US Appellate Court majority rules that ‘Blurred Lines’ DID infringe Gaye classic
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the 2015 jury verdict which found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ infringed on the copyright in Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song ‘Got To Give It Up’. The decision had attracted widespread criticism and comment, not least as many commentators felt that the jury made their decision by comparing the ‘sound’ or vibe of the songs, rather than the actual song itself. The appellate panel’s  decision was a split decision, 2-1, with a scathing dissent from US Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen who is openly critical of the majority and said that the Marvin Gaye Estate had been able to “accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style.” The decision means that Thicke and Williams remain liable for $5.3m in damages and ongoing royalties to the Marvin Gaye Estate from future revenues earned from ‘Blurred Lines’. The majority of the panel (Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr and Judge Mary H Murguia) held that “Got To Give It Up” was entitled to broad copyright protection because musical compositions are not confined to a narrow range of expression. That said, the panel accepted, without deciding, the merits of the district…

BMI hail 100% licensing win
Competition , Copyright / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Music publishing, collection societies   The head  of American collecting society BMI has written an opinion piece for Billboard hailing what he says is a victory in the log running 100% licensing dispute as a deadline is passed with no appeal from the Department of Justice who had fought the USA’s four  music collection societies, by BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC, challenging the convention that anyone wishing to broadcast or perform a work that was co-written and also administered by different societies must have a licence from all relevant societies, and pay royalties to each, pro-rata according to what percentage it controls. When the US Department Of Justice reviewed the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP in 2016, it announced that the two big American collecting societies were obliged to operate a so called ‘100% licensing system’. Both BMI and ASCAP objected to the DoJ’s new interpretation of the rules, the former fighting the ruling in the courts, the latter lobbying against it in US Congress. BMI’s pro-fractional licensing position was then endorsed by the courts and just before Christmas last year an appeals court upheld the original judgement upholding the fractional licensing system. The DoJ could have pursued…

Country music songwriter seeks $1.3 million in premium payments from ASCAP
Contract , Copyright / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Music publishing, collection societies   Country music songwriter Shane McAnally is taking one of the USA’s big two collecting societies, ASCAP, to arbitration in a dispute over $1.3 million of “premium payments” that he says should have been paid for his top performing songs. Having left ASCAP for the new rights organisation, Global Music Rights, McAnally’s works were still administered by ASCAP for radio until ASCAP’s then current agreements with the broadcasters expired. The disputed payments stem from that period. The dispute relates to premium payments which are paid to writers by ASCAP in addition to standard royalties where certain “threshold numbers” are reached (in any one quarter). McAnally claims that once he was in the process of pulling his rights from ASCAP he no longer received the same premiums as his co-writers on certain songs that topped the country radio charts and was thus allegedly unpaid or underpaid premiums. The matter was initially heard by the collecting society’s ‘board of review’, which ruled that the organisation had applied its royalty payment rules correctly. But the writer disagrees and with the support of GMR is now taking the matter to arbitration. McAnally is quoted by The Tennessean as declaring ASCAP…

Viola player’s claim for damaged hearing succeeds in the High Court
Health & Safety , Live Events / April 2018
UK

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   Chris Goldscheider, a former Royal Opera House viola player has won a landmark High Court judgment after he suffered a life-changing hearing injury at a rehearsal of Wagner’s Die Walkure in 2012. The claim came from a rehearsal on the 1st September 2012, Mr Goldscheider was seated directly in front of the 18 strong brass section of the orchestra for a rehearsal in the orchestra pit at the Royal Opera House. Evidence presented showed that during that rehearsal, the noise levels exceeded 137 decibels, roughly equivalent to that of a jet engine 100 feet away. Despite wearing ear defenders Mr Goldscheider’s hearing was irreversibly damaged and he claimed damages for acoustic shock, a condition with symptoms including tinnitus, hyperacusis and dizziness. He told the BBC: “With this condition if you are exposed to normal sounds, unfortunately they become incredibly painful” adding “I suppose the nearest analogy is if you imagine for a normal person to walk on normal ground and then you imagine walking barefoot on glass.” Mr Goldscheider studied in Prague and the UK and played with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Symphony orchestras. In 2002 he joined the viola section of the…

Miley Cyrus on receiving end of copyright infringement lawsuit
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Miley Cyrus is facing a lawsuit from the Jamaican dancehall star Flourgon (Michael May)  which has been described in the popular press as a $300 million claim for copyright infringement which focuses on the lyrics single Cyrus’s 2013 hit single ‘We Can’t Stop’. In Flourgon’s ‘We Run Things’ the lyric reads ‘We run things, things no run we’. The similarity between the lyrics  is the basis of the claim which alleges that this line was utilised when Cyrus sings ‘We run things, things don’t run we’ in her We Can’t Stop. But Cyrus is not the only one in the firing line; the lawsuit also names Sony Records label RCA, the songs co-writers Rock City (Timothy Thomas and Theron Thomas), Mike Will Made It, and manager Larry Rudolph.   The lawsuit references the popularity of Flourgon’s 1998  track:  the song became a ‘cultural hit gathering significant sales and popularity’. ‘We Run Things‘ was well known within reggae and dancehall circles, both upon its release and to this day in various countries around the world. As such, it has influenced Caribbean culture significantly, says the lawsuit. Cyrus’s single was an international hit and reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100…

ASA clamps down on the secondary ticketing platforms
Competition , Consumers / April 2018
UK

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s four main secondary ticketing agencies have been banned from using certain “misleading” price strategies. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said they had not been clear enough about extra fees added at the end of the booking. The four largest sites are Get Me In, Viagogo, StubHub and Seatwave. The action, comes after widespread concern from consumers, some politcians and industry groups such as the Fanfair Alliance, and seeks to ensure that advertisers are upfront about booking and delivery fees at the end of the process, which can drastically affected pricing. The ASA have also demanded that Viagogo stops using the words “official site” and “100% Guarantee” as it could not guarantee entry. . Concert promoters may use contract terms in the sale of tickets to cancel touted tickets meaning tickets bought on Viagogo could not guarantee entry. The ASA’s chief executive, Guy Parker, said: “Many of us will recognise the frustration of being happy with the initial price of tickets on a secondary website only to be stung by hefty fees when we come to book” and “The message from our rulings is simple and it’s clear: The price you see at the start should be the…

PPL and PRS for Music combine for joint licence
Copyright / April 2018
UK

COPYRIGHT Collection societies   PRS For Music and PPL have officially launched a new joint venture company which will provide one licence to cover all public performance rights. The new company will administer the joint licence – called TheMusicLicence which will allow users to play recorded music publicly in venues including bars, offices, gyms, fishmongers and music venues. The licence will cover users for the performing right in both recordings and songs. Suzanne Smith is the new head of the JV, joining from credit rating company Experian: “We are very excited to now offer customers of both PPL and PRS For Music a more streamlined approach for licensing their businesses to play and perform music” Smith said, adding “With the launch of TheMusicLicence we are providing one licence and one contact, enabling companies and organisations to enhance their customer and employee experience by playing music in their premises”. PRS For Music chief executive Robert Ashcroft said: “We have invested years of effort and millions of pounds to simplify music licensing for UK businesses and on behalf of PRS For Music, I am delighted to launch what is the largest joint venture of its kind in the world. This is the beginning of a new era…

West wins payout in insurance battle
Contract , Live Events / April 2018
UK
USA

CONTRACT Live events sector   Rapper Kanye West has settled his battle against Lloyd’s of London, which began when insurers refused to pay out West’s claim stemming from the cancellation of several dates on his 2016 Saint Pablo tour.  The Stour ran from August to November. West performed 41 shows in 87 days before the stoppage. In all, 22 dates were cancelled. West has not ventured back on the road since those cancelled dates. According to TMZ, the insurer has agreed to pay most of what West was claiming. Initially, Lloyd’s had refused to make any payment on the grounds  that the mental health issues which West suffered had stemmed from his drug use, which would have voided the policy. West’s touring company Very Good Touring sued Lloyd’s for $9.8 million (plus interest) and Lloyd’s had originally counter-sued. West was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital in November of 2016 following a series of “bizarre incidents” including feuding with Beyonce and Jay-Z, telling a San Jose, California crowd that he would have voted for then President-elect Trump if he had voted, and stopping a show after two songs and 30 minutes in Sacramento. A source told NBC news at the time that police responded…