Marvel man wins against Killah
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music,   Jack Urbont, who created music for ‘The Marvel Super Heroes‘ television show in the ’60s has won a lawsuit over sampling. The three-year-old copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Urbont against rapper Ghostface Killah ended with a New York judge entering a default judgment in favour of the plaintiff. According to Urbont’s 2011 lawsuit, Ghostface Killah (real name: Dennis Coles) sampled the “Iron Man Theme” on two tracks of the rapper’s second album, Supreme Clientele. It was no easy matter suing Wu-Tang Clan member Coles – initially he could not be located and the court allowed service by a publication notice – and then his lawyer requested permission to withdraw from the case on the grounds he hadn’t been paid and that his client refused to communicate with him. Ghostface then failed to show up for a deposition, which led to a warning from the judge about sanctions and a default judgment. With Coles still AWOl,  Urbont sought a default judgment as well as fees and expenses, and this was granted by U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald. Urbont’s attorney Richard Busch said “As far as Mr. Coles (Ghostface) is concerned, we will now submit evidence on damages to establish…

Dancing Jesus pair receive prison terms
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   The two men behind the Dancing Jesus file sharing forum have been sentenced to prison terms. Kane Robinson, 26, of North Shields, the site’s owner and creator, was sentenced to 32 months and 22-year-old Richard Graham, from Leicestershire, to 21 months at Newcastle Crown Court. Graham, who uploaded 8,00 songs to the site, had earlier pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty when the evidence was presented.. The two men were subject to a private prosecution led by record industry trade body the BPI after an investigation by the City Of London Police. Robinson pleaded guilty to copyright crimes before trial. Of the 8000+ tracks Graham shared via the Dancing Jesus site, about two-thirds were pre-release.  Commentators said that the sentences were similar to those found in criminal copyright convictions relating to the manufacture and sale of bootlegged CDs or DVDs. Commenting on the sentences, David Wood, Director of the BPI’s Copyright Protection Unit, told reporters: “Today’s sentencing sends a clear message to the operators and users of illegal music sites that online piracy is a criminal activity that will not be tolerated by law enforcement in the UK or overseas. Piracy –…

Space oddity back online
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2014
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s “goosebump-inducing” cover of “Space Oddity?” which had amassed 23.4 million hits before it was taken down from YouTube is back online after  Hadfield secured fresh permission from Mr Bowie’s representatives to use the extra-planetary recording, which was made aboard the ISS at an elevation of 250 miles (400 km), after a five month hiatus. Bowie himself loved it, posting on Facebook that it was “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created” and an initial one-year agreement which has now been extended after a “careful and exacting” legal process with Hadfield saying “And now, we are so happy to be able to announce that my on-orbit cover of Space Oddity is back up on YouTube. This time we have a new 2-year agreement, and it is there, for free, for everyone. We’re proud to have helped bring Bowie’s genius from 1969 into space itself in 2013, and now ever-forward. Special thanks to Onward Music Ltd, to the Canadian Space Agency and NASA, to musicians Emm Gryner and Joe Corcoran, to videographer Andrew Tidby, to my son Evan, and mostly to Mr. David Bowie himself. For the countless others who have helped work to bring about…

Ek talking up Spotify in battle with Swift
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet   Spotify’s Daniel Ek has responded to Taylor Swift and other critics in a lengthy blog post reigniting the debate prompted by Swift pulling her catalogue from free (freemium) streaming services. Ek begins by saying “Taylor Swift is absolutely right” (referring to remarks the singer made in a Wall Street Journal  and Yahoo interview) adding “Music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it. We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it. So all the talk swirling around lately about how Spotify is making money on the backs of artists upsets me big time”. Ek then detailed how the Spotify payment model works and revealed that Spotify has now paid out $2 billion to the music industry since launching in 2008, $1 billion of that in the last year and that Spotify now has 50 million active users, 12.5 million of whom are paying subscribers – an increase of ten million and 2.5 million respectively since the last lot of official figures released back in May of this year. However Ek somewhat failed to address why a relatively small share of these streaming royalties are shared…

Federation of Small Businesses says concerns remain with public performance licensing
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector, retailing, music publishing, recorded music   The Federation of Small Businesses has said that the music industry’s performing right collecting societies still have some way to go in improving the way they work with small to middle sized enterprises, despite acknowledging some improvements in recent years. The UK government has, in recent years, put some pressure on collecting societies including PPL and PRS for to adopt ‘minimum standards’ of service to licensees and both PPL and PRS had already updated their own codes of conduct to bring them in line with post-Hargreaves standards back in 2012. But citing its own research, the FSB said last week that it had found nearly a quarter of its members with a collecting society licence had made a complaint of some sort about the collective licensing system. The Federation added: “The findings also show the lack of progress towards achieving greater transparency and simplicity of charges over the past twelve months. Without such progress, trust amongst small businesses in the current system will be undermined”. FSB National Chairman John Allan told reporters: “Although collecting societies have a strong code of conduct in place, we are not convinced they are making…

Music creator group calls a ‘fair trade’ in music streaming
Canada
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, music publishing, artistes   A new report launched by the International Council Of Creators Of Music, or CIAM, has called for a more equal distribution of streaming royalties between the respective music rights owners – overhauling of the streaming royalty system which is increasingly seen as favouring record labels above music publishers, songwriters and artistes. CIAM is a global body that sets out to “protect the rights and assert the cultural aspirations of music creators”, while its report also has the backing of CISAC, the global grouping of music publishing collecting societies, as well as Music Creators North America and Canadian collecting society SOCAN. The report was written by Professor Pierre-E Lalonde, and it says: “The split in revenues between the different sets of rights holders is imbalanced. A combination of regulatory constraints, market imbalances and situations where major record labels negotiate with digital services for all categories of rights holders, has led to a significant disparity between the revenues paid to record labels and to creators”. He goes on: “In the business of streaming, the split of monies from streaming platforms is geared more favourably towards record labels and performers vs songwriters and music publishers”,…

EMI Publishing faces another lawsuit on foreign royalties from ‘Daydream Believer’ songwriter whilst War declare, well, war.
Contract , Music Publishing / November 2014
USA

CONTRACT Music Publishing   Last month we commented on the how the estate of Duke Ellington is hoping to resurrect a royalties lawsuit against EMI Music Publishing, (now controlled by Sony/ATV)  after a lower courts sided with the music company in the legal dispute – seeking to establish that EMI had artificially reduced the royalties received by the entity Ellington had signed to as a songwriter by using its own subsidiaries to siphon off royalties. That claim has now failed again after an appellate court held that the copyright renewal that Duke Ellington signed in 1961 does not unfairly deprive his heirs of a portion of foreign royalties on works such as “Mood Indigo” and “Sophisticated Lady“. In Ellington v EMI Music, The New York State Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 that while changes in the music industry over the past 53 years have tended to make the contract and others signed in that era by artists like Ellington more favourable to music publishers, “clear and unambiguous” provisions govern EMI’s obligations to Ellington’s grandson Paul Ellington and the composer’s other survivors. Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, writing for the majority, said a plain reading of the contract says Ellington or his heirs are…

Toto lose digital royalty battle
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artists, recorded music   Sony Music Entertainment does not owe digital music royalties to the rock band Toto, best known for its 1980s pop hits “Rosanna” and “Africa,” a federal judge ruled. Toto was dissatisfied with the terms of a $8 million class action settlement that their fellow bands The Allman Brothers Band, Cheap Trick and other recording artistes reached with Sony two years ago over digital music download and streaming royalties, Rolling Stone reports.  Its auditor claimed that Toto deserved “50 percent net receipts” on digital downloads. The band reunited in 2010, and two years later sued Sony in the federal court, seeking $605,000 in compensatory damages for breach of contract and other claims. During discovery, the parties “put music executives on the hot seat”, but also reportedly quibbled over whether a “lease” and “licensee” agreement applied to their contract. Toto contended that the words meant the same thing, but Sony disagreed. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan turned to Black’s Law Dictionary and Webster’s Dictionary before ultimately siding with Sony on this issue. “[T]he dictionary definitions of the terms reflect that they are not synonymous, with ‘lease’ generally pertaining to rights in real or tangible property, and ‘license’…

Heartbroken – without your cash. Big hit helps Judge make decisions hitting big topics
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2014
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artists This update By Leeza Panayiotou, LLB(Hons)   In Henderson v All Around the World Recordings Ltd [2014] EWHC 3087 (IPEC), the Claimant Jodie Henderson’s damages were assessed to be a total of £35,000.00. But it’s the result of a fairly long process and  it’s interesting to see how the court reached this decision and quantum. The year was 2007 and Jodie Henderson (aka Jodie Aysha) and Tafazwa Tawonezvi (aka T2) charted at No.2 in the Singles Chart for 5 weeks and stayed in the Top 40 for over 40 weeks with the track ‘‘Heartbroken’’. Despite such success however, Henderson was never remunerated for her performance on the track, her appearance in the music video or for the use of her name. Though Henderson penned the lyrics herself several years before the tracks release (and she is now signed to Sony ATV music publishing), it was Tawonezvi who remixed the track into its ‘Bassline’ state (arguably the reason for the track’s mainstream success at the time). Tawonezvi had signed a deal with 2NV Records Ltd, presumably in recognition of his talents as a producer and DJ, and this paved the way for 2NV Records to sign a…

Date set for fresh Citigroup – Terra Firma battle over EMI
Music Publishing / November 2014
USA

CORPORATE LAW Recorded music   The battle over Citigroupo’s role in Terra Firma’s takeover of EMI is set to head back to the courtroom. The legal dispute went before a court in New York in 2010 and Citigroup prevailed but the appellate court ordered a new trial on the basis that some specifics of English law – which governed the acquisition – had not been properly explaining in the New York courtroom. It was (finally) agreed by both Terra Firma and Citigroup to move the dispute to the London courts and a date has been set for that hearing in June 2016. Confirming the trial date, Judge Julian Flaux said: “Serious allegations of fraud are made against the defendant and against three individual bankers”.   http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/date-set-for-terra-firma-and-citigroups-emi-deal-retrial/

Sony/ATV and EMI launch new pan European licensing scheme
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2014
EU
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Sony/ATV, EMI Music, PRS and GEMA are set to build on the success of CELAS and PAECOL by launching SOLAR to administer pan European digital licensing for Sony/ATV and EMI music and compositions, replacing the previous set-ups. Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier told reporters: “This agreement not only builds on our already successful relationships with PRS For Music and GEMA, but makes the licensing process in Europe more straight-forward as services will now have only one place to go for both Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing repertoire. It is also great news for our songwriters as we look to continue to facilitate licensing in this rapidly-evolving and expanding sector”.   http://www.prsformusic.com/aboutus/press/latestpressreleases/Pages/sony-atv-prs-for-music-gema-launch-joint-venture.aspx

Jay-Z sampling battle to test precedents
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, sound recordings   In the appellate court ruling for the 6th Circuit in Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films  Judge Ralph Guy provided the much quoted principle “Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way.” When ruling that the use of a “a two-second sample from the guitar solo was copied” where “the pitch was lowered, and the copied piece was “looped” and extended to 16 beats” was not  de minimis and was infringing as it was used without permission, Judge Guy said “Even when a small part of a sound recording is sampled, the part taken is something of value.”  Pretty clear eh? That case was settled so no final appeal to the Supreme Court took place, but that may now change says TechDirt.  TufAmerica has sued Jay Z, Roc-A-Fella and Atlantic Records for the use of a “tiny sample” of the song “Hook & Sling” by Eddie Bo on Jay Z’s “Run This Town” with TechDirt saying “TufAmerica has been reprising the role of Bridgeport lately, suing lots of artists over samples, including the Beastie Boys (the day before Adam Yauch passed away). Meanwhile, Jay Z, in the past, has…

1972 and all that – but does the Turtles win against SiriusXM actually settle anything?
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, recorded music   A California federal judge has delivered a “legal earthquake” by declaring Flo & Eddie of The Turtles “the victors in a lawsuit against SiriusXM over the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings” by finding that SiriusXM had violated the Turtles’ pre-1972 master copyrights by playing their music without licensing it or paying performance royalties. Flo & Eddie was created in 1971 and is owned and controlled by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, two of the founding members of the Turtles, who were most popular for their 1967 hit single “Happy Together.” The lawsuit was filed in August last year, seeking royalties from the satellite broadcaster. Billboard reports that the plaintiffs are seeking $100 million in damages, but says “the money is hardly the only consequence of a ruling on Monday that could eventually disrupt the operations of the satellite radio giant as well as other services like Pandora.” The band members launched the case in August 2013. But its not been plain sailing for pre-1972 copyright owners – nor is the whole issue exactly clear. In August this year, U.S. Federal Court Judge Mary Strobel indicated that she was leaning towards rejecting a motion by…

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

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

The Department Of Justice’s digital licensing review underway – good news for publishers?
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2014
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   CMU Daily reports that The US Department Of Justice has distributed a so called Civil Investigative Demand, or CID, to the two main performing rights societies in the US music publishing domain, ASCAP and BMI, as well as the two dominant music publishers Universal and Sony/ATV/EMI. The initial review of the publishers’ actions began with the rate trial against Pandora, one of several internet radio services that are grinding up against the majors in order to settle streaming rates. Pandora’s representatives alleged that the labels had been working together to change bylaws within ASCAP and BMI that would allow for partial withdrawals—in other words selling the rights to play all of your catalogue aside from the biggest draws, so that publishers can charge higher rates for a Rihanna than a Raekwon, for example. Judge Denise Cote agreed with Pandora in her decision. The document request notices are part of the DoJ’s review of the consent decrees that regulate the collective licensing of song performance rights in the US and are set against a backdrop of both Universal and Sony/ATV seeking to directly licence digital services such as Pandora. A court previously ruled that, under the current…

Massive illegal CD pressing plant shut down in Germany
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2014
Germany

COPYRIGHT Recorded music sector   What is possibly the largest black market CD pressing plant in Europe has been raided in Germany, with investigators finding a large-scale CD, DVD and vinyl pressing operation in the main underground premises and “significant numbers” of pirated discs. Several properties were raided in both Aschaffenburg in Bavaria and Hessen after preliminary investigations led by anti-piracy organisation proMedia at the instigation of the German record industry trade group BVMI, with support from global trade body IFPI. A state prosecutor from the Economic Crime Department in the city of Würzburg is now investigating at least one individual in relation to the mass production of pirated CDs, DVDs and records. BVMI CEO Dr Florian Drücke said: “With a market share of about 70%, there is still a high demand for CDs in Germany – this is evident not only in the legitimate business, but unfortunately also on the illegal market”. He went on: “Thanks to the excellent preparatory work and above all the precise work of the prosecutor and police, this raid has enabled us to pull the plug on the largest-ever undercover pressing plant for music in Europe. The equipment found here demonstrates once again that this…

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

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

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

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

Ultra Records sues YouTube star Michelle Phan
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   Sony-affiliated EDM label Ultra Records, home to deadmau5 and Calvin Harris, is suing YouTube star Michelle Phan for using tracks in her videos without permission although the producer of one of those tracks, Kaskade, however, has distanced himself from the legal action. According to Reuters, Ultra’s recordings and publishing divisions are jointly suing Phan, whose make up tips videos have clocked up over 150 million views. In the lawsuit, Ultra says that Phan had been warned that she was infringing copyright “and yet continues to wilfully infringe in blatant disregard of plaintiff’s rights of ownership”. The lawsuit identifies multiple alleged instances of copyright infringement, and seeks an injunction to force Phan to stop, and the maximum statutory damages for each infringement of $150,000.   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28418449

Round 2 in Jay Z and Mahan’s ‘co-ownership’ battle
Contract , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2014
USA

CONTRACT, COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   This update by Leeza Panayiotou   Readers may recall that back in late April this year, the rumour mill was rife about a rather large spat between Jay Z (aka Sean Carter) and his ex music producer Chauncey Mahan. Mr Carter and his heavyweight Roc Nation collaborator, Live Nation, asserted that Mahan was illegally (via theft and extortion) in possession of several master recordings of Jay Z’s work, said to be at the least worth $15 million. The LAPD was swiftly informed and the master recordings were subsequently seized, whilst Mahan was taken in for questioning. And whilst he was (reportedly) never arrested, things did not look so good for Mr Mahan – to an outsider. Since then however, the criminal investigation into Mahan has been seemingly closed, and the tables turned with Mahan launching a lawsuit against Jay Z and his entertainment company Roc Nation. On the face of it, it may have appeared as though an embarrassed producer was attempting to save face with a game of litigation tag – however, Mahan’s suit has the potential to pack a serious punch on the whole music industry, way beyond any argument with…

PRS for Music basically happy with independent code review
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2014
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   “PRS for Music welcomes Independent Code Review music licensing recommendations” is the very positive headline response, to the publication of the Independent Code Review by Walter Merricks, CBE That’s not to say, however, that the review has been accepted in its entirety: PRS for Music doesn’t like being called a “quasi public body”.  According to PRS for Music: Walter Merricks was appointed last year as part of a self-regulatory process put in place by the UK’s Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) to ensure Codes of Conduct were fit for purpose. Walter Merricks launched a consultation programme in November to collect evidence from the Ombudsman, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the BCC, collective rights management organisations (CMOs), PRS for Music members, copyright users and their representative bodies. The report finds that PRS for Music was compliant with its own Code of Conduct and with government standards for CMOs. The report also makes a number of recommendations that PRS for Music welcomes as part of its ambition to set best practice across all areas of its membership and domestic licensing activity: PRS for Music and PPL to include a commitment to cooperate in their codes of conduct; PRS, MCPS and PPL to…

Department of Justice to review ASCAP and BMI consent decrees
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2014
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   In the U.S. the Department of Justice is conducting a review of the consent decrees governing the nation’s largest performance rights organisations (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and Broadcast Music Inc.) which many see as a critical development amid the ongoing debate over copyright reform. ASCAP last had its consent decree, which governs how the collection society collects and distributes royalties, updated in 2001, while BMI’s has not been updated since the 1994 – and boy oh boy, has technology moved on since then! Both songwriters and publishing companies have suggested that the consent decrees need serious revision, with some even arguing they should be abolished – and ASCAP have already publicised some suggested changes. But the push for updates grew louder earlier this year when a federal rate court gave an unfavorable ruling to ASCAP in its royalty rate dispute with Pandora. Review of the consent decrees will trigger a 60-day public comment period, which is sure to draw in stakeholders ranging from songwriters and publishing companies, to broadcasters and record labels. With a music licensing system is decades old it will be scrutinised against the technology revolution and the pay that smartphones…

Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen prevail in song authorship challenge
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2014
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City have won a copyright challenge against their hit duet Good Time. The 28-year-old Canadian singer and Owl City’s Adam Young, 27, were sued for copyright infringement in October 2012 by Allyson ‘Ally’ Burnett who claimed their song borrowed from her 2010 release Ah, It’s A Love Song. BMI placed $804,156 in escrow in January otherwise due to Jepsen ( until the case was resolved). An attorney for Burnett told TMZ that she decided to withdraw her lawsuit afer an ‘extensive investigation’ confirmed Good Time was an original work an attorneys for Owl City have already filed a proposal in federal court on Monday that would award Young $525,901.77 in disputed royalties for the song. The deal must be approved by the court, but its completion was considered a formality.   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2653508/Carly-Rae-Jepsen-Owl-City-score-legal-victory-copyright-infringement-lawsuit-filed-2012-hit-song-Good-Time.html

New defence filed in Paul’s Boutique claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recording, music publishing   More Beastie Boys! In September 2013 a US  judge declined to dismiss TufAmerica’s complaint against the Beastie Boys and their label, finding that the Beasties’ use of the Trouble Funk songs, “Say What” and “Let’s Get Small,” on the 1989 “Paul’s Boutique” album was qualitatively and quantitatively significant. The case continues, but summary judgment motions delivered this week by the Beastie Boys, Universal-Polygram and Capitol Records present a rather compelling argument why the lawsuit is doomed. TufAmerica no longer control the copyrights to the two allegedly sampled tracks – so cannot bring a claim: In fact the copyrights are owned by Capitol Records owner Universal. According to the summary judgment motions, Trouble Funk members signed agreements in 1984 with Island Records, an affiliate of Universal. The deals were affirmed again in 1989. As a result of the agreements, Island became the exclusive owner to Trouble Funk sound recordings. What’s more, during depositions in this “Paul’s Boutique” sampling lawsuit, Trouble Funk members James Avery and Tony Fisher are said to have admitted that the agreements were valid and signed. Turning to the music publishing rights in the two songs, TufAmerica also says it now represents…

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

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

Marley dispute ends with no change
UK

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music publishing   High Court of Justice in London has ruled that Blue Mountain Music, and not Marley’ original publisher Cayman Music (CMI), is the owner of the copyrights in a number of Marley’s songs. CMI were Marley’s original publisher but it is commonly believed that Marley claimed various friends wrote a number of his songs to avoid the contract terms with CMI which would have automatically transferred the copyrights in his work to the publisher – for ‘No Woman, No Cry’ the credit went to Vincent Ford. CMI had previously said ““It is now common ground between the disputing parties that the songs – including ‘No Woman, No Cry’ – were actually written by Bob Marley but that the music publisher’s share was never credited to Cayman Music, who have now been denied their contracted entitlement for more than 40 years”. CMI claimed these songs were not included when it sold some of its rights in 1992 to Blue Mountain Music, as Marley, who died in 1981, had penned them under other people’s names. However the judge agreed the copyright had “passed” under the 1992 agreement. In his ruling on the case, Deputy High Court Judge…

Termination Rights and Marital Property
USA

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

Led Zeppelin face copyright claim for Stairway to Heaven 
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Iconic rock band Led Zeppelin is being sued by a musician claiming Stairway to Heaven rips off the opening riff of his band’s song. Mark Andes, the founding bassist of Spirit, is filing a lawsuit claiming the introduction to Zeppelin’s 1971 anthemic song is very similar to Spirit’s song, Taurus. Andes is seeking an injunction to block the impending re-release of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, on which Stairway appears, so that guitarist Randy California, who wrote Taurus, gets a co-writing credit on the song. It is understood California’s estate is also a party to the claim,  Before California died in 1997, he told a reporter: “I’d say it was a rip off. And the guys made millions of bucks on it and never said ‘Thank you’, never said, ‘Can we pay you some money for it?’ It’s kind of a sore point with me. Maybe someday their conscience will make them do something about it.” In order to prove copyright, Andes has to prove that the songs are virtually identical and that Led Zeppelin had access to the source material. Led Zeppelin’s first concert in America was as Spirit’s opening act in 1968, the year in which Taurus was released. The two bands also…

NMPA sues two lyric websites
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   The US music publishing sector’s trade group, the National Music Publishers Association, has confirmed it has begun legal action against two lyric websites which it says continue to prolifically publish lyrics without licence. Whilst a long term problem, The NMPA has more recently increased it’s efforts in this regard of late, targeting in particular those entities that they see as developing -funded business models  around their copyright infringing websites. Rap Genius was high on the target list last year, but it has subsequently started doing deals with the US publishers, including the NMPA itself. But similar efforts to do deals with some of the other lyric sites have not gone so well, resulting in the litigation against SeekLyrics.com and LyricsTime.com. Confirming his organisation was now going legal against these two sites, NMPA President David Israelite told reporters: “Litigation is a last step. Our goal is to insure that lyric sites and songwriters become partners through licensing. This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally. We are targeting sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior, which impacts a songwriter’s ability to make a living”.   http://www.mi2n.com/press.php3?press_nb=174296

Sugarman claim echoes Marley battle
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   In a case that echoes the recent spat between Cayman Music and Blue Mountain Music over a handful of songs widely believed to have been written by Bob Marley in the early 1970s, but which at the time were credited to his friends, in the case of ‘No Woman, No Cry’ the credit went to Vincent Ford. It has long been speculated that Marley did this to circumvent his contractual commitments to Cayman Music, Now Sixto Rodriguez, the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” has been pulled into a lawsuit over songs on an album he released in 1970. The dispute centres on ownership of the songs on “Cold Fact” and contracts between Rodriguez and two music companies. Gomba Music Inc. is suing Interior Music Corp. in Detroit federal court, claiming it owns the copyright to the songs penned by Rodriguez, not Interior. The lawsuit says the musician concealed his writing role to sidestep a publishing agreement he had with Gomba   http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/entertainment/2014/05/29/searching-for-sugarman-star-sixto-rodriguez-sued-for-copyright-infringement/  and http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=5794

UK sets minimum standards for collection societies
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music   The UK has introduced new legislation that gives formal legal backing to the ‘minimum standards’ for collecting societies that were originally published by the Intellectual Property Office back in 2012 on the back of the government-commissioned Hargreaves Review of copyright laws. The IPO minimum standards document sets out certain rules for UK collecting societies – including those that represent music rights owners where collective licensing applies – with regards transparency and complaints procedures, mainly with a view to protecting the interests of licensees, and trying to make the collective licensing process a little easier to understand. The IPO’s press relase says that new regulations for collecting societies will offer greater clarity for people using copyright works in their business: Pubs, bars and shops that require a licence to play music or schools who photocopy copyright material will find to find their legal rights easier to understand as changes to the law came into force on 6 April 2014: Last year UK collecting societies collected a total of £1 billion in licence fees for their members. Following discussions with Government, many collecting societies have already put in place their own Codes of Practice which set out minimum…

Bob Marley songs dispute heading for high court
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Cayman Music and Blue Mountain Music are set to go to the High Court to settle the dispute over a handful of songs widely believed to have been written by Bob Marley in the early 1970s, but which at the time were credited to his friends, in the case of ‘No Woman, No Cry’ the credit went to Vincent Ford. It has long been speculated that Marley did this to circumvent his contractual commitments to Cayman Music, his original publisher, which had signed Marley in 1967. Confirming that the long-running dispute was now heading to court, Cayman said in a statement earlier his week: “It is now common ground between the disputing parties that the songs – including ‘No Woman, No Cry’ – were actually written by Bob Marley but that the music publisher’s share was never credited to Cayman Music, who have now been denied their contracted entitlement for more than 40 years” concluding  “On 12 May this fascinating and unique story involving a complex cast of characters, the most successful black artist of all time, and his most famous song, purportedly stolen from its rightful owners before it was even recorded, may be one…

Manolito is not the next Spanish summer hit
Spain

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, music publishing   The Court of Appeal of Madrid published its judgment in the controversial Pablo Soto case. In Spain, music is one of the creative industries that has been most affected by piracy, suffering not only from illegal downloads but also from the unfair competition of P2P platforms, which are not generally liable for the unlawful activities of their users. This case started in 2008 when Promusicae (the collecting society representing the music producers in Spain) together with Universal Music Spain SL, Warner Music Spain SL, Sony BMG Music Entertainment Spain SA and EMI Music Spain SA brought an action before the Court of First Instance of Madrid against Mr Pablo Soto Bravo and the two companies solely directed by him, namely OPTISOFT SL and PIOLET NETWORKS SL plus the company M PUNTO 2 PUNTO TECHNOLOGIES SA. The plaintiffs sought removal of Blubster, Piolet and Manolito both in their free-of-charge and pay-for versions. These sites consisted of an advanced development of the P2P protocol, whereby the search and the sharing of contents are decentralized, meaning that they can be run on the internet within the users’ computers, once those applications are downloaded or bought from…

Prince – the Legend and the Label kiss and make up
USA

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

OSA ruling: no Czech exemption from health-spa music royalty payments
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2014
Czech Republic
EU

COPYRIGHT Collection societies, recorded music, music publishing   The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has given judgment in Case C‑351/12, OSA – Ochranný svaz autorský pro práva k dílům hudebním o.s. v Léčebné lázně Mariánské Lázně a.s., a reference for a preliminary issue from a Czech court, the Krajský soud v Plzni.  According to the press release: A spa which transmits protected musical works to its guests by means of devices located in their bedrooms must pay copyright fees: The territorial monopoly granted to copyright collecting societies is not contrary to the freedom to provide services OSA, a copyright collecting society, holds the exclusive right in the Czech Republic to collect fees, on behalf of authors, for the use of their musical works. The company Léčebné lázně Mariánské Lázně, which manages a spa, installed radio and television sets in the bedrooms of that establishment in order to make works managed by OSA available to its guests. However, Léčebné lázně Mariánské Lázně did not enter into a licence agreement with OSA and refused to pay fees to it on the ground that, under the Czech legislation, health establishments may freely transmit protected works. OSA, being of the view that…

Lessig triumphs in fair use battle
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, broadcasting, internet   Back in August 2013 Lawrence Lessig filed a federal complaint after YouTube forced the Harvard University law professor and Creative Commons co-founder to take down a video of a lecture that featured people dancing to a copyrighted sound recording. Supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Lessig said: “The rise of extremist enforcement tactics makes it increasingly difficult for creators to use the freedoms copyright law gives them. I have the opportunity, with the help of EFF, to challenge this particular attack. I am hopeful the precedent this case will set will help others avoid such a need to fight.” The complaint stems from a 2010 lecture Lessig delivered in South Korea on cultural and technological innovation. He presented clips of user-generated videos showing people dancing to Phoenix’s single “Lisztomania” which was a popular meme at the time started by user “Avoidant Consumer,” who combined scenes of people dancing from several movies with the song playing in the background. The video went live last June but complaints from Viacom and Australian-based music publisher Liberation Music via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prompted YouTube to remove Lessig’s lecture twice. Lessig filed a complaint…

The IFPI Digital Music Report 2014 shows a changing landscape for the recorded music sector
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2014
EU
Germany
Italy
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   The IFPI have published their downloadable Digital Music Report 2014 – who shows that music fans’ growing appetite for subscription and streaming services helped drive trade revenue growth in most major music markets in 2013, with overall digital revenues growing 4.3 per cent and Europe’s music market expanding for the first time in more than a decade. Subscription services’ revenues were up 51 per cent in 2013, and it is estimated that more than 28 million people worldwide now pay for a music subscription, up from 20 million in 2012 and just eight million in 2010. That said, on a negative note, in the world’s second biggest recorded music market, Japan, a sharp drop in sales meant that overall global industry revenues declined by 3.9 per cent. Global revenue excluding Japan fell by 0.1 per cent. Physical format sales still account for a major proportion of industry revenues in many major markets.  They account for more than half (51.4%) of all global revenues, compared to 56 per cent in 2012.  Although global physical sales value declined by 11.7 per cent in 2013, major markets including Germany, Italy, the UK and the US saw a slow-down in the rate of physical decline.  France’s…

MP3tunes creator found liable for copyright infringement
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   The original MP3.com creator Robertson has lost the action brought against him by EMI who sued the new company and Robertson himself in 2007, claiming that the MP3tunes.com operation infringed its copyrights. The former chief executive was found liable for infringing copyrights for sound recordings, compositions and cover art owned by record companies and music publishers once part of EMI Group Ltd. A federal jury in Manhattan found Michael Robertson, the former MP3tunes chief executive, and the defunct San Diego-based company liable on various claims that they infringed on copyrights associated with artists including The Beatles, Coldplay and David Bowie – both for direct involvement in distributing unlicensed files and for being “wilfully blind” to other copyright infringement on his site. The court now needs to decide what damages Robertson should pay EMI for all that infringement   http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/19/us-mp3tunes-infringement-idUSBREA2I29J20140319

Funkadelic claim over Blurred Lines settled
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Bridgeport music, publishers of much of George Clinton and Funkadelic’s catalogue have settled their element of the ongoing ‘Blurred Lines‘ litigation in the US. Robin Thicke and his collaborators on the controversial hit, Pharrell Williams and TI, had been accused of improperly lifting elements from existing tracks, with both Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give Up’ and Funkadelic’s ‘Sexy Ways‘ http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/the-copykat-global-feast-of-copyright.html http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/sonyatv-settles-blurred-lines-lawsuit.html

US Judge dismisses Bieber copying claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, sound recordings   A judge has thrown out a lawsuit being pursued by singer Devin Copeland and songwriter Mareio Overton over 2010 Justin Bieber hit ‘Somebody To Love’: the claimants had argued that the Bieber track was very similar to a song they had written and that Copeland had shared the original song with Bieber mentor Usher. The he judge considering the case has ruled that – while there may be some themes in common between the two songs – they are not sufficiently similar to constitute plagiarism. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the judge ruled: “Although the accused songs have some elements in common with plaintiffs’ song, their mood, tone, and subject matter differ significantly”. The judge added that while there may be similarities between the tracks if you go looking for them, the average listener wouldn’t consider them the same. He said: “The judge adds: “Any listener who had not set out to detect the songs’ similarities would be inclined to overlook them, and regard the songs’ aesthetic appeal as different. Therefore, a reasonable juror could not conclude that a member of the public would construe the aesthetic appeal of the songs as being similar”.  …

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

COPYRIGHT Artistes, recorded music, fashion   Jay Z has been ordered to give a deposition as part of a contract and copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Dwayne walker, who designed the Roc-A-Fella logo. Walker sued the rapper, his former partner Damon Dash and the Universal Music Group in 2012 for $7 million (GBP4.4 million) in unpaid royalties over the use of iconic symbol, which he created in 1995. A Manhattan federal judge has now approved a petition by Walker to move forward with the discovery portion of his suit and have the parties deposed. A partial motion filed by the defendants to dismiss one of Walker’s claims is currently pending.   http://www.hollywood.com/news/brief/56843577/jay-z-facing-deposition-over-copyright-infringement-lawsuit

UK close VAT loophole on downloads
Music Publishing , Taxation / April 2014
UK

TAXATION Recorded music, retail   Having closed the loophole physical product, George Osborne’s latest budget has closed a quirky UK tax loophole that meant consumers were paying VAT at very low foreign rates on online purchases of books, music and apps. The UK’s Chancellor will bring in new laws in 2015 making sure that internet downloads are taxed in the country where they are purchased, meaning web firms such as Amazon and Apple will have to charge the UK’s 20% rate of VAT. At the moment they are allowed to sell digital downloads through countries such as Luxembourg, where the tax rate is as low as 3%. The budget document said: “As announced at budget 2013, the government will legislate to change the rules for the taxation of intra-EU business to consumer supplies of telecommunications, broadcasting and e-services. From 1 January 2015 these services will be taxed in the member state in which the consumer is located, ensuring these are taxed fairly and helping to protect revenue” . http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/mar/23/george-osborne-tax-loophole-music-downloads

Third Man Records faces copyright dispute over Paramount Records Box Set
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   In 2013 Jack White’s Third Man Records and Revenant Records teamed up to release the massive Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-1932) box set. However, it now seems that a non-profit organisation has claimed that it owns rights to nearly 800 songs on the compilation: Lars Edegran, a jazz musician from the George H. Buck, Jr. (GHB) Jazz Foundation, claims that GHB, who owned several jazz labels, bought the rights to the Paramount catalog in 1970 – and  there are documents proving ownership. Paramount Records began as a subsidiary of a chair manufacturer and was, at first, merely devoted to producing records in bulk, on the cheap. As Third Man paints the picture, they more or less stumbled upon their incredible roster, which featured “early jazz titans (Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller), blues masters (Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Skip James), American divas (Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters), gospel (Norfolk Jubilee Quartette), vaudeville (Papa Charlie Jackson), and the indefinable ‘other’ (Geeshie Wiley, Elvis Thomas).” Dean Blackwood, co-founder of Revenant, replied to Edegran’s allegations in a statement saying: “We informed the Foundation that we would gladly come…

Collection Society reform gathers pace
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2014
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music   CISAC, the International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies have announced some of the key findings from its Global Royalty Collections report, based on 2012 figures: Gross royalty collections achieved a new record high of € 7.8 billion, an increase of 2% over 2011. 58,8% of global collections were generated in Europe (€4.6 billion)  87% of collections were accounted for by the musical repertoire 75% of collections were from public performance royalties 4% of collections coming from digital (€ 301 million) There was a 5.1% decline in mechanical reproduction royalties. The report itself is “Sustaining Creativity: Growth in Creators’ Royalties as Markets Go Digital”. MEPs have strongly backed a new bill that will allow music download sites to secure single music rights licences from collective management organisations that are valid across the EU, voting 640-18 in favour of adopting the Collective Rights Management Directive. Organisations managing authors’ works will be required to prove that they can process data from service providers showing when music is downloaded or streamed online, and that they can match this data to the music by their clients. MEPs say the law should stimulate the development of EU-wide online music services and that lower…

Owl City sum not a settlement for Good Time
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Owl City singer Adam Young has cleared up reports suggesting the band had lost a plagiarism lawsuit over his 2012 collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen – “Good Time” – after TMZ reported that singer songwriter Ally Burnett had won a six-figure sum for copyright infringement claiming Good Time heavily sampled her 2010 tune, “Ah, It’s a Love Song”, taking the “unique vocal motif” and hook of her song. Burnett filed her lawsuit against Jepsen and Owl City in 2012, also naming the co-writers on the song Brian Lee and Matt Thiessen, plus publishers Universal Music, Songs Music Publishing, Schoolboy Records and all the US collecting societies, ASCAP, SESAC and BMI, as defendants.  It seems the sums in question – $804,156 – were pending royalties which were placed in escrow by Young’s collection society BMI until the case is resolved – enabling BMI to be removed as defendants in the action. http://www.tmz.com/2014/01/31/carly-rae-jepsen-owl-city-good-time-ally-burnett-lawsuit-bmi/

Tennessee moves to protect pre-1972 sound recordings
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings Currently sound recordings in the USA created before February 15th 1972 fall outside of the federal Copyright Act. And now the owners of sound recordings CAN collect royalties for their use on satellite radio and Internet radio services like SiriusXM, this matters – and collection society Sound Exchange estimated that it could collect 15% or so more than the $590 million it collected in 2013 if the recordings were covered. In 2011, the U.S Copyright Office issued a report recommending Congress take action to change this, but so far, nothing’s happened. Except in Tennessee! State Senator Stacey Campfield decided to act, saying “The music industry—they came to me and said, ‘We’re not getting our royalties.’ They said it’s something that could have a big impact,” who has now introduced the “Legacy Sound Recording Protection Act” (SB/HB 2187) with Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) to close the federal loophole in Tennessee. Whilst on first reading “he bill seems quite reasonable” and it seems most of its language is copied directly from federal copyright law, there have been some comments on the narrowness of the bill. Attorney Brandon Butler told Metro Pulse “The bill is strikingly one-sided. It gives rights-holders…

Happy Birthday litigation moves on
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2014
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   You will probably remember the fact that ‘Happy Birthday to You” is now the subject of a lawsuit brought against the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, which claims copyright ownership in the song, which was registered in 1935. The complaint, from a disgruntled film producer who had to cough up $1,500 to use the track, was filed in federal court in Manhattan and claims that “Happy Birthday to You” has been in the public domain since at least 1921. The suit seeks class action status on behalf of anyone who paid a royalty to use “Happy Birthday to You” in the past four years. The song allegedly generates at least $2 million a year in licensing fees for Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. In their last filing, the plaintiffs claimed that the words were published in a variety of formats pre-1935, going back to 1893.  Well, Warners have now filed a status update which offers the first glimpse of some of the defences Warner may use. In it’s brief statement, Warner’s lawyers explain it’s on the plaintiffs to prove that the 1935 copyright registration “was not intended to cover the lyrics to Happy Birthday to You” saying:…

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

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

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

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

Copyright Tribunal settles Welsh music dispute
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2014
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, broadcasting In January 2013, Welsh language music ceased to be played on BBC Radio Cymru when the BBC lost the right to use the music in a row with Eos, the then newly formed collection society set up by the Welsh Music Publishers and Composers Alliance (Y Gynghrair)  to represent Welsh sonqwriters and composers in the broadcast environment.  The WMPCA had said that changes to PRS for Music’s distribution policies meant that most Welsh language composers had “lost around 85% on average of their royalties” and Eos attracted 297 composers and 34 publishing companies as new members, who ‘opted out’ of PRS for Music, transferring the broadcast rights to some 30,000 works into Eos. Eos did reach agreement with S4C – Channel 4 in Wales before the end of December 2012. The Welsh music, previously core to the BBC’s Welsh services, went off air for just over a month, making it hard for the national broadcaster to meet Welsh language targets – and of course with Welsh music not being played on the radio in Wales, Eos’s songwriters and publishers were not getting paid either – and nor were the performers of the songs getting any ‘needletime’….