tribunal reference by ITV
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, broadcasting     UK collection society PRS for Music have written to members explaining an increase in administration rates for TV collections to cover the expected cost of a Copyright Tribunal referral by ITV, one of the UK’s leading broadcasters and home to X-Factor, Coronation Street, Midsomer Murders and UEFA Cup football. Rates range from 12.5% for BBC collections to 16% for Channel 5, MTV and other satellite and cable channels. A peak hour’s one minute play on BBC1 would currently generate £90.35 for the rights holder, whereas on Channel 5 it would generate £11.95.  The letter reads:   “After careful consideration by the Executive Board, it has been agreed that there will be a temporary rise to our TV admin rates by an additional one percent for one year. This will be implemented to cover the expected costs associated with defending the recent Copyright Tribunal reference brought against PRS by the broadcaster ITV.   Following prolonged negotiations, ITV referred the new deal (covering broadcasts from 1 January 2015), to the Copyright Tribunal. This was due to disagreements over the details of our licence renewal. We feel it is vital that we fully participate and vigorously defend this referral…

PRS for Music begins legal action against SoundCloud
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / September 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing   PRS for Music has written to it’s members saying it is beginning legal action against online music streaming platform SoundCloud after “five years of unsuccessful negotiations”. The PRS says: “SoundCloud actively promotes and shares music. Launched in 2008, the service now has more than 175m unique listeners per month. Unfortunately, the organisation continues to deny it needs a PRS for Music licence for its existing service available in the UK and Europe, meaning it is not remunerating our members when their music is streamed by the SoundCloud platform.”. The PRS letter goes on to say: “We have asked SoundCloud numerous times to recognise their responsibilities to take a licence to stop the infringement of our members’ copyrights but so far our requests have not been met. Therefore we now have no choice but to pursue the issue through the courts.” The letter explains that whilst SoundCloud has taken down some of PRS repertoire, a recent list of some 4,500 musical works which the PRS say were being made available on the service which they were asking SoundCloud to licence or remove resulted in this: “SoundCloud decided to respond to our claim by informing us that…

Youtube partially triumph over GEMA – but needs to do more
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2015
Germany
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing     Google has won a legal victory on over German performing rights society GEMA, which had sought to make the company’s video-sharing service YouTube pay each time users streamed music videos by artists it represents. A Munich court rejected GEMA’s demand that YouTube pay 0.375 euro cents ($0.004) per stream of certain videos. In its claim, GEMA had picked out a sample of 1,000 videos which it said would cost YouTube around 1.6 million euros. However the German regional court  ruled that Google’s video-sharing website YouTube must prevent users from posting material that infringes copyright law once such a video has been brought to its attention. “However, if such a service provider has been made aware of a clear violation of the law, it must not only remove the content, but also must take precautions to avoid further infringements of copyrights,” the court said in its ruling. Both sides had appealed an earlier 2012 ruling. “What obligations the service provider has in this context — in particular whether and to what extent it is obliged to block and then check and monitor the content uploaded to its platform — is determined by what it can reasonably be expected…

Rod in the dock over copying claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Rod Stewart  has been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit that claims he copied the song “Corrine, Corrina” for his 2013 album “Time.” The lawsuit was filed in U.S. district court in Georgia by Miles Floyd, the administrator of the estate of blues performer Bo Carter, whose real name Armenter Chatmon. Chatmon was the first artist to record the song “Corrine, Corrina” and, according to the suit, he also wrote the tune, first registering the song with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1929. The lawsuit claims that “Corrina, Corrina,” a bonus track from Stewart’s hit 2013 album “Time,” is “nearly identical” to Chatmon’s work, and contains “substantially similar defining compositional elements, including, but not limited to lyrics, melody, rhythm, tempo, meter, key and title.” On Stewart’s album the track is ‘traditional’ and a take on a country blues standard.  Bob Dylan recorded “Corrina, Corrina” on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton covered Lead Belly’s take on the song, which was named “Alberta,” on his multiple Grammy-winning Unplugged album.   http://www.thewrap.com/rod-stewart-hit-with-copyright-lawsuit-over-iconic-blues-song/

“Blurred Lines” Post Trial Order
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The Judge in the ‘Blurred Lines’ Trial has rejected a new trial and has ‘trimmed’ the damages awarded against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to $5.3 Million (from $7.3 million).  That said, U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt has accepted the Gaye family’s contention that record labels including UMG Recordings, Interscope and Star Trak Entertainment should be held liable for their distribution of the song that was found to be a copy of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” and he also ruled that Clifford “T.I.” Harris Jr., the rapper who contributed a verse on the blockbuster “Blurred Lines” song was liable. Judge Kronstadt denied the Gayes’ bid for an injunction, but has granted a request for an ongoing royalty rate of 50 percent of songwriter and publishing revenues. The post trial order can be found here.  In his order, Judge Kronstadt specifically stated that the damages awarded against Williams were excessive, as it had not been shown that Williams was a “practical partner” of Thicke’s, and thus is only liable for his share of the profits from the song. The damages were reduced down from $4 million to just under $3.2 million, while the award of profits from Williams was reduced from…

Turtles look to block SiriusXM settlement
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, sound recordings, broadcasting   Flo & Eddie, the Turtles founders who have led attempts to collect royalties for pre-1972 sound recordings under US state laws, have rejected the move by American major record companies to secure an out-of-court settlement secured with Sirius XM. The Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) announced that it had settled its separate legal battle with Sirius on the pre-1972 issue, with the three majors and ABKCO, which controls early Rolling Stones recordings, and are set to receive $210 million in a deal that also sees the music companies providing the satellite broadcaster with a licence on pre-1972 catalogue up to the end of 2017.  With post-1972 recordings, Sirius pays for recording rights through collection society SoundExchange, which then splits the money 50/50 between artists and labels. Flo & Eddie’s attorneys say that the RIAA’s agreement interferes with the musicians’ ongoing class action against Sirius. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo’s lawyers Henry Gradstein and Harvey Geller say the record industry’s legal claim against Sirius was a “coattail action” and the subsequent settlement a “brazen attempt to disrupt and interfere with the class action process”. They added: “In other words, Sirius XM and the major labels purported to…

Beatles ‘Lost Film’ blocked
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, Film & TV   Sony Corp has won a High Court ruling in London, blocking a documentary-maker from releasing a movie about the Beatles’ first concert in the U.S.  “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” had been due to open for a limited run in US theatres in 2012.   The film by WPMC Ltd. about the 1964 performance in Washington was found to have infringed Sony’s copyrights in the U.K. and the U.S. in eight of the twelve songs in the concert, including “From Me to You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. Sony and the Fab Four’s label, Apple Corps, took issue with the Ace Arts film’s release as it contained archival clips from the band’s historic Washington, DC concert back in February, 1964, when Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison performed, and other  tracks included “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout”. The film also included interviews with legendary guitarist Chuck Berry and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The 1964 gig took place two days after The Beatles were officially introduced to audiences in the US with a slot on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.   The concert, shown in cinemas and theatres across…

PRS for Music launches Streamfair
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, internet     PRS for Music, which represents over 111,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, has launched Streamfair. The campaign “aims to raise awareness about the critical need for legislative reform to ensure music creators are properly remunerated in the growing streaming music market.” The PRS say the online music market now accounts for approximately 50% of overall sales globally with streaming services increasingly driving the change. In the past year, PRS for Music’s royalties from streaming services at £38.8m exceeded those of downloads for the first time at £26.7m – a trend repeated in 37 markets worldwide.  Recent PRS for Music research also that shows that over 90% of UK consumers have accessed some kind of streaming service. Some online content providers such as User Generated Content (UGC) services relying on what are known as ‘safe harbour’ provisions to avoid obtaining a licence or paying proper licence fees, are threatening the long-term sustainability and growth of the online music market.  The lack of clarity about who is truly an ‘intermediary’ in the current European legislation has deprived creators of the ability to consent to the use of their works.  This has resulted in a transfer of…

SESAC buys Harry Fox Agency
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     The smallest of the USA’s music performing rights societies, SESAC,  is to acquire the Harry Fox Agency, creating an agency that can operate in both mechanical and public performance licensing. In Europe, there have been various efforts to provide combined mechanical/performing right licences to customers who need them. In the UK via the alliance between the publishing sector’s mechanical and performing rights societies the MCPS and PRS respectively means that rights can be combined. In the US, the main performing rights organisations, BMI and ASCAP, are barred from involvement in mechanical licensing by the consent decrees that govern their operations. SESAC is not governed by such a consent decree. The Harry Fox Agency is currently owned by the National Music Publishers Association. According to the New York Times the deal will have to be approved by NMPA members. The new structure should allow the combined agency to provide joint performing/mechanical licences for any of the songs that either of the organisation represent, and to offer songwriters and publishers a more efficient licensing and royalty processing service. It will also give SESAC access to a world of valuable data held by HFA regarding the use of songs on…

PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA establish world’s first ‘integrated licensing and processing hub’  to power the digital market
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA have signed completion documents announcing the launch of the world’s first fully integrated multi-territory music licensing and processing hub covering European territories.  Designed to drive growth in the digital music market, the hub will assist both music rights holders and digital service providers (DSPs) in maximising value by providing incomparable customer service through state-of-the-art technology.  The hub, powered by the copyright database, ICE, and new processing, finance and business intelligence systems, will hopefully increase the speed, accuracy and efficiency of music matching and invoicing to ensure that rights holders are paid more quickly and transparently than ever before while making it easier for music services to secure multi-territory licences.   The hub will offer a complete set of services for the market:   (i)                 State of the art data processing and matching (ii)                Authoritative copyright and audio-visual database (iii)               Business enhancing middle-office services (iv)              Consolidated licensing of PRS for Music, GEMA and STIM’s multi-territory online rights and options for other rights holders to join the same core licence or to operate separate solutions, such as Solar and ARESA.   DSPs will obtain a single, consolidated multi-territory licence for Europe for…

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

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

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

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

Apple Music v Taylor Swift
USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BPI launches online portal to help labels and musicians
UK

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

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

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

EU gives all clear for PRS-GEMA-STIM hub
EU
Germany
Sweden
UK

COMPETITION Music publishing   The European Commission has given the all clear for European collecting societies PRS, STIM and GEMA – which represent publishers and songwriters in, respectively, the UK, Sweden and Germany – to form a central hub to license and process royalties from multi-territory digital services. PRS For Music CEO Robert Ashcroft: “This is a very significant day for online music licensing as our new joint venture is uniquely positioned to deal with the rapidly transforming online music market. What this clearance means is that we are now able to work even more effectively on behalf of songwriters, composers and their music publishers, while at the same time helping to develop the Digital Single Market across Europe” whilst STIM CEO Karsten Dyhrberg Nielsen said: “Today’s competition clearance announcement is testament to the incredible work that has gone into the design of this new offering, which will provide a seamless service for both music rights holders and pan-European digital service providers. It’s the result of years of productive collaboration between STIM, GEMA and PRS For Music to deliver a solution that will help the digital market grow”.