US MERCHANDISER TO BRING COUNTERCLAIM ACTION AGAINST BRITNEY
Copyright / April 2003
USA

COPYRIGHT Merchandising SKECHERS USA Inc. the US footwear manufacturer has announced that the Company will file a counterclaim lawsuit against singer Britney Spears and her companies, Britney Brands Inc. and Britney Touring Inc. for fraud and breach of contract. The suit, in the Federal court in Los Angeles, also includes allegations of unjust enrichment and negligent misrepresentation, and seeks rescission of all agreements between Skechers and Ms. Spears, return of all advances paid, costs, and compensatory and punitive damages in excess of ten million dollars. Skechers signed an exclusive three year worldwide licensing deal with Britney for a line of Britney branded roller skates known as Britney 4 Wheelers and accompanying apparel and skating accessories The suit alleges that the singer breached her obligations to Skechers under a merchandise license agreement by unreasonably delaying and failing to approve manufacturers, product designs and product advertising for Britney 4 Wheelers roller skates and apparel. See www.mtv.com/news/articles/1459660/2100301/story.jhtml

FORMER MANAGER SUES DRU HILL
Artists , Contract / April 2003
USA

CONTRACTS Management, Artists The R&B group Dru Hill have been served with a $30 million lawsuit from former manager, Kevin A. Peck, who claims the group owes him millions of dollars in management fees. The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore Circuit Court on March 20 2003, alleges unjust enrichment and is served against all of the original band members. Peck believes that his management contract entitled him to a percentage of the group’s income from all three of its albums, as well as the members’ solo releases. Dru Hill attempted to settle with Peck, but were unable to reach an agreement with him. Dru Hill achieved multiple platinum albums, several music awards and generated millions of dollars in publishing royalties and record sales, including ‘The Thong Song’ released by band member Sisqo in late 1999. See www.news8.com Meanwhile, former Guns N’ Roses songwriter and guitarist, Izzy Stradlin, has also filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court. He alleges that he mistakenly paid his management firm Big FD $231,575 in post-term commissions after the ‘old’ Guns N’ Roses broke up and that Big FD had no right to receive this, since according to the agreement he entered, the remainder of his…

STIFF PENALTIES HANDED DOWN TO UK MUSIC PIRATES
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / April 2003
UK

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Artists His Honour Judge Lowen, sitting in the Isleworth Crown Court on 12th March 2003, sentenced Yogesh Raizada to 3 years imprisonment and record fines of ,000 under a Confiscation Order. Raizada was charged and found guilty on eleven counts under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and a further two counts under the Video Recordings Act. The Court heard that Raizada had been subject to a number of raids carried out by the Police and Trading Standards Officer which resulted in the seizure of thousands of pirated music CDs, DVDs and video cassettes between 2000 and 2001. In a separate case, David Stanley was sentenced to 4 years and 5 months imprisonment at Maidstone Crown Court having been charged with conspiracy to defraud and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The Court heard that Stanley was ringleader of a gang which copied and sold illegal music product and computer software, primarily at computer fairs across the UK. At one fair in May 2001, CDs with a street value of ,000 were seized. Sentencing Stanley, His Honour Judge Croft said that “the loss to the industry was massive and incalcuable” and that Stanley had been in effect…

UK COMMUNICATIONS BILL FACES DETAILED SCRUTINY
Legislation / April 2003
UK

BROADCASTING Television, Radio The UK’s draft Communications Bill has now reached the House of Lords where peers are expected to table amendments to many of the provisions. The Bill is a massive piece of legislation reforming the regulation of telecommunications, broadcast television, radio and the newspapers. The Bill will also reform rules of ownership of the media as well as providing for a new regulatory infrastructure under the auspices of the ‘super-regulator’ – OFCOM. The Bill includes several controversial proposals including plans to open up ITV1 to foreign owners, allowing Independent Television News (ITN) to be owned by a single entity and provisions to regulate the BBC. The Bill also needs to include revisions to embrace four new EC directives for the telecommunications industry. See www.mediaguardian.co.uk

GLOBAL CLAMPDOWN ON PIRACY
China
EU
Italy
Russia
Thailand

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers The PRS/MCPS Alliance have announced a number of global successes in combating the sale of illegal music product. In ITALY collection society SIAE joined with the police in a series of high profile raids across the country targeting 454 premises and resulting in charges brought against 137 people with 78,000 CDs, 5,000 DVDs and 6,000 VHS cassettes confiscated along with 17 sets of mastering equipment. In RUSSIA a number of government agencies have joined forces with the trade mark protection agency and various intellectual property organisations to tackle counterfeiters. Russia has one of Europe’s highest piracy levels with well over half of all music product sold being illegal copies. In THAILAND the British Government has formally asked the Thai Government to clampdown on illegal copies of music product flooding onto the world market. Thailand is the third largest exporter of illegal music product after China and Taiwan. See Mbusiness7 (PRS/MCPS magazine Spring 2003)

US INTERNET ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS VERIZON
Copyright , Internet / April 2003
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet The US Internet Industry Association (USIIA) has announced that it will support the efforts of Verizon to overturn a recent ruling by the Washington DC District Court in the case of RIAA v Verizon. The ruling was based on a narrow and erroneous reading of a single provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” says David P. McClure, president of the USIIA. “In reality, this ruling will cause great harm to the Internet community, and will place ISPs in jeopardy of violating contracts, subscriber agreements and local and federal privacy laws if they are forced to comply. It was never the intent of the Congress that copyright holders should have the right to invade the personal privacy and security of American consumers on the basis of allegations, and without due process under the law,” says McClure. “Internet service providers and their subscribers have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, including on the Internet. USIIA endorses and will support efforts by Verizon and other parties to stay and overturn this ruling.” Source: US Internet Industry Association

BPI TARGET UNIVERSITIES OVER ILLEGAL DOWNLOADS
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / April 2003
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, Record Labels The BPI (British Phonographic Industry) has today (March 27th) sent out a letter to every University in the United Kingdom warning them that they face criminal sanctions if they collude in the illegal downloading of music files. This action follows similar actions by record company associations in Australia and the USA, the latter resulting in in the US Navy Acadamy warning nearly 100 students about downloading music files illegally. See www.timesonline.co.uk/student University News and Views. COMMENT : The BPI’s action follows on from similar actions by the RIAA and other industry associations, targeting internet service providers (ISPs), telecommunication companies and cable companies. The leading case at the moment is the ‘Verizon’ case currently in the appeal courts in the USA (see Law Updates March 2003). The UK courts held in the BPI’s case against easyinternetcafes Ltd that providing and facilitating the downloading of illegally copied files was actionable and the first instance decision in the Verizon case and the decisions in the RIAA’s cases against Napster and Aimster clearly supports this position. However, the Verizon appeal will certainly be of interest and the Dutch decision in Buma/Stemra -v- KaZaA (see Law Updates December 2002) means that this issue…

WHEN ‘MOVING’ IS ‘DANCING’
Licensing , Live Events / April 2003
UK

LICENSING Live Concert Industry Undercover licensing officers for Westminster Council in London have investigated and now succesfully prosecuted the Pathfinder Pubs, owner of the Pitcher & Piano chain of bars, for allowing customers to dance at bars which did not hold a public entertainment licence. The bars argued that customers were simply ‘moving rhythmically’ to the music. Horseferry Road Magistrates Court fined the chain 00 and required the chain to apply for two public entertainment licences.These will cost the chain 00 and the two bars in question will need 000 of works between them to qualify for the licences. See London Evening Standard 27 March 2003.