Bjork: the new kid on the blockchain
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2017
Iceland
UK

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music   The Icelandic singer, songwriter and DJ, Bjork, is very well known for being a “restlessly experimental creative force” and is releasing her new album, Utopia, on the blockchain. She has announced that the latest album will only be available for purchase by way of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain, at its core, is a decentralised distributed ledger that registers and validates transactions without the need for a central authority. Further, the information that is stored on the blockchain is virtually tamperproof because of cryptographic hashes. This all means that two parties are able to exchange currency, data, or almost anything else in a secure way. Bjork has teamed up with British start-up Blockpool to put blockchain on the centre stage for the new release. Fans will need Bitcoin, Litecoin, DASH, or AudioCoin if they wish to purchase the album. In fact, it will not be possible to purchase the album with usual currency. Further, whilst fans will need cryptocurrencies to purchase the album, they will also receive cryptocurrency for doing so. Fans of Bjork will be given 100 Audicoins, a cryptocurrency designed for the music industry and currently worth around $0.19 each, when they purchase the album. Fans will…

Male model sues Cardi B over mixtape cover
Artists , Image Rights / December 2017
USA

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes   Cardi B is reportedly being sued by a male model who allegedly features on the cover of her 2016 mixtape, ‘Gansta Bitch Music Vol 1‘, with the image used suggesting that the model is performing oral sex on the rapper. Although Kevin Brophy’s face cannot be seen in the image, he alleges that the distinctive tattoos on his back confirm his identity. TMZ reports that Brophy did not model for the artwork, and only became aware of the cover when a friend told him that they’d seen him “cunnilinging this rapper called Cardi B”. Brophy said that the image has negatively affected his family wife, he was worried that his wife would think he had been unfaithful to her and his young son saw the image and wanted to know “what Daddy was doing”. Brody says that he has had his tattoo of a tiger fighting a snake for over ten years, but has never met Cardi B or anyone on her team. In a lawsuit, he is suing the rapper and her management for $5 million. You can see the cover and the model here https://theblast.com/cardi-b-mixtape-lawsuit/ and more here https://www.vibe.com/2017/10/cardi-b-five-million-lawsuit-model-mixtape-cover/

Activist sues the Ultra Music Festival over accessibility
Live Events / December 2017
USA

EQUALITY Live events sector   One of America’s largest EDM festivals, Ultra Music Festival is being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.  A legally blind activist and Paralympic athlete with cerebral palsy, Juan Carlos Gil, has brought a legal action against the organisation on the grounds that their website and live events are not easily accessible for the visually impaired or those with other disabilities. The law suit is described as a “public motion for greater inclusivity” and Gil’s lawyer, Scott R. Dinin, told reporters:  “All we’re asking [Ultra] to do is recognise [that] this is a very diverse population, to make all their offerings available to all people in that population. We think it’ll make it a better Ultra experience and, obviously, a better Miami”  adding “I think the biggest misperception of this law is that people don’t understand that it’s been law for 25 years,” Dinin said. “This same law is a civil rights law”.    Dinin has said that he hopes the festival will feel pressure to adopt measures more sensitive to people with disabilities. He cites Colorado and California concerts he’s attended, which often have sign-language interpreters and other accommodations. He adds that the visually impaired can enjoy music like…

Two big decisions examine web blocking in the USA
Copyright , Internet / December 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   In the space of under a week there have been two big cases in the USA looking at web blocking – and with differing results.  First off, a federal judge in California has issued a preliminary injunction preventing Canada’s Supreme Court from forcing Google to de-list websites for Datalink on its American search engine. The Canadian Supreme Court (Google Inc v Equustek Solutions Inc, 2017 SCC 34) affirmed the decision from the Supreme Court in British Columbia and ordered Google to delist a tech company’s website(s) worldwide. The music industry trade body Music Canada welcomed the judgement saying it was “a crucial development given that the internet has largely dissolved boundaries between countries and allowed virtual wrongdoers to move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in search of the weakest enforcement setting”.   The web giant responded by saying the ruling conflics with the right to a freedom of expression  contained within the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and that the Canadian Supreme Court had no right meddling with the American Constitution. Google’s argued “This is about whether a trial court in a foreign country can implement a law that is violative of the core values of this country … imagine if we…

Met axes Form 696
Live Events / December 2017
UK

EQUALITY Live events sector   IQ reported that London’s Metropolitan police is to abolish form 696, the controversial risk-assessment document critics claim discriminates against grime and other predominantly black music, in a move welcomed by mayor Sadiq Khan. Following a review process, which included consultations with local authorities, venues, the Musicians’ Union, London Promoter Forum and the Institute of Licensing, the Met announced it is to abolish the form – which it acknowledged was perceived to “disproportionately affect” certain genres of music – in favour of a “new voluntary partnership approach” with venues and promoters in the city.    A survey had revealed that almost half the British general public think that the controversial risk-assessment document Form 696 is discriminatory against those forced to complete it. The results of the survey are part of Ticketmaster’s State of Play: Grime report and shows that 48% of those polled – a “nationally representative” sample of the British population – think the form is discriminatory because it only applies to certain events. Culture minister Matt Hancock and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, are among those to have called for a review of form 696, which is used by London’s Metropolitan police to determine the potential level of…

Agent of Change to (hopefully) change and protect UK Live Music and Venues
Live Events / December 2017
UK

PLANNING Live events sector   UK Music has launched a new campaign with the aim to persuade Parliament to introduce the “agent of change” principle into UK law.  It’s been bubbling under for some time now (see http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=6681 and we last updated readers on this in March 2017.  But what is the “agent of change” principle? Three years ago, Frank Turner warned the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid that  the country is facing “a meltdown in the British live music circuit” as venues closed – often forced to shut by new developments as new residents and businesses who move in then objected to being next door to a venue. In short it means that the person/ business responsible for the change is also responsible for the management of the impact of the change.  For example, new houses are being built near a live music venue: Under the agent of change principle, because the business behind the new houses is creating a change, the business would be responsible for paying for the soundproofing.  On the flipside, if a new music venue wanted to set up in a residential area, the venue would be responsible for the newly required soundproofing.  UK law at the moment says…

Las Vegas atrocity prompts multiple law suits
Criminal Law , Live Events / December 2017
USA

NEGLIGENCE Live events sector   Hundreds of victims of the October 1st mass shooting in Las Vegas have filed five lawsuits in the Los Angeles Superior Court against the operators of the hotel from which the gunman fired, the organisers of the country music festival he targeted and the killer’s estate. The shootings at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas claimed the lives of 59 people and left hundreds of others injured. Gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, targeting music fans at the country music festival. The largest of the law suits names 450 plaintiffs. Amongst those being sued are MGM Resorts International, owner of the Mandalay Bay resort; Live Nation, organiser of the event; and the estate of gunman Stephen Paddock. Muhammad Aziz, a Houston-based lawyer who has filed the lawsuits said they were filed in California because nearly all the plaintiffs lived in the state and had been treated there. He also noted that Live Nation Entertainment was a California-based company. The plaintiffs claim negligence by both MGM and Live Nation. They accuse MGM of not having adequate security policies, not properly…

CTS Eventim’s acquisition of Four Artists blocked
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / December 2017
Germany

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   Germany’s competition regulator has blocked CTS Eventim from acquiring Berlin-based booking agency Four Artists, citing concerns about the ticketing firm’s dominance in the country’s live industry. Among the artists represented by Four Artists are David Guetta, James Blunt, Chase & Status and Best Coast. Andreas Mundt, the President of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) , said: “CTS Eventim is already the market leader in Germany and by far the largest ticket system. In addition, it has already integrated various tour operators into its group structure in the past” adding that the Four Artists acquisition “would strengthen CTS’s existing dominant position [in the ticketing market] thereby significantly hindering effective competition in the affected markets” explaining that “With Four Artists, CTS Eventim would integrate a major event organiser into its group, locking additional ticket allocations of between 500,000 and one million tickets per year to its own system”, it went on. “The expansion possibilities for competing ticket system providers would thereby be weakened”. The Bundeskartellamt said the CTS Eventim system distributes 60 to 70 per cent of all tickets sold in Germany via its systems. In contrast, most other providers are much smaller, and “in part…

CMA to take action over secondary ticketing abuses
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / December 2017
UK

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   Hot on the back of news that Google is updating its rules on how ticket-resellers can advertise on its search engine, meaning secondary ticketing platforms globally will have to be certified with Google before they can advertise using its AdWords platform (in turn promoting greater transparency), comes the announcement that the UK’s Competition And Markets Authority (CMA) will take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law following a long-running investigation – through the courts, if necessary. The CMA said it has gathered evidence, which it considers reveals breaches of the law, and identified “widespread concerns” about the information consumers are given. The CMA launched an “enforcement investigation” into secondary ticketing in December 2016. The CMA then said that it intended to “consider whether, in its view, both the businesses selling tickets and the secondary ticketing platforms advertising them are failing to provide the full range of information in breach of the law and, if so, take enforcement action”, responding to claims that the major re-sale platforms were ignoring transparency obligations laid out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. These include stating the face value of the tickets being sold, information on the…

Will a 1972 agreement determine who owns Steely Dan?
General / December 2017
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Steely Dan are the American jazz rock band founded by core members Walter Becker (guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Donald Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals) in 1972. The band enjoyed critical and commercial success until breaking up in 1981. Rolling Stone has called them “the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies”. Steely Dan reunited in 1993 and has toured steadily ever since. Becker died on September 3rd, 2017, leaving Fagen as the only official member. And now Fagen is embroiled in a complicated legal feud with Becker’s estate. By way of background, Fagen is claiming that his bandmate’s estate is refusing to honour the ‘Buy/Sell’ Agreement from 1972 which he says stipulated that when a member of the band died or left the band, the other members would purchase that person’s share in the band. Both parties are accusing the other of instigating the feud. “We believe the agreement to which Mr. Fagen refers in his suit, drafted 45 years ago,  was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death,” a representative for Becker’s estate said in a statement to Rolling Stone.  Why is this so important? Well it is believed that Fagan is concerned that his ability to continue touring…

Owners of “Happy Together” lose Florida copyright case
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, broadcasting   Another court in another state has ruled that pre-1972 copyrights are NOT protected by state copyright law – and they never have been. The Florida Supreme Court, following in the footsteps of New York State’s appellate court, has ruled that its state law, which governs sound recordings made before 1972, doesn’t include a right to control public performances in sound recordings, including radio plays. Commentators said that both this decision and the reasoning behind it are good news for digital broadcasters and possibly their radio listeners,  but less so for the owners of copyrights. As readers will be aware, there is an unusual position in the USA when it comes to paying for the use of sound recordings on the radio – there is no such payment due from ‘traditional’ radio stations, and AM/FM radio has never paid royalties for using sound recordings, whether on current hits or  ‘golden oldies’ either. This changed in 1972 with new satellite and digital broadcasters liable to pay – but a number of copyright owners and in particular Flo & Eddie, former members of 1960s group The Turtles, argued that pre-1972 recordings would be protected by state law, so…

Goldenvoice wins another ‘Chella’ battle
Live Events , Trade Mark / November 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Live events sector    A court in California has upheld a complaint made by Coachella organiser Goldenvoice against the organisers of the Filmchella film festival in the same state, granting a preliminary injunction against the latter holding that name is liable to cause “consumer confusion” with the well established music festival.    The complaint, filed by Coachella Music Festival LLC in the US District Court for Central California, argued that Filmchella founder Robert Trevor Simms and twenty other defendants were using the similar-sounding name to their name and trade mark for their multiday outdoor film festival. To add to this, the complaint says that both events feature numerous forms of entertainment and camping, are held in Southern California and that Simms has pitched his planned festival as “Coachella for movies”.    Coachella Music Festival LLC owns several trademarks and servicemarks associated with the festival, including the Coachella servicemark and “Chella” for use on shirts and T-shirts; However the trademark for use of “Chella” in “musical” and “cultural and arts events”, “campground facilities”, “hotel accommodation services”, drinks, transportation and other clothing has not as yet been registered.   The suit said “Trading on the goodwill of plaintiffs’ famous ‘Coachella’ festival, defendants…

Manowar and Womanowar are in a trade mark war
Artists , Trade Mark / November 2017
EU
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Manowar is a heavy metal band from New York, Womanowar are a “feminist tribute band” to…you guessed it: Manowar.  Manowar’s bassist, Joey Demaio, is the proprietor of US trade mark registration numbers: 75645524 and 85065290. The first registration is for a word device (logo) mark and the second is for a word only mark ‘Manowar’. The bassist is also the proprietor of EU registration number: 0011118041 for a word device (logo) mark. The three trade marks, amongst others, are all registered for use in class 41 entertainment services, namely, live performances rendered by a vocal and/or instrumental group.  But it appears that Manowar and not fans of their feminist tribute band ‘Womanowar’, it has been reported that Demaio’s legal representative has sent a cease and desist letter to the tribute band. The letter alleges that Womanowar’s logo is likely to “cause confusion among the consuming public”. In practice, coincidences at the beginning of marks will increase the similarity as opposed to the middle or the end.  If I were, Womanowar’s lawyer, I would certainly be arguing that the fact that one mark starts with ‘Man’ and the other ‘Woman’ means that the marks might not be…

National Party’s use of ‘sound alike’ song DID infringe on Eminen’s ‘Lose Yourself’
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2017
New Zealand

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   New Zealand’s High Court has ruled that the National Party had infringed the copyright in Eminem’s iconic song ‘Lose Yourself‘ in a 2014 political campaign by using a ‘sound alike’ song and has awarded the rapper and his co-writers’ publisher NZ$600,000 (AU$535,000/ £315,000) in damages.  The publisher filed proceedings against New Zealand’s then governing party in September 2014 for using a version of the chart-topping song Lose Yourself in an election campaign advertisement.   The key issue for determination by the Court was whether the “sound-alike” production track, called ‘Eminem Esque‘, was sufficiently similar to the 2002 music of ‘Lose Yourself’, so as to constitute a breach of copyright.  ‘Lose Yourself’ was composed by Marshall Mathers III (Eminem), Jeffrey Bass and Luis Resto (Eight Mile Style) in 2002. The composition is regarded by Eight Mile Style as the most valuable work in their catalogue and had only rarely been licensed for use, and never as part of a political campaign.   The High Court ruled that Eminem Esque was “sufficiently similar” to Eminem’s original song that it infringed copyright and that ‘Lose Yourself’ was a “highly original work” and that the infringing song bore only minimal differences to the original,    The tensions between illegitimate copying versus permissive borrowing…

New copyright tariffs for Germany’s live sector
Copyright , Live Events / November 2017
Germany

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Following lengthy negotiations which involved court action from two of Germany’s live entertainment business associations, a new concert tariff rate has been agreed between representatives of the country’s live music sector (BDV and VDKD, which represent the majority of Germany’s concert promoters) and performance royalty collection organisation GEMA. Collected on behalf of songwriters and music publishers, the rate will now be calculated on a net basis of ticket sales, instead of gross, with other services including camping fees at festivals and sponsoring income taken into account. The new rate will be 5.75% of net receipts for events under 2,000 people (it is currently 5% on gross receipts), 7.6% for 2,000–15,000-capacity shows (currently 7.2%) and 8% for events with a capacity of 15,000+ (currently 7.65%).   The German PRO collected €1.02bn in royalty payments in 2016, including €371.1m in public performance fees, in its most successful financial year to date. GEMA has faced increasing criticism in recent years, and artists and event-organisers have demanded a revision of GEMA’s regulations with respect to better transparency, adjusted payment methods and other critical points.  In the live sector, the large discounts offered to some promoters have attracted criticism some of the…

This is Spinal Tap – it’s gone past eleven
Contract / November 2017
UK
USA

CONTRACT Film & TV, recorded music   We previously reported about the ongoing ‘This is Spinal Tap’ litigation. In fact, I am sure that we are now running out of puns, I guess each time “it’s one louder, isn’t it?” But now the four creators, have amended their claim. The amendments have resulted in more specific claims against Vivendi and now Universal Music is also featured as a co-defendant.  The legal representatives for Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner have stated that “The amended complaint details the fraud by concealment and misrepresentation conducted by Vivendi and its agent Ron Halpern and others. The co-creators contend there was longstanding and deliberate concealment by Vivendi of material facts regarding the actual gross receipts of the film, soundtrack, music and merchandise sales, plus expenses and the profits owed to them” and “Further compounding this fraud, improper expense deductions were made in Vivendi’s accounting to the creators, allegedly representing print, advertising and publicity expenses (undocumented) totalling over $3.3 million and a further $1 million in freight and other direct costs, more than half of which extraordinarily appears to fall some 20 years after the film’s release. Vivendi has also recently charged over $460k in ‘interest’ on…

Frank Ocean defeats estranged Father’s libel lawsuit
Artists , Defamation / November 2017
USA

DEFAMATION Artists   Frank Ocean is riding the wave of success after he was successful in defending a $14.5 million libel lawsuit that was filed against the singer/ songwriter by his estranged father.  The lawsuit revolved around a Tumblr post written by Frank Ocean in the aftermath of the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year, the post, which is still live, read:  “I was six years old when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a faggot as he dragged me out a neighbourhood diner saying we wouldn’t be served because she was dirty.  That was the last afternoon I saw my father and the first time I heard that word, I think, although it wouldn’t shock me if it wasn’t”. Calvin Cooksey, Frank’s father, claimed that the incident did not take place and accused his son of staging a “publicity stunt in the wake of the Orlando attack … [and] us[ing] his father as an instrument for personal connection in order to sell records”. Cooksey then went on to sue for libel.  In response, Ocean stated seventeen ‘affirmative defences’ which he claimed should exemplify why his father’s lawsuit should be rejected. Cooksey attempted to have…

Met’s Form 696 back in the spotlight after new survey results
Discrimination , Live Events / November 2017
UK

EQUALITY Live events sector   A new survey has revealed that almost half the British general public think that the controversial risk-assessment document Form 696 is discriminatory against those forced to complete it. the results of the survey are part of Ticketmaster’s State of Play: Grime report and shows that 48% of those polled – a “nationally representative” sample of the British population – think the form is discriminatory because it only applies to certain events. Culture minister Matt Hancock and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, are among those to have called for a review of form 696, which is used by London’s Metropolitan police to determine the potential level of risk involved in events where a DJ or MC is using a backing track. The study was produced by Ticketmaster’s LiveAnalytics division in partnership with Disrupt and the University of Westminster’s black music research unit. Form 696  currently asks for the names, stage names, addresses and phone numbers of all promoters and artists at events where pre-recorded backing tracks are used. An earlier version of the document also asked about the specific genre of music being performed and likely ethnic make-up of the audience. Those questions were dropped in 2009 after allegations they were racial…

Different jurisdictions take aim at the touts
Consumers , Live Events / November 2017
USA

CONSUMER RIGHTS Live events sector   Live Nation owned Ticketmaster is taking legal action against two companies in the US, which the ticketing giant believes have used bot technology to buy up tickets for live shows. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ticketmaster has filed the lawsuit against Prestige Entertainment, Renaissance Ventures and two individuals over the use of bots to purchase tickets from its platform. Earlier this year, Prestige and Renaissance agreed to pay the majority of a $4.2 million settlement with New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and also agreed to stop using bots. Ticketmaster now says it has evidence that this agreement has been broken. “Ticketmaster has uncovered evidence that suggests Renaissance has already breached the agreement by continuing to utilise bots to purchase tickets offered by Ticketmaster”, says the lawsuit. It also says that the defendants have ignored cease and desist letters.   Anti-bot legislation is becoming more common, but New South Wales is leading the way with regulations to protect consumers and govern the re-sale of tickets with a a cap on a re-sale price not to exceed 110% of the original ticket price. The state’s Minister For Better Regulation Matt Kean had previously said  “I’m sick and tired of consumers being…

Spotify face multiple mechanicals challenges
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, streaming   Another US lawsuit has been added to the mounting litigation against Spotify and the streaming platform’s alleged failure to pay mechanical royalties in the USA for the right to ‘copy’ a song (rather than the ‘performing’ right).    In fact there were three developments: an objection to Spotify’s proposed settlement of the original class action on this issue, a rebuttal of its most recent legal arguments, and a brand new lawsuit. Hypebot’s take is this: “The recorded music industry is in the midst of a renaissance thanks to revenue from a single source – streaming. But a growing string of lawsuits filed by songwriters and publishers, and an aggressive new legal tactic by Spotify, threatens the company’s pending IPO and could derail the industry’s delicate recovery” US law provides a compulsory licence covering mechanicals, but this put Spotify under an obligation to contact (and pay) the copyright owners of every song it streams (or in default of finding an owner, alert the US Copyright Office) and Spotify hired the services The Harry Fox Agency to undertake this role. The fact songwriters and music publishers were receiving payment for their performing right via collection societies such as ASCAP…

Sony and Dubset conclude ground breaking ‘remixing’ deal
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Sony Music have recently signed a deal with Dubset to ‘legalise’ remixes of their songs. The project follows on from the Content ID agreement between YouTube and music publishers in 2012.    ‘Sampling is just a longer term for theft … Anybody who can honesty say sampling is some sort of creativity has never done anything creative’. Those were the words of The Turtles’ Mark Volman during an interview with the L.A. Times during the 1991 lawsuit his group levelled against hip-hop group De La Soul for their ‘Transmitting Live From Mars’. As a result of the out-of-court settlement, the group’s iconic album 3 Feet High and Rising is still unavailable on major streaming services.   At the turn of the millennium, the costs of sampling were so great that scholar Wayne Marshall declared that the costs had led to the ‘giving up’ its firstborn, with the heavily-sampled layers of Public Enemy replaced by the authenticity articulated by band The Roots. Yet, Moses is not yet in the bulrushes.   As I pointed out in my recent article on Chance the Rapper, free mixes and mixtapes circulated in the grey area of SoundCloud’s free content have only gained in prominence….

Mixtape Mistake?
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Three-time Grammy-winning Chicago-native Chancellor Johnathan Bennett aka Chance the Rapper was sued for copyright infringement last week. The suit was filed by Abdul Wali Muhammad on the 12th September in an Illinois District Court. Muhammad is a musician-turned lawyer, who copyrighted the composition of ‘Bridge Through Time’ in 1979.  Muhammad’s claim rests on Bennett’s sampling of his composition in the track ‘Windows’ from his debut mixtape as Chance, 10 Day. The sampling of the track is quite clear with it forming the beat to ‘Windows’. The only modifications made by producer Apollo Brown were a slight move from 81 to 80 BPM and the track moved down a semitone. Whilst the use of copyrighted material is fairly obvious, Bennett’s particular approach to the music industry makes the case interesting. Bennett wrote 10 Day after being suspended from school in 2011. ‘Waves’ was released in December 2011 and soon after Complex listed him as one of ‘10 New Chicago Rappers To Watch Out For’ in February 2012. The mixtape itself was only self-released on DatPiff.com in April 2012. Since then it has been downloaded for free 538,617 times (as of 18th September 2017) from that…

“We Shall Overcome” – Free at last!
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   We Shall Overcome was labelled by the US Library of Congress as “the most powerful song of the 20th century”. It was a unifying anthem for the 1940s labour protests and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement led by Dr Martin Luther King, and came to symbolise the spirit of protest.     When back in 2012, the producers of the film “The Butler”, a film based on the African-American Civil Rights Movement viewed through the eyes of a White House butler, approached The Richmond Organisation (TRO) and Ludlow Music Inc, publishers of We Shall Overcome, to licence the rights to the popular protest song, they were met with a demand for $100,000 for the use of “Verse 1” in the film.  They eventually agreed to licence a three second clip for a payment of $15,000. Then in February 2015, the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF), a faith based non-profit organisation which took their name from the song, wanted to include a performance of the first verse of We Shall Overcome, sung ‘a capella’, in a documentary being made about the origins of the song.  A representative approached TRO-Ludlow Inc for a quote to licence the synchronisation rights and despite…

YouTube-MP3 agrees to shutter
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / October 2017
Germany
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   YouTube-mp3 has agreed to shut down and hand its domain(s) over to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With millions of visitors each day, the ‘steam ripping’ YouTube-MP3.org was one of the most visited websites on the Internet.  Last year, the Germany-based YouTube to MP3 converter website was sued by the RIAA for copyright infringing their rights.  It had also been sued by the record industry in its home country in 2013. Now in an agreed settlement, YouTube-MP3 will shut down indefinitely. The BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) were also parties to the action, which accused the site of not only copyright infringement, but also circumventing YouTube’s copy protection mechanism, and violating the USA’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A report earlier this year by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and PRS For Music said that stream ripping was now the “most prevalent and fastest growing form of music piracy”. According to an IFPI  report published last year, the site has been reportedly attracting more than 60 million monthly visitors. In the same report, it was mentioned that 50 percent of the 16 to 24-year-old survey respondents used stream ripping services…

“Uptown Funk” hit with one more writer
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   A complaint has been filed in the US District Court of New York by Lastrada Entertainment Company Ltd, the publishers of “More Bounce to the Ounce” written by Roger Troutman and ZAPP.  The suit is against Mark Ronson, Philip Martin Lawrence, Jeffrey Bhasker, Sony/ATV, Warner/Chappell, Vevo, Spotify, Apple and others.  Lastrada is seeking damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, a permanent injunction against profiting from the alleged infringement, and a jury trial to decide the matter.   The latest lawsuit draws parallels with “Blurred Lines” between the estate of Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, where the claimants asserted that the respondents unintentionally copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up”. The suit went to a jury trial who decided in favour of the estate and the claimants were awarded $7.4 million in damages and a share of the profits.   The background is that “Uptown Funk” is the lead single from the album of the same name by uber-producer Mark Ronson recorded with Bruno Mars on vocals and released by RCA Records on 10th November 2014.  It was a worldwide hit spending 14 consecutive weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and topping the charts…

Jackson’s 3D Thriller heads back to court
Contract / October 2017
USA

CONTRACT Film & Television, performers   Ola Ray, the then young actress who played opposite Michael Jackson in the iconic Thriller video has launched another legal against the Michael Jackson Estate on the back of news that director John Landis had reworked the original video as a 3D version of ‘Thriller’ and this short has now been premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Ray previously sued Jackson just before his untimely death in 2009, claiming that she had been promised a 2.5% share of the royalties generated by the iconic music-video-come-short-film, and although she had received some $200,000 this was an under payment. A settlement with the Jackson Estate followed in 2012, reportedly worth $75,000.  Landis settled his own legal action with the Jackson Estate in relation to royalties generated by the video.   Ray has now said she wasn’t consulted about the 3D version of ‘Thriller’. She told reporters: “I’m outraged, upset and in shock. When I heard rumours about a possible 3D version, I contacted the director and said ‘we need to talk about this’. But he never responded to my email. They haven’t tried to contact me or negotiate anything. How do they think they can just do this without…

Public Enemies
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / October 2017
UK
USA

CONTRACT Artists, recorded music   Flavor Flav has launched a legal action against his former Public Enemy collaborator Chuck D and various other parties associated of the seminal hip hop group over allegedly unpaid royalties.  That said it seems Flavor Flav and Chuck D will still perform together in upcoming live shows. According to TMZ, the lawsuit covers unpaid royalties and revenue shares from recording income, publishing, live performances and merchandising income generated by Public Enemy, including monies from the recent album ‘Nothing Is Quick In The Desert’ and money relating to a deal that resulted in Public Enemy action figures being sold. In the lawsuit, Flavor Flav (real name William J. Drayton) claims that he and Chuck D (real name Carlton Ridenhour) had a long-established agreement that profits from their music, merchandise and concerts would be split between them. Despite that alleged arrangement, Flavor Flav claims that Public Enemy’s business management firm Eastlink has not been sending the earnings he is owed, which have “diminished to almost nothing, and Drayton has been refused accountings, even on the items bearing his likeness, Responding to the litigation, Chuck D told TMZ: “Flav has his rights, but took a wrong road on…

Martin Garrix freed from contract with Spinnin Records
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / October 2017
Netherlands

CONTRACT Recorded music, artists   A Dutch court has sided with EDM producer and superstar Martin Garrix in a legal dispute with his former label and management firm, Spinnin Records and MusicAllstars. Both of the defendants were founded by Eelko Van Kooten.   In August 2015 Garrix said that he was parting company with both of Van Kooten’s businesses and then launched a legal action, accusing his former manager of having provided “false and misleading information” when Garrix, as a teenager, had signed his deals with Van Kooten’s companies.   The producer also alleged that, by signing an artist he managed to his own label in 2012, Van Kooten had a clear conflict of interest, and that he had signed a recording deal that was in Van Koote’s own interests, but that Van Kooten should have been representing the interests of his client  – Garrix. Garrix’s father countersigned the recordng agreement with the then teenager (he is now 21).    In the original lawsuit, Garrix sought to reclaim the sound recording rights that had been assigned to Spinnin Records and 4.35 million Euros in damages.  Spinnin counterclaimed, arguing that Garrix’s unilateral termination of contract had cost the label over 6.4…

“England’s loudest band will be heard”….in a courtroom in the US
Artists , Contract / October 2017
UK

CONTRACT Film & TV, Artistes   The ‘This is Spinal Tap’ litigation has been ongoing for some time and now and it looks like it will go ahead. Last week it was ruled that the case will proceed on the provision that some new paperwork is filed.  Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner allege that Vivendi, owner of StudioCanal, who in turn is the rights holder of the ‘Spinal Tap’ movie, of deliberate under-payment of music and other royalties.  The action started when Harry Shearer began the lawsuit against Vivendi, and not long after Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner followed suit. They turned it up to eleven, and claimed that Vivendi “wilfully manipulated certain accounting data, while ignoring contractually-obligated accounting and reporting processes, to deny [the] co-creators their rightful stake in the production’s profits”. Vivendi called the litigation ‘absurd’ and stated that they planned to have the case dismissed. In the ruling last week the Judge stated that the creators of ‘Spinal Tap’ had not done enough to substantiate the claims of fraud, Judge Dolly Gee explained that: although the creators had “vaguely alleged the elements of a fraud claim, they have failed to plead…

The UK’s competition regulator approves Live Nations takeover of the Isle of Wight Festival
Competition , Live Events / October 2017
UK

COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority has approved Live Nation’s acquisition of the Isle of Wight Festival, concluding that the live giant’s latest expansion of its festival portfolio does not raise any competition issues. The deal was concluded through the LNE-Gaiety joint venture between Denis Desmond’s Gaiety and Live Nation. Desmond is also non-executive Chairman of LNE.    Prior to the decision, the UK’s festival trade association, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) had written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urging the CMA to widen its investigation into the acquisition of Isle of Wight Festival to include an inquiry into global promoter’s “position in the [UK] market overall”. AIF published a report that showed that Live Nation either owns or holds a majority stake in nearly a quarter (23%) of all UK events with a capacity of over 5,000. In total, Live Nation controls 28 UK festivals, including eight of Britain’s largest outdoor events (Download, V Festival, Reading/Leeds, Parklife, Creamfields, Lovebox and Wilderness) but  whilst this excludes Glastonbury, it is almost three times more than its nearest competitor, Global, which AIF says has a  8% marketshare. Rival AEG promotes the 65,000 capacity British…

Radiohead stage death trial collapses
Health & Safety , Live Events / October 2017
Canada
UK

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   “No doubt, this decision will be incomprehensible to Mr Johnson’s family, who can justifiably complain that justice has not been done”. Judge Ann Nelson   The criminal case and trial against the organisers of Radiohead’s 2012 concert in Toronto where British drum technician Scott Johnson was killed and three others injured when a scaffolding structure collapsed at Downsview Park in June 16th 2012 has ended because of delays in the trial itself, primarily as the original judge hearing the case received a promotion. In July 2017 Justice Shaun Nakatsuru, said that his appointment to the Ontario Superior Court meant he no longer had jurisdiction over the case. Nakatsuru said he came to the decision with “great regret” saying “My appointment was unexpected and without notice. I know that the defendants have waited a long time for the final resolution of this case. So has the public” and “There are many compelling reasons why it would be in the best interests of justice for me to finish this. But I cannot.” The show was promoted by Live Nation, and LNE and its Ontario subsidiary were subsequently charged under the Canadian province’s Occupational Health And Safety Act….

Yoko Ono forces a John Lemon re-brand
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2017
Netherlands
UK

TRADE MARK Artists   John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, has pushed  a Polish beverage company into changing the name of its new lemondade drink which had been called “John Lemon”. The singer-artist’s legal team alleged that the product infringed on Ono’s ‘John Lennon’ trademark and his personality rights. With a Dutch action pending, Mr Lemonade Alternative Drinks agreed to change the name to “On Lemon” after Ono wrote to the company and its distributors across Europe, warning that continued infringement could result in substantial damages which were reported as 5000 euros per day that the drink was on sale, and 500 euros for every bottle sold.    Ono’s attorney, Joris Van Manen, told the East London Advertiser that the lemonade sellers “were abusing and misusing the legacy of John Lennon to sell their soda”. In addition the lawyer cited various promotional efforts by the drinks company that also alluded to the one time Beatle.   The legal action referenced a Facebook post by John Lemon Ireland showing a large wall mural of Lennon holding lemons with the brand’s logo underneath. Other advertising depicted a pair of round glasses, closely linked with the famous Beatle, next to the words “Let It Be.”  …

Foos fight the touts
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / October 2017
UK
USA

CONTRACT / CONSUMER Live events sector   Foo Fighters have risked a PR disaster by turning away fans who had brought tickets for their show at London’s September 19th O2 from secondary re-sellers. Whilst the band  apologised to fans who were turned away from the O2 Arena  buying tickets from the secondary sites they and promoters SJM Concerts said they had made it very clear at the point of sale that each buyer’s name was printed on each ticket for the show and that buyers would be required to show ID to prove it was their name on the ticket before being granted entry.    It was reported that 200 people were turned away at the doors. In a statement, the band said: “The Foo Fighters show that took place at The O2 last night had a strict ‘names on ticket’ policy. The stipulation that ID would be required for admittance to the show was clearly stated at the time of announcement and was explicitly noticed at the point of purchase”. The band added that a number of other measures to ensure that tickets were not resold by touts were also put in place adding “despite these requirements being in place, some purchasers listed…

ZAPPA vs ZAPPA and ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   What essentially is a trademark dispute has taken on dinosaur proportions due to the participants involved – the children of the late US musician, Frank Zappa, who died on the 4th December 1993.   Zappa Plays Zappa was a tribute band formed in 2006 by Dweezil Zappa, the eldest son of the late Frank; and as the name implies, performs the music of his father.  The Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) managed the late musican’s estate, with his widow Gail Zappa as its Trustee.  On July 26th, 2006 the ZFT filed a trademark registration application with the United Sates Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the name ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA and was granted an unopposed registration on May 15, 2007. For nearly a decade, Dweezil Zappa performed under the monicker of Zappa Plays Zappa, playing the music of his late father to audiences worldwide and winning one Grammy in 2009.  So far so good.    In October 2015, Gail Zappa died leaving two of her four children – Ahmet and Diva, the younger siblings, as the Trustees of the ZFT with a share of 30% each, thereby handing control of the Trust over to them.  All four children are beneficiaries,…

Kanye fights on in cancelled tour insurance claim
Insurance , Live Events / October 2017
USA

INSURANCE Live events sector   The dispute between Kanye West and the insurers of his abandoned 2016 ‘St Pablo’ tour continues, and West has now responded to a countersuit filed by the tour’s insurers West’s $10 million insurance claim was made when he prematurely ended his US tour last November after ‘erratic behaviour’. He was subsequently admitted to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital Center, with one news agency sating at the time that this was “for his own health and safety”. West sued his insurers at the beginning of August 2017. West claimed that he ended his 2016 tour early on the advice of doctors, and therefore the insurance policy must cover the losses incurred by West and his company Very Good Touring. The lawsuit also alleged that Lloyd’s fed confidential information about West to news outlets, and states that the insurers’ own selected doctor asserted that West’s mental condition was “disabling” enough to prevent him from continuing the tour.   The insurers countersued, accusing West of not fully co-operating with their investigation into the circumstances around the ‘St Pablo’ cancellation. The Lloyds of London insurers also alleged that there were “substantial irregularities in Mr West’s medical history In the lawsuit.”  An independent…

Viagogo faces Australian investigation
Competition , Live Events / September 2017
Australia
UK

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector    The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has begun legal proceedings against the secondary ticketing website Viagogo, accusing the controversial ticket resale platform of making false or misleading representations, and of engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct, joining a number of actions that Viagogo is facing in different countries around the globe.   In the UK, Viagogo has faced growing complaints, not least because it re-sold tickets for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity concert, because not one representative of the now Swiss based company turned up for the investigation into ticketing by the Parliamentary Culture Select Committee despite Viagogo having a UK office, and has faced a furious backlash from consumers, most noticeably from the Victims Of Viagogo campaign on Facebook.   The ACCC is claiming in the filing with the Australian Federal Court that the secondary ticketing company breached Australian consumer rights law between 1st May and 26th June this year. Among the specific complaints made by the ACCC are that:  Viagogo failed to disclose upfront significant booking fees, estimating that these average 27.6% for most events; that it misled consumers about ticket availability by making statements like “less than 1% of tickets…

Ticket touts and secondary re-sellers face increased scrutiny across Europe
Competition , Live Events / September 2017
EU
UK

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   Spain and Italy are taking the lead on clamping down on ticket touting and some of the less savoury activities of some players in the secondary ticketing market, and now some of the biggest ticketing companies and concert promoters in Spain and Italy are facing prosecution.   In Milan, state prosecutor Adriano Scudieri has accused promoters Di and Gi, Live Nation and Vivo of misleading consumers the actual reality of a ‘sell out’ for some shows – panicking fans into hasty purchases at over inflated tickets prices for shows they were told were about to sell-out. Scudueri also claims that a number of companies signed “hidden agreements” with secondary ticketing site Viagogo to supply tickets to Viagogo from the primary market for sale at “unreasonably” high prices, netting €1.4 million in the process.   The State Prosecutor has announced that there will be two charges brought against the secondary ticketing companies.  The first will be for defrauding the State of 1.4 Million Euros, as a result of artificial price-rigging. The companies have further been accused of conspiring against the Italian music collection society, SIAE, and will be charged with defrauding the State of 150,000…

Potential sale of Isle of Wight Festival opens up competition issues
Competition , Live Events / September 2017
UK

COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s festivals trade association, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urging the CMA to widen its investigation into Live Nation’s acquisition of Isle of Wight Festival to include an inquiry into US promoter’s “position in the [UK] market overall”. The 60 festival strong group made the recommendation after publishing research that showed that Live Nation either owns or holds a majority stake in nearly a quarter (23%) of all UK events with a capacity of over 5,000. In total, Live Nation controls 28 UK festivals, including eight of Britain’s largest outdoor events (Download, V Festival, Reading/Leeds, Parklife, Creamfields, Lovebox and Wilderness) and whilst this excludes Glastonbury, it is almost three times more than its nearest competitor, Global, which AIF says has a  8% marketshare. Rival AEG promotes the 65,000 capacity British Summer Time shows in London’s Hyde Park. Live Nation has divisions operating in tour and festival promotion, venue management, primary and secondary ticketing, and artist management, and continues to be acquisitive, not least in the UK where it has bought into a number of touring, festival and venue companies in recent years. AIF’s general manager, Paul Reed,…

Sweet home truths for Artimus Pyle
Artists , Contract / September 2017
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   You might have thought that having an ex-member of a legendary band involved in a film bio-pic would be an asset, but a new Lynryd Skynryd biopic has been blocked because of ex-drummer’s Artimus Pyle’s involvement.  Initially producers Cleopatra Records said that the biopic, Street Survivor: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash‘ was not an authorised project, and that it should be free to make the film – arguing that under its First Amendment free speech rights, it was allowed to make a film about the band and the 1977 plane crash in which two band members died. Initially US District Court Judge Robert Sweet agreed that Cleopatra was free to make the film in its own right, but then found that the involvement of Pyle in the movie venture violated the agreement (a’consent order’) he had reached with his former bandmates back in 1988. In that agreement, Pyle was given permission to tell his own life story, but he couldn’t use the band’s name or exploit the rights of the two band members killed in the 1977 crash, Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Granting an injunction, Judge Sweet said: “Cleopatra is prohibited from making its movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd when its…

Live on stage: Avenged Sevenfold face jury trial in battle with Warners
Artists , Contract / September 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   Metal band Avenged Sevenfold’s troubles with Warner Bros continue, stemming from a legal action brought by the major label in January 2016. The action began when the label sued the band over the band’s failure to deliver a new album. In response, Avenged Sevenfold cited the “seven-year rule” set out in the California Labor Code which allows parties to leave personal service contracts under certain circumstances after seven years have passed.  The Hollywood Reporter reports that intense record industry lobbying had meant the the Code was amended in the 1980s to allow record companies to claim lost profits on uncompleted albums. Record companies, though, only have 45 days to do so when an artist exercises the right to terminate. At the heart of the didpute is Avenged Sevenfold’s album The Stage which was released via Capitol Records, and at the same time Warner Bros. put out a Avenged Sevenfold ‘Greatest Hits’. Most commentators then presumed the legal dispute had been settled – but not so – and now the “seven-year rule” will be tested before a jury. The Hollywood Reporter estimate that if Avenged Sevenfold (ultimately) lose the court battle, it could cost them between $5 million and…

Music not politically correct? Spotify will protect you
Censorship / September 2017
EU
UK
USA

CENSORSHIP / EQUALITY Recorded music, streaming   Bands like Rage Against the Machine, Dead Kennedys and Public Enemy exemplify the fact that music is political and vice versa.  But how political is too political? In 2014 The Sothern Poverty Law Centre published a list of ‘white power’ artists, in which 37 artists including ‘Skull Head’ and ‘Tattooed Mother Fuckers’ were featured. The list was originally intended to target the iTunes store, and at the time Apple did remove many of the artists from download sales. The list has recently resurfaced, in the aftermath of the race related protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Spotify has now taken action to remove artists that are identified as white supremacist hate bands.  Spotify has over 140 million users, but the question should be asked: do these users need to be told what they can and cannot listen to? Well, a spokesperson for the service, which claims to be a champion of free speech, stated that “Illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality, or the like is not tolerated by us.”  Spotify’s competitor Deezer has also joined in, and has also taken moves to decide what users can and…

Filmchella faces Coachella complaint
Live Events , Trade Mark / September 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Live events sector   Goldenvoice, the organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one of the world’s leading music festivals, have filed a trademark infringement lawsuit over the planned “Flmchella” film festival, arguing that the new event has refused repeated requests to change its name.  The complaint, filed by Coachella Music Festival LLC in the US District Court for Central California, says that Filmchella founder Robert Trevor Simms and twenty other defendants are using the similar-sounding name to their name and trade mark for their multiday outdoor film festival. To add to this, the complaint says that both events feature numerous forms of entertainment and camping, are held in Southern California and that Simms has pitched his planned festival as “Coachella for movies”. The film festival is scheduled to run from the 29th September to the 1st October in Joshua Tree, California. Coachella Music Festival LLC owns several trademarks and servicemarks associated with the festival, including the Coachella servicemark and “Chella” for use on shirts and T-shirts; However the trademark for use of “Chella” in “musical” and “cultural and arts events”, “campground facilities”, “hotel accommodation services”, drinks, transportation and other clothing has not as yet been…

Grande face new US claim in wake of Cox ruling
Copyright , Internet / September 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   US internet service provider Grande Communications is fighting back against the action iy faces which was commenced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).   Earlier this year, the RIAA sued the Texas internet service provider claiming that “Despite their knowledge of repeat infringements, defendants have permitted repeat infringers to use the Grande service to continue to infringe plaintiffs’ copyrights without consequence”.   The move comes in the wake of the recent ruling in the dispute between music rights firm BMG and internet service provider Cox Communications, in which the court found that internet service provider Cox was liable for the copyright infringement of its customers.  The judge held this because Cox Communications operated a (deliberately) poor system for dealing with copyright infringing customers, Cox could not rely on the safe harbour defence in US law.   Now the RIAA is looking to have Grande Communications held liable for the copyright infringement of its customers. The RIAA plans to do this on the basis that Grande Communications isn’t doing enough to deal with said infringers, and therefore will not be able to rely on the safe harbour defence. In 2014 Cox was accused of repeatedly refusing “to…

Quincy Jones wins $9.4 million in Jackson claim
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music   Quincy Jones has won a jury decision in the case he brought in the Los Angeles Superio Court against the Michael Jackson Estate, winning $9.4 million in what he alleged were underpaid or unpaid royalties. Jones had accused Sony Music and MJJ Productions (one of Michael Jackson’s companies, now controlled by the Jackson Estate) or depriving him of some $30 million in royalties, almost all from the period following Jackson’s death in 2009 and the utilisation of recordings which Jones had produced for Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad in projects such as the This Is It film and two Cirque du Soleil shows. At the trial Jones admitted he had not focussed on the contracts he signed in 1978 and 1985, but said the recordings had been re-edited and re-mixed to deprive him of an equitable share of income and that he had a contractual right to be offered and undertake at any re-edit or remix. MJJ had countered that Jones was incorrectly interpreting contracts he signed with Jackson on which the royalty claims were based and the Estate argued that the unpaid sums came to less than $400,000.  After the decision Jones commented: “As an artist, maintaining the vision and integrity of one’s…

Arcade under Fire
Contract , Live Events / August 2017
Canada

CONTRACT Live events sector   The Canadian indie rock group, Arcade Fire, has come under fire for requesting attendees to its Everything Now release show at Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall to wear ‘hip and trendy’ clothes. Apple has plans to live-stream the event on Apple Music and it has been reported that they were the ones to send the notice to ticket holders.   The notice that was emailed to the ticket holders for the intimate gig asked that they refrain from wearing “shorts, large logos, flip flops, tank tops, crop tops, baseball hats, solid white or red clothing,” the notice went on to say “We reserve the right to deny entry to anyone dressed inappropriately.”   The notice did not stop there, ticket holders were asked to make the show a “phone-free experience”. The notice explained that “all phones and smart watches will be secured in Yondr pouches that will be unlocked at the end of the show”.   Now this is Music Law Updates, so naturally the question arises as to the legal standing of the notice. Disclaimer: for the purposes of this article I will pretend that the Arcade Fire gig is to be held in England, and therefore English law…

Travis Scott takes action against former management
Artists , Contract , Employment Law / August 2017
USA

CONTRACT / EMPLOYMENT LAW Artistes   Travis Scott (Jacques Webster), the US rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer, has accused the artist management company owned by music industry veteran Lyor Cohen (now  top music man at YouTube) of violating California’s Talent Agencies Act. It’s a two way battle: LCAR Management sued Scott earlier this year claiming that the rapper, who had been a client, owed the firm $2 million. Now, according to Billboard, Scott has responded by accusing LCAR of Talent Agencies Act violations by allegedly booking shows for him without the approval of his actual talent agent, and therefore acting as if a talent agency in itself – without a licence from the California state Labor Commissioner. Scott is seeking to void his contract with LCAR on the basis of the alleged violations. There are further allegations including that LCAR allegedly used Scott to promote Cohen’s other business venture, even though he had no affiliation with that business. LCAR is yet to respond to Scott’s claims. http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/travis-scott-accuses-former-management-of-violating-californias-talent-agencies-act/

Lil Wayne adds Universal to his ‘Cash Money’ litigation
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music   Lil Wayne has added Universal to his ‘Cash Money’ litigation in a New Orleans law suit that accuses the Cash Money record company and its major label partner of colluding to deny Lil Wyane royalties that are properly payable to him.  Cash Money co-owners Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams are also added to the pending suit that asserts a conspiracy and seeks more than $40 million in actual damages.  Cash Money are Lil Wayne’s long-time label and the dispute includes both a complaint over the delayed release of his long awaited ‘Tha Carter V’ album, and the royalties Wayne claims are due from records released by his joint venture imprint Young Money, which includes albums from Drake. Last year Wayne sued Universal Music directly. In that case, the rapper argued that Universal, which distributes Cash Money and Young Money releases, was withholding monies generated by the latter label’s records in order to recoup advances previously paid to the former. Wayne argued that his share of Young Money income should not be applied be used to recoup Cash Money’s debts. That law suit, which also lists US collecting society SoundExchange as a defendant, was subsequently put on hold, because…

The European Copyright Directive, safe harbour and the value gap found in the middle of it
Copyright , Internet / August 2017
EU

COPYRIGHT Internet, digital   The EU’s E-Commerce Directive created the ‘safe harbour’ to protect Information Society Service Provides (ISP) where, subject to certain requirements, they unknowingly provided copyright-infringing material.   Take the YouTube example; due to the scale and amount of content that is uploaded to YouTube on a daily basis, it is almost an impossible task to monitor all content for copyright-infringing material. Therefore, and providing YouTube is doing all that it can in actively monitoring for copyright infringing content, it is protected by the ‘safe harbour’ rules. These rules mean that YouTube cannot be found to be liable for the infringement. However, with all rules there is an exception, the general exception for the safe harbour rules mean that if a ISP is put on notice that it is hosting infringing material it must act efficiently and expeditiously to remove the content, if this does not happen the ISP may be found to be liable.   It has been argued by both the music publishing and recorded music sectors that sites such as YouTube exploit the safe harbour rules. It is said that YouTube uses the safe harbour rules to effectively pay (much) lower royalties to copyright holders and this…

US music publishers up the stakes with Spotify
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, collection societies   Tensions between Spotify and National Music Publishers Association are reportedly rising in the USA with the arguments now focussing on the so called ‘mechanical right’ which generates a mechanical royalties on Spotify streams – and which cannot be collected bu US collecting societies BMI and ASCAP which only represent the performing rights in songs. Spotify can benefit from the compulsory licence schemes for mechanical rights Stateside, and hired The Harry Fox Agency (previously owned by the NMPA) to manage the process, but a group of independent songwriters and music publishers  who were  not represented by HFA went unpaid, and this resulted in class action litigation led by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick – a battle where the NMPA intervened as a peace maker: as the legal battle began in early 2016, the NMPA announced a settlement deal with Spotify over previously unpaid mechanicals. Subsequently Lowery and Ferrick’s class actions were settled in May this year. But now reports say that the NMPA has been pushing for new commitments from Spotify (not least as the major recorded music groups have equity stakes in the soon to be listed streaming giant – unlike the major music publishers) and are challenging the streaming company’s…

Barry based security firm under investigation
Health & Safety , Live Events / August 2017
UK

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   A Welsh event security firm is under investigation by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) for allegedly supplying unlicensed stewards to several British music festivals. The Security Industry Authority (SIA) confirmed it was investigating LS Armour Security Ltd of Barry, South Wales, following a compliance check. The SIA It said it was “exceptional” for it to comment publicly and had taken “unprecedented action due to public safety.” The investigation is looking at wether the firm supplied cloned badges to unlicensed stewards at UK festivals. Reports say that Lee Szuchnik of LS Armour Security, had advertised for security staff for several festivals this summer, including Glastonbury Festival, Shindig Weekender in Bruton, Somerset, and Mutiny Festival in Portsmouth. The company has also been recruiting for stewards for Liverpool International Music Festival and Lewes Live Festival later this month.   In a statement, an SIA spokesman said: “This type of unlawful conduct remains rare due to responsible organisers and security providers conducting appropriate due diligence …. Nevertheless, the SIA understands that at this time of year, event organisers and primary contractors may not have sufficient SIA-licensed staff, which can lead to extensive sub-contracting” and “This provides opportunities to rogue providers…