City employees sue Dr Dre after ‘secretly’ filmed footage appears on DVD

IMAGE RIGHTS/COPYRIGHT/PRIVACY Film & Televison, Artists Lawyers for US rapper Dr Dre (Andre Young) have asked a judge in Flint, Michigan to dismiss a legal action concerning video footage filmed at a concert in July 2000. Three former Detroit City employees were filmed arguing boisterously with some of Dr Dre’s representatives. The trio are suing Dr Dre, Time Warner Inc and Best Buy Co claiming they were unaware that the footage would be used in a documentary released in 2002. The action is centered on a concert at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena on 6 July 2000 which formed part of Dr Dre’s “Up in Smoke” tour. The footage in question records a conversation between tour organisers and Detroit city officials that took place after Dr Dre was forced to drop two sexually explicit videos from his act. Former Mayoral spokesman Greg Bowens, Paula Bridges and Gary Brown claim a camera and a microphone was used to record the meeting without their knowledge and claim that they did not authorise their subsequent appearance in the 2002 documentary “Detroit Controversy”. But the defendant’s legal team claim that all involved knew that cameras were rolling. Time Warner is being named in the action…

RIAA drops download infringement action against ‘students’
Copyright , Record Labels / May 2005

COPYRIGHT Record Labels The Recording Industry Association of America decided to drop its case against two anonymous individuals identified only by their Internet protocol addresses in a December 16th lawsuit. The case has been dismissed without prejudice meaning the case could be brought up again. The decision comes in response to the University of Pennsylvania announcement that it had been unable to match the IP addresses to any specific users. The addresses are numbers assigned to uniquely identify users but insufficient records made it impossible to match the addresses to a name. The University refused to provide any detailed information regarding its inability to find the two downloaders leading to speculation that it was trying to thwart the RIAA but the University denies such allegations. The lawsuits against students put college administrators in a difficult position, wanting to protect their students but still having to uphold the law. Issues of privacy have also been used to challenge RIAA actions. See: http://www.dailypennsylvanian.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/03/30/424a59cb4c32b

Xzibit and Dr Dre defeat songwriter’s claim

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing An aspiring Philadelphia songwriter faces a stiff penalty for filing a lawsuit in which he claimed that he created the beat for the track ‘X’ on rap star Xzibit’s platinum-selling album “Restless.” A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that music business hopeful Michael Lowe’s copyright infringement suit against the rapper, several record companies and one of the song’s credited authors – Dr. Dre – was frivolous. The judges also upheld a lower-court’s order that Lowe pay Dr. Dre’s legal fees and court costs, which amounted to about $35,000. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Lowe’s legal claim was doomed from the start, even if it was true that he laid down the beats underpinning the song “X.” Lowe’s story was that he recorded the beat first, then presented it to rap producer Scott Storch in the hopes that he would pass it along to Dr. Dre for use in song. In a legal deposition, Lowe said he never expected any compensation in return for the beat. The court said that if Lowe indeed gave away the track freely, he couldn’t sue over it now. Storch consistently maintained that Lowe had nothing to do…

Google sued over reproducing news extracts from AFP
Copyright , Internet / May 2005

COPYRIGHT Press, Internet Agence France Presse (AFP) has issued legal proceedings against Google in the Us District Court for the District of Columbia alleging the Web search engine includes AFP’s photos, news headlines and stories on its news site without permission. The French news service is seeking damages of at least US$17.5 million and an order barring Google News from displaying AFP photographs, news headlines or story leads. AFP provides material by subscription and does not provide free content. Google News gathers photos and news stories from around the Web and posts them on its news site, which is free to users. AFP claim that Google is, without authorisation, continuously and willfully reproducing and publicly displaying AFP’s photographs, headlines and story leads on its Google News web pages.AFP said it has informed Google that it is not authorised to use AFP’s copyrighted material as it does and has asked Google to cease and desist from infringing its copyrighted work. AFP alleged that Google has ignored such requests and as of the filing date of the lawsuit “continues in an unabated manner to violate AFP’s copyrights.” See: http://xtramsn.co.nz/news/0,,11965-4212100,00.html

Real Madrid and players sue over unauthorised use of images
Artists , Image Rights / May 2005

IMAGE RIGHTS Artists Spanish giants Real Madrid and several of its top players, including Raul and David Beckham, are taking legal action against online betting firms over what the club claims to be the unauthorised use of its name and players’ images. Five star players – Ronaldo, Beckham, Raul, Zinedine Zidane and Figo – are joining the club in the legal actions. They are taking action against Ladbrokes, William Hill, Sportingbet, Sporting Exchange, BAW International of Gibraltar and Malta-based Mr.Bookmaker. Legal steps had already been launched in France, Belgium and Germany against these companies. The club wants the companies to stop using the images and to “repair the harm caused”.” It is alleged that the companies used the name of Real Madrid and the majority of its players without authorisation and that they often used photographs and drawings of these footballers wearing the kit and badge of Real Madrid. See: http://www.timesofmalta.com/core/article.php?id=179091

Nugent claim limited to concert fee and direct loss
Artists , Contract , Live Events / May 2005

CONTRACT Artists, Live Music Industry Ted Nugent has had his claim against the Musekegon Summer Festival limited to the alleged concert fee and direct loss of profit from merchandise after a cancelled show in June 2003. Muskegon Country Circuit Judge Timothy G Hicks refused to allow claims of more than $1 million for future lost income. If Nugent wins his suit, the most that the 56-year-old musician would be eligible to receive is $80,000 plus an estimate of lost merchandising income. Nugent sued the festival in August 2003. He claims his reputation and career were damaged by the cancellation of his June 2003 show and a subsequent news release from the festival that, he says, wrongly accused him of making racist remarks during a live interview on Denver radio station KRFX-FM in May 2003. Nugent’s denies making such remarks. His longtime personal manager, Doug Banker testified this week that he negotiated with festival officials for an $80,000 performance fee for Nugent but there was no signed agreement. Banker said oral agreements were the norm in the concert business. See: http://www.detnews.com/2005/metro/0503/27/metro-129413.htm andhttp://www.myplainview.com/APTexas/parsed/stories/D89285MO0.shtml

First Vietnamese copyright licence for music since Berne Convention became effective

COPYRIGHT Music Publishers, Record Labels, Artists Singer My Tam has become the first Vietnamese singer to purchase recording and performing rights to an international song since the Berne Convention took effect in VietNam in October 2005. Cancao Do Mar, a Spanish pop song performed by singer Sarah Brightman, and Japanese ballad My Lover are two new singles that will appear on My Tam’s Album Vol 4, to be released next month. See: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=01MUS220305

Grokster and Morpheus case reaches US Supreme Court

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers, Artists, Internet The US Supreme Court will be the final arbiter as to whether producers of file-sharing software can ultimately be held responsible for copyright infringement. The lawsuit, brought by MGM and 27 of the world’s largest entertainment firms, has raged for several years. If the Supreme Court finds in favour of the music and movie industry they would be able to sue file-trading firms into bankruptcy. But if the judge rules that Grokster and Morpheus – the file-sharers at the centre of the case – are merely providers of technology that can have legitimate as well as illegitimate uses, then the music and movie industry would be forced to abandon its pursuit of lawsuits against file-sharing providers (and probably internet service providers. Instead, they would have to pursue individuals who use peer-to-peer networks to get their hands on free music and movies. The hi-tech and entertainment industries have been divided on the issue. Intel filed a document with the Supreme Court earlier this month in defence of Grokster and others, despite misgivings about some aspects of the file-sharing community. It summed up the attitude of many tech firms in its submission which states that…

MMO appeal fails in Tokyo’s High Court

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Internet Tokyo’s High Court dismissed an appeal against the earlier ruling by the District Court against Japan’s MMO and its boss Michihito Matsuda who were offering file-sharing services on the Internet, called FILEROGUE. On December 17, 2003, the Tokyo District Court issued its judgment and ordered Japan MMO and Michihito Matsuda to cease their service and jointly pay 36.89 million Japanese yen (close to $344,000) in total for damages to JASRAC and 19 plaintiffs (members of the Recording Industry Association of Japan). See: http://p2pnet.net/story/4417 and see Law Updates February 2005

Common law used to protect pre 1972 copyrights in US

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Artists A ruling in a New York court is expected to have a major impact on the recording industry. Capitol Records had sued another New York-based recording company, Naxos of America, for copyright infringement of recordings of classical music it owns which were originally made by the Gramophone Company Limited (now EMI, parent of Capitol) and which had fallen into the public domain in Europe. In the United Kingdom and Europe copyright in sound recordings expires fifty (years) after the year of recording or first release. Naxos had begun to distribute its own restorations of the recordings. The District Court dismissed Capitol’s lawsuit, saying the UK copyrights had expired 50 years after the records were made and that US copyright laws don’t apply to recordings made before 1972, when federal laws were enacted. On appeal the Second Circuit noted that it was entirely up to New York to determine the scope of its common law copyright protection for pre-1972 sound recordings. New York State’s Court of Appeals ruled that common law in New York protects ownership interests in sound recordings made before 1972 that aren’t covered by the Federal Copyright Act. An attorney for Capitol suggested the…

Does European decision herald true pan-European tax accounting?
Artists , Live Events , Taxation / May 2005

TAXATION Artists, Live Concert Industry Marks & Spencer Plc v Halsey (Inspector of Taxes) European Court of Justice C446-03- The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice had held that UK tax law, which allows group tax relief for losses in the UK only and does not allow a firm to deduct the losses of foreign subsidiaries, is in breach of EU law. Miguel Poiares Maduro, recommended that Marks and Spencer be allowed to offset losses made at its foreign subsidiaries against its tax burden in Britain. He said British tax law was in breach of EU law by refusing to allow companies to offset tax losses from overseas subsidiaries against British profits. “The principle of territoriality cannot justify the current restriction” he said adding that a blanket restriction on this practice far exceeds what is necessary to protect the cohesion of the British tax system. The advocate general said the only condition should be that losses from foreign units would not also receive fiscal benefits in the states abroad. Germany, France, the Netherland, Greece, Finland and Sweden all backed the UK Government’s position fearing they will have to repay billions of Euros if the court finds in favour of Marks &…

Hallayday loses appeal and masters

COPYRIGHT Record labels, Artists French rock singer Johnny Hallyday has lost his bid to gain control of some 1,000 master copies of his songs after an appeal from Universal was accepted by a Paris appeals court. The appeal court overturned an earlier decision that ordered Universal to hand back the valuable original recordings. Hallayday will now be bound to Universal until the end of 2005, producing one more album but will not be able to produce another album for any other label until 2007 – this is to ensure Universal has enough time to promote the album before Hallyday releases another one. There was originally an agreement to record six albums with Universal until relations broke down. Hallayday plans to tour again and under the new decision, Hallyday will be able to record new versions of his past recordings for another record label from 2007, but a fee would have to paid to Universal. See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/4437563.stm

Links to piracy tools ruled illegal in Germany
Copyright , Internet / May 2005

COPYRIGHT Internet A German district court has ruled that German website Heise.de has violated the country’s copyright legislation by linking to SlySoft’s website. SlySoft is the maker of ANYDVD, a software product that allows cracking the copyright protection found on most DVD-Video discs, and CloneCD, a tool that allows backing up virtually all of the copy protected audio CDs. The website defended itself by pointing out to the freedom of speech that is defined in German constitution, but the first-instance district court of Munich ruled that the protection of intellectual property goes before the freedom of speech. The Court decided that direct linking made finding the product much easier and thus increased the danger of copyright violations significantly. However the court also ruled that articles about tools that allow breaking copy protection mechanisms can be published legally, it is just the linking to such tools that can’t be done legally in Germany. The court ruled that Heise Zeitschriften Verlag, the owner company of the website pay 500,000 euros in damages to the music industry. See: http://www.heise.de/english/newsticker/news/58315

Canada to Implement Internet Treaties with Copyright Act Amendments
Copyright / May 2005

COPYRIGHT All areas ARTICLE: by Jason Young Last week Canada moved one step closer to dealing with some of the thornier intellectual property issues of the digital era. The proposed amendments to Canada’s Copyright Act chart a “made-in-Canada” course to implementing the WIPO ‘Internet Treaties’, which Canada signed in 1996, turning away from the US and Australian approaches in a number of key areas. First, the proposed bill would adopt a limited anti-circumvention provision for technological protection measures. That is, the circumvention of a technological protection measure applied to copyright material would only be illegal if it was carried out with the objective of infringing copyright. Legitimate access, as authorized by the statute, would not be altered. The proposal further anticipates that circumvention for the purposes of making private copies of sound recordings would not be permitted. Second, the amendments would adopt a new exclusive right of “making available”. The right would allow copyright holders to authorize the availability of their protected works online, thus making it illegal to passively make available music files over a peer-to-peer network, an evidentiary problem which the Federal Court eliminated last year in its decision in BMG Canada v John Doe [2004] 3 FC 241. The amendments will also…

Russian CD plant agrees to pay damages
Copyright , Record Labels / May 2005

COPYRIGHT Record Labels Russia’s Roff Technologies optical disc plant has agreed a substantial settlement with international recording industry body IFPI and eight member company plaintiffs over the manufacture of counterfeit CDs containing repertoire by major international artists. Settling the case out of court, Roff admitted to having infringed neighbouring rights in the past. The agreement brings to a halt civil court proceedings, which had been brought by IFPI member companies in January 2004. Civil action against CD plants is just one part of the record industry’s strategy in Russia. The industry’s top priority is stronger cooperation from the Russian authorities in the fight against piracy. Specifically, there needs to be effective regulation of the country’s optical disc manufacturing plants; effective investigation and prosecution of pirates by the enforcement agencies; and real deterrent criminal penalties when convicted pirates are sentenced in court. See: http://www.ifpi.org

Dark Side Of The Moon Claim

COPYRIGHT/PERFORMERS’ RIGHTS Artists A female vocalist has won an out-of-court settlement for a piece of music recorded over 30 years ago. Clare Torry was paid £30 to perform on Pink Floyd’s 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon and was given a written credit at the time for her contribution to the track The Great Gig in the Sky. Torry has taken her claim to the High Court where she has won a half-share on copyright ownership on the song performed from Pink Floyd and EMI and a settlement. Ms Torry had employed a special wailing technique, recorded in a series of sessions, which effectively helped compose the track and it is this which would have been her contribution to the copyright. Dark Side of the Moon subsequently stayed in the charts for the next 26 years amassing sales of 36 million copies. The case is not the only dispute for Pink Floyd, after legal action last December from 23 members of the north London school choir who claimed they were due royalties from their performance on the worldwide hit, Another Brick in the Wall previously reported in Law Updates. See: http://www.freelanceuk.com/news/1006.shtml

Linkin Park Trade Mark application for posters refused
Artists , Trade Mark / May 2005

TRADE MARK Artists by Tom Frederikse, Solicitor The band Linkin Park has lost an attempt to register its own name as a trade mark in respect of the sale of posters. An appeal to the Appointed Person was dismissed, the original objections of the Patent Office Examiner (that the mark lacked “distinctive character” and was “descriptive”) being upheld. The American pop group applied for the mark “Linkin Park” for use in marketing of posters of their band and argued that the mark must be distinctive because they had invented the words. However, the Appointed Person cited a 1970 case concerning the word “Tarzan” in which it was held that, by the date of the trade mark application, the word had become well known and had therefore ceased to be an invented word. The band also argued that, because the words were by themselves meaningless, the mark could not be descriptive. The Appointed Person disagreed, stating that the words were no longer meaningless as they had acquired the well-established meaning of denoting the band in the eyes of the average consumer. As the Appointed Person put it, a person asking “Do you have any Linkin Park posters?” is clearly describing a characteristic…

Rosa Parks, OutKast and Sony-BMG settle

TRADE MARK/IMAGE RIGHTS Artists Sony BMG and Rosa Parks, who became a symbol for the U.S. civil rights movement when she refused to yield her seat on a segregated bus in 1955, settled her lawsuit over the use of her name in an OutKast song title. The settlement included an agreement that a tribute CD featuring OutKast would be produced later this year by Sony BMG to honour the 50th anniversary of Parks’ arrest. The parties will also produce a television broadcast tribute to Parks, he said. Parks, 92, had claimed that the song “Rosa Parks” on a 1998 OutKast album amounted to false advertising under U.S. trademark law and intruded on her rights. OutKast and their label countered that the title was constitutionally protected free speech because it was related to the song’s lyric of “everybody move to the back of the bus.” The Supreme Court in December 2003 rejected this argument and upheld a federal appeals court decision that permitted Parks to pursue her lawsuit. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/15/business/media/15settle.html