Rick Nelson’s Estate takes action over Sony streaming deductions
Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT   The estate of 1950’s pop star Ricky Nelson is taking legal action against Sony Music over the way the artist’s streaming royalties are calculated and the level of deductions (royalty reducers) are applied to earned revenues as the income moves its way around  various regional subsidiaries, before calculating what the artist is due under the terms of their record contract in their home country. In the days of physical product distribution, record labels would justify these deductions as releases were undertaken on a country by country basis with associated costs and risks. Now we have truly global music companies, and global streaming – and many artistes argue that these reducers (and many others) are unjustified and unjustifiable. Not all labels do this, but some do. The Nelson estate accuses Sony of applying the “intercompany charge” on international streaming revenue before calculating the royalties they are  due. It appears the estate has no problem with such deductions where a third party company involved which is making the additional charges, but it argues that international deductions are not allowed under Nelson’s record contract where another Sony Music label According to Law360, the The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in the U.S….

Live Nation face US class action
Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER   Following on from the CBC and Toronto Star’s investigation into the activities of Live Nation’s Ticketmaster division in the secondary ticketing market, a class action has been filed in the US alleging a breach of consumer laws. After publication of the story, Ticketmaster issued a statement to CBC News saying it was “categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets.” It also said it had already begun an internal review of professional reseller accounts and employee practices before the CBC News story came out. Ticketmaster recently announced that was closing it’s secondary ticketing business in Europe, shutting down the Seatwave and Get Me In platforms. This did not extend to the USA and Canada. Ticketmaster President Jared Smith was forced onto the back foot following the expose, but continues to  defend his company’s involvement in both primary and secondary ticketing, insisting that Ticketmaster’s ticket inventory management platform, TradeDesk, had been misrepresented and he stated in blog post: “Let me be absolutely clear and definitive that Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any program or product that helps professional resellers gain an advantage to buy tickets ahead of…

Beyoncé vs Feyoncé – it continues
Trade Mark / October 2018

TRADE MARK In 2016 Beyoncé took legal action against the Texas based company, Feyoncé Inc, for “brazenly” selling merchandise that infringed her name and trade marks. The lawsuit was filed in the Manhattan federal court, naming the company and three defendants from San Antonio and seeking unspecified damages. The suit claims that Feyoncé has ignored the singer’s requests to stop selling their products, and that their items not only confuse consumers but had caused the pop star irreparable harm.  The suit singled out a mug stamped with the phrase, “Feyoncé: He put a ring on it” (a alleged reference to one of the star’s big hits, Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)) – although of course that could be  a pun on the word “fiancé – also similar to the defendant;s name and brand and the use of engagement and wedding bands. Feyoncé had  previously claimed their business was not named after the star, instead insisting the name is a phonetic representation of ‘fiancee’ or ‘fiance’ and saying their products are marketed at engaged couples.  Beyoncé’s suit said the company’s actions were “intentional, fraudulent, malicious, wilful and wanton” and sought a permanent injunction against Feyoncé. Now a US judge has declined to issue an injunction…

National Trading Standards takes action over alleged ticket touting
Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER   The UK’s National Trading Standards authority has begun legal action against nine alleged ticket touts on chargesof money laundering and breaches of consumer rights law following an investigations. The nine are split between three secondary ticketing organisations – Connoco, BZZ and Ticket Queen. National Trading Standards is one of two UK government agencies that have been investigating the secondary ticketing market and compliance with consumer rights law, including the specific ticket resale regulations introduced by the 2015 Consumer Rights Act. The Competition & Markets Authority focused on the main ticket resale platforms including Seatwave, Get Me In, StubHub and (in particular) Viagogo. National Trading Standards has investigated individuals and companies using thise platforms to re-sell tickjets. The accused include Timothy Connor, who has been charged alongside his girlfriend and his parents (they are ‘Connoco’), and who allegedly used multiple names, addresses, credit cards and bespoke “sophisticated browser software” to acquire substantial numbers of tickets from primary ticketing sites. NTS say that, between June 2015 and December 2017, together they bought £2.3 million in tickets which they resold for £4.5 million. At a hearing at York Magistrates Court, the defendants indicated they would enter a not guilty plea. Two other defendants, Peter…

Good news for snappers – an update on Photo Authorisation Agreement for Taylor Swift’s latest ‘Reputation’ stadium tour
Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT   Three years ago in June-July 2015, Taylor Swift was the subject of a controversial boycott by newspapers in Ireland and Canada as a result of the Concert Photo Authorization Form for The 1989 World Tour, [1] which photographers were required to sign prior to taking photographs at concert venues.  Photographers and publishers objected to Clause 2 which limited photographs taken to one-time use only. Clause 5 was particularly offensive as it was an express consent to the confiscation of/destruction of camera equipment and the ensuing likelihood of bodily injury; including an indemnity against liability for any loss or injury suffered by the photographer.  The issues were freedom of the press to publish, criminal damage to property and agreement to bodily injury.   Following discussions between Ms Swift’s representatives and the National Press Photographers’ Association representing fourteen professional photographers’ bodies including the Associated Press and the American Society of Media Photographers, the agreement was re-named ‘Photo Authorization Guidelines’ and re-worded to address the concerns. [2]  In Clause 2, the previous restriction on one-time use was lifted but limited to the reviewing publication only, and an express ban on the use of photographs for commercial purposes which met the artist’s…

UK Copyright if there’s no Brexit deal
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   The UK’s Department for Business, Energy& Industrial Strategy has now published it’s long awaited paper which offers guidance on what will happen with copyright if the UK leaves the European Union with ‘no deal’ outcome – an increasingly likely scenario (although the paper paints a more positive picture!). The key points? – The UK and other EU member states are already party to the main international treaties on copyright and related rights. Under the rules of these treaties, countries provide copyright protection for works originating in or made by nationals of other countries. These rules underpin the copyright legislation in all member states of the EU and do not depend on the UK’s membership of the EU. There is also a body of EU law on copyright and related rights that goes beyond the provisions of the international treaties, including several cross-border copyright mechanisms. These mechanisms are unique to the EU and provide reciprocal protections and benefits between EU member states. They include: Sui generis database rights. Under the Database Directive (Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases, extended to the EEA in paragraph 9a, Annex XVII…

For ‘substantial similarity’ a song has to have at least a spark of similarity
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   US District Judge Dolly M. Gee has thrown out a plagiarism lawsuit, giving summary judgement to Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, who had been accused of infringing copyright in their song “Spark the Fire”.   Stefani and Williams were sued last year by Richard Morrill, a hairstylist, singer/songwriter and Korn member, over allegations of copyright infringement. Morrill contented that the Stefani and Williams’ song “Spark the Fire” was too similar to Morrill’s “Who’s Got My Lightah” brining claims for (1) direct copyright infringement and (2) contributory copyright infringement and (3) vicarious copyright infringement against Williams and Interscope Records only and (4) a conversion claim under California state law against Stefani only (Interscope Records is Stefani’s record label and perhaps Morrill thought she would hide behind it should the claim succeed) For those not familiar with the US concept of conversion, it can simply be described as theft. However, I will not consider it further as it was dismissed in November 2017.   Morrill claimed that Stefani came in to his salon where he played the star his song. As a result of this ‘preview’ Morrill claimed that Stefani took parts of Morrill’s original and created “Spark the Fire”.  …

Spotify still face legal action in US mechanicals lawsuit
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   It seems that so called ‘mechanical licensing’ is still haunting Spotify, despite the probgress of the new Music Modernization Act which will almost certainly soon become law. Now a federal court in Tennessee has denied Spotify’s bid to dismiss a copyright infringement lawsuit brought in July 2017 by Bluewater Music Services Corporation, the independent publisher and copyright administration company in the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against the streaming music giant. Bluewater allege that Spotify wilfully infringed on 2,339 copyrighted works, including Sam Gay’s ’10,000 Pieces’ and Bob Morrison’s ‘You’d Make An Angel Want To Cheat.’ Bluewater says it had terminated the company’s license to reproduce and stream the works in November 2016 after discovering Spotify hadn’t paid any mechanical royalties and had also failed to negotiate a direct mechanical license: “Bluewater put Spotify on notice that ‘[f]failure to timely serve or file a valid NOI forecloses the possibility of a compulsory license, and, in the absence of a negotiated license, renders the making and distribution of phonorecords actionable as acts of infringement under and fully subject to the remedies provided by the Copyright Act.” Spotify defended itself by claiming it didn’t have data to track the compositions…

Europe’s songwriters seek to block Sony Music takeover
Competition , Copyright / October 2018

COMPETITION / COPYRIGHT   The European Composer & Songwriter Alliance has joined the increasing clamour urging the  European Commission to block Sony’s plans to take complete control of EMI Music Publishing. The organisation -says that Sony’s proposed deals would “threaten competition in the licensing market, endanger music authors’ revenues across the EU and ultimately jeopardise cultural diversity in the European music landscape”. Other vpices who have argued against the merger include UK songwriter organisation BASCA and pan-European indie music companies trade group IMPALA Under the proposed new deal, Sony would have complete control of the EMI repertoire and could fully merge the Sony/ATV and EMI music publishing businesses into its own, making Sony the biggest music publisher in the world – sitting alongside the second biggest recorded music company, (Sony Music). The ECSA’s President, Alfons Karabuda said: “We believe that allowing such a major and dominant publisher in the market is not only detrimental to a competitive market place but will also lead to a net loss for Europe’s culturally diverse music landscape. If approved, such a deal can only further exacerbate the domination of the top Anglo-American repertoire to the detriment of millions of music authors’ works that are…

EU approves Sony takeover of EMI Music 
Competition / October 2018

COMPETITION   Songwriters and independent music publisher have criticised the decision of the EU’s competition regulators to approve Sony’s deal to take complete ownership of EMI Music Publishing. Sony made no concessions to the European Commission who in turn said the deal “raises no competition concerns”.  Sony will become the world’s biggest music publisher and the World’s second biggest recorded music rights-holder. Sony originally led a consortium of investors to buy EMI Music Publishing in 2012 and  Sony/ATV has been the administrator of the EMI catalogue since then.  Sony is now clear to complete a $2.3bn deal where Sony will buy a further 60% of EMP from the Mubadala Investment Company, adding to the 30% it already owns. A $287.5m deal for the remaining 10% has already been agreed with Michael Jackson’s Estate. The takeover double Sony’s catalogue of songs from 2.16m to 4.21m compositions. Figure from pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA  (who opposed the deal) suggested that once complete, Sony’s catalogue of recordings released or distributed by Sony Music and the song catalogues of Sony/ATV and EMI would give Sony control of over 50% of chart tracks in seven key European markets in 2017. In the UK, Sony had control over an average…

US Congressman calls for Ticketmaster investigation
Competition / October 2018

COMPETITION   Representative  Bill Pascrell, who helped instigate the planned Federal Trade Commission “workshop” to examining live event ticketing which is set for spring of 2019, and who was a critic of the 2010 Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger, has now asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the activities of Ticketmaster in the US. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Pascrell highlights “The concentrated market power of Ticketmaster has made it a behemoth with little incentive to protect consumers in the live event industry,” and adding that the “DOJ can, and should, thoroughly investigate and take strong steps to address any and all consent decree violations and anticompetitive practices of Ticketmaster/Live Nation.” The full letter reads: The Hon. Jeff Sessions Attorney General U.S. Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20530 Dear Attorney General Sessions: I commend the Department of Justice (DOJ) for opening an investigation into Live Nation’s anticompetitive behavior and write to bring to your attention new investigative reporting and further lines of inquiry. The Canadian Broadcasting Channel (CBC) conducted a new investigation that reveals the ways in which Ticketmaster appears to collude with ticket scalpers to sell higher volumes of tickets on its…

Modern Talking take action to protect their name
Trade Mark / October 2018

TRADE MARK   Thomas Anders and Dieter Bohlen formed German duo Modern Talking in 1984 and they became a worldwide sensation with their hit “You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul”. They followed this up with a string of other worldwide hits, including “You Can Win If You Want”, “Cheri, Cheri Lady”, “Brother Louie” and “Atlantis Is Calling (S.O.S. for Love) before dissolving in 1987. In 1998, they reunited and produced several more worldwide hits including  “You Are Not Alone”, “Win the Race” and “TV Makes the Superstar”, before dissolving again in 2003. The duo sold 120 million records worldwide. Move on 15 years, and now Anders has won a case in the District Court of Hamburg against “playback act” Modern Talking Reloaded (MTR) after being repeatedly contacted by fans of the original band who had thought MTR WAS the original duo – with Anders seemingly taking action after it transpired MTR were not a tribute band or even a covers band – but a ‘full-play-back show’ where performers would dance moves whilst miming to Modern Talking’s original sound recordings. Having concluded that MTR had used photos that could be easily confused with those of the original Modern Talking, the court found the use of…

Getting to grips with the MMA

Hailed as a major milestone and major opportunity for the music industry, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) of the USA was signed into law by President Trump on  the 11th October 2018.  The MMA also has a global impact due to the USA being a signatory to the Berne Convention which dictates that the copyright law of the country where music is played, performed, streamed, downloaded, etc regardless of the country in which it was created; is the applicable jurisdiction.   The MMA comprises three Bills previously introduced to the US Congress, which were enjoined and finally passed:   Title I: Music Licensing Modernization  This part of the MMA dictates how digital music providers (DMPs) of on-demand interactive audio streaming services e.g. Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, etc, will in future obtain a blanket mechanical licence for interactive streaming or digital downloads; and the creation of a Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) to administer the blanket license.  It also replaces the current legal standard for setting the statutory rate by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) with a new standard taking free-market conditions into consideration when determining rates.   The MLC will be a non-profit quasi-government agency which will (i) collect, distribute, and…

New trial ordered in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ copyright dispute
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   A U.S. appeals court has ordered a new trial in the lawsuit that accuses Led Zeppelin of copying an obscure 1960s instrumental into the classic 1971 Zeppelin  anthem “Stairway to Heaven.” Two years ago federal court jury in Los Angeles two years ago found Led Zeppelin did not steal the famous riff from the song “Taurus” by the band Spirit. The estate of musician Randy California of Spirit appealed the decision and challenged the conclusion that even though Zeppelin songwriters Jimmy Page and Robert Plant may have heard “Taurus” before they composed “Stairway,” the songs were not musically similar enough to rise to the level of copyright infringement. The claim came four decades after the songs were written. Immediately following the verdict, Led Zeppelin’s  Jimmy Page and Robert Plant released a statement saying that they were glad to see the issue resolved saying “We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favour, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” they said. “We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.” The…

American promoters take issue with proposed BMI music use rate rise
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   Hot on the heels of the now agreed settlement in the UK between the live sector and the UK’s performing right organisation, PRS for Music, which included a rate rise, but a decrease for festivals and an acknowledgement of so called ‘direct licensing’, comes news that in the US a proposed change to music use royalties from live events will be determined by the Rate Court. Unable to reach agreement for a blanket license fee with the North American Concert Promoters Association (NACPA), the US performing rights organisation (PRO), Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) earlier this week (24 Sept 2018)  filed a court petition seeking the court’s decision in determining the license fees for live concerts in line with their proposed rate of a blanket license fee of 1.15% of gross revenues levied on an expanded revenue base for all live music events (which European readers will note is substantially lower than many rate agreed or set in the European Union). BMI issues performing rights licenses to music users across a range of industries which include radio broadcasters, TV, cable television, internet and website services, concert halls, concert promoters, nightclubs, restaurants and similar, and  collects license fees from them…

Warners extend their reach in merchandising tie-up
Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT   Last week Warner Music Group (WMG) purchased the German merchandising company EMP for $180m,[1] Europe’s top provider of merchandise for video game (including Nintendo and Play Station; TV and film including Marvel, DC, Disney, Star Wars, Game of Thrones; and clothing and music for a catalogue of bands/artists’ almost exclusively in the heavy metal genre).  For EMP, CEO Ernst Trapp said that by joining WMG, his company “will be able to expand our international reach, explore new genres, reach new audiences, and take fan experience to a whole new level.”   Once the deal is complete, EMP will become a stand-alone, direct-to-fan business unit within WEA – WMG’s global artist and label services division.  Stu Bergen, CEO of International & Global Commercial Services, Recorded Music, WMG said the deal “will be a perfect complement to our global artist development and marketing strategies.”[2] This deal brings to WMG the expertise of a specialist merchandising company with a client base in 18 European countries. Warner Music Artist Services already provide tour services, campaign marketing, e-commerce merchandising and licensing for their roster of artists. Of the other two majors, Sony Music Entertainment have their own in-house merchandising company, The Thread Shop, whose artist services include…

Artists threaten to boycott SiriusXM over Music Modernisation Act objections  – UPDATED AS ACT IS PASSED
Copyright / October 2018

The Music Modernisation Act (MMA) is hot stuff in America at the moment and it plans to do what it says on the tin. It is looking to reform US copyright law, amongst other things it seeks to resolve the “small” issue of satellite radio stations not being required to pay music royalties for playing pre-1972 tracks. Other proposals include a  fix for the fairly muddled mess on how mechanical royalties are paid Stateside and reforms to the way the US Copyright Royalty Board and rate courts determines what are fair royalties for compulsory and BMI/ASCAP licences.   There are two sides to every story, in the case of the MMA (the so called ‘CLASSICS’ Act element) they can be summed up very easily. On one hand you have the satellite radio stations that have not been required to pay royalties for their use of pre-1972 tracks, why should they now? On the other hand you have the artists of the pre-1972 tracks that have been without royalties payments for quite some time!   SiriusXM is one of these satellite radio stations, in fact it operates three satellite radio stations, and it is very opposed to some elements of the…

European Parliament vote on EU copyright law reform looms large (UPDATED)
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   Tomorrow (Wednesday 12th September) sees the European Parliament vote on what have become a series of somewhat controversial reforms to EU copyright law, in a battle which pits content creators and content owners against the tech giants of Amazon, Google, YouTube and Facebook. Its been a fertile feeding ground for the lobbyists as both sides fought to catch the eyes and attention of of politicians and the general public, with the tech giants spending heavily on lobbying and the content axis wheeling out a plethora of stars and big names in advance of a vote which could “change the balance of power between producers of music, news and film and the dominant websites that host their work.”   The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market 2016/0280(COD), also known as the EU Copyright Directive, is intended to harmonise certain aspects of the European Union copyright law and moved towards a ‘Digital Single Market’.The European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs approved the proposed Directive on the 20th June 2018, with further voting by the entire European Parliament required before it became a Directive. On the 5th July 2018, a vote on the Directive rejected the then reforms with…

The Viagogo soap opera trundles on
Competition , Consumers , Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT / CONSUMER / COMPETITION   Hardly a day passes without Viagogo hitting the headlines, with news breaking that the Geneva based  secondary ticketing had finally complied with the Advertising Standards Authority’s demands on how it presented pricing information, that Viagogo had pulled out of a planned Culture Select Committee Parliamentary debate on secondary ticketing, that it was moving the firm’s London based business to New York, and that it was itself tacking legal action in Germany against promoter Kilimanjaro Live and its boss Stuart Gailbraith over the promoters decision to cancel thousands of re-sold and touted tickets on a 2017 Ed Sheerhan tour. Viagogo’s usually silent PR department set up a Twitter account to comment on the German litigation, alleging that Kilimanjaro boss “Stuart Galbraith duped Ed Sheeran fans by confiscating thousands of genuine tickets at the gate, forcing fans to buy new tickets and pocketing millions of pounds in duplicate sales”. As a result, it said, it was now suing the promoter “for defrauding thousands of fans out of several million pounds on Ed Sheeran’s recent tour”. The resale firm alleges that Kilimanjaro set up Victims Of Viagogo booths at Sheeran’s shows. This meant it was the fans on the night who…

Mariah Cary lawsuit partially dismissed
Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT A judge in New York has dismissed brought by a South American concert promoter against Mariah Carey – although parallel  litigation targeting her company Mirage will be allowed to proceed. The case goes back to a number of shows that  were due to take place in Argentina and Chile in October 2016 but were cancelled at the last minute with the Carey camp explaining the shows had been pulled because the promoter had failed to fulfil agreed contractual payment commitments. At the time some commented that the shows had been cancelled by Carey’s organisation because of poor ticket sales. It was Carey’s company Mirage that first took action against  promoter FEG Entretenimientos for breaching agreed contractual payment terms and Mirage also argued that the cancellations had damaged Carey’s reputation and meant that she’d lost out on other possible revenue generating work. FEG had the case moved to New York and then filed counterclaims. It argued that it had paid nearly 75% ($703,100) of Carey’s agreed fee. Whilst acknowledging it was behind on payments, it has said this was customary in its business and that full payment would have been made on completion of the shows. The promoter also said…

At Waterloo – who will surrender?
Trade Mark / October 2018

TRADE MARK Waterloo Records has filed a lawsuit against the new Waterloo Music Festival over the use of the name “Waterloo” saying it has used the mark to present live music events in its parking lot during South by Southwest for the past nine years.  The record store was first established in 1982. Waterloo Music Festival was scheduled to make its debut at Carson Creek Ranch at the weekend but Waterloo Records’ press release stated that the store filed suit “reluctantly” after seeking to work out an amicable solution with Jam Fest LLC, the promoter of the festival. Waterloo Records owner John Kunz said in the press release that “under Texas and federal law, if we don’t defend ourself against infringing use of our name, trademark, and common law rights, we risk the surrender of all those rights. Additionally, WMF’s use of the name ‘Waterloo’ has caused a great deal of general confusion, both locally and nationally, as to whether or not Waterloo Records is producing this fest.” It appears that no injunction was sought to block the Festival. Kunz acknowledged that he did not own a trade mark for “Waterloo” that would cover live music performances and the press noted that Waterloo…

New York Attorney General faces lawsuits over ticket actions
Competition , Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER / COMPETITION The acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is facing two lawsuits from the Connecticut based ticketing companies TicketNetwork and Ticket Galaxy in what they say is a response to a “deeply flawed interpretation of New York State Law” on the resale of event tickets. The new Attorney General (NYAG) after she announced plans to sue for millions of dollars to prevent the site listing tickets sellers do not yet own. With both companies saying they have fully co-operated with a two year investigation into the re-sale market by the office of the NYAG,, they are now seeking a declaratory judgement in New York’s Supreme Court regarding the lawful sale of tickets not yet in the seller’s possession. Ticket resale prior to ownership of the ticket is specifically allowed in the state of New York – a two-year extension of the existing law with some revisions that specifically addressed this practice was passed earlier this year and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A press release from TicketNetwork reads: “Through this lawsuit, the Company is seeking the Court’s conclusive affirmance for its position that it operates in full compliance with all applicable regulations, and that the NYAG has no basis…

Not so easy – Commodores claim partially succeeds
Trade Mark / October 2018

TRADE MARK   A US judge has ruled in favour of the Commodores in their legal fight with a past member over his continued  use of the word Commodores. Commodores Entertainment Corp, which represents the current version of the Commodores which includes founding member William King along with Walter Orange and James Dean “J.D.” Nicholas took, legal action against former member Thomas McClary accusing him of infringing their trademark and violating previous court orders by performing under various ‘Commodores’ names, including ‘The Commodores Experience featuring Thomas McClary’. In its April legal filing, CEC said McClary continued to use the Commodores name on his social media channels and in promotional material for events and festival appearances. The company then stated that: “Mr McClary calling his band ‘The Commodores Experience’, ‘Commodores’ Experience’ or ‘Commodore’s Experience’ is likely to cause additional consumer confusion, is not historically accurate and is not using CEC’s [trade] marks in fair use”. When the band’s six original members formed a partnership in the 1970s, they agreed that if any of them died or left the band, the remaining partners retained the right to use the name “The Commodores”. Their 1979 deal with Motown Records said that band members could perform with other…

Turn it up even louder – This is Spinal Tap claim moves forwards
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT   We previously reported here about the ongoing ‘This is Spinal Tap’ litigation in the US and also the fact that we were running out of puns. Nonetheless, we are happy to report that Harry Shearer is having a good time…all the time following a development in the litigation. In short the case revolves around Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner’s allegations that Vivendi have been deliberately underpaying royalties due from the exploitation of the This is Spinal Tap film. The stars of the cult film have claimed Vivendi “wilfully manipulated certain accounting data, while ignoring contractually-obligated accounting and reporting processes, to deny [the] co-creators their rightful stake in the production’s profits”. In October 2017, Shearer, Guest, McKean and Reiner amended the claim against Vivendi to take into account “the fraud by concealment and misrepresentation conducted by Vivendi and its agent Ron Halpern and others”. This also resulted in Universal Music being added as a named defendant. Shearer, Guest, McKean and Reiner’s requests are simple; they want the copyright in the film to be transferred back to them from Vivendi. This claim is made under the US copyright reversion provisions which have seen some action in the last year or so. On the…

9th Circuit Court of Appeals re-masters the law for pre 1972 copyright
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT 1972  and copyright, mixed up with satellite radio and internet ‘broadcasting’, has been a rather a touchy subject in the US. Tracks (sound recordings) created before this date have, in the opinion of some, no performance right attached to them for said satellite radio stations – whereas songs created after 1972 benefit from compulsory licences administered by the Copyright Royalty Board and grated under federal law. Of course we now all know a number of artists and rights owners were not at all happy with the position taken by broadcasters such as Sirius XM and this resulted in a flurry of litigation.   The short story is that broadcasters were of the opinion that if a satellite radio station wanted to play a pre-1972 track, there was and is no need pay royalties. For sound recordings created after 1972 the station will be required to pay royalties.   The lead in the litigation was taken by Flo & Eddie of The Turtles who sued using state law to try and gain a performance right – in New York, in Florida, and in California – in the latter state  claiming that under California’s so called common law copyright, they were…

Stream ripping is taking another hit in the US court system
Copyright / October 2018

COPYRIGHT In 2016 a number of major record labels, including Universal, Warner Bros and Sony filed a federal lawsuit against the operators of YouTube-mp3.org. As the domain name suggests, the website allows for YouTube videos to be converted into permanent MP3 format, thus circumventing the profit that YouTube generates for artists by way of advertising. At the time of the lawsuit YouTube-mp3.org was accused as being responsible for up to 40% of all stream ripping. Ultimately the operators of the website complied with requests to shut up shop and hand over the domain name to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). As is common place on the internet, as one operator shuts down a new one will spring up. Billboard has reported that a number of major record labels, again including Universal, Warner Bros and Sony have taken aim at FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com, two stream ripping websites based in Russia, by filing a federal complain in the Eastern District of Virginia. It has been reported that the two websites in question account for 120 million monthly visitors whom come to rip content from YouTube. FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com have previously received warnings from the RIAA and the International Federation of…

Will drones make live events safer in Illinois?
Health & Safety / October 2018

HEALTH AND SAFETY Illinois lawmakers have proposed an interesting new solution to the risk of a mass shooting similar to the one that happened in Las Vegas last year. The new proposal for large-scale events would allow drones to be used to  supervise events. This would include music festivals, state fairs, and concerts and  events held in arenas or stadiums. During a Senate debate, Senator Martin Sandoval, the lead sponsor, said more needs to be done to protect people at large-venue events saying “It’s our responsibility to provide the maximum protection of all the residents of Illinois – whether it’s at Lollapalooza, or at the Illinois State Fair this year,” The measure provides that the police would need to provide a legitimate reason to use drones at a particular event attended by more than 100 persons. These crones would be used to evaluate anything from crowd size, density, or movement and to identify any criminal activity or security vulnerabilities. There are some critics of the plan as it stands.  State Senator Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat,  said that whilst he acknowledges the need for added security at such events, he was concerned about privacy. He said a “legitimate reason” is too broad…