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

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Music publishing. Collection societies   Country music songwriter Shane McAnally is taking one of the USA’s big two collecting societies, ASCAP, to arbitration in a dispute over $1.3 million of “premium payments” that he says should have been paid for his top performing songs. Having left ASCAP for the new rights organisation, Global Music Rights, McAnally’s works were still administered by ASCAP for radio until ASCAP’s then current agreements with the broadcasters expired. The disputed payments stem from that period. The dispute relates to premium payments which are paid to writers by ASCAP in addition to standard royalties where certain “threshold numbers” are reached (in any one quarter). McAnally claims that once he was in the process of pulling his rights from ASCAP he no longer received the same premiums as his co-writers on certain songs that topped the country radio charts and was thus allegedly unpaid or underpaid premiums. The matter was initially heard by the collecting society’s ‘board of review’, which ruled that the organisation had applied its royalty payment rules correctly. But the writer disagrees and with the support of GMR is now taking the matter to arbitration. McAnally is quoted by The Tennessean as declaring ASCAP…

BMI hail 100% licensing win
USA

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Music publishing, collection societies   The head  of American collecting society BMI has written an opinion piece for Billboard hailing what he says is a victory in the log running 100% licensing dispute as a deadline is passed with no appeal from the Department of Justice who had fought the USA’s four  music collection societies, by BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC, challenging the convention that anyone wishing to broadcast or perform a work that was co-written and also administered by different societies must have a licence from all relevant societies, and pay royalties to each, pro-rata according to what percentage it controls. When the US Department Of Justice reviewed the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP in 2016, it announced that the two big American collecting societies were obliged to operate a so called ‘100% licensing system’. Both BMI and ASCAP objected to the DoJ’s new interpretation of the rules, the former fighting the ruling in the courts, the latter lobbying against it in US Congress. BMI’s pro-fractional licensing position was then endorsed by the courts and just before Christmas last year an appeals court upheld the original judgement upholding the fractional licensing system. The DoJ could have pursued…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Appellate Court majority rules that ‘Blurred Lines’ DID infringe Gaye classic
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the 2015 jury verdict which found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ infringed on the copyright in Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song ‘Got To Give It Up’. The decision had attracted widespread criticism and comment, not least as many commentators felt that the jury made their decision by comparing the ‘sound’ or vibe of the songs, rather than the actual song itself. The appellate panel’s  decision was a split decision, 2-1, with a scathing dissent from US Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen who is openly critical of the majority and said that the Marvin Gaye Estate had been able to “accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style.” The decision means that Thicke and Williams remain liable for $5.3m in damages and ongoing royalties to the Marvin Gaye Estate from future revenues earned from ‘Blurred Lines’. The majority of the panel (Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr and Judge Mary H Murguia) held that “Got To Give It Up” was entitled to broad copyright protection because musical compositions are not confined to a narrow range of expression. That said, the panel accepted, without deciding, the merits of the district…

BMI hail 100% licensing win
Competition , Copyright / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Music publishing, collection societies   The head  of American collecting society BMI has written an opinion piece for Billboard hailing what he says is a victory in the log running 100% licensing dispute as a deadline is passed with no appeal from the Department of Justice who had fought the USA’s four  music collection societies, by BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC, challenging the convention that anyone wishing to broadcast or perform a work that was co-written and also administered by different societies must have a licence from all relevant societies, and pay royalties to each, pro-rata according to what percentage it controls. When the US Department Of Justice reviewed the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP in 2016, it announced that the two big American collecting societies were obliged to operate a so called ‘100% licensing system’. Both BMI and ASCAP objected to the DoJ’s new interpretation of the rules, the former fighting the ruling in the courts, the latter lobbying against it in US Congress. BMI’s pro-fractional licensing position was then endorsed by the courts and just before Christmas last year an appeals court upheld the original judgement upholding the fractional licensing system. The DoJ could have pursued…

Country music songwriter seeks $1.3 million in premium payments from ASCAP
Contract , Copyright / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Music publishing, collection societies   Country music songwriter Shane McAnally is taking one of the USA’s big two collecting societies, ASCAP, to arbitration in a dispute over $1.3 million of “premium payments” that he says should have been paid for his top performing songs. Having left ASCAP for the new rights organisation, Global Music Rights, McAnally’s works were still administered by ASCAP for radio until ASCAP’s then current agreements with the broadcasters expired. The disputed payments stem from that period. The dispute relates to premium payments which are paid to writers by ASCAP in addition to standard royalties where certain “threshold numbers” are reached (in any one quarter). McAnally claims that once he was in the process of pulling his rights from ASCAP he no longer received the same premiums as his co-writers on certain songs that topped the country radio charts and was thus allegedly unpaid or underpaid premiums. The matter was initially heard by the collecting society’s ‘board of review’, which ruled that the organisation had applied its royalty payment rules correctly. But the writer disagrees and with the support of GMR is now taking the matter to arbitration. McAnally is quoted by The Tennessean as declaring ASCAP…

Miley Cyrus on receiving end of copyright infringement lawsuit
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Miley Cyrus is facing a lawsuit from the Jamaican dancehall star Flourgon (Michael May)  which has been described in the popular press as a $300 million claim for copyright infringement which focuses on the lyrics single Cyrus’s 2013 hit single ‘We Can’t Stop’. In Flourgon’s ‘We Run Things’ the lyric reads ‘We run things, things no run we’. The similarity between the lyrics  is the basis of the claim which alleges that this line was utilised when Cyrus sings ‘We run things, things don’t run we’ in her We Can’t Stop. But Cyrus is not the only one in the firing line; the lawsuit also names Sony Records label RCA, the songs co-writers Rock City (Timothy Thomas and Theron Thomas), Mike Will Made It, and manager Larry Rudolph.   The lawsuit references the popularity of Flourgon’s 1998  track:  the song became a ‘cultural hit gathering significant sales and popularity’. ‘We Run Things‘ was well known within reggae and dancehall circles, both upon its release and to this day in various countries around the world. As such, it has influenced Caribbean culture significantly, says the lawsuit. Cyrus’s single was an international hit and reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100…

West wins payout in insurance battle
Contract , Live Events / April 2018
UK
USA

CONTRACT Live events sector   Rapper Kanye West has settled his battle against Lloyd’s of London, which began when insurers refused to pay out West’s claim stemming from the cancellation of several dates on his 2016 Saint Pablo tour.  The Stour ran from August to November. West performed 41 shows in 87 days before the stoppage. In all, 22 dates were cancelled. West has not ventured back on the road since those cancelled dates. According to TMZ, the insurer has agreed to pay most of what West was claiming. Initially, Lloyd’s had refused to make any payment on the grounds  that the mental health issues which West suffered had stemmed from his drug use, which would have voided the policy. West’s touring company Very Good Touring sued Lloyd’s for $9.8 million (plus interest) and Lloyd’s had originally counter-sued. West was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital in November of 2016 following a series of “bizarre incidents” including feuding with Beyonce and Jay-Z, telling a San Jose, California crowd that he would have voted for then President-elect Trump if he had voted, and stopping a show after two songs and 30 minutes in Sacramento. A source told NBC news at the time that police responded…

Tennessee moves to take action on workplace sexual harassment
USA

EQUALITY All sectors, recorded music, live, music publishing   Two legislators in Tennessee, Representative Brenda Gilmore and Senator Jeff Yarbro, have submitted a new bill addressing sexual harassment in the music business. The pair have co-authored proposed state legislation HB 1984/SB 2130, which seeks to address the fact that independent contractors in Tennessee (including many people working in the music business) cannot file claims against their employers over verbal sexual harassment in the workplace, no matter how many how many hours they work.  In January, Rolling Stone Country published the findings of an extensive investigation that uncovered a climate of sexual harassment and misconduct in country radio. Now Nashville’s musical community, including Rodney Crowell, Lilly Hiatt, Andrew Combs, Katie Armiger and Lorrie Morgan, are lending their support for the proposed legislation.  One of the many challenges in this area in the music industry is that artists are not employees of their record labels. Instead, unless they have specifically detailed as such their contract, they are classified as freelance. That means that they can only report physical harassment (where that is a crime) and not verbal harassment.   “There’s been significant reporting showing real problems with harassment in parts of the music industry, and…

Swift copyright infringement allegation fails – but has one last play
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The copyright lawsuit filed against Taylor Swift claiming the lyrics to her 2014 track ‘Shake It Off’ infringed on a 2001 hit by American girl group 3lw has been dismissed by the federal court of California. The plaintiffs, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, of the 3lw track ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ claimed there were similarities between the lyrics that infringed their copyright. As there was no dispute over whether Hall and Butler owned their lyrics, or that Swift’s team had access to the song or that the underlying musical composition was similar and the case focussed on the lyrics The lyrics to the 3lw track include: “Playas, they gonna play/ And haters, they gonna hate.”   The chorus to Swifts’ chorus is: “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Swift’s lega; team had dubbed the claim a “money grab”.   US District Judge Michael Fitzgerald has now granted Swift’s the ability to dismiss the lawsuit. Howeever the plaintiffs will be able to amend their complaint if they can cite more similarities by February 26th.   Judge Fitzegerald said: “The lynchpin of this entire case is thus whether or not the…

44 arrested after roof top filming in Manhatten
Artists , Criminal Law / March 2018
USA

CRIMINAL LAW Artistes   Police say 44 people were arrested while filming on a Manhattan roof top on what seems to be a new video for rapper China Mac, who had appealed for members of the public to attend the shoot. It seems that Mac’s public appeal drew in a fair crowd, and eventually the police say they responded to numerous calls of disorderly conduct in the early evening 37 men and 7 women were arrested and charged with criminal trespass at the Baruch Houses, a NYCHA building on 95 Baruch Drive on the Lower East Side. Two imitation rifles and one firearm was found on the scene. NYCHA released a statement Saturday night saying, “Safety and security is our top priority. This is an ongoing incident and we are working with our partners in law enforcement to resolve this as soon as possible.”  The artist’s manager said that was no permit for the shoot, there was no need for the arrests as this was just ‘art’    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/rapper-manhattan-rooftop-video-shoot-ends-44-arrests-article-1.3797771

Big win for US songwriters and publishers with rate hike
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The streaming royalty rate for songwriters in the USA has jumped 44%. The Copyright Royalty Board has confirmed that compulsory royalty rates in the US market will rise by just under 44% for songwriters over the next five years. The National Music Publishers Association, who lobbied for the improvement, called the ruling a “huge win for music creators”.    The streaming companies will now have to pay songwriters and publishers 15.1 percent of their revenues, up from 10.5 percent with the rate rising over five years. The rate-setting hearing pitted songwriters and publishers against the top streaming companies, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google, Pandora and Amazon.  It is the largest rate increase in CRB history. NMPA President & CEO David Israelite: “We are thrilled the CRB raised rates for songwriters by 43.8% – the biggest rate increase granted in CRB history. Crucially, the decision also allows songwriters to benefit from deals done by record labels in the free market. The ratio of what labels are paid by the services versus what publishers are paid has significantly improved, resulting in the most favorable balance in the history of the industry.” the CRB  also removed the Total Content Cost…

US appeals court tells ISP that safe harbor comes with obligations
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, internet   A US appellate court has reversed a $25 million verdict against the US Internet Service Provider Cox Communications in what might be seen as a defeat for record label BMG, which had sought to hold Cox liable for copyright infringement for its subscribers who were sharing pirated files online. But looking at the judgment, and despite what looks like a set back for BMG Rights Management, it can be argued that its actually a win in the battle against piracy The decision, by a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, returns the case to the District Court for a new trial, based on a decision that there was an error in jury instructions. Irrelevant of arguments about safe harbor protection at the heart of the case, Cox might not been responsible for users’ infringement as companies are only liable for contributing to infringement if the companies either know about acts of infringement, or are wilfully blind to them, and the appellate court ruled that the trial judge, District Judge Liam O’Grady, incorrectly told the jurors that they could find Cox liable if it knew or should have known about infringement by users. “The formulation ‘should have known’…

“We Shall Overcome“ is now in public domain
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   In September 2017, the lawsuit between music publishers The Richmond Organisation-Ludlow Music Inc (TRO-Ludlow) and the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF) and Butler Films LLC saw US District Judge Denise Cote’s ruling that placed the first and fifth verse of the time-honoured iconic protest song We Shall Overcome firmly in the publicdomain.  A hearing was scheduled for March 2018 to decide on verses 2, 3 and 4 of the 1960 version, and verses 7 and 8 of the 1963 version.  The late folk singer Pete Seeger had been credited with writing verse 2 of both versions and verse 8 of the 1963 version. However, it was announced on 26th January 2018, that a settlement had been reached between the parties that puts the lyrics and melody to both versions of the song into the public domain, and that the publisher would retain copyright on the song’s musical arrangement.  A spokesperson for TRO-Ludlow said the litigation had become expensive and had cost far more than the song had earned back in recent years. In a statement, the publisher said that songwriter royalties, since the early 1960s, have been donated to the Highlander Research and Education Center, a non-profit social justice…

US appellate court upholds fractional licensing
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishers, broadcasting   Songwriters and music publishers in America have welcomed an appeal court that has dismissed the Department of Justice move to introduce “100% licensing”, confirming the current system that the so called “fractional licensing” system for co-written songs with different publishers (and sometimes multiple collection societies with a ‘fraction’ of the song). With collaborating writers free to choose from four different societies in the US (BMI, ASCAP, GMR and SESAC) a third party wishing to broadcast or perform that work must still be licensed by ALL relevant  societies, and pay royalties to each, pro-rata according to what percentage it controls. The US Department Of Justice had different ideas, and having reviewed the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP moved to force the two big American collecting societies to operate a so called ‘100% licensing system’ with any society able to offer a ‘100%’ licence,  a one stop shop for customers, provided the licensing PRO then passed on the relevant share(s) to other societies who owned a fraction of the work.  In September 2016 Judge Louis L Stanton (who oversees the BMI consent decree) ruled that the DoJ had been wrong to infer a 100% licensing obligation…

Eminen-esque to be appealed in New Zealand
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2018
New Zealand
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   In October 2016, New Zealand’s High Court ruled that the National Party had infringed on singer Eminem’s copyright in Lose Yourself  and awarded the rapper’s publisher NZ$600,000 (£315,000) in damages, saying that the political party’s use of a track titled ‘Eminem Esque‘ that was “sufficiently similar” to Eminem’s original song was infringement, noting that Lose Yourself was a “highly original work” and the “soundalike” version substantially copied it. Lose Yourself’ was composed by Marshall Mathers III (Eminem), Jeffrey Bass and Luis Resto (Eight Mile Style) in 2002. The court said: The differences between the two works are minimal; the close similarities and the indiscernible differences in drum beat, the ‘melodic line’ and the piano figures make Eminem Esque strikingly similar to Lose Yourself. Eminem Esque substantially reproduces the essence of Lose Yourself. The parts of Eminem Esque used in the National party’s campaign advertisements also substantially reproduce Lose Yourself.”   Now the two United States publishing companies that control and administer copyright for Eminem’s award-winning rap hit, Lose Yourself, are asking to have the award of damages increased. The advert was widely shared, but National Party is seeking a lower figure, saying Justice Helen Cull was wrong to accept evidence that the internet availability…

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

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…

Kid Rock’s tour NOT the Greatest Show on Earth
Live Events , Trade Mark / February 2018
USA

TRADE MARK Live events sector   Feld Entertainment, the owner of circus company Ringling Bros, has forced Kid Rock and promoter Live Nation to change the name of a tour. It’s all over an alleged trademark infringement with the Kid Rock tour due to start on the 19th January and billed as the Greatest Show on Earth tour. Feld claims the tour, dilutes and infringes on its “famous trademark”, ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’.  Feld Entertainment, Inc. et al v. Ritchie et al, was filed in the US District Court for Middle Florida and seeks to force Kid Rock (Robert James Richie) and promoter Live Nation to change the name of the tour and turn over any revenue from merchandise featuring the disputed slogan, as well as additional unspecified damages. The name change has now happened – the tour was re-branded the American Rock ’n Roll tour According to Feld’s general counsel, Lisa Joiner, the company took the decision to go to the courts after “repeatedly contact[ing] defendants to obtain their cooperation to stop the infringement and [being] ignored”. “We have authorised licensees for Ringling Bros and The Greatest Show On Earth, but Kid Rock is not one of them,” she adds. “This historic…

Live Nation settles damaging ‘Songkick’ litigation
Competition , Live Events / February 2018
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector   Live Nation has announced that it had come to a settlement agreement with Complete Entertainment Resources Group, Inc in the ‘Songkick’ saga.  The Songkick owners have accepted a settlement  before the case was due in court on the 24th of this month in what had looked like a fascinating case, and a ‘warts and all’ exploration of the live giant’s business methods. The settlement headlines are that Songkick have accepted the offer of $110 million and the purchase of Songkick assets for an undisclosed sum.  Songkick, which offered both a music discovery app and a fan club ticketing platform, sued Live Nation alleging anti-competitive practices and illegal access to proprietary company information in federal court, in particular Songkick’s software programme which offered a fan base sales platform and on which Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” programme allegedly based. The core of the case centered around a former Crowdsurge employee who allegedly used access to the company’s system to provide confidential information to Ticketmaster’s top executives on their competitor. As details of the case began to become public, evidence submitted by Songkick’s legal team was used to support the theory that Ticketmaster took the threat posed by the Songkick/Crowdsurge model very seriously indeed,…

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

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
USA

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…

Georgia’s music tax incentives are now law
Music Publishing , Taxation / February 2018
USA

TAXATION Live events sector, recorded music, music publishing, video games   The first-ever tax incentive for Georgia’s music industry, the Georgia Music Investment Act is now in effect The legislation is the result of the Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter and Georgia Music Partners’ joint advocacy efforts for over seven years to enact the first-ever targeted incentive specifically for music in Georgia, designed to reward investment in the music industry through a refundable tax credit. Supporters argue that the incentive will create jobs in music for musicians, logistics consultants, caterers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, producers, stage designers, lighting designers, managers, promoters and booking agents and could created thousands of new jobs in Georgia, following on from the success of Georgia’s film tax credit. Billboard reports that Georgia has a rich musical heritage and has been the home of globally recognised artists inclusdingg  Ray Charles, James Brown, the Allman Brothers, REM, the B-52s, Alan Jackson, Usher, OutKast, Ludacris and many others. Georgia also boasts world class recording facilities and 48 music training and education programs and 15 professional orchestras. The Act, signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal, provides a 15% refundable tax credit granted for the following in-state expenditures: * Musical Recording: An artist, record label or other…

Two cases on either side of the pond puts equality in the spotlight
Live Events / February 2018
UK
USA

EQUALITY Live events sector    Female comedian Iliza Shlesinger is being sued in the US by a male patron who was turned away from her “Girls’ Night In with Iliza – No Boys Allowed” comedy show in Los Angeles. George St. George says he and a friend bought tickets to the show on November 13th through the Largo website. They arrived at the will-call window early, and were given their tickets but told they would need to sit in the back. After returning after a drink they were then told that Shlesinger and the theatre had decided not to allow entry because it was, as advertised, a women-only show, and that they would be refunded for their tickets. The event page on the Largo website says “Iliza is bringing her girls invited only show back to Los Angeles “Girls’ Night In is a hybrid stand up show and interactive discussion between Iliza and the women in the audience aimed at giving women a place to vent in a supportive, fun and inclusive environment. She invites women of all walks of life to come, laugh with her and at her and be ready to share and feel safe for an awesome night of…

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

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…

RMLC’s anti-trust suit against GMR dismissed in Pennsylvania
Competition , Music Publishing / January 2018
USA

COMPETITION Broadcasting, music publishing   A federal magistrate judge has recommended that a lawsuit filed by the Radio Music License Committee against Global Music Rights should be dismissed, concluding it was improperly filed in the state of Pennsylvania. U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynne Sitarski of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania rejected arguments advanced by RMLC for filing the antitrust suit in Pennsylvania, a state where neither the plaintoff or the defendant had offices or employees, where no relevant songwriters or publishers live, and where no relevant meetings or business have ever taken place. Magistrate Judge Sitarski stated “There is no basis in fact or law to assert personal jurisdiction over GMR in Pennsylvania and therefore, venue in this judicial district is improper” concluding that the RMLC suit was filed in Pennsylvania solely for tactical advantage. Magistrate Judge Sitarski recognized that Global Music Rights’ home state is California, where the company has filed its own antitrust suit alleging that the RMLC’s 10,000 member stations are conspiring to suppress payments to Global Music Rights’ songwriters. Global Music Rights describes itself as a music rights management company focused on licensing, surveying and distributing public performance royalties to songwriters, composers and publishers who “represent today’s…

Digital Music News object to Jay-Z’s legal claims
Defamation , Live Events / January 2018
USA

DEFAMATION Live events sector   Digital Music News are not happy with Jay-Z,  aka Sean Carter, or more specifically his lawyers, Cummings & Lockwood LLC, who they have said threatened them “with ridiculous legal claims” over coverage of poor ticket sales on “Jay-Z’s disastrous ‘4:44’ tour” which Digital Music News described as a “sinking tour” The threats stemmed from an article DMN wrote about the availability of $6 tickets for a 4:44 show in Anaheim, CA, where DMN say they “discovered entire sections of unsold inventory across Anaheim and other upcoming tour dates” and that there was even a show cancelled in Fresno, CA “just days before showtime.” The article prompted a letter from Cummings & Lockwood LLC  (which DMN have reproduced in full) which included the assertion that: Both the headline and content of this article is false.  I am attaching a link for a billboard article which contains more accurate facts regarding 4:44 tour sales.   http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8023168/jay-z-444-tour-highest-grossing-tickets-stubhub And  We demand that you correct your story both in tone and content immediately.  We trust that now that you have correct facts you will not allow your errors to continue.  As I am sure you are aware knowledge of a story being false…

New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit Over Cancelled Buffalove Festival
Consumers , Live Events / January 2018
USA

CONSUMER Live events sector   The Attorney General for New York has filed a lawsuit against concert promoter Cody Conway who allegedly cancelled the Buffalove event without refunding customers nearly $15,000. State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit against Conway and the Buffalove Music Festival. Schneiderman is accusing Conway of canceling the three-day Franklinville, New York, festival two weeks before it was scheduled to begin on July 20 and failing to refund 146 customers who bought tickets from $85 to $125 a piece for a combined $14,896.42. The investigation was led by James M. Morrissey and Erica Law with help from Michael Russo and Marty Mack: A statement read “New Yorkers should get what they pay for – and they’re entitled to timely refunds if event organizers don’t follow through on their promises,” and Schneiderman said in the release. “My office won’t tolerate scammers who trick hardworking consumers into forking over cash for performances they’ll never see.” https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8062643/new-york-attorney-general-buffalove-festival-lawsuit-refunds

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

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,…

Multiple moves against the ticket touts
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / January 2018
Austria
Japan
UK
USA

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   In August, the Vienna Commercial Court found that the fees on tickets sold via CTS’s oeticket website, which charges €2.50 for ‘print @ home’ and mobile tickets and €1.90 for those picked up from branches of Libro or oeticket’s own box offices fell foul of Austrian law. Now the Higher Regional Court of Vienna (Oberlandesgericht Wien, OLG) has also ruled against Eventim. VKI said that the OLG took particular exception to the fact oeticket does not offer a fee-free delivery option, leaving the consumer with no option but to pay them. And British consumer protection body National Trading Standards has made four arrests as part of its investigation into the business activities of large-scale secondary ticket sellers in the UK. In a separate investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority raided the London offices of StubHub and Viagogo. The new arrests are linked to alleged breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which introduce a general prohibition against unfair commercial practices, specific prohibitions against misleading and aggressive practices and a blacklist of 31 practices that will be deemed unfair in all circumstances.    A National Trading Standards statement said “Officers from National Trading Standards conducted raids at a number of…

Spotify and Deezer call for a level European playing field with the American tech giants
Competition , Internet / January 2018
EU
USA

COMPETITON Internet   Spotify and Deezer have urged European legislators to ensure that the globally dominant giant US technology companies (primarily Apple, Amazon and Google) don’t abuse their position as gatekeepers to digital consumers, not least as all three tech giants make and operate devices, control transaction platforms and content services, and many feel they utilise the first two to promote the latter – and that might be unfair to streaming platforms like Spotify and Deezer – big in their sector, but dwarfed by the likes of Google.  The Financial Times reported that Spotify chief Daniel Ek and Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht  have now sent a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, urging the European Union to ensure “a level playing field” which would prevent American tech giants from “regularly abusing their advantaged position”. The letter, also signed the gaming sector, has been sent the EC because the EC is actively considering new rules for how big tech companies work with smaller firms whose digital tools and services are sold and/or distributed via the former’s platforms. Both Spotify and Deezer put their names to a similar letter back in May. Spotify and Deezer are upset that Apple takes a 30 percent cut…

Male model sues Cardi B over mixtape cover
Artists , Image Rights / December 2017
USA

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes   Cardi B is reportedly being sued by a male model who allegedly features on the cover of her 2016 mixtape, ‘Gansta Bitch Music Vol 1‘, with the image used suggesting that the model is performing oral sex on the rapper. Although Kevin Brophy’s face cannot be seen in the image, he alleges that the distinctive tattoos on his back confirm his identity. TMZ reports that Brophy did not model for the artwork, and only became aware of the cover when a friend told him that they’d seen him “cunnilinging this rapper called Cardi B”. Brophy said that the image has negatively affected his family wife, he was worried that his wife would think he had been unfaithful to her and his young son saw the image and wanted to know “what Daddy was doing”. Brody says that he has had his tattoo of a tiger fighting a snake for over ten years, but has never met Cardi B or anyone on her team. In a lawsuit, he is suing the rapper and her management for $5 million. You can see the cover and the model here https://theblast.com/cardi-b-mixtape-lawsuit/ and more here https://www.vibe.com/2017/10/cardi-b-five-million-lawsuit-model-mixtape-cover/

Activist sues the Ultra Music Festival over accessibility
Live Events / December 2017
USA

EQUALITY Live events sector   One of America’s largest EDM festivals, Ultra Music Festival is being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.  A legally blind activist and Paralympic athlete with cerebral palsy, Juan Carlos Gil, has brought a legal action against the organisation on the grounds that their website and live events are not easily accessible for the visually impaired or those with other disabilities. The law suit is described as a “public motion for greater inclusivity” and Gil’s lawyer, Scott R. Dinin, told reporters:  “All we’re asking [Ultra] to do is recognise [that] this is a very diverse population, to make all their offerings available to all people in that population. We think it’ll make it a better Ultra experience and, obviously, a better Miami”  adding “I think the biggest misperception of this law is that people don’t understand that it’s been law for 25 years,” Dinin said. “This same law is a civil rights law”.    Dinin has said that he hopes the festival will feel pressure to adopt measures more sensitive to people with disabilities. He cites Colorado and California concerts he’s attended, which often have sign-language interpreters and other accommodations. He adds that the visually impaired can enjoy music like…

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

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…

Las Vegas atrocity prompts multiple law suits
Criminal Law , Live Events / December 2017
USA

NEGLIGENCE Live events sector   Hundreds of victims of the October 1st mass shooting in Las Vegas have filed five lawsuits in the Los Angeles Superior Court against the operators of the hotel from which the gunman fired, the organisers of the country music festival he targeted and the killer’s estate. The shootings at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas claimed the lives of 59 people and left hundreds of others injured. Gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, targeting music fans at the country music festival. The largest of the law suits names 450 plaintiffs. Amongst those being sued are MGM Resorts International, owner of the Mandalay Bay resort; Live Nation, organiser of the event; and the estate of gunman Stephen Paddock. Muhammad Aziz, a Houston-based lawyer who has filed the lawsuits said they were filed in California because nearly all the plaintiffs lived in the state and had been treated there. He also noted that Live Nation Entertainment was a California-based company. The plaintiffs claim negligence by both MGM and Live Nation. They accuse MGM of not having adequate security policies, not properly…

Will a 1972 agreement determine who owns Steely Dan?
General / December 2017
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   Steely Dan are the American jazz rock band founded by core members Walter Becker (guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Donald Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals) in 1972. The band enjoyed critical and commercial success until breaking up in 1981. Rolling Stone has called them “the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies”. Steely Dan reunited in 1993 and has toured steadily ever since. Becker died on September 3rd, 2017, leaving Fagen as the only official member. And now Fagen is embroiled in a complicated legal feud with Becker’s estate. By way of background, Fagen is claiming that his bandmate’s estate is refusing to honour the ‘Buy/Sell’ Agreement from 1972 which he says stipulated that when a member of the band died or left the band, the other members would purchase that person’s share in the band. Both parties are accusing the other of instigating the feud. “We believe the agreement to which Mr. Fagen refers in his suit, drafted 45 years ago,  was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death,” a representative for Becker’s estate said in a statement to Rolling Stone.  Why is this so important? Well it is believed that Fagan is concerned that his ability to continue touring…

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

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…

Goldenvoice wins another ‘Chella’ battle
Live Events , Trade Mark / November 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Live events sector    A court in California has upheld a complaint made by Coachella organiser Goldenvoice against the organisers of the Filmchella film festival in the same state, granting a preliminary injunction against the latter holding that name is liable to cause “consumer confusion” with the well established music festival.    The complaint, filed by Coachella Music Festival LLC in the US District Court for Central California, argued that Filmchella founder Robert Trevor Simms and twenty other defendants were using the similar-sounding name to their name and trade mark for their multiday outdoor film festival. To add to this, the complaint says that both events feature numerous forms of entertainment and camping, are held in Southern California and that Simms has pitched his planned festival as “Coachella for movies”.    Coachella Music Festival LLC owns several trademarks and servicemarks associated with the festival, including the Coachella servicemark and “Chella” for use on shirts and T-shirts; However the trademark for use of “Chella” in “musical” and “cultural and arts events”, “campground facilities”, “hotel accommodation services”, drinks, transportation and other clothing has not as yet been registered.   The suit said “Trading on the goodwill of plaintiffs’ famous ‘Coachella’ festival, defendants…

Manowar and Womanowar are in a trade mark war
Artists , Trade Mark / November 2017
EU
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Manowar is a heavy metal band from New York, Womanowar are a “feminist tribute band” to…you guessed it: Manowar.  Manowar’s bassist, Joey Demaio, is the proprietor of US trade mark registration numbers: 75645524 and 85065290. The first registration is for a word device (logo) mark and the second is for a word only mark ‘Manowar’. The bassist is also the proprietor of EU registration number: 0011118041 for a word device (logo) mark. The three trade marks, amongst others, are all registered for use in class 41 entertainment services, namely, live performances rendered by a vocal and/or instrumental group.  But it appears that Manowar and not fans of their feminist tribute band ‘Womanowar’, it has been reported that Demaio’s legal representative has sent a cease and desist letter to the tribute band. The letter alleges that Womanowar’s logo is likely to “cause confusion among the consuming public”. In practice, coincidences at the beginning of marks will increase the similarity as opposed to the middle or the end.  If I were, Womanowar’s lawyer, I would certainly be arguing that the fact that one mark starts with ‘Man’ and the other ‘Woman’ means that the marks might not be…

This is Spinal Tap – it’s gone past eleven
Contract / November 2017
UK
USA

CONTRACT Film & TV, recorded music   We previously reported about the ongoing ‘This is Spinal Tap’ litigation. In fact, I am sure that we are now running out of puns, I guess each time “it’s one louder, isn’t it?” But now the four creators, have amended their claim. The amendments have resulted in more specific claims against Vivendi and now Universal Music is also featured as a co-defendant.  The legal representatives for Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner have stated that “The amended complaint details the fraud by concealment and misrepresentation conducted by Vivendi and its agent Ron Halpern and others. The co-creators contend there was longstanding and deliberate concealment by Vivendi of material facts regarding the actual gross receipts of the film, soundtrack, music and merchandise sales, plus expenses and the profits owed to them” and “Further compounding this fraud, improper expense deductions were made in Vivendi’s accounting to the creators, allegedly representing print, advertising and publicity expenses (undocumented) totalling over $3.3 million and a further $1 million in freight and other direct costs, more than half of which extraordinarily appears to fall some 20 years after the film’s release. Vivendi has also recently charged over $460k in ‘interest’ on…

Frank Ocean defeats estranged Father’s libel lawsuit
Artists , Defamation / November 2017
USA

DEFAMATION Artists   Frank Ocean is riding the wave of success after he was successful in defending a $14.5 million libel lawsuit that was filed against the singer/ songwriter by his estranged father.  The lawsuit revolved around a Tumblr post written by Frank Ocean in the aftermath of the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year, the post, which is still live, read:  “I was six years old when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a faggot as he dragged me out a neighbourhood diner saying we wouldn’t be served because she was dirty.  That was the last afternoon I saw my father and the first time I heard that word, I think, although it wouldn’t shock me if it wasn’t”. Calvin Cooksey, Frank’s father, claimed that the incident did not take place and accused his son of staging a “publicity stunt in the wake of the Orlando attack … [and] us[ing] his father as an instrument for personal connection in order to sell records”. Cooksey then went on to sue for libel.  In response, Ocean stated seventeen ‘affirmative defences’ which he claimed should exemplify why his father’s lawsuit should be rejected. Cooksey attempted to have…

Different jurisdictions take aim at the touts
Consumers , Live Events / November 2017
USA

CONSUMER RIGHTS Live events sector   Live Nation owned Ticketmaster is taking legal action against two companies in the US, which the ticketing giant believes have used bot technology to buy up tickets for live shows. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ticketmaster has filed the lawsuit against Prestige Entertainment, Renaissance Ventures and two individuals over the use of bots to purchase tickets from its platform. Earlier this year, Prestige and Renaissance agreed to pay the majority of a $4.2 million settlement with New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and also agreed to stop using bots. Ticketmaster now says it has evidence that this agreement has been broken. “Ticketmaster has uncovered evidence that suggests Renaissance has already breached the agreement by continuing to utilise bots to purchase tickets offered by Ticketmaster”, says the lawsuit. It also says that the defendants have ignored cease and desist letters.   Anti-bot legislation is becoming more common, but New South Wales is leading the way with regulations to protect consumers and govern the re-sale of tickets with a a cap on a re-sale price not to exceed 110% of the original ticket price. The state’s Minister For Better Regulation Matt Kean had previously said  “I’m sick and tired of consumers being…

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

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
USA

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
USA

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
USA

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
Germany
UK
USA

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…