New UK rules introduced to protect consumers against ticket touting
Competition , Consumers / March 2018
UK

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s Consumer Minister Andrew Griffiths has announced the implementation of a number of new rules to regulate the online secondary ticketing marketplace, although readers of this blog will note that some of these are already law, coming into force after amendments were made to the 2015 Consumer Rights Act by MPs Sharon Hodgson and Mike Weatherley. That Act also instigated the Waterson Report on the ticketing marketplace.  In a statement the Department For Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “Fans of live events are set to benefit from new rules which will demand more information from sellers on secondary ticket websites. Under the new rules, which will come into force in April 2018, ticket resellers will be required to provide purchasers with additional detailed information about tickets including the location of seats, disclosure of any restrictions and the original price of the ticket itself”. However, Griffiths’s announcement does provide some clarity on exactly what ticket restrictions must be declared when a tout is touting. Also, there is a new obligation to provide the unique ticket number (UTN) of any ticket being resold where it is numbered (meaning a show promoter could cancel that ticket if…

Will Australia ban secondary ticketing?
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / March 2018
Australia

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   Following on from the introduction of tough anti-touting laws in the state of New South Wales last year, Australia’s federal government is considering a nationwide ban on the re-sale of tickets in some circumstances.   According to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, the country’s government is considering five possible options to legislate in the market for the resale of tickets. One of those options is to completely outlaw the re-selling of tickets by anyone other than primary outlets.   The government’s Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, told the newspaper that the aim of any proposed legislation would be to benefit consumers, saying: “I expect consumers should always get a fair deal when purchasing tickets for events and to access all available tickets on the market. While we are still working to properly address these problems, Australians can be assured that we will do all that is necessary to protect them from any unfair or unscrupulous practices”.   In October last year, the New South Wales government passed an amendment to its Fair Trading Act, banning the selling of tickets at anything more than 10% of their face value. Substantial fines were put in place as…

Tennessee moves to take action on workplace sexual harassment
USA

EQUALITY All sectors, recorded music, live, music publishing   Two legislators in Tennessee, Representative Brenda Gilmore and Senator Jeff Yarbro, have submitted a new bill addressing sexual harassment in the music business. The pair have co-authored proposed state legislation HB 1984/SB 2130, which seeks to address the fact that independent contractors in Tennessee (including many people working in the music business) cannot file claims against their employers over verbal sexual harassment in the workplace, no matter how many how many hours they work.  In January, Rolling Stone Country published the findings of an extensive investigation that uncovered a climate of sexual harassment and misconduct in country radio. Now Nashville’s musical community, including Rodney Crowell, Lilly Hiatt, Andrew Combs, Katie Armiger and Lorrie Morgan, are lending their support for the proposed legislation.  One of the many challenges in this area in the music industry is that artists are not employees of their record labels. Instead, unless they have specifically detailed as such their contract, they are classified as freelance. That means that they can only report physical harassment (where that is a crime) and not verbal harassment.   “There’s been significant reporting showing real problems with harassment in parts of the music industry, and…

French Minister Clarifies Statutory Provision on Copyright Contracts
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
France

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, audio-visual, music publishing     One of the striking features of French copyright law is the protection it affords to authors in their contractual dealings with would-be licensees and assignees. One of the key statutory provisions that contributes to this high level of protection is Section L.131-2 of the Intellectual Property Code (IPC), which until recently provided as follows: “Contracts for public performance, publishing contracts, and audio-visual production contracts defined in this Section shall be in writing, as shall be free authorizations to publicly perform.     In all other cases, the provisions of Sections 1341 to 1348 of the Civil Code shall apply.”   This provision sets out a rule whereby certain named contracts (viz., public performance, publishing and audio-visual production contracts) must be in writing.  (To this list must also be added, pursuant to a different section of the Code, contracts for the acquisition of audio-visual adaptation rights of a literary work). Courts have long recognized that the requirement for a written instrument under Section L.131-2 IPC is merely for evidentiary purposes (ad probationem ) and not for the contract’s validity (ad validitatem). In all other cases, the ordinary rules of evidence under the Civil Code apply. …

Swift copyright infringement allegation fails – but has one last play
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The copyright lawsuit filed against Taylor Swift claiming the lyrics to her 2014 track ‘Shake It Off’ infringed on a 2001 hit by American girl group 3lw has been dismissed by the federal court of California. The plaintiffs, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, of the 3lw track ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ claimed there were similarities between the lyrics that infringed their copyright. As there was no dispute over whether Hall and Butler owned their lyrics, or that Swift’s team had access to the song or that the underlying musical composition was similar and the case focussed on the lyrics The lyrics to the 3lw track include: “Playas, they gonna play/ And haters, they gonna hate.”   The chorus to Swifts’ chorus is: “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Swift’s lega; team had dubbed the claim a “money grab”.   US District Judge Michael Fitzgerald has now granted Swift’s the ability to dismiss the lawsuit. Howeever the plaintiffs will be able to amend their complaint if they can cite more similarities by February 26th.   Judge Fitzegerald said: “The lynchpin of this entire case is thus whether or not the…

44 arrested after roof top filming in Manhatten
Artists , Criminal Law / March 2018
USA

CRIMINAL LAW Artistes   Police say 44 people were arrested while filming on a Manhattan roof top on what seems to be a new video for rapper China Mac, who had appealed for members of the public to attend the shoot. It seems that Mac’s public appeal drew in a fair crowd, and eventually the police say they responded to numerous calls of disorderly conduct in the early evening 37 men and 7 women were arrested and charged with criminal trespass at the Baruch Houses, a NYCHA building on 95 Baruch Drive on the Lower East Side. Two imitation rifles and one firearm was found on the scene. NYCHA released a statement Saturday night saying, “Safety and security is our top priority. This is an ongoing incident and we are working with our partners in law enforcement to resolve this as soon as possible.”  The artist’s manager said that was no permit for the shoot, there was no need for the arrests as this was just ‘art’    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/rapper-manhattan-rooftop-video-shoot-ends-44-arrests-article-1.3797771

Big win for US songwriters and publishers with rate hike
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The streaming royalty rate for songwriters in the USA has jumped 44%. The Copyright Royalty Board has confirmed that compulsory royalty rates in the US market will rise by just under 44% for songwriters over the next five years. The National Music Publishers Association, who lobbied for the improvement, called the ruling a “huge win for music creators”.    The streaming companies will now have to pay songwriters and publishers 15.1 percent of their revenues, up from 10.5 percent with the rate rising over five years. The rate-setting hearing pitted songwriters and publishers against the top streaming companies, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google, Pandora and Amazon.  It is the largest rate increase in CRB history. NMPA President & CEO David Israelite: “We are thrilled the CRB raised rates for songwriters by 43.8% – the biggest rate increase granted in CRB history. Crucially, the decision also allows songwriters to benefit from deals done by record labels in the free market. The ratio of what labels are paid by the services versus what publishers are paid has significantly improved, resulting in the most favorable balance in the history of the industry.” the CRB  also removed the Total Content Cost…

How should Europe remould the digital market ?
Copyright / March 2018
Australia
EU

COPYRIGHT All sectors: audio-visual, sound recordings, music publishing   An open letter, addressed to the European Parliament has asked MEPs to back an effort to reform the safe harbour laws and implement legislation to narrow the so called ‘value gap’. Not much new there? Well, the letter had two prominent signatories: the godfather of electronic music, Jean-Michel Jarre, and the Grammy Award winning Angelique Kidjo.  In essence, under the E-Commerce Directive, safe harbour laws as they stand mean that Internet Society Service Providers are not liable if they are unsuspectingly hosting copyright infringing content. If we look at the YouTube example, so much content is uploaded every day that it is practically impossible to sieve through it all for copyright infringing works, therefore if YouTube is doing all that it can to root out the infringing material it is protected under the safe harbour principle. Liability may arise if YouTube was put on notice of the infringing content and failed to remove it in a timely fashion.  Due to the quantity of infringing material out there and with entities only being liable in certain circumstances, not everyone is happy. Artists are not happy that their content is out there and…

US appeals court tells ISP that safe harbor comes with obligations
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, internet   A US appellate court has reversed a $25 million verdict against the US Internet Service Provider Cox Communications in what might be seen as a defeat for record label BMG, which had sought to hold Cox liable for copyright infringement for its subscribers who were sharing pirated files online. But looking at the judgment, and despite what looks like a set back for BMG Rights Management, it can be argued that its actually a win in the battle against piracy The decision, by a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, returns the case to the District Court for a new trial, based on a decision that there was an error in jury instructions. Irrelevant of arguments about safe harbor protection at the heart of the case, Cox might not been responsible for users’ infringement as companies are only liable for contributing to infringement if the companies either know about acts of infringement, or are wilfully blind to them, and the appellate court ruled that the trial judge, District Judge Liam O’Grady, incorrectly told the jurors that they could find Cox liable if it knew or should have known about infringement by users. “The formulation ‘should have known’…

“We Shall Overcome“ is now in public domain
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   In September 2017, the lawsuit between music publishers The Richmond Organisation-Ludlow Music Inc (TRO-Ludlow) and the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF) and Butler Films LLC saw US District Judge Denise Cote’s ruling that placed the first and fifth verse of the time-honoured iconic protest song We Shall Overcome firmly in the publicdomain.  A hearing was scheduled for March 2018 to decide on verses 2, 3 and 4 of the 1960 version, and verses 7 and 8 of the 1963 version.  The late folk singer Pete Seeger had been credited with writing verse 2 of both versions and verse 8 of the 1963 version. However, it was announced on 26th January 2018, that a settlement had been reached between the parties that puts the lyrics and melody to both versions of the song into the public domain, and that the publisher would retain copyright on the song’s musical arrangement.  A spokesperson for TRO-Ludlow said the litigation had become expensive and had cost far more than the song had earned back in recent years. In a statement, the publisher said that songwriter royalties, since the early 1960s, have been donated to the Highlander Research and Education Center, a non-profit social justice…