19 adds the ‘Spotify shareholding’ to its battle with Sony Music
Artists , Contract , Copyright / August 2015

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artistes     the lawsuits filed by 19 Management against Sony on behalf of former Pop Idols winners cover many of the usual areas where artists and labels fall out: the fees Sony charges as money moves around the company:  what happened to the cash Sony received from its LimeWire settlement, and the big ‘post-iTunes’ debate on sharing the digital pie’ : whether digital income should be treated as a ‘sale’ or a ‘licence’ (as artists usually gain a far larger share of the latter than the former which is still treated as a physical sale) In the latest development, 19 has amended its lawsuit to cover another contentious issue, the equity stakes Sony – and other labels – have in various streaming music start-ups, in particular Spotify – which could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars if and when the streaming firm floats. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the revised 19 lawsuit expresses the concern of many in the artist and management community that Sony took the equity stake, which it (arguably) doesn’t have to share with its artists, in return for accepting less favourable terms on royalty payments, a cut of which…

Sony says its Spotify position is all above board
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Record Labels / August 2015

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded Music, Artistes     Sony has responded to claims made by 19 Management that criticised a number of its business practices, and according to the Hollywood Reporter has said that “taking equity in Spotify, keeping advertising income and not sharing the spoils of piracy lawsuits is all proper”. This blogger feels many artistes may disagree and the stance taken by Sony, and their latest response may well reignite the argument that says the business practices of the major labels in the recorded music sector are now so artiste unfriendly, a fiduciary duty should be imposed on labels to ensure that when they are negotiating ‘on behalf’ of their artistes, they actually put the interests of their artistes first. Initially after details of the Sony-Spotify deal were leaked, both Sony, and subsequently Universal, was quick to point out that at least with the advances they have received from Spotify and other streaming services (the so called breakage), then of course they would share breakage with artists. So, labels are nice guys ……….But back to the current case: 19’s lawyers had said in filings that the majors had “significant power to exert control over Spotify in order to not…

Blackmore sues to share royalty settlement
Artists , Contract / August 2015

CONTRACT Artistes   Former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore is suing two management companies for just over £750,000, claiming that he should have been included in a settlement reached with other members of the band over a decade ago. Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice sued HEC Enterprises and Deep Purple (Overseas) in 2003 over underpaid royalties, eventually reaching a settlement. Blackmore, who was a member of the band between 1968 and 1975, and again between 1984 and 1993, was not involved in that case. But heis now claiming that he is owed royalties on fourteen of the band’s albums, Blackmore says he has now audited the two companies audited to quantify his loss.   According to The Mail On Sunday, the guitarist is suing HEC Enterprises for £102,318, relating to claimed incorrect adjustments, for failing to report publishing income and for applying charges in excess of agreed limits.He also claims that Deep Purple (Overseas) owes him £607,797 for failing to report income, overcharging on fees, and using an incorrect exchange rates. He is also seeking £43,000 to cover the costs of auditing the two companies between 2007 and 2013. Blackmore’s lawsuit also reportedly claims that a former director…

Taylor Swift – The ‘godmother’ of pop?
Artists , Copyright / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Artistes, photography   By George Chin.   Hot on the heels of Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple on Sunday June 21st,2015 – UK music photographer Jason Sheldon published an open letter to Taylor Swift admonishing her for being hypocritical. In evidence, he published a 2011 Photography Agreement for photographers who were given access to photograph her during the first two songs on her concert dates on that tour. In a mild parody of her letter, he wrotes “…forgive me if I’m wrong, but if you take points 2 and 3 in that contract (which is provided to Photographers who need to agree to those terms before they are allowed to do their job in photographing you for editorial outlets), it appears to be a complete rights grab, and demands that you are granted free and unlimited use of our work, worldwide, in perpetuity.  You say in your letter to Apple that ‘Three months is a long time to go unpaid’.  But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity….” A…

More photography issues with The Foo’s  demands
Artists , Copyright / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Artistes, photography   By George Chin.   Before the dust has had time to settle on the Taylor Swift Authorization Form and the refusal of the Irish Times to publish photographs of her sold out arena show in Dublin on June 30, 2015 – today, July 3, 2015, the Washington City Paper (USA) have gone viral with an article headlined:  “Why we’re not photographing the Foo Fighters”.   On the same theme of Artist Photography Release Agreements, the paper hits the nail on the head by stating unequivocally that the Foo Fighters’ agreement “is exploitation of photographers, pure and simple. If a streaming music service tried to use the band’s music for free, they’d have none of it.”   When contacted by the paper, a spokesperson for the band’s management responded that these types of contracts are ‘standard’ and that they ‘protect the band’.  Photographers soberly refer to them ‘Rights Grab Agreements’.   Here it is, in full     I _______________________ (name of photographer) hereby agree to the following in favor of Foo Fighters (“you”) with respect to the photographs to be taken by me of the members of Foo Fighters(either as a group or as individuals) on the date referenced below (the “Photos”):…

Inflight gains extension in airline music battle with labels
Copyright / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     A U.S. federal judge has given the Inflight music service for commercial airlines 20 more days to fight record companies’ claims of copyright infringement. Universal Music, Polygram and others issued proceedings against Global Eagle Entertainment (Inflight Productions) in May 2014, claiming it provided using music on airlines in the United States without licenses. The federal complaint claimed that Inflight had provided sound recordings and music videos for passenger airlines that infringed copyright. Inflight filed a counterclaim in March, claiming it had contacted Universal through a UK-based intellectual property rights consultant in 2009, to negotiate licenses for the United States to fill gaps in its “patchwork of licenses around the world.”  Inflight claims that the companies agreed to licensing terms, and told Inflight it could reproduce and distribute the sound recordings in the United States. Inflight say that the record companies were secretly intending to hold Inflight liable for using the recordings without a license and the counterclaim alleges that “Ignoring their own misrepresentations and concealments, Universal Music is now attempting to use ‘statutory damages’ under United States copyright law as a so-called Sword of Damocles to extract large sums of money,” Inflight also claims that Universal also interfered with its business…

Youtube partially triumph over GEMA – but needs to do more
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing     Google has won a legal victory on over German performing rights society GEMA, which had sought to make the company’s video-sharing service YouTube pay each time users streamed music videos by artists it represents. A Munich court rejected GEMA’s demand that YouTube pay 0.375 euro cents ($0.004) per stream of certain videos. In its claim, GEMA had picked out a sample of 1,000 videos which it said would cost YouTube around 1.6 million euros. However the German regional court  ruled that Google’s video-sharing website YouTube must prevent users from posting material that infringes copyright law once such a video has been brought to its attention. “However, if such a service provider has been made aware of a clear violation of the law, it must not only remove the content, but also must take precautions to avoid further infringements of copyrights,” the court said in its ruling. Both sides had appealed an earlier 2012 ruling. “What obligations the service provider has in this context — in particular whether and to what extent it is obliged to block and then check and monitor the content uploaded to its platform — is determined by what it can reasonably be expected…

Rod in the dock over copying claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Rod Stewart  has been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit that claims he copied the song “Corrine, Corrina” for his 2013 album “Time.” The lawsuit was filed in U.S. district court in Georgia by Miles Floyd, the administrator of the estate of blues performer Bo Carter, whose real name Armenter Chatmon. Chatmon was the first artist to record the song “Corrine, Corrina” and, according to the suit, he also wrote the tune, first registering the song with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1929. The lawsuit claims that “Corrina, Corrina,” a bonus track from Stewart’s hit 2013 album “Time,” is “nearly identical” to Chatmon’s work, and contains “substantially similar defining compositional elements, including, but not limited to lyrics, melody, rhythm, tempo, meter, key and title.” On Stewart’s album the track is ‘traditional’ and a take on a country blues standard.  Bob Dylan recorded “Corrina, Corrina” on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton covered Lead Belly’s take on the song, which was named “Alberta,” on his multiple Grammy-winning Unplugged album.   http://www.thewrap.com/rod-stewart-hit-with-copyright-lawsuit-over-iconic-blues-song/

“Blurred Lines” Post Trial Order
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The Judge in the ‘Blurred Lines’ Trial has rejected a new trial and has ‘trimmed’ the damages awarded against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to $5.3 Million (from $7.3 million).  That said, U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt has accepted the Gaye family’s contention that record labels including UMG Recordings, Interscope and Star Trak Entertainment should be held liable for their distribution of the song that was found to be a copy of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” and he also ruled that Clifford “T.I.” Harris Jr., the rapper who contributed a verse on the blockbuster “Blurred Lines” song was liable. Judge Kronstadt denied the Gayes’ bid for an injunction, but has granted a request for an ongoing royalty rate of 50 percent of songwriter and publishing revenues. The post trial order can be found here.  In his order, Judge Kronstadt specifically stated that the damages awarded against Williams were excessive, as it had not been shown that Williams was a “practical partner” of Thicke’s, and thus is only liable for his share of the profits from the song. The damages were reduced down from $4 million to just under $3.2 million, while the award of profits from Williams was reduced from…

Turtles look to block SiriusXM settlement
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Artistes, sound recordings, broadcasting   Flo & Eddie, the Turtles founders who have led attempts to collect royalties for pre-1972 sound recordings under US state laws, have rejected the move by American major record companies to secure an out-of-court settlement secured with Sirius XM. The Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) announced that it had settled its separate legal battle with Sirius on the pre-1972 issue, with the three majors and ABKCO, which controls early Rolling Stones recordings, and are set to receive $210 million in a deal that also sees the music companies providing the satellite broadcaster with a licence on pre-1972 catalogue up to the end of 2017.  With post-1972 recordings, Sirius pays for recording rights through collection society SoundExchange, which then splits the money 50/50 between artists and labels. Flo & Eddie’s attorneys say that the RIAA’s agreement interferes with the musicians’ ongoing class action against Sirius. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo’s lawyers Henry Gradstein and Harvey Geller say the record industry’s legal claim against Sirius was a “coattail action” and the subsequent settlement a “brazen attempt to disrupt and interfere with the class action process”. They added: “In other words, Sirius XM and the major labels purported to…

Beatles ‘Lost Film’ blocked
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, Film & TV   Sony Corp has won a High Court ruling in London, blocking a documentary-maker from releasing a movie about the Beatles’ first concert in the U.S.  “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” had been due to open for a limited run in US theatres in 2012.   The film by WPMC Ltd. about the 1964 performance in Washington was found to have infringed Sony’s copyrights in the U.K. and the U.S. in eight of the twelve songs in the concert, including “From Me to You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. Sony and the Fab Four’s label, Apple Corps, took issue with the Ace Arts film’s release as it contained archival clips from the band’s historic Washington, DC concert back in February, 1964, when Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison performed, and other  tracks included “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout”. The film also included interviews with legendary guitarist Chuck Berry and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The 1964 gig took place two days after The Beatles were officially introduced to audiences in the US with a slot on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.   The concert, shown in cinemas and theatres across…

PRS for Music launches Streamfair
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, internet     PRS for Music, which represents over 111,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, has launched Streamfair. The campaign “aims to raise awareness about the critical need for legislative reform to ensure music creators are properly remunerated in the growing streaming music market.” The PRS say the online music market now accounts for approximately 50% of overall sales globally with streaming services increasingly driving the change. In the past year, PRS for Music’s royalties from streaming services at £38.8m exceeded those of downloads for the first time at £26.7m – a trend repeated in 37 markets worldwide.  Recent PRS for Music research also that shows that over 90% of UK consumers have accessed some kind of streaming service. Some online content providers such as User Generated Content (UGC) services relying on what are known as ‘safe harbour’ provisions to avoid obtaining a licence or paying proper licence fees, are threatening the long-term sustainability and growth of the online music market.  The lack of clarity about who is truly an ‘intermediary’ in the current European legislation has deprived creators of the ability to consent to the use of their works.  This has resulted in a transfer of…

SESAC buys Harry Fox Agency
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     The smallest of the USA’s music performing rights societies, SESAC,  is to acquire the Harry Fox Agency, creating an agency that can operate in both mechanical and public performance licensing. In Europe, there have been various efforts to provide combined mechanical/performing right licences to customers who need them. In the UK via the alliance between the publishing sector’s mechanical and performing rights societies the MCPS and PRS respectively means that rights can be combined. In the US, the main performing rights organisations, BMI and ASCAP, are barred from involvement in mechanical licensing by the consent decrees that govern their operations. SESAC is not governed by such a consent decree. The Harry Fox Agency is currently owned by the National Music Publishers Association. According to the New York Times the deal will have to be approved by NMPA members. The new structure should allow the combined agency to provide joint performing/mechanical licences for any of the songs that either of the organisation represent, and to offer songwriters and publishers a more efficient licensing and royalty processing service. It will also give SESAC access to a world of valuable data held by HFA regarding the use of songs on…

PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA establish world’s first ‘integrated licensing and processing hub’  to power the digital market
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA have signed completion documents announcing the launch of the world’s first fully integrated multi-territory music licensing and processing hub covering European territories.  Designed to drive growth in the digital music market, the hub will assist both music rights holders and digital service providers (DSPs) in maximising value by providing incomparable customer service through state-of-the-art technology.  The hub, powered by the copyright database, ICE, and new processing, finance and business intelligence systems, will hopefully increase the speed, accuracy and efficiency of music matching and invoicing to ensure that rights holders are paid more quickly and transparently than ever before while making it easier for music services to secure multi-territory licences.   The hub will offer a complete set of services for the market:   (i)                 State of the art data processing and matching (ii)                Authoritative copyright and audio-visual database (iii)               Business enhancing middle-office services (iv)              Consolidated licensing of PRS for Music, GEMA and STIM’s multi-territory online rights and options for other rights holders to join the same core licence or to operate separate solutions, such as Solar and ARESA.   DSPs will obtain a single, consolidated multi-territory licence for Europe for…

Recording artistes big up musicFIRST’s campaign for payment for US radio plays
Copyright / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, recorded music   Elton John, REM, Chuck D, Annie Lennox and Imogen Heap were amongst artistes who took to the social networks last week to express their support for the Fair Play Fair Pay Act which introduce a general performing right within the sound recording copyright in the US. Currently sound recording copyright owners in America have a performing right for digital, meaning that while satellite and online radio services do pay to use recorded music, clubs, public spaces and AM/FM radio do not. This means US artists and labels are deprived a revenue stream enjoyed by their counterparts in more or less every other country in the world (collected in the UK by PPL). It is also thought that the Act would contain an ‘performer equitable remuneration’ on performing rights income, meaning 50% of revenue is shared with featured artists and session musicians (45% to featured artists, 5% session musicians and vocalists) and 50% to copyright owners, oblivious of their label contracts via Sound Exchange. The Act is being resisted by broadcasters. musicFIRST Executive Director, Ted Kalo, told reporters: “This movement is built on a simple principle that grabs the imagination of everyone we touch – fair play for…

Should the Pirates get 10 Years, or just walk the Plank?
Copyright / August 2015

COPYRIGHT All areas   by Andy Johnstone writing on the 1709 Blog Some considerable time after the Gowers Review (pdf) recommended (recommendation 36) that the maximum term of imprisonment for online criminal infringement should be increased, the IPO has launched a consultation (pdf) on whether the term should be raised from the current 2 years to a maximum of 10 years. In an effort to stick to its policy of evidence-based decision making, the consultation document exhorts would-be respondents to say rather more than just Yes or No when replying. However the same document is very thin on justification, its argument being mainly the fact that the penalty for infringing copyright in physical objects or designs is 10 years and so it would be neater if the penalty for online piracy was the same. Would-be respondents therefore need to go to the 98 page Report on the subject commissioned, and published in March 2015, by the IPO, for some more detail about the pros and cons of the proposal. While there is no denying that online piracy remains a significant problem, one can’t help feeling that this has more than a hint of political grand-standing. The former MP and IP advisor to the Prime Minister, Mike Weatherley put…

High Court quashes UK’s right to private copy Regulations
Copyright / August 2015

COPYRIGHT All areas     The High Court in London has quashed provisions in the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014 introduced by the UK government in October 2014 to allow members of the public to lawfully copy CDs and other copyright material bought for their own private use. In June in  BASCA v Secretary of State for Innovation and Skills [2015] EWHC 1723 (Admin) the High Court ruled against the UK Government in a Judicial Review brought by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the Musicians’ Union (MU) and UK Music. These three bodies challenged the Government’s decision to introduce a private copying exception into UK copyright law, arguing that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to rightholders in line with European law. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said when introducing the new regulations that they would cause only zero or insignificant harm, thus making compensation unnecessary. But Mr Justice Green, sitting in London, ruled last month that the evidence relied on by the government simply did not justify the claim that the harm would be “de minimis”. The organisation that represents all sectors of the UK…

Doors and Neil Young songs pulled from BBC playlists due to digital rights complications
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, broadcasting     The BBC has warned staff not to play tracks by iconic artists including The Doors and Neil Young due to potential copyright infringement: the full list of songs, all controlled by Wixen Music, extends to recordings, covers and any samples of songs written or recorded by The Doors (Morrison/Manzarek/Densmore/Krieger), Journey (Cain/Perry/Schon) and Neil Young   The removal of the tracks from playlists is because “some rights holders have removed their rights from the MCPS collective agreement… until a new agreement can be reached, we cannot use songs owned by them without a breach of copyright” with an internal BBC memo saying that the publisher in question no longer wanted “wished to be party to the MCPS’s collective licensing arrangements” Bonnie Raitt is also on the excluded list although her works are not represented by Wixen Music. The BBC’s legal department say:   You can NOT use tracks by these composers on the radio and/or online.  You can NOT use tracks by these composers whether they are originals or covers.  You can NOT use the lyrics. You can NOT put performances using these compositions on line.  You can NOT use tracks which include samples of…

AFM takes Sony to court over musician’s film royalties
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing, Film & TV   The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) has filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment for ‘repeatedly violating its collective bargaining agreement’ – the Sound Recording Labor Agreement – in an action is brought under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. Among the alleged contract violations cited in the suit is recording work on Michael Jackson’s This Is It, a 2009 film documenting Jackson rehearsing and preparing for the series of live concerts shortly before his death. The law suit states that Sony called musicians for a recording session claiming it was for a “record” when the actual purpose was to lay down a film score for This Is It. The Sound Recording Labor Agreement (which Sony has signed up to) prohibits recording film scores. Musicians have been unable to collect residuals for the movie soundtrack. AFM International President Ray Hair said the AFM Motion Picture Agreement should have been used. The suit also charges Sony with refusing to make new use payments on a number of other projects including Pitbull’s 2012 version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and sampling of Jackson songs like “Billie Jean” and “Man in the Mirror”…

Prince and the Toddler – a universal case of forgotten fair use?
Copyright , Internet / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     Cast your minds back to 2007 and you might remember that Prince (or even ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’)(or ‘Squiggle’ being more unkind)(or Prince Roger Nelson, the 58 year old rock star) persuaded his publisher, Universal Music, to take down a slightly blurry user generated video on YouTube of a toddler dancing to a snippet from his song (and recording) “Let’s Go Crazy”. The mum who uploaded the video, Stephanie Lenz, was not amused. In fact Prince had publicly said in a September 2007 statement that he intended to “reclaim his art on the internet”. Lenz was put on notice that her use of Prince’s music violated the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and that if she violated it again, she could lose her YouTube account and any videos she’d uploaded to it. Now the case has reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case that has all the trappings of the a PR fiasco for the Purple One: “The video bears all the hallmarks of a family home movie,” court documents said. “[I]t is somewhat blurry, the sound quality is poor, it was filmed with an ordinary digital video camera,…

Official One Direction re-mix competition prompts infringement takedowns
Copyright / August 2015

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     Techdirt alerts us to a badly backfiring competition organised by Sony, One Directon’s record label, which resulted in entrants’ masterpieces being removed from Soundcloud by … errrrmm, Sony. Soundcloud has long been a key place for DJs and remixers to upload their works but has had a fairly testing relationship with the major record labels  – and now as Techdirt opine, Soundcloud has “clearly ratcheted up its takedown procedures leading to many vocal complaints from angry Soundcloud users.” The competition was advertised as this: Ready to make your mark in the music industry? Well here is your chance – One Direction are inviting remixers and producers from the UK to remix “Steal My Girl” the first single from their upcoming album FOUR, slated for release on November 17th, 2014. So, UK-producer and songwriter named Lee Adams did his remix, on the clear undrstanding the competition ws organised by One Direction and their label, Sony Music – so not a chance of copyright infringement (right?). The stems for remixing were released on Soundcloud. The rules of the contest required entrants to upload their remixes on Soundcloud… and that’s exactly what Adams did. And yet those works still…

Thank God/IFPI It’s Friday – New Music Fridays have arrived
Business / August 2015

BUSINESS Recorded Music This update is from Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)   Friday 10th July 2015 a.k.a the start of New Music Fridays, came and went and the world did not implode.   To remind readers, on 26th February 2015, the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) announced that following “consultation with artists, musicians unions, records companies and retailers…the release day for new music will be aligned internationally on a Friday”[1]. This also saw the move of the Official BBC Radio 1 Chart show to a Friday, which has aired on a Sunday since 1987[2].   There were a whole host of people (especially in the USA – seriously, check Twitter) who were outraged that the music industry had the audacity to synchronise the release of new music across the globe to one specific day – a Friday.   But the IFPI and music industry’s reasons for making the change were both commendable and all encompassing; “As well as helping music fans, the move will benefit artists who want to harness social media to promote their new music. It also creates the opportunity to re-ignite excitement and a sense of occasion around the release of new music”[3]. They also had the hope it would “reduce…

Ukunono, The Battle of the Ukulele Orchestras Plays its Last Tune
Artists , Trade Mark / August 2015

TRADE MARK Artistes   From the IP Kat and by this is written Jani Inhalainen   I thoroughly  enjoyed  Jeremy’s wonderful lounge read on the Sofaworks case. The discussion is however far from over, since here comes another case, dealing with something far smaller than sofas: ukuleles .  The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain v Clausen & Another (t/a the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra) [2015] EWHC 1772 , decided just a mere two days ago, concerned a UK-based ukulele  orchestra, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (UOGB), who have, since the mid 1980s, garnered some fame due to their unconventional and humorous takes on rock songs through the musical offerings of the ukulele and unusual garb in doing so. They attained  this fame especially within the UK and Germany through their eccentric performances.   And as with any classic music related story, a rival must emerge. Yellow Promotions, a partnership comprising of Erwin Clausen and Dieter Tings, operated another ukulele  outfit called the The United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra (UKUO), which was created by Mr. Tings and Peter Moss, a professional musician and part-time ukulele  enthusiast. UKUO comprised of British musicians, but was based in Germany. UOGB owns the Community trade mark (CTM) “THE UKULELE ORCHESTRA OF GREAT BRITAIN” (No. 009477341), having registered it for a specific set of services under class 41,…

Stafford Borough Council fined £20,000 after Tallescope collapse
Health & Safety , Live Events / August 2015

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   Stafford Borough Council has been fined £20,000 after an incident at a theatre in which a worker suffered fractured bone in his back. Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard that two employees at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre were using a tallescope (a telescopic aluminium manually operated work platform, used for one-person spot access) to undertake high level work to stage curtains and projector. One of the workers, Mark Elkin, 33, was in the caged working platform at the top of the tallescope, approximately 4.5 metres high, as his colleague manoeuvred it around the stage to relocate it when the apparatus overturned. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, told the court the incident on 16 July 2014 should never have happened and the court was told that applicable guidelines had been contravened on many previous occasions. The court heard no suitable risk assessment had been carried out for the use of the tallescope at the theatre. If it had, the manufacturer’s instructions on a warning label on the apparatus stating it should not be rolled with men or materials on platform should have been highlighted. Mr Elkin suffered a fracture at the base of the…

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

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

Japan lifts dancing ban
Licensing , Live Events / August 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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