Universal settle with FBT over digital royalties dispute
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / December 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists   I am slightly disappointed to report that FBT, early producers of Eminen, have settled their dispute with Universal over the rate at which royalties should be paid on digital product, having successfully argued on appeal in the US courts (Ninth Circuit) that a bigger share of revenues applied to digital sales – a share of licensing revenues rather than the ‘per unit’ royalty applied to physical sales. The Supreme Court refused to hear UMG’s appeal. The case will spare UMG having to reveal what royalty rates it will pay FBT, aka The Bass brothers,  and as importantly will save UMG having to reveal what royalty reducers it applies to international royalties before any royalty calculation is made. FBT had planned to challenge how Universal deals with international revenues, and the tendency for substantial portions of revenues to stay with local Universal divisions, so that UMG only has to pay the artist a share of the 29% of total revenue that ends up with the US division to which Eminem and FBT have their direct deal. Again the producers planned to argue that this was unfair in the digital age, where the cost to the record…

Has Japan’s new download law pushed record sales down?
Copyright , Internet / December 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   As of the 1st Octobet 2012 in Japan,  it has been an offence to knowingly download copyright material without permission with punishments extending to a 2 million yen fine and prison terms of up to two years. With only 1 download in 10 legal in Japan according to industry figures the move seemed a step forward – except it seems Japanese consumers have stopped buying music – with a massive 68% prompting some commentators to ask if Japan’s new law has had a negative effect on sales. http://en.rocketnews24.com/2012/11/05/a-month-after-japans-strict-new-download-law-comes-into-effect-survey-suggests-that-consumers-are-spending-less-than-ever-on-music/

50 cent says plaintiff has no right to claim in sampling case

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishing   50 Cent has argued that the claimant bringing a sampling case against him over the use of 70s Persuaders hit “Love Gonna Pack Up and Walk Out” on 50 cent’s track “Redrum” doesn’t own song he recently sampled – saying Robert Poindexter doesn’t own the rights to the allegedly-stolen song because he signed them over to Warner Music Group awhile ago … therefore he can’t sue. http://worldswagg.com/50-cent-says-that-copyright-lawsuit-is-bull-sht/

Lil Wayne loses film case after failing to attend
Artists , Copyright / December 2012

COPYRIGHT Artistes   Lil Wayne’s recent health scares have meant that the rapper has lost two legal battles on account of not being able to fly.  Both battles involved Quincy Jones III. Initially, Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit against Jones after it was revealed that he was working on a documentary on the rapper branding the work as a scandalous portrayal but also that Jones didn’t get appropriate approval to use many of the songs featured in the film. Unfortunately the hearing could not have been more poorly timed for Lil Wayne who hit headlines after TMZ leaked that he had had not one, but two seizures while onboard his private jet and so could not attend and testify. With the jury trial scheduled the judge in the case then had two options, either declaring a mistrial or forcing Wayne’s legal reps to plead their case without him there. The latter was chosen and Wayne’s lawyers were forced to display their client’s disposition, in which he is uncooperative and highly critical of the hearing. The disposition was via a pre-recorded video and it seems the judge became angered by the rapper’s tone and attitude in the video, claiming that Wayne seemed to…

Pandora issue proceedings against ASCAP, but is fighting to keep the Internet Radio Fairness Act on track
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / December 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing   Pandora, the American streaming music service, has issued legal proceedings in the USA on the basis that the rates currently being offered by ASCAP, the US collecting society are unfair, because they are not as favourable as those offered to traditional broadcasters like Clear Channel which have recently moved into the online music space. Arguing that Clear Channel have an advantage as it can negotiate the royalties they pay for their online services at the same time as negotiating music publisher fees for their FM networks, via the Radio Music Licensing Committee, the move comes after direct negotiations had failed. However, in the world of sound recordings, the collection societies are fighting back with the news that SoundExchange, the non-profit organisation that represents record labels and recording musicians, has launched its opposition to the Internet Radio Fairness Act, highlighting a letter signed by 125 artists who oppose Pandora’s plan to cut artists’ pay when music is played over Internet radio. The open letter, which has over 40 Grammy winners and includes Kiss, Dead Kennedys, Missy Elliot, Pink Floyd, Megadeath, Robert Plant, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Maroon 5, Martha Reeves, David Sanborn, Ne-Yo, Common and Roger…

PRS For Music Launches new Code of Conduct
Copyright / December 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   PRS for Music, the not for profit organisation that represents 95,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK, has launched a revised Code of Conduct for its members and over 350,000 existing customers. The code follows the British Copyright Council Principles of Good Governance for Collective Management Organisations and also takes into account the recently published Intellectual Property Office Minimum Standards for UK Collecting Societies (October 2012). It outlines how PRS for Music will seek to achieve best practice by “responding to the needs of members and licensees alike and conduct its licensing business fairly and transparently”. Detailed in the code are commitments to: Provide information about the general governance, licensing and membership activities of PRS for Music Set standards of conduct that members and licensees can expect from the society Set standards for transparency Outline the complaints procedure for members and customers Provide an independent ombudsman for complaint resolution The PRS say that the introduction of the Code follows a consultation period with members, customers groups, trade associations and other stakeholders. The PRS for Music Code of Conduct can be viewed at http://www.prsformusic.com/codeofconduct

Brazil blocks EMI mergers

COMPETITION Recorded music, music publishing   Both Sony/ATV and Universal have been told by the Brazilian competition regulator that they could not merge the respective EMI publishing and recorded music  businesses with their existing companies in Brazil. This is a more difficult position that both majors face in Europe where divestments had been agreed. US regulators did not set any hurdles for the two mergers, seemingly relying on the EC measures. In one of his first interviews since acquiring the EMI record companies, Universal chief Lucian Grainge said he planned to launch EMI’s American label brand Capitol in the UK, the mega-major having been forced to sell off EMI’s UK-based Parlophone brand by European regulators.

Four dead in Spanish festival tragedy
Health & Safety , Live Events / December 2012

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector   Four young women have been killed at a festival in Madrid on Wednesday night after a crowd surge in a reportedly over-packed venue. The Thriller Music Park event took place at the 12,000 capacity Madrid Arena, though a licence for the show allowed 10,600 tickets to be sold. Promoters insist the venue was not over capacity, and say that the event had actually not quite sold out. Some audience members have disagreed with that claim on the social networks, one estimating up to 20,000 people were in the building at the time, though there is evidence to suggest that the problem wasn’t venue-wide overcrowding, but a bottleneck around one exit from the main arena. Some gig-goers have also claimed not enough exits were open during the event, with some claiming only one was available for much of the night. The event was headlined by DJ Steve Aoki. Promoters say that they believe the fatal surge was caused when a flare went off within the audience area, though some bystanders have subsequently claimed the flare occurred sometime after the crush began. Emergency staff were called to the scene at about 4am and found five people in distress: two were…

Advertising scaffold collapse kills one and injures nineteen in Cape Town
Health & Safety , Live Events / December 2012

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector   One woman died and nineteen others were injured while queuing for a Linkin Park concert in Cape Town on Wednesday night after temporary scaffolding built to host advertising by Lucozade collapsed in strong winds. Twelve of those injured required hospital treatment, while a city spokeswoman confirmed to media that one of those near the scaffolding when it collapsed, Florentina Heaven-Popa, had died from her injuries. The Linkin Park gig went ahead, despite the bad weather and resulting scaffolding collapse, with the band unaware of the injuries and fatality until after the show but the band subsequently posted a message on their website expressing “deep sadness and concern for those injured and our heartfelt condolences to the family of the fan who died as a result of her injuries”. The band have no connection to Lucozade or the scaffolding company. The City of Cape Town has appointed structural engineering firm, Vela VKE, and an aerodynamics expert to investigate and assess the scaffolding structure which collapsed. http://www.iccmss.co.uk/2012/11/city-of-cape-town-appoint-experts-to-investigate-the-collapse-of-advertising-structure/

Lawsuit against Britney Spears dismissed
Artists , Contract / December 2012

CONTRACT Artistes   CMU Daily reports that the lawsuit being pursued against the Spears family by the one-time close friend of Britney, Sam Lutfi, was thrown out of court last week after two weeks of hearings. Lutfi was suing for defamation, assault and breach of contract; defamation over a book written by Britney’s mother that accused him of escalating her daughter’s very public mental breakdown in 2007/8; assault over an altercation between Lutfi and Britney’s father Jamie in 2008; and breach of contract in a bid to win a cut of pop star Spears’s earnings from 2007 and 2008, on the grounds Lutfi was her manager during this time and therefore was due a management commission. Although Britney herself was never due to testify, her mother had already taken to the witness stand as part of the trial, as had Lutfi himself, and the former boss of Spears’s record label. One time Jive Records boss Barry Weiss denied that Lutfi ever acted as Britney’s manager, saying that the singer managed her relationship with her record company herself while the star’s long term rep Larry Rudolph was out of the picture. Jamie Spears told TMZ he was “thrilled” by the quick ruling, adding that…

RFU wins another battle with Viagogo
Contract , Live Events / December 2012

CONTRACT Live events sector   Viagogo has lost another battle in its battle to avoid handing over details of its ticket sellers to The Rugby Football Union, this time in the UK’s Supreme Court. The RFU ticket’s terms conditions prohibit their re-sale by original purchasers. Viagogo now say that despite the Courts ruling in their view this can can only apply to legacy ticket resales, because new data protection technology further protects the identity of current sellers. The case is important as whilst (with the exception of football tickets and Olympics 2101 tickets) it is not illegal to tout tickets in the UK, many sport and entertainment promoters include clauses in their terms and conditions that say that tickets cannot be resold, often refining this by adding that the condition would only apply to tickets sold by way of a profit-generating commercial transaction. Anyone who buys a ticket and resells it for profit can therefor be sued for breach of contract – but event organisers can only sue if they know the details of re-sellers on sites like Viagogo and eBay. After the Supreme court decision the RFU said “Today’s dismissal of Viagogo’s final appeal sets an important precedent for…

Indie woe as more VAT loopholes spring up

TAXATION Recorded music, retail   It seems the UK government’s plans to stem the sale of VAT free CDs and DVDs in the UK faces a new challenge. With the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) tax dodge loophole used by online retailers based in the Channel Islands having been closed, the Guardian revealed that The Hut was now using a warehouse in Chicago, seemingly to benefit from the tax relief that occurs when low-cost goods are sold from outside the EU into the UK. It means The Hut does not need to charge VAT on CDs or DVDs, giving it a 20% advantage over mainland sellers. One of the lobby groups that campaigned against LVCR abuse has now said that some operators are finding other ways of avoiding paying tax, but predicted that most alternative methods would be stopped by the authorities in due course too.  Independent retailers argue that the exploitation of LVCR by a small number of big mail-order firms, plus HMV and the supermarkets, helped contribute to the demise of many indie record sellers, who couldn’t compete on the high street, or transform their brands into successful mail-order businesses, because their offshore competitors had such a big…

Leaflet rules ‘catastrophic’ for small venues and comedy
Environmental Law , Live Events / December 2012

ENVIRONMENT Live sector   A letter in the Daily Telegraph from over 100 signatories including comedian Al Murray, Radiohead manager Brian Message, Live Nation boss Paul Latham and promoter Harvey Goldsmith says that comedy nights, arts festivals and local music venues are being driven out of business by councils demanding hefty fees for the right to hand out leaflets with campaigners saying that the cost of licensing is having “catastrophic” effect on the arts. Around one in three councils restrict leafleting, with charges running to hundreds of pounds per day. The letter points out that a licence to hand out flyers in Basildon on a Saturday costs £350 – although many find the practice itself annoying with one commentator saying “comedy nights, arts festivals and local music venues are probably the biggest producers of litter and detritus in our communities” which councils then have to clear up, and others pointing out that digital solutions such as e-flyers and social networking are a much cleaner solution. The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 allows local authorities to designate areas “where it is satisfied that the land is being defaced by the discarding of free printed matter” (or litter!) where a licence…

YouTube got smarter – says YouTube
Copyright , Internet / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   YouTube says that it has been steadily improving its ability to manage content, especially infringing content, and the company has now showcased some major changes resulting from this process – some which will please content owners, some of which will please YouTube users. Starting with the latter, YouTube has now implemented an appeals process for material taken down via the “Content ID” system, YouTube’s own copyright protection system. Content ID enables some 3,000 approved rights holders to upload videos to a central reference database, where they are digitally fingerprinted. There are some 500,000 hours logged. When YouTube detects content with a fingerprint match but uploaded by someone else, it enables the rights holders to automatically take it down, or place ads on it. Now the system has been updated with YouTube saying: “Users have always had the ability to dispute Content ID claims on their videos if they believe those claims are invalid. Prior to today, if a content owner rejected that dispute, the user was left with no recourse for certain types of Content ID claims (eg monetize claims). Based upon feedback from our community, today we’re introducing an appeals process that gives eligible users a…

Small claims for copyright on track
Copyright / November 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   England and Wales have a new ‘small claims track’ at the Patent County Courts, simplifying the process for copyright owners who want to take action against others who they believe have infringed their rights – and whilst this may well involve commercial disputes, a number of commentators have pointed out that the Court could hear civil cases against individual suspected file-sharers. The main limit to the court’s jurisdiction is the usual cap for damages for small claims which cannot exceed £5,000. The move, which can trace its recent history back to the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property, means copyright claims can be dealt with in a swifter, less formal and cost effective manner and certainly at least partially addresses the concerns of some small businesses – photographers, illustrators, cartoonists and some designers all spring to mind, who had no real way of protecting their rights due to prohibitive costs. The new system also provides an alternative to the still partially dormant Digital Economy Act, which when (or if) implemented will provide a ‘three strikes’ regime in the UK, although as yet the ‘third strike’ is undecided, meaning such small claims litigation might well be a viable…

Another spin at copyright law is needed
Copyright , Record Labels / November 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas, record labels ARTICLE LINK:     Any article which has this quote from former RIAA President Hilary Rosen “Neither I nor anyone at the RIAA has ever claimed … that we represent artists” deserves attention – and this piece looks at the judgements against US file sharers Jammie Tnomas-Rasset and Joel Tenenbaum ($222,000 and $675,000 respectively).  By Drew Hamre http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/172901791.html

EMI v Re-Digi begins
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   A Manhattan court has begun hearing the legal challenge to the right to sell digital music files as “used” goods. The case centres on how copyright law for physical goods applies to digital products. EMI has brought the case against ReDigi, a site that allows users who’ve legally purchased music in digital form to sell it on to somebody else. Users can only sell songs they’ve bought from iTunes or ReDigi itself: they can’t sell tracks they have ripped from a CD. Re-Digi claims the service must be legal because of the US ‘first sale’ doctrine. The major labels disagree. They argue that the first-sale doctrine only applies to physical music products, saying that when a CD changes hands no actual mechanical copy is made of the songs or recordings contained on the disk, whereas when an MP3 is transferred from one PC to another a copy does take place. EMI’s attorney Richard Mandel said: “You are selling and distributing recordings. In order to do that, you have to make a copy and that is a violation of the reproduction right of the Copyright Act”. But Gary Adelman, representing ReDigi, countered: “There is no copy…

Why No One Knows How Much Money Musicians Are Making Now
Copyright , Internet / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet ARTICLE LINK:    “In the digital music era, complicated and outdated copyright law as well as private negotiations have made it difficult see how much is really going back to the people making music”: This interesting US article looks at how the ‘streaming’ revolution is now producing real revenues – but ask the question – who is actually getting paid what, and what do recording artists actually end up with? http://www.buzzfeed.com/atmccann/why-no-one-knows-how-much-money-musicians-are-maki

Reversion claim pits Charles’ children against his charitable trust
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   In a battle over the rights to Ray Charles’ songs, the charitable foundation that was bequeathed the singer’s money and assets is in danger of losing the substantial revenues that “I Got a Woman,” “A Fool for You,” “Mary Ann” and Charles’ other hits generate each year. The Hollywood Reporter says that this is because Charles’ children, who largely were cut out of the will, are attempting to terminate a copyright assignment for the songs to Warner/Chappell Music. If the songs reverted to the children, then the Ray Charles Foundation no longer receive royalties. In late March, facing this potential loss, the Foundation, as ‘beneficial owner’ of the songs (rather than Warner/Chappell) sued the children, seeking a declaration that the termination notices were invalid. To make this argument, the estate originally argued that Charles’ songs were made under an employment agreement with the music publisher. As such, these songs are allegedly works made for hire, “authored” by the predecessor to Warner/Chappell, and the children have no termination rights under the US Copyright Act that allows for reversion after 35 years. Post 1978 songwriters can reclaim ownership of copyrights they previously assigned to a music publisher 35 years after…

ProMusic website re-launched
Copyright , Internet / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   IFPI, the organisation representing the international recorded music industry worldwide, has welcomed the latest in a series of rulings by Russian courts against Kontakte, the country’s leading social networking site that facilitates the mass distribution of copyright infringing music. The Arbitration Court of St Petersburg and Leningrad ordered vKontakte to pay damages of 550,000 roubles (€13,718) to SBA Gala Records, an independent Russian record label and licensed distributor for EMI Music’s international repertoire, for its role in facilitating the illegal distribution of 11 unlicensed sound recordings online.  vKontakte enables any user to upload files containing copyright infringing music to its social networking platform, then offers its other users the opportunity to search for the tracks and the ability to stream them, and download them using apps and browser extensions. It is Russia’s most popular online entertainment platform with more than 110 million registered users and is one of the top 50 most visited sites in the world. The IFPI have also announced the re-launch of the newly redesigned www.pro-music.org website – a simple information resource for anyone looking to find out more about legitimate digital music services and copyright law across the world. First launched in 2003, Pro-Music was created by…

Personal liability of directors explored
Copyright / November 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   The IPKat was excited to find a judgment relating to copyright infringement from the Outer House of the Court of Session on the Scottish Courts. Although Naxos Rights International Ltd v Project Management (Borders) Ltd & Salmon [2012] CSOH 158 goes no way towards developing the substantive law relating to copyright ownership and infringement, Lord Glennie provided a helpful reminder of when a director will be found personally and jointly liable for the damage caused by an infringing company – here the second defendant, Keith Joseph Salmon, a director of the first defendant company, was found personally liable for infringement. Project Management operated a website called www.royalty-free-classical-music.org, offering licences to use the music in various contexts for a nominal one-off fee and Project Management said it owned the sound recording rights in the music it provides. Another classical music distributor called Naxos claimed that the versions of Christmas carol ‘Joy To The World’ and Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ that the site provided were recordings it owned. Salmon, owner of Project Management, disputed that claim, but, based on expert evidence presented in court, Lord Glennie sided with the claimants. He ruled that the version of ‘Joy To The World’ and at least…

Pandora boss details streaming payments

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels, music publishers   Tim Westergren, the boss of US-based interactive radio service Pandora, has revealed how much certain artists are earning from their play on his service – or rather how much they are paying. Whether or not artistes have seen any or much of the money as yet remains to be seen. Westergren said that “For over two thousand artists Pandora will pay over $10,000 dollars each over the next twelve months  and for more than 800 we’ll pay over $50,000” and noted that with some specific recording like Coldplay, Adele, Wiz Khalifa and Jason Aldean Pandora is already paying over $1 million each and  that payments for Drake and Lil Wayne are fast approaching a $3 million” annually. Pandora licences all of its rights via collective licensing organisations (in the US, ASCAP and BMI for the music rights and SoundExchange for the recordings) rather than labels and publishers direct. Westergren said “It’s hard to look at these numbers and not see that internet radio presents an incredible opportunity to build a better future for artists. Not only is it bringing tens of millions of listeners back to music, across hundreds of genres, but it…

Lyrics website ordered offline
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   A group of US music publishers led by Warner Chappell, Bug Music and Peermusic have won a lawsuit against a lyrics website run by Brad Greenspan, one of the co-founders of MySpace. The American’s National Music Publishers Association had previously announced its members were suing LiveUniverse in August 2009, alleging that the site was infringing copyright by making lyrics available without a licence from the relevant publishers. Judge George Wu ruled in favour of the publishers last week without a full hearing, mainly because of Greenpan’s “misconduct”: Greenspan failed to provide information and failed to show up for hearings as requested by the court and in his default judgment Judge Wu said “[the] Defendants have wilfully infringed upon plaintiffs’ copyrights, even after being sanctioned, both by this court and Magistrate Judge Abrams” and “Their blatant disregard for the civil justice system favors a substantial damages award.” LiveUniverse was ordered to pay the claimants $12,500 for each of 528 listed songs which the site published lyrics without permission, a total of $6.6 million, while an injunction bans Greenspan from publishing any other lyrics on his site without first getting permission from the relevant publisher. Peermusic III Ltd….

File sharers are the biggest music fans
Copyright / November 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   A new study has found that music fans who use peer-to-peer file sharing services actually purchase more music, on average, than those who stay completely legit. The study of US and German music fans by the American Assembly, a policy think tank housed at Columbia University, found that file sharers purchase 30% more music than non-file sharers. File sharers also have much larger music collections, naturally, with a big boost to their libraries provided by files they’ve downloaded without buying. 48% of tracks i the average 18-29 year old American’s music collection have been brought, with 52% acquired illegally – by ripping (15%), copying from family and friends (16%) or illegally downloaded for free (21%). The share of legal music rises to 63% in the 65+ age group – although 37% is copied – 19% by ripping, 8% copied from friends and family and 12% illegally downloaded. Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/15/actually-file-sharers-buy-more-legal-music-than-everyone-else/#XrheUSlOdWOHaK6I.99

Grooveshark launches artist monetisation service
Copyright , Internet / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, Technology   Controversial streaming music service Grooveshark –  currently undergoing some major revisions including better playlisting options, and new sharing and recommendation tools, qill also introduce artist-managed profiles. These will allow artists to set up their own profile on the Grooveshark platform, adding and removing tracks, communicating with fans, and posting blogs. Whilst basically offering the same artist profile functionality as MySpace and Facebook Grooveshark will be that users will be encouraged to make donations to artists they like via the Flattr micro-payment system. Users can put a set some of money into their Flattr account, and then tag which artists they would like to share that cash with. As all four of the major labels are currently suing Grooveshark it is unlikely any artists signed to EMI, Universal, Sony or Warners will be featured.

The Pirate Bay heads for the clouds
Copyright , Internet / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   The Pirate Bay has shifted its entire operations so that it is now  “hosted in the cloud”, which basically means its data and code is shared on servers across the world which seemingly makes it impossible for the authorities in any one jurisdiction to seize the controversial file-sharing site’s servers and take it offline, as happened in 2006 when Swedish authorities seized machines, although the site was down for only 24 hours before being hosted elsewhere. http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-moves-to-the-cloud-becomes-raid-proof-121017/

Sir Elton fails in challenge with Times over tax claims
Artists , Defamation / November 2012

DEFAMATION Artistes   The High Court in London has rejected a libel claim brought by Sir Elton John against the Times newspaper after he was mentioned in one of the broadsheet’s tax avoidance exposés earlier in 2012. The singer’s financial affairs were referenced in a June report into the legal but arguably unethical schemes employed by some of the rich and famous to avoid paying taxes but the article also claimed, incorrectly, that John had engaged the services of the chief of Ingenious Media, Patrick McKenna, to work as his accountant in regards to a tax avoidance scheme. The next day the paper issued clarification that McKenna had never acted as John’s accountant, and the following month issued a second clarification stating that Ingenious had never offered to move money offshore for the singer. John sued The Times for defamation, claiming that the articles were “severely damaging” to his reputation and charity work. However, Mr Justice Tugendhat disagreed, ruling that, contrary to Sir Elton’s claims, he does not believe that the average Times reader would have inferred that the singer was, or was reasonably believed to be, involved in tax avoidance from the broadsheet’s report saying that “the words complained…

Tata family seek to ban Bollywood film
Defamation , Music Publishing / November 2012

DEFAMATION Film and television, music publishing   Two of India’s richest families lave launched a legal action against one of Bollywood’s leading film directors in an attempt to block the release of a new film which is a ‘searing attack’ them an a devastating critique of India’s rich elite. Tata Sons, part of the Tata Group, has confirmed it had filed a lawsuit against a song contained in Chakravyuh, featured in the thriller directed by Prakash Jha. The song accuses Indian billionaires of unbridled corruption and “robbing the pockets of the poor”.  A second lawsuit has been filed by the Birla family which controls a business empire spanning insurance, cement, metals and machine tools. A third lawsuit has been filed by Bata, India’s biggest show company, also seeking an injunction against the song Mehangai. A fourth family named in the song, the Ambanis, have yet to file a complaint. The Times  19th October 2012

Warners face fine for violating young fans’ privacy
Internet , Privacy , Record Labels / November 2012

PRIVACY Internet, record labels   The Federal Trade Commission is proposing to issue a civil penalty against a unit of Warner Music Group Corp. The penalty will cost the major $1 million for violating a child privacy law in the operation of fan websites for artists including Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Rihanna – the websites were actually run by subsidiary Artist Arena. Commissioner Edith Ramirez revealed the proposed settlement in a speech in New York on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, a self-regulatory group for the advertising industry. A judge will need to confirm the settlement. Artist Arena still run the BieberFever website. “BieberFever.com got off to a bad start … and things got worse from there,” Ramirez said in prepared remarks. The site required visitors to input birthdates and other personal information, and required visitors under 13 to submit a parent’s email address for confirmation, according to a complaint filed  in U.S. District Court in New York, where Warner Music Group is based. But after a month of operation, it let underage visitors register and pay for membership without sending an email to the child’s parents, the complaint said. The actions violated the…

Legal fight waged for right to Bill Monroe’s name
Live Events , Trade Mark / November 2012

TRADE MARK Live events sector   There’s a sour note in the legacy of bluegrass music legend Bill Monroe, as the man who runs an annual festival in Monroe’s honour is locked in a legal battle with the county over who gets to use Monroe’s name. It seems Campbell “Doc” Mercer and his organisation, the Jerusalem Ridge Foundation, can’t use Monroe’s likeness or name to promote the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Festival, which he puts on annually to honour the “Father of Bluegrass”, because Ohio County and the county Industrial Foundation lay legal claim to Monroe’s name and image, having bought the usage rights from the musician’s son 13 years ago. The dispute prompted Mercer to move the event from Monroe’s home site to a neighbouring farm, once the homestead of Monroe’s grandparents. Two years after County officials and the Industrial Foundation purchased the commercial rights to Monroe’s name and likeness in 1999 from the musician’s son, James Monroe, they hired Mercer to run the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Music Foundation, with the aim of restoring Monroe’s home site near Rosine and developing a memorial park. Ohio County Circuit Judge Ronnie Dortch concluded last year that the informal actions and comments…

No Doubt settle with Activision in a long-running dispute over the ‘Band Hero’ game.
Artists , Image Rights / November 2012

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes The recently re-launched No Doubt have settled their case  with Activision of the use of their name and images in Band hero. The iconic band were one of a number of artists who did a deal with the gaming firm to appear in an edition of the various ‘Hero’ games but subsequently complained that users could play any song using their avatar, and not just their own tracks. The gaming giant insisted participating artists knew of this facility, but No Doubt argued the games firm had breached its contract and rights. Various attempts by Activision to have the case dismissed failed, but an out-of-court settlement was reached this week, before the dispute could get a proper court hearing. CMU Daily  http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/no-doubt-settle-with-activision/

Terra Firma ask for EMI re-hearing
Business , Record Labels / November 2012

BUSINESS Record labels   Lawyers for private equity group Terra Firma have asked a US appeals court to order a new trial in its client’s legal squabble with US bank Citigroup over it’s 2007 purchase of EMI. The $6.3 billion deal eventually went sour with Citi taking back control of EMI and selling on in two parts to Sony Music and Universal leaving Terra Firma with a massive loss.  Citi not only provided loan funding for Terra Firma’s acquisition of EMI acquisition, but then advised on it too, and it was that advice over which Terra Firma boss Guy Hands subsequently sued the bank. And lost. Meanwhile BMG, Warners and a consortium headed up by Simon Fuller including a major telecoms company all appear to be in the frame to buy divested EMI assets including the Parlophone label. Other assets which must be divested under EC approvals include the Chrysalis, Ensign and Mute labels and the EMI and Virgin Classics labels, its share in Now That’s What I Call Music business as well as Universal’s Sanctuary, King Island and Co-op Music labels. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/10/04/terra-firma-asks-for-new-trial-lawsuit-against-citigroup-over-emi-buy/

One member of Pussy Riot freed
Censorship / November 2012

CENSORSHIP All areas   Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich (30) has been released from prison after her two year prison term for a conviction of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ was reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal yesterday.  Judge Larisa Polyakova accepted that Samutsevich, who had been prevented by guards from reaching the alter at Christ The Saviour Cathedral on February 21st, had not actual taken part in the protest, although she had intended to. However, at the same appeal hearing her fellow band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (22) and Maria Alyokhina (24) had their original sentences upheld and therefore will remain in prison, pending further appeals and have now been transferred to two separate labour camps (gulags). Both continue to argue that their protests against Vladimir Putin were political and not religious. In an interview marking his 60th birthday, Putin told state-run TV channel NTV that the three women “got what they asked for” adding “It was right that they were arrested, and the court’s decision was right”. Russian Orthodox church members, whose leader had been visible supporters of Putin, were initially enraged by the band’s actions bur whilst the Church hierarchy said the women’s action “cannot be left…

Ticketmaster class action settlement rejected by court
Consumers , Live Events / November 2012

CONSUMER LAW Live events sector   Ticketnews.com reports that former Ticketmaster customers who had signed onto a class-action lawsuit against Ticketmaster for charging excessive processing and shipping fees will have to wait a little while longer to receive their compensation, after Los Angeles Superior Court judge Kenneth Freeman rejected a proposed settlement agreement between Ticketmaster and the class-action plaintiffs’ attorneys, which included a $16.5 million payment to the plaintiff’s lawyers. More than 50 million class members would have received coupons from Ticketmaster in the amount of $1.50 to offset the overcharges in processing fees, while a smaller subclass of plaintiffs would receive $5.00 vouchers for overcharges in shipping fees. The lawsuit was filed prior to the enactment of the “Class Action Fairness Act,” which allows federal courts to use greater discretion in the awarding of attorneys’ fees and payouts to class members According to the plaintiff’ s claim, from the years 1999-2011, Ticketmaster took in roughly $590 million in charged shipping and processing fees, with only $165 million used to off-set actual costs. Ticketmaster, the suit argues, profited to the tune of $425 million over the twelve year period. However, Judge Freeman wrote that “In the court’s opinion, this settlement…

Black Eyed Peas face claim over game
Artists , Copyright / November 2012

CONTRACT Artistes   The Black Eyed Peas have been sued for a million dollars by gaming company Ubisoft, after seemingly failing to provide feedback on a new version of a game featuring the group developed by Ubisoft who say they  have spent nearly quarter of a million dollars developing an iPad and iPhone version of ‘The Black Eyed Peas Experience’ game, which is already available for Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360,  According to reports, the gaming firm’s lawsuit against BEP Music says: “Since March 2012, and despite Ubisoft’s repeated requests, BEP Music has breached the contract by failing and refusing to either approve or disapprove the iOS game in writing or otherwise”.

Global deal of GMG gets green light
Competition / November 2012

COMPETITION Broadcasting   The UK’s culture secretary Maria Miller has decided that Global Radio’s takeover of the Guardian Media Group’s radio business does not raise serious plurality issues relating to the provision of news. The merger combines the Real and Smooth stations with Global’s Capital, Heart, Classic FM, Gold and Xfm radio brands across the UK. Former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered an investigation into Global Radio’s £70m deal to buy GMG Radio in August, citing concerns over media plurality issues raised by combining the largest and third largest radio groups in the UK. Media regulator Ofcom was asked to deliver a report on potential plurality issues with the deal to the Department for Culture Media and Sport, with concerns over a concentration of news provision in areas such as Wales. On Thursday Miller, who took over as culture secretary in last month’s cabinet reshuffle, cleared the deal in relation to those issues. Global Radio has offered to spin off a separate news service in Wales to address any plurality issues there. The deal will still be scrutinised by the Competition Commission on competition grounds. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/oct/11/global-gmg-radio-news-plurality

Israeli arrests after lighting rig collapse in Jerusalem
Health & Safety , Live Events / November 2012

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector   Judges in Jerusalem have extended the detention of four people arrested on suspicion of involvement in the collapse of a lighting rig at Mount Herzl in Israel, which killed a woman soldier and injured seven others. IDF 2nd Lt. Hila Bezaleli, was killed during rehearsals for the Independence Day ceremony at the national cemetery site. Initially three suspects were held: Oren Warshavsky, who was said to have been the engineer for the rig; Itzik Zucker, the site’s safety manager; and Elad Lavi, the vice president of Itzuv Bama, the firm that had been the successful bidder to produce the Independence Day event. All three were ordered to be released by a magistrate’s court judge but at the request of the police, the order was stayed to give the police an opportunity to appeal to the District Court and explain the responsibilities, relationships  and working practices at the site. District Court Judge Joseph Shapira ordered the three to remain in custody. Although Magistrate’s Court Judge Haim Li-Ran had initially taken the police to task for acting too quickly to arrest the three, Judge Shapira ruled the action was justified out of concern that the…

M5 crash: fireworks display organiser charged with manslaughter
Health & Safety , Live Events / November 2012

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector The organiser of a fireworks display at a rugby club near the M5 has been charged with manslaughter following a pile up on the motorway which killed seven people. Geoffrey Counsell, 50, from Somerset, had provided a fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club in a field close to the M5 motorway on 4 November 2011 when 34 vehicles crashed into each other. Seven people were killed and 51 were injured in the pile up. Rescue workers at the time described it as the worst British motorway accident in memory and witnesses described poor visibility on the motorway where the crash happened. In a joint statement, Avon and Somerset Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, said last night: “Today the Crown Prosecution Service has authorised Avon and Somerset Police to charge Geoffrey Counsell with seven counts of manslaughter following the deaths of Anthony and Pamela Adams, Maggie and Michael Barton, Malcolm Beacham, Terry Brice and Kye Thomas in a collision on the M5 in November 2011” adding “Having considered the evidence … the CPS decided there was sufficient evidence to charge Geoffrey Counsell, the provider of the fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club on the…

Japan introduces new download sanctions
Copyright / October 2012

COPYRIGHT all areas Illegal downloaders in Japan now face prison terms of up to two years and fines of nearly 2 million yen (U.S. $25,679) from today. The Japanese government says that the move is aimed to protect the film industry and stop falling music sales in the World’s second largest music market, where record industry officials estimate only one in 10 downloads are legally purchased. The Recording Industry Association of Japan says the legal download music market shrank 16% in 2011, the second consecutive year of decline. The slide comes despite global sales of digital music increasing 8% last year to $5.2 billion, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and Japan content owners hope the new regime will mirror the success of the ‘three strikes’ legislation introduced in South Korea which the IFPI says warns off 70% of infringers after the first notification and France where according to the IFPI Peer-to-peer piracy levels declined by 26% in France in 2011 after the implementation of the law Hadopi. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/01/business/japan-music-piracy/index.html

Willis highlights download ownership issue
Copyright , Internet / October 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   Bruce Willis is said to be considering legal action against technology giant Apple over his desire to leave his digital music collection to his daughters having discovered that, like anyone who has bought music online, he does not actually own the tracks but is instead ‘borrowing’ them under a licence. Most purchasers do not bother to read the details of the terms and conditions they agree to when buying an album, but the small print makes it clear that music bought through iTunes should not be passed on to others – Willis he is keen to be able to hand it on legitimately to daughters Rumer, Scout and Tallulah and one approach he is reportedly considering is to ask his legal team to establish family trusts as the “holders” of his downloaded music. Another option is to support ongoing legal action in five US states to give downloaders more rights to do what they want with their music. Similar problems apply to the digital books that millions download to electronic reading devices such as Amazon’s Kindle. Solicitor Chris Walton told news.com : “Lots of people will be surprised on learning all those tracks and books they have…

South Africa: Broadcasters (Needle) Time To Pay Has Come
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / October 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, performers, broadcasting ARTICLE LINK   “Life can be terribly complex. Take music copyright for example. A composer writes a song and the song enjoys protection under the Copyright Act as a ‘musical work‘, with the songwriter owning that copyright. A performer (who could also be the song writer) then goes to a recording studio and makes a recording of that song. The recording enjoys separate protection as a ‘sound recording‘, with that copyright belonging to the record company.   So two different copyrights – copyright in the musical work which belongs to the composer, and copyright in the sound recording which belongs to the record company.  And, on top of that, the performer who performed the song when it was recorded enjoys a so-called ‘performer’s right‘, something that was created by a piece of legislation called the Performers’ Protection Act.” This useful and practical article by Rachel Sikwane explains how the Copyright Act applies in South Africa and how the Copyright Tribunal has assessed how a ‘needletime’ royalty formula will apply: Broadcasters will pay royalties on 7% of their net income, and the amount will be calculated with reference to the amount of music played by the station…

Warner Music face Muse claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2012

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   Warner Music is facing a $3.5 million legal action from songwriter Charles Bollfrass who says that Muse, the Warner’s signed band, copied his work in the three-track conclusion of Muse’s 2009 album ‘The Resistance’. Bollfrass says Muse copied his idea to create ‘Exogenesis’, a trilogy of tracks based around an apocalyptic sci-fi tale in which mankind hopes a team of astronauts can find humanity a new home. Bollfrass alleges that his 2005 idea was for a “cinematic science-fiction rock opera” called ‘Exogenesis’ and he approached three bands with the concept, one of which was Muse only to be told Muse were not interested in the project but that three years after that, ‘Exogenesis’ appeared on the band’s fifth album credited to frontman Matt Bellamy with an near identical plot line Bellamy explained the three tracks in liner notes for the iTunes LP version of his album, in which he revealed: “[‘Exogenesis: Symphony’] is a story of humanity coming to an end and everyone pinning their hopes on a group of astronauts who go out to explore space and spread humanity to another planet. Part One is a jaded acceptance that civilisation will end. Part Two is…

MyVidster not liable for copyright infringement
Copyright , Internet / October 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   In a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision given by Justice Richard Posner, myVidster.com has been cleared of copyright infringement. The site, which allows users to engage in “social bookmarking,” which involves internet users sharing hyperlinks to online materials in which they may share a mutual interest in, is primarily a site to exchange links to pornographic material. As Judge Posner noted, there was other material available on the site and a family filter does exclude porn, but the site itself does not infringe copyright. In the District Court the plaintiff, porn company FlavaWorks, was granted an injunction after claiming that 300 of its videos had been linked too. On appeal Judge Posner acknowledged that FlavaWorks was being wronged, and that myVidster may even have encouraged subscribers to circumvent FlavaWorks’ pay wall.  However, the Judge was of the opinion that in order to have copyright infringement, someone has to make a copy.  And nobody at myVidster.com was actually making a copy – it was such facilitating links from those who had illegally uploaded a copy of Flavaworks videos – to those who then illegally downloaded a copy. Nor could the display of the video be considered a…

Another day, another adjustment of file sharing damages
Copyright , Internet / October 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   What do these figures have in common? 4,500, 222,000, 1,920,000, 54,000, 1,500,000, 54,000, 222,000? Well, they are all dollar sums of money firstly offered as a settlement and then awarded as damages in the US courts against Jammie Thomas-Rassett for file sharing music online. The first sum is the settlement offered to Rasset-Thomas by the Recording Industry Association of America for illegal file sharing. The second sum of $222,000 is the initial award the court made against Thomas-Rassett for illegally sharing 24 songs. That case resulted in a re-trial and the two biggest sums represent subsequent jury awards, and the two awards of $54,000 represent judicial adjustments of those awards. The final sum is the sum decided upon by a three judge appellate court, rejecting Rassett-Thomas’ argument that that the award was excessive and violated her right to due process under the US Constitution. Judge Steven Colloton, giving the unanimous decision for the 8th Circuit, said that the award of $222,000 was “not so severe and oppressive” to violate the Constitution. In a separate case, in August the 1st Circuit reinstated a $675,000 judgment against Joel Tenenbaum, a former Boston University student, for 30 charges of illegal downloading….

Two more acts sue for digital royalty boost
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / October 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists   Boz Scaggs and REO Speedwagon have joined the ever growing list of artistes, many well established, who have filed digital royalty lawsuits against the  major bales for a bigger cut of digital revenue. The defendant in both suits is Sony.  FBT Productions have already won a court case against Universal to get a bigger share of digital royalties from ‘Eminen’ recordings they worked on, and Cheap Trick, the Allman Brothers and a number of other artistes have settled a case with Sony. Cases from Rob Zombie, Whitesnake, Toto, Weird Al janKovic, Dixie Chicks, Chuck D, George Clinton, Peter Frampton, Sister Sledge, Rick James’s estate, Kenny Rogers and James Taylor are pending. More on royalties and these claims at http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=4941

Innocence of the act is no defence
Copyright , Internet / October 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   It seems that a 40-year-old Frenchman who was summoned to court in France under the French anti piracy ‘HADOPI’ three strikes legislation for illegally downloading pirated music, has found himself on the receiving end of a conviction – even though it was his wife who illegally downloaded the two Rihanna songs in question. PC World report that Alain Prevost was fined for failing to secure his Wi-Fi network after Prevost self-incriminated himself by admitting he knew his wife illegally downloaded the songs. Under French law the “three strikes” are as follows: first, an email message is sent to the alleged offender: Secondly if the alleged offender illegally downloads copyrighted material again within the next six months, a certified letter is sent to the alleged offender: Thirdly if the alleged offender does not stop downloading illegally within one year from the receipt of that letter, the offender’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) is required to suspend their Internet access. According to TorrentFreak, content owners have identified a total of three million French IP addresses associated with piracy since October 2010. Of these three million IP addresses identified, 1.15 million were eligible for a first strike, 102,854 eligible for a…

Piracy cost the UK music industry £340 million in the first six months of 2012
Copyright , Internet / October 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   New research has shown that more than £340million worth of songs were illegally downloaded in the UK in the first half of 2012, and the data from the Digital Music Index produced by analysts Musicmetric shows that moves to make ISPs block The Pirate Bay has had little impact, with downloaders moving to other illegal platforms. Manchester topped the list of most illegal downloads per capita, with 1.3m in six months, closely followed by Nottingham and Southampton, while London came 20th. The most popular downloads were albums by Ed Sheeran, Rizzle Kicks and Rihanna, although in retiree hotspot Bournemouth the most popular record was The Discography of the Eagles. More than twice as many albums are downloaded illegally in the UK as are bought via legitimate digital services like iTunes, With over 33 million albums were downloaded from unlicensed sources via BitTorrent file-sharing in the first six months of the year, during which time 14.8 million digital albums were sold. http://www.thecmuwebsite.com (17 September 2012)