Contract / October 2010

ARTICLE: Why sign a music business contract? by Ben Challis General Information: If you are an artist or a performer, then at some stage in your career you will undoubtedly enter into contracts – whether it is as “simple” as buying a piece of equipment or a musical instrument, or being booked to play at your local pub or club, or engaging a web designer to built your website. Perhaps more significantly you may be asked to sign a formal written agreement with a manager, a music publisher or a record label.  A contact is a legally binding agreement and can be enforced by the courts. This website does not offer formal legal advice and the information on this website should not be construed as legal advice. If you are entering into an agreement, in particular one which will have a long term impact on your career in the music industry, then it is important that you take proper legal advice from a qualified lawyer who has experience in the music industry and the legal system that applies to the contract. There are the names of some of the United Kingdom specialist lawyers listed on our ‘links’ pages and another…

“Eminen” digital royalty judgment ‘no legal precedent’ says UMG
Copyright , Record Labels / October 2010

COPYRIGHT Record labels A US federal appeals court has sided with FBT Productions, the production team who helped launch Eminem’s career, in a dispute with Aftermath and its parent company, the Universal Music Group over digital music royalties. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned a decision in the lower court, and has ruled  that the record label had to pay the producers FBT Production, a bigger cut for music sold online through downloads and mobile-phone ring tones than for the same music sold in stores. FBT had argued they had a right to a 50/50 split of profits with Universal on sales of digital music and ring tones through online retailers such as iTunes and Sprint as these ‘Master Licensing’ deals attracting the higher royalty. The contract did not specifically mention income from download stores like iTunes, or what share the artist (and therefore FBT) should get from such sales but Universal have been treating download sales as being equivalent to CD sales paying a lower rate of 12-20%% as if these were physical sales. FBT sued, moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Master Licensing provision should apply. The district court refused summary judgment,…

Bob Marley copyright claim against UMG dismissed – but digital royalty claim left open.
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Record Labels / October 2010

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Artists, record labels This dispute concerned the ownership of the renewal term copyrights in certain pre-1978 sound recordings embodying the performances of Jamaican reggae artist, Bob Marley. The Sound Recordings were created pursuant to exclusive recording agreements between Bob Marley and the predecessor-in-interest (Island Records, now owned by UMG) to defendant UMG Recordings, Inc. The Plaintiffs argued that the renewal term copyrights in the Sound Recordings reverted to them under the Copyright Act of 1909 upon Bob. Marley’s death in 1981. The Plaintiffs also asserted claims for underpayment of royalties against UMG. But District Judge Denise Cote ruled that Universal Music holds the rights to Marley’s music, because Marley’s work was done on a “work for hire” basis: Judge Cote concluded that Marley’s recordings were “works made for hire” as defined under U.S. copyright law, entitling UMG to be designated the statutory owner and “author” of those recordings, for both the initial 28-year copyright terms and for renewals. Marley signed a number of agreements with Island including agreements in 1972,1974,1975 and 1992.  The 1972 Agreement states  “ The Artist shall during the period attend at such places and times as the Company shall reasonably require and shall render to the…

Police co-ordinate file-share raids across 14 European countries
Copyright , Internet / October 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet The web was buzzing with news after police in 14 European countries launched a coordinated series of raids on suspected file-sharing network operations on Tuesday 7th September. Reports said that Belgian authorities spearheaded the investigation that led to the raids, although a substantial part of the police activity took place in Sweden, including a raid on Sweden’s PRQ in Solna, the new web host of whistleblower site WikiLeaks. Other raid included sites in Stockholm, Malmo,  Eskilstuna and on Umea University’s campus. TorrentFreak reports that other raids took place in The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Italy. Great Britain, Czech Republic and Hungary. The believed target of the raids is the file-sharing “Warez Scene” or the “Scene”. a loosely-affiliated group thought to be behind many  leaks of copyrighted material to the Internet and described as “, the network of individuals and servers at the top of the so-called ‘Piracy Pyramid’ “. In Sweden it is reported that four people are being questioned on suspicion of breaching copyright law. Servers and computers have also been seized. PRQ’s Mikaelo Viberg spoke to reporters and said that armed with IP addresses,  police officers turned up at PRQ’s premises “At 9:00 this morning, five…

GEMA fail to get injunctive relief against YouTube
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / October 2010

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet German collecting society GEMA have failed to get an injunction to force YouTube to take down videos containing one of 75 songs – the German songwriters and publishers collection society has been in dispute with YouTube over royalty rates for over a year now. After ongoing licensing talks between the collecting society and video site broke down in May, GEMA asked the German courts to issue an injunction to force the Google-owned site to remove any videos containing one of 75 songs owned by publishers represented by the collecting society. The society argued an injunction was needed now, pending other legal action, on urgency grounds because, given there is currently no licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA, the writers of the 75 songs in question are losing money every time one of their videos is played. But, according to Billboard, the Regional Court of Hamburg, whilzt not passing judgment on GEMA’s wider copyright claim, said it was not convinced by the urgency argument so would not issue any interim injunctions. GEMA can, of course, proceed with other legal action against YouTube, but the 75 songs may continue to be accessed via the video site at present….

New books is a real Page earner
Copyright / October 2010

COPYRIGHT All areas Robbie Williams co-manager Tim Clark told the Popkomm conference that the U.K.’s recently passed Digital Economy Act – aimed at curbing Internet piracy – was “laughable and unworkable” saying that “It allows ISPs to sit on their hands for longer, knowing they are off the hook,” claiming one major label CEO agrees with him that the Act is “a waste of time” and “is never going to work.” Clark said that “the truth is digital technology has driven a panzer division through copyright la,”  (an interesting choice of words given the location of the Berlin based event) saying “If 70% of the population are ignoring a law, it’s no longer a law – we have to figure out a new way of working with copyright.” Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails front man, has been at the forefront of creating new music business models for copyright which combine new media and traditional business models – offering free internet downloads of albums alongside premium internet products, limited edition CD and vinyl box sets, special merchandise and other paid for product – in an eclectic mix of free and paid for. Now Jimmy Page, the legendary guitar hero from Led Zeppelin, recently…

Swiss court holds that IP addresses are personal private data
Copyright , Internet / October 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet The Swiss Federal Court has ruled that software which identified the internet protocol (IP) address of unauthorised music uploaders broke the country’s data protection law. The court backed that country’s Data Protection Commissioner, who said that Logistep violated Switzerland’s Data Protection Act when it used the software. The IP addresses were personal data, the Court said, and processing that data without the knowledge or permission of the person concerned was a breach of the law, it said. The Court recognised the economic interest that copyright holders had in stopping the illegal sharing of material in which they had rights, but said that that interest did not justify what it called a significant intrusion into the privacy of each affected user. The status of IP addresses has been hotly contested in Europe, with some arguing that they are personal data as defined in the EU’s Data Protection Directive, and others arguing that though they are personal data in some circumstances, that is not always the case. A French court ruled earlier this year that a French music royalty collection society did not breach data protection law when using IP addresses and that the addresses were not personal data because…

UK content owners to bear brunt of Three Strikes costs
Copyright , Internet / October 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet The UK government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has issued a press release “Rights holders to bear 75% of Online Digital Economy Act copyright infringement costs” detailing  how costs will be shared as part of theDigital Economy Act’s measures to tackle online infringement of copyright. The decision will see costs resulting from these measures split between rights holders and internet service providers (ISPs) at a ratio of 75:25, very much a victory for ISPs – content owners wanted a 50-50 split. The Government also announced no fee will be charged to consumers who want to appeal a notification. The costs sharing decision applies to both the notification and appeals process. Following serious consideration of the issue of appeal costs, it has been decided that no fee should be charged to internet subscribers who wish to use the appeal system to refute a notification. However as a free system risks the possibility of large numbers of unnecessary appeals, the Government will monitor the situation closely, and reserves the right to introduce a small fee at a later stage.  The decision will now be notified to the European Commission before being introduced in Parliament as a Statutory Order. Ofcom’s Online…

Coca-cola fail in bid to regain Five Alive URL
Internet , Trade Mark / October 2010

TRADE MARK Internet The Coca-Cola Company has failed in an action  against  a UK individual who had registered the domain . The case was heard by an independent expert under Nominet’s Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) Policy.  The respondent in this case was an individual named Paolo Ciuffa and the domain name was registered in his company’s name, Bo Cat, in 2004.  Coca-Cola argued that Mr Ciuffa had no legitimate interest in the domain name and they argued that the only reasonable conclusion to reach regarding the registration of the domain name was that Mr Ciuffa intended to capitalise on their goodwill and divert customers away from them.  They said the domain name was disrupting their legitimate business interests and amounted to an “abusive registration”.  According to Nominet’s DRS Policy, an abusive registration is one that takes unfair advantage of, or is unfairly detrimental to the complainant’s rights.  In his response, Mr Ciuffa claimed that he had registered the domain name with the sole intention of representing and promoting the music artist MC Five Alive.  He provided evidence in the form of a MySpace link and recent flyers from events which MC Five Alive had performed at.  He denied that it was an “abusive registration”. The appointed…

Bieber and Gaga no amused by comics, and sex dolls
Artists , Image Rights , Trade Mark / October 2010

TRADE MARK / IMAGE RIGHTS Artists A comic book version of Justin Bieber’s life has irked the diminutive star. Unlike recently announced bio-pic film and photo-book projects, this output isn’t officially sanctioned. Now the comic’s publisher, Bluewater Productions, is being threatened with legal action by a lawyer representing both Bieber and Lady Gaga, who also had her life turned into a comic strip by the company back in June. According to WENN, lawyer Kenneth Feinswog has served the company with a cease-and-desist letter, threatening to take the matter to court, but the publisher is refusing to cease production, claiming it is well within its rights to produce the books. Bluewater’s Darren G Davis said: “We are 100% within our first amendment rights. We knew our rights on this before we jumped into the biography world. These are 100% biographies on their lives. We reach out to all the celebrities and some choose to work with us and some do not. If they do choose to work with us, we donate ads and money to a non-profit [organisation] of their choice. We offered the same deal to Bieber’s people”. Lady Gaga has also threatened legal action against a sex doll company for…

New webs forum opens for business with Tenenbaum blog
Copyright , Internet / October 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet A new copyright web forum called Copygrounds has been launched by staff and students at the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas. The first blog is a fascinating interview with Joel Tenenbaum, who has become a poster boy for illegal filesharers around the world after being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (see previous blogs here!). Copygrounds describes itself as “an academic discussion forum and digital media platform which focuses on the technological changes now taking place within contemporary media systems. The dynamics of technological development have been accompanied by numerous antagonisms and outright conflicts between parties with conflicting interests. These antagonisms and conflicts are the particular target of our analysis.” The Tenenbaum interview is posted by Debbie Rosenbaum. Debbie is currently completing a dual law and business degree at Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School and is a member of the team of Harvard Law School students who, under the guidance of Professor Charles Nesson, mounted Tenenbaum’s defence. There is quite a large blogging team with some pretty impressive CVs, so a site well worth watching. The site is open and welcomes public commentary – but also says “as this is primarily…