Glasshouse not a copy of Big Brother
Copyright / August 2012

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting   That fine line between inspiration and infringement – and what copyright really is – here from the tricky world of TV format rights has been back in the US courts and the IPKat reports that the network channel CBS had been scrambling to put a stop to its rival ABC from launching its new reality series, “Glass House,” which CBS believed violated copyright and trade secrets of its show “Big Brother.” Both reality shows involve contestants living in a large house, following rules and competing in games until one contestant remains standing and wins a cash prize.  Glass House inexplicably chose to begin the show with 14 contestants, the same number as in Big Brother, but even so, and even though producers of Big Brother had defected to ABC to work on the competing show, a judge refused to find infringing similarity, saying the show wasn’t a rip-off of  Unfortunately for CBS,  US judge Gary A Feess said that the differences between the two reality shows are enough to demonstrate that ABC didn’t flat-out rip off the CBS franchise, largely because the audience has a role to play in deciding the fate of Glass House contestants.  “The…

Software case may impact on re-digi business model
Copyright / August 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   In an interesting decision in the World of software, the European Court of Justice has decided that the legal purchaser of software can re-sell that software despite terms in a licence designed to prevent that – which will be music to the ears of Re-Digi whose business model is all about the sale of ‘second hand’ MP3 files as they fight EMI in the US courts, primarily on the issue of the application of the doctrine of exhaustion of rights to the re-sale of digital music files.  Case 128/11 UsedSoft v Oracle

China listens to musicians and issues a second draft of copyright law revision
Copyright / August 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   China has released a second draft revision of its Copyright Law for public comment, dropping the controversial Article 46 that raised an outcry from Chinese musicians who said it violated their rights by allowing record producers to use another artist’s music without obtaining consent as long as the work had been published for more than three months. The second draft of the law eliminates Article 46 and makes a number of changes in response to more than 1,600 comments submitted during a 30-day comment period on the first draft in April. The new draft also removes the requirement to register for copyright if statutory damages were to apply and also appears to put some liability for infringing activity onto ISPs saying that a network service provider who “instigates or helps others to infringe …  shall be jointly liable.” The National Copyright Administration of the People’s Republic of China (NCAC) released the second draft of the copyright law on its website July 6, and will accept comments by fax or letter until July 31. The NCAC is expected to issue another one or two drafts by October, and the final will be submitted to the State Council…

Supreme Court finds fair dealing for music review use Canada as part of five big copyright decisions
Copyright / August 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas ARTICLE LINK:  Consumers and educators emerged victorious in five significant Supreme Court of Canada rulings that have modernised Canadian copyright law. The five cases touched on tariffs set by the Copyright Board governing music downloading, photocopying textbooks, videogames and movie and TV soundtracks. All cases pitted the societies that collect fees on behalf of creators against the distributors or users of the copyrighted materials. University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist told the Toronto Star “I think it’s definitely pro-consumer,” adding “It’s also a pro-business decision as the court has recognized that innovation that is so crucial for the Canadian economy relies on flexibility in copyright.” In the first case The SCC unanimously held that music previews used by services such as Apple’s iTunes to allow customers to hear music before they buy constitute fair dealing under the Copyright Act. The SCC applied its fair dealing test set out in CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada (known as the “law library photocopy case”).  The rationale behind the fair dealing analysis is to determine if the proper balance has been achieved between the protection of the exclusive rights of authors and copyright owners vs. public access…

Def Leppard solve digital dispute with re-recording plan
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / August 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artistes   Def Leppard have announced plans to re-record their entire back catalogue because of an ongoing royalty dispute with their label of 30 years, Universal Music Group. Its more bad news for UMG who are seeking EU ad US regulatory approval to swallow up EMI’s recorded music division enabling the new group to control almost 50% of the global recorded music market. Along with the ongoing claim from Eminen producers FBT over digital royalties, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott told Billboard that the English band were “at loggerheads” with Universal over royalty payments, especially compensation for digital downloads. “We just sent them a letter saying: ‘No matter what you want, you are going to get “no” as an answer, so don’t ask,” adding “That’s the way we’ve left it. We’ll just replace our back catalogue with brand new, exact same versions of what we did.” Def Leppard have already recorded fresh versions of Rock of Ages and Pour Some Sugar on Me, two of their biggest hits, to coincide with the release of the film Rock of Ages  starring Tom Cruise. Elliott admitted to Billboard that it was no easy task  to recapture the sound of decades past – the band formed in Sheffield in…

New Zealand three-strike law results in 50% decrease in infringement
Copyright , Internet / August 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   By Iona Harding, The 1709 Blog Recent statistics from New Zealand’s Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) claim to show that since New Zealand’s “Skynet Act” three-strike law (previously reported on the 1709 blog here), was implemented in September 2011, the number of illegally viewed films in the top 200 online has dropped from 110,000 to 50,000, i.e. by just over 50%. However, according to FACT, there has been no discernible progress since. These submissions, made to the Economic Development Ministry were released under the Official Information Act. As promising as a 50% decrease in infringement sounds, this blogger can’t help but wonder what it really means: are more Kiwis simply flying under the radar?   How does the three-strike law work? The three-strike law in New Zealand grants rightsholders the power to request that internet service providers (ISPs) issue up to three warning notices to consumers alleged to be illegally using copyright protected content. Rightsholders are required to pay the ISPs a processing fee of $25 to issue a notice. After the third notice, users face a claim before the New Zealand Copyright Tribunal, which can issue fines of up to $15,000 (approximately GBP 7,500 or USD 12,000)….

Jessie J faces copyright claim
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2012

COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing ARTICLE LINK:  Jessie J is the latest musician to face allegations of copyright infringement in 2012.  The claims against the British singer relate to her hit single, Domino, which has become far more popular than the song allegedly copied from. American singer and songwriter, Will Loomis, has accused Jessie J of infringing the copyright of certain compositional elements of his song, Bright Red Chords.  In particular, Loomis refers to the melody for the verses of each song, calling them “substantially similar” Including a look at claims brought against defendants including Sir Elton John and the Beastie Boys, this is very good piece on copying and sampling by authors Kate Duckworth, Thomas Huthwaite and James Morrison and can be found here

EU plans collection society reform
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2012

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, artistes   The European Commission has proposed measures to modernise collecting societies and put in place incentives to promote their transparency and efficiency saying “New digital technologies are opening up great opportunities for creators, consumers and businesses alike. Increased demand for online access to cultural content (e.g. music, films, books) does not recognise borders or national restrictions. Neither do the online services used to access them. This is where collecting societies come into play, in particular in the music sector, where they collectively manage the licensing of copyright-protected music tracks for online use on behalf of composers and lyricists and collect and redistribute to them corresponding royalties. However, some collecting societies struggle to adapt to the requirements of the management of rights for online use of musical works, in particular in a cross-border context. As a result of today’s proposal, those collecting societies willing to engage in the multi-territorial licensing of their repertoire would therefore have to comply with European standards. This would make it easier for service providers to obtain the necessary licences for music to be distributed online across the EU and to ensure that revenue is correctly collected and fairly distributed to composers and…

Italian fiscal police arrest website operator
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / August 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   The former operator of, one of Italy’s largest unlicensed music services, has been arrested by the country’s fiscal police on suspicion of selling a database containing his users’ email and IP addresses. IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, has welcomed the move which highlights the illegal business models behind some well-known unlicensed music services. and four affiliated websites were originally closed down in November 2011, following action by the Guardia di Finanza (GdF).   The authorities then investigated the ways in which the illegal businesses had generated revenue, leading to today’s arrest made by officers from the Tax Police Force of Agropoli. Investigators found that the operator had made an estimated €580,000 through a mixture of charging for advertising revenues, seeking donations from users and selling the database containing those users’ email and IP addresses to several advertisers. The operator of the site now faces charges of breaching data privacy, facilitating copyright infringement, forgery, fraud and tax  evasion.  It is believed he has avoided  €83,000 in VAT payments and created false invoices totalling an estimated €100,000 as part of a tax fraud.  He will also face heavy administrative fines for the distribution of copyrighted…

Rick Ross v Rick Ross will get a hearing via a Warner Music claim
Artists , Trade Mark / August 2012

TRADE MARK Artistes   Convicted drugs trafficker Rick Ross is suing Warner Music who are the label for rapper Rick Ross (sometimes Rick Ro$$) whose real name is William Roberts. Ross had previously tried to sue Roberts. but that action failed in the federal court under the US statute of limitations – time barred. Now ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross, who is currently a community worker having been released from prison early for good behaviour in 2010, has Warner Music in his sights and a California state court judge has confirmed that he can bring an action over the use of ‘his’ name against Warner Music who only began to release Roberts’ music under the ‘Rick Ross’ name in 2011. ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross was still in prison when Roberts started using his name, and his original claim the reformed drugs man claimed false advertising, unjust enrichment, unfair business practice, and common-law claims of misappropriation of name, identity and rights of publicity. In the new claim against Warners, Californian judge has held that music major couldn’t have the case dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, because of the 2011 agreement. Though the judge added that Ross’s lawsuit would need to be amended, because…

Anti-Putin Pussy Riot members sent back to prison “in act of political repression”
Censorship / August 2012

CENSORSHIP All areas   Back in February our news pages reported that all four members of Russian female punk rock quartet Pussy Riot had been arrested after performing ‘Putin has Pissed himself’ in Red Square and then on the 27th March we reported that three of the feminist punks were in more trouble – after an unsanctioned performance of their punk prayer “Virgin Mary Mother of God Expel Putin!” in Moscow’s St Basil’s Cathedral of Christ The Saviour. Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a public supporter of President Putin, said the band do the “devils work” and state television denounced the women’s actions as “disgusting”. Rather alarmingly three members of ten members plus collective, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (23), Yekaterina Samutsevich (19) and Maria Alehina (24), remain in prison on charges of aggravated hooliganism which could eventually mean a seven-year sentence. They deny being the mask clad figures at the cathedral but were denied bail at a early July hearing by Judge Marina Syrova in the Khamovnichesky District Court and having been in prison for five months already, now face for six more months in custody while the trial progresses although the trial is scheduled to begin on July 30th….

Katy Perry faces Indian claim for indecency
Artists , Censorship / August 2012

CENSORSHIP Artistes   Being taught how to hold a cricket bat seems to have landed Katy Perry in a spot of bother in India after lawyer filed a complaint about an “obscene and lascivious” on-stage incident that occurred when the singer played at the launch of the Twenty20 cricket season earlier this year. It seems  Perry invited Australian cricketer Doug Bollinger on stage during her show, and asked him to demonstrate how to hold a cricket bat. This resulted in Bollinger standing immediately behind Perry, and both singer and cricketer holding on to Perry’s microphone at groin height. A sequence that lawyer K Jebakumar believes was designed to appeal “to prurient interest”. Neither Perry nor Bollinger have been formally charged as yet and will not attend the initial court hearing to consider Jebakumar’s complaint, though if the courts believe there is a case under India’s obscenity laws, then they might be forced to defend their performance in court later this year.

Sony complete EMI Music deal
Competition , Music Publishing / August 2012

COMPETITION Music publishing   The Sony Corp. of America led investor consortium has now completed its acquisition of EMI Music Publishing, just hours after the Federal Trade Commission issued a statement saying it closed its antitrust investigation of the $2.2 billion deal, which meant it received regulatory approval. The Sony-led consortium paid $2.2 billion to Citigroup on Friday, and took collective ownership of EMI Music Publishing, meaning the once British-owned major music company has now been officially split into two. The US bank will keep hold of the other half for the time being while Universal’s bid to acquire EMI’s recorded music division continues to be investigated by regulators in America and Europe. The European Commission gave the Sony consortium transaction its approval, subject to a number of remedies, back in April. Those remedies mean that, as Sony takes ownership of EMI Publishing, the Virgin and Famous UK song catalogues are now up for sale. BMG, which bid against the Sony consortium for EMI outright, is now expected to lead the bidding for these not insignificant former EMI publishing portfolios. Although many refer to a “combined Sony/ATV and EMI”, the two publishing companies will technically remain separate entities, because of…

The great rock’n’roll swindlers are still cashing in
Licensing , Live Events / August 2012

LICENSING Live events industry   “The time has come for the secondary market to be regulated, and a 10 per cent profit cap to go on the resale of tickets as called for by Sharon Hodgson MP ….”  Is it time to ban touts and regulate the secondary ticketing industry? This opinion from Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn makes for interesting reading. In other ticket news, a Scottish man, Paul Reidy, has appeared in court in Scotland accused of selling three music fans fake VIP tickets to T In The Park, and for then posing as a security guard at the festival so he could ‘escort’ the ticket holders onto the site. Reidy is accused of selling the ‘tickets’ for £300 each; he pleaded not guilty to the charges made against him, and will go on trial at Perth Sheriff Court in October. Meanwhile in London hundreds of fans were reportedly turned away from Live Nation’s Wireless Festival this weekend, also having been sold fake tickets, seemingly via websites like Gumtree and eBay.  Those affected by fakes at Wireless has been asked to contact the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau through its website

As Leeds United test policing costs, WOMAD plans to go police free
Licensing , Live Events / August 2012

LICENSING Live events industry   Championship football team Leeds United, one of England’s biggest clubs, but with a history of fierce rivalry with other teams such as Cardiff City, Arsenal and Milwall, are challenging the spiralling cost of policing at the club’s Elland Road ground in the High Court. United were charged about £250,000 for policing during the 2007-2008 season, but by the 2011-2012 season this had risen to more than £1m, said club barrister Michael Beloff QC. United claim they have been wrongly charged by West Yorkshire Police for matchday work by the force on streets and car parks around Elland Road. They argue that the police should not bill them for maintaining order or preventing obstructions on land which is neither club-owned nor controlled and Leeds are now seeking to persuade top judge Mr Justice Eady to order a refund of the alleged overpayments. Mr Beloff told the High Court: “West Yorkshire Police’s insistence on charging Leeds United for such policing is illegal, as it is an attempt to charge a private citizen for the normal costs of policing, when such a citizen is entitled to expect such services to be provided by the police pursuant to their…

Bloc weekender cut short after overcrowding fears
Licensing , Live Events / August 2012

LICENSING Live events Industry   The first London edition of  dance music festival Bloc Weekend was closed early, with reports that the event’s site, the new London Pleasure Gardens complex by the River Thames in East London, was dangerously overcrowded with large queues both the enter the site and for tents on site. At 12.30am a decision was made by organisers seemingly, on the advice of the the Metropolitan Police, to shut down the festival, even though headliner Snoop Dogg was yet to go on stage, and the event was due to run to 6am. It was later announced that the second day of the event was also cancelled.  The site was set up to open just in time for the Olympics, with support from both Newham Council and London mayor Boris Johnson, and is organised by the team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La area and the site is set to host a wide range of cultural events both this summer and over the next three years, the next of which is the Africa Stage of the pre-Olympics River Of Music event, on 21 and 22 July.  Tickets were £99 or £125 for ‘express’ tickets with private bars and toilets and ‘queue jumping’ rights….

Hard Rock – Bruce cut short, Paul too quiet
Licensing , Live Events / August 2012

LICENSING Live events industry   Fans have complained after Bruce Springsteen’s set at Hyde Park was cut short – well – cut anyway, after the boss overran the pre-agreed Curfew. The singer had just dueted with Sir Paul McCartney, and E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt took to the net with a rant after the power was cut, saying Springsteen wanted to sing one more song, saying  “One of the greatest gigs ever in my opinion. But seriously, when did England become a police state?”. Admitting “We break curfews in every country but only English cops needs to ‘punish us’ by not letting us leave until the entire crowd goes” he sort of explained “Is there just too much fun in the world? We would have been off by eleven if we’d done one more. On a Saturday night! Who were we disturbing?” The answers to that are probably (a) the Police didn’t cut your set and (b) you are disturbing some rather well organised and vocal neighbours and (c) why not go on earlier – if you know you have a long set? Nevertheless Van Zandt continued: “The cops got nothing more important to do? How about they go catch some…