At least 45 dead after nightclub fire in Bucharest
Health & Safety , Live Events / December 2015
Brazil
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   At least forty people – mostly teenagers and young people – have been killed after fire broke out at a nightclub in Bucharest, officials say. The blaze took hold at the Colectiv club on Friday night (30th October), where rock band Goodbye to Gravity were celebrating a new album with a free concert, causing a stampede for the two small exits – one of which was reportedly closed or blocked. Emergency response chief Raed Arafat said 155 people were being treated in hospitals in the Romanian capital. The fire is believed to have been caused by fireworks that were let off inside the club. The pyrotechnics were reportedly part of a show by the heavy metal band, and ignited polystyrene decor in the club. Arafat told the BBC that “the only information we have is that fireworks were used in the club and after that the tragedy happened. Of course, this is under investigation”.  Local media reports suggesting two of the band are among those seriously injured or dead. Officials say  that they fear the death toll could as yet double in number.  Arafat, said people were treated for burns, smoke inhalation and…

Radiohead stage collapse death hearing begins
Health & Safety , Live Events / December 2015
Canada
UK

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector     The hearing into the death of Radiohead’s drum technician, 33 year old Scott Johnson, who was killed when the stage collapsed before a concert three years ago, has begun in Canada. Three other crew members were injured in the incident, which took place in Toronto’s Downsview Park on June 16, 2012, reports Exclaim. Live Nation Canada, Live Nation Ontario and Optex Staging and Services each face four charges under Canada’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, while an engineer, Domenic Cugliari, faces one charge of endangering a worker by negligence. All have pleaded not guilty.  The concert, which was due to have been the final show on Radiohead’s 2012 North American tour, was cancelled following the tragedy.

Radiohead sue Parlophone over unauthorised deductions
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / December 2015
UK

CONTRACT Recorded Music, Artistes     Radiohead are suing their former record label, Parlophone, over a deduction of £744,000 from digital download royalties which had been paid to the band from 2008 and 2009 sales, and which they contend were unauthorised. Radiohead’s contract with Parlophone ended in 2003 with the album Hail to the Thief. At the time the deductions were made the band were signed to EMI – but that catalogue has now moved to Warners.   Explaining the case, lawyer Howard Ricklow from Collyer Bristow said: “Most recording contracts contain a provision that royalties for recordings on ‘future formats’ will be paid at a rate to be agreed. The band contends that no such rate was agreed with Parlophone for digital downloads and that the deductions made in 2008 and 2009 for costs apparently incurred in 1992 and 1998, long before the advent of digital downloads, were in breach of the contract”. Warner Music had tried to have the matter dismissed on the basis that there is a contractual time limit for the band to dispute deductions made against their royalties, and that deadline had passed. But Radiohead’s team argued that, as there was no specific agreement about the band’s digital…

Hook looks to former bandmates for a revised new order
Artists , Contract , Trade Mark / December 2015
UK

CONTRACT Artistes, Trade Mark   The BBC reports that former New Order bassist Peter Hook is suing his ex-bandmates Bernard Sumner and Stephen and Gillian Morris for millions of pounds in a row over royalties. Hook claims he has lost out on more than £2.3m since the three other band members set up a company without him to handle the band’s income in 2011 and Hook has accused them of “pillaging” the group’s assets. The trio say they have treated Hook fairly and that the guitarist’s stake of the royalties is reasonable. At a High Court hearing, Judge David Cooke ruled that Hook was not acting out of “spite” and cleared the way for him to take his complaints to a full trial.   When record label Factory collapsed in 1992, the original bands members (including Hook) formed a company named Vitalturn to hold all of New Order’s rights. Hook leftr the band in 2007, but the other members carried on without him, and continued to use the New Order name. Hook still owns 25% of Vitalturn but was not involved when the other three – who own 75% – set up a new company, New Order Ltd, in 2011. They granted the new company worldwide…

Russia’s Culture Ministry proposes collection society reforms
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
Russia

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     Russia’s culture ministry has made a series of proposals aimed at improving the way collection societies operate in the country, although the societies say the proposals are unfeasible. According to the ministry’s proposals, collection societies would have to pay at least 75 percent of all collected money to rights holders, with the remaining 25 percent spent on operation costs and other uses. The proposals also stipulate that collecting societies must provide rights holders’ access to their records, including data on collected and paid royalties. The ministry’s proposals are apparently aimed at increasing the transparency of collecting societies’ operations, and stepping up payments to rights holders.  Artemy Karpychev, deputy general director of RAO, the state-approved authors’ rights collecting society, tells Billboard that whilst the proposals might seem ‘excellent’, there would be substantial obstacles in implementing them saying:  “The 75-percent figure is what we already have, on average,” he said. “But if it has to be applied to every type of authors’ rights separately, for some of them, collection will have to be stopped. Take, for instance, collecting public performance royalties from restaurants and cafes,” he explained. “Transaction expenses for that type of collection are very high.” And…

ICE announces new Nordic partners and new brand
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
Denmark
Finland
Norway
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     PRS for Music have announced that the Koda (Denmark), TONO (Norway) and Teosto (Finland) performing rights societies are integrating their copyright data and services with the ICE.  ICE’s mandate is to hold a single multi-territory, multi-rights entry for a copyright work.  The decision was taken by the societies to set up the ‘Polaris Nordic initiative’ to offer their members a more efficient and cost-effective service.  PRS for Music also tells us about its new branding for ICE and tells us in marketing babble: “The existing ICE branding refreshes with a new master logo and an additional set of service descriptor logos”.   In addition, ICE partners announced the first appointments to the new expanded ICE offering.  Ben McEwen will transfer from PRS for Music to take up post as Commercial Director of ICE Licensing to lead the licensing and front office rightsholder acquisition and management functions.  Neil Jones will be seconded from PRS for Music as the Services Director for ICE Services and will drive the setup of the operational and professional functions.   Robert Ashcroft was appointed as the CEO of the ICE Licensing and ICE Services arm of the hub earlier this summer,…

PRS set up “Extensive tariff review “
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Already reviewing the Tariff LP rate for concerts, live events and festivals, PRS for Music have announced an extensive review of more tariffs with the stated aim to “simplify, streamline and consolidate more than 40 public performance licensing tariffs as part of a Public Performance Tariff Simplification programme” although detractors will be looking to see if hidden rate increases are included in conclusions. The programme will involve a series of customer consultations across the public performance licensing tariffs PRS operate who say “responses will help inform and shape a set of tariffs that are simple to understand, operate and fit for purpose.” Rob Kirkham, PRS for Music Head of Business Development, said: “The purpose of the simplification programme is to create tariffs that are easy to understand and use. By reviewing public performance tariffs across a number of sectors, our aim is that customers can continue to utilise and enjoy PRS for Music’s repertoire in a simpler and more efficient way. The consultations will provide opportunities to engage with our customers offering them open lines of communication with us, as PRS seeks to ensure that we continue to operate modern and appropriate licensing schemes.” The…

New paper explores “Making Available” right and “Communication to the Public”
Copyright / December 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas   Music Tank have published a new paper by Westminster University LLM graduate Fiona McGugan. The free paper “Making Available, Communication To The Public & User Interactivity” considers the evolution of communication rights that overshadow conventional distribution and reproduction rights as music consumption increasingly shifts away from ownership, towards access models of streaming services. Understanding how this right is applied, territorial variations in the application of rights, and how licensing structures are determined according to the levels of user-interactivity of digital services lie-at the heart of possibly the single biggest issue facing the music industry in recent times – how much artists get paid. You can download the paper here: https://www.musictank.co.uk/resources/reports/making-available-communication-to-the-public-user-interactivity . Also see “It’s Just A Click Away: How Copyright Law Is Failing Musicians” (Webber & McGugan) https://www.musictank.co.uk/resources/reports/one-click

Amen for crowdfunding
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     One of the musicians behind the most-sampled pieces of music in history has finally been rewarded for the work. Not by the courts – but by a crowdfunding page. The Amen Break – a six-second drum solo in The Winstons’ 1969 track “Amen, Brother” – was performed in 1969 by drummer Gregory Cylvester “G. C.” Colem   The six second riff has been sampled by artists including The Prodigy, Oasis and NWA. It became very widely used as sampled drum loops in breakbeat, hip hop, breakbeat hardcore, hardcore techno and breakcore, drum and bass (including old school jungle and ragga jungle), and digital hardcore music. The Amen Break was used extensively in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the basis for drum-and-bass and jungle music— “a six-second clip that spawned several entire subcultures.” It is one of the most sampled loops in contemporary electronic music and arguably the most sampled drum beat of all time.   But its writers never received any royalties from those recordings. In an effort to correct that, British DJs Martyn Webster and Steve Theobald set up a crowdfunding page (GoFundMe) and Spencer  urged musicians who had used…

Swift settles T-shirt claim, and walks away free from plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Record music, music publishing, merchandising     Taylor Swift has settled out of court with a US clothing company that accused her of copyright infringement. Blue Sphere, a clothing company based in California, had alleged that the singer infringed on its ‘Lucky 13’ trademark for her own run of T-shirts. The company’s head, Robert Kloetzly, accused Swift of targeting a similar audience to that of Blue Sphere. Swift’s lawyers responded by alleging that Kloetzly attempted to bully their client into a settlement. The settlement means that Swift  will not have to face deposition. The full details of the settlement are confidential between the two parties.   And U.S. District Court Judge Gail Standish has dismissed a copyright lawsuit against Taylor Swift by using some lyrical terminology. Musician and songwriter Jessie Braham has accused Swift of stealing “Shake It Off” lyrics from his song “Haters Gonna Hate,” and attested that he had the song copyrighted back in February. Braham was suing Swift for $42 million in damages and a writing credit on her hit song. Standish wrote, “At present, the Court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court. But, for now, we…

Music Tank debate points out the reality of how the music industry uses the law to underpay performers
Contract , Copyright , Internet / December 2015
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, streaming     Performers and songwriters – the actual creators of recorded music – have been making noises recently in the ongoing debate about reforms to copyright.  Indeed the Featured Artists Coalition and the globally-focused International Artists Organisation have issued an urgent call to the European Parliament demanding That the Parliament ensures that performer rights be included in the European Union’s current review of copyright law. The move comes as part of the campaign called Artists In Europe which is a bid to “ensure that protection for artists’ intellectual property sits at the heart of the new legislation”. Songwriters have already had a say. BASCA chairman Simon Darlow has used his speech at the 2015 Ivor Novello Awards to criticise current ‘safe harbour’ provisions in EU and US law, pointing out that the likes of YouTube undermine streaming services, and were exploiting safe harbour legislation saying this was “undermining the value of our music”. But even those who do pay songwriters and their publishers don’t pay much. Internet radio service Pandora is currently appealing the US Rate Court’s decision to order it to pay 2.5% of revenues to compensate BMI songwriters and publisher members. The rate of rival PRO ASCAP…

Copyright Royalty Board reference cheers indie labels
Copyright , Internet / December 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music     The U.S. Register of Copyrights has delivered her Memorandum Opinion in response to a “novel material question of law” referred to her on September 11, 2015 by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) who will be setting royalty rates for the period of 2016-2020. The question asked whether the Board would be prohibited by the governing statutes from setting rates and terms that may differ across different types of categories of licensors – in essence, whether they can set statutory webcasting royalty rates that vary depending on the identity or category of the record company that owns the recordings performed by a webcaster. The Register of Copyrights concluded that the question was not properly referred to the Copyright Office for consideration, and therefore she could not offer an opinion on the question of differentiated rates for licensors; BUT and its a big ‘but’, the Register further stated that because all participants in the Webcasting IV proceeding had assumed a non-differentiated rate structure for licensors, that is the only reasonable outcome in the Web IV proceeding, effectively dismissing calls from the major record labels, Sony and Universal, for a variable royalty rate for internet radio play in…

One Year on, the UK’s Private Copying Exception is now Dead
Copyright / December 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas     Following the CJEU’s decision in the Reprobel case, it is perhaps not surprising that the UK Intellectual Property Office has announced that it is to abandon the UK’s private-copying exception which was introduced in October 2014, and which was effectively declared illegal by the High Court in July of this year, and so had to be withdrawn. For the background to Mr Justice Green’s decision in July’s Judicial Review, please see this blog post. It now seems clear that the IPO were never going to find a workable scheme which met the criterion of ‘fair compensation’ for rights holders demanded by the EU InfoSoc Directive, while at the same time avoiding unpopular levies on consumables and hardware capable of being used to copy, in particular, music, computer games, ebooks and films, for personal use. The Reprobel decision, although not specifically concerned with copying for private use, highlights just how complicated the levy system can become. Each EU member state has found its own way of tackling the issue, with no overall EU-wide harmonisation in prospect. It seems that the IPO and those representing rights owners could not find an existing model to achieve ‘fair compensation’. So where does this leave ordinary…

South Australia removes ‘entertainment consent’ provisions from licensing requirements
Licensing , Live Events / December 2015
Australia

LICENSING Live events sector     One of the more ‘curious tenets’ of South Australia’s Liquor Licensing system was officially repealed this week with the passing of a welcome new amendment by South Australian Parliament. The new amendment, part of Attorney-General John Rau’s response to a review of the Late Night Code, will remove the need for licensed venues to apply for “entertainment consent” in order to host live music and other entertainment between 11am and midnight. “Entertainment consent” meant that venues had to specify not only the days and times live music would be played, but their genre as well. The law made South Australia the only state in the country where the Liquor Licensing Commissioner presides over the kind of music played in venues. Glenelg’s Dublin Hotel was taken to court after it was discovered hosting DJs mixing tunes on the premises. It was only being licensed to host traditional Irish music.   http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/464874/one-of-australias-stupidest-music-laws-just-got-repealed.htm

Booze ban at AC/DC concert in New Zealand
Licensing , Live Events / December 2015
New Zealand

LICENSING Live events sector     AC/DC fans will restricted from drinking alcohol before the legendary rock band’s concerts in Auckland, New Zealand, in December after Waitemata Local Board voted unanimously in support of a temporary liquor ban at their board meeting on November 10th.   Board chairman Shale Chambers said even though many of the concert-goers could well be in their 60s, the police are concerned about alcohol consumption before and after the ‘Rock or Bust’ concert. Senior Sergeant Antony Wilson wrote a letter to Stephen Town, chief executive of Auckland Council, requesting the dry zone around Western Springs Stadium.   He stated that temporary liquor bans have “significantly assisted in curbing alcohol-related harm and offending in public areas”.   Chambers said there was sufficient evidence of the potential alcohol-related harm to justify the dry street ban advanced by Inspector Gary Davey at the meeting with Chambers saying that Inspector Davey “went through the levels of intoxication and alcohol related harm that was likely at this type of event,”   The temporary alcohol ban will operate for 24 hours from 6am on December 15 in the surrounding area. Consumption or possession of alcohol is prohibited during the specified times…

Will boycotts of Israel mean a ban on Jewish festivals in Spain?
Censorship , Licensing , Live Events / December 2015
Israel
Spain

LICENSING / CENSORSHIP Live events sector   A left wing lawmaker from the Spanish city of Cordoba said that a local Jewish music festival would need to be rethought if a motion she had submitted in favour of boycotting the state of Israel passed.   Europa Press reported that Amparo Pernichi, Cordoba’s alderwoman for landscape and infrastructure, had linked Israel to the music festival during a news conference earlier this month and following controversy in local media over her statements, the draft motion was rejected by the Cordoba City Council on Nov. 10.   However, a similar motion passed the same day in the northern city of Santiago de Compostela. At the November 4th news conference Pernichi, who represents the United Left party, was asked whether her draft motion would spell the end of the International Sephardi Music Festival. The festival has been held since 2002 in Cordoba, a city in southern Spain that was a major cultural hub for Jews before their expulsion from Spain in the 15th century. Spanish Jews once constituted one of the largest and most prosperous Jewish communities in the world. This period ended definitively with the Alhambra decree of 1492, as a result of…

Wilma Theatre venue management contract ends up in Court
Competition , Contract , Live Events / December 2015
USA

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST / CONTRACT Live events industry     The previous and current owners of the Wilma Theatre in Montana are being sued in U.S. District Court by concert promoter Knitting Factory Presents who claims they’ve engaged in “anti-competitive behavior” and the induced termination of  a nine year agreement in July 2014 to exclusively manage the theater and buy talent for it with Simba Entertainment, a company owned solely by then venue owner Rick Wishcamper. Simba Entertainment was to pay Bravo $85,000 each year, plus ticket fees and a percentage of concessions and sponsorship revenue Knitting Factory Presents (also known as Bravo Entertainment) says it lost at least $609,000, and is seeking to triple those damages to an estimated $2,210,255. The previous owner, Rick Wishcamper, counters that under Knitting Factory Presents’ management, the venue saw steeply increasing losses, a “fiasco” in a critical staff position after general manager after Marcus Duckwitz resigned and his replacement had “serious alcohol issues”, alienated other staff, upset other local companies and left after just four months, and other actions that breached the contract. The current owner, Nick Checota, says Knitting Factory is free to book concerts elsewhere in Missoula besides the Wilma and his Top Hat Lounge (a competing…

3 jailed for Kendal Calling drugs offences
Live Events / December 2015
UK

CRIMINAL Live events sector   Three young men who committed drugs offences at the Kendal Calling music festival in Cumbria have been imprisoned after a trial at Carlisle Crown Court. Anthony McKibbin, 22, and Liam Dean, 21, were arrested the festival site near Penrith. Both were found in possession of illegal drugs, and further quantities of illicit substances were discovered in their car nearby. Fingerprints belonging to Joel Basnett, 19, were found on a plastic bag in the vehicle. He was detained several months later. The trio, all from Liverpool, admitted conspiracy to supply class A ecstasy along with ketamine and cannabis – both class B. In addition, McKibbin and Dean admitted a fourth count relating to class C drug BZP. Judge Peter Davies gave all three immediate custodial sentences. Basnett was sent to a young offenders’ institution for four years and eight months having also been caught trying to sell drugs at another festival. McKibbin and Dean were jailed for four and two years, respectively. Judge Davies told the three men: “Drugs spoil these festivals and ruin them for people whilst you make money out of it” adding “That is why these offences are serious.”   This year nine people were taken seriously ill after taking substances at…

REMEMBERING PARIS
Artists / December 2015
France

We remember members of the music family who lost their lives at the Bataclan, Paris, 13/11/15   Nick Alexander, the Eagles of Death Metal’s Merchandising Manager, has been killed in the Paris terror attacks at the Bataclan. His family said: “It is with huge sorrow that we can confirm that our beloved Nick lost his life at the Bataclan last night. Nick was not just our brother, son and uncle; he was everyone’s best friend – generous, funny and fiercely loyal” adding “Nick died doing the job he loved and we take great comfort in knowing how much he was cherished by his friends around the world. Thank you for your thoughts and respect for our family at this difficult time. Peace and light.” Africa Express’ Robin Aitken posted “Nick had worked with us on Africa Express. I remember a friendly, helpful guy who added his bit of joy to our musical events. I can only begin to imagine the tragedy that his family and close friends must be going through, and I just feel sad for his life being cut short by people who have so badly misunderstood the way to build a better world”. Nick’s girlfriend of three…

Performers speak up for their rights in the big IP debate
EU
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing, recorded music, internet   The Featured Artists Coalition and the globally-focused International Artists Organisation have issued an urgent call to the European Parliament demanding it ensure that performer rights be included in the European Union’s current review of copyright law. The move comes as part of the campaign called Artists In Europe which is a bid to “ensure that protection for artists’ intellectual property sits at the heart of the new legislation”. Continuing recent debates in the artist and songwriter communities, the FAC and IAO say that to achieve a “vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age” both the business and law-makers need to ensure there is transparency throughout the music value chain and that there is an enhanced duty of care from corporations so that artists know their interests are protected. Artists should also share in the profits from all the ways their music is exploited. FAC boss Paul Pacifico says: “To ensure a vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age, it is essential that the review of copyright currently underway in Europe puts the rights of creators and artists front and centre of any new legislation. If not, we stand to lose an…

A fair share: should we take a lead from France on fair digital payments to artistes?
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet, music publishing, artistes     The new digital music Code Of Conduct ushered in by the French government and signed up to by the major and independent labels, publishers, digital services and artist representatives has laudable aims (even more laudable if you are French)  and seeks to ensure the following: – The development and vitality of the music industry; – The preservation of cultural diversity and growth in innovation; – The creation of greater transparency in interactions between participants; – A fair distribution of value created by musical recordings. The provisions relating the the share of the ‘digital pie’ allocated to the service itself, songwriters and their publishers, record labels, recording artistes and the services themselves have long been a bone of contention between artistes and their labels, between labels/artistes and songwriters/publishers, and between the content owners and the actual digital services. In the absence of a fiduciary duty being imposted on record labels to treat their recording artistes fairly, ongoing confusion about how equity stakes gained by the majors in services such as Spotify, and a general lack of transparency in who gets what from the digital pie, are these French reforms something the EU and US…

Music Streaming – a timely update
Artists , Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / November 2015
France
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, artistes, music publishing   As Music Law Updates finalised the November Updates, news broke that streaming platform Deezer had postponed its planned IPO (initial public offering) on the Paris Stock Exchange due to difficult ‘market conditions’. MBW opined that the least of Deezer’s worries were competition from Apple Music and Spotify, a declining subscriber base and a currently loss making business model. In a timely article, George Chin looks how streaming has developed and the major players in the field – against of background of the success of streaming being blamed for declining physical product and download sales, but conversely offering a workable alternative to piracy to many consumers as habits change, and a valuable new source of revenues, at least for the record labels.   The latest Music 360 report from Nielsen (9th Sept 2015) confirms that sales of recorded music are down and that streaming is growing with 75% of the population (in the USA) listening to music online.  Given that there is now a wide choice of music streaming services available, the report reveals that when making a choice, over 80% of users cite cost and ease of use as their deciding factor…

Happy Halloween – Physical formats are back from the dead
Copyright / November 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   By Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)   There is a terrible monster of which many speak. They say this monster is worse than anything that went before. They say it never sleeps and has left nothing but ruin and destruction in its wake. They speak of the empires it has crushed and the things it has murdered with fear in their eyes.   This monster’s name? The internet. Plenty of people have gravely accused the internet of slowing murdering the music industry. And while one of those people was Kanye West, that view point was so well regarded that for a time, it was heralded as something of a prophecy – the music industry would soon be dead and physical formats would be the first to go. This then morphed into the view that, excluding piracy (as pirates don’t pay anyway), digital consumption would come in and obliterate physical sales. So many people pronounced physical formats dead at the scene of the Spotify app. Much like their predecessors of new consumption formats/methods (think Cassettes, CD’s and mini-discs), streaming and digital downloads were blamed for more stuff than I have the time to write about. The physical doomsday envisioned a vinyl, cassette…

Jay Z prevails in ‘Big Pimpin’ – a case which was never as simple as it looked
USA

COPYRIGHT / MORAL RIGHTS / CONTRACT Music publishing     Attorneys for Jay Z have told a U.S court in Los Angeles that the rapper had properly acquired the rights to an Egyptian musician’s melody to use for his hit 1999 song “Big Pimpin’,” as a trial in a longstanding copyright lawsuit Jay Z (Shawn Carter and hip hop producer Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley are among the defendants named in a 2007 complaint by the nephew of late Egyptian songwriter Baligh Hamdy, who argue that the rapper had used his uncle’s composition from the 1950s without permission. Jay Z’s lawyer Andrew Bart argued that the explicit lyrics of “Big Pimpin’” should not be discussed in relation to the lawsuit, as a depiction of the words as “vulgar” and “disgusting” could prejudice the jury against Jay Z, a move supported by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder who ruled that examining Jay Z’s lyrics would be irrelevant in this case, although Attorney Peter Ross, representing Hamdy’s nephew Osama Ahmed Fahmy, told the eight-member jury that the defendants had purposefully avoided asking permission to use Hamdy’s track because they allegedly knew it wouldn’t be granted given the risqué lyrics. Timbaland used Hamdy’s 1957 Egyptian tune…

Deadmau5 looks to trap ‘unauthorised’ remixes
Artists , Copyright , Moral Rights , Trade Mark / November 2015
Canada

COPYRIGHT / TRADE MARK / MORAL RIGHTS Artist, recorded music     Deadmau5 has launched a legal action in Ontario, Canada, against his former business associates over allegations that her company has released remixes of his early work without the required prior written permissions. The Hollywood Reporter says that  a decade ago DeadMau5 (Joel Zimmerman) had worked with Canadian label Play Records at the beginning of his career. Initially he created remixes for the company, and later signed publishing and management agreements with the firm and its co-founder Melleny Brown (also known as Melleny Melody or Melleefresh). After relocating to London in 2007, Zimmerman switched his management contract, and negotiated the ending of his contracts with Brown. That deal saw Zimmerman pay a sum of money to Play Records, and he also assigned ownership of some of his early songs and recordings to the company. However, that deal seemingly provided that any future remixes of those tracks could not be released without his “prior written consent”. Zimmerman now claims that Play has released new remixes of his early work without his OK, and has plans for more releases, breaching his contact rights, as well as infringing his trademarks and moral…

The Dancing Baby grooves on
Copyright , Internet / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The ‘Dancing Baby’ case is not over – with BOTH sides aiming for a rehearing: Whilst at the time of the appellate court’s judgement, the EFF called it “an important win for fair use,” now both the EFF (which is representing the plaintiff, Stephanie Lenz, who filmed her then toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” ) and Universal Music Corp. have requested an en banc rehearing from the Ninth Circuit. It seems the EFF are looking to streng the case for ‘fair use’ by breathing new life in section 512(f), which allows the targets of illegitimate takedowns to sue the people who sent the invalid notices – potentially arguing that on the facts of this case, Universal could not possibly have acted in ‘good faith’ when issuing a DMCA takedown’ notice  The Universal petition claims that Lenz had no standing for an appeal in the first place because she was not injured by the takedown. UMG will also ask the court to clarify some of the language in the opinion.   And have a look at this excellent article by Serona Elton on the Music Business Journal here http://www.thembj.org/2015/10/the-fair-use-check/

Pandora settles pre-1972 claim – but CBS fights on
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings     An Illinois couple who own several recording companies specializing in doo-wop, jazz, and rhythm and blues have filed law suit against the major satellite and Internet radio companies in the US over their playing of pre-1972 songs. Following on from the actions from Flo & Eddie of the Turtles and and RIAA, it’s the third lawsuit that seeks to obtain payment for use of sound recordings under state copyright laws. Arthur and Barbara Sheridan filed two lawsuits in New Jersey federal court: one against Pandora and Sirius XM (PDF) and another against iHeartMedia (PDF), the parent company of online music service iHeartRadio. Their lawsuits seek class action status, looking to represent owners of pre-1972 songs. The action says that the companies have derived “significant benefits,” including “millions of dollars in annual revenue,” by playing those songs without permission, the suit alleges. In an action brought by ABS Entertainment, which owns the recordings of Al Green, among others, terrestrial radio broadcaster CBS has argued that not only does state law not apply to their use – a matter the recorded music industry had until recently accepted this interpretation of the law – CBS also says that as it only plays…

Janet Jackson legal blitz shocks fans – and prompts an apology
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Live Events / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artiste, live events sector     Janet Jackson’s fans have accused the singer and her team of some heavy handed tactics after they posted pictures and short video clips of her current “Unbreakable” tour on their Instagram feeds. Numerous fans have claimed that after posting pics of Jackson live in concert, they’ve received e-mails from the social-media app explaining: “a third party reported that the content violates their copyright.” One Jackson concert-goer in Los Angeles told Page Six that the morning after the concert, her Instagram account was deleted, “Without warning. Every. Single. Photo. Gone.” Another blogger reported the same issue, claiming they had, “five e-mails from Instagram . . . about the five videos I had posted . . . It seems like Miss Jackson’s [legal] team is on fire. What a shame they don’t understand the times we live in.” Jackson’s team is said to be very ‘struct’ – accredited photographers are given just 30 seconds to catch images at her concerts at the beginning of her set.   A representative for  Instagram blamed the issue on “a bug.” “We have identified a bug that resulted in the removal of accounts that shouldn’t have been removed” adding in a statement “We…

Aurous and Sampson face record label fury – and seemingly surrender
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings   The RIAA – on behalf of UMG, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic and Capitol Records – has filed a lawsuit against Aurous and its founder Andrew Sampson for what it calls “wilful and egregious copyright infringement”. It appears the recorded music sector’s trade body will look to shut down the site using injunctive relief, and seek actual or statutory damages. We first noted Aurous on the 1709 blog back in September. The trade group said in a statement: “This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale. Like Grokster, Limewire or Grooveshark, it is neither licensed nor legal. We will not allow such a service to wilfully trample the rights of music creators”.   An injunction then followed on Thursday (15.10.15) ordering Aurous founder Andrew Sampson to halt further distribution of the app. The injunction is a “temporary restraining order”, and shortly after receiving it Sampson announced on Twitter that “Aurous downloads have been suspended until further notice” and he appointed a legal team. This in turn was followed by news that Aurous had seemingly released the ‘back-end’ source code to the app on Github, announcing on…

Santa Clause copyright comes home to Fred Coot’s heirs
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” is back into the hands of the heirs of a songwriter who composed it.  The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that rights to the classic yulertide ditty – the all-time most performed holiday song – will revert to the heirs of J. Fred Coots – his daughter Gloria and his six grandchildren. Coots, who died in 1985, co-wrote the song with James Lamont “Haven” Gillespiein in 1934, and made a deal with Leo Feist, who ran a music publishing company that was eventually acquired by EMI.  In 1976, the U.S. Congress allowed authors or their heirs to terminate copyright grants to publishers after 35 years. Coot’s heirs sued EMI Feist Catalog Inc. in the Southern District in 2012, claiming entitlement to re-establish their share of publishing copyright ownership in December 2016. However, Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that EMI Feist (NYLJ, Dec. 19, 2013) could hold the rights until 2029. EMI Feist is an arm of the London-based music company EMI Group. During the long history of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Coots’ family and EMI’s predecessors made various agreements with each other. In particular, Coots granted renewal…

Ray Charles’ wishes may yet be honoured
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s dismissal of a suit brought by the sole beneficiary of the Ray Charles estate, the Ray Charles Foundation, concluding that the Foundation had standing to challenge Charles’s heirs in their attempt to reclaim several copyrights to the late singer’s works because the Foundation’s right to royalties from such works would be affected. Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson et al., Case No. 13-55421 (9th Cir. July 31, 2015) (Christen, J.). The case in question was initiated in 2012 by the Ray Charles Foundation against 7 of the musician’s 12 children, to block their attempted terminations of copyrights under §§ 203 and 304(c) of the Copyright Act in 51 of Charles’ songs, including “I Got A Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So.” to get the return of the copyrights. The charitable Foundation was Charles’ sole heir and received the entirety of his estate, including the rights to receive royalties for his songs.  Charles’ children each got a trust worth $500,000 apiece shortly before his death and were required to sign written contracts effectively waiving their rights to any other inheritance. Regular readers will recall the termination right…

Jersey Boys case heads for a thin trial
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Book publishing, theatre     According to The Hollywood Reporter, a judge has now partially denied a summary judgment motion in the trial in which The Four Seasons members Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio must defend themselves against allegations that the Tony Award winning smash hit musical Jersey Boys infringes an author’s copyright. Rex Woodard was the co-author of a biography of Four Seasons member Thomas Gaetano DeVito, jointly created with the musician, and based on a series of interviews and discussions between the pair over a number of years which revealed  that the wholesome foursome had actually been engaged in “criminal enterprises” and had “underworld contacts”.  The pair agreed to be co-authors and share in any profits. Woodard died of lung cancer in 1991 and subsequently DeVito registered the Work at the US Copyright Office, in his name alone. He subsequently granted defendants Frankie Valli and Robert Gaudio (also both Four Season’s members) an irrevocable, exclusive, perpetual, worldwide and assignable licence to freely use the Work and Gaudio and Valli further sub-licensed these rights, which allowed the Work to subsequently form the basis for the screenplay of the hugely successful ‘Jersey Boys’ musical. After the play was first staged in…

US Judge not happy with Malibu Media’s “fishing expedition” – and neither are Verizon
Copyright , Internet / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Porn producer Malibu Media, which has filed more than 4,000 copyright lawsuits since 2009 — several times more than any other company — is currently trying to compel Verizon to reveal the identities of Internet users Malibu believes are illegally sharing its movies. But lawyers for the telecom company  have told a court that they’ve had enough of Malibu’s “defective” and “unenforceable” subpoenas. As TechDirt rightly tells us that the giant telco has a history of protecting its users against so called “copyright trolling” and other forms of attacks: Verizon led the way in fighting back against the RIAA when it started demanding ISPs hand over information on customers before any lawsuits were filed. Verizon won. FightCopyrightTrolls details the case before Judge Katherine Forrest where Malbu were trying to ascertain the identity of a ‘John Doe’ defendant: Malibu’s counsel propounded a morass of irrelevant questions concerning, inter alia, Doe’s educational background (including factual and technical details about the courses Doe studied), the identity and location of Doe’s family members, the identity and location of Doe’s employers years before the relevant period herein (including factual and technical details about Doe’s job roles and responsibilities), the location of Doe’s residences years before the relevant…

AC/DC’s Rudd loses appeal
Artists , Criminal Law / November 2015
New Zealand

CRIMINAL Artistes     Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has lost an appeal against his sentence after being convicted of both threatening to kill and drug possession earlier this year. He was sentenced to eight months under house arrest and a fine of NZ$120,000 (approx £50,000) but had argued that the sentence was “manifestly excessive” not least as it could prevent him from rejoining AC/DC – both because the band were already touring and he could not join the and te conviction could cause issues getting visas. His lawyer Craig Tuck, said his client was basically only guilty of making an angry phone call to an employee following the commercial failure of his 2014 debut solo album Head Job. However the New Zealand High Court noted that, despite Rudd’s desire to work with the band again, there was no sign that his former bandmates felt the same. Justice Raynor Asher told the court: “First, the band would have to want him to play with them. Second, the convictions would have to operate as a barrier to him travelling with them on tour. Neither are certain. [And] it is far from clear that at the time when the offending took place there was…

Blinkbox employees seek recompense after dismissal
Employment Law , Internet / November 2015
UK

EMPLOYMENT Internet   A group of 80 former employees of the defunct Blinkbox music service have launched a £10m class action lawsuit against the company that acquired it from Tesco for damages claiming redundancy pay outs were not honoured. The claim is against Guvera Ltd and two of its UK-based subsidiaries, who purchased the music service from Tesco in January 2015. The lawsuit, issued through the UK Employment Tribunal, seeks damages following the dismissal of the entire workforce shortly after this acquisition. Blinkbox Music Ltd fell into administration in June, owing licensing debts to major record companies. The group of workers claim they were given written assurance from both Tesco and Guvera that they would receive redundancy payments if cutbacks were required. The lawsuit argues that the Blinkbox music service was taken from solvency (with a reported £3.5 million in the bank) to insolvency within 5 months following its sales to Guvera. The Guardian quotes  Paul Jennings, a partner at City law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite representing the former employees., who saud that 100 staff were dismissed without any warning and without any notice or redundancy payments saying “[Also] at the heart of this case is the data of 2 million to 3 million users of the…

Hendrix Estate seeks to reclaim ‘stolen’ Black Widow guitar
Artists , Contract / November 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes     The estate of Jimi Hendrix is suing an Arizona guitar shop owner for the return of a guitar once owned by the rocker, claiming it was stolen by an erstwhile member of the group Earth, Wind & Fire. When Hendrix died in 1970 his effects – including the disputed guitar, which may or may not have been played b Jimi  – went to his father, James “Al” Hendrix, who formed Experience Hendrix in 1995 and died seven years later, leaving the guitarist’s adopted sister Janie in control of the estimated $80m estate. According to a court filing, Experience Hendrix, the company responsible for Hendrix’s estate, alleges that Harvey Moltz, the owner of Rainbow Guitars in Tucson, is not the rightful owner of the Acoustic Black Widow guitar as  the Black Widow was in fact stolen by Sheldon Reynolds, a sometime singer and guitarist for Earth, Wind & Fire, who is also a former member of The Commodores – and a former husband of Janie. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Mr Moltz says he bought the instrument for $80,000 (£52,000) in June 2014 from Brian Patterson, who in turn acquired the instrument from Sheldon Reynolds;  Moltz says…

The UK’s secondary ticketing market is in the news again
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / November 2015
UK

CONSUMER / CONTRACT Live Events Sector     Secondary ticketing was again in the news, firstly with the announcement by the UK government’s Department Of Culture, Media & Sport that Professor Michael Waterson will lead the review of the secondary ticketing market which follows from the recently enacted Consumer Rights Act – after MPs Mike Weatherley and Sharon Hodgson managed to ensure that some (but not all) of their concerns regarding the secondary ticketing market were enshrined in the Act – although one key proposal – that people reselling tickets online must publish their identity, was not included. That information would have allowed anti-touting promoters to more easily cancel tickets being touted as they appear on resale sites. The new legislation did provide for a review of consumer protection measures in the secondary ticketing domain, including making it compulsory to display the face value of the tickets being sold, and information on the seating area, and any restrictions that apply. Prof Waterson, specialises in industrial economics, including the economics of retail will chair the review. Interested parties have been invited to submit evidence by 20 Nov. Speaking at the time the legislation was finalised, Conservative Peer Colin Moynihan, a former sports minister, said:…

UK consumers gain protection for digital purchases
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / November 2015
UK

CONTRACT / CONSUMER LAW Live events sector   “UK Shoppers know your rights: 30-day refund becomes law and includes digital purchases” Digital products from retailers such as Spotify and Apple’s iTunes are now covered by the newly revised Consumer Rights Act in the *United Kingdom, which introduces specific rules to protect online shoppers, including those of music and app download stores and streaming services.  Among the revised rules is users’ right to demand a replacement for faulty digital content such as films, games, apps, music and eBooks purchased. Another provision of the Act is that digital retailers will be required to offer financial compensation if users download a virus or their device becomes corrupted as a consequence of accessing a service. Consumers will also be able to challenge unfair terms and conditions or legal loopholes hidden in the small print, while all digital goods sold must be fit for purpose and “free from minor defects.” Business Minister Nick Boles said in a statement”Whether it’s downloading music or buying a fridge freezer, the Consumer Rights Act makes it easier to understand your rights” adding “These changes will also simplify the law for businesses so they can spend less time worrying about unclear and unwieldy…

Fredericksburg to review outdoors noise limits
Licensing , Live Events / November 2015
USA

LICENSING Live events sector     Fredericksburg, just west of Austin, is a weekend destination for many Texans with the country music hotspot of Luckenbach just a short drive away. But now it seems that one of the most inviting pieces of the Fredericksburg experience – live outdoor music – could be in danger. According to reports from a city council meeting, amplified outdoor music could soon be a thing of the past. It seems that complaints to city council members from residents and bed-and-breakfast owners near the town’s Main Street area have been mounting. City Manager Kent Myers said in a statement that no votes were taken at the meeting and no decisions were made, but the town’s police chief was expected to present some findings on sound complaints in the area by the end of the year. A sound ordinance is already in place in Fredericksburg. Currently outdoor amplified music is subject to nightly 11 p.m. curfew. It seems that everything is up for debate: Reports say that it’s possible that decibel level limits may be reduced or enforced, or that venues might need to change the arrangement of outdoor speakers. But outdoor events might be more seriously…

Prince and Universal wrong to take down that ‘dancing baby’
Copyright , Internet / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet     In an important decision, and one which will undoubtedly have an impact on how content owners deal with what they consider is infringing content on the likes of YouTube, the Universal Music Group have been told by the U.S. appellate court that they should have considered whether a woman’s 29-second video of her two kids dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” was a fair use before issuing a takedown notice to YouTube. Cast your minds back to 2007 and you might remember that Prince persuaded Universal, his publisher, to take down a slightly blurry user generated video on YouTube of a toddler dancing to a snippet from “Let’s Go Crazy”. The mum who uploaded the video, Stephanie Lenz, was not amused. Prince had publicly said in a September 2007 statement that he intended to “reclaim his art on the internet” and Lenz was put on notice that her use of Prince’s music violated the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and that if she violated it again, she could lose her YouTube account and any videos she’d uploaded to it. Lenz sent a counter notification, and YouTube eventually reinstated the video that year. Lenz then  sued Universal Music, arguing…

Bandier urges songwriters to reject licensing changes
Copyright / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier has written to the publisher’s Nashville-based songwriters urging them to attend a National Music Publishers Association meeting to voice concerns about new proposals currently being considered in Washington as part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees – in particular proposals that would allow “100% licensing” by performing right organisations  ASCAP and BMI saying, “If either of these PROs controls any part of a song, no matter how small, they would be required to license the entire song without the approval of those who control the remainder” meaning songwriters could find their work licensed without consulation if a collaborator approved the use, saying “Requiring PROs to grant 100% licenses would be an unprecedented change to well-established licensing practices create widespread administrative confusion and potentially undermine a songwriter’s relationship with his or her chosen PRO,” he suggests. The DoJ’s review became necessary in the wake of both ASCAP and BMI’s rate court judges having ruled that partial withdrawals of digital rights were not allowed under the consent decree; publishers either had to be all-in or all-out. Bandier’s letter: To our Nashville based songwriters:   As you know…

France brings in new online music agreement
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
France

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, performers   The IFPI has welcomed the agreement struck by the music industry in France, aimed at boosting the legal digital music market and enhancing the value of music for all rights holders.   The voluntary agreement (the “Agreement for a fair development of online music”) was facilitated by France’s Minister of Culture and Communications Fleur Pellerin and brings together organisations representing French record companies, unions, recording artists, performers, online music services and others. They will work together to “help foster a sustainable music industry, diversity and innovation, clarity on revenue distribution and a fair value for music recordings.”   The agreement has been promoted by French government intermediary, Marc Schwartz, who was appointed in May 2015 to lead discussions on the development of the online music business between producers, performers and digital platforms. Universal, Sony and Warner have agreed to a new government-approved ‘code’ in France which sees them commit to new levels of transparency and “the fair sharing of value from the exploitation of music online”. The code will mean more clarity over the sharing of multi-million dollar advances from services such as YouTube, as well as the equity stakes that the majors own in…

RIAA and NMPA focus in on the value of music
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     The CEO and chairman of the RIAA has said that the current notice and takedown anti-piracy process is both costly and increasingly pointless. Cary Sherman says the USA’s safe harbor provisions contained in the DMCA have forced labels into a “never-ending game” of whack-a-mole while sites under its protection effectively obtain a discount music licensing system clarly highlighting the frustration the major record labels and their Hollywood counterparts feel about framework designed to facilitate the removal of infringing content on the Internet. Sherman also commemnted on “the flawed licensing regime in which we have to operate” saying “Government-set licensing has enabled services like Sirius XM to use music at below-market rates, based on a decades-old subsidy that has long outlived its purpose” adding “Even worse, under current law, AM/FM radio broadcasters pay absolutely nothing for the sound recordings they use to draw listeners and generate billions of dollars in revenue. In a marketplace that values innovation, it’s ironic that it’s the legacy technologies enjoying government-granted economic benefits and competitive advantage” and “while the music industry has embraced new technology and business models, the beneficiaries of this broken system cling to this antiquated law that was enacted at…

Russian court orders VK to implement effective technology to block illegal uploads
Copyright , Internet / October 2015
Russia

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music     Russian social network vKontakte (VK) has been ordered by a Russian court to use effective technology to prevent copyright infringement of the recordings of two record companies.   The IFPI say that the ruling, handed down in the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court on Monday, is a significant judgment which, when implemented, should improve the environment for developing a thriving licensed music business in Russia. The IFPI is the organisation that represents the global recording industry.  It was supported by the Russian National Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI).   Universal Music and Warner Music had brought copyright infringement cases against VK in April 2014.  The judge issued an oral decision on 28th September, and the full judgments will be handed down in due course.   The court granted the record companies’ request to require VK to use effective technology to prevent the upload of their sound recordings to its service, meaning that VK must remove the record companies’ recordings and prevent them from being uploaded again in the future. The claimaints said 98% of their sound trecordings featuring in the Top 40 UK chart from the past seven years are available on…

Johan Johansson uses ‘making available’ right – to exit Spotify
Copyright , Internet / October 2015
Sweden

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music     Swedish punk artist Johan Johansson has brought a successful civil action against his record label  MNW (formerly Musiknätet Waxholm) for making his music available on Spotify without his permission. The label owns rights to tracks recorded with Johansson’s former bands KSMB and John Lenin, who existed in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Johansson argued that MNW is not in possession of the digital distribution rights to his music, and that his bands’ contract with MNW only covered specific types of usage and not the right to make his recordings available on streaming services like Spotify – and it appears the Solna District Court has sided with Johansson, ordering the removal of his content. Under European law, both copyright owners and recording artists were provided with a new copyright provision called ‘making available’, which was put in place to ensure rights owners could control the distribution of its content online. The Swedish Musicians’ Union backed Johansson’s case. In May in Finland the sons of Finnish guitarist Albert Järvinen, best known for being in rock group Hurriganes, had argued in the Helsinki Market Court that Universal didn’t have the right to sell two Hurriganes albums featuring their late father digitally,…

SAG-AFTRA announce new streaming deal terms with record labels
Artists , Copyright / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, performers     The major record companies have agreed a new deal with a performers body in the US, improving the lot of their members from label streaming royalties. SAG-AFTRA represents around 160,000 members, including DJs and recording artists in addition to actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, TV presenters and voiceover artists. The body’s members have now voted to ratify a new National Code of Fair Practice for Sound Recordings (Sound Recordings Code) for online streaming and non-permanent digital downloads. This covers money generated for performers outside the US, with particular allowances for label contributions to artists’ Health and Retirement (H&R) savings and the agreement includes all three major record labels, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group as well as signatory independent record labels.   The benefits of the new contract for the artists include ‘Groundbreaking’ inclusion in payment formulas of label revenue generated from worldwide exploitation of member work in online streaming services and as non-permanent digital downloads’. There is also a new provision for the payment of AFTRA Health and Retirement (H&R) contributions on a portion of domestic and foreign streaming payments; Substantial restructuring of the compensation system for licensing of sound recordings, streamlining and making…

Happy Birthday IS in the public domain
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     In the USA, a federal judge has found that the song “Happy Birthday To You” is entirely in the public domain. U.S. District Judge George H. King held in a summary judgment that the song’s original copyright, assigned  Clayton F. Summy, who copyrighted and published them in a book titled “Song Stories for the Kindergarten” is now free of copyright claims. The rights to the song were bought for $15 million in 1988 by music publisher Warner/Chappell Music Inc. Any copyright now only covered specific piano arrangements of the song and not its lyrics. “It now belongs to the public,” Mark Rifkin, a lawyer representing a documentary filmmaker who filed the suit against the publisher told reporters adding “We did exhaustive historical research and none of it showed that the publisher owned anything other than copyrights to four very specific piano arrangements”. One of the co-plaintiffs, Ruypa Marya of the music group Ruypa & The April Fishes, also praised the decision as momentous, saying “I hope we can start reimagining copyright law to do what it’s supposed to do — protect the creations of people who make stuff so that we can continue to make more stuff.”  Marya, said she…

YMCA’s Willis triumphs again on costs claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Victor Willis, the ‘cop’ and a naval officer in the ‘70s disco group The Village People has been awarded more than a half-million dollars in attorney’s fees by a federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz granted Willis $527,236 to cover his attorney’s fees and $3,034 in costs incurred during copyright battles to reclaim ownership of his share of the songwriting and the associated revenues in over 33 of the songs Willis co-wrote, including Village People’s huge hit “YMCA” as well as “In The Navy”, “Go West” and “Macho Man”. The right to reclaim arose when the Copyright Act amendments went into effect in 1978 and it meant that songwriters could terminate copyright grants to publishers and record labels 35 years later. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that the 64 year old songwriter said the award sent a loud message to record producers “attempting to stop artists like myself” from asserting their rights to let them know “there are going to be repercussions” and commenting to the two music publishing companies and music producer Henri Belolo who fought his claims he said “I had to put out a lot of money to fight him,” says Willis, who was…

Everyday I’m hustlin’ ……. but now rapper’s case is shufflin’
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Rapper Rick Ross cannot copyright the words “Everyday I’m hustlin’,” a U.S. judge has ruled, putting an end to his claim against music group LMFAO for selling T-shirts with the similar catch-phrase “Everyday I’m shufflin’.” Ross sued LMFAO in 2013 over their 2010 hit ‘Party Rock Anthem’ because it contains the line “Everyday I’m Shuffling” which, the rapper claims, is a rip off of his 2006 track ‘hustlin’, which contains the lyric “Everyday I’m hustling”. In her ruling in the Miami federal court, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams said Ross’s slogan, a prominent part of his 2006 debut hit “Hustlin’,” is a short expression that courts have repeatedly said cannot be copyrighted. Ross, whose real name is  William Leonard Roberts II, has alleged the Los Angeles-based electropop duo, made up of Stefan Gordy and Skyler Gordy, copied “Hustlin’” into”Party Rock Anthem” – which contains the lyric “Everyday I’m Shufflin’.” The hip hop star said LMFAO’s song was “an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame and success of Hustlin’.” He also sued Kia Motors for using “Party Rock Anthem” in an advertising campaign. In the complaint, Ross claimed LMFAO also violated his copyright by selling T-shirts and other…

Universal set to settle digital royalty suit
Artists , Contract , Copyright / October 2015
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, performers   Universal Music Group has as said that it ‘shortly’ expects to settle a major US class action lawsuit with a group of artists, having made a significant offer of monetary compensation. The lawsuit dates back to 2011, when a group of recording artists including Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Rob Zombie, the Rick James Estate, Whitesnake and Ron Tyson of The Temptations filed a claim seeking additional royalties for the online sale of downloads and master ringtones claiming that iTunes royalties should be paid on a ‘licence’ terms – 50/50 split between label and artist – rather than on a unit ‘sale’ basis which applies to physical sales a nd generates far lower royalty payments for artistes. In 2012, the production company who discovered Eminem, FBT Productions, settled with Universal out of court in a similar case. Warner Music concluded an $11.5m settlement with 2,000 artists making claims on the same basis, and Cheap Trick, the Allman Brothers and a number of other Sony artistes in settled a similar claim made against Sony.   This motion for approval was submitted to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston and according to UMG parent company Vivendi: “This settlement transaction is expected to be formally approved by…