Australia drops ‘safe harbour’ reforms
Copyright / April 2017
Australia

COPYRIGHT All areas   The Australian government has dropped plans to extend safe harbour protection from the revision of the country’s copyright laws. The Australian recorded music industry was among those who criticised plans to extend the country’s copyright safe harbour to be more in line with those in the US and Europe. Others in the media and entertainment industries hit out at that proposal, pointing out that the wider safe harbour provisions were becoming increasingly controversial in the US and the European Union, and that moves were afoot in the latter to put new limits on safe harbour protection, and that the proposed safe harbour reform hadn’t been subject to proper consultation, unlike the other proposals in the Copyright Amendment Bill. Dan Rosen of the Australian Recording Industry Association said on the news: “The other schedules to the bill were subject to a proper consultation and review by the department and that would be the appropriate place for an evidence-based inquiry into the commercial and market impact of any reform to safe harbour”. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said that the safe harbour proposal had been taken out of the copyright bill in response to “feedback” from the content industries, and…

The US Supreme Court has declines Vimeo appeal
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a final appeal in Capitol Records’ legal battle with video-sharing site Vimeo for hosting unauthorised recordings from The Beatles, Elvis Presley and other classic artists. The court  has left in place a federal appeals court ruling which said websites are protected from liability even for older music recorded before 1972 under the DCMA’s ‘safe harbor’ provisions.  Capital Records and other music companies had sued Vimeo for violating copyright laws for videos uploaded by users of the site and federal judge ruled a federal “safe harbour” law did not cover pre-1972 audio recordings. which are generally protected by state law. But a New York federal appeals court overturned that ruling, saying service providers would incur heavy costs to monitor every posting or risk “crushing liabilities” under state law. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that exempting older recordings from the safe harbor principle would “defeat the very purpose Congress sought to achieve in passing [it]”. The appellate court then refused to reconsider the case in August, resulting in the recorded music industry taking the matter to the US Supreme Court last December. The Supreme Court has now declined to hear the case, meaning…

Falls Festival crowd crush lawsuit reaches court
Health & Safety , Live Events / April 2017
Australia

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   A class-action lawsuit has just been filed against the organisers of Falls Festival following the  crowd crush that took place at the Lorne edition  of the 2016/17 event in Australia, which left approximately 80 people injured – some very seriously. The Industry Observer reports that the incident occurred as festival-goers were leaving a set by local trio DMA’S to catch international act London Grammar, with the crowd’ surge towards the seemingly inadequate exits caused audience members to be crushed against the barriers or beneath the resulting stampede. Pres reports in December 2016 said “Festival-goers were crushed, left gasping for air and unconscious during a chaotic crowd stampede at the Falls Festival in Lorne on Victoria’s south-west coast” A representative for the lawyers acting for the claimants stated “The allegation is that if proper care and attention had been taken to configuring the area where the acts were taking place, and the scheduling of the successive acts this stampede would not have occurred, that this was entirely avoidable” adding “That’s the basis of this action – predominantly in negligence of the organisers. 65 participants are seeking damages in the case. Falls co-producer Jessica Ducrou responded with a…

Italian band Soviet Soviet deported from US en route to SXSW
Immigration , Live Events / April 2017
Italy
USA

IMMIGRATION Live events sector      Tighter visa restrictions on performers for South by Southwest showcase performances entering the USA first surfaced when Italian band Soviet Soviet posted a lengthy statement on Facebook on Friday after being refused entry en route to their (unpaid) show. The band say that they were handcuffed and detained overnight after being deemed illegal immigrants because border officials said they had incorrect travel documentation. The band had been travelling on the visa waiver programme ESTA, which allows citizens of nearly 40 countries to travel to the US for 90 days on business or leisure without requiring a visa. However, travellers must not earn money in the US during their stay.  Apart from SXSW, the band had a number of other promotional performances scheduled, including a showcase at Seattle radio station KEXP – but not for payment, and the band said “We knew that if we were to receive any compensation we would have had to apply for work visas. This was not the case and the people we spoke to for information told us we would be fine. The point is that the control agents – who did a quick check on the concerts we informed them of –…

Spain cuts rate of VAT on cultural events
Live Events , Taxation / April 2017
Spain

TAXATION Live events sector   Spain’s minister for education, culture and sport, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, has announced a cut in the rate of cultural value-added tax (VAT) to 10%. The reduction confirms a manifesto promise by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party, which last September pledged to reduce VAT for live entertainment, or “cultural shows” (espectáculos culturales) which has stood at a record 21% since September 2012, when Rajoy increased the tax, which previously stood at 8%. The tax hike has been catastrophic for the Spanish live industry where revenues from ticket sales fell 27.51% between 1 September 2012 and summer 2013, and the country’s live music industry has only just recently recovered to its pre-2011 levels. https://www.iq-mag.net/2017/03/cultural-vat-cut-10-percent-spain/#.WNt1xzvyuM9

China’s Music licensing revenues increase – but still low by international standards
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2017
China

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   According to the statistics released by the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC), music industry licensing revenue amounted to RMB184 million (approx. £21 million) in 2016, an increase of 8.2% from last year. Digital licensing accounted for most of the growth and now represents 37% of the total. Revenues from broadcasting and public performances dipped. Music licensing revenues in China remain low by global standards. Draft amendments to the Chinese Copyright Law may help, with proposals for new statutory rights for sound recordings. In November 2016 the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) including a commitment that “China will urge copyright owners and broadcasters to timely perform their respective obligations in accordance with the Interim Measures for Payment of Remuneration by Radio and Television Stations for Broadcasting Sound Recordings”.    And in Kenya, The Music Copyright Society of Kenya has lost the licence to collect music royalties. The moved followed the decision by the board of directors of Kenya Copyright Board to approve the licensing of a new body, Music Publishers Association of Kenya Limited, to collect royalties on behalf of authors, composers and publishers from March 2017 to February 2018, effective immediately. The decision was made after the new…

DCMS Minister highlights potential s696 abuses to the London Mayor
Licensing , Live Events / April 2017
UK

LICENSING Live events sector   In a slightly unusual move, Conservative DCMS minister Matt Hancock has written to London’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan raising his concerns over the Metropolitan Police’s somewhat controversial ‘risk assessment’ form 696, claiming it can be used to “single out” certain music genres. The form, which is only used in London, requests that names, stage names, private addresses, and phone numbers of all promoters, DJs and artists be listed for an event that “predominantly features DJs or MCs performing to a recorded backing track” – so hiphop, rap and grime then! In June 2009 the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee said that the Promotion and Event Assessment Form (form 696) went “beyond the Act and its guidance to impose unreasonable conditions on events and recommends that it should be scrapped.” At the time Feargal Sharkey, then head of UK Music, was a vocal critic. The original form asked for details of ethnic groups likely to attend the performance, but that section was removed in 2008. Now Hancock has now said: “It is clear that the way in which the form is being used can single out certain genres of music and may be deterring the staging of…

Russian collection society fraud deepens
Criminal Law / March 2017
Russia

CRIMINAL Collection societies   Russian collecting society RAO has begun to uncover the extent of the frauds it has suffered following various accusations of embezzlement, one of which resulted in former General Director Sergei Fedotov being placed in custody. He is accused of funnelling over 500 million rubles (£6.9 million) out of the organisation during his time in charge. Authors’ rights collecting society RAO initially defended Fedotov, but new General Director Maksim Dmitriev said that an audit of the years 2014 to 2016 had uncovered 228 million rubles (£3.1 million) of suspicious activity in the last year alone, including the “transfer of funds on spurious grounds and overstating expenses”. It should be noted that the largest of these payments was taken out in the second half of last year, after Fedotov’s arrest. The fraud(s) have contributed to growing losses at the collecting society – an average of 200 million rubles (£2.75 million) have seeemingly been removed annually by the end of 2015, which in turn meant that RAO has not been able to pay songwriters and publishers the royalties they are due.  Dmirriev said “By the end of 2015 RAO had an impossible obligation to songwriters to the total amount of 2.8 billion…

Russia proposes a ‘super’ EEU collection society
Copyright / March 2017
Russia

COPYRIGHT Collection societies   Billboard reports that the Russian government has proposed that there should be one collective licensing body across the Eurasian Economic Union. Russia’s government is still deciding whether or not the government should take over collective licensing in the country after a number of scandals, setting up a new agency that would combine RAO (which is the collection society for authors’ rights), 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. Russia’s culture ministry has now reportedly suggested a multi-territory licensing body could be set up as part of the Eurasian Economic Union. According to Billboard, the Russian culture ministry has proposed that that new government-led rights body could also handle collective licensing in other countries that are part of the Eurasian Economic Union, which are the former Soviet states Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Russia The culture ministry has suggested that the multi-territory rights body could “combine national collecting societies and develop uniform standards for their operation, management and control over their observance”. The latter proposal – ie an EEU body regulating collective licensing – would have some parallels with the regulation…

Swedish appellate court allows web blocking
Copyright , Internet / March 2017
EU
Netherlands
Sweden

COPYRIGHT Internet   The Swedish Court Of Appeal has overturned the ruling in the District Court Of Stockholm in 2015 which had dismissed an application that would have forced internet service providers to block The Pirate Bay and other platforms linked to music and other piracy – a move opposed Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget   The Patent And Market Court Of Appeal has now ruled in favour of music and movie companies, ordering Bredbandsbolaget to implement web-blocking of both The Pirate Bay and another piracy site called Swefilmer. The court confirmed that their judgement was in part influenced by the web-block injunctions that have been ordered elsewhere in the European Union. Torrentfreak reports that judge Christine Lager said in a statement: “In today’s judgment, the Patent And Market Court held that right holders such as film and music companies can obtain a court order in Sweden against an ISP, which forces the ISP to take measures to prevent copyright infringement committed by others on the internet. The decision is based in EU law and Swedish Law should be interpreted in the light of EU law. Similar injunctions have already been announced, such as in Denmark, Finland, France and the UK, but the verdict today is…

Sirius XM wins again against the Turtles
Copyright / March 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   Sirius XM Holdings Inc has won the dismissal of a New York copyright lawsuit over the satellite radio company’s use of pre-1972 sound recordings brought by Flo & Eddie, Inc, who own the 60s pop band the Turtles’ catalogue, reducing the size of a related settlement between both sides in November.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now accepted the December 20th ruling by the New York state’s Court of Appeals that New York common law does not protect the public performance of songs made before 1972. The 2nd Circuit rejected an argument by Flo & Eddie Inc that the state court ruling did not resolve Sirius’ liability for unauthorised copying and unfair competition, saying the ruling covered both issues. This decision overturns U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon 2014 decision. Where this leaves the settlements between the plaintiffs (and others) is now open to question: U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles, California, granted preliminary approval of the settlement on January 27th. A hearing on final approval is scheduled for May 8. Five major record companies settled their own lawsuit against Sirius the use of older recordings for $210 million in June 2015.  In…

Florida appellate court to hear Turtles’ appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments beginning on April 6th in the copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by founding members of the 1960s rock group the Turtles against SiriusXM satellite radio. Flo & Eddie Inc., the California-based company whose principals are Turtles vocalists Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, filed the lawsuit in 2013 alleging copyright infringement involving music made prior to 1972. Flo & Eddie have won suits against SiriusXM in California and New York (the later subsequently over turned) but a federal district court judge in Florida sided in 2015 with the satellite broadcaster, finding nothing in Florida statutes or common law dealt with copyrights of recordings made before 1972 (and the federal Copyright Act). Judge Darrin Gayle said that “Florida is different”  (from New York and California) saying “There is no specific Florida legislation covering sound recording property rights, nor is there a bevy of case law interpreting common law copyright related to the arts.” Declining to fill the void in the state’s legislation the Judge said “If this Court adopts Flo & Eddie’s position, it would be creating a new property right in Florida as opposed to interpreting the law”  adding that it’s…

Can ReDigi re-sell its self to the Court of Appeal?
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet It appears that ReDigi is making a comeback with some high-profile support. Back in 2013 we were listening to the case of Capitol Records, LLC v ReDigi Inc. The case asked if the digital music purchases were capable and eligible for resale under the first sale doctrine.  The doctrine of first sale is (of course!) the legal concept that has been enshrined into US and other copyright laws. It provides that purchasers of copyrighted material are afforded the right to re- sell the material. In the UK we like to explain it to be that once the copyrighted or trade marked product is sold, the proprietor of the copyright or trade mark has exhausted his/ or her rights and cannot use the rights to stop the product being re-sold.  In ReDigi the issue was that of the purchasers of digital music being afforded the right to re-sell the music.  Capitol Records were not fans of this, they said that it was a infringement of copyright. They argued that the infringement came about when  copies of the music files were made during the transmission from users of ReDigi to the ReDigi servers and then again in transactions between users. …

ITV loses Copyright Tribunal appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2017
UK

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, music publishing     UK national broadcaster ITV has lost its appeal to the  High Court appeal against the 2016 Copyright Tribunal ruling that set rates for the current (2014-2017) period with PRS for Music, the collection society which represents composers, lyricists and music publishers in the United Kingdom. The Tribunal agreed that PRS could increase the tariff beyond the 2013 fee payment of £23 million per annum to a new base rate of £24 million for all ITV uses (including breakfast TV) adjusted by (a) BARB viewing figures for ITV during each year and (b) the percentage change in RPIJ (the RPI inflation measure). On appeal the High Court told ITV that the Tribunal  “had not made an error of law in reaching its decision”. Commenting on the decision, PRS Commercial Director Paul Clements said: “In June 2016, the copyright tribunal decided a dispute over the terms of ITV’s broadcast licence in PRS For Music’s favour. The tribunal decision set down clear and compelling reasons for an increase in the licence fee, reflecting the right value for our members’ music”. “While ITV chose to appeal this decision, I am pleased that the High Court has now rejected their arguments and upheld…

T Bone Burnett takes aim at DCMA safe harbours
Copyright , Internet / March 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) nearly two decades ago, aiming to provide a balance between the needs of content creators, who were struggling to protect their intellectual property in the digital age, and fledgling Internet companies, who feared being held liable for the misdeeds of their customers, giving the technology companies the benefit of ‘safe harbour’ protection provided service providers “reasonably implement” a policy that provides for the termination of “repeat infringers” in “appropriate circumstances.” But is that balance right?    Singer, songwriter and producer T Bone Burnett has delivered a telling contribution to the US Copyright Office’s review of Digital Millennium Act ‘safe harbour’ provisions in the USA, saying in a video that whilst the law that was supposed to “balance the internet’s openness with creators’ ability to earn a living wage from their work  ….. [T]hose safe harbours have failed”. “The problems are familiar”, he adds. “[And] they are well described in the record of these proceedings, from the broken Sisyphus climb of ‘notice and takedown’ to the gunpoint negotiations and pittance wages forced upon creators by the Google monopoly. The Big Tech ITOPIANS can track us across dozens of networks, devices and profiles…

New Spanish decision might offer support for direct licensing
Spain

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, live events sector     A Spanish court has ruled against collection society SGAE in favour of a venue which had negotiated to pay performance royalties directly to artists. The ruling, by Judge Pedro Macías in the commercial court of Badajoz in Extremadura, centres on two shows by veteran Spanish rock group Asfalto and comedian Pablo Carbonell at Badajoz’s 325 capacity Sala Mercantil in 2010. When SGAE (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) noted that the usual fees for the concerts had not been paid, it announced its intention to collect, only to be told that  “the artists had reached a private agreement between them” and the Mercantil, according the venues legal team, OpenLaw. Judge Macías’s affirmed the composers “exclusive rights to the exploitation of the work, without any limitations other than those established by law”    “The owners of these rights are the authors, so they are the ones who should be able decide what to do with them,” comments OpenLaw’s Andrés Marín. “If a composer and performer negotiate directly with a third party and agree to give away or even collect their copyrights directly, the SGAE has no right to try to collect, or recover, the rights the…

When will I see my royalties again?
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / March 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   Three members of The Three Degrees, the female vocal group who had hits with  “When Will I See You Again”, “The Runner”, “Woman In Love” and “My Simple Heart”, are suing Sony Music Entertainment, seeking to recoup decades of royalties they say were withheld by a former manager and his widow. The Three Degrees were formed in 1963 in Philadelphia. The group’s membership has changed over the years, but for purposes of the lawsuit it is current members Valerie Holiday (a member from 1967 to present) and Helen Scott (1963-1966, and 1976 to present) and the estate of Fayette Pinkney (a founder member, and with the group until 1976). Pinkney died in June 2009. They were discovered by producer and songwriter Richard Barrett, who produced the original line-up on their first song, “Gee Baby (I’m Sorry)”, for Swan Records, in 1965. Barrett also signed Shiela Ferguson, who went to to become a member. According to the complaint, the group has “never received one penny” of royalties under an oral agreement struck in the mid- to late-1970s with former manager Barrett, for a 75% share of revenues. The plaintiffs say Barrett’s widow, Julie, and her company, Three Degrees Enterprises, have instead kept…

Agent of change comes closer still
Live Events / March 2017
UK

PLANNING Live events sector   As part of a wider review of UK housing, the Government has proposed new measures to boost the ‘agent of change’ protections to safeguard music venues from new property developments, which have been welcomed by UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and the Musicians’ Union. The ‘agent of change’ principal puts the responsibility for matters such as soundproofing new homes with the developer when they choose to develop or re-develop residential accommodation near to a venue, rather than on the venue itself. In proposals announced yesterday, the government said that it would amend the National Planning Policy Framework to emphasise the consideration of existing venues in planning policies and decisions, in an attempt to avoid future noise complaints. The problem was highlighted in the case between between the Ministry Of Sound nigh club in London’s Elephant & Castle and property company Oakmayne, which wanted to build a new block of flats opposite the club – and the Club was concerned that that complaints from new residents could impact on the venue’s licence and future ability to trade. Following a lengthy legal battle, the club and property firm reached a settlement brokered by then London Mayor Boris…

Kylie (M) stops Kylie (J) taking the name
Artists , Trade Mark / March 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Kylie Minogue has reportedly won – or at least settled – an important legal battle with Kylie Jenner over the latter’s application to trade mark their shared first name. The reality TV star filed paperwork at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2015, aiming to register ‘Kylie’ as a trademark for “advertising services” and “endorsement services”. Minogue objected in February 2016, stating in her opposition that Jenner’s trademark application would “bring on confusion for both the celebrities and their brands.” In her opposition, Minogue representatives KBD stated that she was an “internationally renowned performing artist, humanitarian and breast cancer activist” who already owns Kylie related trademarks in the US in, as well as the website www.kylie.com (since 1996), and referred to Jenner as a “secondary reality television personality” and also raised concerns about Jenner’s social media activity stating “Ms. Jenner is active on social media where her photographic exhibitionism and controversial posts have drawn criticism from Disability Rights and African-American communities.”  It now appears the matter has been settled. Minogue owns trademark registrations for “Kylie Minogue Darling,” “Lucky – the Kylie Minogue musical,” and her full name, “Kylie Minogue”. Her registered protection extends to perfumes and toiletries, music and sound recordings, live entertainment,…

Battle for SOS 4.8 set to run
Contract , Live Events , Trade Mark / March 2017
Spain

TRADE MARK / CONTRACT Live events sector     Legal Music, the promoter of the successful Spanish festival SOS 4.8, has accused the Murcian government of illegally laying claim to the name of the event, and indeed the event itself, which it is says it is “sole and rightful owner” which has featured a host if international artistes over the last nine years including Pulp, Morrissey, The National, PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand, The Flaming Lips, Mogwai, The XX, Bloc Party, M83, Pet Shop Boys, Damon Albarn and Phoenix. In December 2016, Legal Music announced the April 2017 edition of SOS 4.8 would not go ahead following the withdrawal of funding from the Autonomous Community of Murcia (Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia, Carm), and the promoter accused the authority of violating its sponsorship agreement with the festival. It then emerged that Carm had trademarked the SOS 4.8 name in 2008, apparently without informing Legal Music, and Carm then said the festival would go ahead with or without Legal Music’s participation, and that Murcia would “not yield to any kind of threats” from Legal Music”  adding that Carm was “the sponsor of SOS 4.8 and the owner of the brand”. In turn…

Major labels take aim at mixtape app
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet   The digital platform that specialising in the distribution of unofficial hip hop mixtapes is in the sights of the US major labels, with the Recording Industry Association Of America accusing Spinrilla and its founder Jeffery Dylan Copeland of rampant copyright infringement. The record labels have, until now, seemingly turned a blind eye to smaller underground labels who release unlicensed mixtapes, which often include multiple unauthorised samples from their catalogues, but Spinrilla has attracted their attention and the Recording Industry Association of America’s complaint reads: “Through the Spinrilla website and apps, users with an artist account can upload content that any other user can then download or stream on demand for free, an unlimited number of times – although the site does have DCMA takedown protocols.  A substantial amount of content uploaded to the Spinrilla website and apps consists of popular sound recordings whose copyrights are owned by plaintiffs”.   Spinrilla is indeed a business – and has a nominally priced premium version available, and the Spinrilla app has appeared in a number of recommended music service lists recently alongside licensed platforms like Spotify, and licensed sites such as MixCloud and SoundCloud.  In a statement, the…

Duran Duran granted leave to appeal against Sony/ATV
UK

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Duran Duran have been granted leave by the High Court in London to appeal against the decision of Mr Justice Arnold in December 2015 when he ruled against the pop band in their dispute against Gloucester Place Music, which is owned by US company Sony/ATV. Arnold J found that the band would be liable for violating its contract with Sony/ATV by trying to avail itself of provisions in U.S. copyright law allowing Duran Duran to terminate license agreements after 35 years. Mr Justice Arnold ruled “not without hesitation” that the contractual interpretation suggested by Gloucester Place was the correct one.   On Friday, February 3rd, Duran Duran issued a press release outlining the details of the appeal. In a statement, Duran Duran founding member and keyboardist Nick Rhodes said: “It was enormously disappointing that Sony/ATV decided to mount this aggressive and unexpected action against us to try to prevent the simple principles and rights afforded to all artists in America regarding their copyrights after 35 years. We are relieved and grateful that we have been given the opportunity to appeal this case because the consequences are wide reaching and profound for us and all other artists. In his…

Will Prince’s musical catalogue return to Tidal?
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, streaming     There is speculation that Prince’s catalogue will come flooding back to Tidal, as details of the dispute between Prince’s estate and Tidal, the music streaming service owned by the rapper Jay Z and a number if other artistes including , Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, Jack White and Madonna have surfaced.    In November, reports say that the Bremer Trust, the interim administrator of Prince’s estate, sued Tidal via Prince’s NGP record label and publishing business. The lawsuit claimed that Tidal’s deal with Prince, which was made prior to the superstars’ unfortunate death, gave Tidal the rights to exclusively stream his penultimate album and not his whole catalogue. Tidal and Rock Nation, also owned by Jay Z, claimed that oral and written agreements had been made between Prince and themselves for use of the catalogue.  In January, Tidal and Roc Nation filed a claim against Prince’s NGP and Bremer Trust. In this claim they alleged that it was agreed that Prince would deliver four albums, for which an advance was paid. ‘Hit and Run: Phase 1’ and ‘Hit and Run: Phase 2’, the superstars final two albums, were expected…

Thirteen face charges over Manilla festival deaths
Health & Safety , Live Events / March 2017

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   Thirteen people are facing criminal charges over the deaths of five people at last May’s Closeup Forever Summer festival in Manilla in the Philippines. During the event was ongoing, five people were found unconscious in separate locations on the concert grounds on the 22nd May 2016. They were Ariel Leal (22), Lance Garcia (36), Ken Migawa (18), Bianca Fontejon (18) and Eric Anthony Miller (33 and an American citizen). The victims had all collapsed at the festival and died later in hospital, and local reports said that they had ingested a cocktail of alcohol and drugs – erports said the five had taken ‘green amore’, a potentially lethal mix of MDMA and shabu, or methamphetamine. Following an eight-month investigation, the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation (NIB) has asked for negligent homicide charges to be brought against 13 executives of promoter Closeup, its parent company, Unilever Philippines, and several security companies. The charges will alleges the defendants “had the ability to prevent the unwanted incidents but failed to do so”. The NBI complaint, filed with the Department of Justice, says the companies – Unilever, Closeup, Activations Advertising, Hypehouse Production Corp. and Delirium Manpower Services – should have put in…

Viagogo faces fresh legal actions for ticket re-sales
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / March 2017
Italy
Switzerland
UK

CONSUMER / CONTRACT Live events sector   Hot on the heels of news that Viagogo were selling tickets for Ed Sheerhan’s Teenage Cancer Trust charity concert at the the Royal Albert Hall at vastly inflated prices, the now Geneva based secondary ticketing platform is facing fresh legal action from a coalition of Spanish promoters, “adding to its ever-growing collection of lawsuits”. The second lawsuit of 2017 follows the outcry over the speculative selling of tickets for a postponed show by Joaquín Sabina in A Coruña (Corunna), Spain, next July, and in a joint statement, the promoters of Sabina’s Lo niego todo (I deny everything) tour, TheProject, Get In and Riff Producciones, and his management company, Berry Producciones, say they are “outraged” and intend to bring legal action action against Viagogo for the fraudulent listing of “tickets that do not exist”.   A spokesperson told IQ magazine that the parties’ lawyers are currently in the process of filing the action and that the lawsuit mirrors one filed by SIAE in late January, in Italy in which the Italian collection society alleged Viagogo listed tickets for a Vasco Rossi show in Modena before they went on sale on the primary market in a move that dragged Live…

Irish MP launches anti touting Bill
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / February 2017
Ireland
Italy

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   Two months after Italy’s landmark legislation which criminalised ticket touting in Italy, an Irish MP has introduced a similar bill – the Prohibition of Above-Cost Ticket Touting Bill 2016 – for consideration by the Oireachtas in the Republic of Ireland. The ,move comes after the widespread re-sale of tickets for U2’s Joshua Tree tour, and the bill is authored by Noel Rock TD and seeks to outlaw above-face value resale in the Irish republic and would, if passed, “render it unlawful for any unauthorised person to sell or offer for sale tickets for major sporting, musical or theatrical events for a price in excess of the officially designated price [face value]”.   The bill has won the backing of a number of other members of Oireachtas, including Stephen Donnelly TD, who has separately contacted the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection to ask for an “investigation into potentially illegal activity” by ticket touts. Rock said: “I have been inundated with people contacting me regarding examples of ticket touting following the sale of U2 concert tickets ” adding “This will be one of the biggest concerts of the year and consumers are now being asked to pay a…

Little River Band Trade Mark Dispute
Artists , Trade Mark / February 2017
Australia
UK
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Australia’s The New Daily has a well written piece on the trials and tribulations of founding (but former) members of Little River Band, one of the country’s first bands to crack America when their track “Help Is On Its Way” entered the US Top Twenty in November 1977. The song, written by lead singer Glenn Shorrock, peaked at number 14 on the Billboard charts and  Between 1977 and 1983 Little River Band had eleven top 20 hits in the United States, leading the way for an Oz invasion that included success for Air Supply, Men At Work, INXS, Savage Garden, Wolfmother, Tame Impala and many more. But for Shorrock and other LRB founding members, The New Daily says “the anniversary of the band’s breakthrough in America is tinged with bitterness.” And why is that? Well, since 1998, all of the original members, including Shorrock, Graeham Goble, Beeb Birtles and Derek Pellicci have been blocked from performing their hits in the US and Australia under the “Little River Band” banner because they no longer control the band’s trademarks. These are owned by Stephen Housedon, a British-born musician and songwriter, who was invited by the founding members to join LRB as lead guitarist in…

Now BMI takes on the US Radio industry
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing    Last month, Irving Azoff’s US collection society, Global Music Rights (GMR), launched a legal attack on the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), which represents over 10,000 commercial radio stations in the United States. The suit followed an action by the RMLC that moved that GMR be enjoined from licensing its catalogue of songs for more than a rate that represented the pro-rata share of its catalogue against those of the other PROs (primarily BMI and ASCAP, and SESAC) while its broader antitrust action is aimed at establishing an appropriate mechanism for determining those rates in the future – and forcing the rights agency to submit to independent arbitration to set the rates broadcasters must pay to play the songs it represents. Azoff formed GMR in 2013 to compete with ASCAP and BMI, which together control approximately 95% of music copyrights. The other independent and privately owned PRO in the USA, SESAC, recently entered into a settlement of with RMLC, following an antitrust action similar to the one filed against GMR.   Against a background of many songwriters and music publishers believing that commercial radio stations in the USA and elsewhere are paying far too little to use their work, GMR’s lawsuit accused the RMLC of…

McCartney files against Sony/ATV to reclaim song copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2017
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, has filed a lawsuit against Sony/ ATV in the federal court in New York.  The lawsuit is aimed at reclaiming the copyright in 267 of the songs that he wrote with John Lennon throughout the 1960s when they were members of the Beatles. The first steps to reclaim the copyrights were taken back in 2008 when McCartney first filed to reclaim the rights in the song ‘Love Me Do’. Since then McCartney has upped the pace; in 2010 he filed for the reversion of copyright in 40 songs in a single claim. As of today, the total number stands at 267 songs this includes hits such as “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “All You Need Is Love”.  Not surprisingly Sony/ ATV have remained silent as to the transfer of the copyright back to McCartney. The lawsuit is based upon the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, specifically the reversion element found within. This allows songwriters that have assigned their works to a third party to reclaim the copyrights following a 56 year period for tracks written before 1978. Reclaiming the copyrights is not as easy as simply taking them…

Sirius XM triumph in New York appellate court
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   New York’s highest court has ruled that Sirius XM does not have to get permission, or pay compensation, to the owners of pre-1972 music recordings in order to play their tracks in the case brought by the owners of The Turtle’s 1967 hit “Happy Together.” The Court of Appeals determined that New York common law does not recognise a “public performance right” in their decision in Flo & Eddie v. Sirius XM Radio. The Court of Appeals’ ruling comes in response to a certified question from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which inquired in April whether New York’s common law provides copyright protections for recordings not covered by federal law. Southern District Judge Colleen McMahon had denied Sirius’ motion for summary judgment in 2014, finding that New York common law did provide a public-right performance   The ruling comes weeks after a settlement between the Turtles members and SiriusXM in a related lawsuit in California. That settlement, which also covers class action claims on behalf of other performers, called for payouts of up to $99 million (an amount that is likely to be reduced as a result of  this ruling). U.S. District Judge Phillip Gutierrez ruled…

Italy moves to crimimalise touting
Consumers , Live Events / January 2017
Italy
UK

CONSUMER Live event sector   An amendment to Italy’s 2017 budget law that would criminalise ticket touting has been approved by the country’s Chamber of Deputies. The amendment, introduced earlier this month by culture minister Dario Franceschini, prohibits the “sale, or any other form of placement [on the secondary market], of tickets” by anyone other than the issuer, and provides for fines of between €5,000 and €180,000 for those caught doing so – both online and elsewhere. In addition, secondary ticketing sites will themselves be held responsible if found to be facilitating the illegal resale of tickets, and subject to “removal of the [tickets] or, in severe cases, the blocking of the website through which the infringement has taken place”. The amendment does allow for the sale of the personal unwanted ticket(s), which are “not sanctioned when carried out by a physical person on an occasional basis, provided there is no commercial purpose”. The amendment will still need to be approved within 30 days by the justice, culture and economic ministries, although a source close to the situation told IQ Magazine that the move will “definitely be approved by [all] parties”. The passage of the bill could, however, be complicated by the…

Italian Court Fines Secondary-Ticketing Websites for ‘Bagarinaggio 2.0’
Copyright , Live Events / January 2017
Italy

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Italian collection society SIAE has won a court order to prevent the resale of tickets to Coldplay’s shows in Milan next July. This update by Jonathan Coote. Judge Fausto Basile at the Civil Tribunal of Rome has ordered that secondary-ticketing sites Viagogo, Seatwave and TicketBis pay €2,000 a ticket if they continue to break copyright laws re-selling Coldplay tickets. However, it has not retrospectively punished the site or its users. The case was brought by the musical copyright collecting agency SIAE (Società Italiana degli Autoried Editori, Italian Society of Authors and Publishers) and consumer agencyFederconsumatori against the sites in response to the influx of tickets appearing after the release of Coldplay tickets for a series of 2017 concerts.   The news follows a soon to be enacted addition to the recently-passed Italian Budget 2017 with the imposition of larger €5,000-180,000 fines for ‘bagarinaggio’ (ticket-touting, including online). The judge instead used Law No. 633 of 1941, for the Protection of Copyright and and Neighbouring Rights, in particular, citing articles 156, 162 and 163 which deal with court regulations in breaching performance rights. Art. 156 allows the collection of damages from any infringers of copyright but also those…

US and UK move against ticketing touts
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / January 2017
UK
USA

CONSUMER – COMPETITION Live events sector   In the USA, anti-touting legislation has primarluly been governed by state level legislation – New York recently banned the use of the so called ‘bots ‘– software that enables ticket touts to buy up large quantities of tickets from primary sites – so that using such technology could result in criminal sanctions including imprisonment. But lawmakers in Washington have been increasingly talking about ‘banning the bots’ and this has resulted in the  ‘Better Online Ticket Sales Act’ (The ‘BOTS’ Act) which means that the use of tout bots will be defined as an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act, a move which will empower the FTC to pursue cases against people using such technology. The Act received Congressional approval earlier this month, and now President Obama has approved to the legislation and his office said the new US-wide measure would “prohibit the circumvention of control measures used by internet ticket sellers to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for certain events”. Live Nation’s Ticketmaster was quick to welcome the passing of the BOTS Act saying: “On behalf of artists, venues, teams, and especially fans, Ticketmaster is pleased that the BOTS Act…

US music industry asks Trump for a fair deal (but less fair use!)
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Nineteen US music industry organisations have come together deliver an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump (pictured left), pointing out that the likes of YouTube, Google and Facebook have thrived on ‘free’ music and what they term the “value grab”, and that “sophisticated technology corporations can do better” at fighting piracy, and and shouldn’t be able to hide behind legislation such as safe harbor – which has arguably allowed the technology and telecoms giants to grow and grow at the expense of the music industry. Amongst those signing are the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) and the Songwriters Guild of America, who have asked Mr Trump to work with them on behalf of “American music – one of our nation’s most valuable forms of art and intellectual property, and a powerful driver of high-quality U.S. jobs and exports” and group ask Trump to pass laws that would strengthen and enforce intellectual property laws in the industry’s fight against “infringers” while seeking fair compensation from “search engines, user upload content platforms, hosting companies, and domain name registrars and…

PRS led investigation results in prison term for chart pirate
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / January 2017
UK

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   A Liverpool man has been sentenced to a 12 month prison sentence after pleading guilty to illegally distributing UK chart hits online, which PRS for Music says potentially cost the music industry “millions of pounds and depriving the creators of the content fair remuneration for their work”. The sentence was the result of a joint investigation between PRS for Music and the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and is the first custodial sentence to arise from the two organisations working together.   In October Wayne Evans pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing an article infringing copyright and one of possessing or controlling an article for use in fraud – Evans had been illegally uploading the UK’s Top 40 singles to various torrent sites as they were announced each week by the Official Charts Company. The 39-year-old was also distributing tracks through his own website, including ‘acappella’ music to be used for DJ-ing and remixing. He admitted using his computers and the website deejayportal.com for use in or in connection with fraud. Before sentencing Judge Alan Conrad, QC, agreed that a pre-sentence report was a necessity,  and said the sentencing judge would require assistance,…

Music copyright owners target FaceBook
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Universal Music Group is leading a pack of music companies who are issuing takedown notices against FaceBook in an effort to remove unlicensed covers of popular tracks – unsurprising given that FaceBook currently doesn’t pay to use music to the likes of PRS for Music. But there some significant casualties – a number of unsigned artists for whom the fallout is causing major headaches. MBW highlights Samantha Harvey, the British singer/songwriter who has attracted 1.97 million ‘Likes’ on her official Facebook page: In a video update to fans originally posted on December 10th, Harvey explained that Facebook had started removing her cover performances on copyright grounds. This, she said, was “on the instruction of publishing companies” saying  “There isn’t a [licensing] deal in place at the moment like there is on YouTube which allows people like me and thousands of others on Facebook to record covers of artists we absolutely love.” Harvey’s manager said that 45% of Harvey’s cover videos have now been removed from Facebook as a result of publisher notifications. Since the takedown notifications began to pour in, the artist has been busy encouraging her Facebook fans to migrate to YouTube – where her official channel now has more than…

Beyonce faces copyright claim over logo chain
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artwork     Beyoncé is facing a law suit in the U.S for alleged copyright infringement in the video for ‘Drunk in Love’. According to Billboard and TMZ, Dwayne Walker, who claims to have designed the Roc-A-Fella logo,  has filed a suit against Beyonce  for holding Jay Z’s chain in her hand in the video, alleging she does not have permission for “prominently displaying” the image. Walker previously filed a $7 million suit against Jay Z and his former label partners Damon “Dame” Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, as well as Roc a Fella’s current owner Universal Music Group, claiming royalties for the logo. He alleges that his designs were the basis for the final logo. The defendants disputed the claim, saying the image was designed by the in-house Roc-A-Fella art director. In September, a federal judge in New York dismissed the lawsuit, saying Walker had waited too long to bring his copyright claim and that the existence of the contract — which Walker claimed he lost in 1998 — could not be definitively proved. His lawyer, Gregory Berry, said Walker planned to appeal the decision. In Walker’s new suit against Beyoncé, he is asking the court to compel the…

French songwriter arrested in plagiarism row
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017
France
Russia

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   A French musician and his Russian lawyer have spent a night in a Moscow police station after a Russian pop star accused them of attempting to extorting one million euros from him in a plagiarism row. Didier Marouani, who first came to tour in the Soviet Union in 1983, and his lawyer Igor Trunov were detained at a bank where they said they were to sign an out-of-court settlement with Filipp Kirkorov, one of Russia’s biggest pop star. Marouani claims one of Kirkorov’s songs, “Cruel Love,” contains music he wrote many years before. Both were released. Kirkorov  told the LifeNews website that there was no agreement to settle the dispute out of court and that he was “forced” to contact the police after Marouani began to attempt extort money from him. 63-year old Marouani, who was one of the rare Western musicians to perform in the Soviet Union before perestroika, denied the accusations saying “I have been coming to Russia for 33 years ….. and now I’m saying for the first time that my song was stolen, and music experts agree with me.” A civil case appears to be progressing in the Moscow City Court and no charges appear to…

Ghost Ship fire leaves 36 dead
Health & Safety , Live Events / January 2017
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   A devastating warehouse fire which killed at least 36 people in Oakland, California, has painful echoes with the 2003 ‘Great White’ disaster in Rhode Island where 100 people died and the more recent Colectiv nightclub fire in Bucharest – and is California’s deadliest structure fire in California since the 1906 earthquake and fire that killed hundreds in San Francisco. The warehouse was the home and work space for the Satya Yuga artists’ collective, and known as the Ghost Ship, and was on the evening of the fire hosting an unlicensed concert promoted by house label 100% Silk. Among the victims of the fire were three artists scheduled to perform: Cherushii (Chelsea Faith), Obsidian Blade (Joey Casio) and DJ Nackt (Johnny Igaz). Among the 36 people who died were two UC Berkeley undergraduates, two alumni and one woman who volunteered at KALX, the campus radio station. Victims of the blaze included artists, musicians, activists, community organisers and other young people who had came together for the event. The search for victims and evidence in the Fruitvale District warehouse fire concluded late on Tuesday night (6th December) as crews combed through the final ten percent of the…

Clement Jones withdraws Licensing Act amendments – for now
Licensing , Live Events / January 2017
UK

LICENSING Live events sector   A recent House of Lords investigation in the United Kingdom’s Parliament has seen leading figures from across the live music industry calling for a change in live event licensing to make it easier to stage events and help the live sector thrive. At the heart of the debate was a proposed amendment to licensing law which would ensure cultural benefits to the community are considered by local authorities when they make decisions about the award of music licences. Paul Latham, chair of the UK Live Music Group, Alex Mann, live music official of the Musicians’ Union, and Mark Davyd, chief executive of the Music Venue Trust, gave evidence to a select committee proposing the introduction of a new “objective” in the decision-making process which would take account of the positive cultural impact of staging an event. At present authorities are not obliged to consider the wider benefits of music and entertainment in the community and instead focus on the negative impact of applications. These are the four licensing objectives under the 2003 Licensing Act: The prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and protection of children from harm. Mr Latham, who is also…

Dweezil faces siblings’ challenge to his use of the Zappa name
Artists , Trade Mark / January 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Artists   Dweezil Zappa has  announced a public campaign to protect his right to use the ‘Zappa’ name. Hosted by Pledge Music, The Others of Intention campaign is offering original music downloads and merchandise – donors are invited to participate in the campaign by purchasing items ranging from a digital access pass to Zappa-inscribed guitar picks to limited edition Zappa artwork and vinyl record albums as well as a select assortment of one-of-a-kind Zappa guitars for sale. Last May, Dweezil published a blog titled “It Can Happen Here” at his website. The open letter to Zappa fans described an upcoming tour and strongly alluded to a pending legal battle to save his right to the surname Zappa where he said: “Beyond that, there have been a few other changes. Mainly name changes. As you may or may not know I now tour under my own name, Dweezil Zappa, instead of Zappa Plays Zappa because my brother Ahmet and my sister Diva who run the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) claimed ownership of the name Zappa Plays Zappa which my mother trademarked in 2007. The heavily tweezed language appropriating that trademark was designed by my mother to distinguish between the 2 uses of Zappa. One…

Bono and Larry must compensate libelled promoter
Defamation , Live Events / January 2017
Brazil

DEFAMATION Live events sector   U2 vocalist Bono and drummer Larry Mullens have been ordered to pay damages to a Brazilian promoter for wrongly claiming that they were not paid for three shows in 1998. The Court of Justice of Santa Catalina ruled that the musicians must pay Franco Bruni R$1.5m (US$441,000) in “material and moral damages” for remarks made in a 2000 O Globo interview, in which Bono and Mullens alleged they had not been paid for their PopMart concerts in Brazil two years before. The Court found it was in fact collection society ECAD (Escritório Central de Arrecadação e Distribuição)  that hadn’t paid out, and that Bruni had paid the band an advance of US$8m. Bono and Mullens later retracted their remarks. Judge Joel Figueira found the newspaper, and the journalist who had written the piece, were not liable for any damages, as they simply “reproduced the comments by the band members”. The amount of compensation for which Bono and Mullens will be liable (“with due corrections”) is expected to total R$5m ($1.48m). Wikipedia reports that in 2012, fifteen ECAD officials were indicted after an investigation by the Brazilian Senate found that some at ECAD had allegedly taken money intended…

Delhi High Court rules that three Indian collection societies must cease to issue licences
Copyright , Live Events / January 2017
India

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   In a blow to three Indian music copyright collection societies, the Delhi High Court has restrained them from granting any such licence till April 24th 2017. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, in an interim order, restrained the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and Novex Communications Pvt Ltd from contravening section 33 of Copyright Act,  which provides that only registered societies can grant licences in respect of copyrighted work(s).   In the order issued on the 23rd December the court ruled:   “Since the respondent 1 (Centre) and 2 (Copyright Office) have already initiated an inquiry and are taking action vis-a-vis the respondents 3 (PPL) and 4 (IPRS) and their stand is that neither of the three respondents, i.e 3, 4 and 5 (Novex) are registered in terms of section 33 of the Act, till the next date of hearing, respondents 3 to 5 are restrained from acting in contravention of section 33 of the Act..”. The  court listed the matter for a further hearing on April 24th.   In July 2015, the Delhi Organisers and Artists Society and the Mumbai based Organisers and Artists Welfare Trust said that the IPRS and PPL had been de-registered…

Cases to watch in 2017
General / January 2017
USA

ARTICLE LINK: All Areas   This article on Forbes by music attorney Erin M Jackson  highlights the top music legal cases to watch in 2017, what to expect, and how they could affect the industry as a whole (albeit from a US perspective)   – Global Music Rights v. The Radio Music Licensing Commission  – The Turtles v. SiriusXM –  “Blurred Lines” v. “Got To Give It Up”   http://www.forbes.com/sites/legalentertainment/2016/12/29/music-industry-cases-to-watch-in-2017/#63c6e5fc7b2a