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…

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

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

Jackson’s 3D Thriller heads back to court
Contract / October 2017
USA

CONTRACT Film & Television, performers   Ola Ray, the then young actress who played opposite Michael Jackson in the iconic Thriller video has launched another legal against the Michael Jackson Estate on the back of news that director John Landis had reworked the original video as a 3D version of ‘Thriller’ and this short has now been premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Ray previously sued Jackson just before his untimely death in 2009, claiming that she had been promised a 2.5% share of the royalties generated by the iconic music-video-come-short-film, and although she had received some $200,000 this was an under payment. A settlement with the Jackson Estate followed in 2012, reportedly worth $75,000.  Landis settled his own legal action with the Jackson Estate in relation to royalties generated by the video.   Ray has now said she wasn’t consulted about the 3D version of ‘Thriller’. She told reporters: “I’m outraged, upset and in shock. When I heard rumours about a possible 3D version, I contacted the director and said ‘we need to talk about this’. But he never responded to my email. They haven’t tried to contact me or negotiate anything. How do they think they can just do this without…

Public Enemies
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / October 2017
UK
USA

CONTRACT Artists, recorded music   Flavor Flav has launched a legal action against his former Public Enemy collaborator Chuck D and various other parties associated of the seminal hip hop group over allegedly unpaid royalties.  That said it seems Flavor Flav and Chuck D will still perform together in upcoming live shows. According to TMZ, the lawsuit covers unpaid royalties and revenue shares from recording income, publishing, live performances and merchandising income generated by Public Enemy, including monies from the recent album ‘Nothing Is Quick In The Desert’ and money relating to a deal that resulted in Public Enemy action figures being sold. In the lawsuit, Flavor Flav (real name William J. Drayton) claims that he and Chuck D (real name Carlton Ridenhour) had a long-established agreement that profits from their music, merchandise and concerts would be split between them. Despite that alleged arrangement, Flavor Flav claims that Public Enemy’s business management firm Eastlink has not been sending the earnings he is owed, which have “diminished to almost nothing, and Drayton has been refused accountings, even on the items bearing his likeness, Responding to the litigation, Chuck D told TMZ: “Flav has his rights, but took a wrong road on…

Foos fight the touts
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / October 2017
UK
USA

CONTRACT / CONSUMER Live events sector   Foo Fighters have risked a PR disaster by turning away fans who had brought tickets for their show at London’s September 19th O2 from secondary re-sellers. Whilst the band  apologised to fans who were turned away from the O2 Arena  buying tickets from the secondary sites they and promoters SJM Concerts said they had made it very clear at the point of sale that each buyer’s name was printed on each ticket for the show and that buyers would be required to show ID to prove it was their name on the ticket before being granted entry.    It was reported that 200 people were turned away at the doors. In a statement, the band said: “The Foo Fighters show that took place at The O2 last night had a strict ‘names on ticket’ policy. The stipulation that ID would be required for admittance to the show was clearly stated at the time of announcement and was explicitly noticed at the point of purchase”. The band added that a number of other measures to ensure that tickets were not resold by touts were also put in place adding “despite these requirements being in place, some purchasers listed…

ZAPPA vs ZAPPA and ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   What essentially is a trademark dispute has taken on dinosaur proportions due to the participants involved – the children of the late US musician, Frank Zappa, who died on the 4th December 1993.   Zappa Plays Zappa was a tribute band formed in 2006 by Dweezil Zappa, the eldest son of the late Frank; and as the name implies, performs the music of his father.  The Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) managed the late musican’s estate, with his widow Gail Zappa as its Trustee.  On July 26th, 2006 the ZFT filed a trademark registration application with the United Sates Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the name ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA and was granted an unopposed registration on May 15, 2007. For nearly a decade, Dweezil Zappa performed under the monicker of Zappa Plays Zappa, playing the music of his late father to audiences worldwide and winning one Grammy in 2009.  So far so good.    In October 2015, Gail Zappa died leaving two of her four children – Ahmet and Diva, the younger siblings, as the Trustees of the ZFT with a share of 30% each, thereby handing control of the Trust over to them.  All four children are beneficiaries,…

Kanye fights on in cancelled tour insurance claim
Insurance , Live Events / October 2017
USA

INSURANCE Live events sector   The dispute between Kanye West and the insurers of his abandoned 2016 ‘St Pablo’ tour continues, and West has now responded to a countersuit filed by the tour’s insurers West’s $10 million insurance claim was made when he prematurely ended his US tour last November after ‘erratic behaviour’. He was subsequently admitted to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital Center, with one news agency sating at the time that this was “for his own health and safety”. West sued his insurers at the beginning of August 2017. West claimed that he ended his 2016 tour early on the advice of doctors, and therefore the insurance policy must cover the losses incurred by West and his company Very Good Touring. The lawsuit also alleged that Lloyd’s fed confidential information about West to news outlets, and states that the insurers’ own selected doctor asserted that West’s mental condition was “disabling” enough to prevent him from continuing the tour.   The insurers countersued, accusing West of not fully co-operating with their investigation into the circumstances around the ‘St Pablo’ cancellation. The Lloyds of London insurers also alleged that there were “substantial irregularities in Mr West’s medical history In the lawsuit.”  An independent…

Sweet home truths for Artimus Pyle
Artists , Contract / September 2017
USA

CONTRACT Artistes   You might have thought that having an ex-member of a legendary band involved in a film bio-pic would be an asset, but a new Lynryd Skynryd biopic has been blocked because of ex-drummer’s Artimus Pyle’s involvement.  Initially producers Cleopatra Records said that the biopic, Street Survivor: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash‘ was not an authorised project, and that it should be free to make the film – arguing that under its First Amendment free speech rights, it was allowed to make a film about the band and the 1977 plane crash in which two band members died. Initially US District Court Judge Robert Sweet agreed that Cleopatra was free to make the film in its own right, but then found that the involvement of Pyle in the movie venture violated the agreement (a’consent order’) he had reached with his former bandmates back in 1988. In that agreement, Pyle was given permission to tell his own life story, but he couldn’t use the band’s name or exploit the rights of the two band members killed in the 1977 crash, Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Granting an injunction, Judge Sweet said: “Cleopatra is prohibited from making its movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd when its…

Live on stage: Avenged Sevenfold face jury trial in battle with Warners
Artists , Contract / September 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   Metal band Avenged Sevenfold’s troubles with Warner Bros continue, stemming from a legal action brought by the major label in January 2016. The action began when the label sued the band over the band’s failure to deliver a new album. In response, Avenged Sevenfold cited the “seven-year rule” set out in the California Labor Code which allows parties to leave personal service contracts under certain circumstances after seven years have passed.  The Hollywood Reporter reports that intense record industry lobbying had meant the the Code was amended in the 1980s to allow record companies to claim lost profits on uncompleted albums. Record companies, though, only have 45 days to do so when an artist exercises the right to terminate. At the heart of the didpute is Avenged Sevenfold’s album The Stage which was released via Capitol Records, and at the same time Warner Bros. put out a Avenged Sevenfold ‘Greatest Hits’. Most commentators then presumed the legal dispute had been settled – but not so – and now the “seven-year rule” will be tested before a jury. The Hollywood Reporter estimate that if Avenged Sevenfold (ultimately) lose the court battle, it could cost them between $5 million and…

Music not politically correct? Spotify will protect you
Censorship / September 2017
EU
UK
USA

CENSORSHIP / EQUALITY Recorded music, streaming   Bands like Rage Against the Machine, Dead Kennedys and Public Enemy exemplify the fact that music is political and vice versa.  But how political is too political? In 2014 The Sothern Poverty Law Centre published a list of ‘white power’ artists, in which 37 artists including ‘Skull Head’ and ‘Tattooed Mother Fuckers’ were featured. The list was originally intended to target the iTunes store, and at the time Apple did remove many of the artists from download sales. The list has recently resurfaced, in the aftermath of the race related protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Spotify has now taken action to remove artists that are identified as white supremacist hate bands.  Spotify has over 140 million users, but the question should be asked: do these users need to be told what they can and cannot listen to? Well, a spokesperson for the service, which claims to be a champion of free speech, stated that “Illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality, or the like is not tolerated by us.”  Spotify’s competitor Deezer has also joined in, and has also taken moves to decide what users can and…

Filmchella faces Coachella complaint
Live Events , Trade Mark / September 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Live events sector   Goldenvoice, the organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one of the world’s leading music festivals, have filed a trademark infringement lawsuit over the planned “Flmchella” film festival, arguing that the new event has refused repeated requests to change its name.  The complaint, filed by Coachella Music Festival LLC in the US District Court for Central California, says that Filmchella founder Robert Trevor Simms and twenty other defendants are 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”. The film festival is scheduled to run from the 29th September to the 1st October in Joshua Tree, California. 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…

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

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

Quincy Jones wins $9.4 million in Jackson claim
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music   Quincy Jones has won a jury decision in the case he brought in the Los Angeles Superio Court against the Michael Jackson Estate, winning $9.4 million in what he alleged were underpaid or unpaid royalties. Jones had accused Sony Music and MJJ Productions (one of Michael Jackson’s companies, now controlled by the Jackson Estate) or depriving him of some $30 million in royalties, almost all from the period following Jackson’s death in 2009 and the utilisation of recordings which Jones had produced for Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad in projects such as the This Is It film and two Cirque du Soleil shows. At the trial Jones admitted he had not focussed on the contracts he signed in 1978 and 1985, but said the recordings had been re-edited and re-mixed to deprive him of an equitable share of income and that he had a contractual right to be offered and undertake at any re-edit or remix. MJJ had countered that Jones was incorrectly interpreting contracts he signed with Jackson on which the royalty claims were based and the Estate argued that the unpaid sums came to less than $400,000.  After the decision Jones commented: “As an artist, maintaining the vision and integrity of one’s…

Travis Scott takes action against former management
Artists , Contract , Employment Law / August 2017
USA

CONTRACT / EMPLOYMENT LAW Artistes   Travis Scott (Jacques Webster), the US rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer, has accused the artist management company owned by music industry veteran Lyor Cohen (now  top music man at YouTube) of violating California’s Talent Agencies Act. It’s a two way battle: LCAR Management sued Scott earlier this year claiming that the rapper, who had been a client, owed the firm $2 million. Now, according to Billboard, Scott has responded by accusing LCAR of Talent Agencies Act violations by allegedly booking shows for him without the approval of his actual talent agent, and therefore acting as if a talent agency in itself – without a licence from the California state Labor Commissioner. Scott is seeking to void his contract with LCAR on the basis of the alleged violations. There are further allegations including that LCAR allegedly used Scott to promote Cohen’s other business venture, even though he had no affiliation with that business. LCAR is yet to respond to Scott’s claims. http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/travis-scott-accuses-former-management-of-violating-californias-talent-agencies-act/

Lil Wayne adds Universal to his ‘Cash Money’ litigation
Contract , Music Publishing / August 2017
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music   Lil Wayne has added Universal to his ‘Cash Money’ litigation in a New Orleans law suit that accuses the Cash Money record company and its major label partner of colluding to deny Lil Wyane royalties that are properly payable to him.  Cash Money co-owners Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams are also added to the pending suit that asserts a conspiracy and seeks more than $40 million in actual damages.  Cash Money are Lil Wayne’s long-time label and the dispute includes both a complaint over the delayed release of his long awaited ‘Tha Carter V’ album, and the royalties Wayne claims are due from records released by his joint venture imprint Young Money, which includes albums from Drake. Last year Wayne sued Universal Music directly. In that case, the rapper argued that Universal, which distributes Cash Money and Young Money releases, was withholding monies generated by the latter label’s records in order to recoup advances previously paid to the former. Wayne argued that his share of Young Money income should not be applied be used to recoup Cash Money’s debts. That law suit, which also lists US collecting society SoundExchange as a defendant, was subsequently put on hold, because…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two face Ghost Ship party manslaughter charges
Health & Safety / July 2017
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   Two people have each been charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the fire that occurred at the Ghost Ship warehouse party in Oakland, California on the 2nd December 2016, headlined by electronic group Golden Donna. The two have been named as Derick Almena, who leased the warehouse and is decribed as the Ghost Ship founder an party ‘promoter’, and Max Harris, who had a supervisory role at the building and was titled the ‘creative director’.  A total of 36 people died in the blaze, including artists Cherushii, Joey Casio, Nackt, and Cash Askew from dream-pop band Them Are Us Too.   District Attorney of Alameda County, Nancy E O’Malley, who has brought the charges against the two men, told reporters that Almena and Harris had “knowingly created a fire trap with inadequate means of escape [and] then filled that area with human beings and are now facing the consequences of their actions” saying “The paying guests at the event were faced with a nearly impossible labyrinth of the defendants’ making. They allowed individuals to live in the warehouse and deceived the police, the fire department and the owner of the building…

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

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

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

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

Gene in the horns of a dilemma
Artists , Trade Mark / July 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   Gene Simmons (yes, he of rock band Kiss) attempts to register a trade mark for the widely used heavy metal ‘devil horns gesture always looked doomed to fail, and sure enough, they have.   The Hollywood Reporter reported that Simmons had applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for protection of the gesture in class 41. Simmons claims he first used it in commerce in 1974, although it’s fellow rocker Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow, Black Sabbath) who generally is credited with popularising the gesture, and has said he learned it from his Italian grandmother as a way to ward off the evil eye. In the application, the sign is described as “a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upwards and the thumb extended perpendicular”. The registration covered “services having the basic aim of the entertainment, amusement or recreation of people” and the “presentation of works of visual art or literature to the public for cultural or educational purposes”. The application further identified the types of services for which registration was sought as “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist”.    Simmons said that “the mark was…

One for the scalpers! Connecticut prohibits ticket resale restrictions
Competition , Contract , Live Events / July 2017
USA

CONTRACT / COMPETITION Live events sector   Much to the dismay of those who are fighting back against ticket touts and scalpers, but in a move billed as “protecting consumers who purchase e-tickets”, the US state of Connecticut has passed legislation that will to prohibit terms that restrict the sale of non-transferable paperless tickets. Whilst a growing number of major artists, including, prominently, Iron Maiden, now use named electronic tickets which usually require proof of ID to enter the venue to clamp down on the rapidly escalating secondary ticketing industry (which regularly harvests large quantities of tickets before real fans can get their hands on them, forcing them to pay inflated prices to the scalpers), Connecticut House Bill 7114 (HB 7114) has been passed to block these moves and remove restrictions on the sale of entertainment event tickets on the secondary market. The Act has been signed into law by Governor Dan Malloy and outlaws the practice unless “the purchaser of such tickets is offered the option, at the time of initial sale, to purchase the same tickets in another form that is transferrable”. The new legislation also prohibits venues from denying admission “solely on the grounds that such ticket has been…

Belgian live industry go to court over the Sabam rate hike
Belgium
EU
USA

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

Fyre Festival failure prompts legal challenges
Contract , Live Events / June 2017
USA

CONTRACT Live events sector     Why anyone thought the partnership of rapper, a young technology ‘serial entrepreneur’, neither of whom had organised a festival before, and an unbelievable Instagram video featuring models Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski sailing on a luxury yacht and posing on beautiful beaches would result in a mind blowing festival is anyone’s guess. Spending thousands of dollars on ‘artists passes’ is an equally misguided approach to the festival scene. The fact that the elite few who made the trip to the disastrous Fyre Festival had paid anything between $1,200 to over $100,000 to the two-weekend event on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas for the promised “once-in-a-lifetime” musical experience with beach cabanas and gourmet cuisine was almost certainly a recipe for a lawsuit. Especially when festival-goers then complained of delayed and cancelled flights, being stranded for hours without food, water or shelter, luggage being “unceremoniously dumped from shipping containers” and allegedly left for thieves to to rifle through, and a so called luxury village which consisted of refugee tents, rubbish piled high and burst water pipes.    Now a new lawsuit also alleges Fyre’s organisers warned musicians and celebrities not to attend the…

Injunction Blocks the Release of Prince Recordings
General / June 2017
USA

CONTRACT/COPYRIGHT Recorded music   A number of Prince recordings will not be released until the dispute between Ian Boxill and the Prince Estate is resolved.   Ian Boxill has been told by a US court that he cannot release any tracks that he worked on with Prince: however, things may change when the dispute between Prince’s Estate and Boxill is resolved.   The action stared when Boxill announced that he had plans to release a six track EP of unreleased Prince tracks. He planned to release the EP on the first anniversary of the unfortunate death the superstar.  The tracks were the work of a collaboration between Boxill and Prince from 2006 and 2008.   However, when Prince’s Estate found out about Boxill’s plans they went to the courts to stop the release. A temporary restraining order was initially issued, stopping Boxill’s plans to release the EP on the first anniversary of Prince’s death. This initial restraining order had been extended to Monday just been and now a preliminary injunction has been issued. The preliminary injunction provides that Boxill is prevented from releasing any collaborations between himself and Prince until the legal action is concluded. The injunction also provides that…

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

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

New lawsuits over Jefferson Starship name, the Hotel California name and …. a cat
Artists , Trade Mark / June 2017
Canada
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes     A founding member of Jefferson Starship has filed a legal action in a move designed to prevent the current version of the legendary band from using the name Jefferson Starship. The band evolved out of the group Jefferson Airplane in 1974 and also produced the ‘spin off’ band Starship (itself a name change after a legal dispute). Craig Chaquico,  who was member of the Jefferson Starship line-up, and subsequently played with Starship, has brougt the action: The Jefferson Starship name was retired in the mid-1980s after a little legal battle between members. In the 1990s, Paul Kantner, a founder member of both Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship and the first member of Jefferson Airplane to use the Jefferson Starship name, began to use the Jefferson Starship name again. Chaquico, who had also played on  three of Kantner and Grace Slick’s solo albums, now says that he gave permission for Kantner’s later use of the band’s Jefferson Starship brand, but his agreement and consent was for Kantner personally and again came after litigation and arbitration in 1993 (Kantner died in 2016), and that previous inter-band agreeements and settlements mean the current band members do not have his permission to continue using the name,…

Winsconsin to let minors attend festivals
Licensing , Live Events / June 2017
USA

LICENSING Live events sector   Wisconsin Governor. Scott Walker has signed a new bill which will allow minors to attend music festivals where alcohol is being served.  Under current law, minors may not be on the premises of a site that has been issued an alcohol license unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. However, a number of venues are exempt from the law, including bowling alleys, movie theatres and sports stadiums. In a statement, Governor Walker said adding music festivals to the list “just made sense.”  Under the new law, minors will be allowed to attend a music festival where alcohol is served on private property as long as attendance is expected to exceed more than 2,500 people which will mirror state laws already in place for festivals on public property, such as Summerfest in Milwaukee. Assembly Bill 194 adds music festivals to the list of exceptions, and was authored by Representative Rob Summerfield (R – Bloomer) and Senator Terry Moulton (R – Chippewa Falls). The Bill passed the Assembly on a voice vote, and was concurred by the Senate on a voice vote. It is Act 7. http://urbanmilwaukee.com/pressrelease/governor-walker-signs-music-festival-bill-into-law/ http://www.fox9.com/news/256718883-story

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

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

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

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

Insane Clowns face infringement claim
USA

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

Defamation case against Kesha’s former lawyer has been given the go ahead
Artists , Defamation / May 2017
USA

DEFAMATION Artistes   Mark Geragos, the former lawyer for Kesha, who acted for the pop star in her legal battle against the producer Dr Luke, is now on the receiving end of legal action from the producer’s lawyers.    A New York judge has blocked efforts by Geragos to have the defamation case filed by Dr Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) dismissed. The case revolves around comments the ‘celebrity lawyer’ made on Twitter and the website TMZ. Set against a myriad of cross allegations, primarily made against producer Dr Luke where the singer says the producer manipulated her career and sexually abused her, in an unsuccessful attempt to free herself from record and publishing contracts with Dr Luke’s label and Sony, Geragos being the wise lawyer that he is, tweeted “Guess who the rapist was?” with a link to an article with Lady Gaga, who  explained in an interview that she had once been subject to a sexual assault. When subsequently asked on twitter if he meant Dr Luke, he tweeted “#bingo”. Later the lawyer told TMZ he said this “because it’s true”.    Geragos argued that neither his tweets nor the TMZ comments should be taken seriously and had sought to have…

Ontario opens public consultation on ticket touting bots, but Virginia wants a free market
Consumers , Live Events / April 2017
Canada
USA

CONSUMER Live events sector   Ontario has launched a public consultation on plans to introduce new laws banning the use of ticket tout bots. The Canadian province’s Attorney General Yasir Naqvi had announced the intention to introduce new legislation last October and moves to outlaw the use of such software were reinforced after tickets for Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour quickly found their way to secondary sites at massive mark-ups, on the news that frontman Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Ontarians with a view on secondary ticketing matters can fill out the consultation survey. And in advance of the UK’s move to regulate secondary ticketing and ban the use of bots to harvest tickets, the FanFair Alliance welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May’s “heartening” intervention on the secondary ticketing market. May was responding to Conservative MP Nigel Adams, who is leading the bid to make illegal the misuse of bot technology by ticket touts. “Does the Prime Minister agree that, when tickets to a teenage cancer charity gig by Ed Sheeran are being resold on the Viagogo ticket website for more than £1,000, with none of that money going to the charity… it is unfair…

Alabama joins Virginia on the trail of the free market ticket
Consumers , Live Events / April 2017
USA

CONSUMER Live events sector   Lawmakers in Alabama are moving towards passing a new rule that would give consumers a statutory right to resell any tickets they have bought, which in turn would limit the tactics artists and promoters can employ to try to fight back against scalping (ticket touting). There are parallels between the proposals made by Alabama representative Paul Lee and the previously reported measures put forward in Virginia by delegate Dave Albo:  Virginia’s House Of Delegates has now passed the Ticket Resale Rights Act, which prohibits concert promoters from denying someone admission to an event because they have bought their ticket from a tout (scalper). The new legislation also seeks to stop the use of ticket controls designed to limit touting, such as locking a ticket to the credit card used to buy it. Under the Ticket Resale Rights Act, concert promoters  in Virginia wouldn’t be allowed to cancel a touted ticket in that way, whatever the terms and conditions of the ticket may say. Doing so could result in a fine of up to US $5,000.   The Alabama state-level laws would stop event organisers from cancelling tickets that have been resold, or forcing customers to resell their…

ARTICLE LINK  – Trade Marks and Google Adwords
Trade Mark / April 2017
EU
UK
USA

TRADE MARK All areas     This week LA Weekly broke the news that Coachella’s  parent company, Goldenvoice,  is suing Urban Outfitters for trademark infringement, alleging the unauthorised use of the word “Coachella”. The lawsuit relates to Urban Outfitters subsidiary Free People, who have allegedly been selling various items that use the Coachella name: “Coachella Valley Tunic” and  “Bella Coachella” accessories being two examples. According to the LA Weekly report, Goldenvoice had sent a cease-and-desist letter along with several other demands that Urban Outfitters stop using the “Coachella” name, to no avail. Now Laura Harper, a partner at Shoosmiths LLP, has written a very good article on this in the context of UK and European law, with a particular nod towards the onlIne sphere, Google and ‘adwords’.  https://www.iq-mag.net/2017/03/trademarks-fair-game-use-google-adwords-laura-harper-shoosmiths/#.WNPgdTuLSM9

Hendrix siblings back in court
Trade Mark / April 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Merchandise   Experience Hendrix LLC, the company run by the late guitarist’s adopted sister Janie, and which is the entity that that manages the estate and legacy of Jimi Hendrix, is in another dispute with Jimi Hendrix’s brother Leon, who is accused of involvement in a business venture that seeks exploit Jimi Hendrix trademarks without Experience Hendrix’s permission. The new lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is against Leon Hendrix and associate Andrew Pitsicalis. A a press release from Expedience Hendrix begins by noting the past disputes over unofficial Hendrix-branded products that he has been involved in and  states: “Over the past ten years, defendants Andrew Pitsicalis and Leon Hendrix, and a variety of individuals and entities with which they have been associated, have attempted to hijack plaintiffs’ trademarks and copyrights for their own personal gain. Federal courts have repeatedly prohibited those unlawful activities” and goes on: “Ignoring those prohibitions, defendants recently have renewed and expanded their infringements of plaintiffs’ trademarks and copyrights through the creation, development, licensing, manufacturing, promotion, advertising and sale of cannabis, edibles, food, wine, alcohol, ‘medicines’, electronic products, and other goods”. The law suit continues: “Undaunted by their previously…

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

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

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

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

Spinrilla files defence against record labels’ claims
General / April 2017
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Spinrilla, the popular hip hop mixtape sharing app that was recently sued by the Recording Industry Association Of America RIAA)  has filed its response, calling for the case to be dismissed partly on safe harbour grounds, and on the basis that Spinrilla had been working with the very labels now suing to promote their artistes.  The RIAA claimed: Through the Spinrilla website and apps, users with an artist account can upload content that any other user can then download or stream on demand for free, an unlimited number of times – although the site does have DCMA takedown protocols.  A substantial amount of content uploaded to the Spinrilla website and apps consists of popular sound recordings whose copyrights are owned by plaintiffs”. The legal response, published in full by Torrentfreak, sees Spinrilla argue that it has in the past had a good working relationship with the recorded music industry and states: “Plaintiffs and defendants have been co-operating for years in a variety of ways to successfully prevent and remove unauthorised music from Spinrilla.com. Plaintiffs and defendants have also co-operated when plaintiffs have requested that its music be promoted and distributed by Spinrilla. This co-operation can and should…

Are Sir Paul McCartney’s copyright reversion up in the air pending the possible Duran Duran appeal?
General / April 2017
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT/CONTRACT Music Publishing   We have previously reported that Sir Paul McCartney had filed a lawsuit against Sony/ ATV. In this lawsuit McCartney is attempting to reclaim the rights to the 267 songs he co-wrote with John Lennon throughout the 1960s when they were members of the Beatles. Sony/ ATV had previously labelled the lawsuit “unnecessary and premature” in a statement, now it appears they have furthered this by explaining that it is not a matter for the court. In a letter to the court they have stated that “As an initial matter, Sony/ ATV has made no statement challenging the validity of plaintiff’s termination notices”. Does this mean that it is disputed that there is even a dispute?  Sony/ ATV have been put on notice that McCartney will be attempting to reclaim the copyright, and as of yet they have not said they will attempt to block the reversion of the copyright. However, it looks as if Sony/ ATV are looking to the outcome of the Duran Duran case that is going through the appeal procedure in the UK before they make a move. At first instance in the Duran Duran case, Arnold J found that on the application of English law,…

The US Supreme Court has declines Vimeo appeal
USA

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

Italian band Soviet Soviet deported from US en route to SXSW
Immigration , Live Events / April 2017
Italy
USA

IMMIGRATION Live events sector      Tighter visa restrictions on performers for South by Southwest showcase performances entering the USA first surfaced when Italian band Soviet Soviet posted a lengthy statement on Facebook on Friday after being refused entry en route to their (unpaid) show. The band say that they were handcuffed and detained overnight after being deemed illegal immigrants because border officials said they had incorrect travel documentation. The band had been travelling on the visa waiver programme ESTA, which allows citizens of nearly 40 countries to travel to the US for 90 days on business or leisure without requiring a visa. However, travellers must not earn money in the US during their stay.  Apart from SXSW, the band had a number of other promotional performances scheduled, including a showcase at Seattle radio station KEXP – but not for payment, and the band said “We knew that if we were to receive any compensation we would have had to apply for work visas. This was not the case and the people we spoke to for information told us we would be fine. The point is that the control agents – who did a quick check on the concerts we informed them of –…

Sirius XM wins again against the Turtles
Copyright / March 2017
USA

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

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

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

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

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