BASCA query Spotify royalties
EU
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing BASCA, the association that represents songwriters, composers and authors, has hit out at Spotify saying that the payments for copyright uses generated by the streaming on demand service are “tiny” and called for the company to be more transparent about the nature of its business. Last year it was claimed that over a five month period there were over one million plays of Lady Gaga’s hit Poker Face – the most downloaded song in the British chart history, and one of the most successful songs of the 21st century to date – but this earned the songwriters just $167 from Spotify. BASCA CEO Patrick Rackow told the BBC: “At the moment, the amounts of money that are actually being received are tiny. That might be because there is no money there. But there is no clear trail that can be established so that the songwriter can trace back what they ought to have got. These things are behind a blanket of secrecy, and that is extremely worrying and Rackow added “The danger is that these deals all become so secret that the mist that descends creates uncertainty, creates fear. That allied to the fact that the…

SXSW panel looks at music sampling: Why Hasn’t The Record Industry Sued Girl Talk?
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishing, artists There have been many defining records that were released without the artist first legally “clearing” the samples contained within.  Take for instance two coveted 1989 hip hop releases, Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys and De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, or Biz Markie’s precedent-setting 1991 release, I Need A Haircut.  These blatantly sample-heavy yet genius-laden works have helped to define hip-hop. and global culture at large for decades after their initial release, but have brought about an onslaught of lawsuits and hurt feelings along the way. Read more here  http://www.womensradio.com/articles/SXSW-2010:-Why-Hasnt-The-Record-Industry-Sued-Girl-Talk%3F/4946.html

Italian court finds ISPs not liable for subscriber illegality
Copyright , Internet / May 2010
Italy

COPYRIGHT Internet An Italian court has ruled that Internet Service Providers should not be held liable for the illegal online actions of their customers, rejecting calls from copyright holders to compel ISPs to monitor users and block purported illegal file-sharing websites. Local film anti-piracy group Fapav (Federazione Anti-Pirateria Audiovisiva) filed the suit against Italy’s biggest ISP, Telecom Italia, in a bid to compel the company to take relevant actions against its subscribers. Judge Antonella Izzo did side with copyright holders on one issue, namely that ISPs must forward complaints of infringement from copyright holders to local prosecutors. http://torrentfreak.com/italian-isps-ruled-not-responsible-for-file-sharing-customers-100420/

No Doubt win first round in Band Hero claim
Artists , Image Rights / May 2010
USA

IMAGE RIGHTS Artists The CMU Daily reports that two efforts by gaming giant Activision to defend themselves against No Doubt’s lawsuit in relation to the ‘Band Hero’ game have been knocked back by the US courts. No Doubt had objected to the way their avatars in the pretend-to-play game could be ‘unlocked’ to play songs other than their own and the band argue that the gaming firm didn’t have the rights to use their likenesses in that way. As with when Courtney Love raised similar objections to the fact Kurt Cobain’s likeness could be made to perform non-Nirvana tracks, Activision denied any wrongdoing, claiming the artists knew what they were signing up to. CMU say that it is thought that the agreement between Activision and its artist partners doesn’t actually specifically cover the use of an artist’s avatar in songs other than their own, so this whole area is a bit greyer than the gaming firm originally implied (and indeed a win for No Doubt could expose Activision to claims from other featured artists). Activision’s response to No Doubt’s lawsuit included a claim that their use of Gwen Stefani’s avatar in tracks other than her own was covered by their…

Kelly Clarkson concert ‘banned’ by cleric because of smoking tie-up
Live Events / May 2010
Indonesia
USA

RELIGIOUS LAW Live events industry Muslim organization Muhammadiyah has forbidden the upcoming Jakarta concert by US entertainer Kelly Clarkson because it promotes smoking. Yanuar Ilyas, head of the fatwa department at Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organization, said as it had previously declared smoking haram (forbidden), all things related to it were also forbidden, adding that it was not necessary to issue a new fatwa (religious edict). “We do not need to put another fatwa on a thing that is already clear,” Yanuar told the Jakarta Globe. The ban will have little impact on the concert actually going ahead, however, with the vast majority of religious rulings ignored. A spokeswoman for promoters JAVA Musikindo said they were discussing the controversy and were expecting to make a statement soon. Promoter Adrie Subono tweeted that “2,513 of my hairs fell out, I have a headache.” The controversy has also had an impact in the USA where the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said “If Kelly Clarkson goes ahead with the concert, she is by choice being a spokesman for the tobacco industry and helping them to market to children”.  In 2008, Alicia Keys was forced to “apologise for any misleading advertising initially associated with the show”…

LA court dismissed Carly’s coffee claim
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / May 2010
USA

CONTRACT Record labels, artists A judge in Los Angeles has rejected a lawsuit from singer Carly Simon against coffee shifters Starbucks. Simon signed up to release an album via Starbucks’ short lived record company venture, Hear Music. ‘This Kind Of Love’, was released just as the coffee firm decided to bring the label project to an end, and Simon alleged that this  had a negative impact on the way her record was promoted and indeed sales of the album were disappointing, Simon accused the coffee firm of failing to fulfil its promises to market and promote the long player. She also said that bosses at the coffee giant had misled her when negotiating her record deal because they must have known the Hear Music venture was about to be scaled down, but they failed to share that information with her. Simon also argued that the coffee firm’s subsequent decision to discount her album in their own stores damaged her reputation. Starbucks refuted the allegations and said the main problem with the record release was that people just didn’t like the singer’s Brazilian-influenced fourteen track album. District Court Judge George Wu dismissed the case saying the singer’s contract with Starbucks said…

EU launch consultation on the creative industries
Legislation / May 2010
EU

LEGISLATION All areas The European Commission is launching a public consultation on the future of “cultural and creative industries”. The Green Paper “Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries” is open to individual citizens and organisations and in particular national, regional or local authorities, the European institutions and associations from the cultural and creative industries. The period for consultation Is from 27th April to 30th July 2010 and the objective is to gather views on various issues impacting the cultural and creative industries in Europe, from business environment to the need to open up a common European space for culture, from capacity building to skills development and promotion of European creators on the world stage. The responses to the consultation will inform the Commission and help it ensure that EU programmes and policies involving cultural and creative industries are “fit for purpose”. http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-policy-development/doc2577_en.htm

Digital Economy Bill: Lib Dems scupper Clause 17, but come up with a new idea
Copyright , Internet / April 2010
Canada
Spain
Sweden
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet In the UK controversial Clause 17 of the Digital Economy Bill which was designed to allow ministers, rather than Parliament, the right to introduce new copyright rules has been dropped following a last minute move by the Liberal Democrats to amend the proposed legislation in the House of Lords. Liberal Democrat Lords Razzall and Clement-Jones proposed an amendment which could see UK Internet Service Providers forced to block web sites with a high proportion of copyright-infringing content with the key passage in the amendment saying: “The High Court shall have power to grant an injunction against an [internet] service provider, requiring it to prevent access to online locations specified in the order of the Court.” A further statement in the amendment says that this would apply when a substantial proportion of the content accessible at or via each specified online location infringes copyright. The amendment (120A) was then re-amended to include provisions to make anyone applying for an injunction responsible for both parties costs should the application fail, an obligation on content owners to warn ISPs and any alleged infringing site of the action, an appeals procedure and a need to provide evidence to the court of allegedly infringed…

Consumer group calls for private copying to be recognised
Copyright / April 2010
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas Consumer rights group Consumer Focus have again called on the UK government to legislate to allow a clear right of private copying rights under British copyright law. At the moment it is illegal to make personal back up copies of CDs even when legitimately purchased and indeed it is illegal to ‘format shift’ tracks from a CD onto a PC or MP3 player. According to Consumer Focus research, over 80% of people are unaware of the fact that they are breaking the law and a survey of 2000 adults just 17% realised that making back up CDs was not technically allowed, while only 15% knew that CD tracks shouldn’t really be copied over to an iPod or similar. The 2006 Gowers Report recommended that the government “introduce a limited private copying exception by 2008 for format shifting for works published after the date that the law comes into effect”. According to the Intellectual Property Office’s website, consultation on that recommendation is expected to be launched in “late 2009”. Consumer Focus’ Jill Johnstone said “The credibility of UK copyright law has fallen through the floor. Millions of consumers are regularly copying CDs or DVDs and are unaware they…

US Court denies ‘innocent infringer’ defence to teenager
Copyright , Internet / April 2010
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet As the Joel Tenenbaum and Jamie Rasset-Thomas cases plough onwards in the USA, leaving the RIAA looking somewhat ridiculous, another two cases have re-emerged to add to the record labels’ woes. One can only hope the film, TV and other content industries are looking hard and learning from some of these fiascos. There is a clear message here – don’t leave your future business strategy to lawyers! Anyway, a few years ago a teenager, Whitney Harper, who was sued by the record labels and RIAA for file sharing, claimed that the amount she should have to pay up should be less than the $750 statutory minimum, because she was an “innocent infringer,” unaware that what she was doing in listening to music was against the law.  Whilst winning with this argument in the lower court the RIAA appealed, and now the appeals court has overturned that decision and said that the statutory minimum of $750 per infringement should apply, saying that the innocent infringement defence isn’t applicable because the CDs the music came on (which she never saw) had proper copyright notices and she never uploaded from CDs!). The test is that the “innocent infringer” sustains the burden…

Baidu did infringe by using lyrics
Copyright , Internet / April 2010
China

COPYRIGHT Internet After a run of success in the Chinese courts, search engine Baidu has now lost a lawsuit in the Beijing courts. The new case centred on the lyrics of songs that Baidu posts next to its MP3 search function. It was sued by the Music Copyright Society Of China, which said the search firm did not have the appropriate licence to publish song lyrics owned by its members. The Beijing People’s Court for the Haidian District agreed and fined Baidu, 50,000 yuan plus 10,000 yaun legal costs  just over £5500). Baidu’s usual (and so far successful) defence that it only provides links to infringing sites failed on the facts of this case as the lyrics were actually posted and published on Baidu’s site (rather than linked to)  next to links to MP3 search functions. Baidu plans to appeal. http://musically.com/blog/2010/02/23/baidu-found-guilty-of-infringement-in-chinese-lyrics-case/ http://the1709blog.blogspot.com/2010/02/baidu-found-to-infringe-with-lyric-use.html

Rapidshare told to proactively block book uploads
Copyright , Internet / April 2010
Germany

COPYRIGHT Intenet A German court has ordered free file-hosting site RapidShare to proactively block uploads of copyrighted textbook. The service was sued in February by textbook publishers including Macmillan, Elsevier, McGraw-Hill and Pearson, and the Hamburg Court has now ruled that RapidShare must monitor uploads and ensure that 148 titles are not made available to its users. Failure to comply with the Hamburg court ruling could result in $339,000 in fines, and jail time for executives. Last year, a German court similarly ordered Rapidshare to proactively filter media whose copyrights were controlled by German rightsholder organization GEMA. http://torrentfreak.com/rapidshare-ordered-to-proactively-filter-book-titles-100224/

AFACT appeal goes ahead in iiNet case
Copyright , Internet / April 2010
Australia

COPYRIGHT Internet The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft has said it will appeal that previously reported court ruling by Justice Cowdroy regarding the liabilities of internet service providers to police copyright infringement undertaken by their customers via their servers (see Music Law Updates March 2010). AFACT lost the original case against Aussie ISP iiNet where it had been looking to force Australian net firms to become more proactive in stopping illegal file-sharing on their networks. AFACT had been relying on case law including the frequently cited High Court decision in favour of Frank Moorhouse who successfully sued the University of NSW after a student used a photocopier in the institution’s library to copy his book. AFACT also relied on recent cases involving online piracy including the Kazaa copyright trial and Universal Music v Cooper. Justice Cowdroy said that in those cases the respondents were sued successfully because they provided the means of infringement. “There does not appear to be any way to infringe the applicants copyright from mere use of the internet. Rather, the means by which the applicants’ copyright is infringed is an iiNet users’ use of the constituent parts of the BitTorrent system. iiNet has not control over the BitTorrent system and…

Universal Music might have to pay for pulling video of a dancing baby off YouTube
Copyright , Internet / April 2010
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has ruled that Universal will have to pay damages to Stephanie Lenz for ordering YouTube to drop a 29-second video of her son dancing to the music of Universal artist Prince. Lenz still must prove her case before collecting anything, but this  appears to be the first answer to the question of how an apparently ill-brought takedown notice should be punished under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.   The Electronic Frontier Foundation brought the action against Universal on behalf of Lenz in 2008, arguing that the music company’s lawyers should have taken a moment to consider whether Lenz had a fair-use right to post the clip before firing off a takedown notice to YouTube. YouTube removed the video, but restored it six weeks later when Lenz filed a counter notice. http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202444734702&Universal_May_Have_to_Pay_the_Piper_Over_Takedown_of_Dancing_Baby

Pink Floyd win important battle with EMI
Internet , Record Labels / April 2010
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels In what looks like an interesting decision, the High Court has upheld a claim by Pink Floyd that their label EMI had no right to allow iTunes to sell individual tracks from the band’s albums – and that the label had to adhere to a contract that prohibited single track sales in any format – physical or digital. The label had argued that a 19667 (renewed in 1999) contract clause between the artist and the label which prohibited single track sales was clearly limited to the physical realm as it referred to “records”. The argument that the 1999 contract predated the digital market in some way was something the band, famed for their ‘concept’ albums such as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall were strongly opposed to  and the High Court agreed that EMI’s argument was clearly nonsensical with Sir Andrew Morritt VC granting the band a declaration saying that the contract meant that EMI is not entitled to exploit recordings by online distribution or by any other means other than as the complete original album without Pink Floyd’s consent, accepting that the purpose of a clause in the contract, drawn up more than a decade ago, was…

Eddy Grant furious at Gorillaz heist
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2010
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing Eddy Grant has threatened to sue Gorillaz, claiming that the Damon Alban fronted project has  stolen his 1977 song‘Time Warp’ and used it as the basis for their current single ‘Stylo’. In a statement, Grant said “I am outraged that the Gorillaz have infringed the copyright of my song ‘Time Warp’ [while] claiming their song ‘Stylo’ to be an original composition. My song sits almost note to note with their release [which] is a blatant rip off. ‘Time Warp’ is a very popular song and has been a staple of the DJ scene for many years and I feel total disrespect from Gorilliaz and their management company, especially as they are an established act”. Grant also pointed out that he and Gorillaz share the same publisher and that ”someone should have noticed the similarity sooner” saying “I am very angry that this was not picked up by our mutual publisher EMI’s administration division. I do not blame my publishers but [rather] the state of the industry at the current time with all labels and publishers folding into one and becoming incestuous. It’s such an obvious copy that from day one the band and their management should have taken control of this situation with EMI Publishing….

Prince settles on Dublin cancellation
Contract , Live Events / April 2010
Ireland

CONTRACT Live events industry Irish promoters MCD have settled a court action with Prince for cancelling a concert scheduled at Dublin’s Croke Park in 2008. MCD had alleged that the last minute cancellation was the fault of Prince, or his booking agents the William Morris Agency. Prince’s defence was that the singer never agreed to the gig, and the William Morris Agency had no business in telling MCD he had. MCD were looking for damages of 1.7 million Euros in the Dublin Commercial Court and MCD representative Denis Desmond told reporters that he was “delighted” with the outcome of the lawsuit. http://newsblog.thecmuwebsite.com/post/William-Morris-agent-in-court-over-Prince-cancellation.aspx http://www.current-movie-reviews.com/industry/2010/02/26/prince-settles-irish-lawsuit-for-cancelled-concert/ http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0223/breaking24.html

Ozzy sues for a share of Sabbath, Keisha sues to block new babes
Artists , Trade Mark / April 2010
UK
USA

TRADE MARK Artists Ozzy Osbourne is taking former bandmate Tommy Iommi to court over the rights to the Black Sabbath name. Iommi filed for sole ownership of the mark in the US last year and Iommi alleges that Ozzy Osbourne waived his rights to the band’s moniker when he left the band in 1979, which Ozzy counters by saying that he enhanced the band’s ‘quality control’ when he rejoined Sabbath in 1997. In the pop world, Keisha Buchanan is to commence legal proceedings against the girl group she founded, the Sugarbabes, seeking to prevent the current line-up using the name. The word SUGARABES has not yet been secured as a European Community Trade Mark, but an application to register it as a CTM was published just three weeks ago, the applicant being Keisha’s erstwhile colleague, and co-founder-member Mutya Buena. The HolyMoly website seemed to think that all three original members – Mutya, Keisha and Siobahn Donaghy are planning to reform and wish to stop the current line up, which features no original members, using the name. http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2010/03/monday-miscellany.html http://www.metalhammer.co.uk/news/ozzy-and-iommi-to-face-off-in-court

Google executives convicted over privacy claim
Internet , Privacy / April 2010
Italy

PRIVACY Intenet An Italian court has convicted three Google executives of violating the privacy of a child with Down’s syndrome, after a video of the child being bullied in a Turin schoolyard was posted to the company’s YouTube video site. The executives were acquitted on charges of defamation, but received six-month suspended sentences on the privacy violation charges. Google said in a statement on its blog that it will appeal “this astonishing decision,” which the company said “attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built.” Google called the video in question “reprehensible,” and maintains that it “took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police.” The company added that it worked with local police to identify the uploader who, along with several other classmates, was sentenced to community service. None of the Google executives convicted — senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond; former Google Italy board member George De Los Reyes; and global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer — reside in Italy or were present at the court proceedings. David Drummond, told the BBC: “I intend to vigorously appeal this dangerous ruling. It sets a chilling precedent. If individuals like myself…

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and others v Newzbin Ltd
Copyright , Internet / April 2010
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, all areas  This from the simply puuurfect IPKat Fox and other film makers and distributors sued Newzbin, which ran an internet discussion system called Usenet, for copyright infringement, alleging that Newzbin is focused on piracy in that it locates and categorises unlawful copies of films and then (i) displays the titles of these copies in its indices, (ii) provides a facility for its users to search for particular unlawful copies, (iii) displays their search results and (iv) provides a simple one-click mechanism for users to acquire the unlawful copies of their choice. The defendant company, which owned and ran Newzbin, says its website is simply a search engine like Google — but that it was directed to Usenet rather than to the worldwide web. It also said it is “content agnostic”, being designed to index the entire content of Usenet. Where possible, it provided hyperlinks so that any supply of unlawful material is an act occurring exclusively between the hyperlink user and the relevant Usenet server operators — but that it played no part in any such activity. In a long and carefully-expressed judgment in which he explains how Usenet and Newzbin work and what Newzbin actually does,…

Sly Stone sues manager of twenty years
Artists , Contract / March 2010
USA

CONTRACT Artists Recording star Sly Stone filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday, claiming that his former manager committed fraud and breach of contract for more than twenty years. The lawsuit also accused Jerry Goldstein of breach of fiduciary duty and conversion for diverting, converting and misappropriating Stone’s royalties and assets, and demands a full accounting from royalty collection companies to determine actual amounts taken, but they are estimated to be in the $20-30 million range. Robert J. Allan of Allan Law Group, who represents Stone, said in a statement. “Not satisfied with the royalties he diverted from Sly Stone, Goldstein, without Stone’s knowledge or consent, registered his trade name — Sly and the Family Stone — with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as owned by a Goldstein company and borrowed millions of dollars secured by Sly’s future royalties.” http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/Music/2010/01/28/Sly-Stone-suing-his-former-manager/UPI-78131264717313/

Dre looks for the Death Row money
Artists , Contract / March 2010
USA

CONTRACT Artists Dr Dre has launched a lawsuit against Death Row Records claiming that he is owed royalties by the company. In legal documents filed in february he claims that he has received no payments from the company since 1996 and that the label’s re-release of a  collectors’ edition of his 1992 album ‘The Chronic’ and a greatest hits package were without his consent. Dre’s lawyer Howard King told a judge at the Los Angeles Federal Court “When it came to paying artist royalties and honouring limits on Dr Dre recordings that could be released, the ‘new’ Death Row Records, to quote our client, ‘forgot about Dre’. This lawsuit will make sure they remember”. The hip hop star is seeking unspecified damages for breach of contract, false advertising and trademark infringement. Death Row was acquired by media company WIDEawake last year. http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=380461

Black Eyed Peas face Boom Boom bust
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2010
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing The Black Eyed Peas have been accused of plagiarism by rapper Phoenix Phenom who along with songwriter Manfred Mohr, have launched a lawsuit claiming that the Black Eyed Pea’s  track ‘Boom Boom Pow’ is “virtually identical” to their song ‘Boom Dynamite’ which they say they had already submitted to the Pea’s Interscope label. Artists in the USA are increasingly facing claims both of unlicensed sampling and all out plagiarism – Britney Spears faced a succession of claims and recently Coldplay faced a claim from Joe Satriani over alleged plagiarism in Vida la Vida. You can view Boom Dynamite here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O0q_xBu2IQ – and make up your own mind. Me, I think it could be an interesting case! The White Stripes have a gripe too …The musician who wrote the music for that US Air Force advert, aired during the US football Superbowl, has issued an apology to The White Stripes after the duo complained that it sounded very similar to their song ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’. Songwriter Kem Kraft says the similarity is entirely unintentional.  From the CMU Daily www.thecmuwebsite.com 29th January 2010 and see the CMU news Blog athttp://newsblog.thecmuwebsite.com/

Kookaburra wins down under
Australia

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, record labels More of the same – An Australian Court has found that Men at Work did copy Larrikin Music’s  song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, written by Marion Sinclair in 1934, in their composition and recording Down Under. Down Underrecord company Sony BMG and publisher EMI Songs Australia had disputed the claim but today the Federal Court ruled in Larrikin’s favour and Larrikin Music’s lawyer Adam Simpson welcomed his win saying it was yet to be decided what percentage of earnings from the song they’d be seeking commenting “It depends. I mean anything from what we have claimed which is between 40% and 60% and what they suggest which is considerably less”. The judge also ruled that a Qantas advertisement which used a small similar section of the riff was not in breach of copyright laws. EMI said it was pleased with this decision but Larrikin Music’s has said that it wasn’t ruling out further legal action. In an interview with ABC Australia’s The World Today programme music lawyer Stephen Digby said he was surprised by the court’s decision saying “ think it could have gone either way but my initial reaction and also looking at this case…

Australian court holds ‘safe harbour’ for ISPs
Copyright , Internet / March 2010
Australia
EU
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, all areas Australia’s Federal Court has ruled that Internet Service Providers cannot be held liable for copyright infringements committed by their subscribers, dealing a blow to content owners in a closely-watched lawsuit against Australian Internet Service Provider iiNet. Justice Dennis Conroy found that whilst it was shown that iiNet had knowledge that its customers were committing copyright infringement, this knowledge did not equate to “authorizing” the activities ruling “While I find that iiNet had knowledge of infringements occurring, and did not act to stop them, such findings do not necessitate a finding of authorisation. I find that iiNet did not authorise the infringements of copyright of the iiNet users”. The case was brought by AFACT (the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) on behalf of a consortium of film and TV companies and centred on the ISP’s liability for illegal file-sharing committed by its customers. AFACT had asked for damages and wanted iiNet to be forced to disconnect any customers it knew were illegally sharing music online. The ISP had refused to forward file-sharing warning notices to its subscribers on behalf of the studios, saying they violated privacy provisions in Australian law. Instead, iiNet had taken to forwarding the…

Jammie Thomas faces third trial
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2010
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels I imagine the mention of the names Joel Tenenbaum and Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the two high profile and currently convicted file swappers in the USA, probably drum up nothing but despair in the offices of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in light of the ongoing negative press the record labels face for ‘suing their own customers’ etc etc. Even so, the RIAA has rejected a judge’s order reducing the damages awarded against convicted file-swapper Jammie Thomas-Rasset from $1.92 million to $54,000, meaning that the Minnesota single mum will now face a third trial on the issue of damages In her first trial, a jury found Thomas-Rasset guilty and ordered her to pay $222,000 in damages for copyright infringement. However, the judge later said he had erred in his instructions to the jury and ordered a new trial. In the second trial the jury again found Thomas-Rasset guilty, but this time awarded $1.92 million in damages. Then last month the judge from the second trial, Judge Michael Davis, sided with Thomas-Rasset’s attorneys and reduced that  jury award to $54,000, representing $2,250 for each song that Thomas-Rasset was found guilty of sharing – triple the statutory minimum…

Tenenbaum appeals too!
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2010
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, who along with a team of his students is defending Joel Tenenbaum, the post graduate student ordered to pay the recorded music industry the combined sum of $675,000 for downloading and sharing songs online has asked a federal judge to reduce the penalty or order a new trial. Nesson’s latest argument is that Tenenbaum only caused the companies to lose a total of $21 when he failed to pay 99 cents charged online for each of the 30 songs in question – and this should be the limit of his damages. Tenenbaum, a Boston University student admitted to downloading music and was penalised in July after being found guilty of violating copyright rules for downloading songs between 1999 and 2007 (see previous blogs on this site). His lawyers have appealed against the “severe” and “oppressive” damage award, asking that it be reduced to 99 cents for each song. The recording labels have described Tenenbaum as a “hardcore” infringer. Interestingly I asked my own students about the latest appeal and a straw poll revealed that sympathy had actually swung to the record labels! The idea of a ‘infringe now, pay iTunes…

High Court rejects PPL tariff appeal
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events industry, record labels Last October the Copyright Tribunal rejected new rates that Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) wanted to bring in, siding with the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Hospitality Association who were fighting three new tariffs. Somewhat understandably, the collecting society had argued that larger premises should more than smaller ones for use of music. Where PPL had been asking for a hotel or pub of under 400 sq metres to pay a tariff of £464.80 for a licence, the Tribunal stuck at a rate of around £110. Unhappy with that decision, PPL asked the High Court to review and overturn the Tribunal.  Mr Justice Arnold has now rejected PPL’s appeal prompting a short statement from PPL which states as follows: “On the appeal, the Judge was limited to considering whether the Copyright Tribunal had erred in law, not whether the decision was one he would have made based on the evidence. Naturally the company is extremely disappointed that the Judge found there was no error of law although he identified some problems with the decision of the Tribunal. This leaves PPL with tariffs that it believes substantially undervalue the rights of its performer…

Four charged in Thai nightclub disaster
Health & Safety , Live Events / March 2010
Thailand

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events industry Four people have been formally charged over the New Year’s Eve nightclub fire in Bangkok that left 67 people dead at the Santika nightclub in Bangkok. Three Santika employees and the lead singer of the band on stage when the fire broke out (Burn) have been charged with various counts of gross negligence. The fire broke out in the packed club as about 1,000 people were celebrating the start of the New Year. Hundreds of people were trapped inside the building, which had no proper fire exits, no sprinkler system, no emergency lights and was registered as a private residence. Witnesses said people were trying to find their way to the single exit using their mobile phones for light. The club was in an area where nightclubs were banned, the owners had failed to get an entertainment licence and the city architect’s signature on the building design approval had been forged according to a Ministry of Justice investigation. Thai police have been criticised for the slow pace of their investigation and there have been many accusations of lax enforcement of fire regulations. Band singer Saravuth Ariya has been charged with setting off the fireworks that police believe…

The everlasting threat of noise
Licensing , Live Events / March 2010
UK

LICENSING Live events industry ARTICLE LINK:  By Peter Coulson in the Morning Advertiser An [noise] abatement notice is a potent weapon in a local authority’s armoury because the threat it poses is more or less everlasting. It just stays in the background, waiting for something to happen … with news that a number of venues in the UK are facing closure over noise complaints, sometimes from just a handful of people, Peter Coulson’s article is a practical read. http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news.ma/article/85895

Tenenbaum appeals, Bono appeals …… who should pay for what in the digital age … if anyone should pay at all?
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / February 2010
EU
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Joel Tenenbaum, who was ordered to pay $675,000 for illegally downloading 30 sound recordings after his jury trial in the USA, is to ask for a re-trial. Among other claims, lawyers for Tenenbaum say that the verdict was unconstitutionally excessive –  the argument being that a penalty of $22,500 a song is “obviously unreasonable” – although it is (of course) well within statutory limits. Tenebaum’s lawyer, Charles Nesson, the Harvard academic, is using an argument from the ninety year old Supreme Court decision in St. Louis, I.M. & Sou. Ry. Co. v. Williams, 251 U.S. 63 (1919) to support the appeal. The US Copyright Act allows penalties ranging from $750 to $150,000 per infringement at the jury’s discretion. Indeed the jury’s decision in the Tenenbaum case is not without precedent: in the USA’s first major file sharing claim, single mum Jammie Thomas-Rasset was ordered by a Minnesota court to pay $1.92 million for file sharing 24 songs. But remarkably, the Thomas-Rasset’s jury damages have been reduced – by 97%, with US District Judge Michael Davis calling the jury’s penalty “monstrous and shocking” and reducing the $1.92 million to $2,250 per song, or about $54,000 saying “The need…

Are they finally getting it right?
Copyright , Internet / February 2010
EU
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet ARTICLE:  By Cassandra Williams, post-graduate student at the College of Law The Government, Record Companies and the Music Industry as a whole have often been accused of not moving with the times, being unable to monetise the digital age and of attacking fans and music lovers for infringement rather than the system, if events of the last month are anything to go by it looks as though they may be, finally, getting on the right track. The Government has backtracked on Clause 17 of its Digital Economy Bill, a move some have branded a distraction, in order to sidetrack opponents from the controversial issue of “three strikes”,  This Clause would give the Secretary Of State responsible for intellectual property the power to introduce new copyright rules without consulting parliament, an entirely undemocratic right. The uproar over this particular clause has diverted many away from the introduction of a three-strikes anti-piracy programme that could result in persistent illegal file-sharers having their net connections suspended, a move that was struck by France’s highest constitutional authority who ruled that Internet access is a fundamental human right and thereby killed the three-strikes provision (Torrent freak). In a move mirroring the Spanish legislators the…

Despite piracy, digital sales now represent 27% of label’s revenue
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / February 2010
Brazil
South Korea
Spain
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels The IFPI’s Digital Music Report 2010 shows that global digital music trade revenues reach US$4.2 billion, up 12% in 2009 are representing over a quarter of all recorded music revenue worldwide. Over over  400 services are licensed worldwide. The Report outlines how music companies are diversifying their revenue streams, offering new ways for consumers to buy and access music. These include: subscription services; music services bundled with devices and broadband subscriptions; streaming services with applications for mobile devices; advertising-supported services that offer premium services; and online music video services. However the IFPI says that despite the continuing growth of the digital music business –illegal file-sharing and other forms of online piracy are eroding investment and sales of local music in major markets.  In particular, three countries known for the historic vibrancy and influence of their music and musicians – Spain, France, Brazil – are suffering acutely, with local artist album sales or the number of releases plummeting. The IFPI say that governments are gradually moving towards legislation requiring ISPs to curb digital piracy but adds that progress needs to be much quicker.  In 2009, France, South Korea and Taiwan adopted new laws to address the label’s crisis. Other…

UK’s Digital Economy Bill enters committee stage
Copyright / February 2010
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas The Digital Economy Bill has now entered the committee stage following two readings in that the House of Lords. The Lords committee will now spend time considering various aspects of the new legislation including proposals for protecting copyright online and the “three strikes” system that could lead to file sharers having their net connections suspended, the role and responsibilities of media regulator OfCom in the digital domain, “clause seventeen” which would give Secretary Of State powers to amend copyright without recourse to Parliament and the responsibilities of the internet service providers for tracking or stopping any piracy undertaken by ISP’s customers (currently set out in clause four on the Bill).

Music Publishers Settle Suit Against Unlicensed Lyrics Site
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / February 2010
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, Music publishing The USA’s National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has said that it has successfully settled its copyright infringement suit brought by members Peermusic, Warner Chappell and Bug Music against Motive Force and Sean Colombo, operators of the unlicensed LyricWiki database of song lyrics. Under the terms, Motive Force and Mr. Colombo will be permanently enjoined from further using unlicensed song lyrics on websites or applications, and will “turn over funds associated with the exploitation of the unauthorized content” saying that all unlicensed content had now moved to a licensed lyric website. The NMPA says that it’s continuing with its action against the alleged unlicensed use of lyrics against LiveUniverse and owner Brad Greenspan, the co-founder of MySpace. http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2010/01/05/music-publishers-settle-suit-against-unlicensed-lyrics-site

BMI test the law on ringbacks
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2010
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing Who pays the songwriter and for what when you ask your mobile operator to send you back a track – a ringback? US publishing collecting society BMI has launched a lawsuit against T-Mobile for payment for their ringback tones service – but there seems to be some confusion over whether the payment should be mechanical (as a single download) or a performance royalty (as a stream). This is not the first time the courts have been troubled on mobile music; ASCAP recently lost a legal attempt to get a royalty from traditional ringtone sales. They argued that while a mechanical royalty was paid when the ring-tone was first downloaded, they should also get a fee because there was a “public performance” of the track every time a user’s phone went off. The US court hearing the case did not concur. BMI told the Register that “despite extensive BMI efforts spanning several years, T-Mobile has not signed a licence agreement”.

Oink’s Ellis found not guilty
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels, music publishing The trial of the Alan Ellis, one of the main people behind the infamous ‘Oink’ Peer-2-Peer invite only file swapping site has ended at Teeside Crown Court. The file-sharing community had just under 200,000 users when it was closed down in 2007, who between them had downloaded some 21 million illegal songs. Six men were arrested in raids in the UK and Amsterdam, four of whom pleaded guilty to copyright infringement in late 2008, receiving community service and fines for their crimes. Two cases remained and the first heard was against Ellis, aged 26, who founded the community. He was charged with conspiracy to defraud. Ellis had denied liability for copyright infringement, using the (classic) defence that the Oink website and server did not, in themselves, host any unlicensed content, saying that it merely provided a forum through which others could share music. As the case centered on an accusation of fraud, and prosecutors also had to prove Ellis made a profit and prosecutors moved to show the amount of money made by Ellis by operating the venture. It appeared from evidence given that there wasn’t a subscription fee as such for using Oink,…

Deep linking does not infringe copyright in China
Copyright , Internet / February 2010
China

COPYRIGHT Internet The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court has held that deep linking to sites hosting MP3 files, whether legal or not, does not violate copyright law in China, clearing China’s dominant search engine Baidu of copyright charges brought by the IFPI, the music industry trade group, saying that merely providing search results doesn’t qualify as infringement. The case, launched in February 2008 accused Baidu and a handful of other Chinese companies of supporting piracy. The charge was that Baidu’s results provided links to file sharing sites and, in many cases, direct links to illegally shared MP3s on various servers around the world. The IFPI said it unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a resolution with Baidu, leaving it with no other choice but to sue over the deep linking practice. The Beijing court disagreed with the definition of copyright infringement. In its ruling, the court said that the IFPI failed to identify any of the sites that were allegedly hosting the illegal music, and Baidu itself was not hosting the songs. The Baidu case actually represents the IFPI’s second go at the search engine—its first case, brought in 2005, was thrown out by the same court saying that the files…

Internet consumer attitudes examined by SABIP
Copyright , Internet / February 2010
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas The UK’s Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy has released details of its research in a paper titledAttitudes and behaviours in the digital age: Implications for IP. SABIP’s website notes that consumers interact with copyright protected works on a daily basis, through their use of content on the internet, on television, in the cinema, when they read a magazine or book, on the radio etc. Due to the increased use of the internet, people’s interaction with content is vastly increased. People’s attitudes and behaviour in relation to their use of content (whether legal or illegal) therefore has implications for relevance of the legal system governing its use. SABIP acknowledge that “We know relatively little about the way large segments of society select and use content or how they view copyright rules. This work stream seeks to explore behavioural and/or attitudinal characteristics and trends of key consumer groups in the use of digital technologies that could have significance for medium and long-term copyright and IP systems.” The project is phased, and began with a systematic literature review on the available evidence regarding the attitudes and behaviour of people in the online (internet) context. The next phase involved a…

Van sues over little Van story
Artists , Defamation / February 2010
UK

DEFAMATION Artists Van Morrison has announced that he is launching legal action against the Mail On Sunday after the paper claimed the singer had recently fathered a child with an alleged business associate Gigi Lee. Contrary to what his own website announced, Van Morrison is apparently NOT the father of a newborn child. It seems hackers got into the Irish singer’s website and inserted the (admittedly rather amusing) story that 64-year old Van had sired a child called George Ivan Morrison III with Lee, named as his business manager,  who was not his long-term partner. John Saunders, a family friend, said that the singer had told him that hackers had taken over the website to make the announcement. A statement from Morrison released by Mr Saunders said that the claims made on his website were “completely and utterly without foundation”, adding that he was “very happily married to Michelle Morrison” and that he had asked his management team to carry out an “immediate investigation”. It’s all a bit of a muddle though with The Times reporting that twenty-four hours before the denial one of Morrison’s management team had said that he was the source of the statement, with Phil Lobel, who has worked as the…

New government proposals aim to liberalise live music laws in small venues
Licensing , Live Events / February 2010
UK

LICENSING Live events industry New proposals are being put forward by the Government to relax its laws on licensing for live music in small venues. Live music performances for 100 people or less will no longer need to be licensed under plans announced on December 31 by licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe. Under the proposals, an exemption from the Licensing Act 2003 for small live music events would make it easier for a wide range of venues to put on live music, and help musicians who want to play to a live audience. Mr Sutcliffe said that “Going to see a band, musician or singer is a very important part of many people’s lives and we’re keen to do what we can to support audiences and musicians” adding “an exemption for venues with 100 people or less would benefit many small venues, particularly unlicensed premises such as village halls and cafes, which may currently be put off by licensing requirements. Under current laws, anyone wanting to put on live music must have a premises licence, a club premises certificate or a temporary event notice (TEN), although there are some exceptions for incidental and background music recently highlighted in a Musicians Union campaign. The new exemption…

US appellate court applies assumption of risk in dismissing mosh pit case
Health & Safety , Live Events / February 2010
USA

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events industry A New York appellate court has, for the first time, applied the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk to a claim of injury sustained in or in the vicinity of a mosh pit. In Schoneboom v. BB King Blues Club, 2009 NY Slip Op 08160 (November 12, 2009), the Appellate Division, First Department held that a club patron was barred by the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk from seeking damages for injuries suffered when an identified person in a group of slam dancers slammed into him. The First Department decision affirmed the order of Justice Marcy Friedman, sitting in Supreme Court, New York County, granting summary judgment. Justice Friedman had noted that the 36-year-old plaintiff testified that he was standing in the vicinity of “a lot of people bouncing around, bouncing off each other,” but that he did not participate in the fun. Notwithstanding this rather interesting claim, Justice Friedman held that the plaintiff, an experienced concertgoer, assumed the risk of being struck by a fellow concertgoer when, although conscious that an aggressive type of moshing was in progress, he deliberately placed himself in proximity to it. Justice Friedman had also rejected…

US Court dismisses claim for hearing damage from the iPod
Health & Safety / February 2010
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Electronic equipment In a separate case, a lawsuit that blamed Apple’s iPod music player for causing hearing loss has failed before a US federal appeals court (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) which upheld a 2008 San Francisco District Court judgment that Apple was not liable for hearing damage despite consumers being able to crank up the volume to a potentially dangerous 115 dB. The appeal argued that consumers couldn’t know what damage was done to their hearing because the device doesn’t come with a decibel meter. It was also claimed that the earbuds that come with the iPod increase the risk that damage could occur because they are designed to be placed inside the ear. In dismissing an appeal a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals called the claims “obvious” and said that a reasonable person could easily avoid hearing loss by turning the volume down – and that the iPod did come with a warning saying . The Court said “the plaintiffs do not allege the iPods failed to do anything they were designed to do nor do they allege that they, or any others, have suffered or are substantially certain to suffer…

Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger given green light by US and Canadian regulators
Competition , Live Events / February 2010
Canada
USA

COMPETITION Live events industry Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment have announced that they have reached agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and with the Canadian Commissioner of Competition, clearing the way for the merger of the companies.  The company will be renamed Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. and will combine Live Nation’s concert promotions expertise with Ticketmaster’s ticketing and artist management businesses. Under the terms of the proposed final judgment filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the companies have agreed to divest Ticketmaster’s self-ticketing subsidiary, Paciolan, to Comcast-Spectacor and to license the Ticketmaster Host technology to Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc. (“AEG”), as well as to other terms that protect competitive conditions in ticketing and promotions. Seventeen State Attorney Generals also participated in the matter and have joined in the U.S. consent decree. The parties’ consent agreement with the Canadian Commissioner of Competition is on substantially equivalent terms. Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, said, “This is a good and exciting day for the music business, and we are close to finalizing the creation of a new company that will seek to transform the way artists distribute their content and fans can access that content.  The Department of…

Venues and promoters voice concerns over Ticketmaster and Live Nation merger
Competition , Live Events / February 2010
USA

COMPETITION Live events Industry Prior to the US DOJ approval of the Live Nation – Ticketmaster merger, but after the rather unusual U-turn by the UK’s Competition Commission which also allowed the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger, a number of consumer protection groups and the National Association of Ticket Brokers expressed concern about the merger and these concerns were repeated by several of the US’s prominent independent venue operators and concert promoters who banded together to oppose the planned merger. In an email being circulated to fans and industry organisations, titled “Concert Fans Beware!”, the group of venue operators and promoters urged people and fellow industry members to oppose the proposed deal because it could severely affect the concert landscape.; The venues and promotion companies that signed the email are Minnesota’s First Avenue, Washington DC area stalwarts The 9:30 Club, Merriweather Post Pavilion and The Black Cat; Jam Productions, Metropolitan Talent; Another Planet; Frank Productions; Stone City Attractions and Rams Head Live. It has been interesting that the main focus of regulators looking at the merger seems to have been on the ticketing market – whereas many commentators say that the ‘bigger picture’ is the effect a merged company might have on…

Court Reinstates Music Antitrust Suit
Competition , Internet , Record Labels / February 2010
USA

COMPETETITON Record labels, internet An appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit that accused major record labels of price fixing and trying to cut competitors out of the digital market – a ploy that spectacularly backfired and allowed internet piracy to run rampant over other fledgling business models.  The suit had been previously dismissed by a federal judge. The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision to reinstate the antitrust case could affect millions who download music over the Internet. Filed on behalf of internet user who (legally) download music over the Internet, the plaintiffs accused the record labels of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The defendants include Bertelsmann AG (owners of BMG), EMI Group, Sony, Vivendi SA (owners of Universal), and Warner Music Group, as well as some of their affiliated units.In October 2008 the lawsuit –Starr et al v SonyBMG et al – was dismissed by a lower court who said the plaintiffs didn’t have a case against the major music companies for the litigation to go to a full court hearing. The lawsuit centred on the music industry’s first forays into the digital market – Pressplay and MusicNet, the first backed by Sony and Universal, the latter by EMI,…

Article: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Articles / February 2010

Click here to download this article as a PDF file (.pdf) IS THERE AN UNWARRANTED FEAR OF LIABILITY FOR MOSHING, CROWD SURFING AND STAGE DIVING? Ben Challis JP FRSA LLB(Hons) MA MA(Law) Barrister  Visiting professor of law at Buckinghamshire New University February 2010 When I was a teenage punk rocker in the late seventies, one of the joys of going to gigs was being able to pogo in some venues – bounce around with wanton abandon and then immediately as the music stopped, look down to see what badges you could collect – to replace the ones that had fallen off in the heat of the moment. Then along came grunge and the word ‘mosh pit’ was coined and groups of (mostly) male fans would indulge in often physical, aggressive and violent mass dancing (see Upton, 2004 and Marshall, 2004). In the nineties promoters, venues, event organisers and show security all had to get used to crowd surfing and stage diving – as well as moshing – and face up to the fact that at some events the audience and sometimes the performers voluntarily took part in potentially dangerous – if not lethal  – activities. Unsurprisingly this is when the…

MU encourages restaurants and bars to stage music without a licence
Licensing , Live Events / January 2010
UK

LICENSING Live events industry The Musicians Union is calling on pubs and restaurants across the UK to stage live music without a licence, in a bid to promote the exemption for incidental music in the Licensing Act 2003. Tthe MU, along with the British Beer and Pub Association, PRS for Music, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services and the Local Government Association have released a leaflet publicising the fact that premises can put on small scale live music without needing to apply for a licence – according to the guidance for the Licensing Act 2003, no licence is needed for “incidental music” – where the music is not the main reason for people attending the venue. The Group is also distributing information about how venues can use the recently introduced minor variations process to apply to add live music to their licence quickly and at low cost and the news follows recent campaigns by the MU and Equity, as well as opposition MPs, demanding an exemption from the Licensing Act for venues of less than 200 capacity. From The Stage: Published Monday 30 November 2009 at 14:30, written by Alistair Smithhttp://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/26373/mu-encourages-restaurants-and-bars-to-stage and see http://www.thepublican.com/story.asp?sectioncode=7&storycode=65884&c=1

Lambert’s kiss prompts religious fury in the USA
Censorship / January 2010
USA

CENSORSHIP Broadcasting Adam Lambert’s gay kiss and sexually charged performance at the American Music Awards continues to have repercussions in the USA with ABC cancelling Lambert’s upcoming appearance on the late night show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and removing him from the potential roster of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve performers. The Liberty Counsel, a not for profit public interest law firm closely tied to the late Revered Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Virginia which provides legal assistance in defense of what it calls “Christian religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family” has now filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over Lambert’s controversial performance at the AMAs, calling on the FCC to fine ABC for “airing such an outrageously lewd and filthy performance during a show and time period that is targeted for family audiences”. Executives at ABC, which had earlier canceled Lambert’s scheduled appearance on “Good Morning America,” have declined to discuss the reasons behind the cancellations. Lambert, the popular and openly gay “American Idol” runner-up, has said on his Twitter site that the network is responding to “FCC heat”. ABC said that it received about 1,500 complaints from viewers about Lambert’s seemingly unrehearsed sexually suggestive performance, which featured the singer…

118 dead in Russian nightclub blaze
Health & Safety , Live Events / January 2010
Russia

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live event industry At least 118 revellers have been confirmed as dead after a nightclub fire in Perm, Russia. The fire, which was apparently started by pyrotechnic fountains let off inside the Lame Horse nightclub, seems to have ignited the ceiling and amateur video footage shows patrons rushing to escape the blaze in thick smoke with panicked clubbers crushing each other to death as they tried to flee a fast-moving fire late on Friday 4th Dec. Russian police have arrested four people including the club manager. Officials said most of the dead suffered smoke inhalation or were crushed at the exit with chief prosecutor for the Perm region Marina Zabbarova saying “The fire spread very quickly …. panic arose which led to a mass death of people”. Svetlana Kuvshinova, who was in the nightclub when the blaze broke out, told the AP it started after three fireworks fountains spewed sparks, igniting the plastic ceiling saying “The fire took seconds to spread,” she said. “It was like a dry haystack. There was only one way out. They nearly stampeded me.” Reports also say that the club, which was celebrating its 8th birthday, had only one exit. Russian TV say…