Music Modernization Act launched in the US
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Two US Congressmen have launched a proposed new statute that has the support of both music owners and music users in an effort to overhaul of the mechanical royalties system in the US. Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries say that the Music Modernization Act would “bring music licensing its first meaningful update in almost 20 years”. With no collecting society offering a blanket licence covering the so called ‘mechanical rights’ in songs, music users must identify the owners of every song they copy, and make sure those owners receive the licensing paperwork and fixed royalty rate set out in American copyright law. Its not easy – the streaming platforms, which concurrently exploit both the performing right and mechanical right elements of the song copyright. Last May, Spotify came to a proposed $43 million settlement to resolve a class action from songwriters led by David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick. The plaintiffs in that case had alleged that Spotify hasn’t adequately paid mechanical licenses for song compositions. In July, Spotify was hit with two lawsuits, including one from Bob Gaudio, a songwriter and founding member of the group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Now Spotify has been hit with a $1.6 Billion…

Is there a lawsuit creeping up on us?
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   For perhaps the first time this year it appears there may, or may not, be a Blurred Lines effect case on the horizons.     Lana Del Rey recently tweeted: “it’s true about the lawsuit. Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by ‘Creep’, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing. I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court”.” Whilst many took this to mean a lawsuit had been filed by Radiohead’s lawyers, that isn’t quite the full picture.   First a bit of background and in short the dispute revolves around Radiohead claiming that Del Rey lifted aspects of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and placed it in her song ‘Get Free’.  If you listen to the two you may feel the same. You may not!   It was alleged by Del Rey that she was being sued and that Radiohead’s lawyers were demanding 100% of the publishing rights to Del Rey’s song. However, in a twist, Warner/ Chappell, Radiohead’s music publisher have stated that there is no lawsuit and the company has not asked for…

YouTube adopts ISNI to help allocate payments
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / February 2018

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, music publishing   YouTube is to begin issuing International Standard Name Identifier  (ISNI) numbers to creators. The platform has become a registration agency which means it will now start requesting and issuing ISNI codes from and to any creators who publish content, including musicians and songwriters in a move which should help with attribution and royalty payments. ISNI numbers can cover “researchers, inventors, writers, artists, visual creators, performers, producers, publishers, aggregators, and more”. YouTube will use the ISNI code to identify musicians and songwriters on its platform, allocating numbers to those who don’t already have one. It also plans to share those codes with any one creator’s business partners, such as record labels and music publishers, to encourage wider adoption of the identifier system. YouTube’s Technical Program Manager FX Nuttall said “By adopting ISNI, artists, songwriters and other creators will be unambiguously identified, enabling better visibility and tracking on YouTube. Bringing the ISNI open standard to music opens the door to more accurate credit for creators, discovery for fans, and transparency for the industry”. The ISNI International Agency’s Executive Director Tim Devenport said: “We’re delighted to partner with YouTube on such an ambitious effort. Many organisations active in the…

Enrique Iglesias takes legal action against Universal Music Group for “missing” millions in streaming royalties
Contract , Copyright / February 2018

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Enrique Iglesias has taken legal action against Universal Music Group in the US to claw back an alleged “shortfall of millions of dollars” in streaming royalties. The lawsuit, filed in Miami relies on the accusation that Universal failed to assign a royalty rate for streaming in two contracts with Iglesias: one signed in May 1999 with Interscope in tandem with Universal’s global company, plus an additional contract signed in May 2010. Recording contracts usually provide artists with a percentage share of any money their recordings generate. However, the percentage paid to the artist often varies according to how the money is generated. A traditional distinction was between sales income (eg selling CDs and downloads) and licence income (eg synch deals). A common royalty on the former was 15%, while on the latter it would be 50% of net income (although the definition of net income in itself can be a battle.  Iglesias’s legal team say that Universal should be paying 50% of net receipts from services such as Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and Pandora. UMG have (predictably) been paying a rate based on specified rate agreed for (sometimes) downloads and physical album sales – a significantly…

Are YouTube gagging artists in the copyright debate?
Censorship , Copyright , Internet / February 2018

COPYRIGHT / CENSORSHIP Internet   Hot on the heels of a report by Bloomberg that YouTube had asked musicians to agree not to disparage the streaming-video service in exchange for promotional support as a way to silencing criticism by artists, the Content Creators Coalition (C3) has urged Congress to investigate the so called  ‘non-disparagement agreements’. YouTube meanwhile is trying to stem the damage, and has played down reports that it includes non-disparagement agreements in contracts with some artists which would prevent those musicians from criticising the Google platform – although the company admits that a small number of current agreements tied to original content and/or promotional work may include “general language around conduct”. US artist-led lobbying group C3 has called on the Judiciary Committees to investigate the non-disparagement clauses in partnership agreements. In its report, Bloomberg conceded that such terms “are common in business”, but noted that it seemed only YouTube had extended the the music streaming marketplace. In a letter to the chairs of the Congressional Judiciary Committees in both the Senate and the House Of Representatives, C3 argues these clauses are “clearly aimed at thwarting the Congressional review of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s [provisions for] ‘safe harbor’ as well as the…

No safe harbour for Google in Oz
Copyright , Internet / January 2018

COPYRIGHT Internet   Google and perhaps more importantly YouTube will be excluded from new proposed extended safe harbour provisions which form part of the copyright law reforms in Australia. Australia had a very narrow definition of safe harbour and currently these only apply to commercial Internet service providers. After extensive lobbying by the technology sector in Australia, who of course want wider safe harbour provisions, the Australian media and music industries hit out at proposed reforms pointing out that current safe harbour systems that operate in America and the European Union under review. And the Austrlian government seems to have listened, and the new beneficiaries of the safe harbour under the latest proposals are libraries and educational or cultural institutions. Australia’s Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said that safe harbour protection would initially be extended to organisations that “provide beneficial services to all Australians and who are working collaboratively with copyright owners to address infringement”. The Government now plans further consultation on extending the safe harbour to the technology sector and in particular the likes of Google and Facebook but Fifiled added they would be “mindful of the need to ensure the rights of creators are properly protected” adding “Australia’s copyright industries make a significant…

Apple Music in hot water over unpaid mechanical royalty payments
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2018

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Mechanical royalties are the royalties paid to a songwriter when a copy of the songwriter’s song is reproduced. The term mechanical royalties dates back to the days when music was recorded on piano rolls. Nowadays, it relates to the sale of any sound recording that is within copyright. Therefore, every time a sound recording is manufactured into a CD, downloaded, or streamed this “mechanical” process will generate a royalty. The royalty will then usually be passed through the collection societies and to the songwriter, well not in Apple Music’s case.  Apple Music has found itself in “treble” ;) over allegations of not paying the correct mechanical royalties due to US songwriters. However, mechanical royalties and streaming platforms are having bit of a hard time as of late. Spotify, Tidal, Slacker and Google Play have all been on the receiving end of mechanical royalty payment lawsuits.  Generally speaking the streaming platforms are claiming that they want to pay songwriters their due mechanical royalties. But, because of inefficient US framework for the collection of mechanical royalties in the US it is difficult for the streaming platforms to pay every songwriter. In the streaming platforms’ defence, unlike the UK,…

Bjork: the new kid on the blockchain
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music   The Icelandic singer, songwriter and DJ, Bjork, is very well known for being a “restlessly experimental creative force” and is releasing her new album, Utopia, on the blockchain. She has announced that the latest album will only be available for purchase by way of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain, at its core, is a decentralised distributed ledger that registers and validates transactions without the need for a central authority. Further, the information that is stored on the blockchain is virtually tamperproof because of cryptographic hashes. This all means that two parties are able to exchange currency, data, or almost anything else in a secure way. Bjork has teamed up with British start-up Blockpool to put blockchain on the centre stage for the new release. Fans will need Bitcoin, Litecoin, DASH, or AudioCoin if they wish to purchase the album. In fact, it will not be possible to purchase the album with usual currency. Further, whilst fans will need cryptocurrencies to purchase the album, they will also receive cryptocurrency for doing so. Fans of Bjork will be given 100 Audicoins, a cryptocurrency designed for the music industry and currently worth around $0.19 each, when they purchase the album. Fans will…

Two big decisions examine web blocking in the USA
Copyright , Internet / December 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet   In the space of under a week there have been two big cases in the USA looking at web blocking – and with differing results.  First off, a federal judge in California has issued a preliminary injunction preventing Canada’s Supreme Court from forcing Google to de-list websites for Datalink on its American search engine. The Canadian Supreme Court (Google Inc v Equustek Solutions Inc, 2017 SCC 34) affirmed the decision from the Supreme Court in British Columbia and ordered Google to delist a tech company’s website(s) worldwide. The music industry trade body Music Canada welcomed the judgement saying it was “a crucial development given that the internet has largely dissolved boundaries between countries and allowed virtual wrongdoers to move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in search of the weakest enforcement setting”.   The web giant responded by saying the ruling conflics with the right to a freedom of expression  contained within the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and that the Canadian Supreme Court had no right meddling with the American Constitution. Google’s argued “This is about whether a trial court in a foreign country can implement a law that is violative of the core values of this country … imagine if we…

Owners of “Happy Together” lose Florida copyright case
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2017

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, broadcasting   Another court in another state has ruled that pre-1972 copyrights are NOT protected by state copyright law – and they never have been. The Florida Supreme Court, following in the footsteps of New York State’s appellate court, has ruled that its state law, which governs sound recordings made before 1972, doesn’t include a right to control public performances in sound recordings, including radio plays. Commentators said that both this decision and the reasoning behind it are good news for digital broadcasters and possibly their radio listeners,  but less so for the owners of copyrights. As readers will be aware, there is an unusual position in the USA when it comes to paying for the use of sound recordings on the radio – there is no such payment due from ‘traditional’ radio stations, and AM/FM radio has never paid royalties for using sound recordings, whether on current hits or  ‘golden oldies’ either. This changed in 1972 with new satellite and digital broadcasters liable to pay – but a number of copyright owners and in particular Flo & Eddie, former members of 1960s group The Turtles, argued that pre-1972 recordings would be protected by state law, so…

National Party’s use of ‘sound alike’ song DID infringe on Eminen’s ‘Lose Yourself’
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2017

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   New Zealand’s High Court has ruled that the National Party had infringed the copyright in Eminem’s iconic song ‘Lose Yourself‘ in a 2014 political campaign by using a ‘sound alike’ song and has awarded the rapper and his co-writers’ publisher NZ$600,000 (AU$535,000/ £315,000) in damages.  The publisher filed proceedings against New Zealand’s then governing party in September 2014 for using a version of the chart-topping song Lose Yourself in an election campaign advertisement.   The key issue for determination by the Court was whether the “sound-alike” production track, called ‘Eminem Esque‘, was sufficiently similar to the 2002 music of ‘Lose Yourself’, so as to constitute a breach of copyright.  ‘Lose Yourself’ was composed by Marshall Mathers III (Eminem), Jeffrey Bass and Luis Resto (Eight Mile Style) in 2002. The composition is regarded by Eight Mile Style as the most valuable work in their catalogue and had only rarely been licensed for use, and never as part of a political campaign.   The High Court ruled that Eminem Esque was “sufficiently similar” to Eminem’s original song that it infringed copyright and that ‘Lose Yourself’ was a “highly original work” and that the infringing song bore only minimal differences to the original,    The tensions between illegitimate copying versus permissive borrowing…

New copyright tariffs for Germany’s live sector
Copyright , Live Events / November 2017

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Following lengthy negotiations which involved court action from two of Germany’s live entertainment business associations, a new concert tariff rate has been agreed between representatives of the country’s live music sector (BDV and VDKD, which represent the majority of Germany’s concert promoters) and performance royalty collection organisation GEMA. Collected on behalf of songwriters and music publishers, the rate will now be calculated on a net basis of ticket sales, instead of gross, with other services including camping fees at festivals and sponsoring income taken into account. The new rate will be 5.75% of net receipts for events under 2,000 people (it is currently 5% on gross receipts), 7.6% for 2,000–15,000-capacity shows (currently 7.2%) and 8% for events with a capacity of 15,000+ (currently 7.65%).   The German PRO collected €1.02bn in royalty payments in 2016, including €371.1m in public performance fees, in its most successful financial year to date. GEMA has faced increasing criticism in recent years, and artists and event-organisers have demanded a revision of GEMA’s regulations with respect to better transparency, adjusted payment methods and other critical points.  In the live sector, the large discounts offered to some promoters have attracted criticism some of the…

Spotify face multiple mechanicals challenges
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, streaming   Another US lawsuit has been added to the mounting litigation against Spotify and the streaming platform’s alleged failure to pay mechanical royalties in the USA for the right to ‘copy’ a song (rather than the ‘performing’ right).    In fact there were three developments: an objection to Spotify’s proposed settlement of the original class action on this issue, a rebuttal of its most recent legal arguments, and a brand new lawsuit. Hypebot’s take is this: “The recorded music industry is in the midst of a renaissance thanks to revenue from a single source – streaming. But a growing string of lawsuits filed by songwriters and publishers, and an aggressive new legal tactic by Spotify, threatens the company’s pending IPO and could derail the industry’s delicate recovery” US law provides a compulsory licence covering mechanicals, but this put Spotify under an obligation to contact (and pay) the copyright owners of every song it streams (or in default of finding an owner, alert the US Copyright Office) and Spotify hired the services The Harry Fox Agency to undertake this role. The fact songwriters and music publishers were receiving payment for their performing right via collection societies such as ASCAP…

Sony and Dubset conclude ground breaking ‘remixing’ deal
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Sony Music have recently signed a deal with Dubset to ‘legalise’ remixes of their songs. The project follows on from the Content ID agreement between YouTube and music publishers in 2012.    ‘Sampling is just a longer term for theft … Anybody who can honesty say sampling is some sort of creativity has never done anything creative’. Those were the words of The Turtles’ Mark Volman during an interview with the L.A. Times during the 1991 lawsuit his group levelled against hip-hop group De La Soul for their ‘Transmitting Live From Mars’. As a result of the out-of-court settlement, the group’s iconic album 3 Feet High and Rising is still unavailable on major streaming services.   At the turn of the millennium, the costs of sampling were so great that scholar Wayne Marshall declared that the costs had led to the ‘giving up’ its firstborn, with the heavily-sampled layers of Public Enemy replaced by the authenticity articulated by band The Roots. Yet, Moses is not yet in the bulrushes.   As I pointed out in my recent article on Chance the Rapper, free mixes and mixtapes circulated in the grey area of SoundCloud’s free content have only gained in prominence….

Mixtape Mistake?
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Three-time Grammy-winning Chicago-native Chancellor Johnathan Bennett aka Chance the Rapper was sued for copyright infringement last week. The suit was filed by Abdul Wali Muhammad on the 12th September in an Illinois District Court. Muhammad is a musician-turned lawyer, who copyrighted the composition of ‘Bridge Through Time’ in 1979.  Muhammad’s claim rests on Bennett’s sampling of his composition in the track ‘Windows’ from his debut mixtape as Chance, 10 Day. The sampling of the track is quite clear with it forming the beat to ‘Windows’. The only modifications made by producer Apollo Brown were a slight move from 81 to 80 BPM and the track moved down a semitone. Whilst the use of copyrighted material is fairly obvious, Bennett’s particular approach to the music industry makes the case interesting. Bennett wrote 10 Day after being suspended from school in 2011. ‘Waves’ was released in December 2011 and soon after Complex listed him as one of ‘10 New Chicago Rappers To Watch Out For’ in February 2012. The mixtape itself was only self-released on DatPiff.com in April 2012. Since then it has been downloaded for free 538,617 times (as of 18th September 2017) from that…

“We Shall Overcome” – Free at last!
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2017

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   We Shall Overcome was labelled by the US Library of Congress as “the most powerful song of the 20th century”. It was a unifying anthem for the 1940s labour protests and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement led by Dr Martin Luther King, and came to symbolise the spirit of protest.     When back in 2012, the producers of the film “The Butler”, a film based on the African-American Civil Rights Movement viewed through the eyes of a White House butler, approached The Richmond Organisation (TRO) and Ludlow Music Inc, publishers of We Shall Overcome, to licence the rights to the popular protest song, they were met with a demand for $100,000 for the use of “Verse 1” in the film.  They eventually agreed to licence a three second clip for a payment of $15,000. Then in February 2015, the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF), a faith based non-profit organisation which took their name from the song, wanted to include a performance of the first verse of We Shall Overcome, sung ‘a capella’, in a documentary being made about the origins of the song.  A representative approached TRO-Ludlow Inc for a quote to licence the synchronisation rights and despite…

YouTube-MP3 agrees to shutter
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / October 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music   YouTube-mp3 has agreed to shut down and hand its domain(s) over to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With millions of visitors each day, the ‘steam ripping’ YouTube-MP3.org was one of the most visited websites on the Internet.  Last year, the Germany-based YouTube to MP3 converter website was sued by the RIAA for copyright infringing their rights.  It had also been sued by the record industry in its home country in 2013. Now in an agreed settlement, YouTube-MP3 will shut down indefinitely. The BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) were also parties to the action, which accused the site of not only copyright infringement, but also circumventing YouTube’s copy protection mechanism, and violating the USA’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A report earlier this year by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and PRS For Music said that stream ripping was now the “most prevalent and fastest growing form of music piracy”. According to an IFPI  report published last year, the site has been reportedly attracting more than 60 million monthly visitors. In the same report, it was mentioned that 50 percent of the 16 to 24-year-old survey respondents used stream ripping services…

“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…