Santangelo case finally comes to a close
Copyright , Internet / June 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet One of the longest running and highest profile fileswapping lawsuits pursued by the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) has reached it’s final conclusion – probably to the relief of the RIAA whose former high profile campaign against individual file swappers has led to criticism and ridicule from consumers, industry commentators and musicians alike. The case is actually two cases, the first an action against Patricia Santangelo in 2005 after discovering that unlicensed music had been uploaded to a file-sharing network via her computer. Ms Santangelo defended herself in court and made it clear that she didn’t use the computer in question in any way. Attention then moved to Santangelo’s two children, Michelle and Robert, and eventually it became clear that it was they who did the file sharing via the internet connection registered in their mother’s name, although at one time a friend of the children was blamed. After asking the court to find Patricia Santangelo liable for the action’s of her then under eighteen year old children (a plea rejected by the court) the case was dismissed. The RIAA then began proceedings against Michelle and Robert. Michelle failed to respond to the lawsuit against her, and…

Taiwan brings in ‘three strikes’ law as the French version is finally approved
Copyright , Internet / June 2009
France
Sweden
Taiwan

COPYRIGHT Internet Taiwan’s legislature has passed an amendment to the island’s Copyright Act aimed at discouraging digital copyright infringement over peer-to-peer networks and increasing the responsibility of Internet Service Providers. The country has adopted the much debated ‘three strikes’ system where web users who continue to access unlicensed sources of content after receiving two warnings could lose their internet connections – or at least have them restricted. Whilst a number of countries have looked at this system, so far only France and New Zealand have implemented ‘three strikes’ as law. In France the much criticised proposals have now worked their way through the French parliament although in New Zealand the Government is still trying to work out how to implement their new and again much criticised law . The Taiwanese government has introduced the system in order to achieve it’s twin aims of cracking down on internet piracy – without flooding the courts with lawsuits from foreign content owners against the providers of file-sharing services or individual file-sharers. The courts in Taiwan are known to be overburdened. It seems the new law means that repeat offenders will have their internet access “restricted” rather than automatically cut off. That could mean…

Italy to take on the Pirates
Copyright , Internet / June 2009
Italy
Sweden

COPYRIGHT Internet Italian antipiracy campaigners have welcomed the recent Stockholm District Court convictions of the four founders of The Pirate Bay Web site, saying it should clear the way for a similar case under the Italian justice system. The Swedish court sentenced the Pirate Bay four, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, Fredrick Neij, Carl Lundstrom and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg  to one year in prison and a US$3.6 million fine for assisting copyright infringement. The verdict is subject to appeal. But now  Enzo Mazza, president of the Italian Music Industry Federation (FIMI) has said “An acquittal in Sweden could have created difficulties for the Italian prosecution. The guilty verdict will strengthen the hand of the prosecutor in Italy” and it seems that Giancarlo Mancusi, a public prosecutor in the northern town of Bergamo, is investigating The Pirate Bay’s founders for alleged violations of Italy’s copyright law, the first justice authority to take action against the Swedish Web site outside its home territory. Mancusi obtained a court order in August 2008 blocking access from Italian ISPs to all Pirate Bay addresses, but the ban was lifted on appeal two months later and is now due to be considered in September by the Court of Cassation. The FIMI president…

US puts Canada on the naughty step
Copyright / June 2009
Argentina
Canada
China
India
Indonesia
Israel
Pakistan
Russia
Thailand
USA

COPYRIGHT All areas The US has added Canada to a list of its top twelve of countries which persistently fail to protect intellectual property rights alongside China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela  While there has been much criticism in the past from the US and elsewhere regarding Canada’s copyright laws, and their failure to take on physical bootleggers as well as the ever growing population of online pirates, it is the first time the Americans have put their Northern neighbours on their “priority watch list” of IP abusers. The report from the US Trade Representative that revealed Canada had been added to the watch list noted: “We urge Canada to enact legislation in the near term to strengthen its copyright laws and implement relevant World Intellectual Property Organisation treaties [which Canada signed up to over a decade ago but never incorporated into its copyright laws]. The United States also continues to urge Canada to improve its IP enforcement system to enable authorities to take effective action against the trade in counterfeit and pirated products within Canada, as well as curb the volume of infringing products transshipped and transiting through Canada”. Read more on ‘At…

Are the PRS charging workers and customers twice over?
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2009
UK

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing Last month we had a number of emails from small businesses who had received telephone calls from the PRS asking whether they used music in their business or whether they played music in an area where the public might be admitted. And many had received letters to saying “If your staff or customers are listening to music on your premises, played by any means from live performance through to radio, TV, CD or via the internet, you need our music licence” . People asked “Really”? This follows on from our May Updates when we reported that police officers in Wiltshire had been told by their Chief Constable that they could not listen to music played publicly from radios, televisions, websites and MP3 players following a demand for payment of £23,000 from the Performing Rights Society. The PRS say the licence is required for all uses of music in all the Wiltshire force’s police stations, offices, canteens and communal staff areas such as gyms and the PRS said the demand is in line with the rate agreed with the Association of Chief Police. Wiltshire Police said the “playing of music by any means across the force” would “cease forthwith” and…

Winehouse the latest celeb to get pap injunction
Artists , Privacy / June 2009
UK

PRIVACY Artists Amy Winehouse has joined Lily Allen in getting an injunction to stop paparazzi from following her. The legal ruling specifically targets photographers affiliated to the London-based Big Pictures agency, though it also mentions “persons unknown” to include other photographers who frequent her private residence hoping to get a valuable photograph of the singer. The ruling means any photographer who stalks the singer or snaps pictures within 100 metres of her London home would breach the injunction and face court action. Sienna Miller had previously Big Pictures for harassment and invasion of privacy and won £53,000 in damages and costs and part of the court order forbade the agency’s photographers from pursuing the star. But the temptation remains for the paparazzi with the occasional headline grabbing shot raking in excess of £250,000 for the lucky photographer in an increasingly competitive pack of both professional and amateur snappers. From the Guardian 4th May 2009 Have celebrities finally snapped? http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/may/04/celebrities-paparazzi

Another claim against a Coldplay track
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2009
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing Following on in the heels of Joe Satriani, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) is accusing Coldplay of plagiarism claiming that the lead track off the band’s most recent album, ‘Viva La Vida’, borrowed notes from his epic ‘Foreigner Suite’ for the newer song. He told that his son had drawn his attention to the similarities between the two songs, and admitted that he might taking legal action in relation to his copyright claim, but said he would wait to see how the Satriani action went first and said to the Sun (yes indeed)  “There’s been this argument about Coldplay stealing this melody from Joe Satriani,” adding “But, if you listen to it, it’s mine! It’s the Foreigner Suite. It is!”.  A spokesman for Coldplay maintains that ‘Viva La Vida’ was written solely by the band and indeed Will Champion, Coldplay’s drummer said “It’s tough when people accuse you of stealing something when you know that you didn’t … we’re confident we haven’t done anything wrong” adding “For some reason, God only knows why, the successful songs that seem to be the ones that are accused of being stolen …. so you go figure it out.” Despite these comments, Champion also seemed to accept the similarities between…

Has Carter dropped the UK’s planned Digital Rights Agency?
Copyright / June 2009
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas It seems that communications minister Lord Carter has dropped plans for a Digital Rights Agency in the face of criticism from the entertainment industries, consumer groups and internet service providers – but as IP minister David Lammy has recently been supportive of the role of the planned new Agency it is actually difficult to see exactly where this is going. As the proposed agency was only put forward in March’s Digital Britain report it seems another of the muddled and knee jerk reactions of the swirling world of New Labour policies. http://www.computing.co.uk/computing/news/2238505/government-issues-proposals http://www.computeractive.co.uk/computeractive/news/2240812/digital-rights-agency-never

Fender fail to register guitar shapes in USA
Trade Mark / June 2009
USA

TRADE MARK Technology The guitar manufacturer Fender, has failed in it’s appeal to register the shapes of three of its guitars as trade marks. The US Patent and Trade Mark Office held that that the shapes of the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision Bass guitars had been widely used by other guitar manufacturers for so long that Fender could no longer claim to hold rights in the shapes. The case was raised by seventeen guitar manufacturers, represented by lawyer and bassist Ron Bienstock, who is reported to have come across Fender’s trade mark application in 2003 whilst completing due diligence for a client. In a decision of 75 pages, with over twenty thousand pages of evidence, it was held that Fender had failed to acquire distinctiveness in the shapes through their use in the guitars. From http://www.shepwedd.co.uk/knowledge/article/986-2407/high-profile-music-disputes-create-feedback/email  Shepherd & Wedderburn’s Intellectual Property e-bulletin 6th May 2009.

US moves to ensure AM and FM radio pays to play
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, Music Publishing The US has moved a step closer to ensuring artists get paid when their sound recordings are played on mainstream radio in the US when the the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would require ‘traditional’ AM and FM radio stations to pay artists for using their sound recordings. The Performance Rights Act cleared the committee by a vote of 21 to 9 and now moves to the full House for a vote. The committee also unanimously cleared the Webcasters Settlement Act, which deals with Internet music streaming. AM and FM radio stations currently pay nothing to performers (or their labels), arguing that exposure on their stations results in record sales for the artists featured. They do pay approximately $550 million in fees to songwriters each year, according to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Internet radio stations, meanwhile, have been locked in a battle with copyright holders over how much they should pay to stream the same music over the Web, simultaneously complaining that their more established rivals have a distinct commercial advantage in avoiding payment for ‘needletime’. The Bill progressed after Committee Chair John Conyers offered a successful amendment to the Performance Rights…

Danger Mouse mixes up trouble
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2009
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet Both the Register and the Electronic Frontier Foundation bring news that Danger Mouse, the US remixer who courted controversy (well copyright controversy) when he produced the innovative, un-cleared mash-up album titled The Grey Album which fused material from rapper Jay Z’s The Black Album and The Beatles’ The White Album, now seems to be suggesting that fans illegally download his next album which has yet to be released because of the artist’s ongoing row with EMI. The thing is, Danger Mouse HAS released the album – but it’s a blank recordable CD on to which buyers can – potentially – record illegally-downloaded versions of the album. The CDR is on sale in a package which includes a luxurious poster and a book of photographs by cult film director David Lynch and sells for $50. Danger Mouse has issued this statement saying: “Danger Mouse’s new project Dark Night Of The Soul consists of an album length piece of music by Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and a host of guest vocalists, along with a collection of original DavidLynch photography inspired by and based on the music. The photographs, which provide a visual narrative for the music, are compiled in a limited edition, hand numbered 100+ page…

YouTube and ASCAP forced to the table
Copyright , Internet / June 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet YouTube’s rather public spat with the music collection societies has reached the courts in the USA where a district court has ordered the internet portal to pay $1.61 million in back royalties to ASCAP and to then make payments of $70,000 each month (presumably until settlement is reached) as ‘on account’ remuneration for the societies’ songwriters whose work appears on the video website in the US. In Europe the position is more troubled – whilst YouTube does have an agreement to use premium videos in place with three of the four major record companies and many independent labels, the Google-owned video service has failed to get a deal done with the songwriter collecting societies – and after the much reported falling out with PRS For Music here in the UK and GEMA in Germany all premium videos were pulled (voluntarily by YouTube) from the site. The US judgment is a temporary settlement in place of a still being negotiated blanket license agreement for the use of ASCAP’s members’ music on the video site. The $1.61 million ordered for back royalties is a lot more than what YouTube had proposed they pay, though is about 13% of what the…

The ‘skinny tail’ of music downloading
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2009
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels A new report from Will Page, Chief Economist of PRS for Music and Eric Garland, CEO of digital research group Big Champagne hopes to lay to rest the theory of the long tail in copyright when it comes to music consumption – pointing out that whilst it was first thought that the long tail could be applied to the digital music world – where 20% of products would provide 80% of sales and 80% of products provide the remaining 20%, when it comes to music its actually a very very ‘skinny tail’, and that illegal download sites just reflect the popular mainstream. Page and Garland, who outlined their findings at the very civilized Great Escape conference in seaside Brighton on the 14th May, gave some interesting examples of the effect of both legitimate music industry practices and download sites in the digital sphere, pointing out that the Beatles sound recordings, which are not legally available anywhere in the digital realm, consistently top download charts. Using the fact that Lady Gaga’s latest hit Poker Face which topped the UK’s charts was illegally downloaded 388,000 times during one week of the Pirate Bay Trial alone, they said that consumer demands…

Culture, Media and Sport Committee publish report on the Licensing Act
Licensing , Live Events / June 2009
UK

LICENSING Live event industry The Culture, Media and Sport Committee have published their Sixth Report in Session 2008-09, The Licensing Act 2003(HC 492 examining the extent to which the benefits promised by the Licensing Act 2003 have been achieved, and assessesing whether the Act works well in practice. It makes a number of recommendations to improve the legislation in areas such as the performance of live music (where it feels regulations should be relaxed, the licensing of sporting and not-for-profit clubs, the provision of Temporary Event Notices (TENs), licences for moveable entertainments such as circuses and the process of licensing lap dancing clubs. Live music and entertainment: The Report expresses concern at the linkage of live music and public order issues by the Act and its accompanying guidance. In the Committee’s view music should not automatically be treated as a disruptive activity, which will inevitably lead to nuisance and disorder. The Report recommends that the Government should exempt venues with a capacity of 200 persons or fewer from the need to obtain a licence for the performance of live music. It also recommends the reintroduction of the two-in-a-bar exemption, enabling venues of any size to put on a performance of non-amplified…

New PRS music streaming rates announced
EU
UK

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, internet PRS for Music has announced the rates for streaming services for its new Online Music Licences which come into effect on 1 July. After a wide-ranging seven month consultation period with key stakeholders, major and independent music publishers and the wider industry, the new rates were approved by the PRS for Musicboard on 20 May. The key changes are: An increase in the headline royalty rate for on demand streaming services from 8% to 10.5% (in exchange for the per stream minimum being reduced from 0.22p to 0.085p) The new Online Music Licences replace the previous Joint Online Licence Because the Joint Online Licence is expiring, current licensees will need to sign to the new licences from 1 July.   The changes to the streaming rates follow the announcement on 1 May that rates for download services and services funded by subscription will remain the same. See www.prsformusic.com and http://the1709blog.blogspot.com/2009/05/on-demand-streaming-royalties-and-ad.html  and http://www.mi2n.com/press.php3?press_nb=120080

EU welcomes SACEM’s pan-European ambition
EU

COMPETITION Music publishing The European Union Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes has welcomed progress in the music collection society sector on the provision of pan-European licences for digital music after French collecting society SACEM said they are ready to entrust other collecting societies with their repertoire for pan-European licensing, while offering to represent other societies’ repertoire on a non-exclusive basis. European officials have been in conflict with the collecting society community because of the lack of pan-European licences. Officials say that a system whereby providers of digital music services must get a separate licence from each national collecting society is anti-competitive, because the collecting society in each territory effectively has a monopoly, that pan-European licences would make it easier to launch a pan-European digital music service and that such licences would force the societies Europe to compete with each other, thus ending the monopoly concerns.  Commenting on those and other developments, Kroes said “There is a clear willingness expressed by major players in the online distribution of music in Europe to tackle the many barriers which prevent consumers from fully benefiting from the opportunities that the internet provides. I therefore encourage the major players, in particular publishers and collecting societies, to…