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

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

Live Nation face US class action
Consumers / October 2018

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

Beyoncé vs Feyoncé – it continues
Trade Mark / October 2018

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

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

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

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

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

US Congressman calls for Ticketmaster investigation
Competition / October 2018

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

Getting to grips with the MMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mariah Cary lawsuit partially dismissed
Contract / October 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AEG files to dismiss Ozzy’s anti-trust action
Competition , Live Events / August 2018

COMPETITION Live events sector   The almighty spat between O2 owner and promoter AEG, artist Ozzy Osbourne and AEG’s rival Live Nation, which also includes the joint venture between manager Irving Azoff and Madison Square Gardens (MSG) has gone legal, with Ozzy accusing AEG of anti-competitive behaviour.   The case revolves around the reported requirement set by that AEG that links bookings at venues it operates in London and Los Angeles, namely The 21,000 capacity O2 and the similar sized Staples Center, with a number of reports saying that artists wishing to play the former had been told they must also commit to play the latter when in LA, rather than rival Los Angeles venue the Forum, which is run by Azoff-MSG. AEG countered by saying that MSG had started the acrimonious spat by similarly linking bookings at its flagship 20,780 capacity New York venue Madison Square Garden with the 17,500 capacity LA Forum. Live Nation then stirred up the pot by complaining about AEG’s venue linking practices, prompting AEG to counter by asking why LNE hadn’t criticised MSG for their similar approach, before noting that maybe it was because the MSG venues use Live Nation’s Ticketmaster service, saying “Live…

Will drones make live events safer in Illinois?
Health & Safety , Live Events / August 2018

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

Glassnote take on Childish Gambino in royalty dispute
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2018

CONTRACT Recorded music, broadcasting   US independent label Glassnote Records has brought a legal action against their former artist Childish Gambino – aka Donald Glover – in a dispute over what should happen to royalties that are earned by his recordings which are paid to the US collecting society SoundExchange. Glover released three albums with Glassnote between 2011 and 2017, before announcing earlier this year that he was switching his musical allegiances to Sony Music which will will release his next album in partnership with his management firm Wolf & Rothstein. This lawsuit relates to monies earned by Glover’s Glassnote released records which are collected by SoundExchange, which collects royalties for the use of recorded music from satellite and online radio services including Pandora or iHeart. The royalties collected are split 50/50 between copyright owners and performers and to that end SoundExchange pays the artists their 50% directly (10% of the 50% goes to session musicians via the talent unions). The artist’s statutory right to 45% of the money technically only applies where SoundExchange provides the licence. However, in the main, where labels have done direct deals with services like Pandora and iHeart, they have continued to allow 50% of the…

Pokémon Go fiasco costs festival organisers $1.575 million
Contract , Live Events / June 2018

CONTRACT Live events sector   The disastrous Fyre Festival, organised by entrepreneur Billy MacFarland, is one example of what happens when technology innovators believe the myth that it’s easy to organise a successful music festival. It’s not. The festival, held in April 2017, experienced a number of serious management, administration and organisational issues and was cancelled after guests had begun to arrive in the Bahamas – most of who had paid thousands of dollars to receive ‘VIP’ treatment. The festival was heavily promoted in the social media as ‘the cultural experience of the decade’ touting luxury villas and gourmet food, but instead, was a total failure.   MacFarland, who founded the online ad platform Spling, along with Magnises, which aimed to create an exclusive “black card” with social perks such as club membership, and Fyre Media with Ja Rule, is now facing various civil lawsuits and was arrested on charges of fraud and subsequently The 26-year-old business owner pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in a Manhattan federal court in a deal with prosecutors that suggested he serve between eight and 10 years in prison. McFarland also admitted to lying to investors and falsifying documents in a bid to raise funds for the lavish…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

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

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…