Russian Government looks to take over collection societies

COMPETITION Music publishing, recorded music   The Russian government is reportedly considering taking over some or all of the collective licensing regime in the country. The move comes in the wake of accusations of fraud  which have seen RAO General Director Sergei Fedotov arrested and jailed. There has been disagreement within the collecting society’s membership, with a group of members calling for a new  General Director to be appointed and a radical overhaul of the organisation’s constitution. According to Russian business newspaper Vedomosti, the Ministry Of Economic Development is considering the possibility of taking direct control of RAO. The RAO Authors’ Council, which is the main governing body of the society, continues to back Fedotov and responded angrily to the members seeking a radical overhaul. Producer and composer Igor Matvienko, newly elected as President of the Authors’ Council last month, had been critical of RAO but now opposes moves to overthrow Fedotov and the current management.   whilst there have been some dark mutterings in Europe from songwriters and self composing performers about the activities of CMOs, including Buma-Stemra and GEMA, who have been offering established concert promoters ‘discounts’ or ‘kickbacks’  on published public performance tariffs – and indeed in Spain the…

SFX faces two decisions in the bankruptcy court
Competition , Contract , Internet , Live Events / October 2016

CONTRACT / COMPETITION Live events sector, online   A US bankruptcy judge has allowed Viagogo to proceed with a legal action against SFX Entertainment. modifying the “automatic stay” applied to SFX. Under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, creditors are usually barred from collecting debts from the debtor. and allowing the secondary ticketing platform to “assert and prosecute any and all counterclaims” against SFX. Having reviewed the request, Judge Mary F Walrath determined “sufficient cause exists to approve the motion”.  Viagogo is seeking “in excess” of US$1.6 million from SFX, which went into administration on 1 February, for allegedly failing to adhere to the terms if a five-year, $75m sponsorship agreement signed by the two companies in 2014. The deal granted Viagogo exclusive ticket resale rights some 50 SFX-promoted events and SFX agreed to “deliver exclusive marketing and ticketing rights with respect to a number of designated ‘major’ SFX events.   In other SFX news, an Italian EDM record label is requesting a probe into how third parties might be artificially influencing SFX’s digital music charts. Art & Music Recording (AMR) has requested the Delaware judge overseeing SFX’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case order the company to reveal what it knows about…

FTC takes a look at hidden endorsements
Artists , Competition / September 2016

COMPETITION Artistes   The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is planning to regulate ‘hidden’ endorsements by celebrities who promote brands and products through selfies, blogs, Facebook and Instagram postings, and other social media platforms  – without ever revealing they are being paid. The Federal Trade Commission has also said that hashtags like #ad, #sp, #sponsored – common forms of disclosure – are not always enough. The FTC will be putting the onus on the advertisers to make sure they comply. Michael Ostheimer, a deputy in the FTC’s Ad Practices Division said: “We’ve been interested in deceptive endorsements for decades and this is a new way in which they are appearing,” adding “We believe consumers put stock in endorsements and we want to make sure they are not being deceived.” The FTC had instigated a case against Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc., which was settled, over charges that it deceived customers by paying internet influencers such as PewDiePie (who has about 50 million followers on YouTube) to promote the video game Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor with positive reviews, without disclosing that they were paid and told how to promote it. In March the FTC issued a complaint against Lord & Taylor for paying fashion influencers…

Sony buyout of Sony/ATV gets EU consent
Competition , Music Publishing / September 2016

COMPETITION Music Publishing   MBW reports that Sony Corporation has been granted unconditional permission by the European Commission to complete its buyout of the Jackson Estate’s 50% stake in Sony/ATV. The deal faced opposition from quarters including Warner Music Group and indie label body IMPALA, but EU regulators have now ruled in Sony’s favour saying “The transaction will not materially increase Sony’s market power vis-a-vis digital music providers compared to the situation prior to the merger.”  Sony/ATV is the biggest publisher in the world in terms of the volume of copyrights it controls. Across both its own repertoire and its administration of the catalogue of EMI Music Publishing, Sony manages over 4.2m songs. Opponents to Sony’s acquisition of Sony/ATV argued that its subsequent ‘control share’ in europe would distort the music marketplace. Back in 2012, both Warner and IMPALA lobbied against Universal Music Group’s £1.2bn ($1.9bn) acquisition of EMI Music in the EU. Although the deal ultimately went through, UMG was forced to sell Parlophone Label Group which included the catalogues of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Blur, Kate Bush and Coldplay –and which Warner Music Group brought for what now looks like the bargain price of £487m ($740m). And in 2012, the European Commission made Sony…

Were Sony’s MFN deals with Rdio anti-competitive?
Competition , Music Publishing / August 2016

COMPETITION Recorded music   Sony Music has said that the suggestion of antitrust violations are “nothing but speculation and conjecture” and a pretext for avoiding $17 million claim and allegations of fraud by Rdio, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since November 2015. Rdio received $75 million from Pandora for the sale of assets – and Sony want their share – but is now facing some serious allegations of anti competitive behaviour from Rdio. Rdio was an online music streaming service that offered ad-supported free streaming and ad-free subscription streaming services in 85 countries. It was available as a website and via apps for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone mobile devices, which could stream music from Rdio’s servers or download music for offline playback.   The Hollywood Reporter reports that Rdio has retained Winston & Strawn to investigate whether Sony for colluded with Universal and Warner Music in the streaming music market.  Sony has itself issued legal proceedings against three of Rdio’s top executives, alleging that before Rdio declared bankruptcy, the company made misrepresentations, false statements and concealments in order to avoid paying millions of dollars for streaming music from Sony artists including Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce…

Spotify launch anti-trust claims against Apple
Competition , Internet / August 2016

COMPETITION Internet   Music streaming platform Spotify has accused Apple of using its control of the iOS platform and App Store to keep the latest Spotify app out of the iOS ecosystem, in a move that favours its own Apple Music service. Spotify said that Apple rejected a new version of the firm’s app from the App Store, citing various technicalities. Apple has insisted that Spotify’s app did not conform to “business model rules”, and demanded that Spotify use Apple’s own billing system “to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions”. Companies such as Spotify have sought to sidestep Apple’s App Store cut by encouraging consumers to sign up for their services online. Apple forbids developers from promoting alternative payment methods within their apps. This is a requirement of all app developers who wish to sell apps on Apple’s App Store. iOS is a closed platform, and so Spotify say there is no choice but to comply. Apple takes a 30 per cent fee for the privilege, which Spotify is forced to pass on to customers. Spotify claimed that this makes its service appear uncompetitive. But Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell countered that the company deserves a cut of transactions in the App Store for its…

DofJ’s decisions on music licensing upset everyone
Competition , Music Publishing / August 2016

COMPETITION Music publishing   In a major setback to music publishers, the Justice Department decided this week it will not alter a decades-old system that requires royalty collection societies ASCAP and BMI to license songs to everyone at a fixed rate.  The Justice Department dealt another potential blow to the music industry by calling for so-called “100% licensing.” In cases involving songs with multiple songwriters. This would require ASCAP and BMI to provide a license for the whole song, and then apportion revenues amongst the different writers. The heads of two of the world’s biggest publishing companies have now both said that they aren’t happy with the recent ruling. Universal Music Publishing Group CEO Jody Gerson and Warner/Chappell boss Jon Platt want publishers to be allowed to negotiate digital rights outside of blanket licenses offered by Collection Societies joining Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier in declaring the position taken by the DofJ is deeply disappointing, and a threat to the livelihood of songwriters. The DofJ confirmed existing consent decrees – effectively a blanket licence – tat have governed ASCAP and BMI since 1941 and leaving them intact will mean publishers remain unable to partially withdraw their repertoire from the PROs in order to negotiate…

New UK review of secondary ticketing leaves some disappointed
Competition , Live Events / July 2016

COMPETITION Live events sector   The much-anticipated independent review of the UK’s secondary ticketing market, commissioned by the British government in October 201, has divided industry figures with its call for greater enforcement of the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) but no recommendation for any new legislation. Some provisions of the Act remain largely ignored, despite the Government introducing amendments to create greater transparency around secondary sales in 2015. The Act stipulates that consumers must be made aware of the original face value of tickets for secondary sale, any restrictions on the ticket and, where appropriate, standing or seating information. However, consumer group Which? had previously uncovered numerous examples where consumers were not provided with this information on al four of the main secondary ticketing sites, Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In! In his 227 page report, Professor Waterson has rejected the need for further legislation – but called for greater enforcement of existing measures. Management of acts such as Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Radiohead, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Noel Gallagher, and agents from CAA, ITB, UTA, Coda, X-ray Touring and 13 Artists have added their name to the statement, which reads: “Professor Waterson exposes a dysfunctional and under-regulated ticketing…

Spain’s Supreme Court sides with promoters over disproportionate 10% tariff
Competition , Live Events / June 2016

COMPETITION Live events sector     The Supreme Court of Spain has ordered national music collection society the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, or Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE) to immediately abolish its “abusive” 10 per cent tariff on box-office receipts in favour of a “fair” levy to pay music copyright-holders. SGAE had appealed a ruling by the National Competition Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia, CNMC) which held that Spain’s 10 per cent rate was excessive and unfair to Spanish concert promoters noting that much lower royalty fees were applied in other European countries – the rate in the UK is a 3% tariff applied by the PRS on box office (Tariff LP) – and also noted the 1% tariff the US. In 2014 the CNMC ruled that SGAE had committed an abuse of a dominant position, and infringed Spanish and European competition regulation. The CNMC fined SGAE with 3.1 million euros and urged the Spanish collecting society to modify the rate system for live music licensing within a period of 3 months. SGAE had failed to comply with the CNMC resolution much to the fury of Spanish concert promoters The Supreme Court dismissed SGAE’s appeal. The court noted…

ASCAP Announces Settlement Agreement with U.S. Department of Justice

COMPETITION Music Publishing     The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has reached a $1.75m Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice addressing two specific concerns raised during the Department’s ongoing review of the ASCAP Consent Decree.   The DOJ had claimed that ASCAP had violated the rules of the consent decree that governs the organisation by entering into exclusivity deals with some 150 of its members. In the US, the norm is that the organisation represents its members performing rights on a non-exclusive basis, meaning a licensee can circumvent the society and can  deal directly with a songwriter and/or publisher. In most other countries, when songwriters and publishers join a performing rights society, they give that organisation the exclusive right to represent the performing right elements of their copyrights. The DoJ said that since 2008 that ASCAP had added exclusivity terms to some of its agreements with members, and that this contravened the provisions of the consent decree The society said that it had never enforced any exclusivity provisions in its members contracts, adding that they had now been removed and would not be included in future agreement “By blocking members’ ability to license their songs themselves,…

No time for weaker antitrust enforcement

COMPETITION Music Publishing   By David Balto   In the complicated world of music licensing there is a disturbing trend – even though there is clear evidence that publishers are exercising market power and consumers are paying more – many self-interested parties are currently lobbying the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to loosen the consent decree in order to give it more options to raise licensing fees. And to show their level of regulatory gall, they are seeking to weaken the order after the DOJ just fined ASCAP (the licensing entity) $1.75 million for violating the consent order. If there is one thing the DOJ should learn from dog owners, it’s that you don’t give a wily dog a longer leash. It’s easy to forget that the way music is licensed through publishing rights organizations (“PROs”) like ASCAP is price fixing. However, the music industry stands as one of the rare exceptions to the rule that price fixing is illegal. That is because the DOJ and the Supreme Court both concluded that, due to the complicated nature of music licensing, the blanket licenses offered by licensing entities do more good than harm.   This exception from regular antitrust laws was never…

CAA moves forward with action against UTA
Competition , Live Events / June 2016

COMPETITION Live events sector   The Los Angeles Superior Court has issued a number of rulings in Creative Artist Agency’s (CAA) lawsuit which accuses United Talent Agency (UTA) of poaching several agents last year. While Judge Lisa Hart Cole rejected UTA’s motion to dismiss some portions of the suit, she also dismissed CAA’s claims for attorneys fees. The Judge also struck punitive damages allegations against UTA, but allowed them to go forward against agents Gregory Cavic and Gregory McKnight – two of the agents who left CAA for UTA in April 2015. However CAA will be allowed to file an amended complaint within 20 days to support their claim that Cavic and McKnight signed potential CAA clients for UTA during last year’s Sundance Film Festival, which they attended on behalf of CAA at UTA’s behest.   UTA had objected to CAA’s  “allegations of conspiracy to ‘steal clients and employees’ from CAA, as well as ‘the clandestine manner in which they carried out their plans,’” according to Variety. Calling the allegations “inflammatory,” UTA argued they were “irrelevant, false, improper or immaterial matters, which have absolutely nothing to do with this action but are prejudicial to the defendants.” The judge disagreed and ruled that rather than…

EU digital chief takes aim at YouTube
Competition , Internet / May 2016

COMPETITION Internet     The head of the EC’s digital single market, Andrus Ansip, has spoken out over what he perceives as unfair competition in music streaming. He said that YouTube’s comparatively small payments to artists gave it an unfair advantage over rivals such as Spotify, the Swedish streaming service.   Ansip said “this is not only about rights owners and creators and their remuneration — it is also about a level playing field between different service providers,” said the former prime minister of Estonia. “Platforms based on subscriptions are remunerating those authors; others service providers do not. How can they compete?” Record labels have long complained that YouTube — which has become the world’s most popular music service — pays too little to use their songs.   And Artistes have also been vocal in their complaints: “YouTube is paying out about a sixth of what Spotify and Apple pay artists,” said Nikki Sixx adding: “[YouTube is] hiding behind this safe-harbor loophole. That is allowing them the freedom to not take care of artists.” Metallica manager Peter Mensch said: “YouTube? They’re the devil. If someone doesn’t do something about YouTube, we’re screwed. It’s over. Turn off the lights.” YouTube has publicly blamed non-disclosure…

CMA provisionally decides to release PRS for Music from 1997 undertakings

COMPETITION Music publishing, broadcasting, internet     The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its provisional decision in its review of undertakings given by PRS to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) in 1997.  The CMA has provisionally decided to release the undertakings. The PRS is one of the two main collecting societies for music in the UK. It licenses musical works and administers the royalties when such works are played in public or broadcast, for example on the radio or television.   The group of independent CMA panel members carrying out the review considers that the forthcoming implementation of the EU Collective Rights Management Directive will effectively address the areas and concerns covered by the undertakings. The group has therefore provisionally decided that the undertakings are no longer required.   This Directive, due to be implemented by each EU Member State by 10 April 2016, introduces a number of requirements that collective management organisations, such as the PRS, must meet – as well as various protections for their members. The requirements are intended to ‘ensure a high standard of governance, financial management, transparency and reporting.’   The CMA’s decision to review PRS’s undertakings is part of its wider review of the 76 existing…

Songkick and Live Nation – let battle commence!
Competition , Internet , Live Events / April 2016

COMPETITION Live sector, internet     Songkick’s legal battle with Live Nation is heating up, with Songkick filing new court papers in connection with their claim. Interestingly, Live Nation subsidiary Ticketmaster has also confirmed a new relationship with Bandsintown – a direct Songkick rival: now Bandsintown users will be able to buy tickets for shows through Ticketmaster within the Bandsintown app – a process that will make the ticket buying experience more seamless, according to the new partners. “By building on Ticketmaster’s new capabilities, we have dramatically improved the user experience, strengthening artists’ and promoters’ ability to sell out shows” said Bandsintown CEO Fabrice Sergent. Songkick, the website and mobile service that provides tickets and personalised calendars for live music events, sued Live Nation last December, alleging that the live entertainment firm – which is a significant player in tour and festival promotion, venues, ticketing and artist management – was holding the artists it works with to ransom, especially in the US, if they decided to collaborate with the gig recommendations service (such as the likes of Songkick) on fan club pre-sales. Songkick has been increasingly moving into ticketing itself – firstly merging with direct-to-fan platform Crowdsurge, and more recently Songkick has been working…

19 denied access to claim against Sony’s Spotify equity
Competition , Contract , Internet / April 2016

COMPETITION / CONTRACT Recorded music, internet     Hot on the news that Sony had officially signed a licensing deal with SoundCloud, the last of the three major labels to sign an agreement with SoundCloud in an arrangement that involves the recording label major taking an equity stake in the streaming platform, comes the news that a federal judge has told 19 Recordings that it won’t be allowed to amend a lawsuit to address Sony Music’s equity stake in Sweden-based streaming giant Spotify. Between them, the majors – Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group – are believed to own somewhere around 15% in Spotify. In an ongoing US court case, Sony – which reportedly owns 6% in Spotify – was last year legally challenged by management company 19 Entertainment on the Spotify equity issue. Last June, in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit over royalties paid to artists including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, 19 attempted to add to their claim, saying that Sony had engaged in self-dealing by taking equity in Spotify, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in lieu of demanding fair-market royalty rates from the streaming company. 19 Recordings alleged this was a…

Live Nation cleared in anti-trust law suit
Competition , Live Events / March 2016

COMPETITION Live events sector     A US appellate court has affirmed the dismissal of an anti-competition lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment by Seth Hurtwitz-owned indie promoter It’s My Party (IMP). The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has confirmed the February 2015 ruling that dismissed all claims made by IMP, which alleged that Live Nation (LN) engaged in monopolistic (anti-trust) policies in violation of the Sherman Act by coercing artists to only appear at venues it owned and operated. Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III said that Maryland-based IMP misleadingly contrasted its own and Live Nation’s operations nationwide, as opposed to locally, to support its claim that LN was monopolising the concert-promotion market. Judge Wilkinson said “According to IMP, promoters compete nationally for contracts to promote performances anywhere in the country” and  “By defining the market as national, IMP could more easily construe LN’s nationwide network of promoters and venues as evidence of market power. In contrast, IMP could portray itself as a modest regional outfit whose resources pale in comparison.” and “If instead the market were defined locally and narrowed to just the Washington–Baltimore area, then IMP would appear more evenly matched against LN’s regional capacity. Unfortunately for plaintiff, its market definitions are blind…

Ticketmaster face anti-trust action from SongKick
Competition , Live Events / January 2016

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST Live events sector   Online concert-ticket retailer Songkick has accused Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour by pressuring touring artists and concert venues to not work with Songkick’s service.  New York-based Songkick has filed Law suit in THE U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, saying that Live Nation is in violation of federal antitrust laws, marking the latest legal challenge to the Beverly Hills-based company. In the complaint, Songkick says Ticketmaster and Live Nation have “attempted to destroy competition in the artist presale ticketing services market.”  Songkick says Ticketmaster has used its clout in the ticketing industry to try to force the company to pay service fees for pre-sales, and intimidated concert venues to not work with Songkick and other rival ticketing services.  The complaint also says that artists have also come under pressure: the company says a “global superstar,” whose name was not revealed, was denied marketing from Ticketmaster because the musician used Songkick for pre-sales.   The company is seeking unspecified damages, including punitive damages and attorneys fees. Songkick  says it has worked with artists including Kenny Chesney, Metallica and Mumford & Sons. Just last week, Songkick said it sold 230,000…

Wilma Theatre venue management contract ends up in Court
Competition , Contract , Live Events / December 2015

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST / CONTRACT Live events industry     The previous and current owners of the Wilma Theatre in Montana are being sued in U.S. District Court by concert promoter Knitting Factory Presents who claims they’ve engaged in “anti-competitive behavior” and the induced termination of  a nine year agreement in July 2014 to exclusively manage the theater and buy talent for it with Simba Entertainment, a company owned solely by then venue owner Rick Wishcamper. Simba Entertainment was to pay Bravo $85,000 each year, plus ticket fees and a percentage of concessions and sponsorship revenue Knitting Factory Presents (also known as Bravo Entertainment) says it lost at least $609,000, and is seeking to triple those damages to an estimated $2,210,255. The previous owner, Rick Wishcamper, counters that under Knitting Factory Presents’ management, the venue saw steeply increasing losses, a “fiasco” in a critical staff position after general manager after Marcus Duckwitz resigned and his replacement had “serious alcohol issues”, alienated other staff, upset other local companies and left after just four months, and other actions that breached the contract. The current owner, Nick Checota, says Knitting Factory is free to book concerts elsewhere in Missoula besides the Wilma and his Top Hat Lounge (a competing…

Sony. Universal and CMRRA face Competition Tribunal hearing in Canada
Competition / October 2015

COMPETITION (ANTI-TRUST) Recorded music     A Canadian firm which had been releasing low cost CDs of public domain recordings by the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, amongst others, is accusing two major record labels of using their clout and their combination of both recording and music copyrights to circumvent provisions of Canadian copyright law that had put some recordings by the Fab Four and others into the public domain. The term of copyright protection for sound recordings for Canada was extended from 50 years to 70 years this year. The extension was not applied retrospectively, so gives the extended term of protection to recordings from 1965 onwards. Now record label Stargrove has filed a 408 page complaint with the Canadian Competition Tribunal claiming market interference by the vertically integrated music giants, Universal and Sony, who have blocked releases of public domain sound recordings: It is alleged their publishing arms (for Sony this is Sony/ATV) instructed the local music collection society Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) to refuse mechanical licences for the compositions included in the recordings. The complaint says the refusal of licences means that rights holders are denying Stargrove mechanical licences on the usual trade…

Stub-hub bring anti-trust suit against US basketball team
Competition , Live Events / September 2015

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST Live events sector     In what could prove to be a landmark case in the sports ticket marketplace, StubHub filed a lawsuit against the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster in the northern district of California accusing the two of conspiring to create an illegal resale market. The U.S. basketball team have an alliance with Live Nation’s Ticketmaster, which is both the primary ticket seller for the team, and operates the Warriors’ official season ticket resale platform. In a Californian law suit, secondary re-seller StubHub, owned by e-Bay, has argued that this violates competition law, because Warriors fans can only buy tickets – whether through primary channels or on the resale market – via the Live Nation subsidiary. StubHub maintains that the Warriors and Ticketmaster have cancelled or threatened to cancel season-ticket packages if fans resell their tickets over secondary exchanges that compete with Ticketmaster’s. In response the Golden State Warriors said that its ticketing partnership in no way violated anti-trust rules because if customers didn’t want to buy tickets via a Ticketmaster platform, they could always go watch another basketball team play. According to Law 360, the Warriors wrote in their recent submission “Even a seller of a highly…

Apple Music and labels cleared of streaming market abuse by EU
Competition / September 2015

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST Recorded music, streaming   Re-Code reports that the European Commission failed to find evidence of collusion among the major music labels and Apple to quash free music streaming services such as those offered by Spotify. Investigators examined whether the labels conspired with one another or with Apple on Apple’s new streaming Apple Music service in a way that would damage rival services. The EU had questioned the three major labels — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — seeking details about their licensing discussions with Apple. The probe examined whether the music industry executives and Apple were working to stifle free offerings from services like Spotify, which uses its ad-supported service to entice listeners to buy a subscription. Spotify was under pressure by the major labels to move more of its listeners to its paid tier, though the pressure appears to have receded amid the inquiries. The EU will continue to monitor the market and investigators’ files will remain open as licensing talks continue between Spotify and some of the major labels Separately, the EU has asked Spotify and other music streaming services for information pertaining to Apple’s mobile App Store. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission similarly is…

FTC explores Apple’s treatment of rival streaming apps
Competition , Internet / August 2015

COMPETITION (ANTI-TRUST) Internet, technology     US government antitrust regulators are looking into claims that Apple’s treatment of rival streaming music apps is illegal under antitrust law. As Apple have now launched its own Apple Music, FTC are interested in how the App Store platform operates for competing streaming services such asJango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases for digital goods, such as music streaming subscriptions and games, sold on its platform. While $9.99 has emerged as the going monthly rate for music subscriptions, including Apple’s, some streaming companies complain that Apple’s cut forces them to either charge more in the App Store than they do on other platforms or erode their profit margins. Customers can sign up for a streaming service through their Web browser, but the streaming industry sources argue that many consumers do not realize that is an option. Tyler Goldman, CEO for North America of the music streaming company Deezer, said the bite that Apple takes out of his company’s US$9.99 U.S. subscription fee leaves little for Deezer. It emerged last week That Spotify was emailing users who subscribed to the service via its iOS app, and who are therefore…

EU gives all clear for PRS-GEMA-STIM hub

COMPETITION Music publishing   The European Commission has given the all clear for European collecting societies PRS, STIM and GEMA – which represent publishers and songwriters in, respectively, the UK, Sweden and Germany – to form a central hub to license and process royalties from multi-territory digital services. PRS For Music CEO Robert Ashcroft: “This is a very significant day for online music licensing as our new joint venture is uniquely positioned to deal with the rapidly transforming online music market. What this clearance means is that we are now able to work even more effectively on behalf of songwriters, composers and their music publishers, while at the same time helping to develop the Digital Single Market across Europe” whilst STIM CEO Karsten Dyhrberg Nielsen said: “Today’s competition clearance announcement is testament to the incredible work that has gone into the design of this new offering, which will provide a seamless service for both music rights holders and pan-European digital service providers. It’s the result of years of productive collaboration between STIM, GEMA and PRS For Music to deliver a solution that will help the digital market grow”.

Apple Music launch sparks anti-trust investigation and indie label backlash

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Recorded music, internet, music publishing     Apple has launched its Apple Music streaming service at this year’s WWDC conference in San Francisco. Headline news is that the new platform will be available from 30th June for $9.99 a month, after a free three months period – with a ‘family’ package costing $14.99 a month for up to six family members sharing with the service promising to “change the way you experience music forever”, initially available on iOS, Mac and Windows, with an Android version following in autumn. Opening his presentation by explaining ““So now, 2015, music industry is a fragmented mess. Do you wanna stream music? You can go over here. If you wanna stream video, you can check some of these places out. If you wanna follow some artists, there’s more confusions with that… So I reached out to [Apple executives] Tim Cook and Eddy Cue and said ‘guys, can we build a bigger and better ecosystem with the elegance and simplicity that only Apple can do?”, Interscope Records / Beats by Dre co-founder Jimmy Iovine promised “one complete thought” around music. Labelled a “revolutionary music service”, the new service aims to streamline the experience of enjoying music. It also…

Apple faces anti-trust investigation over streaming moves

COMPETITION (ANTI-TRUST) Online, recorded music     It has been a busy several months for antitrust regulators and the technology giants whose alleged conduct has recently come to their attention. Just a few weeks ago, Google formally became the subject of a European investigation into its alleged manipulation of Google search results to favour other Google products and the tying of its apps to developers’ use of the Android OS. Now, Apple is reportedly under scrutiny, this time by U.S. and European officials, over its soon-to-be-launched streaming music platform.   The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are reported to be probing allegations that Apple has pressured major music labels to force other streaming music sites, such as Spotify and Pandora, to abandon their platforms offering free streaming music to customers willing to listen to the occasional ad and enjoy a lower-quality stream. It is alleged that Apple encouraged major music labels to refuse to renew their deals with such “freemium” music services (interestingly, the very music labels Apple is alleged to have pressured own a significant financial stake in Spotify). Apple’s alleged goal in exerting such pressure is to eliminate competition from freemium music services to pave the…

Ticketmaster faces anti-trust action from StubHub
Competition , Live Events / May 2015

COMPETITION Live events sector   In what could prove to be a landmark case in the sports ticket marketplace”, Live Nation’s Ticketmaster is being sued by eBay-owned StubHub over its official alliance with the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Ticketmaster is the primary ticket seller for the Warriors, and also operates the official season ticket resale platform, where tickets can be officially resold. The basketball team threatens to cancel any tickets it sees being touted on other secondary sites, like StubHub: reselling a ticket is usually a breach of the terms and conditions of the original purchase. The threat has apparently worked. StubHub claims that listings for Warriors tickets, which is currently the hottest ticket in the NBA, are down 80 percent in the past year. But StubHub has alleged that this amounts to anti-competitive behaviour on Ticketmaster’s part. The eBay firm says in its complaint: “If you are a Warriors fan and you want season tickets, you have one choice: buy them through Ticketmaster”. The company’s General Counsel Michelle Fang then told Bloomberg that her client was suing in the interest of Warriors’ fans, adding of Ticketmaster’s motives: “Given that they haven’t been able to win when we’ve competed on a…

Coachella faces class action over ticketing scheme
Competition , Live Events / May 2015

COMPETITION Live events sector   A new class action accuses the companies behind Coachella and other music festivals of offering ticket payment plans that require would-be concert goers to forfeit everything they’ve paid toward the purchase of festival tickets if they are more than 10 days late on a single payment.  As the price of concert tickets has skyrocketed and in an effort to increase sales, festivals like Coachella and others have rolled out payment plans which allow concertgoers to make monthly payments toward the purchase of festival tickets.  Miss one payment, however, and the would-be concertgoer forfeits the tickets and all the prior payments.   According to a new lawsuit, the plaintiff and class representative purchased two tickets and a camping pass for Weekend 1 of the 2015 Coachella Music Festival for a total of $850.00, using the festival’s payment plan option.  After timely making four payments for a total of $617.90, fraudulent charges appeared on the plaintiff’s credit card, causing her bank to issue a new one.  Unbeknownst to plaintiff, the next payment on her Coachella payment plan was refused as a result of the new card number.  The plaintiff did not realize what had happened until March…

US Court upholds Lanham Act violation of Bob Marley’s image
Artists , Competition , Trade Mark / May 2015

COMPETITION / TRADE MARK Artistes     The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has addressed the issue the use of whether the use of a deceased celebrity’s likeness or persona in connection with a product constitutes a false endorsement that is actionable under the Lanham Act, and has upheld a District Court’s finding of false endorsement and economic interference against defendants who had been selling T-shirts featuring an image of the late reggae icon, Bob Marley. Fifty-Six Hope Road Music v. A.V.E.L.A., Inc., Case Nos. 12-17502, 12-17519, 12-17595, 13-15407 and 13-15473 (9th Cir., Feb. 20, 2015) (Smith, J.) (Christen, J., concurring-in-part and dissenting-in-part). It wasn’t disputed that in 2004, A.V.E.L.A. acquired the rights to some photographs of Marley from a photographer, Roberto Rabanne.  A.V.E.L.A. then licensed the images to defendants Jem Sportswear (Jem) and Central Mills (Freeze) and Jem and Freeze used the photographs on Marley T-shirts and other merchandise, which were sold at retail outlets. In 2008, Hope Road sued A.V.E.L.A., Jem and Freeze for trademark infringement and false endorsement under the Lanham Act, for common law trademark infringement, as well as for unauthorized commercial use of right to publicity and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage under state…

New collection society alliance to be investigated by EU
Competition , Music Publishing / February 2015

COMPETITION Music publishing   The European Commission has announced that it has opened an “in-depth investigation” into the planned joint venture between three of Europe’s biggest song-right collecting societies, Germany’s GEMA, Sweden’s STIM and the UK’s PRS For Music. The three societies announced their alliance last June, expanding on an existing partnership between PRS and STIM built around the International Copyright Enterprise (ICE). The rights organisations, which each represent a large collective of songwriters and publishers, said in a statement: “The hub aims to create easier access for digital music services to clear music rights, and faster and more precise payments of royalties to rights holders. PRS for Music, STIM, and GEMA had planned to begin launching services from the hub in early 2015, subject to competition clearance. Notwithstanding this delay, the partners remain committed to bringing their new service offerings to the market as soon as possible, once the approval of the European Commission has been obtained.” Adding “The collective rights management organisations behind the venture are confident that their vision for a new licensing and processing hub will benefit the market and look forward to providing the European Commission with further analysis and market data” and “The hub is set…

OSA and Article 102 TFEU: a way of attacking excessive collecting society fees?
Competition , Music Publishing / February 2015

COMPETITION Music Publishing   Case C-351/12 OSA – Ochranný svaz autorský pro práva k dílům hudebním o.s. v Léčebné lázně Mariánské Lázně a.s., 27 February 2014 Eleonora’s Rosarati’s abstract for the Oxford University Press publication,  Journal of European Competition Law & Practice, reads as follows: Even where national law reserves collective management of rights to a certain collecting society, this does not exclude application of competition law rules, notably Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU): a collecting society may be found to abuse its dominant position if in a particular Member State it imposes fees that are appreciably higher than those charged in other Member States, or imposes a price that is excessive in relation to the economic value of the service provided.   http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/osa-and-article-102-tfeu-way-of.html

Court Holds Soundreef Business Activities in Italy are Legitimate
Competition , Music Publishing / February 2015

COMPETITION Music publishing   The Court of First Instance of Milan has ruled in favour of this rising and ambitious British company that administers copyright and neighbouring rights and is a de facto competitor of the Italian Society of Authors and Editors (SIAE) saying: “At the moment there are no sufficient elements to hold that Soundreef’s dissemination of music within the Italian territory is unlawful because of the exclusive granted to the Italian Society for Authors and Editors (SIAE) as per Art. 180 of the Italian Copyright Act, nor does it appear that the music … managed and disseminated by Soundreef in shopping centres, department stores and similar commercial venues, must be necessarily managed by SIAE. Any such claim would be in conflict with both the principles of the free market within the European Community and the core principles of free competition”. [Indeed, in an era in which technology takes the strain and the bureaucratic element of rights management is largely automated, the benefits to rights owners through economy of scale, if they exist at all, must be vanishingly small]. In both phases of the interim proceedings, the Court of Milan dismissed all claims against Soundreef. “The decision holds that…

YouTube’s monopolistic behaviour back in the news again
Competition , Internet / February 2015

COMPETITION Internet   Self releasing musician Zoe Keating has reignited the debate around YouTube’s Music Key negotiating tactics. In a detailed blog post about her current quandary over YouTube, as the market-leading video platform ploughs on with its Music Key adventure. CMU Daily reports that It seems that the new subscription streaming, having placated the indie labels, is now offering terms to self released artistes – which seem to be “join in with Music Key or say goodbye to YouTube entirely”.   Outlining the new YouTube deal as it was explained to her, Keating wrote: All of my catalogue must be included in both the free and premium music service. Even if I don’t deliver all my music, because I’m a music partner, anything that a third party uploads with my info in the description will be automatically included in the music service too. All songs will be set to “montetise”, meaning there will be ads on them. I will be required to release new music on YouTube at the same time I release it anywhere else. So no more releasing to my core fans first on Bandcamp and then on iTunes. All my catalogue must be uploaded at high…

UK Government launches consultation on CRM Directive

COMPETITION Music publishing, recorded music   The UK government will shortly be launching a consultation on the implementation of the Collective Rights Management (CRM) Directive. This EU law was adopted last year to set consistent standards for the regulation of collective rights management organisations such as PRS for Music. The Directive aims to enforce minimum standards to the way collecting societies work and has three key elements: rules on governance, transparency/financial reporting and standards for multi-territory licensing. This government consultation is an opportunity for you to have your say on the implementation of the directive in UK law. The legislation will come into force on 10 April 2016. The Government has also halted a proposed move that would see the copyright protection certain unpublished sound recordings up to the year 2039 removed. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act protects copyright in unpublished recordings from 1957 – 1989 for the period up to 2039, at which point the works fall into the public domain. The proposed move came after lobbying on the issue from groups including CILIP, on behalf of libraries, museums and archives. The Government scrapped the reform after consultations with industry trade organisations including thr BPI and UK Music All…

Music and sports figures rebuffed in call for ticket resale reform
Competition , Contract , Live Events / February 2015

COMPETITION / CONTRACT Live events sector   Senior UK figures from the world of sport and entertainment who issued a call for new controls on websites selling event tickets have seen their bid for regulation of secondary ticketing fail after MPs voted 289 to 204 against an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill in the House of Commons. Campaigners wanted resale websites to be required to publish the names of ticket sellers and the tickets’ face value. The renewed call came in a letter to the Independent on Sunday signed by heads of sporting and cultural bodies and entertainers’ management companies. Government ministers prefer a voluntary approach. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has previously said a change in the law would be unnecessary. Secondary ticketing sites act as marketplaces that allow sellers to charge what they like for concerts, plays and sports events, and often earn a commission from selling on the tickets.  When tickets for a popular event go on sale, they may be snapped up in bulk either manually or using automated software in order to sell them on at a profit. The letter warns that the way the secondary ticketing market currently operates can seriously undermine efforts…

Apple triumphs against claim that iTunes software updates were to shut out competitors
Competition , Internet , Record Labels / January 2015

COMPETITION Internet, recorded music   It took the jury in the Apple anti-trust case less than three hours to rule that the IT giant had not been anti-competitive with the software updates it made to the iPod back in the big bad days of digital rights management (DRM) protection on downloads. At the beginning of the case an Apple security expert defended a series of iTunes updates as protection from hackers rather than moves to shut out competitors, in a class action antitrust lawsuit in an Oakland federal court. At issue was the claim that Apple maintained a music player monopoly from 2006 to 2009 by releasing updates to its music store that made it impossible for iPods to play songs from competing stores such as Real Network’s Harmony. The Plaintiffs (and more on who they were later!) said this harmed consumers by making it costly to switch to other devices, and allowed Apple to charge high prices. The plaintiff’s argued that during synchronization with an iPod, iTunes software would generate an error message when it spotted music not purchased from Apple residing in the user’s iTunes library. The message would instruct users to reset their iPod to its factory…

Rosemont mayor gets shy over Garth Brooks concert finances
Competition , Live Events / January 2015

COMPETITION LAW Live events sector   Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephenshas been in the firing line after trying to hide details of a Garth Brooks concert from prying eyes. The village recently passed an ordinance to keep secret the financial details related to Brooks’ record-breaking concert run — an unusual move that came out after the Chicago Tribune filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to his September shows at Allstate Arena. However, the new ordinance gives the Mayor and other officials the power to withhold documents if they believe the release would put the village-owned entertainment venues at a competitive disadvantage. In addition to the arena, the town owns and operates the Rosemont Theatre and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. The Tribune requested the records on Sept. 11, while Brooks was in the middle of his 11-concert run at Allstate Arena. Brooks, who had not toured in 16 years, sold 183,535 tickets for his Rosemont shows and broke the North American ticket sales record for a single city with an estimated gross of $12 million. Village officials have released some documents connected to the concerts, but they repeatedly have declined to provide unredacted financial information. Village…

Tennessee’s anti scalping laws have never been used
Competition , Live Events / December 2014

COMPETITION Live events sector   For six years, Tennessee has had a law making it illegal to use special computer software – bots – to buy large quantities of tickets to popular concerts and sporting events. But despite the apparent prevalence of the practice, no one has been prosecuted for this hard-to-prove crime in Davidson County according to records obtained by the Tennessean from the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk. Whilst artists and promoters have to  resort to ticket limits and paperless ticketing, which required the purchasing credit card and matching photo identification to get into some shows, large numbers of tickets showed up on ticket resale sites the. It seems enforcing the law is complicated for a variety of reasons, including highly sophisticated software that scalpers use to crack computer systems that companies such as Ticketmaster use to sell tickets. There are also jurisdiction issues because sometimes out-of-state scalpers will target shows in Tennessee despite a law which says that it is illegal to own, use or share bot software and that violation of the law is a class A misdemeanor punishable by $500 per ticket, or any profits made from each instance, whichever is higher. There have been…

Irish minister rejects Irish music quota for radio
Competition / November 2014

COMPETITION Broadcasting   FRENCH-style radio quotas for Irish music could contravene European law, Irish Minister Jan O’Sullivan has insisted. The minister  was responding to Labour colleague Deputy Willie Penrose, who was speaking in the Dail in support of Limerick songwriter Johnny Duhan’s call to set aside a minimum amount of airtime to Irish acts. Deputy Penrose said: “It is well argued by Mr Duhan that we are more vulnerable than any other EU country as we are very near England, and as many of our singers generally sing in English we are more exposed and susceptible to the cultural influence of England and the US than any of our EU partners”. Responding the minister said that while the government supported the promotion of Irish music, its approach had to be “consistent with EU and Irish regulatory structures”.   http://www.limerickleader.ie/what-s-on/arts-entertainment/music/jan-o-sullivan-says-radio-quotas-could-breach-eu-law-1-6359905

Commercial radio group questions public service value of BBC Radio
Competition / September 2014

COMPETITION Broadcasting   The UK commercial radio trade group RadioCentre has again taken aim at the BBC’s biggest two music services, Radio 1 and Radio 2, questioning the ‘public service value’ of the two stations, saying the two national and licence fee funded stations compete head on with their own flagship services. The latest criticism from RadioCentre comes at the launch of a big review of the Corporation’s music radio operations by regulator the BBC Trust. The review will look at the output of Radios 1, 1Xtra, 2, 3, 6 Music and the Asian Network. The review, which will report early next year. considers how well each radio station meets the remit it has been given by the BBC Trust, as well as considering value for money, how much the services support live and new music, and how they are adapting for the digital age. The Guardian quotes new RadioCentre boss Siobhan Kenny as saying: “Ahead of [the BBC’s] charter renewal, we need to focus on the size, scope and remit of some of the BBC’s most popular services, and what roles they will have in a future digital environment. At RadioCentre, we are particularly interested in the positioning and…

Indies bring in the EU over YouTube negotiations
Competition , Record Labels / July 2014

COMPETITION LAW Recorded music   The independent label community will today step up its campaign against Google owned YouTube by calling on the European Union to intervene, having already criticised the way the YouTube is negotiating with the record companies in a bid to launch its much mooted and rather delayed audio streaming service, a new Spotify and Amazon competitor that will sit alongside YouTube’s vast music video catalogue – with what appeared to be an initial threat from the dominant YouTube – to remove all of the Indie’s material from YouTube if they didn’t sign up to what were perceived to be unfavourable terms all of their content on the Google site could be blocked. The royalty rates paid by YouTube when music videos are streamed on its site were already becoming contentious in the music industry, as the audio streaming services which pay higher rates started to stress that the free-to-view video site was hindering their attempts to woo more mainstream consumers. The rates subsequently offered for YouTube audio were similarly criticised once they were on the table – although the three major labels have done deals with YouTube, albeit on unknown terms. The threat of removing material…

France looks set to drop French language quotas on radio
Competition / February 2014

COMPETITION LAW Broadcasting   Back in 2011 music industry representatives in France aired concerns over quotas on French-language titles saying that it was almost impossible to fulfil requirements that demanded 40% of songs played be French-language titles, half of which are required to come from new artists, with the number of French pop songs being produced dwindling. The law was introduced in 1994 in an attempt to stem an invasion of English-language songs. Increasingly French singers have switched to singing in English in recent years due to ease of export and the languages perceived better-suitability for pop music  Now the Higher Audiovisual Council has admitted that the legislation has been rendered obsolete by the collapse im the number of French albums being produced – and the fact that many are sung in English. The Council is now calling for a new law to allow radio stations to play more songs in languages other than French.  The Council said that just 264 French language albums were produced in 2012, compared to 531 a decade earlier and noted artistes such as Daft Punk, David Guetta, Lou Doillon, Shaka Ponk, Air and Phoenix all sing in English.   http://www.thedrum.com/news/2011/05/05/french-radio-stations-struggle-fulfil-french-language-quotas

Global Radio halts appeals over competition issues
Competition / January 2014

COMPETITION Broadcasting   Global Radio has confirmed that it will agree to Competition Commission demands related to its acquisition of the Guardian Media Group’s former radio business. Global acquired GMG’s Smooth and Real Radio networks last year in a £70 million deal, but the arrangement required clearance from the competition regulator which ruled that the radio giant could only keep a minority of the additional stations it had acquired, and would have to sell off outlets in seven regions, either its recent Real Smooth acquisitions, or one of its existing operations in those markets. Global called the ruling “outdated”, and said it failed to appreciate new competition in the advertising market that meant that the FM radio sector no longer operated in isolation. Last month the Competition Appeal Tribunal dismissed Global’s arguments against the Commission’s original ruling. Global has now said that it would not seek a further appeal, and instead would comply with the Commission’s ruling and put several stations up for sale in early 2014. http://www.catribunal.org.uk/237-8047/1214-4-8-13-Global-Radio-Holdings-Limited.html

JARAC’s practices violate competition laws in Japan
Competition / December 2013

COMPETITION Music publishing   Whether or not collection societies are monopolies, or act like monopolies, is a tricky issue: Many in the business world want ‘one stop shops’ for effective licensing, especially in a global digital market – but no one wants a bully! The Tokyo High Court has now overturned a previous ruling by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) and has concluded that the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) violates the country’s anti-monopoly law. The court says the JFTC ruling in 2012 that JASRAC was not a monopoly was “a mistake.” Presiding Judge Toshiaki Iimura said that JASRAC’s practices makes it very difficult for other music copyright businesses to enter the business, “essentially excluding them from competition”. The copyright society currently has ‘blanket licences’ with major broadcasting stations giving them unlimited access to songs that are under the JASRAC management for ja fee of 1.5% of the previous fiscal year’s broadcast earnings. Other copyright companies have to charge fees for each separate use of a song. The court found that because of this, broadcasters limit the use of non-JASRAC music  for purely economic reasons. In fiscal 2012, 98.03 of all music copyright fees were paid…

Michigan lawmaker seeks to make scalping legal
Competition / December 2013

COMPETITION Live events sector   A Michigan politician says he wants to make it legal to sell sporting event or concert tickets above face value and has introduced legislation that would repeal a 1931 state law that bans ticket scalping unless it’s authorised by the venue or event operators. Republican Rep. Tim Kelly of Saginaw Township said he is lining up bipartisan support for his bill. He says it’s a common-sense measure that would let the free market decide the price of a ticket saying “An individual who buys a ticket to a sporting event or concert owns that ticket, and they should have every right to sell it if they so choose” adding “This legislation, quite literally, is about allowing the man on the street to sell tickets at fair market value to willing buyers. It creates more fairness while providing some relief to our already overburdened court system.” Kelly said here is no reason for the government to interfere in a transaction between a willing buyer and willing seller. The legislation now goes to a House committee for consideration. And one of Kelly’s Democratic colleagues said allowing ticket re-sales is a matter of fairness. Rep. Doug Geiss of Taylor introduced a bill last…

Global lose Competition Commission appeal over Real and Smooth Radio acquisitions
Competition / December 2013

COMPETITION Broadcasting   Broadcaster Global Radio has in its bid to appeal a Competition Commission ruling on its acquisition of the Real and Smooth Radio networks. Global bought the Real and Smooth stations from the Guardian Media Group last year for £70 million, but various parties raised concerns about the dominance the transaction gave Global in the radio advertising domain in certain localities.  In its final report on the deal, the CC concluded that the merger is likely to cause higher prices for advertising in the UK regions earmarked for divestment. Responding to those concerns the Competition Commission told Global that they would have to sell off more of the Real and Smooth outlets than they’d be allowed to keep – or offload existing Global-owned stations in the regions where the Commission shared market dominance concerns). Global argued that the rules being used to block their Real Smooth deal are outdated, and ignore wider competition in the modern advertising market and that the competition regulator did not take reasonable steps to “acquaint itself” with information relevant to the Real Smooth deal, that it lacked evidence in some regions as to how local advertisers made buying decisions, and that it didn’t…

Sony/ATV sued over Beatles documentary
Competition , Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2013

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Music publishing, film & TV   CMU Daily reports that a US company has sued Sony/ATV and The Beatles’ company Apple Corps in a dispute over a new documentary covering the fab four’s first ever US concert in Washington back in 1964. The lawsuit, filed in the New York courts last week, is actually a rework of an earlier lawsuit the same company pursued but later withdrew in the Californian jurisdiction. Ace Arts LLC acquired footage of the Washington gig and used it as the core of a documentary about The Beatles’ first trip to the US. According to the firm’s lawsuit, it met with Apple Corps who confirmed that, while it controlled the legendary band’s trademarks and (under US law) publicity rights, it did not own the copyright in the live recording. The copyrights in many of the songs performed at the gig, meanwhile, are controlled by the Sony/ATV music publishing firm, which controls much of the Lennon/McCartney catalogue. To that end Ace Arts LLC reached a licensing deal with Sony/ATV, and on the back of that invested a substantial million dollar plus sum completing its documentary and later reached a distribution deal for the film…

Competition Commission clears AEG Wembley Arena deal
Competition , Live Events / October 2013

COMPETITION Live events sector   The Competition Commission (CC) has formally cleared the completed acquisition by AEG Facilities UK (AEG) of the contract to manage Wembley Arena. In its final decision,  the CC has concluded that the merger would not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the markets for the provision of venue space to promoters, provision of sponsorship opportunities or the provision of other event-related services such as catering, confirming the Commission’s preliminary ruling, published in July. Wembley Arena was previously operated by Live Nation Entertainment. AEG is the current operator of three indoor live entertainment venues in London: The O2 Arena, the Hammersmith Apollo, and IndigO2, and has been recently awarded a five-year contract to deliver summer concerts at Hyde Park. Following the merger, AEG will operate the two largest London indoor venues: The O2 Arena and Wembley Arena. AEG is also a promoter, AEG Live (UK) Limited, and owns a ticketing service, AXS.com. Martin Cave, CC Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the AEG/Wembley Inquiry Group, commented: ‘AEG’s opportunity to increase venue hire prices would be limited because factors such as capacity, availability, brand, reputation and personal preference are more important to acts booking the venue….

EC approve UMG and Sony divestments

COMPETITION Record labels, music publishers   The European Commission has granted approval for the sale of the Parlophone Label Group to Warner Music. When it acquired EMI last year, Universal Music was forced by competition regulators to sell the Parlophone Label Group – which includes the UK-based Parlophone frontline label and catalogue, some more British EMI archive, and EMI operations in various other European markets – and it was announced that Warner would buy it in February in a £478 million deal.  Beggars boss Martin Mills told Music Week: “This is good news for the market, and goes some way towards mitigating the concerns raised by Universal’s EMI acquisition, which we are already seeing become reality. As the clearance says, the strengthening of both Warners and the independents, as a consequence of Warner’s agreement with IMPALA and Merlin, should go some way to counter the power of Universal – and the existing duopoly of Universal and Sony – to unilaterally determine the shape of the marketplace. The consequent strengthening of the independent sector as a whole should be especially welcomed”. And BMG’s acquisition of the EMI publishing catalogues Sony/ATV was forced to sell has also been approved by European regulators….

Final Competition Commission report into Global/GMG published
Competition / June 2013

COMPETITION Broadcasting   The Competition Commission (CC) has decided that Global Radio Holdings Limited (Global) must sell radio stations in seven areas of the UK following its completed acquisition of Real and Smooth Limited (formerly GMG Radio Holdings Limited). In its final report, the CC has concluded that the merger is likely to lead to higher prices for advertising in seven areas of the UK. The CC has found that in areas where Global and Real & Smooth stations currently overlap and compete, advertisers buying airtime on a campaign-by-campaign basis, directly or through smaller agencies (non-contracted advertising) could face higher costs for both airtime and sponsorship and promotion activity. Global had asserted that higher costs would not result from the merger. The stations Global will be required to sell are as follows: East Midlands:   Smooth OR Capital Cardiff and South Wales:   Real OR Capital North Wales:   Real OR Heart Greater Manchester and the North-West:   Capital OR Real XS with either Real or Smooth North-East:   Real OR Smooth OR Capital South and West Yorkshire:   Real OR Capital Central Scotland:   Real OR Capital The CC found that advertisers would not be adversely affected in London and the West Midlands. The CC has also…