Google demotes potentially infringing sites
Copyright , Internet / September 2012
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Google has taken a significant step against online piracy after saying it would alter its search algorithms to favour websites that offered legitimate copyrighted movies, music and television. Google said that beginning next week its algorithms would take into account the number of valid copyright removal notices sites have received and  sites with multiple, valid complaints about copyright infringement may appear lower in Google search results …….. like YouTube for example ….. no, I made the last bit up. The move is set against growing disquiet about whether or not “safe harbour” really is appropriate in the digital age – and this initiative is clearly on Google’s terms, BUT it is a move forward for content owners. Google’s Senior Vice President Engineering Amit Singhal said in a post on Google’s official blog “We aim to provide a great experience for our users and have developed over 200 signals to ensure our search algorithms deliver the best possible results. Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in…

Grooveshark app back on Google
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels   Grooveshark’s Android app has reappeared in Google’s app store, over a year after it was evicted from the official Android app platform, seemingly because of pressure put on the web giant by the major music companies. Universal, Sony and Warners are currently suing Grooveshark for enabling copyright infringement. EMI is suing the service for non-payment of a promissory note, having previously licensed its material to the streaming service. Grooveshark insists it operates a takedown system in line with the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, so is fully legal http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2409040,00.asp

Why is digital music more expensive in Australia?
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2012
Australia

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   By Catherine Lee, writing for the IPKat Why is digital music more expensive in Australia? This question is currently being considered by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications. On 24 May 2012 the Committee resolved to inquire into IT price discrimination, following a request from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy. The often given example is that the Apple iTunes store in the United States sells most albums at between US$9.99 and US$12.99, whereas in Australia those same albums are sold for AU$16.99 or higher. In recent times, under the currency exchange rates, the value of the US and Australian dollars has almost been equal. Eighty-one written submissions were received by the due date of 6 July 2012. The first public hearing was held in Sydney on 30 July 2012, with the following organisations were invited to make ora submissions: Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Australian Publishers Association (APA), Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA), the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS), Choice (consumer group), the Australian Retail Association (ARA) and the Communications Alliance. Some of the more interesting comments were as follows: The AIIA, represented by Suzanne Chambers, suggested the…

French count the cost of Hadopi
General / September 2012
France

COPYRIGHT Internet   Hadopi, the body charged with hunting down repeat infringers under France’s three-strikes law, has sent a million warning e-mails and 99,000 registered letters although just 134 cases have been examined for prosecution and no cases have as yet resulted in an Internet user being disconnected. Hadopi has a payroll of over 60 and annual costs have now reached a reported 12 million Euros,  prompting French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti to describe the system as “unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective”. Filippetti told Le Nouvel Observateur that Hadopi had also failed in a key part of its mission, to foster legal content to replace illegal downloads prompting the French government to  launch a consultation to re-examine it’s response Internet piracy with Filippetti talking of a post-Hadopi future. In a separate interview, Pierre Lescure, head of the commission into the “Future of Piracy” and a former boss at Canal+, endorsed Filippetti’s stance, saying he attaches “great importance” to the development of legal offers, and that the temptations to piracy are so great “only a priest would not yield” saying “The error of Hadopi was to focus on the penalty”, telling Le Nouvel Observateur. “If one starts from the penalty, it will fail”, adding…

IFPI welcomes closure of Demonoid
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2012
EU
Mexico
UK
Ukraine
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels   IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, has welcomed the closure of the Demonoid bitTorrent service, which they say was a significant channel for the distribution of infringing content worldwide. IFPI made a number of complaints about the unlicensed service, which repeatedly infringed the rights of its member record companies.  In response, INTERPOL coordinated international efforts that saw the site closed down and its servers seized by police in Ukraine and a criminal investigation launched into its owners in Mexico resulting in a number of arrests and seizure of assets.  IFPI assisted INTERPOL, the Division of Economic Crimes (DEC) in the Ukrainian police and the investigative arm of the Attorney General of Mexico (PGR). “International police cooperation is the key to ensuring that the illegal activities of transnational organised criminals are stopped at every opportunity,” said John Newton head of  INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods Sub-Directorate. “ In this instance police forces on different sides of the world worked together with INTERPOL and the music industry to successfully disrupt the distribution chain for illicit digital music products.” www.ifpi.org

Legal issues surrounding the recording and posting of concerts
Artists , Copyright / September 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes ARTICLE LINK By Randy Frieberg If you think your recording of your favourite band you made on your mobile deserves to be on YouTube or Vimeo – then think again and read this US article first! http://concertblogger.com/2012/08/legal-issues-surrounding-recording-posting-concerts/

Take Your Music Back, Folks! (Copyright Law 1976)
UK

COPYRIGHT Artistes, record labels, music publishing ARTICLE LINK: “Simply put, the Copyright Law of 1976 allows any songwriter, composer, arranger, or lyricist who assigned his or her work to a publisher from 1978 to the present to ask for his or her copyrights back 35 years after the work’s publication.  Add 35 to 1978, and you get 2013”. http://thyblackman.com/2012/08/14/take-your-music-back-folks-copyright-law-1976/

BPI takedown notice causes anger
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2012
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels   Commenting on the recent jailing of surfthechannel.com boss Anton Vickerman for four years in the Newcastle Crown Court, the IPKat makes the wise point that there is a degree of symmetry within the two camps which oppose each other in the battle between rights owners and those who campaign for liberalisation of copyright law.  Just as a small number of vindictive and heavy-handed actions by or on behalf of copyright owners forfeit considerable sympathy for the legitimate and reasoned case for copyright protection, and so too do the reckless and arrogant conduct of a few people distract attention from the serious case that is made for reducing that level of protection. A good example of a rather embarrassing own goal by content industries, here by the recorded music industry, was the DCMA takedown notice issued by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and Universal against a less than flattering REVIEW of the latest Drake album ‘Take Care’ – asking Google to remove the review and one other from it’s listings. The writer of the About.com review, Henry Adasom, accused Drake’s label Universal of ordering the takedown for ‘copyright infringement’ saying the notice “Makes absolutely no sense….

Kanye’s Stronger does not infringe Vince P
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, sound recordings   By Eleanor Rosati writing on the 1709 Blog US musician/film director/fashion designer Kanye West is well-known not just to gossip lovers (recently because of his relationship with socialite/reality TV star/model/actress Kim Kardashian) but also to copyright aficionados. A few months ago the 1709 Blog reported news of a copyright infringement claim brought against Kanye and Jay-Z by soul veteran Syl Johnson over 1967 song Different Strokes, which ended up with a settlement between the parties. Now Kanye is back on the copyright scene, with a fresh Judgment of the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (which ruled in his favour in an action for copyright infringement brought by music producer Vincent Peters (professionally known as Vince P).   Background In 2006, Vince P wrote, recorded, and distributed a song entitled Stronger. The song’s title comes from a key line in its hook (refrain or chorus). As recalled by Justice Wood, who delivered the Opinion of the Court, the line draws from Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote from his 1889 Twilight of the idols  “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” After writing this song (which describes the competitive nature of the hip-hop and rap world), Vince P sent it to producer John Monopoly, a close friend and producer to Kanye West….

Tenenbaum damages upheld
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   The latest stage in the Joel Tenenbaum saga has resulted in another court loss for the self confessed file sharer after a federal appeals court upheld the award of damages of $675,000 previously made by a jury. Tenenbaum was accused of illegally downloading 31 songs from a file-sharing Web site and distributing them, and was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on behalf of the major record labels in the USA. US District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel rejected Tenenbaum’s request for a new jury trial, saying jurors had appropriately considered the evidence of Tenenbaum’s actions — downloading and distributing files for two years despite warnings — and the harm to the plaintiffs and noted that the penalty is at the low end of the range for wilful infringement and below the limit for even non wilful infringement, and thus was not excessive. Although having been previously refused a Supreme Court hearing, Tenenbaum’s attorney Charles Nesson said that he plans a further appeal. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57499519-38/court-affirms-$675000-penalty-in-music-downloading-case/

Lollapalooza exempt from new “pot ticket” law
Criminal Law , Live Events / September 2012
USA

CRIMINAL LAW Live events industry   The Chicago Tribune reports that the city’s new “pot ticket” law goes into effect during the middle of Lollapalooza, but the new system of a $250 fine (for the first offence) for possession of less that 15 grams of cannabis won’t apply to the festival in Grant Park because it’s Chicago Park District property. That exception to the new rules means that police instead will continue to arrest those caught – although last year, police made exactly zero marijuana-related arrests among the 270,000 people who passed through the Lollapalooza gates. Chicago has moved to decriminalise cannabis and officials with C3 Presents, the festival’s promoters, declined comment to the Tribune although they drew attention in 2006 when Lollapalooza-branded rolling papers were given out at a news conference in advance of the Festival. A Chicago Police Department order issued last week on how to enforce the new ordinance lays out several “aggravating factors” that require arrest for even small amounts of pot. In addition to the rule about Park District property, people caught in the act of smoking marijuana — as opposed to just possessing it — also still will be subject to arrest. So will those…

Red Flannel dispute is pants
Live Events , Trade Mark / September 2012
USA

TRADE MARK Live events industry   “Red Flannel” is a trade mark based on the traditional American long johns, and used by the Cedar Springs City Council and by the areas local festival – the Red Flannel Festival. All was seemingly peaceful until 2011 when the Council cut funding to the Festival, and attempted to use the logo on licence plates and holders – and the Festival – usefully armed with a Trade Mark – objected,  so the City removed the long-legged red flannel logo from all city property despite the fact that both the Festival and the City used a logo depicting the red rompers as part of its common heritage for over 72 years. The licence plates and holders were withdrawn and initially the City offered the Festival $4,000 for the use of the logo in February – but the City’s lawyer then stopped the agreement on the grounds that the city was not infringing the mark because it had co-used the logo since the inception of the Festival in 1939. Then and rather than being a party to a prolonged legal battle, the logo was removed from all city property such as City Hall letterheads, street signs…

Bow Wow faces action from angry porn star after video lift
Artists , Image Rights / September 2012
USA

IMAGE RIGHT Artistes   Rapper Bow Wow is being sued by French porn star Celine ‘Katsuni’ Tran over allegations he used footage of her dancing in a music video without permission. Tran says that she appeared as a club dancer in a promo video for French band Electronic Conspiracy, but that Bow Wow and label Universal then sampled that footage for the pop promo for his track ‘Drank In My Cup’ earlier this year, without her permission and that the rapper engages in “intimate activities” with a Katsuni body double. As Tran is not the owner of the copyright to the clip (presumably owned by Electronic Conspiracy or their own label) Tran has sued for publicity rights violations, unfair business practices, false association and unjust enrichment, demanding over $75,000 in damages. http://www.businessinsider.com/french-porn-star-claims-bow-wow-illegally-used-a-clip-of-her-dancing-in-his-new-music-video-2012-8

Beastie Boys fight back against ads
Artists , Copyright , Image Rights , Internet / September 2012
USA

COPYRIGHT / IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes, advertising   CMU Daily reports that the Beastie Boys have filed a lawsuit against Monster Energy Drink, claiming that the company used their music in videos and downloads without permission. The lawsuit reportedly claims that the band’s music was used in a number of online videos – the first of which was posted five days after the death of the band’s Adam Yauch – and also in an MP3 download featuring a 23 minute mix of the band’s music. The use of the band’s name in these promotions too, say the band, incorrectly implied that they had granted permission. It was also revealed t that Yauch’s will prohibited the use of his music, name or likeness in any advertising following his death – although some US commentators have said the hand written provision may not be valid http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/adam-yauchs-will-prohibits-use-of-his-music-in-ads-20120809 and http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2012/08/13/part-of-beastie-boy-adam-yauchs-will-banning-use-of-music-in-ads-may-not-be-valid/

Spotify faces patent claim from Nonend
Internet , Patents / September 2012
USA

PATENTS Internet   Dutch technology company Nonend Inventions NV has issued proceedings in the US against Spotify, claiming that the streaming music platform is infringing a number of its patents. In the lawsuit, Nonend, which says it specialises in peer-to-peer and online streaming technology, accuses Spotify of “making, using, offering to sell, and selling streaming music services to users which incorporate methodologies that infringe” it’s intellectual property.  The streaming service is yet to respond to Nonend’s litigation. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-17/spotify-sued-by-nonend-over-technology-for-music-sharing.html

Google face record US fine for cookie crimes
Internet , Privacy / September 2012
USA

PRIVACY Internet   Google will pay a record $22.5 million civil penalty to settle US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that it lied to users of Apple’s Safari Internet browser when it told them it would not place tracking “cookies” or serve targeted ads to those users. The actions violating an earlier privacy settlement between the company and the FTC, struck last October. According to the FTC’s complaint, Google specifically told Safari users that the browser was set by default to block third-party cookies, and would continue to do so as long as they didn’t change their settings. In addition to the penalty, Google also must disable all the tracking cookies it had said it would not place on consumers’ computers. “The record-setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order,” said Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC. “No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place.” Google have not admitted any wrongdoing. http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2012/08/09/google-settles-with-ftc-for-record-22-5m-over-privacy-breaches

Dev looks for release from manager and label
Artists , Contract / September 2012
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Singer Dev, real name Devin Star Tailes – best known over here for her sampled vocals on Far East Movement’s ‘Like A G6’ and her guest vocals on JLS’s ‘She Makes Me Wanna’ – is suing her record label, whose owners became her manager, along with her former lawyer, asking that her record contract is declared “null and void”. Tailes claims that in 2008, then aged eighteen, she was tricked into signing a deal with Indie-Pop Music by its owners Benjamin Willis and Carlo Fox and lawyer Joshua Andriano. The deal also positioned Willis and Fox as her managers and was, legal papers filed this week say, “one-sided”, seeing Dev sign away 75% of her income from recordings, publishing, merchandise and touring. The suit adds that she later felt “pressured and manipulated” into signing amended agreements in 2011 and then again this year. The lawsuit argues that the men used “flattery and praise [and] made lofty statements to her regarding her future career, and manipulated her into believing that she could trust them fully”. However, it adds, she was never offered the opportunity of independent legal advice, and the contract extends beyond the seven year maximum allowed…

Facebook service for Flo Rida
Artists , Contract , Live Events / September 2012
Australia

CONTRACT Artistes, live events industry   By Iona Harding on the 1709 Blog In October 2011 Flo Rida failed to turn up to headline at the Fat As Butter Festival in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. As he was supposed to walk on stage the festival was forced to announce: “Flo Rida has slept in and will not be able to make the concert”. Understandably, fans were outraged. The festival organisers, Mothership Music Pty Ltd, sued Flo Rida and his manager for breach of contract: they had paid $50,000 for a performance that they had not received and alleged damage to their reputation. This isn’t a copyright case, however from it arise several interesting points of practice which will be relevant to all litigators. Because Mothership was never able to get close enough to Flo Rida to serve the claim on him whilst he was in Australia, it applied to court for alternative means of service. In April of this year Gibson DCJ ordered substituted service by email and by a post on Flo Rida’s Facebook page. The court order set out the text to be posted on Facebook. The Judge referred to the “international reach of Facebook” and to previous case…

Leeds victory good news for festival organisers
Licensing , Live Events / September 2012
UK

LICENSING Live events industry   Leeds United Football Club have successfully challenged charges from West Yorkshire Police for policing any areas not “owned, leased or controlled’” by the club. The Police force had charged te club based on a ‘footprint’ on match days which included public highways, car parks and the bus station near to Elland Road stadium, but in the High Court a reluctant Mr Justice Eady, noting the cost to the public purse from his decision, said that nothing in the law allowed the police to charge for a conveniently designated footprint. He added “I appreciate that my interpretation of the law is unfortunate not only for West Yorkshire Police but also for the public purse” but ordered the police to repay Leeds an estimated £1 million it had paid over the last three years concluding that the services rendered fell within the normal constabulary duty to keep the peace saying “More generally, it seems wrong to discount the majority of well-behaved fans who come to Elland Road, whether club supporters or visitors, all of whom retain their status as members of the public. In that capacity, they too are entitled to expect police protection”. Other clubs are…

Pussy Riot trio found guilty
Artists , Censorship / September 2012
Russia

CENSORSHIP Artistes   Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – have been found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred at the conclusion of their widely reported trial in Moscow for  performing a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin on the altar of the Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour Of The Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. All three pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.  Paul McCartney has now joined artistes including Madonna, Rufus Wainwright and Bjork in supporting the three saying “I’m writing to show my support for you at this difficult time. I would like you to know that I very much hope the Russian authorities would support the principle of free speech for all their citizens and not feel that they have to punish you for your protest. Many people in the civilised world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so I believe this is the best way forward for all societies. I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power…

Indiana State Fair claims proceed to court after settlement rejected
Health & Safety , Live Events / September 2012
USA

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events industry   The owner of the stage that collapsed at Indiana’s State Fair last year, just before country duo Sugarland were due to perform in the tragedy which killed seven people, has rejected a settlement plan that would have protected the State from further legal action. Mid-America Sound said not enough of the victims had agreed to the deal. Of the 62 claimants, which include people who were injured and the estates of those who died, only 51 agreed to the settlement by the August 1st deadline and amongst  those rejecting the deal were the families of three women killed when strong winds toppled the stage into a crowd on August 13th , 2011. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller had proposed the joint settlement, which asked victims to agree to settle their claims for shares of $6 million from the state and $7.2 million from Mid-America who leased the stage for the Fair, and the stage’s manufacturer, James Thomas Engineering. In exchange, the victims would agree not to seek additional compensation. Mid-America had previously indicated that it would rely on invoices signed by State Fair Executive Director Cindy Hoye after the stage collapse that included…