What do the European Commission’s moves on copyright really mean for the music industry?
Copyright , Internet / September 2016
EU

COPYRIGHT Online   In the context of its Digital Single Market Strategy, the EU Commission is currently engaged in a discussion of whether the liability principles and rules contained in the E-Commerce Directive should be amended – and the focus of commentators has shifted to how hosting providers have been increasingly using ‘safe harbour immunity’ in Article 14 – an alleged abuse which has led to a distortion of the online marketplace, and the resulting ‘value gap’ suggested by some right holders. A proposal has been recently advanced in France advocating the removal – at a European Union level – of the safe harbour protection for hosting providers that give access to copyright works,  to enable the effective enforcement of copyright and related rights in the digital environment, particularly on platforms that disseminate protected content. In particular, the French document considers that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has erred in its interpretation and application of relevant principles of online intermediary liability.   Statewatch has now leaked a draft version of the Commission Staff Working Document – Impact Assessment on the modernisation of EU copyright rules and this appears to suggest some of the areas where changes might made: In relation…

Judgment against Cox opens up ISP liability in the USA
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / September 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet   Cox Communications has been ordered to pay a $25 million dollar penalty for copyright infringements to the music rights management company BMG by a federal judge. The ruling follows a jury decision which found Cox liable for illegal movie and music downloads by its customers.   The Eastern Virginia District Court dismissed Cox’s appeal of the earlier verdict, and ordered Cox to pay BMG $25m in damages for copyright infringement – a ruling which may have widespread repercussions for online copyright infringement in the US. The court decided that Cox did not do enough to stop users pirating music from BMG, and therefore did not qualify for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ‘safe harbor’ protections. Crucially, BMG provided evidence that its agent, Rightscorp,  had identified individual infringers and then alerted Cox to their wrongdoing – which Cox then failed to act on.  In a statement, Rightscorp said: “For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned US internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk of incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights.” adding “Over that time, many ISPs have taken the position that it…

200+ Artists Support the “Blurred Lines” Appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Some 212 musicians have attached their names to a brief supporting Pharrell, Robin Thicke and TI’s appeal in the “Blurred Lines” copyright case, including Earth Wind & Fire, R Kelly, John Oates, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, film composer Hans Zimmer, Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith, Juicy J, the Go-Go’s, Frank Ocean collaborator Malay, Jennifer Hudson, Train’s Patrick Monahan, the production duo Stargate, Aloe Blacc, Jean Baptiste and Kiesza. The amicus brief echoes the concerns many artists and commentators have voiced since a Los Angeles jury determined that “Blurred Lines” plagiarised Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” – that the songs were not actually similar (even if the sound recording ‘vibe’ was and “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” have completely different melodies and song structures, and do not share any lyrics or “a sequence of even two chords played in the same order and for the same duration.” The brief reads: “The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works ” and “All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre. By eliminating…

Appeal filed in ‘Blurred Lines’ case
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   It comes as no surprise that Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and TI have filed their appeal against the verdict in the ‘Blurred Lines’ case that saw them ordered to pay $5.3m (reduced from the orginal $7.3 million) and pay over 50% of songwriting and publishing revenues to the family of Marvin Gaye, after a jury ruled last year that their song copied Gaye’s 1977 hit ‘Got to Give It Up’. Lawyers for the trio filed their opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on 24th August, arguing that “if left to stand, the Blurred Lines verdict would chill musical creativity and inhibit the process by which later artists draw inspiration from earlier artists to create new popular music” and at the heart of their appeal is the argument that the Judge and indeed the jury should have simply considered the sheet music – the “deposit copy” filed with the US copyright office – and not been influenced by the actual recordings of either song. The “Blurred Lines” writers assert that when the court examined the two songs before the trial,  Judge John A. Kronstadt should have ruled that the case was not worthy of trial….

Belgian promoters react with fury to planned tariff rise
Copyright , Live Events / September 2016
Belgium

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Belgian promoters have reacted with fury to an increase in festival tariffs announced by local performance rights organisation (PRO) Sabam (Société d’Auteurs Belge/Belgische Auteurs Maatschappij) which is planned for 1 January 2017. The rates shake-up will primarily affect larger festivals, which currently benefit from a discount in Sabam’s standard tariff of 6% on box-office receipts. The lowest rate is currently 2.5%, for festivals with box office that exceeds €3.2 million. Flemish-language paper De Morgen says this will rise to around 3.5%   Live Nation Belgium’s Herman Schueremans, promoter of Rock Werchter and TW Classic, calls Sabam “unreasonable” and says the Sabam wants to “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” with the end of the current licence discount. Schueremans pointed to the UK’s tariff of 3% of gross box-office receipts.  In turn, the UK the Association of Independent Festivals has recently suggested a reduction in the UK Tariff LP for live events (which is also under review by PRS for Music) to reflect the unique position of multi stage and multi artist outdoor events and that that PRS for Music do not taking in consideration that many festivals are actually multi-arts events or that not…

Solfest survives police licence challenge
Licensing , Live Events / September 2016
UK

LICENSING Live events sector     Solfest which takes place near Silloth in Cumbria (August 26-28) will go ahead despite a request from the Police to revoke the event’s licence, saying organisers had failed to provide a detailed event management plan in enough time. In a report to Allerdale Council’s licensing panel members, Superintendent Gary Slater said “It is the submission of Cumbria Constabulary that the event organisers are unable to satisfy the event safety group or the constabulary that they have the plans, capacity and capability to maintain public safety, protect children from harm, prevent crime and disorder and prevent public nuisance.” The Panel has the power to revoke the festival’s licence and stop it going ahead. It can also modify the licence’s conditions, remove the premises’ supervisor, suspend the licence for three months or exclude a licensable activity from the licence. Allerdale Council have allowed the event to continue but have sent the Festival’s organising committee a written warning.   However, one of London’s biggest nightclubs has closed its doors for the foreseeable future. It comes after two teenagers died of suspected drug overdoses in the last nine weeks. Fabric in Farringdon initially announced it was closing for the weekend…

Sydney’s ‘lock out’ laws take a knock
Licensing , Live Events / September 2016
Australia

LICENSING Live events sector     The Supreme Court of New South Wales has ruled that Sydney venues are exempt from New South Wales’s controversial ‘lock-out laws’ which were introduced by the New South Wales (NSW) government in 2014 and require that music venues, nightclubs, bars and hotels lock their doors at 1.30am and not serve drinks past 3.00 in a bid to curb alcohol-related violence. The legislation has been attacked by a number of prominent Australians as illogical and damaging to the music industry. This case was brought by the owners of the Smoking Panda bar who persuaded the Court that  the New South Wales Justice Department lacked the authority to subject to the city to the 1.30 curfew. The bar now joins tourist areas and hotels which are already exempt from the lock-outs, The Smoking Panda’s exemption was cancelled after an investigation found some bar patrons were not hotel guests.   In addition to live music venues, Supreme Court judge Natalie Adams also ruled strip clubs should be exempt, stating the laws are “not a proper exercise of the regulation-making power conferred upon the governor [of New South Wales]”. Lock-out laws continue to apply to other establishments. The…

Is Hackney using underhand methods to close down the night-time industries?
Licensing , Live Events / September 2016
UK

LICENSING / PRIVACY Live events sector     Thousands of clubbers have had their names shared secretly with the Metropolitan Police. The 200-capacity Studio Spaces was granted an alcohol licence by Hackney Council in January 2014, on the condition that director Yuval Hen supply the Metropolitan police and the council with a list of everyone attending events of 40 people or more 48 hours in advance. The Hackney Gazette reports that Hen initially complied, but later became aware that he was the only licensee in the area having to hand over names. He has since relaunched the venue as a ‘co-working space’. Hen told IQ magazine “The conditions killed us. We got lots of cancellations from people saying, ‘We don’t want to give you the guest list.’ It’s a nightmare – we can’t run a business like that with only 40 people allowed inside.” Hackney Council tells the Islington Gazette that the ruling was made to ensure the venue didn’t exceed its 24 permitted events of over 40 people. Nappter Tandy, who runs promoter Turf Series, has put on shows at Studio Spaces and says he was unaware guestlists were being sent to police saying “It’s extremely disappointing councils like Hackney…

Live Nation faces claims from injured fans
Health & Safety , Live Events / September 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector     Fourteen fans and three workers are suing promoter Live Nation and performers Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa over injuries sustained after a fence collapsed at a concert. A total of 42 people were injured in the incident at the BB&T Pavilion amphitheatre in New Jersey on August 5. The lawsuit provides a list of injuries which included six concussions, one fractured vertebrae, a fractured collarbone, two head wounds closed with staples, broken bones in the wrist and foot, and numerous lacerations, contusions and recurring head and neck pain. Attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi said on behalf of the victims he represents: “Our clients, and many others who attended the concert, were seriously injured because of the negligent conduct of the defendants who failed miserably in their duty to protect the audience and workers from harm”. Another attorney acting for victims, Steven G. Wigrizer, said: “Every plaintiff has asked us to do all we can to help prevent a re-occurrence through the litigation. Pure luck – not thoughtful planning by Live Nation or anyone else – is the only reason nobody died in that terrifying incident.”. The claimants allege that there was “a clearly hazardous stage configuration…

Hard Rock cleared in Akoi incident
Health & Safety , Live Events / September 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   A jury has rejected a concert-goer’s claim for $10.7 million in damages against Hard Rock Hotel after she was injured at a Steve Aoki show when the DJ leapt into an inflatable raft in the crowd. Brittany Hickman, then in her mid twenties, allegedly suffered a concussion and a broken neck when she became trapped under the inflatable raft during a performance at Hard Rock in San Diego in 2012. According to Courtroom View Network, Hickman’s attorneys said Hard Rock should have known Aoki would leap into the crowd and should have taken steps to protect the audience. Hard Rock argued it was given no warning Aoki would perform the stunt, and claimed Hickman’s injuries weren’t as severe as she alleged. Her attorneys presented multiple expert witnesses who testified that the impact left her with a traumatic brain injury requiring a lifetime of costly medical care, but during his closing argument on behalf of the hotel Ernest Weiss of Klinedinst PC dismissed those experts as hired guns brought in to secure a large verdict. Hickman’s attorney John Gomez told the jury that her concussion left her with an impaired memory, slowed mental processing, migraines and vertigo….

Hard Music California leaves three dead in 2016
Health & Safety , Live Events / September 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY / LIABILITY Live events sector   The Hard Music Summer Festival in California has left three people dead. The festival, in its ninth year, takes place at the Auto Club Speedway in San Bernardino County, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. The music festival experienced two tragic deaths last year in 2015  Some 325 arrests were made at this year’s festival and Sheriff’s officials told KTLA that drugs including marijuana and methamphetamine were confiscated by the police. Reports say that the festival organisers have made attempts to create a safer environment for concert-goers, This year attendees were able to seek medical attention while at the festival if they had taken drugs without legal consequences. Water was readily available and shade was provided if people needed a break from the hot California sun. Temperatures reached the high ninties reports say. Organisers issued a statement saying ““We were deeply saddened to learn about the deaths of three people who attended the festival this weekend. While the causes of the deaths have not yet been determined, we ask everyone to keep them in their prayers. Our sincerest thoughts and condolences are with their family and friends.”   The three…

FTC takes a look at hidden endorsements
Artists , Competition / September 2016
USA

COMPETITION Artistes   The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is planning to regulate ‘hidden’ endorsements by celebrities who promote brands and products through selfies, blogs, Facebook and Instagram postings, and other social media platforms  – without ever revealing they are being paid. The Federal Trade Commission has also said that hashtags like #ad, #sp, #sponsored – common forms of disclosure – are not always enough. The FTC will be putting the onus on the advertisers to make sure they comply. Michael Ostheimer, a deputy in the FTC’s Ad Practices Division said: “We’ve been interested in deceptive endorsements for decades and this is a new way in which they are appearing,” adding “We believe consumers put stock in endorsements and we want to make sure they are not being deceived.” The FTC had instigated a case against Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc., which was settled, over charges that it deceived customers by paying internet influencers such as PewDiePie (who has about 50 million followers on YouTube) to promote the video game Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor with positive reviews, without disclosing that they were paid and told how to promote it. In March the FTC issued a complaint against Lord & Taylor for paying fashion influencers…

Sony buyout of Sony/ATV gets EU consent
Competition , Music Publishing / September 2016
EU

COMPETITION Music Publishing   MBW reports that Sony Corporation has been granted unconditional permission by the European Commission to complete its buyout of the Jackson Estate’s 50% stake in Sony/ATV. The deal faced opposition from quarters including Warner Music Group and indie label body IMPALA, but EU regulators have now ruled in Sony’s favour saying “The transaction will not materially increase Sony’s market power vis-a-vis digital music providers compared to the situation prior to the merger.”  Sony/ATV is the biggest publisher in the world in terms of the volume of copyrights it controls. Across both its own repertoire and its administration of the catalogue of EMI Music Publishing, Sony manages over 4.2m songs. Opponents to Sony’s acquisition of Sony/ATV argued that its subsequent ‘control share’ in europe would distort the music marketplace. Back in 2012, both Warner and IMPALA lobbied against Universal Music Group’s £1.2bn ($1.9bn) acquisition of EMI Music in the EU. Although the deal ultimately went through, UMG was forced to sell Parlophone Label Group which included the catalogues of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Blur, Kate Bush and Coldplay –and which Warner Music Group brought for what now looks like the bargain price of £487m ($740m). And in 2012, the European Commission made Sony…

London local authorities battle over plans for more common concerts
Licensing , Live Events / August 2016
UK

LICENSING Live events sector     IQ reports that two London councils are at loggerheads over plans hold more concerts and large-scale live events on Clapham Common. The the 220-acre park is managed and maintained by Lambeth Council, but the South half of the Park lies in neighbouring Wandsworth, and the latter council has voiced “serious concerns” over a new events strategy proposed by Lambeth that paves the way for the borough to hold up to eight shows a year on Clapham Common, as well as eight each in four other ‘event zones’ (Streatham, North Lambeth, Brixton and Norwood). Lambeth has also approved the increase in maximum sound levels on the common and three other parks. The new music noise level (MNL) will be 75dB L(A), with a maximum low-frequency music noise level (LFMNL) of 90 dB L(C). Wandsworth Council’s environment spokesman, Councillor Jonathan Cook, criticised Lambeth for “burying” the recommendations “some 300 pages into a 520-page” report and says more “noisy music festivals and other loud events” will negatively affect those living near the Common. Mr Cook said: “Instead of trying to conceal the level of opposition that exists to these proposals and trying to sneak them through without the public’s…

Ban on audience pyrotechnics moves closer in the UK
Licensing , Live Events / August 2016
UK

LICENSING Live events sector   MPs have supported a law banning flares and fireworks from UK music concerts and festivals. Conservative MP Nigel Adams put forward the amendment to the Police and Crime Bill, which would make it illegal for concert-goers to carry pyrotechnics including flares, fireworks and smoke bombs into a venue. Flares have been banned at sporting events since 1985. It is a criminal offence to enter or attempt to enter a football ground while in possession of a flare, smoke bomb or firework, punishable by up to three months in prison. The same penalties would now apply to concerts. Football fans in breach of the law have also found themselves banned from football grounds for up to six years. Currently, it is not illegal for fans to bring smoke bombs, flares and fireworks into a concert venue unless it can be proved they intend to cause harm to other people. UK Music, Live Nation and the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) have all supported the move, with Bestival co-founder Rob da Bank saying “there are increasingly more incidents and the time is right for the Government to act and support organisers in minimising risk” and  UK Music CEO Jo Dipple said “Safety…

Appeal of Mason’s outdoor entertainment law is on the way
Licensing , Live Events / August 2016
USA

LICENSING Live events sector   Residents opposed to music concerts at Marty’s Driving Range in Mason plan to appeal the Board of Selectmen’s denial of a new special town meeting to reconsider a recently approved zoning amendment that will allow the driving range to bring back outdoor entertainment. The move has split the town, which voted 240 to 165 in favour of the move at a special town meeting to amend the town’s zoning regulations to allow by special exception seasonal outdoor entertainment use up to three times a week from Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend, ending no later than 11 p.m. on holidays and weekends and 10 p.m. on weekdays. 39 percent of the town’s 1,028 registered voters cast a vote.   Initially there were no provisions in town ordinances regarding outdoor entertainment, so the Range’s owners consulted with police about appropriate times. When some residents expressed concerns about the noise and parking, town officials told the venue to stopm and apply for a variance.   At an initial re-hearing of the already approved zoning amendment, attorney Peter J. Nicosia who represents opponents of the re-zoning reportedly said the zoning amendment was too vague, with no limits on sound or light….

IsoHunt founder finally settles with the Canadian content industries
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2016
Canada
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, film, recorded music   One of Canada’s longest-running copyright infringement lawsuits has ended with a judge in Vancouver announcing a $65 million settlement in the IsoHunt case that dates back to 2008. According to various reports, Gary Fung, founder of isoHunt Web Technologies Inc, which was found to have infringed music and film companies’ copyrights in both Canada and the USA , shared music files via isoHunt, a network of BitTorrent file sharing sites.  In the US, a federal district court found isoHunt liable for copyright infringement against the Motion Picture Association of America for sharing illegally downloaded movies. In 2010, more than 20 Canadian and international music companies sued isoHunt and Fung for “massive copyright infringement. In 2013, the US federal court of appeals upheld the 2009 ruling, isoHunt and Fung entered into an agreement to stop all international operations and agreed to a $110 million settlement. The British Columbia Supreme Court has now ruled against isoHunt and Fung, ordering him to pay $55 million CAD in damages for copyright infringement and an additional $10 million (CAD) for punitive damages, and ordering Fung to agree to never again be involved in a service that provides stolen or pirated…

Stairway to Heaven decision to be appealed
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The estate of musician Randy California, of L.A. rock band Spirit, intends to appeal the jury verdict last month that found that Led Zeppelin did not lift music that formed the basis for the group’s hit “Stairway to Heaven” from an earlier Spirit instrumental, “Taurus”. The appeal against the unanimous verdict in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles will challenge the conclusion that even though Zeppelin songwriters Jimmy Page and Robert Plant may have heard “Taurus” before they composed “Stairway,” the songs were not musically similar enough to rise to the level of copyright infringement. The claim came four decades after the songs were written. Immediately following the verdict, Led Zeppelin’s  Jimmy Page and Robert Plant released a statement saying that they were glad to see the issue resolved saying “We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favour, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” they said. “We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.” Plaintiff’s attorney Francis Malofiy later claimed he lost his case on a technicality, insisting…

Google don’t need to filter ‘torrent’ searches in France
Copyright , Internet / August 2016
France

COPYRIGHT Internet   The High Court in Paris has held that search engines Google and Bing are not required to automatically filter “torrent” related searches to prevent piracy. The court said that the proposed filter, requested by the local music industry group SNEP, would be too broad, ineffective, and target legitimate content as well.   SNEP had argued that, when paired with the names of three artists it represented, “torrent” related searches predominantly link to pirated content. To counter this, they demanded a filter that would block results for these searches for the keyword “torrent,” as well as websites that include the same word in their domain name, basing the request on Article L336-2 of France’s intellectual property code, which states that “all appropriate measures” are permitted to prevent copyright infringement. Microsoft had warned that the broad filtering system requested by the music group would be imprecise, disproportionate and inefficient. The Court had to balance the rights of content owners to implement anti-piracy measures against the rights of individual Internet users including  freedom of expression and communication and the court found that “SNEP’s requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration…

Virgin told to implement three strikes in Ireland – but who pays?
Copyright , Internet / August 2016
EU
Ireland

COPYRIGHT Internet     The Court of Appeal in Ireland has ruled that Ireland’s second largest internet service provider, Virgin Media, must take steps to deal with illegal music downloading, upholding a March 2015 High Court decision that required UPC (since taken over by Virgin) to set up a ‘three strikes’ regime whereby infringers of copyright are identified, warned and their service withdrawn if they do not desist. Subject to a minor variation, the High Court order in favour of Sony, Warner and Universal companies should apply, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said on behalf of the three-judge appeal court. That variation is that a five year review of the regime would not apply.   Virgin would be entitled to apply to the court again if there are fundamental changes in circumstances or other significant changes which may merit a change in the order, or even its discharge, the court said. UPC/Virgin had appealed the High Court decision arguing, among other reasons, that because it (UPC) was not the infringer of the copyrighted music, the court had no jurisdiction to make the orders it had. For the appeals court, Mr Justice Hogan said the order was necessary and it satisfied the requirements of a 2001 EU…

Apple suggests new royalty rate for streaming music
Australia
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet, artistes     Apple has filed a new proposal with the US Copyright Royalty Board which it says it hopes will “simplify” songwriting royalties in the States by 2018. Apple has suggested that all on-demand streaming services should pay songwriters a statutory rate of 9.1 Cents every 100 plays – a per-stream rate of $0.00091, or $910 per million streams, or $910,000 for a billion – thought to be more that Spotify’s ‘free’ ad supported platform would generate.   And in Australia, commercial radio broadcasters will have to pay a licence fee for songs streamed over the internet after a Copyright Tribunal ruling. The long-running legal battle between the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) and Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) finally reached a conclusion after nearly seven years. CRA had previously argued that as it already pays a licence fee for music for radio and shouldn’t have to pay again for making  that broadcast available over the internet. Now the Copyright Tribunal has finalised the terms of the scheme where commercial radio broadcasters will pay simulcast licence fees for songs streamed over the internet.   And Screen Producers Australia (SPA) has reached agreement  with performers for the broadcasting, repeats and…

Were Sony’s MFN deals with Rdio anti-competitive?
Competition , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COMPETITION Recorded music   Sony Music has said that the suggestion of antitrust violations are “nothing but speculation and conjecture” and a pretext for avoiding $17 million claim and allegations of fraud by Rdio, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since November 2015. Rdio received $75 million from Pandora for the sale of assets – and Sony want their share – but is now facing some serious allegations of anti competitive behaviour from Rdio. Rdio was an online music streaming service that offered ad-supported free streaming and ad-free subscription streaming services in 85 countries. It was available as a website and via apps for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone mobile devices, which could stream music from Rdio’s servers or download music for offline playback.   The Hollywood Reporter reports that Rdio has retained Winston & Strawn to investigate whether Sony for colluded with Universal and Warner Music in the streaming music market.  Sony has itself issued legal proceedings against three of Rdio’s top executives, alleging that before Rdio declared bankruptcy, the company made misrepresentations, false statements and concealments in order to avoid paying millions of dollars for streaming music from Sony artists including Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce…

Spotify launch anti-trust claims against Apple
Competition , Internet / August 2016
EU
UK
USA

COMPETITION Internet   Music streaming platform Spotify has accused Apple of using its control of the iOS platform and App Store to keep the latest Spotify app out of the iOS ecosystem, in a move that favours its own Apple Music service. Spotify said that Apple rejected a new version of the firm’s app from the App Store, citing various technicalities. Apple has insisted that Spotify’s app did not conform to “business model rules”, and demanded that Spotify use Apple’s own billing system “to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions”. Companies such as Spotify have sought to sidestep Apple’s App Store cut by encouraging consumers to sign up for their services online. Apple forbids developers from promoting alternative payment methods within their apps. This is a requirement of all app developers who wish to sell apps on Apple’s App Store. iOS is a closed platform, and so Spotify say there is no choice but to comply. Apple takes a 30 per cent fee for the privilege, which Spotify is forced to pass on to customers. Spotify claimed that this makes its service appear uncompetitive. But Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell countered that the company deserves a cut of transactions in the App Store for its…

DofJ’s decisions on music licensing upset everyone
Competition , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COMPETITION Music publishing   In a major setback to music publishers, the Justice Department decided this week it will not alter a decades-old system that requires royalty collection societies ASCAP and BMI to license songs to everyone at a fixed rate.  The Justice Department dealt another potential blow to the music industry by calling for so-called “100% licensing.” In cases involving songs with multiple songwriters. This would require ASCAP and BMI to provide a license for the whole song, and then apportion revenues amongst the different writers. The heads of two of the world’s biggest publishing companies have now both said that they aren’t happy with the recent ruling. Universal Music Publishing Group CEO Jody Gerson and Warner/Chappell boss Jon Platt want publishers to be allowed to negotiate digital rights outside of blanket licenses offered by Collection Societies joining Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier in declaring the position taken by the DofJ is deeply disappointing, and a threat to the livelihood of songwriters. The DofJ confirmed existing consent decrees – effectively a blanket licence – tat have governed ASCAP and BMI since 1941 and leaving them intact will mean publishers remain unable to partially withdraw their repertoire from the PROs in order to negotiate…

Michigan court finds that a free stream is not a ‘rent, lend or sale’
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT / PRIVACY Internet, recorded music   The Michigan Court of Appeals has confirmed that music service Pandora didn’t violate a 20 year old Michigan privacy law by allegedly disclosing information about users of its free service to Facebook. in a unanimous decision the court said that the state’s Video Privacy Protection Act doesn’t apply when companies stream music to users for free. That law prohibits companies that rent, lend or sell music (as well as books and videos) from disclosing customers’ identities without their consent, upholding U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown in Oakland, California who had dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that Michigan’s law doesn’t apply when companies stream tracks. She said the law only applies to companies that lend, rent or sell material. Michigan resident Peter Deacon had begun the action against Pandora, a potential class-action, saying that Pandora wrongly disclosed his music-listening history to all of his Facebook contacts that also used Pandora. In 2010 Pandora partnered with Facebook for the first version of its “instant personalization” programme which automatically shared Facebook users data with outside companies. People could opt out, but at launch the feature operated by default. Having lost at first instance, Deacon appealed to the 9th Circuit Court…

Florida’s Supreme Court to look at pre-72 copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Florida’s Supreme Court will now hear the three year old class action brought by former members of the Turtles after the The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday certified questions of state law to the Florida Supreme Court i Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, known as Flo & Eddie, filed suit in California, New York and Florida against satellite radio operator Sirius XM, arguing that Pre-1972 sound recordings are protected by a patchwork of state and common laws meaning they would need to consent to their recordings being played an should be paid for this. Whilst Flo and Eddie were successful in California and New York, they failed at first instance in Florida, prompting the initial appeal. In Florida U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles decided to rule in favour of SiriusXM. The judge said he understood why his judicial colleagues in other states ruled differently, noting that California and New York are creative centres of culture, and laws have been enacted there to protect artistic rights, and there have been prior cases that have touched upon the present controversy. But Judge Gayles said that “Florida is different” saying “There is no specific Florida legislation covering sound…

Russian collection society chief arrested on fraud charges
Criminal Law / August 2016
Russia

CRIMINAL LAW Collective Management   Sergei Fedotov, head of the Russian author’s rights collecting society RAO, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.  Russian news service RIA Novosti said that Fedotov has been accused of funnelling assets worth of over ₽500 million rubles ($7.7 million) out of the organisation. RAO’s office and Fedotov’s home were searched by police on June 27th after which Fedotov was brought in for questioning. On June 28, The Tagansky court in Moscow sanctioned Fedotov’s arrest, rejecting his lawyer’s plea for bail. RAO issued a statement saying: “RAO’s general director Sergei Fedotov and the organization’s other employees are fully cooperating with the investigation, helping it to find out the truth” adding “We are sure that a qualified investigation will lead to establishing no wrongdoing in Sergei Fedotov’s action.” The move comes AFTER rumours of corruption involving real estate surfaced in the wake of the 2015 announcement that RAO would merge with two other collecting societies, VOIS, which deals with neighbouring rights, and RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of electronic devices that can be used for copying content. That merger was seemingly supported by the country’s communications ministry but VOIS objected. This time Nikolai Nikiforov, the communications minister, was quoted by RIA…

Utsick faces substantial jail term
Criminal Law , Live Events / August 2016
USA

CRIMINAL LAW Live events sector   Jack Utsick, the former concert promoter who was charged with defrauding an estimated 3,300 investors out of nearly US$300 million, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a mail fraud charge. Many who lost substantial sums were former airline pilots, Utsick’s own former profession. Prosecutors say that that Utsick, 73, who appeared in court in Miami, operated his promotion company, Worldwide Entertainment, as a “ponzi scheme”, repaying older investors with money from newer ones. Worldwide promoted tours by arena-filling artists such as The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, The Pretenders, Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac before being placed into administration amid mounting debts in 2006. A subsequent investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) discovered that Utsick had in reality lost money on most tours. Utsick departed for Brazil after the company failed, but was extradited to the US in 2014 after a protracted court battle, and since then has been in custody. Utsick will be sentenced on 23 August and has been ordered to repay $169m to Worldwide’s investors. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article52742440.html http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article83118357.html

Former SFX directors to face criminal charges?
Criminal Law , Live Events / August 2016
USA

BANKRUPTCY / CRIMINAL LAW Live events sector     The new management of SFX Entertainment – reported to be led by two senior creditors, investment firms Allianz and Axar Capital Management – have signalled their intention to bring charges against the company’s former directors, including ex-CEO Robert FX Sillerman. New documents, filed in the Delaware bankruptcy court, outline alternative post-bankruptcy plan for the dance music promotion group and says there may be a claim for damages for “breaches of fiduciary duty by former directors and officers of the debtors, and avoidance actions, such as fraudulent transfer claims under federal and state law”   SFX’s new management may also seek to recover “amounts reimbursed to Sillerman” during the bankruptcy process, as well as “licensing fees, employee compensation, a cash collateral release [and] certain settlement payments” and “the termination fee the company paid in connection with the termination of the merger agreement”, which relates to a failed 26 May 2015 merger between SFX Entertainment and two other companies forming part of Sillerman’s  EDM empire, SFXE Acquisition LLC and SFXE Merger Sub, Inc. The revised post-bankruptcy plan will go before US bankruptcy judge Mary F. Walrath for approval on 30 August. At the time…

Digitally re-mastered tracks are NOT pre-1972 copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   The Turtles may have done well in battering Sirius XM’s attempts to avoid paying royalties for the use of pre-1972 copyrights, but now CBS Radio has advanced an interesting new argument on the same topic – and a California judge has handed down a big ruling that could help “immunize” terrestrial radio operators and others from lawsuits and “upend many preconceived notions about copyright”. The decision from U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson comes in a dispute between ABS Entertainment, owner of recordings by Al Green and others, and CBS Radio, and was based on the concept that pre-1972 songs are protected under state law rather than federal law,  and therefore can’t be broadcast without permission (and payment). In reaction to the ABS lawsuit, CBS tried out a new response – it was not performing the original analogue recordings, but rather NEW digitally remastered versions that came out after 1972. Under this argument, the specifically performed works aren’t protected by state law, and CBS doesn’t have to pay. And the court agreed. More on Billboard here http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7392764/cbs-beats-lawsuit-pre-1972-songs-bold-copyright-argument http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/1972-and-all-that-but-does-turtles-win.html

German Constitutional Court sends sampling saga into another loop
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
Germany

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music   By Mark Schweizer In 1997, German music producer Moses Pelham took a two second sample from Kraftwerk’s 1977 song “Metall auf Metall” and used it as a continuous loop for the song “Nur mir” performed by Sabrina Setlur. In 2004, Kraftwerk sued Pelham for violation of their phonogram producers’ rights and obtained an injunction against the distribution of “Nur mir”. The case went all the way to the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), which held in 2008 that even sampling the “tiniest sliver” (“kleinste Tonfetzen”) of a record infringed the record producer’s right (§ 85(1) German Copyright Act). The defence of Article 24 Copyright Act (Freie Benutzung) was in principle applicable, but required that it was not possible to recreate the sampled sound without copying from the original recording. The BGH sent the case back to the lower court for the factual determination whether it was possible to recreate the sampled sound in the specific case. The lower court found that it was indeed possible for the average music producer to recreate the same sound without sampling, and in 2012, the BGH dismissed another appeal by Pelham against that decision. It namely held that its interpretation of the law did not violate the constitutional freedom of…

Is music sampling back in Vogue?
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   A US Appeals court has decided that Madonna did not violate copyright law when her producer allegedly used a short section of music taken from another recording for her hit song “Vogue”. The split 2-1 decision must  call into doubt the strict approach taken by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in the leading case of Bridgeport Music, Inc., et al. v. Dimension Films, et al 410 F.3d 792 (September 2004). There the court in Cincinnati posed the question “If you cannot pirate the whole sound recording, can you ‘lift’ or ‘sample’ something less than the whole?” The Court’s answer to this was in the negative” and the court added “Get a license or do not sample – we do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way.” But in this new case, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the horn segment at the heart of the copyright lawsuit  lasted less than a second and would not have been recognisable to a general audience. Judge Susan P. Graber said for the majority: “The horn hit occurs only a few times in ‘Vogue’ …. without careful attention, the horn hits are easy to miss.” The decision fits in neatly…

Sorry not sorry – Justin Bieber and Skrillex deny copying vocal loop to produce ‘Sorry’
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music   By Emma Perot writing for the IP Kat   Justin Bieber and Skrillex have been accused of copyright infringement by artist Casey Dienel, aka White Hinterland. The suit probably does not come as a complete surprise to the duo, as Dienel claimed that she contacted Bieber’s lawyers when “Sorry” was initially released, but did not receive a response.   Dienel alleged that Bieber and Skrillex, whose 2015 hit single ‘Sorry’ has received 1.4 billion hits on YouTube, copied her vocal loop from her 2014 song ‘Ring the Bell’. The allegedly copied segment can be heard in the first five seconds of each song. Skrillex and Bieber have both denied the claims on their Twitter accounts. If this claim goes to trial, it could be the 2016 edition of the infamous “Blurred Lines” dispute, which resulted in Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke being ordered to pay Marvin Gaye’s family $7.4 million USD for infringing copyright in his 1977 hit ‘Got to give it up’ (discussed on IPKat here). After the ‘Blurred lines’ case, this Kat would be surprised if Bieber’s lawyers took this case to trial, but let’s consider what Dienel would need to prove to win her claim for infringement:…

Sheeran claim puts ‘Blurred Lines’  back in focus
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Two musicians based in California are suing Ed Sheeran for $20m (£13.8m) over alleged copyrigt infringement of one of their songs in Sheerhan’s single ‘Photograph’. Martin Harrington and American Thomas Leonard claim ‘Photograph’ has a similar structure to their song, ‘Amazing’. The two songwriters allege Ed Sheeran’s 2015 ballad has the same musical composition to their track, which was released as Matt Cardle’s winning X Factor track in 2010. Harrington and Leonard say they wrote ‘Amazing’ in 2009. Ciurt filings include musical note comparison and chord breakdowns of the two songs, and the pair claim the chorus of Photograph shares 39 identical notes with their track. The court documents say that ‘Photograph’ has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide.   The claim also states that ‘Photograph’ features prominently in Hollywood drama Me Before You, released last week, as well as trailers for the film. Matt Cardle’s version of ‘Amazing’ has more than one million views on YouTube, while Ed Sheeran’s music video for ‘Photograph’ has 208 million Documents were filed on Wednesday at LA’s federal court in the Central District of California. Other named defendants being sued include Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid, who is credited as a co-writer on’ Photograph’, as well…

ARTICLE LINKS – the Led Zeppelin case
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
UK

COPYRIGHT Music publishing Led Zeppelin Wins Copyright Infringement Suit Over Opening Lick of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/led-zeppelin-wins-copyright-infringement-suit-opening-lick/story?id=40026259 Led Zeppelin cleared of stealing riff for Stairway to Heaven. Los Angeles jury finds Robert Plant and Jimmy Page did not steal the most famous passage from the 1971 anthem from the band Spirit http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/led-zeppelin-wins-copyright-infringement-suit-opening-lick/story?id=40026259 There may be a lady who’s sure that all that glitters is gold, but Thursday’s verdict from a Los Angeles jury in the “Stairway to Heaven” copyright infringement case says otherwise. http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2016/06/24/led-zeppelin-case-could-have-had-a-chilling-legal.html Led Zeppelin have won a copyright lawsuit that claimed they had plagiarized the music to their most celebrated song, “Stairway to Heaven.” A Los Angeles jury determined Thursday that the lawyer representing the estate of late guitarist Randy Wolfe, who played with the group Spirit, did not prove that the hard rockers lifted the song’s intro from Spirit’s 1968 instrumental “Taurus.” http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/led-zeppelin-prevail-in-stairway-to-heaven-lawsuit-20160623 Led Zeppelin Wins Copyright Infringement Suit Over Opening Lick of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ http://wtnh.com/2016/06/24/led-zeppelin-wins-copyright-infringement-suit-over-opening-lick-of-stairway-to-heaven/ UPDATE Lawyer Who Sued Led Zeppelin Suspended From Practicing Law https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2016/07/01/lawyer-led-zeppelin-suspended-law/

Does Axl’s photograph claim carry any weight?
Artists , Copyright / July 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, photography   Guns N Roses and now AC/DC frontman Axl Rose has filed six DCMA take down notices in what is seen as an attempt remove an unflattering photo of him from a 2010 Canadian concert from the web. The requests were filed on behalf of Rose by anti-piracy firm Web Sheriff, and all target examples of the same picture hosted on Blogspot and GoogleUserContent domains which have has spawned a series of ‘Fat Axl’ memes relating to the singer’s increased weight with labels such as ‘Sweet Pie of Mine’, ‘Take Me Down To the Bakery City’ and ‘Welcome to McDonalds’.   The original image was taken by Winnipeg Free Press photojournalist Boris Minkevich, who was initially unaware that any action was being taken over the image he snapped – and who is reported byTorrentFreak to have said that the only copyright being infringed is his: “The photo was stolen off our website with no permission granted by the Winnipeg Free Press”. However Web Sheriff told TorrentFreak that all photographers at the concert were said to have been required to sign an agreement passing copyright ownership of images taken to Rose’s company, The photographer cannot remember whether he signed the agreeement…

Slovakian music quotas to be tested
General / July 2016

BROADCASTING REGULATION Broadcasting   Slovakia’s General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár has said that he will test the constitutionality of state imposed broadcasting quotas. The obligatory quotas, introduced on April 1, 2016, force private radio stations to play 20 percent of Slovak musi,  which will rise to 25 percent as of 2017. Public radio must offer 30 percent now and 35 percent next year. The Prosecutors’s office say the quotas interfere with the ownership rights of broadcasters and distort the rules of competition. The Culture Ministry has reportedly said that it does not want to comment specifically on the challenge before it has studies the matter in detail. It added that the quotas were in compliance with the Slovak Constitution, and respect all principles of a legally consistent state. The Ministry is also of the opinion that the quota system does not threaten the right to free enterprise, as the law only stipulates the type of music to be played, while leaving the specific selection of individual tunes up to each broadcaster. http://spectator.sme.sk/c/20177785/constitutional-court-to-deal-with-quotas-for-slovak-music.html

New UK review of secondary ticketing leaves some disappointed
Competition , Live Events / July 2016
UK

COMPETITION Live events sector   The much-anticipated independent review of the UK’s secondary ticketing market, commissioned by the British government in October 201, has divided industry figures with its call for greater enforcement of the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) but no recommendation for any new legislation. Some provisions of the Act remain largely ignored, despite the Government introducing amendments to create greater transparency around secondary sales in 2015. The Act stipulates that consumers must be made aware of the original face value of tickets for secondary sale, any restrictions on the ticket and, where appropriate, standing or seating information. However, consumer group Which? had previously uncovered numerous examples where consumers were not provided with this information on al four of the main secondary ticketing sites, Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In! In his 227 page report, Professor Waterson has rejected the need for further legislation – but called for greater enforcement of existing measures. Management of acts such as Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Radiohead, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Noel Gallagher, and agents from CAA, ITB, UTA, Coda, X-ray Touring and 13 Artists have added their name to the statement, which reads: “Professor Waterson exposes a dysfunctional and under-regulated ticketing…

Kanye West’s ‘Famous’ music video: publicity rights vs the First Amendment
Artists , Image Rights / July 2016
USA

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes   By Emma Perot   Kanye West’s music video for “Famous” has sparked outrage for portraying naked celebrities in bed, in the form of life-like wax figures. It is not simply the nudity, but the individuals portrayed, which has led to criticism; Rihanna is seen lying next to former boyfriend and abuser, Chris Brown, alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby is featured, as well as Taylor Swift, Anna Wintour and Amber Rose. Subsequent to the release of the video, Kanye tweeted, “Can somebody sue me already #I’llwait” but later deleted it.   While Kanye waits, this Kat contemplates on whether publicity rights can help those featured (this Kat thinks specifically of Taylor Swift who, lying next to Kanye in the video, is also mentioned in the song lyrics, ““I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that b**ch famous.”). It is an unusual issue, as publicity rights are usually invoked by celebrities against companies who use them in unauthorised advertising and merchandising, rather than their celebrity peers. Also, there have been few cases which have been brought to protect moral rather than economic interests. An exception is Waits v Frito Lay, 978 F. 2d…

Roc Nation face claim for cancelled Rihanna show
Contract , Live Events / July 2016
Nigeria

CONTRACT Live events sector   A Nigerian concert promoter is suing Jay Z’s company Roc Nation for allegedly failing to pay back a US$160,000 deposit for a cancelled Rihanna show in Lagos. IQ report that The Barbadian singer is said to have pulled out of a May 2013 appearance in the Nigerian capital, booked by Chris Ubosi’s Megalectrics via Roc Nation, the Jay Z-owned label and production company. According to the New York Daily News, Megalectrics and Roc Nation agreed for Rihanna to perform a 65-minute set for $425,000, for which Ubosi made three deposit payments totalling $160,000. When Rihanna announced she had to postpone, Ubosi says he agreed as long as she listed a rescheduled date in her tour diary and on social media. The new date never surfaced, and Ubosi alleges that Jay Z – real name Shawn Carter – has ignored his repeated requests for a refund. However, a representative from Roc Nation toldTMZ: “Rihanna, Roc Nation nor anyone associated personally or professionally with either party was in contact with this person. Unfortunately this person was scammed. Rihanna nor Roc Nation collected any money for this event.” http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/06/scammed-nigerian-promoter-chris-ubosi-sues-jay-z-roc-nation-rihanna/#.V1hUivkrKM9     http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7407909/foo-fighters-lawsuit-lloyds-of-london-robertson-taylor-tour-cancellations

Foos fight insurance underwriters and broker for cancellation pay out
Contract , Live Events / July 2016
Sweden
UK
USA

CONTRACT Live events sector   Billboard reports that the Foo Fighters have accused Lloyd’s of London and insurance brokers Robertson Taylor of ‘despicable’ behaviour in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, alleging they have “failed to pay amounts that even they appear to recognize are due and owing” on insurance claims the band made on several shows cancelled during its 2015 world tour. The cancellations resulted firstly after Grohl broke his leg on June 12th, 2015, during a show in Sweden (a show that Grohl finished before going to hospital). The injury resulted in the cancellation of seven shows, three of which are at the core of the band’s complaint — two shows at London’s Wembley Stadium and one at Edinburgh’s BT Murrayfield Stadium. After his leg was treated, Grohl went on to perform 53 shows from the “throne” he designed (or crutches). The complaint says: “After paying certain amounts owed under the Cancellation Policy for four of the cancelled performances, [the insurers] began searching for ways to limit their payment obligations on the other three performances, including the two Wembley Stadium shows, which represented the largest potential gross income” for the band’s tour. The complaint continues,(insurance broker) “Robertson Taylor failed to…

Irish Judge says pop concerts are not ‘teetotaller conventions’
Licensing , Live Events / July 2016
Ireland

LICENSING Live events sector   An judge has rejected calls for alcohol to banned at a number of high-profile summer concerts in Ireland, saying that local residents must realise that concerts by the Stone Roses and Kodaline would not be a “teetotaller convention”, and that to consider a ban there would have to be specific incidents of alcohol-related criminal damage in the past or evidence of inadequate policing. Twenty-five residents from  the South Dublin suburb Rathfarnham had objected to the application for the alcohol licence by Events Bars and Catering for three MCD-promoted events in Marlay Park, saying there had been underage drinking, public urination and antisocial behaviour at previous concerts in the 300-acre park. But Judge Michael Coghlan in the Dublin District Court denied their objections, saying: “I was interested to hear if there was a prevalence of public-order breaches, antisocial behaviour or violent incidents and the sergeant [Michael Phelan, who is co-ordinating the policing of the events] suggests that on the Richter scale things it was well down [at previous concerts].” Five Rathfarnham residents gave evidence, highlighting problems with a Swedish House Mafia concert in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 2012, when nine people were stabbed in a series of…

Wireless wins High Court victory against local residents’ group
Licensing , Live Events / July 2016
UK

LICENSING Live events sector   A High Court judge has dismissed a bid to have Wireless Festival removed from Finsbury Park. A local residents’ group, The Friends of Finsbury Park,  had requested a judicial review of the Local Authority’s decision to allow the festival to go ahead, arguing that that Haringey Council “does not have the power” to approve the Live Nation event for the grade II-listed public park, which is classified as Metropolitan Open Land. The group, which raised over £11,000 on crowdfunding website CrowdJustice towards its legal costs, contended the council’s decision was illegal under the Greater London (Parks and Open Spaces Act), which allows a maximum of the 10% of the park to be shut off for a private event (Wireless takes up 27%). Wireless Festival faced criticism in 2015 after serious security problems when the 45,000-capacity festival featured acts such as Drake, David Guetta, Avicii, Kendrick Lamar and Nicki Minaj in 2015. Video footage emerged showing chaotic scenes after a crowd forced open a security gate to gain access to the site during a performance by Lethal Bizzle. The Friends Of Finsbury Park group said a the time: “There were serious safety issues when hundreds of…

Japan’s late night dancing ban finally waltzes away
Licensing , Live Events / July 2016
Japan

LICENSING Live events sector   For the first time since 1948, Japanese club-goers can now legally dance after midnight. Whilst the ban on post midnight dancing was rarely enforced, a 2010 crackdown as well as the the looming 2020 Olympics prompted a change in the law and now clubs can apply for a license to operate as a Night time Entertainment Restaurant Operator, meaning that a club can offer entertainment (including a DJ and music), alcohol and food until 5am – with one condition: that the place be lit to a brightness greater than 10 lux. The old law was designed to deter prostitution in clubs. http://ajournalofmusicalthings.com/japans-68-year-old-no-dancing-law-toast/ http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=5836

Gambia outlaws music for Ramadam
Censorship , Live Events / July 2016

CENSORSHIP Live events sector     The government of The Gambia has outlawed music for Ramadan, warning citizens against engaging in “morally obscene” activities during the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. The Gambia has been an Islamic state since December, when President Yahya Jammeh declared the Islamic Republic of The Gambia. On 2 October 2013, The Gambian Interior Ministry announced that The Gambia would leave the Commonwealth of Nations with immediate effect, ending 48 years of membership of the organisation. The Gambian Government said it “decided that The Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism”.[15]   In a press release, The Gambia Police Force listed “music, dancing and drumming” as activities that “Allah frowns on during the Holy Month” and said Gambians should “desist from such acts, otherwise they will be eventually apprehended and face the full force of the law without compromise”. The state-owned Daily Observer welcomed the diktat as “wholly reasonable as it is sensible”, opining “the ban should be seen through the lens of guiding Muslims to the respectable, honourable path during a month that Allah dishes infinite blessings…

Russian collection society chief arrested on fraud charges
Russia

CRIMINAL LAW Music publishing, recorded music   Sergei Fedotov, head of the Russian author’s rights collecting society RAO, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.  Russian news service RIA Novosti said that Fedotov has been accused of funnelling assets worth of over ₽500 million rubles ($7.7 million) out of the organisation. RAO’s office and Fedotov’s home were searched by police on June 27th after which Fedotov was brought in for questioning. On June 28, The Tagansky court in Moscow sanctioned Fedotov’s arrest, rejecting his lawyer’s plea for bail. RAO issued a statement saying: “RAO’s general director Sergei Fedotov and the organization’s other employees are fully cooperating with the investigation, helping it to find out the truth” adding “We are sure that a qualified investigation will lead to establishing no wrongdoing in Sergei Fedotov’s action.” The move comes AFTER rumours of corruption involving real estate surfaced in the wake of the 2015 announcement that RAO would merge with two other collecting societies, VOIS, which deals with neighbouring rights, and RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of electronic devices that can be used for copying content. That merger was seemingly supported by the country’s communications ministry but VOIS objected. This time Nikolai Nikiforov, the communications minister, was quoted…

Spain’s Supreme Court sides with promoters over disproportionate 10% tariff
Competition , Live Events / June 2016
Ireland
Spain
UK
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector     The Supreme Court of Spain has ordered national music collection society the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, or Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE) to immediately abolish its “abusive” 10 per cent tariff on box-office receipts in favour of a “fair” levy to pay music copyright-holders. SGAE had appealed a ruling by the National Competition Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia, CNMC) which held that Spain’s 10 per cent rate was excessive and unfair to Spanish concert promoters noting that much lower royalty fees were applied in other European countries – the rate in the UK is a 3% tariff applied by the PRS on box office (Tariff LP) – and also noted the 1% tariff the US. In 2014 the CNMC ruled that SGAE had committed an abuse of a dominant position, and infringed Spanish and European competition regulation. The CNMC fined SGAE with 3.1 million euros and urged the Spanish collecting society to modify the rate system for live music licensing within a period of 3 months. SGAE had failed to comply with the CNMC resolution much to the fury of Spanish concert promoters The Supreme Court dismissed SGAE’s appeal. The court noted…

ASCAP Announces Settlement Agreement with U.S. Department of Justice
USA

COMPETITION Music Publishing     The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has reached a $1.75m Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice addressing two specific concerns raised during the Department’s ongoing review of the ASCAP Consent Decree.   The DOJ had claimed that ASCAP had violated the rules of the consent decree that governs the organisation by entering into exclusivity deals with some 150 of its members. In the US, the norm is that the organisation represents its members performing rights on a non-exclusive basis, meaning a licensee can circumvent the society and can  deal directly with a songwriter and/or publisher. In most other countries, when songwriters and publishers join a performing rights society, they give that organisation the exclusive right to represent the performing right elements of their copyrights. The DoJ said that since 2008 that ASCAP had added exclusivity terms to some of its agreements with members, and that this contravened the provisions of the consent decree The society said that it had never enforced any exclusivity provisions in its members contracts, adding that they had now been removed and would not be included in future agreement “By blocking members’ ability to license their songs themselves,…

No time for weaker antitrust enforcement
USA

COMPETITION Music Publishing   By David Balto   In the complicated world of music licensing there is a disturbing trend – even though there is clear evidence that publishers are exercising market power and consumers are paying more – many self-interested parties are currently lobbying the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to loosen the consent decree in order to give it more options to raise licensing fees. And to show their level of regulatory gall, they are seeking to weaken the order after the DOJ just fined ASCAP (the licensing entity) $1.75 million for violating the consent order. If there is one thing the DOJ should learn from dog owners, it’s that you don’t give a wily dog a longer leash. It’s easy to forget that the way music is licensed through publishing rights organizations (“PROs”) like ASCAP is price fixing. However, the music industry stands as one of the rare exceptions to the rule that price fixing is illegal. That is because the DOJ and the Supreme Court both concluded that, due to the complicated nature of music licensing, the blanket licenses offered by licensing entities do more good than harm.   This exception from regular antitrust laws was never…

CAA moves forward with action against UTA
Competition , Live Events / June 2016
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector   The Los Angeles Superior Court has issued a number of rulings in Creative Artist Agency’s (CAA) lawsuit which accuses United Talent Agency (UTA) of poaching several agents last year. While Judge Lisa Hart Cole rejected UTA’s motion to dismiss some portions of the suit, she also dismissed CAA’s claims for attorneys fees. The Judge also struck punitive damages allegations against UTA, but allowed them to go forward against agents Gregory Cavic and Gregory McKnight – two of the agents who left CAA for UTA in April 2015. However CAA will be allowed to file an amended complaint within 20 days to support their claim that Cavic and McKnight signed potential CAA clients for UTA during last year’s Sundance Film Festival, which they attended on behalf of CAA at UTA’s behest.   UTA had objected to CAA’s  “allegations of conspiracy to ‘steal clients and employees’ from CAA, as well as ‘the clandestine manner in which they carried out their plans,’” according to Variety. Calling the allegations “inflammatory,” UTA argued they were “irrelevant, false, improper or immaterial matters, which have absolutely nothing to do with this action but are prejudicial to the defendants.” The judge disagreed and ruled that rather than…