Viola player’s claim for damaged hearing succeeds in the High Court

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…

Country music songwriter seeks $1.3 million in premium payments from ASCAP

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…

BMI hail 100% licensing win

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…

Rights scandal alleged to be the “biggest music rights scam in South African history”

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, collection societies   The South African Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has noted “with grave concern” the article published in City Press and News 24 Online News platforms on 1st April 2018 into what is “alleged to be the biggest music rights scam in South African history involving the legendary and multi-platinum selling gospel artist Hlengiwe Mhlaba. The report goes into worrying detail into the alleged theft over a period of years of royalties amounting to millions of rand due to the artist in question.” The Minister has given a directive to the legal unit of the Department of Arts and Culture to immediately initiate a process which will culminate in the appointment of a Commission that will be headed by a retired Judge. More here on the allegations made against collection society SAMRO here https://city-press.news24.com/News/gospel-shocker-how-black-musicians-got-screwed-20180401 The Chief Executive of SAMRO, Nothando Migogo, responds here  http://www.samro.org.za/news/articles/samro-ceo-response-media-reports

That Jenner and the Tupac T-shirt legal dispute has been settled
Copyright , Merchandising / May 2018

COPYRIGHT Merchandising   The dispute and controversy surrounding Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s line of musically themed T-shirts is drawing to a close. The Jenner line boasted a plethora of major rick star names, including Notorious BIG, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne and Tupac Shakur to name a few, but it seems the Jenner’s didn’t ask for any permissions. Indeed most of the people featured on the T-shirts were not happy at all, and cease and desist letters followed from their legal representatives. The Jenners went onto adhere to the requests in the letters and removed the offending T-shirts from sale, claiming that the design of the T-shirts was “not well thought out”. But Mike Miller, the photographer of the images of Tupac used by the Jenners, was even less happy. Tupac’s image may have been used, but he had never been approached by the Jenner’s or asked to consent to the use of his copyrighted pictures. In his claim it was stated that “at no times [had the Jenners] notified Miller that they intended to exploit his photography, let alone obtained his authorisation”. The representatives for the Jenners said the base T-shirts were obtained from a company licensed to sell them and went onto…

Commodores take further action against founder member’s continued use of their name
Artists , Trade Mark / May 2018

TRADE MARK Artistes   Commodores Entertainment Corp, the corporate body behind the current incarnation of The Commodores, has asked a court in Florida to consider sanctioning a founder member of the group, Thomas McClary, as part of a long-running trademark dispute citing McClary’s continued use of Commodores Trade Marks despite a court order that should prevent him from doing this. The band formed in 1968 when two other bands mergeed: oLionel Richie, Thomas McClary, and William King jopined from the Mystics, and Andre Callahan, Michael Gilbert, and Milan Williams were from the Jays. Renowned for the R&B hits which include “Just to Be Close to You,” “Easy,” and “Brickhouse” the group is credited with seven number one songs and a host of other Top Ten hits on the Billboard charts, and their vast catalogue includes more than 50 albums. King, a founder member who chose the band’s name, is part of the current line-up of The Commodores and McClary is accused of infringing the group’s trademark and violating a 2016 court order by staging shows under the name ‘The Commodores Experience featuring Thomas McClary’. In fact the case goes back to 2014 when CEC first took legak action against McClary over his use of the Commodores brand for his…

Tulisa wins a massive ‘scream & shout’ pay out

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Former N-Dubz member and X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos has reportedly won a 10% share of the songwriting income from the Britney Spears and will.i.am track ‘Scream & Shout’ after a six year dispute over who should share the royalties from the hit song.   Contostavlos argued that she had collaborated on an original version of the song ( then called I Don’t Give A F**k) with producers Jean Baptiste and Jef Martens, who work with will.i.am, the plan being to include it on her album ‘The Female Boss’. However the producers didn’t use the song  and instead Will.i.am used the song for a track featuring Britney Spears, with Spears apparently providing the vocals using Tulisa’s original vocals as a guide. The track ended up on will.i.am’s album ‘#willpower’ in 2012, accredited to Britney Spears and will.i.am. Tulisa, 29, immediately filed a claim and all income for the Number 1 hit was frozen by the court.   As the legal dispute continued, Tulisa insisted that Will.i.am and Britney’s version still included parts she had written including the line: ‘When you hear this in the club, you’d better turn this s**t up.’ It also transpired that some of Contostavlos’s vocals were still present on the final…

Coachella’s ‘radius clause’ is challenged
Competition , Live Events / May 2018

COMPETITION Live events sector   COMPETITION: The promoters of an Oregon music festival have filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Coachella Music Festival and its organizers, alleging that Coachella’s parent company uses its market clout to unfairly restricts artists from performing at other festivals. The suit, filed in Portland’s United State District Court on Monday, was brought by Soul’d Out Productions, LLC, and names Anschutz Entertainment Group, The Anschutz Corporation, Goldenvoice, AEG Presents and the Coachella as defendants. At the heart of this are the so called “radius clauses” which are included in contracts for artistes booked to appear at Coachella. These prevents acts performing at Coachella that year from playing venues in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington from December 15, 2017 until May 7, 2018. “Such a clause has a substantial chilling effect on the market for music venues within the territory covered by the radius clause,” the complaint says and prevents acts booked at Coachella from performing at “any other festival or themed event within a distance that extends over 1,300 miles” and that this amounts to anti-competitive behaviour on the part of organisers. Billboard reports that Soul’d Out, a niche soul and R&B festival, attempted to sign…

Wolfgang’s Vault looks buried in copyright dispute
Copyright , Media / May 2018

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, film and TV   U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos has made a monumental decision in favor of members of The National Music Publishers’ Association (incl. Sony/ATV & EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music and Imagem Music). Judge Ramos ruled that the owners of Wofgang’s  – a collection of thousands of live concert performances such as those of legendary Rock and Rollers Keith Richards, David Byrne and Michael Stipe – had committed extensive copyright infringement by streaming the collection to the public. Wolfgang’s (formerly Wolfgang’s Vault) is described as “a private music-focused company established in 2002 dedicated to the restoration and archiving of live concert recordings in audio and video format and the sale of music memorabilia. It began with the collection of the late promoter Bill Graham”. This saga dates back to 2015, when the NMPA led its members to bring legal action, alleging that the licenses required to stream a collection of works that was acquired from promoter Bill Graham and other operators of concert venues, had not been obtained. The main issue in the case pertained to approximately 200 musical compositions (with a separate class action also pending). As there was no…

Music Modernization Act moves forwards in the US
Copyright / May 2018

COPYRIGHT All sectors   The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has introduced the Music Modernization Act with the goal of encouraging innovation and rewarding creativity in this increasingly digital age. Some of the antiquated law surrounding copyright in the U.S. is considerably flawed, and after years of reviewing the system under the leadership of Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte the new legislation incorporates elements of four previously introduced bills: the Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act, the CLASSICS Act, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act and an earlier version of the Music Modernization Act that was specific to songwriting. Following this step, the reforms will go before the full House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress.   The MMA, which contains many important changes to music licensing laws, addresses the following key issues:   * Creating a new collection entity to ensure that songwriters always get paid for mechanical licenses when digital services use their work * Establishing the same fair, market-based rate standard for both artists and songwriters whenever the government sets royalty rates * Closing the “pre-1972 loophole” so that digital services will pay legacy artists the compensation they deserve * Recognising producers and engineers in copyright law for the first time and protecting their right to collect royalties…

Viagogo faces more problems in the UK market

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has indicated that it will take action against Viagogo, the online secondary ticketing site. CMA announced last year that it has secondary ticketing sites in is sights. That was last year, and this week the CMA has stated that a number of secondary ticketing sites, namely StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave had updated their policies to ensure that seat numbers and seller’s identity will be provided and will even include ‘health warnings’ about the possibility of event promoters cancelling tickets sold without permission and in breach of terms on the secondary market. Not so Viagogo.   The executive director for enforcement of the CMA, Michael Grenfell, said “We welcome the changes already made and new commitments we’ve been given by StubHub, Seatwave and GetMeIn! to improve the information on offer, so that people can better judge whether they’re getting a good deal”… “But all secondary ticketing websites must play by the rules and treat their customers fairly if anything goes wrong. We take failure to comply with consumer protection law very seriously”.   Switzerland based Viagogo has not been compliant with the CMA’s requests. In fact, Grenfall explained “So far…

Viagogo fined one million Euros by Italian competition regulator

CONSUMER/COMPETITION Live events sector   Viagogo has been fined one million Euros by the Italian competition (antitrust) agency, AGCM, for failling to comply with instructions issued by the agency in April 2017. At the time, Viagogo and three other resale sites were fined a collective €700,000 for failing to provide complete ticket information to consumers   According to Pollstar, AGCM found that Viagogo misled customers by not making original ticket prices and the location of seats sold easily known in violation of articles 20, 21 and 22 of the Italian consumer code. AGCM told Viagogo to fix the discrepancy within sixty days, and the resale site agreed to indicate the face value price and seat number on its platform.   This it seems Viagogo have not done so, and AGCM says that it has received numerous complaints from both consumers and consumer associates about the site’s failure to rectify this situation. AGCM has now imposed a fine of one million Euros on the company. Viagogo can appeal the decision to the Lazio Regional Administrative Court in Rome.   Although a set back for Viagogo, they may yet prevail: CTS Eventim’s TicketOne recently successfully appealed a €1m fine in Italy, for allegedly passing…

SABAM’s tariff hike ruled illegal
Competition , Live Events / May 2018

COMPETITION Live events sector   SABAM’s unilateral move to raise live music concert tariffs in Belgium last year has been ruled to constitute unfair commercial practices by a Brussels court A coalition of Belgian festival and concert promoters filed a lawsuit against Sabam (Société d’Auteurs Belge/Belgische Auteurs Maatschappij), Belgium’s performance rights organisation, last May after tariffs were increased across the board, with the largest festivals seeing their payments to Sabam increase 30%. The tariffs were imposed by Sabam from the 1st January 2017 after negotiations with live sector and industry groups failed. The new tariff also  went beyond Box Office revenues to include sponsorship and subsidies as relevant revenues for the tariffs, “when these revenues are clearly related to the event”. Jan Vereecke of Night of Proms promoter PSE, who brought the suit along with Live Nation Belgium/Rock Werchter, Pukkelpop and GraciaLive, the unilateral move saw Sabam “simply abusing its monopoly” while “offering no additional services in exchange for the price increase”. The Commercial Court of Brussels (Tribunal de Commerce de Bruxelles) found the PRO “guilty of unfair commercial practices by significantly increasing festival fees (up to 37%)”.  Sabam has been ordered to pay a fine of €5,000 for each day the newly…