Rate Court grant BMI an increase in Pandora’s rate
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, online     Pandora has been ordered to increase the royalty rate it pays to U.S. music collection society BMI by 42% after a New York Rate Court decided to raise a royalty rate of 1.75% of annual net revenues to 2.5%.  The decision should mean a hike of $7.5m, with payments to BMI to $22.5 million annually. The court ruled that 2.5% was “reasonable, and indeed at the low end of the range of fees of recent licenses.” BMI’s rate is now significantly higher than the 1.85% Pandora royalty rate secured by ASCAP last year, a rate music publisher Sony/ATV’s CEO & Chairman Martin Bandier slammed as “woefully inadequate” and a “clear defeat for songwriters”. Following the BMI result last week, ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams said: “This decision is welcome news for music creators, but make no mistake, Pandora will stop at nothing in their ongoing effort to short change songwriters. “ASCAP and the music community must continue to fight for the urgent reforms needed to enable all songwriters, composers and music publishers to obtain fair compensation for the use of our music.” Pandora currently has to pay 2.5% of its annual revenue to BMI and 1.85% to…

Appellate court gives Pandora the continued green light to access ASCAP’s music
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, online   In what the New York Law Journal describes as a ‘victory’ for Pandora, the federal appeals court in Manhattan has ruled that three major music publishing companies (Universal, EMI and Sony/ATV) cannot limit Pandora’s access to the catalogue of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the consent decree governing ASCAP clearly precludes the partial withdrawals of public performing licensing rights by publishers. The court’s decision interpreted a 2001 consent decree governing the licensing activities of ASCAP and upheld Southern District Judge Denise Cote’s grant of summary judgment to Pandora last year. The consent decree, called AFJ2, requires that it “grant to any music user … a non-exclusive license to perform all of the works in the ASCAP repertory” in return for a reasonable fee or in default of an agreed rate, a sum set by a rate court. The major publishers had argued that ASCAP was setting below-market rates for public performance licenses, and initially EMI, Sony and Universal withdrew their new media rights in 2013. Pandora filed a rate court petition in 2012 and moved for summary judgment before Cote in 2013. Sony, EMI and Universal…

Ugandan star faces pornography prosecution for racy video
Censorship / June 2015

CENSORSHIP Broadcasting, all areas   Ugandan pop singer Jemimah Kansiime, who performs as Panadol Wa’basajja (which translates as ‘medicine for men’) is facing prosecution under Uganda’s 2014 Anti-Pornography Act, the conservative government’s somewhat draconian attempt to ban porn or “any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement.” The Act defines pornography as “any representation through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement.” It goes on to state that “a person shall not produce, traffic in, publish, broadcast, procure, import, export, sell or abet any form” of the state’s interpretation of porn. The penalty, if convicted, is a fine or up to ten years in prison or both. The prosecution is the result of a racy music video for the track “Nkulinze” where the 21-year-old pop star can be seen dancing in a soaped-up thong and not much else. Kansiime released the video last September and was arrested two months later after Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo was apparently “shocked” by the video. Lokodo has recently boasted that he and his “intelligence team”…

19 v Sony: the battles continue
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music   There has been another tranche of  pre-trial battles between management company 19 and former business partner Sony. 19 is suing Sony Music over the record contracts signed with the major by various ‘American Idol’ finalists. 19 of course owns the ‘Idol’ franchise and managed successful artistes who came out of the now cancelled show.  Sony was, for a time, the record company with the rights to sign finalists that appeared on the programme. 19 is alleging a number of breaches of contract and failures to account including an account of monies settled to Sonya s part of the ‘Limewire’ litigation  and whether digital income should be treated as a ‘sale’ or a ‘licence’ when artist royalties are calculated. Sony failed to have 19’s lawsuit dismissed back in March. It then filed its own countersuit that claimed some of the former Idols 19 represents had been overpaid by the record company, while also concurrently asking for the judgement on dismissal to be reconsidered. On the latter point Sony it had some success earlier this month, when a judge decided that, actually, 19’s claim that Sony had acted in bad faith over digital royalties should not be allowed to proceed, though breach of contract…

Billboard Awards and Akoi stage leaps both lead to lawsuits after fans injured
Live Events / June 2015
USA

NEGLIGENCE / PERSONAL INJURY Live events sector     A failed jump from the main stage of the 2013 Billboard Music Awards to a nearby catwalk has landed Latin superstar Miguel and Billboard Music Awards with a personal injury lawsuit in Clark County, USA.  Audience member Cindy Tsai has accused Miguel and Billboard Music Awards of negligence for the singer’s leap from the main stage during his performance on May 19, 2013, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Instead of successfully leaping over several audience members and landing on the catwalk several feet away, the claim says Miguel missed and landed on Tsai and another audience member.   Tsai says she was a guest in the pit area located next to the stage and next to the catwalk and alleges that  the singer “recklessly, carelessly, negligently and violently” slammed into her, “striking her head and crushing her into the side of the catwalk and injuring” her. Tsai accuses Miguel and other defendants of negligence and negligent hiring, training and supervision.  She seeks general and special damages, lost wages due to her “impaired and diminished earning capacity,” attorney’s fees and legal costs. Also named as defendants are…

Apple faces anti-trust investigation over streaming moves
USA

COMPETITION (ANTI-TRUST) Online, recorded music     It has been a busy several months for antitrust regulators and the technology giants whose alleged conduct has recently come to their attention. Just a few weeks ago, Google formally became the subject of a European investigation into its alleged manipulation of Google search results to favour other Google products and the tying of its apps to developers’ use of the Android OS. Now, Apple is reportedly under scrutiny, this time by U.S. and European officials, over its soon-to-be-launched streaming music platform.   The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are reported to be probing allegations that Apple has pressured major music labels to force other streaming music sites, such as Spotify and Pandora, to abandon their platforms offering free streaming music to customers willing to listen to the occasional ad and enjoy a lower-quality stream. It is alleged that Apple encouraged major music labels to refuse to renew their deals with such “freemium” music services (interestingly, the very music labels Apple is alleged to have pressured own a significant financial stake in Spotify). Apple’s alleged goal in exerting such pressure is to eliminate competition from freemium music services to pave the…

San Francisco passes ‘agent of change’ rules
Licensing , Live Events / June 2015
USA

LICENSING Live events sector   San Francisco, which features some of the highest demand for living space of any city in the United States, has passed legislation to protect music venues against complaints from new neighbours who move into new residential spaces in mixed-use neighbourhoods. Music Times reports that many venues had spent money on insulation and other options to reduce the amount of noise escaping the building, often to little avail when their new neighbours complained or brought legal action. The new legislation passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors puts the onus on developers, and not the venues, to protect residents – the so called ‘agent of change‘ approach. As long as an existing venue operates under the normal noise regulations that it opened with, it can’t be held legally responsible by those living above and around for noise complaints. Instead, a resident would bring a complaint against the developer, at which point a court would decide whether they had done enough to inform the buyer of the potential for sound from the nearby concert hall.  Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the Entertainment Commission. “It’s different now from what we saw in the ’90s, with the amount of…

Legal highs to be banned by new Act in the UK
Criminal Law , Live Events / June 2015
UK

CRIMINAL LAW Live events sector     The Queen has announced the UK government’s plan to ban so-called ‘legal highs’. A new Bill announced by Her Majesty in The Queen’s Speech 2015 will ban the drugs with a blanket ban on anyone producing or supplying them. At the state opening of Parliament The Queen said that new legislation would “ban the new generation of psychoactive drugs”. The complete ban on what are known as new psychoactive substances (NPS) would mean that selling newly-created or newly-used drugs that can cause effects in mood, perception or consciousness would be illegal, with a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment. Under the bill, police would have the power to seize and destroy NPSs, to search people, homes and vehicles for them, and to use a search warrant if necessary. Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, food and medical products would be excluded from the offence, as would controlled drugs like ecstasy and cannabis, which remain illegal. Last week Two Lancaster University students critically ill after smoking ‘legal high’ Spice. Three more are in hospital after taking cannabis substitute which causes a string of side effects including heart palpitations and acute psychosis.   Recently the mother of a young man who…

Ticketmaster faces anti-trust action from StubHub
Competition , Live Events / May 2015
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector   In what could prove to be a landmark case in the sports ticket marketplace”, Live Nation’s Ticketmaster is being sued by eBay-owned StubHub over its official alliance with the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Ticketmaster is the primary ticket seller for the Warriors, and also operates the official season ticket resale platform, where tickets can be officially resold. The basketball team threatens to cancel any tickets it sees being touted on other secondary sites, like StubHub: reselling a ticket is usually a breach of the terms and conditions of the original purchase. The threat has apparently worked. StubHub claims that listings for Warriors tickets, which is currently the hottest ticket in the NBA, are down 80 percent in the past year. But StubHub has alleged that this amounts to anti-competitive behaviour on Ticketmaster’s part. The eBay firm says in its complaint: “If you are a Warriors fan and you want season tickets, you have one choice: buy them through Ticketmaster”. The company’s General Counsel Michelle Fang then told Bloomberg that her client was suing in the interest of Warriors’ fans, adding of Ticketmaster’s motives: “Given that they haven’t been able to win when we’ve competed on a…

Coachella faces class action over ticketing scheme
Competition , Live Events / May 2015
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector   A new class action accuses the companies behind Coachella and other music festivals of offering ticket payment plans that require would-be concert goers to forfeit everything they’ve paid toward the purchase of festival tickets if they are more than 10 days late on a single payment.  As the price of concert tickets has skyrocketed and in an effort to increase sales, festivals like Coachella and others have rolled out payment plans which allow concertgoers to make monthly payments toward the purchase of festival tickets.  Miss one payment, however, and the would-be concertgoer forfeits the tickets and all the prior payments.   According to a new lawsuit, the plaintiff and class representative purchased two tickets and a camping pass for Weekend 1 of the 2015 Coachella Music Festival for a total of $850.00, using the festival’s payment plan option.  After timely making four payments for a total of $617.90, fraudulent charges appeared on the plaintiff’s credit card, causing her bank to issue a new one.  Unbeknownst to plaintiff, the next payment on her Coachella payment plan was refused as a result of the new card number.  The plaintiff did not realize what had happened until March…

Finland follows US in digital rights ruling
Contract , Music Publishing / May 2015
Finland

CONTRACT Recorded music sector     A Finnish digital rights case could set interesting precedent over pre-iTunes catalogue is being brought by the family of a late artist who are in dispute with the local Universal Music subsidiary. The case centres on the so called ‘making available’ right.  Whilst record labels are usually the copyright owners when it comes to sound recordings – either through default ownership rules (eg in the UK S9 of the CDPA provides that the author of a sound recording is the producer) or by assignment in standard record contracts – in Europe there are also ‘performer rights’, which say that performers as well as copyright owners have certain controls over how their recordings are used. However when many contracts with heritage artistes were entered into ‘digital’ did not exist, as neither streaming or download platforms existing and there was no accompanying right meaning it can be argued that labels need to get new permission to licence services that are ‘making available’ recordings (which likely includes most digital platforms).   Many heritage acts appalled at the share of digital royalties they are receiving from the labels from digital income, not least as the major labels have…

IFPI publishes Digital Music Report 2015
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music     The recorded music sector’s international trade body, the IFPI, has  published its Digital Music Report 2015, detailing key trends in the recorded music sector over the last year – with the headline news that digital music revenues are now on a par with physical globally, that global industry revenues are marginally down 0.4 per cent to US$14.97 billion in 2014, and that subscription services at the heart of the recorded music portfolio business. Digital revenues rose 6.9 per cent to US$6.9 billion, representing 46% of all global music sales and underlining the deep transformation of the global music industry over recent years. Total revenues in  2014 were US$14.97 billion although it should be noted that there has been a reclassification of SoundExchange revenues in the US from “performance rights” to “digital”.  This has resulted in an upward adjustment in digital revenues and growth, and an equivalent downward adjustment in performance rights revenues and growth.   The new report shows the industry in continuing transition, with consumers embracing the music access models of streaming and subscription.  Another steep increase in subscription revenues (+39.0%) offset declining global download sales (-8.0%) to drive overall digital revenues, while the number of…

Universal moves to settle digital royalty dispute – but the debates continue
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artistes     As expected, Universal Music has followed the lead of Sony and Warners in filing proposals to settle the class action lawsuits they face in the US over the digital royalty rate that they pay to their artists for downloads under contracts which are ‘pre-digital’ and therefor silent on the issue. The major labels initially all took the position that they would treat downloads as sales, but a wide range of heritage artists argued that download income relates to ‘licensing’ deals done with the download stores, with one case, between Eminen’s producers FBT Productions and UMG resulting in a appellate court victory for the artists position FBT argued they had a right to a 50/50 split of profits with Universal on sales of digital music and ring tones through online retailers such as iTunes and Sprint as these ‘Master Licensing’ deals attracting the higher royalty. The contract did not specifically mention income from download stores like iTunes, or what share the artist (and therefore FBT) should get from such sales but Universal have been treating download sales as being equivalent to CD sales paying a lower rate of 12-20%% as if these were physical sales. Whilst a district court refused summary judgment saying…

Garbage wars: photographer Pat Pope– the ‘internet warrior’ for photographic copyright ?
Copyright / May 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Photography, book publishing   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 COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT: On the 2nd April, the music photographer Pat Pope, posted an open letter on his website (www.patpope.com). It began – “Dear Shirley, Butch, Duke, and Steve” – the names of the band collectively and professionally known as the Garbage. He goes on to state that he had been approached by their management company who explained that the band were working on a book for “self release” next year and they wanted permission to use some of his photographs in return for which they will give him a “proper credit” due to a “financially limited” budget; the implication being “we’re not going to pay you”. Aggrieved at this slight, he…

American terrestrial radio performance royalties for sound recordings move a step closer
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting     The latest efforts by the American record industry to force terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to labels solidified around a new piece of legislation in the Congress:  The Fair Play, Fair Pay Act, is backed by four members of the House Of Representatives: Democrats Jerrold Nadler, John Conyers Jr and Ted Deutch and Republican Marsha Blackburn. While AM/FM radio stations do not pay royalties to labels, online and satellite radio stations do, because the Digital Millennium Copyright Act applied a ‘digital performing right’ to the sound recording copyright. The New Act would  provide for a general public performance right for all sound recordings that are still within copyright in the USA, including per-1972 recordings which a number of digital operators (including SiriusXM) have argued are outside of federal law. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-fair-play-fair-pay-act-congress-radio-royalties-20150413-story.html

Songwriters and composers question U.S Publisher actions
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     An alliance of organisations representing songwriters around the world has published an open letter addressed to the US music publishing sector expressing concern at plans by a number of major publishers to pull song rights out of the American collective licensing system. The removal of digital rights from the two main performing right organisations ASCAP and BMI, means publishers can do direct deals with services like Pandora. free from any rules governing collective licensing. The major publishers in the US had begun moves to withdraw their digital rights from BMI and ASCAP, but a court ruling ruling seemingly prevented the rights owners from using a ‘menu’ approach to how they work with the collection societies, effectively saying the companies were either ‘all in’ or ‘all out’.  U.S. publishers are now  lobbying to have the collective licensing rules, contained within the so called ‘consent decrees’, revised to allow partial withdrawal. Meanwhile Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier has threatened to completely withdraw his catalogue from the collective licensing system if the changes aren’t made.   Now a group of artists, songwriters, managers and lawyers have pointed out that that’s not as simple as it sounds. In Europe the collecting societies –…

CISAC welcomes EU moves – but criticise MEP Reda’s review
Copyright / May 2015
EU

COPYRIGHT Film and TV, all areas   CISAC says that the statement from Germany’s Federal Minister For Justice And Consumer Protection Heiko Maas and France’s Minister For Culture And Communication Fleur Pellerin backs its position that protecting the rights of authors should be an integral part of the ‘digital single market’. CISAC said: “France and Germany’s joint position has further emphasised that the modernisation of authors’ rights/copyright in Europe should be examined within the wider context of the digital single market package, in which establishing fair rules and fair regulations for all stakeholders should be a priority. This stresses the two countries’ intention to bring their legislative success in the analogue world to the digital context”. CISAC’s Director General Gadi Oron added: “Our 230 member societies around the world represent nearly four million creators who depend on effective protection for their works. The European territory is the largest market for royalty collections, accounting for 61% of the overall collections internationally. This figure not only shows the importance of the European market for creators, but also demonstrates the significant economic and cultural role played by creators” saying “It is vital to ensure that Europe continues to serve as a model for norm…

Australian ‘Three Strikes’ moves closer
Australia

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   Australia’s telecoms sector has submitted the final draft of its plans for a three-strikes system to combat online piracy in the country. The draft was submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, after input from over 370 interesting parties and the planned moves will see ISPs sending warning letters to suspected file-sharers. Australian ISPs have resisted the move, but the country’s government forced action late last year. As with other three-strikes programmes, a series of letters will be sent to web-users who rights owners suspect of accessing unlicensed content, the first being educational, but with subsequent correspondence ‘graduating’ to more severe. However the third strike will mean that the personal details (of those who ignore letters) being handed over to the rights owners, who will then be able to take legal action for copyright infringement. Web-users who get to stage three will have the right to appeal, The current set up also puts a cap on the total number of warning letters that can be sent each year, with 200,000 the current limit. Though that’s really a financial arrangement, and rights owners could push for more letters to be sent if they can agree financial…

Important sampling decision from the German courts
Germany

COPYRGHT Recorded Music, song writing   This Update is from Birgit Clark writing on the IPKat blog The German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) this week had to decide on the legality of using short musical sequences as background loop for a rap song ( decision of 16 April 2015 – I ZR 225/12 Goldrapper).  In a copyright infringement case brought by French Gothic group Dark Sanctuary against German rapper Bushido, the Bundesgerichtshof disagreed with Higher Regional Court of Hamburg ( OLG Hamburg, decision of 31 October 2012 – 5 U 37/10) and held that the original link (or connection) between the lyrics and the music of a song is not protected by copyright.   Dark Sanctuary had objected to Bushido’s use of parts of their songs for 13 of his own rap songs. Bushido had electronically copied (“sampled”) sequences of about 10 seconds of the music of Dark Sanctury’s original song recordings, however without using the original lyrics. He had then turned these sampled melody sequences into a repetitive loop, combined this with a beat and added his own rap lyrics.  Dark Sanctuary regarded this use of their recordings as copyright infringing and inter alia demanded compensation and that Bushido cease using their music.  …

PRS for Music targets live music and festivals
Copyright , Live Events / May 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   PRS for Music (PRS) have launched a new eight week long Popular Music Concerts Tariff (‘Tariff LP’) Consultation to review the licensing structure for the use of music in the live music industry in the United Kingdom. Tariff LP is applied to ticketed live popular music events such as concerts and festivals. The consultation will run from 13th April to 8th June 2015. Tariff LP is a Tribunal tariff that was set in 1988 by the Performing Right Tribunal, which later became the Copyright Tribunal. Having failed to amend the Tariff in 2010 (after a much criticised review which alienated large parts of the festival sector who said the review was poorly timed as it coincided with their busy festival season in the UK) the PRS say the purpose of the 2015 consultation is to seek views on the findings of a comprehensive investigation by PRS for Music into the changes in the live music industry since 1988, “to ensure that PRS for Music is operating a tariff that is fit for the purpose of licensing live popular music events going forward.” The Consultation Paper is somewhat critical of the 1988 Performing Right Tribunal’s decision – albeit with hindsight and…

New licensing regime for Ireland?
Licensing , Live Events / May 2015
Ireland

LICENSING Live events sector     New licensing laws could be introduced in Ireland the wake of the Garth Brooks cancellation fiasco at Dublin’s Croke Park in July, 2014. The measures follow the widely publicised collapse of Brooks’ five sell-out shows, which were cancelled just 17 days before show time after Dublin City Council (DCC) would only give permission for three nights. The Gaelic Athletic Association had previously agreed with residents that a maximum of three concerts would be held each year at the venue. Brooks himself took an ‘all or nothing’ approach – and refused to perform two shows as matinees, meaning no concerts took place. The Irish Examiner reports that the issues being considered by the review group, set up in the wake of the fiasco, include the minimum time frames before an event for the submission of a licence application and the making of a decision by a planning authority on such an application, and public consultation arrangements on licence applications. A Department of Environment spokesman told Audience Magazine “From the outset the review group has been mindful of the fact that any legislative changes need to be fair and balanced to all stakeholders including promoters, venue owners, local communities. Local…

A right to guns at Festivals? Only in the US of A
USA

LICENSING, HUMAN RIGHTS Live events sector     Most festivals do their utmost to ensure their events are peaceful, trouble free and that festival goers respect each other, and don’t bring in weapons. Not so Norman, Okla, where a pro-gun group have brought a court claim in the Cleveland County Court, challenging the Norman Music Festival’s ‘no gun’ policy A lawsuit  has been filed against the City of Norman and Norman Music Alliance, who sponsors the Norman Music Festival. The injunction hearing, which could determine whether weapons are allowed at the festival, was originally set for April 28 – AFTER the festival was scheduled to take place on April 23-25. District Judge Thad Balkman, who the case was assigned to, said the hearing will be moved and the case will be heard prior to the event’s dates. Don Spencer, vice president of Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, said not allowing weapons at the music festival is in violation of state law, as it is a public event. The gun group claims the ban violates the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, which prohibits “subjective or arbitrary” rules beyond those specified in the Act. Spencer said “If the city of Norman decided that they didn’t want minorities to be at…

Osprey outcry put T’s Strathallan home at risk
Licensing , Live Events / May 2015
UK

LICENSING Live events sector     Campaigners opposed to T In The Park taking place at the Strathallan Estate in Perthshire, which include the Woodland Trust and the RSPB, have secured what they say is a defining victory against promoters DF and the Estate owners, Jamie and Debs Roberts. Whilst the local authority is still considering arguments on both sides over whether the 80,000 capacity festival can take place from 10-12 July, the RSPB, who had already noted that ospreys traditionally nest near the Estate, have said the protected birds have returned. Under the Wildlife And Countryside Act it is a criminal offence to disturb ospreys during the breeding season. Although the ospreys’ long-term roosting spot is not on the Strathallan Estate itself, STV reports that a 2500 foot ‘buffer zone’ would be required around the nest if T went ahead there, and that would significantly cut into the planned festival site.  DF had reportedly hired experts to try to persuade the ospreys to nest in a alternative nesting space and DF contractors had been using kites, balloons and an extended cherry-picker crane near the old nest to try to divert the birds to the new site. The RSPB has dubbed…

Glastonbury ticket scammer convicted
Criminal Law , Live Events / May 2015
UK

CRIMINAL Live events sector     Christine Babb, an East Grinstead “con woman” who sold non existent Glastonbury Festival tickets to scores of music fans may be facing prison. Babb, 34, of Farm Close East Grinstead, raked in over £23,000 by claiming to be able to sell tickets to hugely popular events like Glastonbury. Such was her notoriety that Glastonbury issued an official statement warning: “Nobody called Christine Babb is either employed by Glastonbury Festival or has any tickets to sell for the Festival. PLEASE remember that you can only buy Glastonbury tickets through official sources and that this year’s Festival is entirely Sold Out.” Hammersmith Magistrates Court heard that Babb’s campaign of fraud lasted nearly a year, between August 2013 and July 2014. She admitted 29 offences of fraud by false representation. Prosecutor Tom Gill said: “This defendant told her victims that she worked in the music industry and could get discounted tickets to various events including [the] Glastonbury Festival. “There are 29 victims of this offence who paid for their tickets that they didn’t receive.” The court heard that Babb has previous convictions for ‘very similar’ scams. For the defence, Jyothi Somavarapu explained in mitigation that her client suffered…

US Court upholds Lanham Act violation of Bob Marley’s image
Artists , Competition , Trade Mark / May 2015
USA

COMPETITION / TRADE MARK Artistes     The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has addressed the issue the use of whether the use of a deceased celebrity’s likeness or persona in connection with a product constitutes a false endorsement that is actionable under the Lanham Act, and has upheld a District Court’s finding of false endorsement and economic interference against defendants who had been selling T-shirts featuring an image of the late reggae icon, Bob Marley. Fifty-Six Hope Road Music v. A.V.E.L.A., Inc., Case Nos. 12-17502, 12-17519, 12-17595, 13-15407 and 13-15473 (9th Cir., Feb. 20, 2015) (Smith, J.) (Christen, J., concurring-in-part and dissenting-in-part). It wasn’t disputed that in 2004, A.V.E.L.A. acquired the rights to some photographs of Marley from a photographer, Roberto Rabanne.  A.V.E.L.A. then licensed the images to defendants Jem Sportswear (Jem) and Central Mills (Freeze) and Jem and Freeze used the photographs on Marley T-shirts and other merchandise, which were sold at retail outlets. In 2008, Hope Road sued A.V.E.L.A., Jem and Freeze for trademark infringement and false endorsement under the Lanham Act, for common law trademark infringement, as well as for unauthorized commercial use of right to publicity and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage under state…

Perry yet to secure Left Shark Trade Mark
Artists , Trade Mark / May 2015
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Do you remember ‘Left Shark’, the slightly out of time dancer who was ‘dancing’ beside Katy Perry during her Super Bowl half time show back in February. After designer Fernando Sosa made a 3D printed figurine called Left Shark available online – Perry’s team quickly began investigating how she could take ownership of intellectual property in the name, the image and the concept of Left Shark. The US Trademark Office has now had its say. Examiner.David Collier wasn’t impressed with an application to register the image of Left Shark. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Collier wrote that the design “identifies only a particular character; it does not function as a service mark to identify and distinguish applicant’s services from those of others and to indicate the source of applicant’s services”. The Examiner also noted that there were inconsistencies between a photo of actual Left Shark and a drawing of Left Shark with the Examiner saying: “Specifically, the [photo] displays the mark as a stylised depiction of a forward leaning shark in nearly a front profile with a portion of a dorsal fin, two pectoral fins and two legs and feet substituted for the caudal fin on the…

Ray Charles Foundation test heirs’ copyright termination claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT: Music publishing   The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to decide an important case between the children of Ray Charles and the Ray Charles Foundation,  he charity which Mr. Charles gave his right to receive royalties from his music publishing agreement with Warner-Chappell Music in his will. Whilst the charity has had the benefit of the royalties to date, Section 304(c) of the U.S. Copyright Act provides the statutory heirs of deceased authors, in this case Mr. Charles’ children, the sole right to terminate the assignment of copyrights from an author to a third party. Can they prevail and in effect overturn their father’s wishes?   Mr. Charles died before he was permitted (under the statute) to send the vast majority of termination notices to Warner-Chappell to regain his songs.  The termination right may not be transferred by will or by any other “agreement to the contrary” and in order to ensure that his Foundation would continue to receive the music publishing income stream after his death for the life of copyright, Mr. Charles entered into agreements with each of his children providing that in exchange for $500,000 they would not take any actions to challenge the Estate….

Returned BB King guitar results in copyright claim
Copyright / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Literary works, advertising   When Eric Dahl purchased a Gibson guitar at a Las Vegas pawnshop in 2009, little did he think it would lead to a copyright battle with Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. and two other companies. Having paid nearly $2,200 for the B.B. King Lucille model, Dahl then discovered it was the original “Prototype 1” model that  the guitar company had presented to the blues legend on his 80th birthday in 2005. King had performed with the guitar until the summer of 2009, when it was stolen from his home. The Las Vegas Review-Journal tells us that In November 2009, Dahl went to King’s office in Las Vegas to return the guitar. To show his appreciation, King autographed another Gibson Lucille and gave it to Dahl during the meeting. All great so far! Dahl then wrote about his experiences in three chapters of his 2013 book “B.B. King’s Lucille and the Loves Before Her.”  and it’s that story is now at the centre of a copyright infringement case filed by Dahl, alleging that  car manufacturer Toyota created a television advertisement that “presented an adapted visual interpretation of the story”. The defendants, along with co-defendants advertising agency Saachi…

More Copyright, More Good Music?
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2015
Italy

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   More copyright, wore “Quality Works”? Not quite but maybe, says a study of Italian opera before 1900. As Italy had a wide variety of copyright law provisions until  the late 1860s when Italy itself was finally unified, Stanford economists Petra Moser and Michela Giorcelli compared the varying degrees of copyright protection to the output of operas, compiling a database of more than 2,598 Italian operas written between 1770 and 1900 – and then looked at the longevity of each opera right up to how many recordings of any opera were available in 2014 on Amazon. Vox explains “Copyright laws seem to have created significantly more operas that also had staying power and were of higher quality” and details:  “States with copyrights ended up producing 2.68 additional operas per year, a 121 percent increase over states without copyrights. Historically popular operas (as measured by the 1978 publication, the Annales of Opera 1597-1940) grew by 47 percent, and durable operas [those available on Amazon in 2014] grew by 80 percent.”   http://www.vox.com/2014/10/24/7049983/how-napoleons-conquest-gave-italian-opera-a-boost

Swift grabs domain names
Artists , Internet , Trade Mark / April 2015
USA

TRADE MARK Artists, internet   Taylor Swift has bought the web domain names TaylorSwift.porn and TaylorSwift.adult. The addresses were part of a public sale by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) of new domains. The non-profit group has expanded the number of generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, such as .com and .net in 2011. There were 22 four years ago but now there are nearly 550 with new ones released every month. ICANN is clearly aware of the negative repercussions of adding these domains and allowed trade mark owners and public figures to take advantage of the so-called “Sunrise Period” and register the domains before they become open to public purchase on June 1. The Trademark Clearinghouse,  “a global repository for trade mark data” will verify trade mark data from multiple global regions and maintain a database with the verified trade mark records.  This verified data can be used to support ‘Trademark Claims’ and ‘Sunrise Services’, both of which are required for the new gTLDs.  The Trademark Clearinghouses’ ‘Sunrise Services’ allow trade mark holders an advance opportunity to register domain names which correspond to their marks before domain names are generally available to the public. The Trademark Clearinghouse service…

Kraftwerk trade mark claim powers up
Artists , Trade Mark / April 2015
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Kraftwerk co-founder Ralf Hutter has launched a trademark infringement lawsuit against a German company called eZelleron who plan to manufacture a portable phone charger which they plan to call … Kraftwerk. Hutter, who owns trademarks to the Kraftwerk name in multiple territories in various classes, is claiming that eZelleron’s chosen name for its product suggests at least an endorsement on his part. However, the meaning of the band’s name is ‘Power Station’ in German which in the circumstances might prove a burden for the musician. The Hollywood Reporter says that Hutter is launching his legal actions in Delaware in the U.S. rather than Europe, demanding that US internet service providers and crowdfunding platforms be barred from displaying references to eZelleron’s “Kraftwerk” in order to avoid confusion amongst consumers. Hütter said that the sale and distribution of the portable phone charger would contribute to the dilution of the band’s trademarks, which are “widely recognised by the general consuming public” of the US and that  eZelleron’s portable charger infringes three US ‘Kraftwerk’ trademarks. eZelleron raised $1.5 million from a successful Kickstarter campaign,   http://www.worldipreview.com/news/kraftwerk-founder-says-phone-charger-infringes-band-s-trademark-8028

Greg Allman biopic death leads to two year prison sentence
Criminal Law , Health & Safety / April 2015
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY / CRIMINAL Film, TV   The director of the ill-fated Gregg Allman biopic has issued a statement after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing. Randall Miller was prosecuted over the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones while filming ‘Midnight Rider‘, a movie based on Allman’s autobiography. The crew had been preparing to film on a railway bridge when a train unexpectedly appeared, hitting a metal framed bed that had been placed on the tracks, injuring six and killing Jones. Miller agreed to a last minute plea bargain ahead of his trial which meant that producer Jody Savin, who is also Miller’s wife, had charges against her dropped, Miller received a two year jail sentence. He also agreed to serve an additional eight years on probation and pay a $20,000 fine.Executive Producer Jay Sedrish agreed to ten years probation. Miller’s statement reads: “On 20 Feb 2014, a great number of mistakes were made and the terrible accident occurred which took Sarah Jones’ life. It was a horrible tragedy that will haunt me forever. Although I relied on my team, it is ultimately my responsibility and was my decision to shoot the scripted scene that caused this…

Fishbone plead for funds to fight stage diving claim
Health & Safety , Live Events / April 2015
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   Angelo Moore, the front man of Fishbone, has posted a fundraising plea on fundrazr.com explaining that the band are still facing legal action from a litigant named as Kimberley Myers over a stage diving incident. These are Angelo’s words: “Kimberly Myers and Her 4 man Lawyer team THE JOKELSONS have successfully sued the Philadelphia campus, the club, our management and our booking agent and for some strange reason, have been given Yet ANOTHER opportunity to re-open the $1.4million law suit ………..AGAIN! We had legal representation but could’nt afford to keep them. Believe it or not we are barely living month to month with the money that we make from our shows which does’nt allow us any Funds to pay for a lawyer. But with your donation and support we can hire another lawyer  to face the judge and represent us one last time. This will put and end to this FaLse and unfair acusation and completley dropped once and for all. If you love Fishbone and the music that we have brought to you all these years along with the right of freedom of expression through dance. Please donate to our legal fund.” Kimberley Myers had…

Weatherley welcomes review of online copyright sanctions in the UK
Copyright / April 2015
UK

COPYRIGHT All areas   Mike Weatherley MP has welcome the UK’s Intellectual Property Office’s report into criminal penalties for copyright crimes. Weatherley had highlighted the disparity between penalties for offline and online copyright infringement, with copyright crimes leading to up to ten years custody for physical piracy – but a maximum of two years if the crime takes place online. The IPO has confirmed this and has now suggested that UK copyright law should be amended so that serious online copyright infringement is treated in a similar way to offline activities that those activities result in similar levels of harm to copyright owners. Responding to Weatherley, who had previously been Prime Minister David Cameron’s advisor on IP, IP Minister Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote: “I am writing to update you on the study commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office into criminal sanctions available for online copyright offences. I know that you have taken a keen interest in this matter and that you have pressed for action to be taken to address what you felt was an anomaly in the level of penalties available for online copyright offences” adding “Given the uncertainty surrounding the potential impact brought by the increase to custodial sentences,…

More artistes voice Blurred Lines concerns
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   With the appeal by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in the Blurred Lines case now confirmed, rapper and producer RZA says there should be a limit on how much an artist can recover if their songs are sampled without consent. Speaking at SXSW, the Wu-Tang Clan co-founder said that while artists who inspire should be paid, there should be a limit to how much they can demand, especially if the money isn’t actually going to the artist: “Art is something that’s made to inspire the future,” he said during his stay in Austin, according to the Daily Beast. “If you utilize somebody’s artistic expression blatantly, to [the point] where it’s an identifiable thing, then there should be some sort of compensation to the person who inspires you.” Arguing the sampling itself is creative and an art form, the Shaolin producer, known for crafting unexpected beats from esoteric samples, called for a 50% cap for retroactive payments of sampled material saying “There should be a cut off. Fifty percent is the most” commenting “The Greeks could come sue everybody because one generation teaches the other” and “When you hear an A chord to the D to the E, there are over one million…

What’s Wrong With the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Ruling?
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   What’s Wrong With the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Ruling” was a headline from the New York Times two days after a civil jury found that Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and TI’s song infringed Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’. In it Jon Caramanica says “Owing to the specifics of copyright law, the jury was instructed to base its decision on the sheet music, a fact that reflects how inadequate copyright law is when it comes to contemporary songwriting and production practices. In 2015, the arrangement of notes on a sheet of paper is among the least integral parts of pop music creation. We’re decades beyond the time when a songwriter penned a tune on paper, then gave it to musicians to perform.   Pointing to the difficulties in this area, Caramanica also comments on the recent ‘Stay With Me’ settlement where Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne were given 25% of that song which allegedly plagiarised Petty’s 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down” – although Caramanica points out the argument there was structural — “both choruses have a similar pace and syllabic emphasis. But Mr. Smith’s song is ecstatic and soaring, and Mr. Petty’s is quietly tenacious. “Stay With Me”…

Gaye family keep on suing
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   The family of Marvin Gaye has been awarded $7.3 million by a civil jury in Los Angeles, who decided that Robin Thicke and Pharrell William’s massive 2013 hit Blurred Lines did copy Marvin Gaye’s 1977 Classic “Got to Give It Up“.  Howard E King, The lawyer for Thicke, WIlliams and co-writer rapper TI, said the decision set a “horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward”. The decision will almost certainly be appealed. Williams, Thicke and T.I. said in a joint statement: “‘Blurred Lines‘ was created from the heart and minds of Pharrell, Robin and T.I. and not taken from anyone or anywhere else.  We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.” The Gaye family’s lawyer Richard S Busch said “We’ll be asking the court to enter an injunction prohibiting the further sale and distribution of Blurred Lines unless and until we can reach an agreement with those guys on the other side about how future monies that are received will be shared”.   In the wake of the jury’s verdict in the “Blurred Lines case”, Marvin Gaye’s children have filed a new motion to list three record labels and…

YMCA writing credits re-written
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   The writing credits and ownership of the classic Village People recorded track YMCA have been amended to just two writers: Since the song appeared in 1977, “YMCA” has always had three listed authors– Jacques Morali, Victor Willis, and Henry Bololo. But now after a two week jury trial in San Diego federal district court, Bololo was removed from the copyright. Willis now shares “YMCA” 50-50 with Morali. Attorney Brian Caplan, who handles many intellectual property cases, represented Willis, an original member of the Village People. In addition to “YMCA,” Willis regained half ownership in eleven other songs. For almost 40 years Bololo maintained that “YMCA” was one of several French songs he repurposed. But after two weeks of testimony, a jury decided that Morali wrote the music and Willis penned the now famous lyrics. Willis first brought action over the Village People copyrights back in 2011. There were two elements to his dispute. First, whether or not Willis could use the so called ‘termination right’, added to US copyright law in the 1970s and now relevant, to reclaim control of copyrights he had previously assigned to the company behind the Village People franchise.In this he succeded and…

Wu Tang will auction single CD pressing
Copyright , Record Labels / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Rappers Wu-Tang Clan have set up a website to run the auction for their album, ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ which has been released with a single pressing of the 31 track, 128 minute record – the person places the highest bid will buy the lone CD and the box that contains it. And according to the record’s producer Cilvaringz, after a 88 year holdback – the owner of the physical CD will be assigned the copyright in the recording as well and could choose to release the album. Cilvaringz told Forbes: “After 88 years the copyright, which includes public and commercial rights, automatically transfers to the owner of the work. [But] it will still be his or her choice at that [point] to release it or not release it”. This week 200 people attended the sole public airing on the album at in a heated dome outside New York’s MoMA PS1. Guests and journalists were forced to put their cell phones in plastic bags at the front desk to avoid the 13-minute album excerpt from leaking.  According to Wu-Tang leader the RZA, bids have reached $5 million.   http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/inside-wu-tang-clans-first-last-only-listening-session-for-new-lp-20150303

Sony and UMG actions could re-shape the digital pie
Artists , Contract , Copyright / April 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes, streaming     Sony Music has failed to have a wide-ranging lawsuit filed by Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment a year ago dismissed, though some elements of the case have been thrown out. The federal lawsuit alleges that Sony Music Entertainment cheated 19 out of more than $7 million in royalties for “American Idol. Sony Music had traditionally signed ‘Idol’ winners. The suit claimed that it had found “systemically incorrect calculations” on two separate audits of royalty payments made by the major. It then added that the record company had failed to allow 19’s auditors access all the data they required to do a full audit. 19 Roster includes Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta and David Cook, Sony responded a few months later with a motion to dismiss, countering the various allegations made by the management company. U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams commented that the companies set up a “highly complex royalty structure” and said that four of 19’s eight claims in lawsuit should be allowed to proceed to court. 19’s claims includes the argument that digital income should count as ‘licensing’ or ‘sales’ income with artist contracts that don’t specifically…

Lufti’s claim against Spears will be heard in court
Artists , Contract / April 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Sam Lutfi, the one time self appointed manager for Britney Spears at the time when spear’s life seemed to be spinning out of control, is back in the news. Pushed away from Spears when her family took control of her life, the somewhat controversial Lufti subsequently sued the family claiming he had been defamed by Spears’ mother, Lynne, in a book about her daughter’s struggles. She accused Lutfi of “exasperating Britney’s problems and drug taking, whereas he claimed that he had actually pressured the singer to deal with her addictions.” There were also allegations that Spears’ father assaulted Lutfi, while the latter claimed that he had, for a time, been Britney’s manager and was therefore due a cut of her income from that period. That libel case reached court in 2012, with both Lutfi and Mrs Spears taking to the witness stand, but after two weeks Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bruguera  dismissed the proceedings, noting various weaknesses in Lutfi’s arguments and inconsistencies in his testimony. However Lufti’s claim breach of contract and outstanding commissions has continued, and appeal judges in California have now said that the dispute should be considered by a jury saying “We must determine whether Sam’s inconsistent testimony…

Korn’s former drummer thumps out his claim
Artists , Contract / April 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Korn have sold more than 10 million albums in their long career, with releases including “Life is Peachy” and  their third album, 1998’s “Follow the Leader” which debuted at No 1 in the U.S Billboard charts. Now one of the founding members, David Silveria, is suing his four former bandmates in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Silveria laims that lead singer Jonathan Davis, guitarists James Schaffer and Brian Welch, and bassist Reggie Arvizu owe him an accounting for revenue since 2006 and damages for breach of partnership agreement. He also seeks an order dissolving the Korn partnership. Silveria says he, Schaffer and Arvizu disbanded their heavy metal group L.A.P.D in 1989, and they then joined with Davis and Welch to form Korn and tat he and his bandmates formalised their partnership and agreed to share equally in Korn’s future successes and failures – including its trademarked name.  In 2005, Welch left the group, but retained his partnership interest in Korn. Silveria left in 2006 in a move he calls “a temporary hiatus” in his complaint, saying he always intened to return to the band and he retained his interest in the Korn Partnership, which entitled him to his percentage interest in profits…

Wonder faces $7 million claim from attorney’s widow
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / April 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes. Music publishing   Stevie Wonder (Stevland Morris) is being sued by the wife of his former attorney who claims the singer songwriter owes at least $7 million in unpaid royalties.  Susan Strack is the widow of Johanan Vigoda, a veteran entertainment lawyer with more tha 40 years service for Wonder, who died in 2011. The federal claim says that having helped Wonder escape onerous and oppressive contracts, Wonder agreed to pay her husband a 6 percent fee on royalties “forever.” She claims that several royalty fee agreements and a trusted witness always read the terms to the blind Wonder before he placed his mark on them, which was his fingerprint followed by the signature of the witness. Black Bull Music, Taurus Productions, Sawandi Music, and Stevland Morris Music are also named as defendants. Stack says that whilst payments were made for  a 20 month period they have now ceased and she clains “fees and compensation to which she is rightfully and legally entitled” as well as damages, and punitive damages, for breach of written agreement, intentional interference with contract, and conversion. Strack also seeks declaratory judgment that Wonder and his heirs and successors must continue paying her and Vigoda’s heirs and successors the…

Were YouTube within their rights to pull Rasta Rock Opera video?
Contract , Internet / March 2015
USA

CONTRACT Internet   After Rasta Rock Opera’s video “Luv ya Luv ya Luv ya” garnered more than 23,000 views in roughly two months on YouTube, the  video was pulled by YouTube, who deemed that the relative success of the unknown band must be due to the use of ‘bots’ to artificially inflate viewings. This has prompted a lawsuit from the band who claim that the action of removing the video – leaving viewers landing on a page showing a frowning face and the words: “This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service. Sorry about that” – caused many potential fans and sponsors to jump to negative conclusions. Rasta Rock Opera says it suffered damages when its original video was removed. After YouTube removed the video April 18th, Rasta Rock Opera complained to YouTube and four days later, YouTube reposted the music video under a new link that did not have the view counts or comments from the original posting. But Rasta Rock Opera says the link to the message regarding prohibited content was not removed until August, hurting its reputation. The band also say this prompted Nike to cancel an opportunity to have Rasta Rock…

Turk sues Cash Money for unpaid royalties
Contract , Music Publishing / March 2015
USA

CONTRACT Music publishing   Tab Virgil Jr. also known as “Turk,” is suing Miami based Cash Money Records claiming he’s owed $1.3 million for songs he wrote for Hot Boy$, a group that included rappers Lil Wayne, B.G. and Juvenile. Turk says he has not been paid any artist (recording) or music publishing royalties for the songs he had written, and that no accounting of royalties has ever been rendered by Cash Money. The claim also alleges that even though he has written songs for since1998 under an exclusive agreement, he has not received promised artist – either as a recording artist or as a songwriter – and that Cash Money has also failed to copyright any of his music, as required under the agreement. It seems Cash Money Records has been on the receiving end of similar claims in the past: Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit in Manhattan to end his contract with rapper Birdman and Cash Money Records for allegedly withholding millions of dollars in song royalties. http://www.entlawdigest.com/2015/02/09/3657.htm

Lewis County Adopts Revised Code on Music Festivals
Licensing , Live Events / March 2015
USA

LICENSING Live events sector   Lewis County Commissioners have  approved a revised County Code regarding music festivals that in effect makes a law that was previously updated in 1998 up to date, especially after officials said a planned rave in 2014 in West Lewis County skirted the permitting process and nearly 19,000 people were invited to the event. Lewis County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 census, the population was 75,455. The county seat is Chehalis, and its largest city is Centralia. The changes to the Code included bringing the minimum number of people expected to attend the festival down from 500 to 200, and requiring the landowner or the occupant of the property on which the festival is to be held to consent to possible searches of the property during the event. David Fine, the deputy civil prosecuting attorney for the county, said the code addresses “inadequate provisions” for attendees and some residents. Those issues include ensuring roads remain open for emergency vehicles and local traffic, adequate sanitation and insurance requirements. Officials had expressed concern about several of those issues when they learned about the Epic III rave coming to West Lewis County…

Peppa Pig cracker roasted by global media giant
Trade Mark / March 2015
UK

TRADE MARK Television, sound recordings   Joshua Lima – aged 10 – and his brother Noah (8), who perform as ‘Magician’s Nephew’, have reportedly received a legal letter from Peppa Pig’s owners Entertainment One saying their song Peppa Pig, which describes how the St Albans’s based boys and their band have fallen out of love with the global children’s brand, needed to be taken off iTunes. Why? Well, because the artwork they used infringes Trade Marks associated with Peppa Pig – and possibly copyrights too in artwork,. The song itself is not the issue (although undoubtedly very annoying for the owners of a brand which brings in £600 million a year). The songs itself looks pretty damn original and it begins with “My friends have lost their faith, they will scream it in your face, In the playground of our school, Peppa Pig is no longer cool!” and ends with “I know this must be hard, and I mean no disregard, Let’s go our separate ways, me and you were just a phase“. But the boys have been told to remove a recording from iTunes because they used a picture of the animated pig in their video for the song…

Bombay blues for Indian songwriter
Artists , Censorship / March 2015
India

CENSORSHIP Artistes, sound recordings   An Indian songwriter who used ‘Bombay’ to rhyme with ‘today’ has seen his song censored when it was used in a television show – with the pre 1995 name for Mumbai removed. Censors stood by their decision to bleep out ‘Bombay’ in Mihir Joshi’s song Sorry about the gang rape of a girl on a Delhi bus, saying using the old name provoked ‘unnecessary controversy’.  The renaming of cities in India started in 1947, following the end of the British imperial period in India, and continues today.  In 1995 the Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena won elections in the state of Maharashtra and presided over a coalition that took control of the state assembly. After the election, the party announced that the port city had been renamed after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, the city’s patron deity. Federal agencies, local businesses, and newspapers were ordered to adopt the change. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaming_of_cities_in_India

Police stick with ‘ban on ‘obscene’ music at the Newcomers Parade
Censorship , Live Events / March 2015
USA

CENSORSHIP Live events sector   In the U.S., local Police Chief Calder Hebert has confirmed to reporters that the St. Martinville Police Department will continue with its policy of keeping the Newcomer’s Parade as “family-friendly” as possible by removing any parade float playing “obscene” music, Hebert’s comments come just a few days after receiving a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana stating SMPD attempts to remove floats due to playing ‘obscene’ music would be considered unconstitutional and the letter, addressed to Hebert and SMPD, states the police department does not have the right to enforce an obscene music ban during the parade. The letter said: “First, we recognize that the Newcomer’s Club is a private organization with the right to set rules for participation in its parade. Our concern is not whether or how a private club may regulate participation in its event, but rather how police will enforce those rules,” the letter stated. The three-page letter, written by ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman, also cited an article published by The Teche News stating that city officials had singled out “rap” music in a January 20th St. Martinville City Council meeting. Esman said singling out…

Evoking Audrey Hepburn’s image in an ad is not OK, says Italian court
Artists , Image Rights / March 2015
Italy
UK

IMAGE RIGHTS Artists   The IP Kat has noticed a recent trend in advertising, ie the use of the image of icons of the past and Eleonora Roasti has blogged on this.   Perhaps it was Dior and Chanel to start this trend a few years ago by using the image of a young Alain Delon as the face (and body) of Eau Sauvage   [and Marylin Monroe as that of Chanel No. 5, respectively. However these days it seems that everybody is doing it. The question thus becomes: do you need permission to use the image of a celebrity? In those countries which recognise image rights  [not the case of the UK, as the Court of Appeal of England and Wales recently  confirmed in the Rihanna case ] , Italy being one of them   [see Article 10 of the Italian Civil Code] ,  the answer seems pretty straightforward: yes, you do need permission. But what happens when you do not use the image of a celebrity, but rather elements that merely evoke him/her  [see here for an interesting Israeli case] ? The Court of First Instance of Milan recently dealt with these issues in an intriguing case concerning unauthorised use of…