The Crimea decide to give away their new album!
Copyright , Record Labels / June 2007

COPYRIGHT Record labels Successful indie popsters The Crimea have decided that they will give away download copies of their second album, Secrets of the Witching Hour. The band, who were previously signed to Warners and sold a respectable 35,000 copies of their first album Tragedy Rocks and charted with a UK top 40 single, have decided that they will not bother to fight music piracy, peer to peer file swapping or worry about DRM protection, gambling on the fact that building a big fan base through giving away recorded music will mean the band will earn more long term from live work, merchandising, music publishing and possibly endorsements. The move will be keenly watched by the recording industry as it struggles to find ways of monetising copyrights in sound recordings. It is interesting to note that on the same day this story came out, the PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) had sent British MP’s a free CD to lobby for extended copyright term for sound recordings – a campaign which has so far fallen on deaf ears. But surely the ‘Extend The Term’ campaign is as tired as it sounds. Recently Andrew Gowers made it clear that he felt that a fifty year term for…

Launchcast service is a radio service
Copyright , Internet / June 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet Last month a US federal judge, William Connor, made an important preliminary ruling that performance royalties were not payable on music downloads (although it should be added that mechanical royalties would be). Now a federal court in New York has ruled that Yahoo!’s Launchcast service is not an interactive service and is simply a radio station. The dispute was a conclusion to a long running dispute between the web company and BMG. CMU Daily reports that Launchcast was one of the early online personalised radio services where users provide information about the kind of music they like, and rate tracks as they play, from which the service provides them with a back to back music service hopefully geared towards their music tastes. Crucially CMU Daily say, if the user does not like they can skip it – the number of skips allowed each month dependent on the kind of subscription they have. Despite the personalisation and song skipping, Launch’s owners have always claimed the service was simply an online radio station, and run it in the US under a webcasting licence secured through SoundExchange, the collecting society that coordinates those blanket music licences for online services that the…

House of Lords finally decide Douglas & Others v. Hello! Ltd & Others [2007] UKHL 21
Artists , Privacy / June 2007

PRIVACY / CONFIDENCE Artists From David Pearce at the wonderful the IPKat blog The House of Lords decision in the case of Douglas v Hello! has resulted in a split (some might say fractured) decision. The Douglases and OK! have won on the issue of breach of confidence, with Lord Hoffmann taking the majority 3:2 view on the issue, restoring the earlier High Court judgment, saying: “In my opinion Lindsay J was right. The point of which one should never lose sight is that OK! had paid £1m for the benefit of the obligation of confidence imposed upon all those present at the wedding in respect of any photographs of the wedding. That was quite clear. Unless there is some conceptual or policy reason why they should not have the benefit of that obligation, I cannot see why they were not entitled to enforce it. And in my opinion there are no such reasons. Provided that one keeps one’s eye firmly on the money and why it was paid, the case is, as Lindsay J held, quite straightforward It is first necessary to avoid being distracted by the concepts of privacy and personal information. In recent years, English law has adapted the…

New laws prevent sale of second hand CDs in US
Copyright , Record Labels / June 2007

COPYRIGHT Record labels New pawn shop laws are springing up across the USA that will make selling used CDs at local record shops extremely complicated – the shop will need personal ID as well as having to fingerprint potential sellers – and then the shop cannot sell the CDs for thirty (30) days. The legislation in Florida, Utah and soon in Wisconsin and Rhode island is supposed to prevent the sale of counterfeit and stolen CDs but has provoked a wave of consumer outrage. For more see http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070507-record-shops-used-cds-ihre-papieren-bitte.html

IFPI announce two new cross border licensing schemes
Copyright , Internet / June 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet, broadcasting Various online music services and broadcasting organisations should find it easier from today to gain licenses to stream music across several territories, thanks to an arrangement put in place between IFPI – which represents the recording industry worldwide – and record company collecting societies. Two new licensing agreements will create the framework for collective licensing of producers’ rights for certain streaming and podcast services across several markets. In practice, the participating collecting societies will be able to license rights in each others’ territories and repertoire for certain internet and mobile streaming services and for the making available of previously broadcast programmes such as streams or podcasts.  Broadcasters and online music services will also continue to be able to approach the record companies directly for a license for these uses. Until now, obtaining cross-border online rights licenses for these services has involved dealing with each territory separately or approaching the right holders directly.  This new framework will offer users the alternative to obtain a license for broad repertoire and for all the participating territories from a single collecting society.  Online music services and broadcasters established within the European Economic Area will be able to approach any European society…

allofMP3 scheme voucher scheme scuppered in UK
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2007

COPYRIGHT  Internet, record labels  UK Police have raided and shut down an online voucher system allegedly used by the Russian music download website allofmp3.com to try and sidestep the removal of legitimate payment services in the UK and Europe – Visaand Mastercard withdrew payment facilities for the site some time ago. The action under the Fraud Act 2006 follows a pan-European investigation, conducted by global recording industry body IFPIand UK record companies’ association the BPI, which led to the arrest of a 25 year-old male in Bow, London. The individual was allegedly the UK-based European agent for allofmp3.com, facilitating the sale of digital downloads by advertising and selling vouchers through auction sites such as eBay and the website allofmp3vouchers.co.uk. That website has now been taken down from the internet. The vouchers contained a code that allowed UK and European consumers to access and download music illegally from the allofmp3.com website. Charging £10 per voucher, the suspect was believed to be taking payment from European customers and transferring the cash into various offshore accounts operated by the site’s Russian owners.  Metropolitan Police officers seized computer equipment and paperwork for further investigation.

New early day motion puts sound recording copyright term back in debate
Copyright , Record Labels / June 2007

COPYRIGHT Record labels Despite the Gowers review of IP which was firmly against any extension in the fifty year term for copyright in sound recordings (quite the reverse, it seems Gowers actually considered suggesting a reduction), the record industry continue to push for copyright extension for sound recordings and 70 UK Members of Parliament have put their names to a early day motion that reads “That this House notes that 50 years ago Lonnie Donegan’s Cumberland Gap was No. 1 in the charts for five weeks; is concerned that due to the present law governing payments for use of audio recordings this track will go out of copyright at the end of 2007 and that the family of Lonnie Donegan, who would have been 76 on 29th April, and the other performers, Denny Wright, John Nicholls and Mickey Ashman, and their company Pye Records, which produced this unique recording, will no longer receive any royalties, nor have any say in how this recording is used; is further concerned that thousands of musicians and their record companies will lose out over the next few years because of the shorter copyright term for sound recordings relative to that granted to almost all…

AIM and UK Podcast Association agree UK’s First Full Track Multi-Label Licence
Copyright , Record Labels / June 2007

COPYRIGHT Record labels The UK Podcasters Association announced that they have come to an agreement with AIM the UK-based Association of Independent Music which allows their members preferential access to AIM’s podcast licence. For the first time, UK podcasters have unlimited access to full length music tracks from top artists such as The White Stripes, Paul Weller, Bloc Party, Echo and the Bunnymen, Dizzee Rascal, Mylo, Basement Jaxx, Editors, Stereophonics, Coldcut to use in their podcasts. This gives UK Podcasters a unique opportunity to re-write the rules for music podcasting, opening the door for podcasters to move legitimately into traditional broadcast territory, which will hasten the shift towards media on demand. The AIM podcast licence covers over 30,000 tracks licensed by the UK independent music industry and includes  labels such as V2, XL Recordings, Studio !K7, Cooking Vinyl and Beggars Group. Unlike other podcast licences, the AIM podcast licence ensures that the labels and the artists will be paid as a result of podcasters using their music, and allows for the use of the full track. Radio stations typically remove music from their podcasts. www.ukpa.info www.musicindie.com

Trade marks vs free speech
Trade Mark / June 2007

TRADE MARK All areas ARTICLE LINK:  Our feline friend the IPKat brings news of a tricky little case involving the interface between trade mark dilution and free speech. In Miss World Ltd v Channel 4, a judgment delivered on 16 April, Pumfrey J ruled on the conditions under which interim relief should be refused in a trade mark case on free speech grounds under s.12 of the Human Rights Act. http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2007/05/free-speech-v-tms-high-court-approach.html

Universal / BMG Music tie up approved by European Regulators as Warners look at EMI

COMPETITION Music publishing, Record labels Vivendi/Universal and BMG Music Publishing have finally had their merger given the green light by the European Commission. The E1.63B merger was approved on the grounds that Rondor UK, Zomba UK, BBC Music and 19 Music were excluded from the merger. Immediately after the announcement, independent labels association Impala was quick to point out that it reserves the right to seek a reversal of the decision, and said it will follow the merger with great interest – no doubt Warners, who are hovering over EMI, will do the same! The ECsaid in a statement “The proposed merger, as initially notified, raised serious doubts as regards adverse effects on competition in the market for music publishing rights for online applications. However, the Commission’s investigation found that these concerns would be removed by the remedies package proposed by the parties concerning the divestiture of a number of publishing catalogues”. In fact EMI Group has agreed to an offer by private equity firm Terra Firma for £2.4B, subject to approval by the firm’s shareholders. The board of directors at EMI intend to recommend unanimously that EMI shareholders should accept the offer. EMI’s shares jumped 10% on the news – the offer vaues…