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…