Harlem Shakes up two sampling claims, RZA fights back against another claim, and Frank Ocean “Lost” at sea!
USA

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishers   The ‘Harlem Shake’ internet phenomenon has prompted two separate artists to come forward, each claiming ownership of one of the two phrases that appear in the now much used and much reversioned Baauer track. With the track now earning substantial sums from YouTube plays, not to mention more conventional download monies on the back of the ‘Harlem Shake’ video craze, retired reggaeton artist Hector Delgado has come forward to claim ownership of the repeated “con los terroristas” line that appears in the track, while Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson says he is behind the “do the Harlem Shake” moment. Musson, who originally said “do the Harlem Shake” in a 2001 track called ‘Miller Time’, released by the group Plastic Little, says he has been in “friendly talks” with Diplo-led label Mad Decent, which released ‘Harlem Shake’, about getting a cut of income now that the track is bringing in substantial royalties. Having apparently called Baauer, real name Harry Rodrigues, to thank him for “doing something useful with our annoying music”, Musson said that “Mad Decent have been more than cooperative during this”. Delgado, now a preacher, who was previously also known as Hector “El Bambino” and…

OfCom asks pirates some questions
Copyright , Internet / April 2013
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet   Media regulator OfCom has published a report based on research into digital content consumption and piracy by Kantar Media, in which 5500 people were surveyed about how they consumed content online between the start of August and end of October last year. According to the poll, 5% of those surveyed admitted to exclusively accessing content via unlicensed platforms, while 16% admitted to accessing at least one piece of content from an illegal source. 10% of those surveyed admitted to accessing at least some music from non-legit platforms. Of the pirates surveyed, over a third said they were still using P2P networks to access unlicensed content, while 10% were raiding unlocked digital lockers to find free stuff. In terms of motivation, half admitted the fact illegal content was free was a key factor, while convenience and speed were also noted by nearly half, with 26% claiming they used illegal services as a ‘try before I buy’ facility. In terms of turning those pesky pirates into consumers of digital content, nearly a third said cheaper legal services might appeal, while a quarter cited confusion over what is legit and not legit, and a similar number claimed that some of…

Retitling of songs means millions missing in unreported artist royalties
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Artists, record labels, music publishing   A new report, the “State of the Music Licensing Industry: 2013” provides evidence that shows an increasingly problematic music licensing landscape for recording artists, labels and publishers and highlights that whilst the music licensing industry continues to grow as a multi-billion dollar segment of the global music industry, there remains some unhealthy practices, most notably the prolific practice of retitling. Retitling is where a music licensing company re-registers a song under a different title with a performing rights organization (PRO), allowing for the royalties to be separately tracked when that song is licensed for a specific third party use. This allows the music licensing company to control and earn a significant share of the royalties collected. The report states that 40% of music licensing companies retitle works for a share in royalties garnered from “sync” placements. “The practice of retitling is considered unhealthy for artists and for the music licensing industry. It can be very problematic, as one piece of music with many titles is confusing and can lead to multiple parties claiming ownership of the same work and ultimately artists not receiving royalties owed, if at all” said Winston Giles, CEO and…

Jersey Boys use of Ed Sullivan clip IS fair use
Copyright / April 2013
USA

COPYRIGHT Television, theatre, all areas   A short clip of Ed Sullivan’s TV show, used in “Jersey Boys” the smash hit musical about the Four Seasons, has been held to be “the very definition of fair use” by a US court in what some will feel is a very liberal interpretation of the doctrine. The 9th Circuit Appeals Court has ruled that a 7-second video which Ed Sullivan’s introduction of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons on the night of January 2nd, 1966, in an episode of his eponymous variety TV show, was not an infringement of copyright. Dodger Productions and Dodger Theatricals used the clip in the “Jersey Boys” to show how the US band thrived in a pop music scene dominated by the “British Invasion”. SOFA Entertainment, which owns the rights to “The Ed Sullivan Show” thought otherwise and sued Dodger for copyright infringement – after the company’s founder, Andrew Solt, attended a performance in Los Angeles. At first instance District Judge Dolly Gee granted Dodger summary judgment based on the doctrine of  fair use, and awarded $155,000 in attorneys’ fees. The federal appeals court has now unanimously affirmed the decision after hearing oral arguments last month. It…

Pirate Bay human rights appeal fails
Sweden

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels, music publishing   Two of the founders of the Pirate Bay have failed in what I presume is their final appeal against their convictions for copyright infringement in the Swedish criminal courts, with the European Court of Human Rights finding that Sweden had rightly convicted the pair. Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde were sentenced to one year imprisonment by the Stockholm District Court in April 2009 for crimes against the Copyright Act. Together with two other defendants they were also found liable for damages of approximately K30 million (US$4.3 million). Their prison sentences were reduced in November 2010 by the Svea Court of Appeal, but the joint damages were increased by that court to K46 million (US6.8 million). The Swedish Supreme Court denied them an appeal hearing in February 2012. Neij and Sunde complained that their convictions infringed their freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention in Human Rights and that as their website facilitated the exchange of information, they could not be held liable for their user’s infringing acts. The ECHR had to balance Article 10 – the freedom of expression (even if such included material that infringed copyright) with the legitimate…

New research says that music piracy should not be a “concern for copyright holders”
Copyright , Internet / April 2013
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet   Along with the OfCom report on research into digital content consumption also referred to in this Month’s Updates, new research by two European Commission researchers finds that “digital music piracy should not be viewed as a growing concern for copyright holders in the digital era” and that the results “indicate that new music consumption channels such as online streaming positively affect copyrights owners.” The results fly in the face of a recent report that said  the closure of online platform MegaUpload almost certainly directly led to a decrease in online film piracy and an increase in legal digital sales of movies. Brett Danaher and Michael D. Smith, professors at Wellesley College and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) said that “the closing of a major online piracy site can increase digital media sales, and by extension we provide evidence that Internet movie piracy displaces digital film sales.” The two authors of the new report , Luis Aguiar and Bertin Martens, from the EU’s Information Society Unit, now say “Although there is trespassing of private property rights (copyrights), there is unlikely to be much harm done on digital music revenues” adding “This result, however, must be interpreted in the context…

US Register of Copyrights proposes shorter terms
Copyright / April 2013
USA

COPYRIGHT All areas   US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante has said that copyright law is showing the strain of its age and requires the attention of Congress commenting “a central equation for Congress to consider is what does and does not belong under a copyright owner’s control in the digital age. I do not believe that the control of copyright owners should be absolute, but it needs to be meaningful. People around the world increasingly are accessing content on mobile devices and fewer and fewer of them will need or desire the physical copies that were so central to the 19th and 20th century copyright laws.”   Pallante has proposed that the US government shorten copyright terms saying “You may want to consider alleviating some of the pressure and gridlock brought about by the long copyright term for example, by reverting works to the public domain after a period of life plus fifty years unless heirs or successors register their interests with the Copyright Office” – although Pallante is still suggesting that copyright owners be allowed the current life-plus-seventy term if they ask for it. Bit she argues that the purpose of copyright law is to stimulate the production…

Bow Wow loses porn star by default
Artists , Copyright , Image Rights / April 2013
France
USA

COPYRIGHT / IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes   Rapper Bow Wow has been ordered to pay out $80,000 in damages to French porn star Celine ‘Katsuni’ Tran after he used footage of her dancing in a music video without permission. Tran appeared as a dancer in a video for French band Electronic Conspiracy, but Bow Wow then used some of that footage for the pop promo for his track ‘Drank In My Cup’ last year. Recognising that Bow Wow and his label Universal may have sought permission from whoever filmed the original footage, Tran sued for publicity right violations, rather than copyright infringement. In the end, though, that distinction didn’t matter because Bow Wow failed to respond to the lawsuit, so the judge overseeing the case automatically ruled in Tran’s favour, ordering the rapper to pay damages and legal fees totalling $79,346.07.   Posting on Facebook  Bow Wow said: “Yo! That dumb ass pornstar chick who ever she is ain’t getting a dime from us! We ain’t make no video. That video was mashed up by somebody on YouTube and I reposted cuz it was dope. People mash up artist videos all the time online. Everybody looking for a hustle. Then they…

Dr Dre looks to protect ‘Beats’ mark
Artists , Trade Mark / April 2013
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes, all areas   Rapper Dr. Dre and the company he co-founded, Beats Electronics, LLC, are on the offensive at the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board challenging a multitude of third-party applications for marks which consist of or contain the word “Beat”. The company owns a number of trademark registrations for use of its various BEATS marks on headphones, speakers, headsets, and other related electronic products and has applications pending for future use on clothing and other items. The WSH law blog reports that the targets of this campaign are mix of smaller, little-known companies as well as big players such as Sony. The company claims a “likelihood of confusion” between its alleged rights in its various BEATS marks and the various “BEAT” marks applied for by third parties.  Sony, for example, has applied to register the mark “BEATS” for computer games, toy figures, and online gaming services, none of which are incorporated in any of the registrations or applications owned by Beats Electronic It also claims for “dilution” of its rights by the proposed uses of these various marks. The goods and which are the subject of some of the opposed applications include clothing, software, electronic…

AEG’s Wembley deal faces regulator scrutiny
Competition , Live Events / April 2013
UK

COMPETITION Live events sector   AEG’s deal to take over the running of Wembley Arena has been referred to the Competition Commission after an initial investigation by the Office of Fair Trading. Late last year AEG won the rights to manage the Wembley Arena venue, previously held by Live Nation, but concerns were raised because AEG also operates London’s other arena venue at The O2 complex, as well as the Hammersmith Apollo, one of the bigger theatre venues for the music and comedy industries, and often would control a major ‘stepping stone’ for acts, particularly comedy acts, moving from club venues to theatres and then on to their arenas for the first time. AEG also now control concerts in London’s Hyde Park. The OFT confirmed it was referring AEG’s Wembley contract to the Competition Commission on Friday “due to concerns the merger may substantially reduce competition in the live entertainment venue sector”. A previous referral, when a Live Nation headed consortium brought out the Academy Group resulting in all five of London’s mid-sized rock venues under one company’s control (The Forum, Shepherds Bush Empire, Brixton Academy, Hammersmith Apollo and the now defunct Astoria), led to the disposal of two venues…

Kiss fan sues Live Nation over cannon blast
Health & Safety , Live Events / April 2013
USA

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector                           A Kiss fan is suing Live Nation after being allegedly injured by debris discharged by a cannon during a show by the flamboyant rockers at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St Louis, Missouri in August last year. It seems that the claimant, William Mueller Jr, was already receiving treatment for brain cancer at the time of the show and his claim says that he was injured after the on-stage cannon “exploded and with great force launched a metal ratchet tie-down strap” that hit the claimant, who was standing by his allotted seat at the time. Noting that Mueller was already in a “weakened and vulnerable condition” because of his illness, the lawsuit says: “[The] defendants owed to [the] plaintiff the duty to exercise the highest degree of care for his safety. [The] defendants’ actions, conduct, or omissions were negligent, negligent per se, or both and were not those of a reasonably prudent person”. The defendants in the action are Live Nation, and the members of Kiss are not (currently) listed as defendants.   http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/03/20/55886.htm