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