Content owners celebrate US court successes
Copyright , Internet / August 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the single mother of four convicted of copyright infringement and currently liable for damages of $1.92 million, intends to appeal her case with her lawyer telling CNET News that “She’s not interested in settling …. she wants to take the issue up on appeal on the constitutionality of the damages. That’s one of the main arguments that the damages are disproportionate to any actual harm”. When the decision came out, Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontiers Foundation had said “The disproportionate size of the verdict raises constitutional issues” adding “was the jury punishing her for what she did, or punishing her for the music sharing habits of tens of millions of American Internet users?”.  Thomas-Rasset had previously indicated that she had tried to settle the case and then made it clear after the conviction that she could not pay the fine saying “Now the record industry has a $2 million award against me. The only thing I can say is good luck trying to get it, because you can’t get blood out of a turnip”. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said that it had contacted Thomas-Rasset’s lawyers Joe Sibley and law partner…

Guns ‘n’ Roses leaker gets probation and gets to make an advert
Copyright , Internet / August 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet Kevin Cogill, the blogger who was arrested at gunpoint and admitted to leaking a large part of the latest (and long awaited)  Guns N’ Roses album “Chinese Democracy” has been sentenced to a year of probation and two months of home confinement. Cogill will also have to record a ‘public service announcement’ for the Recording Industry Association of America, explaining the evils of music piracy and how illegal downloading and fileswapping hurts band. Cogill will also have to allow authorities to search or seize his computers. Cogill had leaked and posted nine tracks from the fourteen track album online in June 2008 last year – onto his own site (www.antiquiet.com). In court he apologised saying “I never intended to hurt the artist” adding “I intended to promote the artist because I’m a fan”. The court has been pressed by the federal prosecutor for a prison term as a deterrent to others although prosecutors did acknowledge that this might turn him into something of a martyr. In his defence Cogill’s attorney argued that his client had acknowledged his wrongdoing and had lost his job as a result of the case. Cogill will not have to pay any fines or restitution, although authorities at one point calculated the losses from his…

Music fans still prefer CDs to Downloads
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / August 2009
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Another set of figures from the recent research by The Leading Question show that perhaps the CD isn’t quite as doomed as the music industry thought – with two thirds of music lovers saying that they still prefer CDs over any other media – including digital downloads – and 66% of 14-18 year olds saying that they prefer the CD format. The Leading Question spoke to over 1000 music fans as part of their annual Speakerbox survey into the state of music consumption in the UK. Despite the growth of digital download sales, the research showed that overall 73% of music fans are still happy buying CDs rather than downloading and that fans still value a physical CD much more than digital downloads. With a bedrock of sales from online stores and supermarkets (these channels represented 46% of all UK CD sales in 2008), even the demise of the specialist high street music store may not spell the end of the CD just yet. For less tech savvy music fans their first experience of digital music often starts when they put a CD in their computer – and 59% of all music fans still listen to CDs…

A big week for copyrights and piracy
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, telephony, music publishing ARTICLE LINK Whilst the sale of The Pirate Bay website to a Swedish gaming software business might have grabbed the headlines alongside the Jammie Thomas appeal and the Usenet decision, two other developments in U.S. courts are seemingly more important to the average music fan because of the potential they have for disrupting digital services. The first is the latest lawsuit filed by MCS Music America of Nashville and a dozen other music publishers against the operators of two current and one former subscription-music services. The suit seeks a hefty financial penalty from the companies for including the publishers’ songs in their services, even though federal law compels the publishers to grant the necessary licenses. The second is a move by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers to have a federal court declare that cellphone ringtones aren’t downloads but rather public performances for which they are entitled royalties. In other words, ASCAP argues that playing a 15-second snippet of a song when a call comes in is the legal equivalent of blasting the song over the speakers at a hockey rink. In fact, ASCAP argues, it’s an infringement even with the volume turned off. The two cases…

South Korea, Ireland and, errm Hull, take action over illegal downloads
Copyright , Internet / August 2009
Ireland
South Korea
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet South Korea has passed new legislation setting up a ‘three strikes’ copyright law within a summary trial based system which has prompted Google to forbid uploading any music to blogs in the country for fear of running foul of an incredibly, broadly-worded law which includes unintentional downloading – a number of social networking sites are also warning their users not to do anything that might potentially infringe and fall foul of the system. In Ireland Eircom, the largest Internet service provider (ISP), will be rolling out a trial phase of a new “three strikes and you’re out” approach to first delay, and then deny, Internet service to people who use filesharing networks to illegally download music. First-time offenders will get a warning on their bill; a second offence will see service “throttled,” which means that download speeds will be reduced to a snail’s pace, and a third offence will cause disconnection. It had seemed that Ireland was first in reaching a voluntary agreement and not requiring that an ISP have a court order to disconnect but then the BBC Radio Humberside revealed that that Karoo, the sole ISP in the British city of Hull had unilaterally announced their own internet cut off policy for copyright infringers. Whilst both the Korean and Eircom announcements…

Youtube and Google win partial victory in ongoing US battle
Copyright , Internet / August 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet US District Judge Louis Stanton, who is overseeing a copyright class action against YouTube, has dismissed part of the claim against the video-sharing site by excluding claims from owners of non-US (foreign) copyrighted works saying that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 “bars statutory damages for all foreign and domestic works not timely registered” with the US Copyright Office. The ruling will come as a disappointment to non-UK owners including England’s Premier League for football (soccer) and a number of music publishers. Judge Stanton said the plaintiffs couldn’t seek punitive damages. However, the judge did not rule out claims from owners of copyrights in live broadcasters and the action led by the US National Music Publishers Association and others, along with Viacom’s 2007 claim for infringement, will continue against YouTube and owners Google. Louis Solomon, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, was quoted as saying he was pleased with the ruling in respect of live broadcasters, a large portion of the class, adding “we now have clarity in how we have to go prove damages for the balance of the class”. Google has consistently maintained the infringement claims are without merit. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10281571-93.html http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2009/07/letter-from-amerikat_12.html

Republicans settle with Browne
Advertising , Artists , Copyright / August 2009
USA

COPYRIGHT Artists, advertising Singer songwriter Jackson Browne has accepted an apology and a financial settlement from Republican presidential candidate John McCain after Browne’s “Running On Empty” was used in the US presidential campaign. Browne had been seeking damages of $75,000 after his song was used without permission in an online advert that sought to undermine Barrack Obama’s suggestion that having properly inflated tyres would result in lower fuel consumption in cars. McCain said in a statement: “We apologise that a portion of the Jackson Browne song ‘Running On Empty’ was used without permission”. In response, Browne, a staunch Democrat, said “this settlement is really a great affirmation of what I believed my rights to be, and all writers’ rights to be. One would hope that a presidential candidate would not only know the law but respect it. It was a matter of bringing that issue to bear”. A number of other artists including Foo Fighters, Heart and John Mellencamp have complained about having their songs used without permission during McCain’s campaign although action will not lie where songs are merely used at rallies at properly licensed theatres and other venues. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/sleuth/2009/07/john_mccain_really_running_on.html?hpid=news-col-blog http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2009/07/21/jackson-browne-settles-with-gop-over-running-on-empty-ad-use/

Second death at Madonna stage collapse
Health & Safety , Live Events / August 2009
France

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events industry A British worker, Charles Prow aged 13 has been named as the second person to die following the tragic stage roof collapse in Marseilles. The death of French worker, Charles Criscenzo (aged 50) had already been confirmed. The condition of two other people was described as serious and thirty six other people have injuries, some with minor injuries and shock. Madonna has said that she was appalled by the incident saying “two men lost their lives which is a great tragedy to me. I feel so devastated to be in any way associated with anyone’s suffering”. Police are now interviewing witnesses, studying videotape footage and reading commercial contracts with a view to establishing is a charge of causing death unintentionally at a place of work could be brought and if health and safety regulations, procedures and standards had been met. The incident happened on Thursday 16th July when the roof of a stage for Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet tour was being built at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome collapsed. Maurice Di Nocera, from the Marseilles local authority said on radio that the roof had been about two-thirds complete and that it collapsed gradually allowing most workers to evacuate the area. …

Big Green Gathering cancelled
Licensing , Live Events / August 2009
UK

LICENSING Live Event Industry The Big Green Gathering has been cancelled. Britain’s largest green festival was due to happen from Wednesday 29th July until Sunday 2nd August 2009 in Somerset in England. Ticket holders and those planning on attending the Big Green Gathering were urged to stay away from the event site. The announcement followed threatened injunction proceedings from Mendip District Council who were supported by the Avon & Somerset Police.  The Big Green Gathering was granted a licence by Mendip District Council on 30th June, 2009 and a multi-agency meeting was held on 23rd July but following serious concerns from Mendip District Council and emergency services about public safety and possible crime and disorder MDC applied to the High Court in London for an injunction to stop the event going ahead. For more on this story see http://www.efestivals.co.uk/news/09/090727a.shtml For the Big Green Gathering website see http://www.big-green-gathering.com/

UK Government rejects key licensing recommendations
Licensing , Live Events / August 2009
UK

LICENSING Live events industry The UK Government has rejected two key concerns from the live music industry regarding reforms of the 2003 Licensing Act – exempting smaller venues from the bureaucracy of the Act and scrapping the controversial Form 696 – both of which were highlighted in the recent report from parliament’s Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee which addressed a number of the concerns and proposed a small venue exemption and the abolition of the Form 696. Confirming that was the case, the Department Of Culture, Media & Sport told reporters it had “not been able to reach agreement on [small venue] exemptions that [they believe] will deliver an increase in live music”, while on Form 696 it noted concerns within the live industry but said that, as this was a Met Police form, it was up to the Met Police to decide whether or not to keep using it. Commenting on the DCMS’s decision, cross-sector music business trade body UK Music said they were “extremely disappointed by the government’s response. At a time when the British music industry is facing significant recessionary pressure and government’s own research indicates a 5% decrease in the number of venues available to…

The day live music died
Licensing , Live Events / August 2009
UK

LICENSING Live events industry Article Link –  In the wake of the UK Government’s clear reluctance to act on the bureaucracy of the Licensing At 2003, admit it’s mistakes and end the ongoing controversy over the Metropolitan Police’s form 696  Andy McSmith, writing in the The Independent Saturday, 18 July 2009, reports: “You are in a pub, having a good time, and someone walks in with a guitar, drink flows, and the crowd starts singing some old number like, say, “I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)”. Before the evening is out, the poor publican could be fighting the law, and the law will win again. Live music is fast disappearing from pubs, clubs, wine bars, restaurants and other small venues, musicians claim, because of a law passed in 2003, when the Government was trying to eliminate teenage violence that they associated with badly organised music events. Hopes were raised recently when the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport ended a lengthy investigation into the 2003 Licensing Act by recommending that venues with a capacity of fewer than 200 people should be exempt.“ Read the article in full at http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/the-day-live-music-died-1751562.html

Lib Dem peer introduces a private members bill to rectify licensing mess
Licensing , Live Events / August 2009
UK

LICENSING Live events industry A new private members’ bill aiming to persuade the government to relax its laws on licensing for live music in small venues has been introduced by liberal democrat peer Tim Clement-Jones. The Live Music bill has already won support from music industry umbrella group UK Music, partly thanks to its proposal to allow small venues to put on live music without having to obtain a live entertainment license. “The essence of my bill is that if the public are unhappy about a venue putting on live music they can request a review of the license for that premises,” Clement-Jones told Music Week. His bill has already passed an initial reading in the House Of Lords, and a second reading is scheduled for “November or December,” according to Clement-Jones, who went on to criticise some members of Department For Culture Media And Sport (DCMS) for not supporting the live music sector. He said: “There are a number of DCMS people that show great antipathy toward live music, but they have to realise that historically the biggest British bands started out in their local pubs and if we take that away from young musicians, then the future of the UK…

Allowing smoking means Authority can revoke premises licence
Health & Safety , Live Events / August 2009
UK

HEALTH & SAFETY Live event industry A local authority is entitled to revoke a premises licence where the licensee has been convicted of not preventing smoking and has stated that he intends to continue not to prevent smoking. As a crime has been committed and further crime may be committed the Authority may use the preventing crime from the ‘preventing crime and disorder’ licensing objective to justify the revocation. ‘Crime and disorder’ is a disjunctive and the Authority need not prove that disorder was occurring as well as the crime of permitting smoking. R (Blackpool Council) v Howitt  173 JPR 101.

Aerosmith pay up for cancelled Hawaii show
Contract , Live Events / August 2009
USA

CONTRACT Live events Audience report that rock megastars Aerosmith have settled a class action brought by 8,700 concert goers after the band cancelled a show in Maui, Hawaii in September 2007. The band cancelled the show at the 10,000 capacity War Memorial Stadium to reschedule another earlier cancelled concert, this time in Chicago. However, the Maui show was never rescheduled and at the time the band said they would not be able to get their equipment to Hawaii in time, opting instead to play a private performance in Oahu in Hawaii a few days later for a reported $1 million fee. Claims from the cancelled Maui show included ticket costs and out of pocket expense including hotels and travel. It is thought most of the claims were successful costing the band anything between $500,000 and $3 million. Audience Magazine June 2009 issue 113  www.audience.uk.com