Finland allows refunds for dreadful shows
Consumers , Live Events / August 2015
Finland

CONSUMER Live events sector   A tribunal in Finland has ruled that under-par concerts by established artistes should result in a refund of at least an element of the ticket price by the promoter. The Finnish Consumer Disputes Board is the result of a complaint following a 2013 Chuck Berry concert in Helsinki when the 88-year-old singer was sick and didn’t perform up to par. Berry apologised on stage for his condition during the show. The Board said that the event organizer should refund 50% of the ticket price. Board chairman Paul Stahlberg told Finnish broadcaster YLE that illness was a justifiable reason to ask for a refund, though a lack of sobriety may not be. “It’s not at all unusual at rock festivals that some artists are high, and that doesn’t even necessarily affect the quality of their performances,” he said. Its not a matter of taste though:  “Anyone seeking a ruling like this is always spurred by a subjective opinion, but that’s not enough to get a refund,” Stahlberg noted. “What is significant is a generally agreed view that the concert was a failure, as it was in the Chuck Berry case.”   The ruling opens the possibility…

Japan lifts dancing ban
Licensing , Live Events / August 2015
Japan

LICENSING Live events sector   Japan has amended a controversial law which has been in place for 67 years. The statute, officially termed “the Entertainment Business Control Law” or fueiho forbade dancing after midnight in clubs, bars and most venues unless they had an appropriate (and still ery limited) . The remarkably old fashioned and only sporadically enforced regulation had recently come under scrutiny, as the police had been more vigilant in applying the provisions – to great concern. The law was originally implemeted in 1948 during the US occupation to prevent clubs using music as a cover for prostitution. However the death of a student in an Osaka club in 2010 helped initiate a new wave of enforcement by police. By 2012, “no dancing” signs started appearing at many of the well-known clubs in Tokyo’s Roppongi and Shinjuku districts, as well as Shinsaibashi in Osaka, significantly impacting nightlife business throughout the country.  in 2013, Academy-award winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto launched the Let’s Dance Petition Committee, which collected over 150,000 signatures in support of changing the law and many say the award of the 2022 Olympic Games to Jame prompted change. However the re-written statute states that dance clubs must maintain lighting above…

Travis County Judge looks at noise control in Austin
Licensing , Live Events / August 2015
USA

LICENSING Live events sector     The Austin Monitor tells us that Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has dismissed concerns that a plan to reform outdoor concert regulations in the county could potentially violate state law. The Travis County Commissioners Court is currently looking ar streamline the permitting process for mass gatherings which would implement a tougher stance against loud music after certain nightime hours on unincorporated lands. The Texas Mass Gatherings Act of 1989 gives county judges authority over the permitting process. Critics of the plan – including promoters of some of the festivals that would be affected – argue that Texas counties have no authority to regulate sound levels beyond what state law allows – although the Texas Penal Code defines “unreasonable noise” as anything over 85 decibels, or somewhere between a blender and a garbage disposal. However Judge Eckhardt told the Austin Monitor that the plan before the court simply sets a baseline expectation of when events must pull the plug on amplified music. The proposed change would set that baseline at 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. However, Eckhardt stressed that permit applicants who wish to extend this period won’t necessarily be denied: “If…

Evolve finds new insurer to meet drugs challenge
Licensing , Live Events / August 2015
Canada

LICENSING Live events sector     The Evolve Festival in Antigonish, Nova Scotia has been saved after its drug harm reduction policy involving free drug test kits led to the near cancellation of  the event. According to CBC News, Evolve recently became the first festival in the territory to announce the presence of drug-testing – organisers said they expected drugs to be present, and that they wanted to make users safer by making them aware of what they were taking. Anyone concerned about whatever they are taking could hand a small sample to festival officials, who would then use a two-part litmus test to test for MDMA, speed, and LSD. Unfortunately the drugs testing plan prompted the event’s underwriters who provided liability insurance to pull out, leaving festival producer Jonas Colter in a tough spot – no insurance – no event: The difficulty was put t rest when a new underwriter was found who would provide cover. Consequence of Sound make the point: “In other words, in order to ensure that ticket buyers actually had an event to attend, Evolve considered canceling plans to protect them from dangerous substances”. http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/07/evolve-festival-nearly-forced-to-cancel-for-offering-drug-testing-kits-to-attendees/

Britain’s planning rules are ruining its music industry. Here’s how
Licensing , Live Events / August 2015
UK

LICENSING. PLANNING Live events sector   This update by Shain Shapiro. In early July, The Troubadour, an independent pub in London’s Earl’s Court district, was put up for sale. Its owners, Simon and Susie Thornhill, told the Evening Standard that the closure of their rear terrace, prompted by noise complaints and a subsequent enforcement action by Kensington & Chelsea council, had reduced their takings, making the business unviable. The Troubadour is one of the more storied venues in London. It has hosted live music since 1954; as recently as 2011, Bob Dylan and Keith Richards played there. But with Earl’s Court now being redeveloped into housing and a new town centre, it was the last such venue in the area. Its current challenges are disappointing. When discussing the problems faced by live music venues today, the debate tends to focus more on the micro side of things – individual cases, like that of the Troubadour – than the macro, in the form of a larger, more worrying problem threatening all our cultural spaces, including venues. This problem is the way our planning laws are often used to undermine and deprioritise the creative industries. The Troubadour’s fate notwithstanding, we need to understand…

Rappers violent lyrics will lead to court
Artists , Criminal Law / August 2015
USA

CRIMINAL Artistes   Rappers and their violent lyrics have been a topic of some contention in the USA recently, and now an aspiring California rapper’s online lyrical rant targeting two rape victims “has landed him in legal hot water in a prosecution testing whether his threatening lyrics were protected speech or a criminal act.” Some lyrics have been about the rappers own history: Back in December 2014 HipHop Dx reported that rapper Tiny Doo was facing criminal charges because his “No Safety” album implied that the rapper has gang ties. Doo (Brandon Duncan) was charged under laws that make it an offence to benefit from the violent actions of fellow gang members. Whilst Duncan had no criminal record,  he and 14 other members of the gang were being charged for being involved in nine shootings since April 2013. Prosecutors said that Tiny Doo’s “No Safety” album sales have been supported by the reputation of the gang.   HipHopDx also reported that  lyrics and music videos were used in the trial of Ra Diggs, with the judge saying it was permissible in order to prove “a pattern of criminal activity.” In addition, Vonte Skinner, the defendant in a 2008 trial for…

Madonna hacker gets 14 months
Copyright , Criminal Law , Internet / August 2015
Israel
USA

COPYRIGHT / CRIMINAL Internet, recorded music   Adi Lederman who hacked and released a number of unfinished and demo tracks from Madonna’s Rebel Hart album in December 2014 when it was a work in progress has received a 14-month jail sentence from the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Thursday as part of a plea-bargain deal following his conviction for cyber crimes against the pop singer. Lederman, a former contestant on Kochav Nolad, Israel’s version of ‘Pop Idol’, hacked into Madonna’s computers last year, having accessed passwords from the email accounts of her manager and musical director. It’s thought Lederman also accessed part of the singer’s work schedule in addition to the unfinished tracks from her album ‘Rebel Heart’. He was charged with computer trespassing, fraud, and intellectual property offences against the superstar, After the leak Madonna released six tracks and moved up the release date of the full album to March saying “I have been violated as a human and an artist!”  Lederman had previously stolen a song from Madonna in 2012, which he sold rather than leaking himself. Lederman was also fined NIS 15,000 (US $4,000)  by the court, which said its sentence should “send a message of deterrence” and uncompromising commitment to the law to…

The Pirate Bay Four acquitted in Belgium
Copyright , Criminal Law , Internet / August 2015
Belgium
Sweden

COPYRIGHT/CRIMINAL Internet, technology   Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, the four original key Pirate Bay founders, have been acquitted by a Belgian court on charges of criminal copyright infringement and abusing electronic communications. All four defendants have denied having anything to do with the site since was seemingly sold to a Seychelles-based company called Reservella in 2006, and this proved a major hurdle for Belgian prosecutors as the crimes were allegedly committed between September 2011 and November 2013. A judge at the Mechelse Court ruled that it could not be proven that the four were involved in the site during the period in question. Indeed, for at least a year of that period, Svartholm was in jail in Sweden while connecting Lundström to the site a decade after his last involvement (which was purely financial) has always been somewhat difficult. In the end, even the site’s anti-piracy adversaries in the case agreed with the decision: “Technically speaking, we agree with the court,” said Olivier Maeterlinck, director of the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA). https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-founders-acquitted-in-criminal-copyright-case-150710/ and http://www.techworm.net/2015/07/the-pirate-bay-founders-and-financier-cleared-in-criminal-copyright-case.html

FTC explores Apple’s treatment of rival streaming apps
Competition , Internet / August 2015
USA

COMPETITION (ANTI-TRUST) Internet, technology     US government antitrust regulators are looking into claims that Apple’s treatment of rival streaming music apps is illegal under antitrust law. As Apple have now launched its own Apple Music, FTC are interested in how the App Store platform operates for competing streaming services such asJango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases for digital goods, such as music streaming subscriptions and games, sold on its platform. While $9.99 has emerged as the going monthly rate for music subscriptions, including Apple’s, some streaming companies complain that Apple’s cut forces them to either charge more in the App Store than they do on other platforms or erode their profit margins. Customers can sign up for a streaming service through their Web browser, but the streaming industry sources argue that many consumers do not realize that is an option. Tyler Goldman, CEO for North America of the music streaming company Deezer, said the bite that Apple takes out of his company’s US$9.99 U.S. subscription fee leaves little for Deezer. It emerged last week That Spotify was emailing users who subscribed to the service via its iOS app, and who are therefore…

Sound recording copyright term extends to 70 years in Canada
Copyright / July 2015
Canada
EU

COPYRIGHT All areas     The sound recording copyright term in Canada is now 70 years, mirroring the term in Europe. Recordings previously had 50 years of copyright protection in Canada, but legislators have now followed the lead of the European Union in extending the term of protection to 70 years from release, despite opposition from various quarters, with some critics arguing that copyright terms are, in the main, already too long and shouldn’t get any longer. Welcoming the development, Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada, said yesterday: “In extending the term of copyright in recorded music, Prime Minister Harper and the government of Canada have demonstrated a real understanding of music’s importance to the Canadian economy. Thank you. We are thrilled to see Canada brought in line with the international standard of 70 years”.   https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/6612571/canada-offically-extends-copyright-term-to-70-years

Sirius settles pre-1972 sound recordings claim in USA
Copyright / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting   US satellite broadcaster Sirius XM has reached a settlement with all three major record labels over the long-rumbling pre-1972 copyright dispute in the US, which has been highlighted in the actions brought by Flo & Eddie of the band the Turtles in New York, California and Florida. The recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claim settlement also includes ABKCO – the owner of classic Rolling Stones copyrights – and the claimants (Capitol Records LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings Inc, Warner Music Group and ABKCO) have jointly been awarded $210m as part of a settlement with Sirius. In a statement, Sirius said: “The settlement resolves all past claims as to our use of pre-1972 recordings owned or controlled by the plaintiffs and enables us, without any additional payment, to reproduce, perform and broadcast such recordings in the United States through December 31, 2017. As part of the settlement, we have the right, to be exercised before December 31, 2017, to enter into a license with each plaintiff to reproduce, perform and broadcast its pre-1972 recordings from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022.” That license should ensure that the majors, at least, are compensated for the performances…

SiriusXM prevail in pre-1972 claim in Florida
Copyright / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting     SiriusXM has won a rare victory over its use of pre-1972 recorded music in the satellite radio broadcasters’ ongoing battle with Flo & Eddie, founders of The Turtles. The musicians filed separate lawsuits in California, Florida and New York in 2013, aiming to use state laws to stop SiriusXM using their sound recordings such as “Happy Together” without paying royalties. California and New York judges have both favored the argument that state laws protect the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings in the absence of federal legislation. The Florida judge was last to rule, but has gone the other way: U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles decided to rule in favor of SiriusXM’s summary judgment motion. The judge said he understands why his judicial colleagues in other states ruled differently noting that California and New York are creative centres of culture, and laws have been enacted there to protect artistic rights, and there have been prior cases that have touched upon the present controversy. But Judge Gayle said that “Florida is different” saying “There is no specific Florida legislation covering sound recording property rights, nor is there a bevy of case law interpreting common law copyright related to the arts.” Declining…

When claimants stand up for copyright, defendants can get sent down
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Phonographic Performance Limited v Fletcher is an extempore ruling by Mr Justice Arnold, sitting in the Chancery Division, England and Wales, last Monday; being extempore it isn’t available on BAILII but it was noted in brief on the subscription-only Lawtel service. It’s one of those rulings that reflects on the sad end which some defendants face when they just keep carrying on infringing, ignoring every cue to stop. In these proceedings Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), a UK music licensing company, applied to commit Fletcher for contempt of court, following his breach of an order prohibiting him from playing sound recordings without a licence at a nightclub. Fletcher himself was the premises licence holder of a night club. Despite PPL’s warning, Fletcher did not take out a licence to play music the rights to which were administered by it.  PPL then applied for judgment in default for copyright infringement, securing an injunction that ordered Fletcher not to play PPL’s songs in public without a licence. At this point Fletcher agreed to pay the outstanding licence fees by monthly instalments — but then he defaulted on payment. Subsequently allowed to make weekly instalments, he paid them late. PPL…

Apple Music v Taylor Swift
USA

COPYRIGHT Online, recorded music, artistes   On Monday 8th June, Apple launched its music streaming service, aptly named – Apple Music – at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (where else) in San Francisco.  Introduced by the rapper Drake and Beats Music co-founder Jimmy Iovine.   Apple Music will roll out in 100 countries at the end of June i.e. next week.  Initially announced, after a three month trial, the service will cost $9.99 a month or $14.99 for a family plan for up to six people.   Apple Music is combination service – first, a streaming on-demand service of millions of songs and videos; secondly a 24-hour radio station called Beats 1 curated by former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe; and thirdly Connect, a music-focused social network, a cross between Facebook and Soundcloud, where artists can connect with their fans by uploading and posting videos, music, photos and comments.   A storm of controversy has raged over the three month free trial.  At first, Apple said that during this period, no artists will be paid for music streamed. At issue is Apple Music’s 90-day free trial, which effectively cuts out any revenue from streams ­during that time period. According to Merlin, the…

Swift accused of hypocrisy by photographer after Apple dispute ends
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Live events sector     Having managed to reverse Apple Music’s ‘no royalties’ policy for the first three month launch period, Taylor Swift has come under fire from freelance photographer Jason Sheldon, who points out that photo waivers for the pop star’s concerts stipulate that a photographer can use their images from the show only once and only within the published report on that performance – meaning that whilst the copyright owner, they can’t sell their images to other editorial outlets, nor can they sell prints of the image in any way – and to add insult to injury – they have to sign over ‘publicity’ and non commercial right on a royalty free basis to Swift. For the life of copyright. “You say in your letter to Apple that ‘Three months is a long time to go unpaid,’” Sheldon writes. “But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity…”   http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/06/concert-photographer-calls-out-taylor-swift-for-hypocritical-apple-open-letter   And another complaint here, this one signed by another photographer Matthew Parri Thomas after Swift’s Hyde Park show…

Apple reverse ‘no royalty’ launch policy after Swift pulls out
France
Germany
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music    Apple Music has reversed its (non) payment policy, a day after the singer Taylor Swift said she was refusing to allow the company to stream her album 1989 because the computer and music giant were offering no royalties in a three month launch period free trial period for subscribers. Indepdent record labels and their trade bodies including AIM (UK), A2IM (US), UFPI (France) and VUT (Germany) had already voiced their critcims. Now Apple says it will pay artists for music streamed during trial periods. “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple,” tweeted executive Eddy @Cue. Swift had said the plan was “unfair”, arguing Apple had the money to cover the cost and AIM CEO Alison Wenham had written to AIM members to encourage them to “make their own decision” about Apple Music – but criticised the new streaming service for essentially “asking the independent music sector to hedge its risk, to fund their customer acquisition programme and to shoulder the financial burden for their global launch.” http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/german-and-french-organisations-latest-to-criticise-apple-music-terms/062110 And see Eamonn Forde’s article in the Guardian here   George Chin writes   On Monday 8th June, Apple launched its music streaming service, aptly named – Apple Music –…

EU Legal Affairs Committee moves copyright reform one step closer
Copyright / July 2015
EU

COPYRIGHT All areas     Following a vote by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, an amended version of its report on the implementation of the EU’s 2001 InfoSoc/Copyright Directive will now go forward for further likely amendment and vote a by the full European Parliament on 9 July 2015. The draft report amongst other things calls for: – An impact assessment in relation to any single European copyright title proposal – looking at issues arising from geo-blocking of access to certain content services within the EU. the draft report contains strong language in favour of protecting the rights of “cultural minorities” living in the EU to access content in their native languages, which they are now often prevented from doing because of geo-blocking practices. – Mandatory adoption of some copyright exceptions and limitations – whilst recognising that some difference may be justified on the grounds of specific cultural and economic interests – Assessment of proposed new exceptions to allow (for example):- Libraries to lend e-books; and text and data mining – An impact study of the Commission’s copyright modernisation initiative on the production, financing and distribution of films and TV content, and on cultural diversity. – The report rejected the…

High Court sides with music industry on copying levy
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing     In London the High Court has ruled against the UK Government in a Judicial Review brought by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the Musicians’ Union (MU) and UK Music.  These three bodies challenged the Government’s decision to introduce a private copying exception into UK copyright law, arguing that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to rightholders.  UK Music’s press release goes on to say “BASCA, MU and UK Music had welcomed a change to UK law which enabled consumers to copy their legally-acquired music for personal and private use. However, ahead of the introduction of the private copying exception, they consistently alerted Government to the fact that in such circumstances significant harm is caused to rightholders and European law requires fair compensation to be paid.  The High Court agreed with the music industry and found that Government’s decision not to provide fair compensation was based on wholly inadequate evidence – and that Government’s decision was therefore unlawful.”  Commenting on the outcome of the case, Jo Dipple, CEO UK Music emphasised the value of the music industry to the British economy and said: “The High Court agreed…

US appeals court revives claim against Bieber and Usher
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing     A federal appeals court has revived a copyright infringement lawsuit against Justin Bieber and Usher, marking the latest in a string of high-profile decisions attempting to clarify the nebulous difference between inspiration and copyright violation in the music industry. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that there is sufficient reason to allow a jury to consider whether “Somebody to Love,” a 2010 chart-topper from Usher and Bieber, bears too much resemblance to an earlier song of the same name recorded by two Virginia musicians, Devin Copeland and Mareio Overton. “After listening to the Copeland song and the Bieber and Usher songs as wholes, we conclude that their choruses are similar enough and also significant enough that a reasonable jury could find the songs intrinsically similar,” Judge Pamela Harris wrote for the court.   http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/justin-bieber-usher-copyright-lawsuit-sued-20150618

BUMA kickback scheme spark angry response from managers
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015
Netherlands

COPYRIGHT Live events sector     Dutch collection society BUMA’s recent practice of rewarding the country’s biggest promoters with a kickback for ‘helping’ to collect the levy on live music concerts to reward songwriters and music publishers has come under fire after a number of tour accountants for acts who pen their own material could not reconcile deductions made by promoters against revenues received by their songwriter clients from their own collection societies – even after taking into account usually collection society commissions which are generally accepted. BUMA apparently set up the practice around 1999 after forcing through a rate riise for the use of music to 7% of Box Office net of VAT  – but was offering a 25% kickback of that levy to some promoters and venues in the Netherlands. Two managers, Paul Crockford who manages Mark Knopfler, and Brian Message of ATC who manages Nick Cave & the Bad Seed,  both made arrangements with their artistes’ publishers and UK music collection society PRS for Music to make direct collections from promoters. Message also manages P J Harvey and Radiohead and Crockford also manages Level 42. Whilst many managers are asking for ‘transparency’, the UK’s Music Managers Forum…

BPI launches online portal to help labels and musicians
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artistes     The BPI has launched its new Copyright Protection Portal at a Midem The portal is intended to help labels, musicians and music businesses see where illegal copies of their music are being made available illegally online and track how BPI is responding. This tool will be available free of charge to all BPI members, PPL’s performers and members of AIM (The Association of Independent Music) who are registered with PPL. The portal will allow users to upload their repertoire into BPI’s bespoke crawlers and to view the ‘pirate activity’ that has been prevented or “disrupted”. It will show how many infringing links have been removed from Google and other search results, how many links have been removed via notice and take down from the source or website hosting them without permission, and which tracks from a label or musician’s repertoire are being pirated the most and on which sites. Commenting at the launch of the Copyright Protection Portal at Midem, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: “BPI is absolutely committed to protecting the creativity, hard work and investment of UK musicians and labels.  We are the leading force removing illegal copies of British music online and…

Kobalt relaunches AMRA as global collection society
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Music publisher Kobalt has launched what it calls the world’s first ‘global, direct, digital mechanical and performing rights society’. The new venture is based on the existing operation of AMRA (American Music Rights Association), which Kobalt acquired last year. What other music publishers make of a publisher owned collection society remains to be seen – but the new service promises two services to clients: (i) licensing of AMRA publisher members’ Anglo-American repertoire to DSPs operating in multiple territories and (ii) collection of writer’s share of public performance monies on behalf of AMRA writer members. AMRA plans to collect from th likes of YouTube and Spotify globally rather than in individual territories and promises to be “the most efficient way to handle the ‘high volume/low transactional value’ of music repertoire in a streaming world.” AMRA says this: “Despite the fact that the major digital music platforms today are all global companies (i.e. Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, etc.), the music industry traditionally collects its revenue at the local and regional levels. This ‘local’ approach creates glaring inefficiencies for all sides: the digital platforms are challenged to clear licenses locally, while the rights holders face an increasingly complex and fragmented collections process, causing…

Musicians Union take ‘agent of change’ principle to government
Licensing , Live Events / July 2015
UK

LICENSING Live events sector     The Musicians’ Union has begun lobbying the UK Parliament and government over the so called ‘agent of change’ principle which is meant to ensure that property developers who wish to build or convert properties into residential addresses next to existing live music venues should have to take legal and financial responsibility to provide whatever sound proofing is necessary to ensure the venue and future residents can co-exist. Recent noise complaints have forced a number of UK venues to close, often brought by people who moved to the area knowing there was a music venue located there. London Mayor Boris Johnson brokered a deal to protect the Ministry of Sound in in South London from a proposed development, but many  grassroots music venues rarely have the time, resources or budget required to battle developers, residents or to pay for costly sound proofing to be put in. The ‘agent of change’ principle already exists in Australia and was recently introduced in San Francisco. In Australia, under the ‘agent of change’ doctrine, residential developers building city centre apartments are obliged by law to soundproof their developments themselves: The Musicians Union’s General Secretary John Smith said: “Music venues…

Mouse wars: Deadmau5 and Disney settle trademark dispute
Trade Mark / July 2015
Canada
USA

TRADE MARK All areas   Canadian DJ Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, and Disney have “amicably resolved their dispute” over the producer’s attempt to trademark his mouse head logo in the U.S. Disney lodged its opposition to Zimmerman’s trademark application with concerns over the similarity to its own ‘Micky Mouse’ logo saying it was “nearly identical in appearance, connotation and overall commercial impression to Disney’s Mouse Ears” and would confuse people. The producer and his legal team pointed out that he had been using the logo, based on his on-stage headgear, for almost a decade without issue, had registered Trade Marks in over 30 other countries,  and subsequently launched lawsuit against Disney, after finding Disney had put a clip from one of its TV shows featuring his music on YouTube (the music had been licensed for TV broadcast but not for subsequent online use.  Negotiations have now resulted in an amicable settlement. Exact details have not been revealed yet, but Disney will apparently remove its opposition of the application. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/33235330/deadmau5-settles-trademark-dispute-with-disney-over-mouse-head-logo

Warners move to settle unpaid internships claim
Employment Law / July 2015
UK
USA

EMPLOYMENT All areas   Warner Music has submitted papers to a federal court in Manhattan proposing a settlement in the class action lawsuit that claimed the US arm of the recorded music major broke employment laws by taking on unpaid or very low paid interns. Two former Warner Music interns sued, with over 3000 former interns being subsequently contacted once the case became a class action against a backdrop of a move against unpaid internships in both the UK and the USA. $4.2 million is set to be paid over, with people who interned at the company without pay as far back as 2007 set to receive some form of payment, likely to be equivalent to what their work would have earned at minimum wage. According to Reuters, the deal is limited to 1,135 claimants. The deal needs court approval to go ahead. Meanwhile the mini-major says: “We continue to stand by our internship programme as an invaluable educational experience for students looking to obtain hands-on, real-world training”. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/10/us-warnermusic-lawsuit-interns-idUSKBN0OQ2KC20150610

EU gives all clear for PRS-GEMA-STIM hub
EU
Germany
Sweden
UK

COMPETITION Music publishing   The European Commission has given the all clear for European collecting societies PRS, STIM and GEMA – which represent publishers and songwriters in, respectively, the UK, Sweden and Germany – to form a central hub to license and process royalties from multi-territory digital services. PRS For Music CEO Robert Ashcroft: “This is a very significant day for online music licensing as our new joint venture is uniquely positioned to deal with the rapidly transforming online music market. What this clearance means is that we are now able to work even more effectively on behalf of songwriters, composers and their music publishers, while at the same time helping to develop the Digital Single Market across Europe” whilst STIM CEO Karsten Dyhrberg Nielsen said: “Today’s competition clearance announcement is testament to the incredible work that has gone into the design of this new offering, which will provide a seamless service for both music rights holders and pan-European digital service providers. It’s the result of years of productive collaboration between STIM, GEMA and PRS For Music to deliver a solution that will help the digital market grow”.

Apple Music launch sparks anti-trust investigation and indie label backlash
USA

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Recorded music, internet, music publishing     Apple has launched its Apple Music streaming service at this year’s WWDC conference in San Francisco. Headline news is that the new platform will be available from 30th June for $9.99 a month, after a free three months period – with a ‘family’ package costing $14.99 a month for up to six family members sharing with the service promising to “change the way you experience music forever”, initially available on iOS, Mac and Windows, with an Android version following in autumn. Opening his presentation by explaining ““So now, 2015, music industry is a fragmented mess. Do you wanna stream music? You can go over here. If you wanna stream video, you can check some of these places out. If you wanna follow some artists, there’s more confusions with that… So I reached out to [Apple executives] Tim Cook and Eddy Cue and said ‘guys, can we build a bigger and better ecosystem with the elegance and simplicity that only Apple can do?”, Interscope Records / Beats by Dre co-founder Jimmy Iovine promised “one complete thought” around music. Labelled a “revolutionary music service”, the new service aims to streamline the experience of enjoying music. It also…

Radar launches new contract for independent music video makers
Contract / July 2015
UK

CONTRACT Video production   Radar Music Videos will launch a new standard contract for independent music video makers today. Created in partnership with media law firm Wiggins, the document aims to provide a simple and fair agreement at minimal cost. Announcing the document, Radar said: “We hope this contract will standardise protocols in the unregulated world of low-budget music video production. Users are taken through all the common requirements for production, like cashflow, re-edits, ownership and promotional use – and are able to customise the contract as appropriate for each particular project. The contract is unique, in that it is equally fair to both parties. It’s also written in plain English and downloadable”. The contract will be made available to Radar members at a cost of £25 – or £35 for non-members. Full details of the document were announced at Music Vid Fest in the Roundhouse’s Studio Theatre in London. https://www.facebook.com/RadarMusicVideos

BMG look to Modular and UMG for Tame Impala mechanicals
Australia

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   The founder of Aussie independent record label Modular Recordings, Steve “Pav” Pavlovic, is being taken to court by BMG over an alleged non-payment of $US450,000 (about A$588,000) in unpaid mechanical royalties for Aussie rock outfit Tame Impala works. Modular, along with its co-owner, Universal Music Australia, Universal Group, Universal Music Australia and others have been accused by BMG of withholding substantial royalty payments and failing to meet agreed 45 day payment windows in each quarter, and ignoring legal advice to cease and desist selling operations with regard to Tame Impala’s recordings as mechanical royalties were not being paid for use of the songs This resulted in a law suit being filed with the New York Southern District Court early last month. BMG owns the rights to Tame Impala’s songs through its publishing agreement with songwriter Kevin Parker. Parker recently alluded to a lack of payment for international sales during a recent Reddit AMA. In his words “Up until recently, from all of Tame Impala’s record sales outside of Australia I had received zero dollars. Someone high up spent the money before it got to me. I may never get that money.” BMG’s allegations are that they haven’t received any…

Wenham speaks out on digital royalties
UK

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, artistes   The World Independent Network has welcomed Sony and Universal’s recent statements on on breakage which have come out after the leak of the Sony-Spotify 2011 contract which added further evidence that the major labels were receiving large advances from digital services – promoting many to ask what the major labels actually did with this money.   WIN says UMG and Sony’s statements simply echo commitments that the indie labels had previously all signed up to in their Fair Digital Deals Declaration – but added that “it is telling that there are no specifics in these recent statements from these corporations”. In an open letter, Alison Wenham, boss of both WIN and the UK’s Association Of Independent Music, said: “We don’t know how long these policies have been in place, how much of the revenue they are actually sharing, whether this applies to all types of non-unit revenue, or how this money is distributed across their catalogues. We don’t know what analogue-era deductions are still getting made against digital income. As usual these facts are withheld”. And Wenham celebrates the indie’s position which she says “makes it clear that signatory companies will share the benefits of dealing…

UMP leak heats up the digital pie debate
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet   As the U.S. press said that Spotify’s total payments to rights holders rose by another $300 million in the first quarter of 2015, news also broke of a leaked UMPG internal email and in MIDEM German music publishers set out their thoughts on how the digital pie should be shared. Billboard revealed that Spotify has now paid out $3 billion to music rights owners since launching in 2008, $2 billion of which has come in since the beginning of 2014, but the big news was the boss of Universal Music Publishing boss, Jody Gerson, who was the centre of attention after a confidential internal memo was leaked in which Gerson expresses her annoyance over “self-interested parties” that are stoking worries amongst songwriters, particularly when it comes to to unallocated ‘breakage income’ from big advances. In her email Gerson said this: Over the past several months I’ve read or heard comments by self-interested parties that aim to mislead our songwriting community and ultimately devalue songs. These misrepresentations work against the mutual best interests of both songwriters and publishers. To paraphrase that old saying, sunlight is the best disinfectant. So let’s shed some light on the facts and make sure…

PRS extend live music consultation
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   PRS for Music have extended the consultation to review the terms of it’s Popular Music Concert Tariff (Tariff LP). Tariff LP is applied to ticketed live popular music events such as concerts and festivals.  Currently promoters pay 3% of Box Office receipts (after VAT)  to the PRS for songwriters. The extension has been granted following the Concert Promoters Association’s (CPA) stated interest in conducting its own research in response to PRS for Music’s consultation documentation which was announced on April 13. The extension will help the CPA respond more comprehensively to the tariff review and the PRS welcomed the CPA’s commitment to engaging in this process. The extension is also supported by a number of industry bodies in the live sector.  Tariff LP was originally agreed in 1988, though was last reviewed as recently as 2010/11, when the PRS decided to keep the system as it was. The deadline for the consultation’s completion has now been extended until 30 September.

SGAE scandal looms
Spain

CRIMINAL Music publishing     The former head of Spanish music collection society SGAE’s digital arm has been accused of orchestrating false payments worth €57,000 – and could face a substantial prison term. The case dates back to the three years between 2008 and 2011. Spanish singer José Ramón Márquez (Ramoncín) who was also a SGAE Board member, is accused of issuing false invoices to SGAE that allowed him to extract nearly €60,000 out of the songwriters and publishers organisation. Jose Luis Rodriguez Neri, who was Director General of Spain’s Digital Society Of Authors (SDAE) until 2011, faces charges of financial misappropriation – by consenting to Ramoncín’s invoices – and faces a maximum sentence four years and ten months of jail time if found guilty. Ramoncín, who potentially faces the same jail term as Neri, announced that he is aiming to “hang a sign” behind him in which “reads ‘innocent’”. The former MD of SGAE, Enrique Loras, faces over two years in prison  for ‘misuse’ or a fine of €20,866 euros for ‘mismanagement appropriation’. The former director of Legal Services for SGAE, Pablo Hernandez Arroyo, is also implicated. He potentially faces two years and nine months in prison or, alternatively, a fine…

Slovakia introduces domestic music quotas for radio
Legislation / July 2015

BROADCASTING REGULATION Broadcasting     In Slovakia, private radio stations will have to broadcast at least 20 percent Slovak music starting next year, and at least 25 percent since 2017, as the result of an amendment to the law on broadcasting and re-transmission approved by the Slovak government May 27. The public Slovak Radio will have to give at least 30 percent of local music on the air in 2016 and at least 35 percent as of 2017, on each of its broadcast zones. One-fifth of that should be songs from the past five years.  Only songs played between 6.00 and 24:00 will be included in the quotas. A song or composition can be considered Slovak if at least one of the authors (writer, composer) or performer has, or had permanent residence in Slovakia http://spectator.sme.sk/c/20057649/government-introduces-slovak-music-quota-for-radio.html

Florida passes new law targeting infringing content
Copyright , Internet / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Governor Rick Scott has signed Florida’s “True Origin of Digital Goods Act” into law. The new law will require owners or operators of websites or online services that offer downloads or streams of music or music videos to “clearly and conspicuously disclose” the webste owner’s name, physical address, and telephone number or email address. The law will take effect July 1st 2015. The law applies to websites that distribute audiovisual content “to consumers in this state,” and is not limited to companies headquartered or with physical locations in Florida and can have apply to companies located outside of Florida, depending on its connections and business with consumers residing in Florida.   In particular, the law requires that:   A person who owns or operates a website or online service dealing in substantial part in the electronic dissemination of commercial recordings or audiovisual works, directly or indirectly, and who electronically disseminates such works to consumers in this State shall clearly and conspicuously disclose his or her true and correct name, physical address, and telephone number or e-mail address on his or her website or online service in a location readily accessible to a consumer using or visiting the website…

Grooveshark surrenders
USA

COPYRIGHT Online, recorded music   Music-sharing service Grooveshark has announced that it has shut down after 10 years. The controversial free streaming site, which once boasted 35 million users is owned by Escape Media which has agreed to a legal settlement with the major record companies that includes the termination of all operations, wiping its computer servers of all the record companies’ music, and surrendering ownership of its website, mobile apps and intellectual property, according to a statement from trade organization Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). “We started out nearly 10 years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music. But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes,” a statement from Grooveshark said. “We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize.” Urging users to now sign up for legal, licensed music services such as Spotify or Beats Music, founders Josh Greenberg and Sam Tarantino also pointed users to http://whymusicmatters.com/find-music and said “If you love music and respect the artists, songwriters and everyone else who makes great music possible, use a licensed service that compensates artists and other rights holders”.  A rumoured $75 million penalty clause in…

Pirate Bay domains to be seized
Sweden

COPYRIGHT Online, recorded music, music publishing     The Stockholm District Court has ordered that two key domains used by the always controversial Pirate Bay – including the service’s flagship thepiratebay.se domain – should be handed over to the Swedish authorities. However the court rejected arguments from prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad that the owner of the domains. Punkt SE, should be held liable for the alleged misuse of domains in its control.   Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij is to appeal the ruling. Neij was previously found guilty by Swedish courts of criminal copyright infringement and banned from having any involvement in the future running of The Pirate Bay and this appears to be an attempt to escape an further repercussions. In all events the appeal will delay any handover.   http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-founder-appeals-domain-seizure-decision-150525/

It’s clearly time for coalitions and comment – as copyright reform looms on both sides of the Atlantic
Copyright / June 2015
Australia
Canada
EU
Japan
USA

COPYRIGHT All areas     Along with the U.S., Japan, Canada and Australia (amongst many others), the European Union is currently looking to reform its copyright laws and in January 2014 launched a public consultation. And there is MUCH to ralk about and many stakeholders want to have their say. In the USA, Torrentfreak recently exposed what they say is the MPAA’s true position on “fair use” which was that it was “extremely controversial,” and the MPAA didn’t want it included in various trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Fair use in the USA – but not elsewhere then. Now fair use fans in the U.S. have formed a new coalition, Re:Create, to advocate for “balanced” copyright laws, which means ones that do not “encroach” on creativity and speech by being overly protective of those copyrights. Coalition members include the Consumer Electronics Association, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the American Library Association and other members of the group include the Association of Research Libraries, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Democracy Fund, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and the R Street Institute. Sherwin Siy, VP of legal affairs at Public Knowledge said “We and the other…

Where next with the European Digital Single Market?
Copyright / June 2015
EU
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas     This update is from George Chin: George has worked as a music photographer for the past 30 years and George has worked officially with the Rolling Stones, Guns n’ Roses, Whitney Houston, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi, among many others. He is now studying for an LLB (Hons) at the University of Law in London. George runs a boutique photo agency (www.iconicpix.com), largely based on his image archive and those of other music photographers.  He can be contacted by email at georgechin@iconicpix.com On May 6th, the European Commission published its proposals for a Digital Single Market (DSM), identifying it as one of its ten political priorities, with the aim of making “the EU’s single market fit for the digital age – tearing down regulatory walls and moving from 28 national markets to a single one” with the bold claim that harmonisation across the Member States could contribute €415 billion per year to the EU economy and creating 3.8 million jobs in the process. A Digital Single Market is one in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured and where the individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities…

Songwriting community take aim at safe harbours
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, online     BASCA chairman Simon Darlow has used his speech at the Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London in London to criticise current ‘safe harbour’ provisions in EU and US law, pointing out that the likes of YouTube undermine streaming services were exploiting safe harbour legislation telling an audience of the great and the good from the song writing and music publishing worlds that this was “undermining the value of our music”. This is what Darlow said We [BASCA] exist to promote the creators’ voice and help maintain the value of their work through lobbying, education, community and celebration. Its fantastic that, for 60 years we have been able to honour the nominees and winners who have contributed so much to a culture and economy and have given so much pleasure to so many with heir music. These awards are always so special to those who receive them as they are judged by their peers who clearly know how much dedication and hard work go into making music that touches our lives . BASCA is hugely grateful to all the judges this year who gave so generously of their time and expertise. The…

Spotify leak puts streaming royalties in focus
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Online, music publishing, recorded music     The Verge has published details of the hitherto unknown terms of the January 2011 deal between streaming service Spotify and Sony Music, one of the two big record labels. And it makes for fascinating reading. Perhaps what isn’t surprising (given the then near start up nature of Spotify in 2011) is a contract laced with ‘Most Favoured Nations’ provisions for Sony. The basic deal consists of annual advances paid by Spotify and a 70:30 split of advertising revenues in favour of Sony: On gross revenues the detail shows the actual split of revenue varies from rights owner to rights owner, but labels are usually getting somewhere between 55-60% and publishers 10-15%. The Sony contact unsurprisingly puts the world’s second biggest record company at the top end of the range, on a 60% split. There are some odd quirks – Spotify seems to have a 15% buffer zone in ad sales which it doesn’t have to account to Sony (and therefor cannot be shared by Sony’s artistes) to cover out-of-pocket costs paid to unaffiliated third parties for ad sales commissions (subject to a maximum overall deduction of 15 percent “off the top”…

Spotify leaked contract prompts more comment
EU
UK
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The fall out from the leaked 2011 Sony-Spotify contract continues as interested parties begin to digest exactly what Sony had secured from Spotify: In particular artistes are seeing some of their suspicions realised …. and now the International Artist Association has sent an open letter to European policymakers.The IAO is the umbrella association for national organisations representing the rights and interests of Featured Artists in the Music Industry.  Their letter reads: Andrus Ansip, Vice-President, Digital Single Market Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for Competition Dear Policymakers The International Artist Association welcomes this morning’s open letter from the International Music Managers’ Forum, which highlighted a number of significant questions raised by the leaked Sony-Spotify contract from 2011, which was published on www.theverge.com on Tuesday of this week, but which has since been removed. The leaking of that document is a turning point for Artists that cannot be underestimated. The recorded music industry, as any other content industry, lives on the creativity of individuals and it is of the utmost importance – if we want to see a sustainable and healthy content industry continue in Europe – to make sure that…

Musicians Union plans digital royalty action
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     The Guardian tells us that the Musicians’ Union is planning to take major labels to court in the UK over the royalty rates for digital music paid under contracts signed before the days of streaming and downloads. Its move follows a legal case in Finland earlier this year, when the sons of a musician from the band Hurriganes won a case against Universal Music for claiming internet rights over music released in the 70s. Horace Trubridge, who is the MU’s Assistant General Secretary who is a founding member of the successful R&B/doo-wop band Darts, told an audience at the Great Escape convention in Brighton last week that the three major record labels “don’t play fair” and “are screwing musicians”. The band are on a 12% royalty rate and this suffers from multiple deductions; Trubridge argues that heritage bands should be on a streaming royalty rate of roughly 30% with no deductions. Trubridge claimed Warner is deducting costs for packaging, “breakages” and “returns” on his royalty statements for the digital sales of Darts’ music. More here http://musiclawupdates.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/a-finnish-digital-rights-case-could-set.html and here http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/may/20/musicians-union-major-labels-digital-rights?CMP=share_btn_tw

Canada’s new ‘notice’ system pushes down piracy
Copyright , Internet / June 2015
Canada

COPYRIGHT All areas, online     Canada’s new “notice-and-notice” system to combat unauthorized downloading has led to a ‘massive drop’ in illegal downloading in Canada. New data from CEG TEK International shows that piracy of copyrighted material has plummeted in Canada since copyright holders started sending letters to accused infringers under the new law. CEG TEK, which describes itself as a “copyright monetization firm” (and is described by its critics as a copyright troll!) says piracy rates have dropped by 69.6 per cent on Bell’s internet network; by 54 per cent on Telus’ network; and by 52.1 per cent on Shaw’s network. There was less impact among Rogers internet subscribers, with piracy down by 14.9 per cent, and among TekSavvy users (down 38.3 per cent). The Copyright Modernization Act compels internet service providers to forward letters from copyright holders to subscribers who are allegedly involved in piracy. The law caps the maximum amount a copyright holder can sue for at $5,000 for non-commercial infringement. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/05/21/online-piracy-canada-ceg-tek_n_7372626.html

Happy Birthday – was the copyright ever abandoned?
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     U.S. District Judge George King wants to hear more about whether the 19th century schoolteacher who has been credited with writing “Happy Birthday to You” — the English language’s most popular song — had abandoned the copyright to the lyrics. On Monday, King directed parties involved in a fight over whether the song is copyrighted to brief him on the issue of abandonment – although its not all bad news for music publisher Warner/Chappell who make an estimated $2 million every year from the song – the Judge pointed out “the Parties would do well to bear in mind the analytical distinction between abandonment and loss of a copyright due to the failure to follow statutory formalities.”   https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6568805/happy-birthday-lawsuit-judge-wants-to-know-if-copyright-was-abandoned

Rock Follies? Heavy metal copying claims rock on
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The dust has yet to settle on the ‘Blurred Lines’ litigation in the USA – with a review of the damages awarded to the Gaye family, a revised settlement, an injunction against Pharrell and Robin Thicke, a new trial and/or an appeal are all being mooted, who wrote what remains a big question, as does the the difference between appropriation and inspiration: the recent settlement by Sam Smith and his co-writers with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne over allegations that “Stay With Me” plagiarised “I Wont Back Down” just adds to this confused conundrum, as does the recent news that Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars have added the five members of the Gap Band as co-writers of “Uptown Funk” because of similarities to ‘Ooops Upside Your Head”. Now its the turn of heavy metal:   The lawsuit  brought by the trustee of the late Randy California claiming that Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was plagiarised from an obscure song ‘Taurus’ by the band Spirit has survived its first legal challenge.  In 1969, Spirit and Led Zeppelin shared the bill at several concerts. U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez has now refused to dismiss the claim. If the suit succeeds, a…

Mind The Gap: Songwriters unsettled as ‘Uptown Funk’ gets five more writers
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The fallout from the ‘Blurred Lines‘ verdict in favour of the Gaye family and the $7.4 million in damages awarded against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” continues with news that the six strong team of songwriter’s behind Mark Ronson and Bruno Mar’s “Uptown Funk!” have added the five members of the Gap Band as co-writers, making a grand total now of eleven writers. According to documents from RCA Records, which released the song, the original writers – Ronson, Mars, co-producer Jeffrey Bhasker and Phillip Lawrence were writers of the song along with Nicholas Williams (aka Trinidad James) and producer Devon Gallaspy, whose “All Gold Everything” already had “portions embodied” in the song. They have now been joined by the five writers of the 1979 hit “Oops Upside Your Head” including The Gap Band members brothers Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson, keyboardist Rudolph Taylor and producer Lonnie Simmons.   The move follows a claim put forth by publisher Minder Music on behalf of the “Oops” songwriters and of course was set against the background of Blurred Lines and the settlement made by Sam Smith and hos co-writers of “Stay…

Timber plagiarism claim rejected
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artistes, music publishing, recorded music     A U.S. copyright infringement action arising out of the international release of the track “Timber” by Pitbull and featuring Kesha has been dismissed by the District Court. The claim centred on the allegation that Sony Music Entertainment, which obtained license from co-owner of allegedly infringed work, a distinctive harmonica melody in the 1978 track “San Francisco Bay” performed by Lee Oskar Levitin, had nevertheless infringed the plaintiff’s copyright. The claim is that the “Timber” harmonica player was, in fact, specifically instructed to emulate Levitin’s harmonica riff.   The Plaintiffs also alleged that the domestic defendants made the song “available” to the foreign defendants, which, in turn, released “Timber” in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Australia, France and South Korea. All defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, and the foreign defendants also moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and on the basis of forum non conveniens. The court granted dismissal of only the claims against the U.S. defendants. Judge Paul A Crotty accepted the defendants argument that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim because the defendants had a license to use the harmonica…

Judge heads to find the truth in Loca copying claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     A U.S. judge who ruled that pop star Shakira’s 2010 hit single “Loca” plagiarised a Dominican songwriter’s work now says the songwriter may have lied to the court and is prepared to head to Puerto Rico to sort out facts. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said in the federal court in Manhattan that new evidence has caused him to “lose trust” in the trial testimony.   Judge Hellerstien had previously found that the Shakira track had copied from composer Ramon Arias Vasquez’s  song “Loca con su Tiguere” and found Sony/ATV Latin and Sony/ATV Discos liable for distributing the infringing song. In his ruling, Judge Hellerstein found that Arias’s song was recorded onto a cassette tape in 1998. A copy of the song on the tape was registered at the Copyright Office in 2011. However the Judge has now planned for a seven-day hearing in August on the basis of the allegation that a cassette tape was fabricated in 2011 and that Arias lied under oath. Defendants Sony have also submitted affidavits that purport to show that the underlying music to Arias’s song was composed in 2009, by a different artist.   As a number of…

The Fall and Rise of Touch Sensitive
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     This article is written by Andy Johnstone and is taken from the 1709 Copyright Blog   Last week saw the handing down of yet another case from the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, presided over by Miss Recorder Michaels sitting as a Deputy Enterprise Judge, which reminds us that as long as there is a music business, there will be disputes over song writing credits to keep the courts and lawyers in work. The second thing we learn, or perhaps have confirmed for us, is that you can’t always trust the credits which appear on the liner notes of albums.   The case is called Minder Music Ltd and Julia Adamson v Steven Sharples and involves a song entitled Touch Sensitive by the post punk band The Fall. The first claimant, Minder Music, is a music publisher to which publishing rights in the song were assigned by the band’s lead singer and founding member Mark E Smith. The second claimant is Julia Adamson (formerly known as Julia Nagle), one time member of The Fall and for the purposes of this case, the co-writer with Mark Smith of the original version of the song Touch Sensitive. Smith wrote the lyrics and owned a one…