“Uptown Funk” hit with one more writer
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   A complaint has been filed in the US District Court of New York by Lastrada Entertainment Company Ltd, the publishers of “More Bounce to the Ounce” written by Roger Troutman and ZAPP.  The suit is against Mark Ronson, Philip Martin Lawrence, Jeffrey Bhasker, Sony/ATV, Warner/Chappell, Vevo, Spotify, Apple and others.  Lastrada is seeking damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, a permanent injunction against profiting from the alleged infringement, and a jury trial to decide the matter.   The latest lawsuit draws parallels with “Blurred Lines” between the estate of Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, where the claimants asserted that the respondents unintentionally copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up”. The suit went to a jury trial who decided in favour of the estate and the claimants were awarded $7.4 million in damages and a share of the profits.   The background is that “Uptown Funk” is the lead single from the album of the same name by uber-producer Mark Ronson recorded with Bruno Mars on vocals and released by RCA Records on 10th November 2014.  It was a worldwide hit spending 14 consecutive weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and topping the charts…

Grande face new US claim in wake of Cox ruling
Copyright , Internet / September 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   US internet service provider Grande Communications is fighting back against the action iy faces which was commenced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).   Earlier this year, the RIAA sued the Texas internet service provider claiming that “Despite their knowledge of repeat infringements, defendants have permitted repeat infringers to use the Grande service to continue to infringe plaintiffs’ copyrights without consequence”.   The move comes in the wake of the recent ruling in the dispute between music rights firm BMG and internet service provider Cox Communications, in which the court found that internet service provider Cox was liable for the copyright infringement of its customers.  The judge held this because Cox Communications operated a (deliberately) poor system for dealing with copyright infringing customers, Cox could not rely on the safe harbour defence in US law.   Now the RIAA is looking to have Grande Communications held liable for the copyright infringement of its customers. The RIAA plans to do this on the basis that Grande Communications isn’t doing enough to deal with said infringers, and therefore will not be able to rely on the safe harbour defence. In 2014 Cox was accused of repeatedly refusing “to…

The European Copyright Directive, safe harbour and the value gap found in the middle of it
Copyright , Internet / August 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet, digital   The EU’s E-Commerce Directive created the ‘safe harbour’ to protect Information Society Service Provides (ISP) where, subject to certain requirements, they unknowingly provided copyright-infringing material.   Take the YouTube example; due to the scale and amount of content that is uploaded to YouTube on a daily basis, it is almost an impossible task to monitor all content for copyright-infringing material. Therefore, and providing YouTube is doing all that it can in actively monitoring for copyright infringing content, it is protected by the ‘safe harbour’ rules. These rules mean that YouTube cannot be found to be liable for the infringement. However, with all rules there is an exception, the general exception for the safe harbour rules mean that if a ISP is put on notice that it is hosting infringing material it must act efficiently and expeditiously to remove the content, if this does not happen the ISP may be found to be liable.   It has been argued by both the music publishing and recorded music sectors that sites such as YouTube exploit the safe harbour rules. It is said that YouTube uses the safe harbour rules to effectively pay (much) lower royalties to copyright holders and this…

US music publishers up the stakes with Spotify
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2017

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, collection societies   Tensions between Spotify and National Music Publishers Association are reportedly rising in the USA with the arguments now focussing on the so called ‘mechanical right’ which generates a mechanical royalties on Spotify streams – and which cannot be collected bu US collecting societies BMI and ASCAP which only represent the performing rights in songs. Spotify can benefit from the compulsory licence schemes for mechanical rights Stateside, and hired The Harry Fox Agency (previously owned by the NMPA) to manage the process, but a group of independent songwriters and music publishers  who were  not represented by HFA went unpaid, and this resulted in class action litigation led by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick – a battle where the NMPA intervened as a peace maker: as the legal battle began in early 2016, the NMPA announced a settlement deal with Spotify over previously unpaid mechanicals. Subsequently Lowery and Ferrick’s class actions were settled in May this year. But now reports say that the NMPA has been pushing for new commitments from Spotify (not least as the major recorded music groups have equity stakes in the soon to be listed streaming giant – unlike the major music publishers) and are challenging the streaming company’s…

Cross party support to protect pre-1972 sound recordings and a new music database in the USA
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   US legislation has been introduced to close the long-standing anomaly in US copyright law which means that pre-1972 sound-recordings are nor protected by federal law, a position highlighted in the long running litigation between SiriusXM and Flo & Eddie, the California corporation with the rights to songs by the 1960s group The Turtles (“Happy Together,” “She’d Rather Be With Me”).   The Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service and Important Contributions to Society Act (CLASSICS) was introduced by a group of House Republicans and Democrats, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). Issa is the chairman of a key House Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property, and Nadler is the ranking member The legislation would make the owners of the pre-1972 recordings eligible for royalties for digital broadcast. The legislation also ensures that artists are entitled to the same share of royalties regardless of whether a label and a digital music platform reach an agreement on payment. “This an important and overdue fix to the law that will help settle years of litigation and restore some equity to this inexplicable gap in our copyright system,” Issa said. “For years, we have been working to ensure…

Will legalities rain down on the Purple Rain stage show?

COPYRIGHT Live events sector, music publishing   It has been announced that a ‘jukebox musical’ made up of Prince’s songs will tour the UK next year and the current plan is that it will open very shortly with a string of dates across the UK.     I say plan because Prince’s family or the Prince estate has not given permission for the musical. In fact, Troy Carter, entertainment advisor to the Prince estate has explained that “Neither Prince’s family nor the estate have given permission to use his name, likeness or music catalogue for this event”,   But do they need permission?  With the music, there are two licensing issues that must be taken into account.    Firstly, let’s take the boring option, if the Purple Rain musical is in essence just a band performing Prince’s catalogue of music, nothing more, nothing less, so in effect a tribute band playing Prince songs (albeit under the guise of a musical) it would be likely that permission of the Prince estate would not be needed. This is because it is possible to obtain, or play a venues where  a PRS ‘blanket licence’ will cover the public performance of the musical works.   Now, the more…

Stream-ripping tops music piracy chart
Copyright , Internet / August 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet, digital   A study carried out by PRS for Music and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), has found that stream-ripping is now the most prevalent and fastest growing form of music piracy in the UK, with nearly 70% of music-specific infringement dominated by the illegal online activity.   Research revealed that the use of stream-ripping websites, which allow users to illegally create permanent offline copies of audio or video streams from sites such as YouTube, increased by 141.3% between 2014 and 2016, overwhelmingly overshadowing all other illegal music services.   In 2016, PRS for Music and the IPO jointly commissioned two separate studies by INCOPRO and Kantar Media to better understand stream-ripping and its impact on the UK market and online consumer behaviour. Over 9,100 consumers participated.    Stream-ripping can be carried out via apps, websites, plug-ins or specially developed software on any online audio and video content to create a permanent audio-only copy of the music, without the rightsholders’ permission. Once saved, the track/file can be listened to offline on any digital device such as smartphones and tablets.   YouTube was found to be the most popular source of content for these sites, used by 75 of…

France’s Highest Court Rules in Favor of Freedom of Expression of Director over Heirs’ Droit Moral
Copyright / August 2017

COPYRIGHT Theatre   This article was written by Marie-Andree Weiss   Readers of the 1709 blog may remember that the Paris Court of Appeals found in October 2015 that the staging of the opera Le Dialogue des Carmélites by Dmitry Chernyakov for the Munich Opera in 2010 violated the moral rights of composer and librettist Francis Poulenc, which adapted the eponymous theatrical play by Georges Bernanos.   Le Dialogue des Carmélites tells the story of French aristocrat Blanche de la Force who decides to enter the Carmelite Convent, possibly to be sheltered from life, as she is fearful and shy. The French Revolution upset her world and the Carmelites must leave the convent. Blanche leaves the congregation to return to her family. When the Carmelites are arrested and sentenced to death by the revolutionary tribunal, Blanche returns to them as they are each climbing the steps to the guillotine, and she is the last one to have her head cut off.   Dmitry Chernyakov had not modified the score or the dialogue. However, his interpretation did not take place during the French revolution, but in contemporary time. In the last scene, the Carmelites are locked up in a shed full of explosives. Blanche appears on the…

The Canadian Supreme Court brings music to the ears of the music industry
Copyright , Internet / August 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet, digital   The Canadian Supreme Court has brought music to the ears of the music industry, although it’s not a music case!  It’s no secret, Google regularly links to content that is an infringement of copyright. It is also no secret that Google de-lists specific web pages that link through to copyright infringing content, but does not actually de-list the whole website.  Now the Supreme Court has ruled that the internet giant Can be forced to remove results worldwide, although the decision criticised by civil liberties groups who argue the judgment sets a precedent for censorship on the internet. The landmark ruling from Canada’s Supreme Court, which will undoubtedly have a major impact in the music industry, comes in the case of Google v Equustek. The music industry has been complaining, for some time that whilst Google does remove individual web pages, it will not remove the whole website. And indeed it’s always a game of ‘whack a mole’ – as soon the infringing content is removed, it then just pops up again. And it should be noted, safe harbour obligations provide that Google should de-list the web page, but there is no obligation to de-list the whole website….

GMR and RMLC square up to each other in the US courts

COMPETITION / COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, music publishing   Irving Azoff’s performing rights organisation Global Music Rights has a small catalogue of songwriters when compared to the two US giants,  ASCAP and BMI, but it is certainly not insubstantial,  with songwriter clients including the Eagle’s Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Billy Idol, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Drake, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams, Cathy Dennis, Drake, Don Henley, Ira Gershwin, John Lennon, Pharrell Williams, Boz Scaggs and Smokey Robinson, and music publisher clients including Prince, Imagen Global Music and Universal Television Global Music.    GMR is now squaring up to its latest battle with America’s Radio Music License Committee (RMLC): The radio industry’s RMLC, which has iHeart, CBS, Cox Media and Entercom amongst its members, is now seeking an injunction to force GMR to provide interim licences to radio stations in Pennsylvania.   BMI and ASCAP are regulated by the US Department Of Justice under the so called ‘consent decrees’ which are designed to mitigate competition concerns from ASCAP and BMI’s monopoly position, and provide a mechanism for settling disputes when the PROs cannot agree licence terms with licensees. The final of the four US PROs, SESAC, is not regulated by consent decree, but allows third party mediation on royalty…

Sid Bernstein’s Estate fails in its copyright claim over the Beatles’ Shea Stadium film
Contract , Copyright , Live Events / August 2017

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Live events sector, film, TV   A New York judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought the estate of promoter Sid Bernstein, who staged the Beatles’ legendary 1965 show at Shea Stadium. The Estate had argued that band’s Apple Corps had infringed on the copyright of Sid Bernstein Presents by including footage from the concert in ron Howard’s  documentary film Eight Days a Week – the Toruing Years which was released in September 2016.     The Estate’s action sought ownership (or joint ownership) of the master tapes and copyright by Bernstein’s company, Sid Bernstein Presents, arguing that, “[w]ithout Sid, the mastermind of the event, this film would never have been made”.   Copyright to the film, originally released in 1966 as The Beatles at Shea Stadium, was acquired by Apple Corps and the band’s Subafilms, from their management company, Nems Enterprises. In a ruling on the 26th July, Judge George B. Daniels, in the US District Court for Southern New York, said the company could not claim ownership of the footage as Bernstein did not himself film the concert, instead signing over the rights to do so to Nems. Judge Daniels held:  “The relevant legal question is not the extent to which Bernstein…

Injunction available after claimed licence fees paid – PPL v JJPB
Copyright , Live Events / July 2017

COPYRIGHT Live events sector By Rosie Burbidge writing for the IPKat    Should an injunction be granted when the licence fees which were the reason for a claim being issued have all been paid? What about if further licence fee payments (incurred after the claim form was issued) have not been paid?   Phonographic Performance Limited (or PPL) “licenses recorded music played in public or broadcast and then distributes the licence fees to its performer and recording rightsholder members.” It is one of the most regular users of the IP Enterprise Court.   One of its recent targets, Mr Gaughan, runs a bar called the Watkins Folly.  The owner, Mr Gaughan reached a settlement with PPL shortly after service of the claim form. He paid the licence fee for past infringements but: (i) did not set up the agreed Direct Debit to cover payments over the following year and; (ii) continued  to play sound recordings to the public. After failed attempts to persuade Mr Gaughan to pay up, PPL applied to the court for judgment in default and to lift the automatic stay which applies six months after the period for filing a defence has expired.  The big question was not whether Mr Gaughan was…

Mankowitz’s famous portrait of Jimi Hendrix is original and deserves copyright protection, says Paris Court of Appeal.
Copyright / July 2017

COPYRIGHT Photography   A couple of years ago the Paris Tribunal de Grand Instance (TGI) concluded (to much criticism at the time) that the well-known portrait of Jimi Hendrix realised by Gered Mankowitz would not be eligible for copyright protection in France. University of East Anglia academic Sabine Jacques has an update to report, this being the rather different outcome of the appeal decision in this case: “After the surprising judgment of the TGI Paris, the Paris Court of Appeal reversed the first instance decision with a ruling delivered earlier this week.  In this case, an electronic cigarettes and accessories sales company had reproduced and altered the famous portrait of music legend Jimi Hendrix taken by Gered Mankowitz for commercial advertising purposes. The defendant depicted Jimi Hendrix smoking an electronic cigarette instead of a real cigarette to promote its products. Having been made aware of this unauthorised use, Gered Mankowitz and his assignees decided to sue the electronic cigarettes sales company for copyright infringement. Let’s rewind back to May 2015… The decision of the TGI created somewhat a seismic shock amongst practitioners and photographers as without expressly acknowledging it, the High Court seemed to have interpreted the originality criterion as being based upon artistic merits, thus…

Drake’s transformation prevails in plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2017

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, music publishing   Drake, along with his record labels and music publishers, have won a difficult lawsuit that had claimed his song “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” which featured on the 2013 album “Nothing Was the Same” sampled a 1982 spoken-word recording titled the “Jimmy Smith Rap.” The use complained of is where Deake used a cut down version of lyrics spoken by jazz musician James Oscar Smith which originally read “Jazz is the only real music that’s gonna last ….. All that other bulls**t is here today and gone tomorrow. But jazz was, is and always will be.” Drake’s version is “Only real music’s gonna last …. All that other bulls**t is here today and gone tomorrow.” Drake’s record label engaged a music licensing company to obtain all necessary licenses. They obtained a license for the use of the sound recording of “Jimmy Smith Rap” but clearing the composition became problematic. The Estate maintained it would not have granted a license for the composition because JSmith “wasn’t a fan of hip hop.” District Court judge William H. Pauley III has now isssued a summary judgment for the defendants and against the Estate of James Oscar Smith, and…

State law not relevant to protect the broadcast of pre-1972 sound recordings in Illinois
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2017

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings   A federal judge in Chicago had dismissed a class action in another US case that looked at the performance right in sound recordings made before 1972, and which are not covered by federal copyright law.   In his June 5th ruling, Judge John J. Tharp Jr. sided with defendants iHeartMedia in the action brought by Arthur and Barbara Sheridan, who own own the copyrights in a number of pre-February 15th 1972 master recordings  The Sheridans said they and other copyright holders should be entitled to royalties when iHeartMedia played their sound recordings in radio and internet broadcasts and the Sheridans claimed that the defendants had infringed their Illinois state law copyright infringement, and claimed unfair competition, conversion and unjust enrichment. Defendant iHeartMedia argued the Plaintiffs failed to state any viable claim. In the 1950s and 50s the Sheridans owned and operated “several recording companies specializing in recording and selling doo-wop, jazz, and rhythm and blues music” including artists like the Flamingos, J.B. Lenoir and the Moonglows. In addition to owning audio masters, they also assert ownership of “intellectual property and contract rights associated with the recordings” which they continue to market to receive “revenue from licenses granted to…

Belgian live industry go to court over the Sabam rate hike

COMPETITION  / COPYRIGHT Live events sector, collection societies   The live sector in Belgian including the Rock Werchter, Pukkelpop and Night Of The Proms, festivals and tour promoter GraciaLive are heading to court with the  country’s performing rights organisation Sabam over the new royalty rates introduced at the start of the year by the PRO. Sabam justified the recent changes to the live event tariffs to bring Belgium more in line with royalties charged elsewhere in Europe.  Jan Vereecke of Night Of The Proms promoter PSE told HLN: “Sabam has unilaterally decided to increase its tariffs by 30%. It says this is based on what is charged by societies in neighbouring countries, but the rate increase is a simple abuse of monopoly”, adding “Actually, the whole system is outdated. Sabam takes a percentage of our ticket sales. But the shows of today are different than ten years ago, as staging, large screens, fireworks and such like become more common. These production elements increase the costs of the show, and therefore the cost of the ticket, and Sabam gets to skim more off the top. That is wrong”.   And in the USA, the ongoing issues around a planned move to ‘100%…

PRS for Music launches new live concert tool for members performing overseas
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2017

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     PRS for Music has launched a new live concert tool for members performing overseas which will show local tariffs across global territories and  could potentially help touring acts who write their own material additional royalties with the PRS for Music saying the tool will “help members who perform their music internationally negotiate full and fair royalty settlements.”   Unique to PRS for Music, the live concert tool removes the difficulty of calculating a specific country’s local tariff, which often varies significantly from territory to territory and has historically been a complex area for bands and their tour managers.   The live concert tool features a tariff calculator which can provide advance estimates of royalty value per concert across the globe, as well as ensuring the correct licence tariff rates are applied for major concerts. PRS for Music say the are the first ever collective management organisation to have developed and implemented this technology and has made it accessible to its members upon request.   The tool can also be used for royalty reconciliation post-performance, enabling members to review the progress of a royalty payment, as well as access a summary of the royalties they will…

Cross party support to make US radio ‘pay to play’
Competition , Copyright / May 2017

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Broadcasting, recorded music   A bipartisan group of legislators led by Representatives Jerry Nadler and Marsha Blackburn have reintroduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, a bill that would establish a public performance right for sound recordings on terrestrial radio, forcing stations to pay labels and artists for using their material, and correct the unusual position in the USA where there is no performance right for sound recordings on AM/FM stations (although there is for satellite and internet radio, and those royalties are collected by the collection society SoundExchange).  If the bill passes, and is signed into law by President Trump, it would put webcasters like Pandora and iHeartRadio, which pay statutory royalties for their online radio platforms, on an equal footing with AM/FM radio, who would have to reimburse the owners of sound recordings for using their copyrights.  Members of Congress say the bill will not be used to lower royalties that radio stations now pay to publishers and songwriters, which stations have always paid for the use of their songs.  The legislators also say the bill will “make a clear statement that pre-1972 recordings have value and those who are profiting from them must pay appropriate…

This is Spinal Tap, and this is going to be another copyright reversion case.
Copyright , Record Labels / May 2017

COPYRIGHT Film, recorded music   As we have previously reported, the original dispute arose in the actors behind This Is Spinal Tap and StudioCanal began when Harry Shearer, a co-creator of the cult movie, alleged that StudioCanal, Vivendi’s movie business had “wilfully manipulated certain accounting data…to deny [the] co-creators their rightful stake in the production’s profits”. If the co-creators are correct it wasn’t a small mistake either, $400 million is being claimed by the creators Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKrean and Rob Reiner.   Vivendi has been calling the lawsuit “absurd” for some time now. They have always insisted that the financial performance of the movie has been modest. However, things have taken a twist, a twist that seems all too common these days. Shearer is now attempting to reclaim the rights to all things “Spinal Tap” in the US. Shearer is attempting this by utilising the reversion right that is a part of US copyright law.   In a nut shell, US law states that a creator who has assigned his rights to a third party is able to reclaim the rights after 35 years. This law is around 35 years old now, and so the technicalities of the law are being tested…

Insane Clowns face infringement claim

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   An Ohio poet says Detroit rap-metal group the Insane Clown Posse and in particular member Joseph Bruce have used a poem he wrote without his consent. Stanley Gebhardt filed the copyright infringement suit in the federal court in Detroit. The action seeks monetary damages and asks the court to restrain Bruce and the group from using Gebhardt’s 1993 work “But You Didn’t” which the suit  is about a father-son relationship. The suit alleges that in 2015 a video of Bruce reciting the poem had been posted on YouTube. Bruce, who goes by the stage name Violent J, called it “Violent J’s Poem.” http://www.wfsb.com/story/35033766/poet-files-copyright-lawsuit-against-insane-clown-posse

PRS for Music and GEMA announce record results

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The UK’s Performing Right Society (PRS) has announced it paid out more than half a billion pounds sterling in royalties to songwriters, composers and publishers ib 2016, in its strongest performance to date. The organisation, which represents the rights of over 125,500 music creators in the UK and two million worldwide, paid out £527.6m to its members last year, up 11.1% (£52.5m) on 2015.   It was also able to deliver more money to more creators than ever before, with 33% more members receiving a payment compared to 2015. The number of unique musical works and songs earning money also rose by 45% to 4.2 million. In turn, revenues collected by PRS increased by 10.1% (£57.2m) in 2016 to £621.5m.   Of the music licensing company’s four main revenue streams, international income generated from members’ music played abroad saw significant growth, with £233.7m received from equivalent societies overseas. This represents an increase of 5% (£11.2m) year-on-year. Revenue from music played via online platforms saw the largest uplift at 89.9% (£38.1m) to £80.5m, while public performance income grew 4.6% to £183.2m and broadcast revenues were stable at £124.1m(a decrease of 0.1% on 2015).   In 2016, over…

Appeal filed in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2017

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The case which claims that iconic rock band Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” rips off the Spirit song “Taurus” is back in court.  A unanimous jury verdict in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles decided last June that the two songs were not sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement. Lawyers for the estate of the late Randy Wolfe (Randy California), author of “Taurus”, have now filed a 90 page brief. Wolfe’s legal team, led by attorney Francis Malofiy, has now filed a lengthy submission with the Ninth Circuit appeals court, arguing that a series of “erroneous” jury instructions resulted in Led Zeppelin winning the case. Other complaints from the trial include “Limiting plaintiff’s trial time to 10 hours violated due process and was not even close to an adequate amount of time to try this case” as well as “The Court seriously erred when defining originality.”   According to The Hollywood Reporter, Malofiy wrote in his submission: “The most important of these errors was that the trial court refused to let the jury hear the full and complete composition of ‘Taurus’ embodied in the sound recordings that Jimmy Page possessed, instead limiting the comparison to an outline…

iHeart radio: Another pre-1972 sound recording case – with a twist
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2017

BROADCASTING / COPYRIGHT  Broadcasting, recorded music   The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in favour of iHeart in another lawsuit concerning pr-192 sound recordings, whoch are protected by state laws rather than by federal copyright law.  Here, iHeart have defeated a copyright claim made by Arthur and Barbara Sheridan over iHeart streaming pre-1972 recordings they control – without licence.   As readers will remember the USA is a bit of a mess when it comes to who pays what for the use of recorded music. Federal law means that AM/FM stations have never paid royalties when playing post 1972 sound recordings. Digital online and satellite broadcasters are treated differently and do have to pay to use post 1972 copyrights (and there is a collection society, SoundExchange, set up to manage the collections).  But these broadcasters decided they could use pre-192 sound recordings without a licence. The Turtle’s Flo & Eddie have led the challenge against the likes of Sirius XM, arguing in California, New York and Florida arguing that state law there actually provides a general performing right for sound. They won at first instance in California, won at first instance in New York but lost on appeal, and lost in…

This is Spinal Tap and this is their lawsuit
Copyright / April 2017

COPYRIGHT Film, broadcasting, recorded music     The French media giant Vivendi SA has turned it up to eleven and called the $400 million Spinal Tap lawsuit “absurd”.  Vivendi, owner of Universal Music, is in the middle of a dispute with the members of Spinal Tap – yes the band that starred in the cult film ‘This is Spinal Tap’.  The dispute arose when Harry Shearer alleged that StudioCanal, the media giant’s movie business, “wilfully manipulated certain accounting data, while ignoring contractually-obliged accounting and reporting processes, to deny [the] co-creators their rightful stake in the production’s profits”. Since then, Shearer has been joined by Christopher Guest, Rob Reiner and Michael McKean and all are now named claimants. The lawsuit claims $400 million in damages to account for the alleged profits that has not been paid.  Not only does Universal, through its subsidiaries, own the rights to the film it also owns the rights to the soundtrack. The lawsuit alleges further that this use of subsidiaries is anti-competitive, and has resulted in the creators of the cult film being deprived of a fair reward for their services.   It is reported that Vivendi’s defence states that “Plaintiffs may not like the…

GWVR – the German Collection Society for promoters – publishes its first tariffs
Copyright , Live Events / April 2017

COPYRIGHT Live events sector     Some years ago, the German Association of Concert Promoters (BDV) applied to the German Patent & Trade Mark Office to set up a new collection society to collect revenues it has succsssfully argued are due to its members and due as compensation for the ‘neighbouring right’ under Section 81 of the German Copyright Act and arising from recordings made at live events. In 2014, the new royalty collecting society for promoters was approved by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) in Hamburg, after 10 years of lobbying by BDV.  At the time BDV President, lawyer Jens Michow, said that the new Society, Verwertungsgsgesellschaft fur Wahrnehmung von Veranstalterrecheten (GWVR) had plans to negotiate with broadcasters, record labels and other users of live recordings to set tariffs to compensate event promoters.  (GWVR, in English, The Collection Society for the Neighbouring Right) is a subsidiary of BDV. Michow said “after a protracted and difficult approval procedure with the GWVR, this mans that promoters are not merely dependent on the fleeting success of their concerts, but can also participate in longer-term rewards from the events they promote.” The GWVR will set tariffs, administer the rights procedures and collect…

Custodial sentence appropriate for sustained online infringement

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music, Music Publishing, Internet     In an interesting decision, the Court of Appeal in London has upheld a custodial sentence imposed on Wayne Evans by HHJ Trevor Jones at the Crown Court in Liverpool for two offences of distributing an article infringing copyright contrary to section 107(1)(e) of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 and also to a further offence of possessing an article for use in fraud contrary to section 6(1) of the Fraud Act 2006. Evans operated a number of websites which were responsible for the illegal distribution of licensed and copyrighted material. He did not himself have the material on his own websites, but he facilitated internet users by operating websites which permitted them to go elsewhere in order to find digital material via what are called “torrent” websites which permitted such downloading. The appellant himself had three websites which he administered. They were hosted through a proxy server, a computer system or application which facilitated access to material on the internet and which also provided a degree of anonymity to those who were supplying or accessing it and which bypassed other sites which might have been blocked by UK internet service providers. The three website…

Australia drops ‘safe harbour’ reforms
Copyright / April 2017

COPYRIGHT All areas   The Australian government has dropped plans to extend safe harbour protection from the revision of the country’s copyright laws. The Australian recorded music industry was among those who criticised plans to extend the country’s copyright safe harbour to be more in line with those in the US and Europe. Others in the media and entertainment industries hit out at that proposal, pointing out that the wider safe harbour provisions were becoming increasingly controversial in the US and the European Union, and that moves were afoot in the latter to put new limits on safe harbour protection, and that the proposed safe harbour reform hadn’t been subject to proper consultation, unlike the other proposals in the Copyright Amendment Bill. Dan Rosen of the Australian Recording Industry Association said on the news: “The other schedules to the bill were subject to a proper consultation and review by the department and that would be the appropriate place for an evidence-based inquiry into the commercial and market impact of any reform to safe harbour”. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said that the safe harbour proposal had been taken out of the copyright bill in response to “feedback” from the content industries, and…

The US Supreme Court has declines Vimeo appeal

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a final appeal in Capitol Records’ legal battle with video-sharing site Vimeo for hosting unauthorised recordings from The Beatles, Elvis Presley and other classic artists. The court  has left in place a federal appeals court ruling which said websites are protected from liability even for older music recorded before 1972 under the DCMA’s ‘safe harbor’ provisions.  Capital Records and other music companies had sued Vimeo for violating copyright laws for videos uploaded by users of the site and federal judge ruled a federal “safe harbour” law did not cover pre-1972 audio recordings. which are generally protected by state law. But a New York federal appeals court overturned that ruling, saying service providers would incur heavy costs to monitor every posting or risk “crushing liabilities” under state law. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that exempting older recordings from the safe harbor principle would “defeat the very purpose Congress sought to achieve in passing [it]”. The appellate court then refused to reconsider the case in August, resulting in the recorded music industry taking the matter to the US Supreme Court last December. The Supreme Court has now declined to hear the case, meaning…

China’s Music licensing revenues increase – but still low by international standards
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2017

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   According to the statistics released by the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC), music industry licensing revenue amounted to RMB184 million (approx. £21 million) in 2016, an increase of 8.2% from last year. Digital licensing accounted for most of the growth and now represents 37% of the total. Revenues from broadcasting and public performances dipped. Music licensing revenues in China remain low by global standards. Draft amendments to the Chinese Copyright Law may help, with proposals for new statutory rights for sound recordings. In November 2016 the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) including a commitment that “China will urge copyright owners and broadcasters to timely perform their respective obligations in accordance with the Interim Measures for Payment of Remuneration by Radio and Television Stations for Broadcasting Sound Recordings”.    And in Kenya, The Music Copyright Society of Kenya has lost the licence to collect music royalties. The moved followed the decision by the board of directors of Kenya Copyright Board to approve the licensing of a new body, Music Publishers Association of Kenya Limited, to collect royalties on behalf of authors, composers and publishers from March 2017 to February 2018, effective immediately. The decision was made after the new…

Russia proposes a ‘super’ EEU collection society
Copyright / March 2017

COPYRIGHT Collection societies   Billboard reports that the Russian government has proposed that there should be one collective licensing body across the Eurasian Economic Union. Russia’s government is still deciding whether or not the government should take over collective licensing in the country after a number of scandals, setting up a new agency that would combine RAO (which is the collection society for authors’ rights), VOIS, which deals with neighbouring rights, and RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of electronic devices that can be used for copying content. Russia’s culture ministry has now reportedly suggested a multi-territory licensing body could be set up as part of the Eurasian Economic Union. According to Billboard, the Russian culture ministry has proposed that that new government-led rights body could also handle collective licensing in other countries that are part of the Eurasian Economic Union, which are the former Soviet states Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Russia The culture ministry has suggested that the multi-territory rights body could “combine national collecting societies and develop uniform standards for their operation, management and control over their observance”. The latter proposal – ie an EEU body regulating collective licensing – would have some parallels with the regulation…

Swedish appellate court allows web blocking
Copyright , Internet / March 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet   The Swedish Court Of Appeal has overturned the ruling in the District Court Of Stockholm in 2015 which had dismissed an application that would have forced internet service providers to block The Pirate Bay and other platforms linked to music and other piracy – a move opposed Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget   The Patent And Market Court Of Appeal has now ruled in favour of music and movie companies, ordering Bredbandsbolaget to implement web-blocking of both The Pirate Bay and another piracy site called Swefilmer. The court confirmed that their judgement was in part influenced by the web-block injunctions that have been ordered elsewhere in the European Union. Torrentfreak reports that judge Christine Lager said in a statement: “In today’s judgment, the Patent And Market Court held that right holders such as film and music companies can obtain a court order in Sweden against an ISP, which forces the ISP to take measures to prevent copyright infringement committed by others on the internet. The decision is based in EU law and Swedish Law should be interpreted in the light of EU law. Similar injunctions have already been announced, such as in Denmark, Finland, France and the UK, but the verdict today is…

Sirius XM wins again against the Turtles
Copyright / March 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   Sirius XM Holdings Inc has won the dismissal of a New York copyright lawsuit over the satellite radio company’s use of pre-1972 sound recordings brought by Flo & Eddie, Inc, who own the 60s pop band the Turtles’ catalogue, reducing the size of a related settlement between both sides in November.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now accepted the December 20th ruling by the New York state’s Court of Appeals that New York common law does not protect the public performance of songs made before 1972. The 2nd Circuit rejected an argument by Flo & Eddie Inc that the state court ruling did not resolve Sirius’ liability for unauthorised copying and unfair competition, saying the ruling covered both issues. This decision overturns U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon 2014 decision. Where this leaves the settlements between the plaintiffs (and others) is now open to question: U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles, California, granted preliminary approval of the settlement on January 27th. A hearing on final approval is scheduled for May 8. Five major record companies settled their own lawsuit against Sirius the use of older recordings for $210 million in June 2015.  In…

Florida appellate court to hear Turtles’ appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments beginning on April 6th in the copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by founding members of the 1960s rock group the Turtles against SiriusXM satellite radio. Flo & Eddie Inc., the California-based company whose principals are Turtles vocalists Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, filed the lawsuit in 2013 alleging copyright infringement involving music made prior to 1972. Flo & Eddie have won suits against SiriusXM in California and New York (the later subsequently over turned) but a federal district court judge in Florida sided in 2015 with the satellite broadcaster, finding nothing in Florida statutes or common law dealt with copyrights of recordings made before 1972 (and the federal Copyright Act). Judge Darrin Gayle said that “Florida is different”  (from New York and California) saying “There is no specific Florida legislation covering sound recording property rights, nor is there a bevy of case law interpreting common law copyright related to the arts.” Declining to fill the void in the state’s legislation the Judge said “If this Court adopts Flo & Eddie’s position, it would be creating a new property right in Florida as opposed to interpreting the law”  adding that it’s…

Can ReDigi re-sell its self to the Court of Appeal?

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet It appears that ReDigi is making a comeback with some high-profile support. Back in 2013 we were listening to the case of Capitol Records, LLC v ReDigi Inc. The case asked if the digital music purchases were capable and eligible for resale under the first sale doctrine.  The doctrine of first sale is (of course!) the legal concept that has been enshrined into US and other copyright laws. It provides that purchasers of copyrighted material are afforded the right to re- sell the material. In the UK we like to explain it to be that once the copyrighted or trade marked product is sold, the proprietor of the copyright or trade mark has exhausted his/ or her rights and cannot use the rights to stop the product being re-sold.  In ReDigi the issue was that of the purchasers of digital music being afforded the right to re-sell the music.  Capitol Records were not fans of this, they said that it was a infringement of copyright. They argued that the infringement came about when  copies of the music files were made during the transmission from users of ReDigi to the ReDigi servers and then again in transactions between users. …

ITV loses Copyright Tribunal appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2017

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, music publishing     UK national broadcaster ITV has lost its appeal to the  High Court appeal against the 2016 Copyright Tribunal ruling that set rates for the current (2014-2017) period with PRS for Music, the collection society which represents composers, lyricists and music publishers in the United Kingdom. The Tribunal agreed that PRS could increase the tariff beyond the 2013 fee payment of £23 million per annum to a new base rate of £24 million for all ITV uses (including breakfast TV) adjusted by (a) BARB viewing figures for ITV during each year and (b) the percentage change in RPIJ (the RPI inflation measure). On appeal the High Court told ITV that the Tribunal  “had not made an error of law in reaching its decision”. Commenting on the decision, PRS Commercial Director Paul Clements said: “In June 2016, the copyright tribunal decided a dispute over the terms of ITV’s broadcast licence in PRS For Music’s favour. The tribunal decision set down clear and compelling reasons for an increase in the licence fee, reflecting the right value for our members’ music”. “While ITV chose to appeal this decision, I am pleased that the High Court has now rejected their arguments and upheld…

T Bone Burnett takes aim at DCMA safe harbours
Copyright , Internet / March 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet   Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) nearly two decades ago, aiming to provide a balance between the needs of content creators, who were struggling to protect their intellectual property in the digital age, and fledgling Internet companies, who feared being held liable for the misdeeds of their customers, giving the technology companies the benefit of ‘safe harbour’ protection provided service providers “reasonably implement” a policy that provides for the termination of “repeat infringers” in “appropriate circumstances.” But is that balance right?    Singer, songwriter and producer T Bone Burnett has delivered a telling contribution to the US Copyright Office’s review of Digital Millennium Act ‘safe harbour’ provisions in the USA, saying in a video that whilst the law that was supposed to “balance the internet’s openness with creators’ ability to earn a living wage from their work  ….. [T]hose safe harbours have failed”. “The problems are familiar”, he adds. “[And] they are well described in the record of these proceedings, from the broken Sisyphus climb of ‘notice and takedown’ to the gunpoint negotiations and pittance wages forced upon creators by the Google monopoly. The Big Tech ITOPIANS can track us across dozens of networks, devices and profiles…

New Spanish decision might offer support for direct licensing

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, live events sector     A Spanish court has ruled against collection society SGAE in favour of a venue which had negotiated to pay performance royalties directly to artists. The ruling, by Judge Pedro Macías in the commercial court of Badajoz in Extremadura, centres on two shows by veteran Spanish rock group Asfalto and comedian Pablo Carbonell at Badajoz’s 325 capacity Sala Mercantil in 2010. When SGAE (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) noted that the usual fees for the concerts had not been paid, it announced its intention to collect, only to be told that  “the artists had reached a private agreement between them” and the Mercantil, according the venues legal team, OpenLaw. Judge Macías’s affirmed the composers “exclusive rights to the exploitation of the work, without any limitations other than those established by law”    “The owners of these rights are the authors, so they are the ones who should be able decide what to do with them,” comments OpenLaw’s Andrés Marín. “If a composer and performer negotiate directly with a third party and agree to give away or even collect their copyrights directly, the SGAE has no right to try to collect, or recover, the rights the…

Major labels take aim at mixtape app

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet   The digital platform that specialising in the distribution of unofficial hip hop mixtapes is in the sights of the US major labels, with the Recording Industry Association Of America accusing Spinrilla and its founder Jeffery Dylan Copeland of rampant copyright infringement. The record labels have, until now, seemingly turned a blind eye to smaller underground labels who release unlicensed mixtapes, which often include multiple unauthorised samples from their catalogues, but Spinrilla has attracted their attention and the Recording Industry Association of America’s complaint reads: “Through the Spinrilla website and apps, users with an artist account can upload content that any other user can then download or stream on demand for free, an unlimited number of times – although the site does have DCMA takedown protocols.  A substantial amount of content uploaded to the Spinrilla website and apps consists of popular sound recordings whose copyrights are owned by plaintiffs”.   Spinrilla is indeed a business – and has a nominally priced premium version available, and the Spinrilla app has appeared in a number of recommended music service lists recently alongside licensed platforms like Spotify, and licensed sites such as MixCloud and SoundCloud.  In a statement, the…

Duran Duran granted leave to appeal against Sony/ATV

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Duran Duran have been granted leave by the High Court in London to appeal against the decision of Mr Justice Arnold in December 2015 when he ruled against the pop band in their dispute against Gloucester Place Music, which is owned by US company Sony/ATV. Arnold J found that the band would be liable for violating its contract with Sony/ATV by trying to avail itself of provisions in U.S. copyright law allowing Duran Duran to terminate license agreements after 35 years. Mr Justice Arnold ruled “not without hesitation” that the contractual interpretation suggested by Gloucester Place was the correct one.   On Friday, February 3rd, Duran Duran issued a press release outlining the details of the appeal. In a statement, Duran Duran founding member and keyboardist Nick Rhodes said: “It was enormously disappointing that Sony/ATV decided to mount this aggressive and unexpected action against us to try to prevent the simple principles and rights afforded to all artists in America regarding their copyrights after 35 years. We are relieved and grateful that we have been given the opportunity to appeal this case because the consequences are wide reaching and profound for us and all other artists. In his…

Will Prince’s musical catalogue return to Tidal?

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, streaming     There is speculation that Prince’s catalogue will come flooding back to Tidal, as details of the dispute between Prince’s estate and Tidal, the music streaming service owned by the rapper Jay Z and a number if other artistes including , Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, Jack White and Madonna have surfaced.    In November, reports say that the Bremer Trust, the interim administrator of Prince’s estate, sued Tidal via Prince’s NGP record label and publishing business. The lawsuit claimed that Tidal’s deal with Prince, which was made prior to the superstars’ unfortunate death, gave Tidal the rights to exclusively stream his penultimate album and not his whole catalogue. Tidal and Rock Nation, also owned by Jay Z, claimed that oral and written agreements had been made between Prince and themselves for use of the catalogue.  In January, Tidal and Roc Nation filed a claim against Prince’s NGP and Bremer Trust. In this claim they alleged that it was agreed that Prince would deliver four albums, for which an advance was paid. ‘Hit and Run: Phase 1’ and ‘Hit and Run: Phase 2’, the superstars final two albums, were expected…

Now BMI takes on the US Radio industry
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2017

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing    Last month, Irving Azoff’s US collection society, Global Music Rights (GMR), launched a legal attack on the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), which represents over 10,000 commercial radio stations in the United States. The suit followed an action by the RMLC that moved that GMR be enjoined from licensing its catalogue of songs for more than a rate that represented the pro-rata share of its catalogue against those of the other PROs (primarily BMI and ASCAP, and SESAC) while its broader antitrust action is aimed at establishing an appropriate mechanism for determining those rates in the future – and forcing the rights agency to submit to independent arbitration to set the rates broadcasters must pay to play the songs it represents. Azoff formed GMR in 2013 to compete with ASCAP and BMI, which together control approximately 95% of music copyrights. The other independent and privately owned PRO in the USA, SESAC, recently entered into a settlement of with RMLC, following an antitrust action similar to the one filed against GMR.   Against a background of many songwriters and music publishers believing that commercial radio stations in the USA and elsewhere are paying far too little to use their work, GMR’s lawsuit accused the RMLC of…

McCartney files against Sony/ATV to reclaim song copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2017

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, has filed a lawsuit against Sony/ ATV in the federal court in New York.  The lawsuit is aimed at reclaiming the copyright in 267 of the songs that he wrote with John Lennon throughout the 1960s when they were members of the Beatles. The first steps to reclaim the copyrights were taken back in 2008 when McCartney first filed to reclaim the rights in the song ‘Love Me Do’. Since then McCartney has upped the pace; in 2010 he filed for the reversion of copyright in 40 songs in a single claim. As of today, the total number stands at 267 songs this includes hits such as “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “All You Need Is Love”.  Not surprisingly Sony/ ATV have remained silent as to the transfer of the copyright back to McCartney. The lawsuit is based upon the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, specifically the reversion element found within. This allows songwriters that have assigned their works to a third party to reclaim the copyrights following a 56 year period for tracks written before 1978. Reclaiming the copyrights is not as easy as simply taking them…

Sirius XM triumph in New York appellate court
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   New York’s highest court has ruled that Sirius XM does not have to get permission, or pay compensation, to the owners of pre-1972 music recordings in order to play their tracks in the case brought by the owners of The Turtle’s 1967 hit “Happy Together.” The Court of Appeals determined that New York common law does not recognise a “public performance right” in their decision in Flo & Eddie v. Sirius XM Radio. The Court of Appeals’ ruling comes in response to a certified question from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which inquired in April whether New York’s common law provides copyright protections for recordings not covered by federal law. Southern District Judge Colleen McMahon had denied Sirius’ motion for summary judgment in 2014, finding that New York common law did provide a public-right performance   The ruling comes weeks after a settlement between the Turtles members and SiriusXM in a related lawsuit in California. That settlement, which also covers class action claims on behalf of other performers, called for payouts of up to $99 million (an amount that is likely to be reduced as a result of  this ruling). U.S. District Judge Phillip Gutierrez ruled…

Italian Court Fines Secondary-Ticketing Websites for ‘Bagarinaggio 2.0’
Copyright , Live Events / January 2017

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Italian collection society SIAE has won a court order to prevent the resale of tickets to Coldplay’s shows in Milan next July. This update by Jonathan Coote. Judge Fausto Basile at the Civil Tribunal of Rome has ordered that secondary-ticketing sites Viagogo, Seatwave and TicketBis pay €2,000 a ticket if they continue to break copyright laws re-selling Coldplay tickets. However, it has not retrospectively punished the site or its users. The case was brought by the musical copyright collecting agency SIAE (Società Italiana degli Autoried Editori, Italian Society of Authors and Publishers) and consumer agencyFederconsumatori against the sites in response to the influx of tickets appearing after the release of Coldplay tickets for a series of 2017 concerts.   The news follows a soon to be enacted addition to the recently-passed Italian Budget 2017 with the imposition of larger €5,000-180,000 fines for ‘bagarinaggio’ (ticket-touting, including online). The judge instead used Law No. 633 of 1941, for the Protection of Copyright and and Neighbouring Rights, in particular, citing articles 156, 162 and 163 which deal with court regulations in breaching performance rights. Art. 156 allows the collection of damages from any infringers of copyright but also those…

US music industry asks Trump for a fair deal (but less fair use!)

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Nineteen US music industry organisations have come together deliver an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump (pictured left), pointing out that the likes of YouTube, Google and Facebook have thrived on ‘free’ music and what they term the “value grab”, and that “sophisticated technology corporations can do better” at fighting piracy, and and shouldn’t be able to hide behind legislation such as safe harbor – which has arguably allowed the technology and telecoms giants to grow and grow at the expense of the music industry. Amongst those signing are the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) and the Songwriters Guild of America, who have asked Mr Trump to work with them on behalf of “American music – one of our nation’s most valuable forms of art and intellectual property, and a powerful driver of high-quality U.S. jobs and exports” and group ask Trump to pass laws that would strengthen and enforce intellectual property laws in the industry’s fight against “infringers” while seeking fair compensation from “search engines, user upload content platforms, hosting companies, and domain name registrars and…

PRS led investigation results in prison term for chart pirate
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / January 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   A Liverpool man has been sentenced to a 12 month prison sentence after pleading guilty to illegally distributing UK chart hits online, which PRS for Music says potentially cost the music industry “millions of pounds and depriving the creators of the content fair remuneration for their work”. The sentence was the result of a joint investigation between PRS for Music and the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and is the first custodial sentence to arise from the two organisations working together.   In October Wayne Evans pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing an article infringing copyright and one of possessing or controlling an article for use in fraud – Evans had been illegally uploading the UK’s Top 40 singles to various torrent sites as they were announced each week by the Official Charts Company. The 39-year-old was also distributing tracks through his own website, including ‘acappella’ music to be used for DJ-ing and remixing. He admitted using his computers and the website deejayportal.com for use in or in connection with fraud. Before sentencing Judge Alan Conrad, QC, agreed that a pre-sentence report was a necessity,  and said the sentencing judge would require assistance,…

Music copyright owners target FaceBook
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Universal Music Group is leading a pack of music companies who are issuing takedown notices against FaceBook in an effort to remove unlicensed covers of popular tracks – unsurprising given that FaceBook currently doesn’t pay to use music to the likes of PRS for Music. But there some significant casualties – a number of unsigned artists for whom the fallout is causing major headaches. MBW highlights Samantha Harvey, the British singer/songwriter who has attracted 1.97 million ‘Likes’ on her official Facebook page: In a video update to fans originally posted on December 10th, Harvey explained that Facebook had started removing her cover performances on copyright grounds. This, she said, was “on the instruction of publishing companies” saying  “There isn’t a [licensing] deal in place at the moment like there is on YouTube which allows people like me and thousands of others on Facebook to record covers of artists we absolutely love.” Harvey’s manager said that 45% of Harvey’s cover videos have now been removed from Facebook as a result of publisher notifications. Since the takedown notifications began to pour in, the artist has been busy encouraging her Facebook fans to migrate to YouTube – where her official channel now has more than…

Beyonce faces copyright claim over logo chain
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artwork     Beyoncé is facing a law suit in the U.S for alleged copyright infringement in the video for ‘Drunk in Love’. According to Billboard and TMZ, Dwayne Walker, who claims to have designed the Roc-A-Fella logo,  has filed a suit against Beyonce  for holding Jay Z’s chain in her hand in the video, alleging she does not have permission for “prominently displaying” the image. Walker previously filed a $7 million suit against Jay Z and his former label partners Damon “Dame” Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, as well as Roc a Fella’s current owner Universal Music Group, claiming royalties for the logo. He alleges that his designs were the basis for the final logo. The defendants disputed the claim, saying the image was designed by the in-house Roc-A-Fella art director. In September, a federal judge in New York dismissed the lawsuit, saying Walker had waited too long to bring his copyright claim and that the existence of the contract — which Walker claimed he lost in 1998 — could not be definitively proved. His lawyer, Gregory Berry, said Walker planned to appeal the decision. In Walker’s new suit against Beyoncé, he is asking the court to compel the…

French songwriter arrested in plagiarism row
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   A French musician and his Russian lawyer have spent a night in a Moscow police station after a Russian pop star accused them of attempting to extorting one million euros from him in a plagiarism row. Didier Marouani, who first came to tour in the Soviet Union in 1983, and his lawyer Igor Trunov were detained at a bank where they said they were to sign an out-of-court settlement with Filipp Kirkorov, one of Russia’s biggest pop star. Marouani claims one of Kirkorov’s songs, “Cruel Love,” contains music he wrote many years before. Both were released. Kirkorov  told the LifeNews website that there was no agreement to settle the dispute out of court and that he was “forced” to contact the police after Marouani began to attempt extort money from him. 63-year old Marouani, who was one of the rare Western musicians to perform in the Soviet Union before perestroika, denied the accusations saying “I have been coming to Russia for 33 years ….. and now I’m saying for the first time that my song was stolen, and music experts agree with me.” A civil case appears to be progressing in the Moscow City Court and no charges appear to…

Delhi High Court rules that three Indian collection societies must cease to issue licences
Copyright , Live Events / January 2017

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   In a blow to three Indian music copyright collection societies, the Delhi High Court has restrained them from granting any such licence till April 24th 2017. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, in an interim order, restrained the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and Novex Communications Pvt Ltd from contravening section 33 of Copyright Act,  which provides that only registered societies can grant licences in respect of copyrighted work(s).   In the order issued on the 23rd December the court ruled:   “Since the respondent 1 (Centre) and 2 (Copyright Office) have already initiated an inquiry and are taking action vis-a-vis the respondents 3 (PPL) and 4 (IPRS) and their stand is that neither of the three respondents, i.e 3, 4 and 5 (Novex) are registered in terms of section 33 of the Act, till the next date of hearing, respondents 3 to 5 are restrained from acting in contravention of section 33 of the Act..”. The  court listed the matter for a further hearing on April 24th.   In July 2015, the Delhi Organisers and Artists Society and the Mumbai based Organisers and Artists Welfare Trust said that the IPRS and PPL had been de-registered…