CMA provisionally decides to release PRS for Music from 1997 undertakings

COMPETITION Music publishing, broadcasting, internet     The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its provisional decision in its review of undertakings given by PRS to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) in 1997.  The CMA has provisionally decided to release the undertakings. The PRS is one of the two main collecting societies for music in the UK. It licenses musical works and administers the royalties when such works are played in public or broadcast, for example on the radio or television.   The group of independent CMA panel members carrying out the review considers that the forthcoming implementation of the EU Collective Rights Management Directive will effectively address the areas and concerns covered by the undertakings. The group has therefore provisionally decided that the undertakings are no longer required.   This Directive, due to be implemented by each EU Member State by 10 April 2016, introduces a number of requirements that collective management organisations, such as the PRS, must meet – as well as various protections for their members. The requirements are intended to ‘ensure a high standard of governance, financial management, transparency and reporting.’   The CMA’s decision to review PRS’s undertakings is part of its wider review of the 76 existing…

Songkick and Live Nation – let battle commence!
Competition , Internet , Live Events / April 2016

COMPETITION Live sector, internet     Songkick’s legal battle with Live Nation is heating up, with Songkick filing new court papers in connection with their claim. Interestingly, Live Nation subsidiary Ticketmaster has also confirmed a new relationship with Bandsintown – a direct Songkick rival: now Bandsintown users will be able to buy tickets for shows through Ticketmaster within the Bandsintown app – a process that will make the ticket buying experience more seamless, according to the new partners. “By building on Ticketmaster’s new capabilities, we have dramatically improved the user experience, strengthening artists’ and promoters’ ability to sell out shows” said Bandsintown CEO Fabrice Sergent. Songkick, the website and mobile service that provides tickets and personalised calendars for live music events, sued Live Nation last December, alleging that the live entertainment firm – which is a significant player in tour and festival promotion, venues, ticketing and artist management – was holding the artists it works with to ransom, especially in the US, if they decided to collaborate with the gig recommendations service (such as the likes of Songkick) on fan club pre-sales. Songkick has been increasingly moving into ticketing itself – firstly merging with direct-to-fan platform Crowdsurge, and more recently Songkick has been working…

19 denied access to claim against Sony’s Spotify equity
Competition , Contract , Internet / April 2016

COMPETITION / CONTRACT Recorded music, internet     Hot on the news that Sony had officially signed a licensing deal with SoundCloud, the last of the three major labels to sign an agreement with SoundCloud in an arrangement that involves the recording label major taking an equity stake in the streaming platform, comes the news that a federal judge has told 19 Recordings that it won’t be allowed to amend a lawsuit to address Sony Music’s equity stake in Sweden-based streaming giant Spotify. Between them, the majors – Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group – are believed to own somewhere around 15% in Spotify. In an ongoing US court case, Sony – which reportedly owns 6% in Spotify – was last year legally challenged by management company 19 Entertainment on the Spotify equity issue. Last June, in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit over royalties paid to artists including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, 19 attempted to add to their claim, saying that Sony had engaged in self-dealing by taking equity in Spotify, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in lieu of demanding fair-market royalty rates from the streaming company. 19 Recordings alleged this was a…

Supreme Court confirms Court of Appeal to block Bob Marley claim

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Music publishing     The Supreme Court in London has confirmed the Court of Appeal and High Court of Justice’s decisions that it is Blue Mountain Music, and not Bob Marley’ original publisher Cayman Music (CMI)(BSI), who owned the copyrights in a number of Marley’s songs. CMI were Marley’s original publisher but it is commonly believed that Marley claimed various friends wrote a number of his songs to avoid the contract terms with CMI which would have automatically transferred the copyrights in his work to the publisher – for ‘No Woman, No Cry’ the credit went to Vincent Ford. CMI had previously said ““It is now common ground between the disputing parties that the songs – including ‘No Woman, No Cry’ – were actually written by Bob Marley but that the music publisher’s share was never credited to Cayman Music, who have now been denied their contracted entitlement for more than 40 years”. CMI claimed these songs were not included when it sold some of its rights in 1992 to Blue Mountain Music, as Marley, who died in 1981, had penned them under other people’s names-  the ‘Misattribution Ploy’. However High Court  agreed the copyright had “passed” under…

Live music sector puts CMO ‘kickbacks’ into the spotlight
Copyright , Live Events / April 2016

COPYRIGHT Live events sector     They may not want to be in the spotlight, and the until recently practices of ‘discounts’ or ‘rebates’ offered by European Collective Management Organisations such as Buma-Stemra in Holland and GEMA in Germany to large and established live music promoters and venues were relatively unknown. But 2016 saw the topic rear up as one of the main talking points at this year’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC). The Conference held a packed main conference session dedicted to the topic and with managers for Mark Knopfler and Muse on the Stage along with representatives from two Collection Societies, and many artiste and songwriter representatives expressed their anger at the practice. Back in July 2015 Music Law Updates reported that Dutch collection society Buma’s practice of rewarding the country’s biggest promoters with a kickback for ‘helping’ to collect the levy on live music concerts (which is meant to remunerate songwriters and music publishers for the use of their works) had come under fire after a number of tour accountants for performers who pen their own material could not reconcile deductions made by promoters against revenues received by their songwriter clients from their own collection societies – even after taking…

IFPI and Sound Exchange make ISRC Codes publicly accessible for the first time
Copyright / April 2016

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     The international trade body for the recording industry, IFPI, has partnered with the world’s biggest digital Collective Management Organisation, SoundExchange, to create a new website that will make it easier to identify sound recordings. SoundExchange collects and distributes royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners for non-interactive digital transmissions, including satellite, Internet radio, and cable television music channels. In addition to music, SoundExchange also collects royalties for comedy and spoken word recordings. The ISRC Search Site will provide access to nearly 20 million unique recordings, enabling recording artists, rights owners and music services to quickly identify data associated with sound recordings. The initiative will increase transparency and efficiency in the handling of data about recordings. ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the standardised identifier for recorded music and is a unique code assigned to every single music recording or music video to ensure their usage can be tracked and accounted for.  IFPI manages the ISRC system globally under an appointment from the International Organisation for Standardisation. For the first time, ISRC codes – supplied directly from record companies across the globe – will be publicly accessible and searchable. Commenting on the launch of…

Spotify settles NMPA mechanicals claim

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, internet     Spotify has agreed a settlement deal with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) which will ‘allow independent and major publishers to claim and receive royalties for certain compositions used on Spotify in the United States where ownership information was previously unknown’ although one commentator noted that the problem was less of Spotify not paying and more that  “America’s long inefficient mechanical licensing framework is really behind the unpaid monies” something more in the hands of the NMPA than Spotify. The digital services argue that a lack of decent copyright data – in particular a database that states which song copyright is contained within any one recording – makes it impossible for them to file the paperwork required by the compulsory licence. Services can license the mechanical rights in songs under a compulsory licence in America, which sets a standard rate. But under that licence the digital service must alert the rights owner that their songs are being used and arrange to pay the statutory royalties. In many cases this hasn’t happened, with the streaming firms arguing that they don’t know what songs are embodied in what recordings, because the labels don’t tell them. The NMPA…

McCartney moves to reclaim his US copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2016

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Following the news that Sony Corp was buying the Michael Jackson Estate out of its music publishing joint venture Sony/ATV at a cost of $750 million comes the revelation that Sir Paul McCartney is in the process of reclaiming US publishing rights for a huge chunk of The Beatles’ catalogue from Sony/ATV.  The former Beatle is using the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that writers of pre-1978 tracks can reclaim their US publishing rights – if they’ve previously signed them away – after 56 years. The publishing rights for McCartney’s share of Beatles songs will begin expiring in 2018 – 56 years after the Fab Four’s first hit, “Love Me Do”, was penned and recorded in 1962. The Lennon/McCartney repertoire is amongst the most prized of Sony/ATV’s catalogue. Music Business Worldwide trawled through the US Copyright Office’s records and discovered that McCartney filed termination notices last year for two batches of Fab Four tracks – “All You Need Is Love” and  23 other titles’. In addition “All Together Now” & 32 other titles had been filed. Between them, these filings included hits ranging from “Back In The USSR” to “Helter Skelter”, “Hey Jude”,…

Blurred Lines – are costs really appropriate the Gayes’ legal team?
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2016

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The claim for $3.5 million in legal costs filed by the Gaye family and their lawyers after winning the ‘Blurred Lines’ plagiarism case may well hit a block in the form of Judge John A Kronstadt who seems less inclined to award costs than might be expected – it was after all Pharell and Thicke who actually started the litigation – seeking a declaration that they HADN’T plagiarised Gaye – only for the Jury to find the opposite. The Gaye’s attorney, Richard Busch says that the Gaye family’s successful litigation against Williams and Thicke over the ‘copying’ of ‘Got To Give It Up’ on ‘Blurred Lines’ “encourages the meritorious prosecution of copyright claims” but adds that if the Gaye’s have to pay his costs out of their winnings of $5.3 million (reduced by the court from $7.3 million), that will stop said people from taking action, even if meritorious with Busch saying (according to The Hollywood Reporter) : “They gambled and they lost and they should pay the consequences for doing so”. William and Thicke’s lawyer Howard King countered, saying that awarding legal costs in a case like this would set the dangerous precedent because the case “demarcated…

TimeWarner red faced after copyright claim in Spain

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, live events sector   Time Warner is in trouble in Spain for using recorded music by local artists in its theme park for six years without paying a licence fee. The Supreme Court of Spain has ordered the Parque Warner Madrid resort theme park (co-owned by Time Warner and Parques Reunidos) to pay €321,450 (£250,539) in damages for playing the music of Spanish artists on loudspeakers to park visitors between 2002 to 2008. The music was played in public areas across the park, including attractions, restaurants, retail outlets and transportation without any permssions or payment of licence fees. In 2009 The Association of Management of Intellectual Rights (AGEDI) and the Association of Artists and Performers (AIE) filed a joint lawsuit demanding that Parque Warner pay licencing fees for all the music that had been paid in public at the park, as well as demanding that the park stop using all copyright music until the case was decided. In May 2010, Madrid’s Commercial Court Number 7 ruled in favour of the copyright holders, and the appeal to the Provincial Court of Madrid also found in favour of AGEDI and AIE. Parque Warner defence was founded on the argument that an annual…

Tik Tok on the Ke$ha Appeal
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / April 2016

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music by Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)   As readers will remember, in February 2016 the New York Supreme Court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to the singer Ke$ha (real name Kesha Rose Sebert) that would enable her to record outside of her contract with Kemosabe Records, an imprint label of Sony. As a result of the Court’s decision, Ke$ha was left under contract with Kemosabe to produce a further 6 albums[1].  Now, Ke$ha has filed an Appeal, claiming that the Court’s decision is akin to allowing modern day slavery.   By way of background, Kesha signed to Kemosabe when she was 18 years old and “her 2009 single Tik Tok is the biggest selling single ever by a female solo artist”[2] and Kemosabe label boss Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald), remains “one of the most successful songwriters and producers of the century so far, working on music for stars including Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Katy Perry”[3].   Ke$ha claimed in her 2014 lawsuit that she had grounds to be released from her record contract as Dr. Luke had sexually assaulted her, harassed her and intended to inflict emotional distress on her throughout her career[4]. Dr. Luke then countered with suits for breach of contract[5],…

AIF and the MU launch new terms for emerging talent at UK Festivals
Contract , Live Events / April 2016

CONTRACT Live events sector     Fair Play for Festivals’ is a joint initiative between AIF and The Musicians Union (MU). It is a code of conduct intended for use between AIF members and emerging artists who are defined as ‘Artists without representation from agents, managers or other third parties’. It sets out a series of pragmatic guidelines for artists and festivals in various areas, including remuneration, logistics, promotion and performance details. You can Download the agreement.

UK law firm launches lawsuit against Michael Jackson’s Estate over unpaid bill
Artists , Contract / April 2016

CONTRACT Artistes     A British law firm has sent a $204,204.36 invoice to Michael Jackson’s Estate In the years since Michael Jackson’s death, The pop icon’s estate has faced a number of other claims, including a royalty row with Quincy Jones and a profit suit from the director of “Thriller.” The latest claims comes from a London-based law firm that claims it is owed more than $200,000 in fees for work it did for the music icon in the two years leading up to his death.  Atkins Thomson Solicitors have now launched the action in California against entertainment attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain who are the executors of Jackson’s estate. The claim is for breach of contract and Atkins claims it provided legal and other services to Jackson from 2007 through 2009, and in the months leading up Jackson’s  death the firm “provided hundreds of hours of services to Jackson across nearly a dozen matters.”  The suit says: “Defendants have failed to honor Jackson’s obligations under, and has materially breached, the agreement with Atkins, and any implied covenants therein, by failing to make the payments as required” In November 2009, the firm filed a creditors claim for $204,204.36 and…

UK WILL adopt something like the ‘agent of change’ principle
Live Events / April 2016

PLANNING Live events sector     The “toilet circuit” network of small music venues and indeed other larger venues in the UK has claimed an important victory after ministers agreed to introduce legislation which will protect established music venues and clubs from property developers and incoming residents. Planning rules favouring complaints from residents in new developments over the noise levels from an established music venue nearby have been cited by clubs forced to close their doors.Now the British government is introducing new legislation giving local authorities the powers to better protect live music venues against redevelopment pressures. Its not a full ‘agent of change’ approach – but its an important step forwards. Its too late for some though: venues including The Cockpit in Leeds and the Sheffield Boardwalk, where Ed Sheeran and Arctic Monkeys played formative shows, have shut whilst in London an estimated 40% of music venues have closed over the past decade. A UK Music study of Bristol’s live scene found that 50% of the city’s music venues were affected by development, noise or planning issues.  These issues pose a direct threat to the future of Bristol’s vibrant ecosystem which generated £123 towards the local economy in 2015 and supported…

Souper Groove volunteer’s death not unlawful
Health & Safety , Live Events / April 2016

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector     A volunteer’s death at a music festival has been ruled accidental, and not the result of any actions by police, a Monmouth County grand jury has ruled. Timothy Harden, 38, was pronounced dead at Jersey Shore Medical University Medical Center after an altercation with security and law enforcement officers at the Souper Groove Music Festival at the Priedaine New Jersey Latvian Society in Howell on September 5th of last year 2015. His family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Howell Township Police Department, the Latvian Society and the security agencies following his death, claiming that Harden died of “excessive force.” According to a release from Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni, an investigation found that Harden, who was working as a volunteer at the music festival, had been acting erratically, and audience members had suspected he was under the influence of illegal substances. When approached to a security guard, Harden punched him the face in an “unprovoked attack.” A toxicology test revealed that Harden had cocaine, alcohol and marijuana in his system at the time of death, “The cause of Harden’s death was determined to be as a result of drug-induced excited…

Labour’s UK Licensing Act has ‘failed’
Licensing , Live Events / April 2016

LICENSING Live events sector     A new report has been published that says the Licensing Act 2003, implemented in 2005, has done little to push forwarded its much heralded aims of promoting a new ‘continental’ style drinking culture in England and Wales, and instead and the Guardian opines that New Labour’s ambition to create a “continental cafe style of drinking culture” through the introduction of 24-hour licensing has failed, and was unlikely to ever succeed. Indeed the Act has put significant strain on local authorities abd the police and the Police. Police Professional says that later opening hours for licensed premises have ‘handicapped’ police and local authorities, and had no impact on rates of crime, disorder and overall alcohol consumption and that the Act was “likely to undermine rather than protect the public welfare”.   The Report, published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies. examines the Act’s effects 10 years after it came into force on 24 November 2005. The study found that the legislation has failed to lead to a relaxed continental drinking culture or to a more diverse drinking culture. Instead, it says that it has meant people drink more at home before going out and stay out…

Promoter ordered to make refunds in EXO Shanghai fiasco
Consumers , Live Events / April 2016

CONSUMER Live events sector     Shanghai’s arts and culture administration has ordered the Chinese promoter of a planned concert by K-Pop boyband EXO to provide a full refund to fans (so called EXO-Ls) after a concert advertised to last three hours finished after just 30 minutes. The promoter had also promised that all nine members of EXO would perform at least 10 songs ina three hour show. However, one key band member, Lay, was absent, and the 5 song concert lasted barely half an hour, reports allkpop.  Lay was apparently being filmed fo ra movie role. The band has existed as a 12, 11,10 and now 9 piece combination of Korean and Chinese members. In late 2014 two members of the band, Luhan and Kris (Wu Yi Fan) filed separate lawsuit against SM Entertainment asking to nullify their contracts with SME.   Many fans had reportedly paid up to ¥10,000 (approximately US$1,500) for front-row seats, with regular tickets fetching between¥4,000 and ¥6,000 yuan ($600–$900). Although refunds will be given, EXO-Ls will have to travel to an office block in Shanghai to collect their money, regardless of where they live.

Ticket fraudster gets 6 years in prison
Criminal Law , Live Events / April 2016

CRIMINAL Live events sector     Terence Butts (63) has been convicted of fraudulent trading and converting or transferring criminal property at Southwark Crown Court and sentenced to 6 years in prison. Butts, 63, and accountant Nimal Fonseka (78), were alleged to have sold £2m worth of non existent tickets to potential customers for occasions including the V Festival and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But they only provided £280,000 worth of tickets – just 14% of what they had sold – claiming that their key supplier ‘Peter’s Tickets’ had let them down.  Butts sold 15,000 through his company Durban Vienna Ltd and his websites included and  Butts would tell customers that he could not supply tickets, telling them to reclaim the funds paid from their credit card provider. It was estimated B+S Card Services lost £1.2 million.  Foneska was found not guilty on the same two charges. Security expert Reg Walker from iridium Consultancy told Live UK that Butts was ‘top of the ticket fraud tree’ but added that he had made the police aware of his actions as far back as 2008.

UK tax change may impact on record labels and music publishers
Taxation / April 2016

TAXATION Recorded music, music publishing   Music accountancy expert, Nick Lawrence has picked up on one aspect of the new UK Budget that might just deserve the attention of the larger music industry businesses. The UK Spring Budget included one change, relating to withholding tax which may have particular relevance for the worldwide music industry and connected creative sectors even though it is a  result of the tax avoidance schemes set up by the likes of Facebook, Google and others. Now a series of transactions that take place between the two companies involving royalties, where one of the main aims is to effectively transfer profit from the higher to the lower tax jurisdiction will now result in withholding tax applied at the full relevant UK tax rate. Once the 2016 Budget becomes law (July 2016), if royalty payments are clearly and obviously made between the two UK businesses, even if the contract for the transactions is made between the UK-based and the overseas company, the payments will now fall under UK tax rules and be taxed at the appropriate UK rate. Music Business Worldwide says the most important message for any music business of a significant size – where royalties, trade names or trademarks…