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…

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…