Rihanna wins Passing off claim against Top Shop
Artists , Trade Mark / September 2013

TRADE MARK Artists, merchandise   Rihanna has won her legal battle with Topshop over a T-shirt the high street retailer sold bearing her image. The star sued Topshop’s parent company Arcadia for $5 million (£3.3m) over the T-shirt, which featured a photo taken during a video shoot in 2011. Her lawyers told the High Court in London the fashion chain duped fans and may have damaged her reputation. They said the picture was “very similar” to images used on CD sleeves for one of her albums. Mr Justice Birss ruled that a “substantial number” of buyers were likely to have been deceived into buying the T-shirt because of a “false belief” that it had been approved by the singer. He said it was damaging to her “goodwill” and represented a loss of control over her reputation in the “fashion sphere”. Topshop’s lawyers had claimed the 25-year-old was making an unjustifiable bid to establish a “free standing image right” over use of her picture in the UK. The photograph used by Topshop had been taken during filming of a music video in Northern Ireland in 2011. In a two-minute judgment Mr Justice Birss, said there was “no such thing as a general right by…

Blag Flag vs Flag – let battle commence
Artists , Trade Mark / September 2013

TRADE MARK Artistes   The two Black Flag reunions — Black Flag and FLAG — have prompted a trade mark battle. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Black Flag co-founder Greg Ginn has filed a lawsuit against former bandmates Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski, and Bill Stevenson, who’ve reunited under the FLAG banner. Former Black Flag member Henry Rollins, who’s involved in neither reunion, was also named as a defendant. Ginn claims he and his label, SST Records, exclusively own the rights to the Black Flag name and logo (and the “Flag” variation), which FLAG intend to use on tour. He alleges Morris and Rollins (born Henry Garfield) of “lying to the Trademark Office on registrations; using his own label’s record covers to feign as though they’ve been continuing to use Black Flag since 1979, and in an what’s alleged to be an act of ‘outrageous fraud,’ using bootleg SST t-shirts in an attempt to show they’ve been making such products in that time,” the Reporter adds. The suit says FLAG’s name and logo are “a colorable imitation” that’s “likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception among consumers.” Ginn is seeking an injunction against the FLAG tour, which kicked off…

Wylie vs Pagans – rapper won’t pay his £15K fee back after festival walk off
Artists , Contract , Live Events / September 2013

CONTRACT Artists, live events   Wiley has said he has no intention of returning his (self) reported fee of £15,000 to promoters of the CockRock Festival in Cumbria, after organisers of the charity event said they were planning legal action after the rapper walked off stage after just 15 minutes of his 45 minute set and referring to the audience as ‘pagans’. As we reported in our August Update, Wiley (Richard Kylea Cowie) had received a hostile reception at the Cockermouth event after criticising the festival on Twitter ahead of his arrival with one tweet saying Just the name makes me not wanna go,” with Wylie adding: “My agent knows that there are cool places to play and other places are just not worth the hassle The rapper says he left the stage early because the audience were throwing things at the stage, adding that staff at the festival had advised him to walk if that happened. Organisers have countered that the atmosphere during the short Wiley set was not as hostile or dangerous as the rapper has claimed, and that security had it under control. The rapper told the BBC: “They say it’s a charity event and they want their money back….

Judge curbs Curb’s copyright claim against McGraw
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / September 2013

CONTRACT Artists, record labels   A federal judge in Tennessee has dismissed a copyright lawsuit filed against Tim McGraw in his ongoing battle with Curb Records. The country star has been fighting Curb since 2011, when he was accused of violating the terms of his contract by turning in his album Emotional Traffic before the 18-month gap between projects had passed. Curb refused to release the disc, while MCGraw argued that the fifth and final album would have fulfilled his contract with the company. MCGraw countersued and last year he was granted permission by the courts to release new music through Big MAChine Records. His latest project, titled Two Lanes of Freedom, hit music retailers in February, but Curb then lodged new papers in U.S. District Court in Tennessee in April (13), claiming the tracks were recorded before their original contract was dissolved and therefore amounted to copyright infringement. However, U.S. District Judge William H. Haynes administratively closed the latest case insisting he cannot rule on the copyright allegations until the contract case is settled.   http://www.contactmusic.com/story/judge-dismisses-tim-mcgraw-copyright-infringement-lawsuit_3808763 and see our previous Updates here http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=5408 here http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=5102 and here http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=4509

Turtles probe the murky soup of pre-1972 US copyright law

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, record labels, artistes   The Turtles are leading a $100 million lawsuit against SiriusXM, arguing that the satellite broadcasting company has infringed on millions of older recordings from thousands of artists, and that Sirius cannot rely on section 114 of the US Copyright Act for protection – as pre 1972 recordings are subject to state law – which may arguably mean that Sirius plays songs recorded before that date without permission. The suit, brought under the California Civil Code, and led by vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (later known as Flo and Eddie whose company leads the action and owns copyrights in a number of Turtle’s sound recordings) was filed on August 1 in the Los Angeles Superior Court and is proposed as a class action. Are the Turtles’ “Let Me Be” (1966), “You Baby” (1966), “Happy Together” (Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 in 1967), “Elenore” and “You Showed Me” (both peaking at No. 6 in 1969) and their well-known 1965 cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” protected against unauthorised plays by Californian state law (Californian Civil Code S980(a)(2)?  Sirius does currently pay compensation for the use of sound recordings (unlike terrestrial stations in…

Green Day’s transformation of ‘Scream’ image was fair use
Artists , Copyright / September 2013

COPYRIGHT Artistes   US punk rock band Green Day did not infringe copyright when it used an artist’s drawing of a screaming face in a video backdrop, the 9th Circuit appeals court has ruled, saying that the band transformed the work of Los Angeles-based artist and illustrator Derek Seltzer. Seltzer launched his action in 2010, saying the band had used his drawing “Scream Icon” without permission. A poster lf the image had been photographed by Green Day’s set designer Richard Staub on a wall on Sunset Boulevard in 2008 and  later incorporated the image into a four-minute video backdrop for Green Day’s song “East Jesus Nowhere”, a song about religious hypocrisy.  “The video depicts a brick alleyway covered in graffiti,” the ruling says: “As ‘East Jesus Nowhere’ is performed, several days pass at an accelerated pace and graffiti artists come and go, adding new art, posters, and tags to the brick alleyway. The graffiti includes at least three images of Jesus Christ, which are defaced over the course of the video.” While the image remains in the center of the frame throughout the video, it has been altered by a red spray-painted cross, and the court agreed with U.S. District…

Thicke set for copyright battle
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2013

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, sound recordings   According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robin Thicke (along with Pharrell Williams and T.I.) has filed a suit in federal court in California against both the family of Marvin Gaye and a publishing company that holds the rights to some of Funkadelic’s compositions. The reason? Both of those parties have claimed that “Blurred Lines” – THE party anthem of 2013 – borrows from their own work, and thus they should be entitled to royalties. The Gaye family’s claim is “especially absurd”, as they claim that “Blurred Lines” feels and sounds the same as Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” and that, according to the suit, “the Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work.” Meanwhile, Bridgeport Music says that “Blurred Lines” sounds too much like Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.” Both parties have threatened litigation if they aren’t paid, which is why Thicke, Williams, and T.I. have filed suit in order to get the matter settled immediately. In an interesting twist, Billboard reported that prior to his federal suit, it seems that Robin Thicke allegedly offered a substantial payout to the family of Marvin Gaye   http://music-mix.ew.com/2013/08/16/robin-thicke-marvin-gaye-lawsuit/ http://news.ninemsn.com.au/entertainment/2013/08/24/11/13/robin-thicke-offered-payout-over-copyright-claim-billboard

Australian High Court decides simulcast dispute
Copyright , Internet / September 2013

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, internet   The International Federation of The Phonographic Industry has welcomed a recent ruling that brings to an end a long legal battle between the record and radio industries in Australia. The dispute centred on whether existing music licenses held by commercial radio stations in Australia covered simulcasts on the internet and the High Court Of Australia has backed lower court rulings that radio stations do need new licences to webcast sound recordings. Welcoming last week’s ruling yesterday, IFPI boss Frances Moore said: “This welcome ruling confirms that Australian broadcasters should pay rights holders when they stream their music online. It is a well established principle in most countries that broadcasters should pay a fair rate for the recorded music they use to attract audiences and drive advertising revenues. This principle should hold true when they use simulcasting technology to reach an audience online”. And I suppose that’s right – IF it’s a new audience.

PRS for Music and YouTube sign licensing deal
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / September 2013

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing   UK Publisher and songwriter collection society PRS for Music and YouTube have  signed a multi-year licence covers over 130 territories The licence covers the use of the “significant repertoire” represented by PRS for Music in videos streamed on the video platform e.g. official music videos and content, live footage, soundtracks and user generated content (UGC). The licence also includes the rights to a growing range of independent repertoire available through PRS for Music’s IMPEL initiative such as David Bowie (Bucks Music), Justin Timberlake (Imagem), Lou Reed (Spirit) and Goldie (Westbury) covering more than 130 territories in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive PRS for Music, said, “Streaming is a key growth area for PRS for Music, helping drive our online revenues to over £50M in 2012. YouTube’s vast reach around the world offers our publishers and songwriters a unique stage and music lovers access to millions of songs. I am delighted we have reached such an important multi-territory agreement. The issue of remuneration from streaming services remains a key one for our members and the further evolution of our licensing relationship with YouTube will help ensure continued growth in royalties for…

New term provisions for co-written works in the UK
Copyright , General , Music Publishing / September 2013

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   PRS for Music reminds all of its authors and composers, and Music Law Updates,  that from the 1st  November 2013 a legislative change will alter the way the term of UK copyright protection for a co-written work is calculated. From this date the term of protection for the music and words within the co-written work will now expire 70 years after the death of the last surviving author of that work (composer or lyricist) rather than the current provisions where music and words within a co-written work are treated as separate copyright works with their own individual term of protection. The new law applies to co-written works made: on or after 1 November 2013; before 1 November 2013, where the musical work and/or words are still in copyright in UK on 31 October 2013; before 1 November 2013, where music or the words are protected in at least one member state of the European Economic Area on 1 November 2013. http://www.prsformusic.com/aboutus/essentialinformation/aboutcopyright/Pages/aboutmusiccopyright.aspx

$100 million sampling lawsuit filed
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2013

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   CMU Daily reported that a $100 million lawsuit has been filed targeting various hip hop producers and rappers, along with their music publishers and labels, over allegations they were all involved in illegally sampling and using music created by New Orleans jazz ensemble The Batiste Brothers. Amongst those accused of using extracts of the Batiste Brothers’ work without permission are T-Pain, DJ Khaled, Rick Ross and Pitbull, while corporate defendants include Universal’s Def Jam and Sony’s RCA. The litigation has been filed by Paul Batiste and in his legal papers he refers to “an immense number of songs infringing upon the plaintiff’s catalogue”. Numerous such songs are then listed, including Jamie Fox and T-Pain’s ‘Blame It’ and DJ Khaled’s ‘All I Do Is Win’. According to AllHipHop.com, the lawsuit claims that “defendants have blatantly poached beats, lyrics, melodies and chords from Plaintiff’s songs” and that “many of the defendants songs have been released multiple times, in multiple versions and that each release constitutes an independent act of copyright infringement”.   http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/hip-hop-acts-and-labels-face-100-million-copyright-lawsuit/

Google says Gmail users have no right to privacy
Internet , Privacy / September 2013

PRIVACY Internet   CNET reports that “Google has made it clear that people who send or receive e-mail via Gmail should not expect their messages to remain private.” In a 39-page motion filed in June to have a class-action data-mining lawsuit dismissed, the Web giant cites Smith v. Maryland, a 1979 Supreme Court decision that upheld the collection of electronic communications without a warrant. The filing states “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s [e-mail provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, ‘a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’” CNET reports that the Plaintiffs in the case contend that Google’s automated scanning of e-mail represents an illegal interception of their electronic communications without their consent. However, Google, which uses automated scanning to filter spam and deliver targeted advertising to its users, noted that plaintiffs consented to the practice in exchange for the e-mail services. Google goes on to say that courts have held that all e-mail users “necessarily give…

Bradford Bulls concert accused of drunken chaos
Licensing , Live Events / September 2013

LICENSING Live events Industry   Bosses at Super League rugby club Bradford Bulls have denied a 1980s revival concert descended into “chaos” because of unsupervised drinking, failed to manage queues and had a “total disregard” for the public safety of revellers. Police have requested a review of its alcohol licence over a string of alleged breaches. Police licensing officer Su Dawson had requested a review of the premises licence held by OK Bulls Ltd, saying the club had shown a “complete disregard and dismissive attitude” to the Licensing Act 2003. But Ryan Whitcut, general manager at the club, said the allegation of “chaos” was unfounded and the review was a “waste of public money” saying “No-one drunk was served, there was no chaos” and “People were queuing in an orderly fashion” and “The queues were long and more facilities were needed, but I know our staff on that night will have done everything they could to get the queues down”. Saying that he was confident that the Licensing Committee would side with the Club Mr Whitcut insisted ““We are not going to have our licence taken away whatsoever.” PC Dawson said the marquee bar was “in chaos” throughout the concert…