How long should copyright last? By Victor Keegan
Copyright / January 2008
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT All Areas ARTICLE LINK –  In 1735 William Hogarth, after a lively public campaign, helped to pass an act giving engravers the rights to their work for 14 years from publication. It was a landmark in the history of copyright as it bestowed on engravers similar legal rights to authors and stopped sellers of prints from creaming off all the profits. Hogarth would be amazed today to find that in the US copyright has been extended to 70 years – not from the date of publication, but from the death of the author. In Britain it was regarded as rather bold of the Gowers report – on which the government will pronounce soon – to suggest that Britain should keep the existing limit of “only” 50 years after death …. Read more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/nov/29/comment.intellectualproperty

It’s not all good news for the labels as Limewire’s defence is thrown out
Competition , Internet , Record Labels / January 2008
USA

COMPETITION Record labels, internet A US federal judge has thrown out Limewire’s defences to the action brought against it by the Recording Industry Association of American on behalf of its label members with Judge Lynch dismissing all claims yesterday by the P2P file-sharing network. LimeWire had claimed that the record industry illegally blocked its attempts to build a legitimate digital music service. The 13 RIAA labels named in the complaint, including the four majors, were accused of price-fixing, hacking LimeWire users, falsely claiming that Lime Wire promotes child pornography, and pressuring artists not to deal with P2P networks – but the judge agreed with the record industry that Limewire had no case saying “the allegations made over child pornography are not a matter for the federal antitrust court”. More worryingly for the labels, Judge Lynch did make some comments on price fixing and was of the opinion that cartel-like behaviour “may have harmed competition generally” although held that Limewire failed to show it specifically had suffered, as allegations under the Sherman Act required (the Sherman Act is the cornerstone of US antitrust laws). The Judge also found that the labels licensing schemes had harmed Limewire saying “[The] mandatory [hash] licensing regime…

High School Musical star’s claim to avoid contract signed as a minor goes to trial
Artists , Contract / January 2008
USA

CONTRACT Artists A lawyer who claims “High School Musical” lead Vanessa Hudgens owes him $150,000 in legal fees can proceed with his lawsuit against the teen star, a US judge has ruled. Superior Court Judge Tricia Ann Bigelow said she or a jury should decide whether the actress acted within a reasonable period of time when she waited two years to repudiate a contract she signed when she was 16. Attorney Brian Schall filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in September that said Hudgens agreed in October 2005 to pay him 5 percent of her earnings in exchange for his legal representation. Hudgens earned more than $5 million with his help, Schall says in his lawsuit. Hudgens disavowed the agreement on October the 9th and she turns 19 later this month: her current attorney argues that state law provides that a contract with a minor can be voided before the person turns 18 or “within a reasonable time afterward.” http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/12195876.html

Live industry promotes self regulation for ticketing
Competition , Live Events / January 2008
UK

COMPETITION Live events industry The artist management community have launched a new initiative on secondary ticketing by proposing the launch of a Resale Rights Society to regulate concert ticket market. Whilst the UK government has shown an interest in touting and secondary ticket sales, they have put pressure on the live industry to do something about it itself – but the live industry has generally said that is powerless to do anything, and that the government should look to regulate ticket touting in music and entertainment (in a similar way to the regulations that exist in the football industry). Four ‘government summits’ have addressed the issue so far, and a select committee of the Department Of Culture, Media & Sport is currently investigating it further with the results apparently leaked in the Observer newspaper urging a crackdown on touting. The Music Managers’ Forum, with support from the songwriters and music publishers collection societies the MCPS-PRS Alliance, has now decided to make its own proposals and have announced that a coalition of artist managers, who manage over 400 artists between them, including The Verve, Robbie Williams, Arctic Monkeys, KT Tunstall and Radiohead, are launching a new body called the Resale Rights Society which will aim to (i) provide music fans…

UK Government responds on Licensing Act problems
Licensing , Live Events / January 2008
UK

LICENSING Live music industry In a somewhat lacklustre announcement, the UK Government has nodded through a token £500,000 (E700,000) to support new initiatives in developing rehearsal spaces for performing artists in the live music industry in the UK – which it estimates is worth £743 million per year (E1,040 million) up 8% from 2006.  In its response to the Live Music Forum’s report on the live industry which was set up after the introduction of the Licensing Act in 2005, the Government has said said it would “explore exemptions from licences for some small venues” – but unfortunately no time frame is given. The DCMS release added that it would “work with the Mayor of London to protect venues” – but no mechanisms are given. The response also said that the Government would help the National Union of Students (NUS) to re-establish a live music network to increase the number of universities putting on live music – although the NUS had itself already set up the new uLive circuit in June 2007 – so this is hardly a new initiative. All in all a most disappointing response. The Forum’s report, published in July, made recommendations on how the Government could improve the licensing system for live music venues and how it could better promote live…

DJ sentenced to 10 months in prison for illegal broadcasting
Media / January 2008
UK

MEDIA Broadcasting A DJ running an illegal FM station has been jailed for a total of 20 months following a case pursued by broadcast regulator Ofcom and the Metropolitan police. Jason Weatherman, the DJ and station manager of Lightning FM, received a sentence of 10 months for illegal broadcasting offences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. Weatherman, who ran the station from Tulse Hill in south London, received a further 10 months for other criminal offences including benefit fraud. In passing sentence at the Inner London Crown Court (Southwark) the judge referred to the dangerous nature of illegal broadcasting which runs the risk of interfering with the signal for emergency services such as the fire brigade and air traffic control as well as broadcasts by licensed radio stations. Ofcom estimates that there are around 90 illegal stations operating across the UK, with over half of these in London. Last year Ofcom undertook 1,085 operations against illegal broadcasters, and achieved 63 convictions . http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/dec/07/radio.ofcom

EC says collection society guidelines will remain voluntary
Competition , Music Publishing / January 2008
EU

COMPETITION Music publishing The European Commission has said that it currently has no plans to introduce new legislation that would force an overhaul of the publishing royalty collecting societies across Europe but will continue to evaluate the effect of voluntary guidelines already in place that encourage the royalties sector to offer artists, labels and digital music firms more choice in terms of which societies they work with and in offering pan-European licences. The EC has been encouraging the collecting societies to reform the way they operate, partly because of concerns the way each society traditionally dominates in its home country is anti-competitive on a European level, and also because many argue digital music services can only prosper if there is a one stop shop to licence music across Europe. The logic behind the EC’s recommendations is that collecting societies give up certain monopolies they have essentially enjoyed in their home territories and instead take advantage of the opportunities that come from the pan-European royalty market.

EU not planning to regulate online music markets
Competition , Internet / January 2008
EU

COMPETITION Internet The European Commission is currently not drawing up any binding rules to regulate the online music market, despite repeated calls by the European Parliament. At a meeting with MEPs in the legal affairs committee last month (14 November), the commission said: “The submissions analysed so far show that most stakeholders do not see the need for a framework directive, and prefer market-based solutions to regulatory intervention. Commissioner Joe Borg, standing in for his internal market colleague Charlie McCreevy, said “Our recommendation is not detrimental to cultural diversity” referring to Brussels’ suggestion that the copyright market be left to market forces. The full ARTICLE can be seen at http://euobserver.com/9/25235 On digital consumer rights in Europe see http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/1203/murrayj.html

RIAA and MPAA top ‘worst corporations’ list as new copyright legislation is proposed
Copyright , Record Labels / January 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, film, TV The film, TV and music industry have lobbied hard to toughen up copyright laws in North America but in both the US and Canada there is an increasing backlash against these industries as politicians, academics, consumer groups,  civil liberty campaigners, performing artists and even librarians resist what are seen as increasingly draconian and ridiculous ‘solutions’ to the creative industries’s problems. In the US, the governments own  Department of Justice has slammed intellectual property legislation introduced by Judiciary Chairman John Conyers last week that would re-organize its IP enforcement structure, calling it unnecessary and counterproductive to the work it has already accomplished.  “We have a current structure … that works quite effectively,” Sigal Mandelker, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, told the House Judiciary subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. And in Canada new, Industry minister Jim Prentice has backed down on tabling new copyright legislation after fierce criticism. The new digital age copyright legislation is seen as completely pro ‘industry’ and a ‘flash mob’ of outraged protesters descended on his Calgary office after he refued to answer questions on a TV show on state broadcaster CBC’s service. In particular there is growing resistance to DRM (which locks content) and…

In defence of the artist’s rights to get paid
Copyright / January 2008
USA

COPYRIGHT All areas ARTICLE LINK –  If you have read the updates above on the apparent loathing against the RIAA, MPA and others, especially in the US, you would think that no-one supports their position. But here is an articulate response to some questions from an unnamed writer (“Sam I Am”) who says s/he is not linked to trade associations but does work self employed in the entertainment industry. It is interesting, well thought out (have a look at his/her definition of ‘sharing’ – it makes you think about ‘file-sharing’ in a different way!) and well worth a read and hopefully not planted by the entertainment industries! http://www.p2pnet.net/story/14377

Thailand moves to amend copyright legislation
Thailand

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishing Thailand ’s lawmakers have finalised a draft bill to amend its copyrights law in an effort to regulate the collecting of royalties in domestic music industry. The law will require those wanting to collect royalties on copyrighted works to incorporate their business into a limited company known as a “collecting company” and seek a permit for such operation from a regulatory committee set up under the proposed bill. These collecting companies would be required to publicly declare the works for which they hold the copyrights, rate of royalties they will collect from users, and how they will distribute the royalties collected among the various copyright holders. Those who continue to collect royalties without complying with procedures under the new law could now be subject to a maximum jail term of two years or a fine of 800,000 Thai baht ($23,680), or both. Thailand’s current Copyrights Act, in force since March 1995, contains no provision specifically dealing with royalties collection. The entertainment business that uses Thai copyrighted music most is karaoke parlours, which are the key issues intended to be addressed by this new bill and the bill should provide a clear and clean collection system…

Beijing Court confirms Yahoo’s music service infringes copyright law
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2008
China

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The international recording industry has hailed a landmark Beijing court ruling confirming that Yahoo China’s music delivery service violates Chinese law by facilitating mass copyright infringement. Yahoo China, part-owned by one of the world’s biggest internet companies, Yahoo Inc, runs an operation enabling users to search for, play and download pirate music without ever leaving its website.  Yahoo China’s appeal against a guilty verdict in April was today dismissed by the Beijing Court. The decision is made under new Chinese copyright laws which entered into force in 2006.  The Court separately ruled on a similar case against internet company, Baidu which ‘deep links’ to thousands of illegal tracks had been brought under the previous Chinese copyright laws.  The ruling confirmed that Baidu participated with and assisted third party sites in transmitting infringing music, but under the old laws Baidu was not liable for copyright infringement. Over 99 per cent of all music downloading in China infringes. In September 2005 IFPI filed claims on behalf of Gold Label, Go East, Cinepoly, EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG – in the Beijing No.1 Intermediate Court regarding a total of 195 sound recordings claiming infringement of the record companies’…

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Law Clarifying Posthumous Right of Publicity Statute
Artists , Image Rights , Trade Mark / January 2008
USA

TRADE MARK / IMAGE RIGHTS Artists Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed Senate Bill 771 into law (2007 Cal. Stat. ch 439) amending California’s right of publicity statute. The law now clearly allows a deceased person’s publicity rights to be passed on by will – even if that person died before January 1, 1985. The move was necessary after the existing publicity rights statute passed in 1985 (Civil Code §3344.1) was called into question by two federal court decisions – CMG Worldwide, Inc. v. Milton H. Greene Archives LLC, C.D. Cal., No. CV 05-2200 (summary judgment for defendants granted May 14, 2007) and Shaw Family Archives Ltd. v. CMG Worldwide, Inc., 486 F.Supp.2d 309 (S.D.N.Y., May 2, 2007). The latter case involved a dispute over the ownership of Marilyn Monroe’s right of publicity. Marilyn Monroe bequeathed her residuary estate to her long-time friend and acting coach Lee Strasberg; the question before the courts was whether Monroe’s publicity rights existed when she died in 1962 and could be bequeathed as a property right as California’s right of publicity statute recognizing a posthumous right only became effective January 1, 1985. http://www.loeb.com/news/CaseDetail.aspx?article=493

Four Tops win injunction and a most unusual order
Artists , Trade Mark / January 2008
UK

TRADE MARK Artists Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, a founder member of The Four Tops, has won a legal action in the High Court in London against Viscount Oliver Miller who has been touring the UK under then name Viscount Oliver’s Legendary Four Tops. Miller had no connection with The Four Tops, either in a recording or performing capacity and it is arguable if his band was meant to be a tribute band. Fakir and four other claimants began action against Miller after being made aware of the Viscount Oliver Legendary Four Tops tour by a UK fan. Fakir then discovered that Miller had trademarked ‘ Viscount Oliver’s American Dream The Legendary Four Tops‘ and that Miller had been for some time touring the UK using photographs of the old Four Tops to convince punters that they were the genuine article and claimed in  press handouts amongst other things that he had recorded with the band and inferred that in fact he was one of the Four Tops. When the Viscount refused to stop touring under The Four Tops banner, or to surrender his trademark, Fakir sued. Miller issued a defence to the litigation, but this was struck out after “persistent and serious breaches of court orders” on the defendant’s part….

Bands sue over Rolling Stone magazine cartoon feature
Artists , Image Rights , Trade Mark / January 2008
USA

TRADE MARK / IMAGE RIGHTS Artists The dispute between certain US indie labels and the American music magazine Rolling Stone has escalated after two bands – Xiu Xiu and Fucked Up – launched a class action lawsuit against the magazine’s publisher, Wenner Media, and one of their advertisers, RJ Reynolds who produce Camel cigarettes. The dispute relates to a cartoon feature that appeared in the magazine last month, and which featured cartoons of various indie bands – but the feature was backed by a big advert for Camel cigarettes, and a number of the artists featured in the cartoons claim that readers will have assumed the cigarette brand had sponsored the feature, and that they, the artists, had endorsed that sponsorship. Wenner have denied that the feature was sponsored, and claim it was a coincidence the cartoon feature was printed back to back with the Camel ad. However, despite that a number of indie labels whose artists appeared in the feature last week published an open letter demanding a retraction and apology from the magazine, while political types have been taking aim at Camel owners RJ Reynolds claiming that the association with a music based cartoon feature breaches a cigarette industry code…

Sky TV case reaches half time in High Court
Competition , Copyright , Internet / January 2008
UK

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Television, internet Murphy v Media Protection Services Ltd [ 2007] EWHC 3091 (Admin) The High Court have now made an ‘interim judgment’ in the dispute between UK broadcaster BSkyB and publican Karen Murphy over the latter’s right to show live UK football matches to her customers in the Red, White and Blue pub ( right), Southsea, via Greek station Nova for just £800 a year, instead of paying substantially more for a licence from BSkyB. Lord Justice Pumfrey and Mr Justice Stanley Burnton) dismissed her appeal based on domestic law. Giving judgment, Pumfrey LJ is quoted as saying that BSkyB had the exclusive right to screen or broadcast the matches in question in the UK and it was “apparent” Ms Murphy knew that was the case. However, the court had not heard arguments about whether European competition and free movement legislation might affect the case: “So far as the competition law case is concerned, we do not at present follow how it is to be developed, and this appeal must therefore be restored for these points to be argued if that is what the appellant wants”. The court granted Ms Murphy permission to reopen the appeal at…