Dreamscape judgment apportions liability for art installation death claims
Liability , Live Events / June 2011

LIABILITY Live events industry Mr Justice Foskett has now given his judgment (16th May 2011) in the High Court confirming the apportionment of liability resulting from the ‘Dreamscape’ tragedy in 2006. Dreamscape V was the inflatable art installation created by the late Maurice Agis that covered almost half a football pitch. On 23 July 2006 Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street, County Durham the installation broke free of its anchorage and video footage showed it lifting into the air, moving about 85 metres, killing two people and injuring a number of others, some seriously. There had already been settlement between the estates of the victims and the injured parties, and the defendants, and the issue before the High Court was the apportionment of responsibility for these damages between Chester-le-Street District Council and arts event organiser Brouhaha International Limited (BIL) who were both involved in the organisation of the event.  Mr Agis’s son, Giles, was a director of BIL. This was a decision on how much each of their insurers had to pay towards the total compensation. Maurice Agis died with no money in his estate and he was uninsured. Maurice Agis had already been convicted of Health & Safety at Work Act 1974…

UMG face more artiste digital royalty claims
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / June 2011

CONTRACT Artistes, record labels Hot on the heels of FBT’s appellate court victory determining the Eminen producers a share of licensing income from digital sales, and another action launched in the same basis launched by the estate of Rick James, Universal Music Group has been hit with a class action lawsuit, filed by artists Rob Zombie, White Zombie, Whitesnake and Dave Mason, who allege they are owed what may amount to millions of dollars in additional digital music royalties, All of the lawsuits argue that record labels violated their contracts by considering a digital song a “sale” rather than a “license” of the recording and therefor arguing to move the accounting away from the labels preferred calculation of a percentage paid on the sale price (subject to royalty reducers) to the far higher rate of a 50% cut of profits for artists. The new lawsuit against Universal alleges the label “analyzed internally the financial consequences of its misconduct and cast it in terms of the additional profit to be made by UMG by avoiding its contractual obligations. The first action in this area we saw was the Allman Brother action against Sony BMG which again alleged that the record label…

Corporate manslaughter appeal fails in UK
Criminal Law , Live Events / June 2011

CRIMINAL LAW Live events industry The first company in the UK to be convicted of corporate manslaughter, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd, has lost an appeal against its conviction for corporate manslaughter. The firm was convicted in February this year after geologist, Alexander Wright, 27, died in September 2008 when a trench he was working in collapsed. The company became the first to be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 and were fined 110% of their annual turnover (£385,000). In separate news, Network Rail has been fined  £3m for Heath & Safety legislation failings over the Potters Bar rail crash, in which seven people died. The company admitted breaching safety regulations that led to the West Anglia Great Northern train from London to King’s Lynn derailing just outside Potters Bar station in Hertfordshire in May 2002. The company had previously been fined £3.5m for failings in the Hatfield rail crash in 2000, which killed four and injured 102. http://www.hse.gov.uk/corpmanslaughter/

Reading ticket fraudster jailed
Criminal Law , Live Events / June 2011

CRIMINAL LAW Live events industry A ticket scammer who sold non-existent tickets to the 2008 Reading Festival has been jailed for three years after being found guilty of fraud and money laundering charges by a jury earlier this year.  Christopher Bundza claimed to have tickets to sell for the music festival both via his own website and on eBay, but had no tickets, and was found guilty of eighteen separate charges, some relating to the ticket scam, others to a fraud he committed in relation to the purchase of his home. His former partner Kathryn White avoided jail after admitting four offences of fraud.

UK government announces licensing reforms
Licensing , Live Events / June 2011

LICENSING Live events industry The UK’s coalition government has announced plans to reform the country’s much criticised Licensing Act to do away with the ‘red tape’ that many says stifles the development of grass roots music. The Tourism Minister, John Penrose, said that in the future only events of over 5,000 people or those that sell alcohol  or where there is adult entertainment will need licences  with Penrose saying  “the current regime makes it harder for new talent to get a chance to perform  In front of audiences and imposes a deadweight cost on small businesses and voluntary  bodies who want to put on shows” adding “live entertainment is a good thing: it improves our cultural life and should be encouraged, not stifled by the clammy hand of bureaucracy” promising that proper controls on alcohol, health and safety and noise nuisance would remain. However the new provisions aim to address issues of alcohol-related violence in The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill currently in the House of Lords in the UK are causing concern – among the provisions are amendments to the Licensing Act 2003 to give the police and local authorities stronger powers to remove or refuse to grant licenses to…

Live sector joins up with UK Music
Licensing , Live Events , Regulation / June 2011

REGULATION / LICENSING Live events industry The UK’s live music sector has finally joined UK Music, the umbrella organisation representing the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry – from artists, musicians, songwriters and composers, to major and independent record labels, music managers up, music producers, music publishers, music licensing companies and, now, the live music sector – now ensuring that, for the first time, the UK’s entire commercial music industry will be represented by one umbrella body. The move follows the establishment of the UK Live Music Group, a coming together of the live industry’s main trade associations and representative bodies whose members are The Agents Association, The AFO (the Association of Festival Organisers, representing many jazz and folk festivals), the Association of Independent Festivals (whose members include Bestival and Creamfields), The Concert Promoters Association, The International Live Music Conference, the NAA (National Arenas Association), the PSA (Production Services Association ) and we:Live, the independent venue and promoter association. The group will meet every six weeks and have nominated Paul Latham of Live Nation Entertainment to be their representative on the UK Music board. Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music said: “This is a fantastic development for UK Music. The…

Live Nation moves to stamp out ticket scams
Criminal Law , Live Events / June 2011

CRIMINAL LAW Live events industry Live Nation and Festival Republic have both said that they will support a plan put forward by the police to try to combat the sale of non-existent tickets for festivals with both organizations saying that they will send out tickets for their big summer events earlier than normal. Despite the higher risk of counterfeit tickets, police say that a bigger problem these days is ticket agents who take money off music fans online with no intent of sending them any tickets, real or fake. Deputy Chief Superintendent Steve Head of the City of London Police told the BBC: “We believe that [posting tickets early] would stop a lot of people being the victims, because we’d be able to act on it quicker, convicting the kind of people we want to convict”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13252777

ACS:Law’s owner fined just £1000 for data leaks

COPYRIGHT / DATA PROTECTION Internet Andrew Crossley, former principle of ACS:Law, the legal firm which had previously targeted alleged P2P file sharers,  has been fined £1,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office in relation to the data-spill that occurred from ACS:Law’s servers, which revealed personal details about over 6,000 suspected file-sharers. The data spill occurred after ACS:Law accidentally published private data about potential defendants  when their servers were targeted by a Distributed Denial Of Service attack by those who opposed the law firm’s tactics. The ICO’s investigation showed Crossley had taken no professional advice when setting up his server, had no firewall and was relying on a web security package designed for domestic use. However the much lower fine was applied because ACS:Law no longer exists and Crossley seemingly pleaded “limited” financial resources.  A fine of up to £200,000 could have been imposed. PC Pro magazine has reportedly asked the ICO how they verified Crossley’s “circumstances”. More on data – the three-strikes system administered by the Hadopi agency in France was put on hold in mid-May after a data spills. The agency was recently sending 5,000 warning letters per day to suspected file-sharers, but the letter sending was halted when it…

Moral rights case against Jay-Z allowed to proceed
Artists , Moral Rights / June 2011

MORAL RIGHTS Artistes A US judge has allowed a lawsuit against Jay-Z and a number of other entertainment companies including Universal and MTV to proceed, in relation to his 2000 track ‘Big Pimpin’, even though the case is, in the main, based on elements of Egyptian copyright law, including its interpretation of moral rights. The case concerns the use of a sample in the hip hop track. It appears that Jay-Z’ had licensed the piece of music in question by Baligh Hamdy, which comes from the 1960 Egyptian film ‘Fata Ahlami’, but – according to the now deceased author’s family – the licence was to make a mechanical copy of the piece of music, not to adapt it and further that the adaptation itself was a ‘mutilation’ of the original work, and therefore the moral rights of Hamdy’s descendents have been infringed. The case was brought by Osama Ahmed Fahmy, a nephew of Baligh Hamdy. Judge Christina Snyder did not concur with defence arguments that principles of Egyptian law had no place in a trial, and let the case proceed saying Hamdy’s family had a strong enough case under US law for their lawsuit to go to a full hearing. US copyright…

Norwegian Government suggests new laws on digital piracy, and the European Commission wants change too!
Copyright , Internet / June 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet, all areas Norway has proposed amendments to its copyright law to make it easier for content owners to tackle online piracy, though the Norwegian government has shied away from a “three-strikes” system, focusing on making it easier for content owners to get orders against individual filesharers and to get injunctions to order ISPs to block copyright infringing websites. Norway will relax data protection rules to allow actions to proceed against individuals and will simplify the process by which rights owners can force ISPs to reveal the name and contacts of suspected file-sharers based on the IP address they are using. Secondly there will be a new proposed injunction system which will make it easier for the content industries to get websites guilty of copyright infringement. Spain also decided to go the speedy injunction route instead of establishing some sort of three-strikes process that targets actual individual file-sharers. In America the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized another eight domains of websites it alleges are engaged in offering unauthorized copyright or counterfeit goods. In November 2010 over 70 domains were seized, and a number of similar seizures that have…

Professor Hargreaves reports
Copyright / June 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas Professor  Ian Hargreaves, charged by David Cameron with independently reviewing UK intellectual property law  and the environment to promote e-businesses in the UK, has now published his Report Digital Opportunity which can be found athttp://www.ipo.gov.uk/ipreview-finalreport.pdf. There is plenty of comment online so I didn’t feel the need to repeat the detail of the Report here, but in a nutshell here are a few of the recommendations relevant to the music industry recommended to Government: Legalising format shifting and look at copyright exceptions at national level to realise all the opportunities within the EU framework, including exceptions for parody, non-commercial research, and library archiving. Solve the problem  of ‘orphan works’ by establishing an extended collective licensing for mass licensing The appointment of a senior figure to oversee the design and implementation of a “cross sectoral Digital Copyright Exchange” the UK should support EC moves to establish a framework for cross-border licensing The IPO seek to facilitate improvements in the accessibility of the IP system for small companies, and that it “be given the necessary powers and mandate in law to ensure that it focuses on its central task of ensuring that the UK’s IP system promotes innovation and growth through…

Google chair says he will fight website blocking legislation
Copyright , Internet / June 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said that the internet search engine giant will oppose anti-piracy efforts on both sides of the pond in the USA and the United Kingdom. Schmidt singled out provisions in the USA’s PROTECT IP Bill and the Digital Economy Act in the U.K. where provisions could allow governments to block access to websites that host infringing content or sell counterfeit goods with Schmidt saying “If there is a law that requires DNSs [domain name systems] to do X and it’s passed by both houses of congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it then we would still fight it.” Speaking at the company’s Big Tent conference in London he added “If it’s a request the answer is we wouldn’t do it, if it’s a discussion we wouldn’t do it.” The PROTECT IP bill is the movie, TV and music industry supported bill that would allow authorities to seek court orders to shut down websites offering unauthorized copyrighted content which expand current actions being taken by the Justice Dept. and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to seize the domains of websites offering copyrighted and counterfeit content. The…

Where does the music industry go post Limewire?
Copyright , Internet / June 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet, all areas I’ve been pondering over the weekend who the real winners and losers in the LimeWire saga were – and where the recorded music industry goes from here – and for that matter where film companies and other content owners go from here. Despite a court victory for the record labels, and an agreed settlement,  I just can’t find any real winners, but I can find lots of losers, including (of course) LimeWire which has been shuttered and forced to pay over $105 million. What we had was a widely popular internet service that was admittedly used by many to download illegal content – but LimeWire’s own figure showed that 30% of consumers used the service to find new music – and another 25% were “morally persuadable”  – in that they could have been encouraged to pay for content. In a “can pay, won’t pay” era, not a bad market at all – and that’s gone. So a potential business has been lost, the consumer has lost out – and consumers have been lost too. The recorded music sector is still in a steep decline, and the unpalatable truth is that those who used LimeWire for illegal…

What To Do When Your Customers Flock to the Cloud? Hopefully, You Don’t Sue Them
Copyright , Internet / June 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet ARTICLE LINK:  By Erika Morphy on Forbes.com Google has joined Amazon by launching a new music-based digital locker service – despite not have any licensing deals in place with the record companies or music publishers. Amazon had previously argued that its digital locker service did not require licences from with record labels or music publishers because all its digital locker does is allow users to upload their own MP3 collections to remote servers, and to then download or stream that music back to any net-connected device via a user-friendly player. Amazon has already launched is Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player services and Google’s Music Beta joins them as an unlicensed digital locker. The US case of EMI v MP3tuneswill be significant in determining the legality of these unlicensed platforms. Now, here’s a plea to the music industry – don’t sue your customers (again!). http://blogs.forbes.com/erikamorphy/2011/05/10/what-to-do-when-your-customers-flock-to-the-cloud-hopefully-you-dont-sue-them/ Also see MPAA v Zediva: Zediva is a online movie rental business, launched in March. By using only physical DVDs—one per customer at a time—Zediva hopes to be able to create a video-on-demand business without getting licensing deals from the owners of the movies it streams. The movie studios don’t agree …..http://paidcontent.org/article/419-mpaa-v.-zediva-is-shaping-up-to-be-quite-the-legal-showdown/

First person in Scotland convicted of filesharing
Copyright , Internet / June 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet This, from the 1709 blog: Anne Muir, 58, has become the first person in Scotland to be convicted for illegally sharing music files online. Muir pleaded guilty at Ayr Sheriff Court last month to a contravention of section 107(1)(e) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Muir, from Ayr, admitted to distributing £54,792 worth of copyrighted music files by making them available to others via a ‘peer-to-peer’ file sharing application. Following an initial investigation by BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and IFPI International Federation for the Phonographic Industry), a formal complaint was made to Strathclyde Police. Officers subsequently obtained a search warrant for her home at Gordon Street, Ayr, and seized vital evidence, including computer equipment. This is the first conviction of its kind in Scotland and is particularly significant to the music industry. District Procurator Fiscal for Ayr, Mirian Watson, said: “Intelligence gathered by BPI and IFPI revealed that Anne Muir was a prolific user of a particular file sharing network based in the UK. Illegally flouting copyright laws is tantamount to theft and not only deprives legitimate companies and artists of earnings, but also undermines the music industry as a whole. We will continue to work…

“US Offered To Write New Zealand’s Three Strikes Laws”
Copyright , Internet / June 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet Both Techdirt and Zeropaid report that the Green party in New Zealand is demanding clarification of possible US government and US rights industry intervention in helping to pass the country’s somewhat controversial Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act, including the US music industry’s offer to fund an intellectual property enforcement unit to combat what US officials call “key gaps in intellectual property rights enforcement”. The information comes from Wikileaks cables from 2005 and the Green Party’s Information and Communications Technology spokesperson, Gareth Hughes reportedly said “The latest Wikileaks cables show how vulnerable our Government is to pressure from big businesses in the USA,” adding “We’ve got to keep politics honest, so it’s important to find out exactly what influence US interests had in securing the rushed passage of controversial copyright legislation through Parliament”. Hughes went on to say “This kind of blatant intervention in local law enforcement is undermining our democracy … the New Zealand Government has been subject to intense international corporate lobbying. As the Government consults further on the current online copyright regime, it must make decisions that work for the New Zealanders that elected them, not US interests” adding “Hollywood moguls shouldn’t be writing our…

US TV decline points to new trends in audience behaviour
Copyright / June 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas A new study from The Neilsen Company says that the number of homes in the United States equipped with a television set is expected to decline through 2012 – dropping to 114.7 million homes (96.7 percent) from 115.9 million (98.9 percent). This is first time US TV ownership has gone down in two decades and the snappily titled “2012 Advance/Preliminary TV Household Universe Estimate (UE)” puts the decline down to a number of factors – the recession being one, but the Report also cites ‘digital transition’ and more tellingly the increased use of ‘multiple viewing platforms’ for the decline. The report argues that the economic downturn has had an inevitable effect but the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in 2009 has compounded this as it meant that viewers needed to have purchased a new digital TV or bought a digital-to-analog converter box to watch digital services and this marked the first decline in TV penetration as analogue households who could not afford new digital sets and antennas were no longer ‘connected’. But tellingly it is rise of alternative viewing platforms, such as computers and tablets and even mobile devices, that seems most likely to lead to…

Record industry settles for $105 million in LimeWire trial after speculation that it was after ten times that.
Copyright , Internet / June 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet LimeWire, the now defunct file sharing platform, and its founder, Mark Gorton, have reached a settlement with the 13 record labels that brought an action against them in the Manhatten federal court, agreeing to pay $105 million in damages. The defendants has already been found liable for copyright infringement last year by Judge Kimba Wood and the trial that has been settled was to award damages – the Jury could have potentially awarded up to $1.4 billion in statutory damages. A brief reminder of the facts behind the trial: last May District Judge Kimba Wood ruled that Lime Wire induced or willfully contributed to the infringement of recordings by allowing its users to download and illegally share thousands of songs on the Internet through its peer-to-peer file-sharing software. The court ordered Lime Wire to shut its music service last year and it duly did (although a ‘pirated’ LimeWire software later appeared). Glenn Pomerantz, the lawyer representing 13 record labels in their legal action in the Manhatten federal court against Lime Wire LLC and founder Mark Gorton, said at the start of the action that the defendants should pay the highest range of damages for harming the recording industry by allowing…