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

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

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

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

Ghost Ship fire leaves 36 dead
Health & Safety , Live Events / January 2017
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   A devastating warehouse fire which killed at least 36 people in Oakland, California, has painful echoes with the 2003 ‘Great White’ disaster in Rhode Island where 100 people died and the more recent Colectiv nightclub fire in Bucharest – and is California’s deadliest structure fire in California since the 1906 earthquake and fire that killed hundreds in San Francisco. The warehouse was the home and work space for the Satya Yuga artists’ collective, and known as the Ghost Ship, and was on the evening of the fire hosting an unlicensed concert promoted by house label 100% Silk. Among the victims of the fire were three artists scheduled to perform: Cherushii (Chelsea Faith), Obsidian Blade (Joey Casio) and DJ Nackt (Johnny Igaz). Among the 36 people who died were two UC Berkeley undergraduates, two alumni and one woman who volunteered at KALX, the campus radio station. Victims of the blaze included artists, musicians, activists, community organisers and other young people who had came together for the event. The search for victims and evidence in the Fruitvale District warehouse fire concluded late on Tuesday night (6th December) as crews combed through the final ten percent of the…

Dweezil faces siblings’ challenge to his use of the Zappa name
Artists , Trade Mark / January 2017
USA

TRADE MARK Artists   Dweezil Zappa has  announced a public campaign to protect his right to use the ‘Zappa’ name. Hosted by Pledge Music, The Others of Intention campaign is offering original music downloads and merchandise – donors are invited to participate in the campaign by purchasing items ranging from a digital access pass to Zappa-inscribed guitar picks to limited edition Zappa artwork and vinyl record albums as well as a select assortment of one-of-a-kind Zappa guitars for sale. Last May, Dweezil published a blog titled “It Can Happen Here” at his website. The open letter to Zappa fans described an upcoming tour and strongly alluded to a pending legal battle to save his right to the surname Zappa where he said: “Beyond that, there have been a few other changes. Mainly name changes. As you may or may not know I now tour under my own name, Dweezil Zappa, instead of Zappa Plays Zappa because my brother Ahmet and my sister Diva who run the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) claimed ownership of the name Zappa Plays Zappa which my mother trademarked in 2007. The heavily tweezed language appropriating that trademark was designed by my mother to distinguish between the 2 uses of Zappa. One…

Cases to watch in 2017
General / January 2017
USA

ARTICLE LINK: All Areas   This article on Forbes by music attorney Erin M Jackson  highlights the top music legal cases to watch in 2017, what to expect, and how they could affect the industry as a whole (albeit from a US perspective)   – Global Music Rights v. The Radio Music Licensing Commission  – The Turtles v. SiriusXM –  “Blurred Lines” v. “Got To Give It Up”   http://www.forbes.com/sites/legalentertainment/2016/12/29/music-industry-cases-to-watch-in-2017/#63c6e5fc7b2a

More Blurred Lines: Has ‘Uptown’ been funked up?
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2016
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     This guest blog is by Jonathan Coote   2014’s ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson is a 70s and 80s collage of influences, a knowingly reverential homage to the songwriters’ musical amours. However, for eighties electro-funk band Collage, this knowing veneration seems to sit too close to home. They are suing Mars and Ronson alongside co-writers, Sony’s Music Entertainment, Sony’s RCA Records, Warner/Chappell Music, and Atlantic Records for copyright infringement of their 1983 track ‘Young Girls’. The band are following in the well-trodden footsteps of other forgotten gems including ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ from the Gap Band (who were given song-writing credits alongside Mars and Ronson in 2015) and the unrealised lawsuit from The Sequence for ‘Funk You Up’.   Pitchfork obtained a statement from Collage, which says that there are clear copied elements “present throughout the compositions […] rendering the compositions almost indistinguishable if played over each other and strikingly similar if played in consecutively”:   “Upon information and belief, many of the main instrumental attributes and themes of ‘Uptown Funk’ are deliberately and clearly copied from ‘Young Girls,’ including, but not limited to, the distinct funky specifically noted and timed consistent guitar…

Prince’s estate takes on TIDAL
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     A court battle over the streaming rights to Prince’s back catalogue is looming after the late singer’s estate filed a claim in the US courts against Jay Z’s Roc Nation and the TIDAL streaming service. The action on behalf Prince’s estate, fronted by NPG Records, claims that Roc Nation and TIDAL is streaming more than a dozen of the star’s albums without permission.  The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District of Minnesota court also names NPG Publishing as a plaintiff.   The law suit claims damages, and demands that unlicensed material be taken down: “Roc Nation to account for and pay to Plaintiffs their actual damages in the form of Roc Nation’s profits and Plaintiffs’ damages, or… statutory damages up to the maximum amount allowed for wilful infringement of copyright”. Prince removed most of his back catalogue from streaming sites including Spotify, Google Play and Apple Music in July 2015. A month later, he released a new album, HitNRun: Phase One exclusively on TIDAL. TIDAL claims it has licences, “both oral and written”, for a wide range of material and “the right to exclusively stream [Prince’s] entire catalogue of music, with certain limited exceptions”. in a statement at the time if…

Turtles settle ‘Pre-1972’ case against Sirius XM
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     Members of 1960s rock group The Turtles have settled their action against Sirius XM over what the band claimed were unpaid royalties for the use of ‘Pre 1972’ copyrights. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The filing of settlement papers was noted by both The Hollywood Reporter and National Law Journal. New York’s highest court had heard oral arguments in the case, which was brought by the owner of The Turtles’ 1967 hit song “Happy Together” against Sirius XM Radio. The issue at the heart of the case was  whether the copyright holders of recordings made before 1972 have a common law right to make radio stations and others pay for the use of the recordings (in the US, federal copyright law does not allow for the collection of what is called ‘needletime’ for post 1972 sound recordings. The lawsuit was filed by Flo & Eddie Inc., the company controlled by two founding members of the band that owns the rights to the recordings. Sirius XM argues it’s not required to pay royalties for recordings made before the federal Copyright Act was changed in 1972 to establish limited protections for recordings. US District Judge Philip…

I Take the Dice – Duran Duran seek to reclaim their copyrights
Contract , Music Publishing / December 2016
UK
USA

CONTRACT Music publishing     Duran Duran have begun their action in the High Court in London in a case that will test the ability of UK songwriters to exercise their reversion rights under US copyright law.   The band are fighting Sony/ATV ownedEMI Music Publishing. EMI is seeking to block the band’s songwriter members from taking back control of the rights to songs on their early albums. Duran Duran members Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor and John Taylor, and former member Andy Taylor had put EMI Music Publishing subsidiary Gloucester Place Music on notice of the reversion of the American copyrights in songs on their first three albums and the James Bond theme ‘A View To A Kill’ in 2014. The publisher has argued that under the band’s (English) contract there is no option to reclaim American rights. According to the Press Association, EMI’s  lawyer, Ian Mill QC, said: “My clients entered into contracts and agreed to pay these artistes sums of money … in return for which the artistes promised to give them rights to exploit, subject to the payment of those sums, for the full term of copyright” and that  “these writers have agreed that they will…

US radio industry accuses Global Music Rights of monopoly abuse
Competition , Live Events / December 2016
USA

COMPETITON / ANTI TRUST Live events sector   America’s newest performing rights organisation Global Music Rights (GMR) is facing a law suit brought by the US radio industry in a move to force the rights agency to submit to independent arbitration to set the rates broadcasters must pay to play the songs it represents In the US, the big two collecting societies representing the performing right in compositions (ASCAP and BMI) are regulated by so called ‘consent decrees’ which are in themselves somewhat controversial. However, there are also two other smaller performing rights organisations in the US – SESAC and the much newer Global Music Rights – which sit outside the consent decrees, arguably giving those organisations much more flexibility. And GMR has some impressive clients naming The Eagles, Pharrell Williams, Boston, Foreigner, John Lennon, Smokey Robinson, Chris Cornell, and George and Ira Gershwin amongst its performing right clients. GMR was founded by artist manager Irving Azoff in 2014. Confirming its litigation last week, the RMLC said: “GMR, a public-performance-right licensing agency, is distinguished from ASCAP and BMI, in particular, in that it is a privately-held, for-profit firm that has created a bottleneck to, and artificial monopoly over, the works…

Shearer launches Spinal Tap lawsuit against Universal
Contract , Copyright / November 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Film & TV   This Is Spinal Tap star Harry Shearer is suing Universal parent Vivendi for alleged is deliberate under-payment of music and other royalties from the classic spoof rockumentary. His website, Fairness Rocks, opens with this Popular music and films make huge money for rights-owning corporations. Yet, too often, the artists and creators get a raw deal from exploitation of their talent. I want to help rebalance this equation. My case against Vivendi is simple, if perhaps a little shocking. It’s been 34 years since This Is Spinal Tap was released. Yet, the creators have been told that global music sales from the soundtrack album total just US$98. We’re also, apparently, only entitled to share US$81 (between us) from global merchandising sales. This shocks me, given Tap’s enduring popularity. So, Vivendi – it’s not a big ask. Just show us how you’re exploiting our creative work and pay us a fair share   In a lawsuit filed at the Central District Court of California Shearer accuses Vivendi of “fraudulent accounting for revenues from music copyrights” – through Universal – as well as mismanaging film and merchandising rights through UMG sister companies such as Studio Canal.   A press release from…

Avenged Sevenfold face a trial – AND a competing ‘best of’ from their former label
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / November 2016
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes   Avenged Sevenfold surprise announcement of the arrival of their seventh studio album, on Vivendi SA’s Capitol Records, after playing several songs on the roof of Capitol’s circular building in Los Angeles that was streamed online via a virtual reality app, may have come as some surprise to their former; record label, Warner Music Group, who sued the band earlier this year in California state court for breach of contract after the band left the label without delivering the final album that was apparently due under that deal. The Wall Street Journal says the battle centres on provisions in California’s state labor law that prevents contracts for “personal service” – and that includes recording artistes, actors and athletes –  from extending beyond seven years, but also explicitly permits record companies to sue acts for damages if the departing artiste fails to deliver the agreed-upon number of recordings during that time. Warner Music’s case against Avenged Sevenfold seems to be the first such suit claiming damages.   The surprise release of the new album, titled “The Stage,” by a rival label ahead of the trial could be a welcome development for Warner Music, as it will test the band’s current…

WSJ probe Bon Jovi’s China cancellation
Contract , Live Events / November 2016
China
USA

CONTRACT Live events sector   The Wall Street Journal has published an article which seemingly alleges that AEG Live used a video of Bon Jovi “performing in front of an image of the Dalai Lama” to convince Chinese censors to ban the rock act – and thus force the cancellation of a concert tour in China which was being promoted by AEG. The supposed reason?  The third party intervention by Chinese authorities would be an instance of ‘force majeure’ – forcing the cancellation of the tour which was not selling well, saving AEG some $4 million. WSJ say that whilst AEG did not offer any explanation for the cancellations at the time, it was widely reported at the time that the Chinese government withdrew permission for the tour after they became aware of a performance by the band a few years earlier in front of an image of the Dalai Lama – and WSJ say unnamed sources have said that individuals close to AEG Live ensured Chinese officials saw the videos with the intent of cutting potentially steep losses for the shows. Jay Marciano, chairman of AEG Live and chief operating officer of AEG, categorically rejected the account, telling the Journal….

US appeals court revisits ‘safe harbor’
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / November 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, record music, music publishing   A U.S. appeals court has agreed that former members of the EMI Group can pursue additional copyright infringement claims in a long-running lawsuit over defunct online music storage firm MP3tunes. In rejecting an appeal by MP3tunes founder Michael Robertson, who was ordered to pay $12.2 million after a federal jury in 2014 found him liable for copyright infringement, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York revisited the ruling by  U.S. District Judge William Pauley that MP3tunes was eligible for safe harbor protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by meeting a requirement that service providers adopt and implement a policy for terminating repeat infringers: Pauley had narrowly defined “repeat infringer” to cover only those users who upload infringing content, rather than ones who downloaded songs for personal entertainment. “In the context of this case, all it takes to be a ‘repeat infringer’ is to repeatedly upload or download copyrighted material for personal use,” U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier wrote saying that the trial judge’s view that only “blatant infringers” need to be subject to banning doesn’t match with the text, structure or legislative history of the DMCA. Whilst MP3Tunes terminated 153…

Turtles’ case against Sirius XM reaches New York’s appeals court
Copyright , Record Labels / November 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, broadcasting   New York’s highest court has now heard oral arguments in the case brought by the owner of The Turtles’ 1967 hit song “Happy Together” against Sirius XM Radio. The issue at the heart of the case is  whether the copyright holders of recordings made before 1972 have a common law right to make radio stations and others pay for their use. The lawsuit was filed by Flo & Eddie Inc., the company controlled by two founding members of the band that owns the rights to the recordings. Sirius XM argues it’s not required to pay royalties for recordings made before the federal Copyright Act was changed in 1972 to establish limited protections for recordings. The case was referred to the Court of Appeals from the federal appeals court. http://www.wthr.com/article/court-hears-copyright-dispute-over-turtles-happy-together

Beatles’ team move to dismiss Shea Stadium copyright claims
Copyright , Live Events / November 2016
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Live events sector, films and television   Last month we reported that estate of Sid Bernstein, who promoted the Beatles’ famed August 1965 concert at Shea Stadium in New York, was taking legal action against two of the bands’ companies, Apple Corps and Subafilms, for alleged copyright infringement over use of footage from the concert in upcoming documentary film Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years – directed by Ron Howard. The film has been produced in cooperation with both surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Strarr, and the widows of George Harrison (Olivia) and John Lennon (Yoko Ono) and includes 30 minutes of remastered footage from Shea Stadium. It is understood that the the copyright in the film later acquired by Apple Corps, founded by The Beatles in 1968, and film-distribution outfit Subafilms. Sid Bernstein Presents has challenged that ownership of the copyright and in turn claims ownership of the concert footage, parts of which have appeared previously in the Ed Sullivan-produced film The Beatles at Shea Stadium and in the Anthology documentary series.  Billboard reports that the claim proposes several solutions, including having Sid Bernstein Presents named sole author, or joint author (with The Beatles) as well as a declaration that previous use of…

Chicago says DJs and rap are art forms
Licensing , Live Events / November 2016
USA

LICENSING Live events sector   Chicago’s small venues are breathing a sigh of relief following the decision by Cook County to officially recognise popular music and DJ performances as legitimate forms of art. Several Chicago music venues have been locked in a dispute with the county over US$200,000 worth of “crippling” back taxes after one official, Anita Richardson, said DJs, “rap music, country music and rock and roll do not fall under the definition of ‘fine art’”, which would otherwise make the exempt from Cook County’s 3% amusement tax. The Cook County Board of Commissioners has now agreed wording that would accept “the validity of live music and DJ performances as recognised artforms”  and rthis has the support of the administration, the commissioners and the local music industry and that the local athoritry won’t be acting as ‘culture police’ in the near future Last month the city of Berlin afforded a similar tax break to the Berghain nightclub, ruling the techno haven should pay the same lower 7% tax rate as a site of high culture alongside museums, theatres and classical music venues. http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/10/live-music-fine-art-cook-county/#.WAZGdeArKM9

Foos settle insurance claim
Insurance , Live Events / November 2016
USA

INSURANCE Live events sector   Foo Fighters have settled a lawsuit relating to a series of cancelled concerts during the band’s 2015 world tour. The American band were forced to cancel portions of their Sonic Highways world tour following lead singer Dave Grohl’s breaking his leg and, later, the November terrorist attacks in Paris.   The Central District Court of California has now dismissed a lawsuit by Foo Fighters which had accused London insurers of failing to cover losses incurred by concerts cancelled last year and accused the band’s own brokers of failing to adequately advise the band of the potential impact additional shows on London could have on their insurance claim” and that Robertson Taylor failed to adequately inform the band that, if it decided to add these shows to the Tour, the London Market Insurers would attempt to recharacterise the cancelled Wembley Stadium and BT Murrayfield Stadium performances” as being “rescheduled,” which would dramatically reduce the amount those insurers would owe in a claim saying their brokers sided with insurers.   The original complaint alleged “London market insurers’ inconsistent, erratic and unreasonable behaviour […] caused significant financial harm to Foo Fighters” by refusing to pay out under insurance…

Live Nation sued over US booking fees
Competition , Live Events / November 2016
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector   A New York man is suing Live Nation over its practice of charging booking fees on tickets, accusing the promoter and its ticketing companies of violating the Truth in Lending Act by “advertising one price for a ticket and then charging a higher price when people arrive at the box office”.   David Himber, of West Hempstead, had complained that the price for an advertised $49.50 ticket to Rascal Flatts’ show at the Jones Beach Theater (15,000-cap.) was actually $55.50 and his lawyer told the New York Daily News that “The advertised price is available to nobody”.   In Himber v. Live Nation Worldwide, Inc. et al, Himber is seeking to have Live Nation to refund the fees (including his $6) and pay statutory damages of $50 per ticket and $500 per purchase to all Live Nation box-office customers from the last three years.   Himber has filed three previous lawsuits in the Long Island federal court, although his lawyer Abraham Kleinman told the Daily News that his client wasn’t a prolific litigant. “Mr Himber successfully prosecuted his case against the Automobile Club of New York which displayed too much of his credit card information…

SFX oppose Sillerman claims
Business , Live Events , Record Labels / November 2016
USA

BANKRUPTCY Live events sector, recorded music   SFX’s founder Robert FX Sillerman, who stood down as CEO shortly after the firm applied for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy protection, has filed a claim for monies to cover legal costs and financial guarantees he made on behalf of the business. According to Amplify, Sillerman has requested just over half a million dollars o pay the law firm he has hired to represent him in litigation where both he and SFX are co-defendants. The Company has objected to the claim. Sillerman is also seeking over $15 million in relation to guarantees he made as part of deals between SFX and both Spotify and Chicago-based promoter React Presents. Here lawyers for SFX argue that there is no evidence that Sillerman has, to date, made any payments to the beneficiaries of the guarantees, arguing that his claims against the company are contingent on such payments having been made. As well as seeking to block the claims for legal fees and other cash, SFX are also opposing several requests made by Sillerman to indemnify himself from future lawsuits in relation to his former business. It also seems that SFX Entertainment has fallen out with another high-profile brand partner –…

Mobb Deep’s Prodigy looks to break free from UMG
Contract , Record Labels / November 2016
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music   Having seemingly settled a legal action with Universal last November, Prodigy of Mobb Deep (Albert Johnson) is taking the industry powerhouse to court again, in efforts to completely break free from the major. HipHopDX reports that Prodigy’s attorney Corey D. Boddie said “This particular case involves Prodigy actually looking to get out of his contract based on what is called a ‘mutual mistake.’ There was a term in the actual agreement that was overlooked by both parties and because of that, Prodigy is looking to get out his contract.” The suit was filed in New York and Boddie told HipHopDX that the only motivation behind the new case is the expiration of the contract and that this particular legal action is targeted against the publishing side of Universal. “There is no motivation, in the contract there was what’s called a mutual mistake,” Boddie explains again. “That is a term of the contract that states that they were in the fifth option period. That fifth option period was exercised and over. They continued to refer to the fifth option period, so the lawsuit is basically saying ‘that’s a mistake, what option period are we in?’ We contend that we’re…

Ticket re-seller faces fraud allegations
Fraud , Live Events / November 2016
USA

FRAUD Live events sector   42 year old Traci Monti, who allegedly raised more than US$5 million from investors to buy and sell tickets on the secondary ticketing market, has been charged with seven counts of wire fraud – each of which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison – and two counts of money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of ten years. It is alleged Monti ispent the money on a house and car, and had been arrested by Chicago police. According to the indictment by the US attorney for the northern district of Illinois and the Chicago offices of the FBI and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Monti, who was once Joan Jett’s publicist,  told investors she had “business relationships with multiple primary market sources, such as event promoters and venues, through which she purportedly purchased tickets at face value”. The indictment alleges these relationships didn’t exist, and that in reality Monti used the victims’ funds to fund her lifestyle and to make “ponzi-type payments to other investors”.   Monti pleaded not guilty in the arraignment. A pre-trial status hearing is set for the 9th of November.   In 2012, Monti faced a legal action…

200+ Artists Support the “Blurred Lines” Appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2016
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Some 212 musicians have attached their names to a brief supporting Pharrell, Robin Thicke and TI’s appeal in the “Blurred Lines” copyright case, including Earth Wind & Fire, R Kelly, John Oates, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, film composer Hans Zimmer, Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith, Juicy J, the Go-Go’s, Frank Ocean collaborator Malay, Jennifer Hudson, Train’s Patrick Monahan, the production duo Stargate, Aloe Blacc, Jean Baptiste and Kiesza. The amicus brief echoes the concerns many artists and commentators have voiced since a Los Angeles jury determined that “Blurred Lines” plagiarised Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” – that the songs were not actually similar (even if the sound recording ‘vibe’ was and “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” have completely different melodies and song structures, and do not share any lyrics or “a sequence of even two chords played in the same order and for the same duration.” The brief reads: “The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works ” and “All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre. By eliminating any…

Shea promoter’s estate brings action against new Beatles film
Copyright , Live Events / October 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Film & TV, live events sector   The estate of Sid Bernstein, who promoted the Beatles’ famed August 1965 concert at Shea Stadium in New York, is taking legal action against two of the bands’ companies, Apple Corps and Subafilms, for alleged copyright infringement over use of footage from the concert in upcoming documentary film Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years – directed by Ron Howard. The film has been produced in cooperation with both surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Strarr, and the widows of George Harrison (Olivia) and John Lennon (Yoko Ono) and includes 30 minutes of remastered footage from Shea Stadium. It is understood that the the copyright in the film later acquired by Apple Corps, founded by The Beatles in 1968, and film-distribution outfit Subafilms. Sid Bernstein Presents has challenged that ownership of the copyright and in turn claims ownership of the concert footage, parts of which have appeared previously in the Ed Sullivan-produced film The Beatles at Shea Stadium and in the Anthology documentary series.  Billboard reports that the claim proposes several solutions, including having Sid Bernstein Presents named sole author, or joint author (with The Beatles) as well as a declaration that previous use of the footage is…

APA take on Gersh over ‘poaching’ of agent
Competition , Contract , Live Events / October 2016
USA

CONTRACT / COMPETITION Live events sector   Two US booking agencies are battling it out in the Superior Court of Los Angeles over the alleged poaching of Beverly Hills-based agent Garrett Smith.  The Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), whose clients includes Paul Oakenfold, 50 Cent, The Proclaimers and Scorpions, is seeking damages for interference with contractual relations, interference with prospective economic advantage and unfair competition from the Gersh Agency, of which Smith is now an employee, despite being under contract with APA until September 2017. APA is also suing Smith himself for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the duty of loyalty and unfair competition.   The APA complaint alleges that Gersh “hired Smith despite being specifically advised by plaintiff [APA] that plaintiff was entitled to Smith’s exclusive services for the duration of the employment agreement” and “Defendant knew of the economic relationship between plaintiff and Smith, and intended to disrupt and interfere with that relationship”   http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/09/us-agencies-war-poaching-claims-garrett-smith/#.V9J3TZgrKM9

Court uphold fractional licence in BMI case
Competition , Music Publishing / October 2016
USA

COMPETITION Music publishing     In a win for Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), a federal judge has thrown out a recent determination by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) that performance rights organisations cannot undertake so-called fractional licensing. Not only had the DoJ had refused alter the 70 year old anti-trust ‘consent decrees’ that both ASCAP and BMI operate under, the DoJ insisted that the societies had to introduce 100% licensing, which allows one party to license a whole song even without that licensor owning 100% of the copyright. BMI decided to pursue the litigation to reverse the DoJ’s decision. BMI was seeking a declaratory judgement that the consent decree did not require 100% licensing or what is called “full-work” licensing. In a six-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan rejected the DOJ’s consent decree determination who said: “The consent decree neither bars fractional licensing nor requires full-work licensing” adding  “If a fractionally licensed composition is disqualified from inclusion in BMI’ s repertory, it is not for violation of any provision of the consent decree”   A separate consent decree governs ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and this is administered by rate court Judge Denise Cote of the United…

SFX faces two decisions in the bankruptcy court
Competition , Contract , Internet , Live Events / October 2016
USA

CONTRACT / COMPETITION Live events sector, online   A US bankruptcy judge has allowed Viagogo to proceed with a legal action against SFX Entertainment. modifying the “automatic stay” applied to SFX. Under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, creditors are usually barred from collecting debts from the debtor. and allowing the secondary ticketing platform to “assert and prosecute any and all counterclaims” against SFX. Having reviewed the request, Judge Mary F Walrath determined “sufficient cause exists to approve the motion”.  Viagogo is seeking “in excess” of US$1.6 million from SFX, which went into administration on 1 February, for allegedly failing to adhere to the terms if a five-year, $75m sponsorship agreement signed by the two companies in 2014. The deal granted Viagogo exclusive ticket resale rights some 50 SFX-promoted events and SFX agreed to “deliver exclusive marketing and ticketing rights with respect to a number of designated ‘major’ SFX events.   In other SFX news, an Italian EDM record label is requesting a probe into how third parties might be artificially influencing SFX’s digital music charts. Art & Music Recording (AMR) has requested the Delaware judge overseeing SFX’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case order the company to reveal what it knows about…

Live Nation faces claims from injured fans
Health & Safety , Live Events / October 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   Fourteen fans and three workers are suing promoter Live Nation and performers Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa over injuries sustained after a fence collapsed at a concert. A total of 42 people were injured in the incident at the BB&T Pavilion amphitheatre in New Jersey on August 5. The lawsuit provides a list of injuries which included six concussions, one fractured vertebrae, a fractured collarbone, two head wounds closed with staples, broken bones in the wrist and foot, and numerous lacerations, contusions and recurring head and neck pain. Attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi said on behalf of the victims he represents: “Our clients, and many others who attended the concert, were seriously injured because of the negligent conduct of the defendants who failed miserably in their duty to protect the audience and workers from harm”. Another attorney acting for victims, Steven G. Wigrizer,  said: “Every plaintiff has asked us to do all we can to help prevent a re-occurrence through the litigation. Pure luck – not thoughtful planning by Live Nation or anyone else – is the only reason nobody died in that terrifying incident.”. The claimants allege that there was “a clearly hazardous stage configuration within…

Judgment against Cox opens up ISP liability in the USA
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / September 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet   Cox Communications has been ordered to pay a $25 million dollar penalty for copyright infringements to the music rights management company BMG by a federal judge. The ruling follows a jury decision which found Cox liable for illegal movie and music downloads by its customers.   The Eastern Virginia District Court dismissed Cox’s appeal of the earlier verdict, and ordered Cox to pay BMG $25m in damages for copyright infringement – a ruling which may have widespread repercussions for online copyright infringement in the US. The court decided that Cox did not do enough to stop users pirating music from BMG, and therefore did not qualify for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ‘safe harbor’ protections. Crucially, BMG provided evidence that its agent, Rightscorp,  had identified individual infringers and then alerted Cox to their wrongdoing – which Cox then failed to act on.  In a statement, Rightscorp said: “For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned US internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk of incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights.” adding “Over that time, many ISPs have taken the position that it…

200+ Artists Support the “Blurred Lines” Appeal
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Some 212 musicians have attached their names to a brief supporting Pharrell, Robin Thicke and TI’s appeal in the “Blurred Lines” copyright case, including Earth Wind & Fire, R Kelly, John Oates, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, film composer Hans Zimmer, Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith, Juicy J, the Go-Go’s, Frank Ocean collaborator Malay, Jennifer Hudson, Train’s Patrick Monahan, the production duo Stargate, Aloe Blacc, Jean Baptiste and Kiesza. The amicus brief echoes the concerns many artists and commentators have voiced since a Los Angeles jury determined that “Blurred Lines” plagiarised Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” – that the songs were not actually similar (even if the sound recording ‘vibe’ was and “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” have completely different melodies and song structures, and do not share any lyrics or “a sequence of even two chords played in the same order and for the same duration.” The brief reads: “The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works ” and “All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre. By eliminating…

Appeal filed in ‘Blurred Lines’ case
Copyright , Music Publishing / September 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   It comes as no surprise that Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and TI have filed their appeal against the verdict in the ‘Blurred Lines’ case that saw them ordered to pay $5.3m (reduced from the orginal $7.3 million) and pay over 50% of songwriting and publishing revenues to the family of Marvin Gaye, after a jury ruled last year that their song copied Gaye’s 1977 hit ‘Got to Give It Up’. Lawyers for the trio filed their opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on 24th August, arguing that “if left to stand, the Blurred Lines verdict would chill musical creativity and inhibit the process by which later artists draw inspiration from earlier artists to create new popular music” and at the heart of their appeal is the argument that the Judge and indeed the jury should have simply considered the sheet music – the “deposit copy” filed with the US copyright office – and not been influenced by the actual recordings of either song. The “Blurred Lines” writers assert that when the court examined the two songs before the trial,  Judge John A. Kronstadt should have ruled that the case was not worthy of trial….

Live Nation faces claims from injured fans
Health & Safety , Live Events / September 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector     Fourteen fans and three workers are suing promoter Live Nation and performers Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa over injuries sustained after a fence collapsed at a concert. A total of 42 people were injured in the incident at the BB&T Pavilion amphitheatre in New Jersey on August 5. The lawsuit provides a list of injuries which included six concussions, one fractured vertebrae, a fractured collarbone, two head wounds closed with staples, broken bones in the wrist and foot, and numerous lacerations, contusions and recurring head and neck pain. Attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi said on behalf of the victims he represents: “Our clients, and many others who attended the concert, were seriously injured because of the negligent conduct of the defendants who failed miserably in their duty to protect the audience and workers from harm”. Another attorney acting for victims, Steven G. Wigrizer, said: “Every plaintiff has asked us to do all we can to help prevent a re-occurrence through the litigation. Pure luck – not thoughtful planning by Live Nation or anyone else – is the only reason nobody died in that terrifying incident.”. The claimants allege that there was “a clearly hazardous stage configuration…

Hard Rock cleared in Akoi incident
Health & Safety , Live Events / September 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   A jury has rejected a concert-goer’s claim for $10.7 million in damages against Hard Rock Hotel after she was injured at a Steve Aoki show when the DJ leapt into an inflatable raft in the crowd. Brittany Hickman, then in her mid twenties, allegedly suffered a concussion and a broken neck when she became trapped under the inflatable raft during a performance at Hard Rock in San Diego in 2012. According to Courtroom View Network, Hickman’s attorneys said Hard Rock should have known Aoki would leap into the crowd and should have taken steps to protect the audience. Hard Rock argued it was given no warning Aoki would perform the stunt, and claimed Hickman’s injuries weren’t as severe as she alleged. Her attorneys presented multiple expert witnesses who testified that the impact left her with a traumatic brain injury requiring a lifetime of costly medical care, but during his closing argument on behalf of the hotel Ernest Weiss of Klinedinst PC dismissed those experts as hired guns brought in to secure a large verdict. Hickman’s attorney John Gomez told the jury that her concussion left her with an impaired memory, slowed mental processing, migraines and vertigo….

Hard Music California leaves three dead in 2016
Health & Safety , Live Events / September 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY / LIABILITY Live events sector   The Hard Music Summer Festival in California has left three people dead. The festival, in its ninth year, takes place at the Auto Club Speedway in San Bernardino County, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. The music festival experienced two tragic deaths last year in 2015  Some 325 arrests were made at this year’s festival and Sheriff’s officials told KTLA that drugs including marijuana and methamphetamine were confiscated by the police. Reports say that the festival organisers have made attempts to create a safer environment for concert-goers, This year attendees were able to seek medical attention while at the festival if they had taken drugs without legal consequences. Water was readily available and shade was provided if people needed a break from the hot California sun. Temperatures reached the high ninties reports say. Organisers issued a statement saying ““We were deeply saddened to learn about the deaths of three people who attended the festival this weekend. While the causes of the deaths have not yet been determined, we ask everyone to keep them in their prayers. Our sincerest thoughts and condolences are with their family and friends.”   The three…

FTC takes a look at hidden endorsements
Artists , Competition / September 2016
USA

COMPETITION Artistes   The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is planning to regulate ‘hidden’ endorsements by celebrities who promote brands and products through selfies, blogs, Facebook and Instagram postings, and other social media platforms  – without ever revealing they are being paid. The Federal Trade Commission has also said that hashtags like #ad, #sp, #sponsored – common forms of disclosure – are not always enough. The FTC will be putting the onus on the advertisers to make sure they comply. Michael Ostheimer, a deputy in the FTC’s Ad Practices Division said: “We’ve been interested in deceptive endorsements for decades and this is a new way in which they are appearing,” adding “We believe consumers put stock in endorsements and we want to make sure they are not being deceived.” The FTC had instigated a case against Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc., which was settled, over charges that it deceived customers by paying internet influencers such as PewDiePie (who has about 50 million followers on YouTube) to promote the video game Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor with positive reviews, without disclosing that they were paid and told how to promote it. In March the FTC issued a complaint against Lord & Taylor for paying fashion influencers…

Appeal of Mason’s outdoor entertainment law is on the way
Licensing , Live Events / August 2016
USA

LICENSING Live events sector   Residents opposed to music concerts at Marty’s Driving Range in Mason plan to appeal the Board of Selectmen’s denial of a new special town meeting to reconsider a recently approved zoning amendment that will allow the driving range to bring back outdoor entertainment. The move has split the town, which voted 240 to 165 in favour of the move at a special town meeting to amend the town’s zoning regulations to allow by special exception seasonal outdoor entertainment use up to three times a week from Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend, ending no later than 11 p.m. on holidays and weekends and 10 p.m. on weekdays. 39 percent of the town’s 1,028 registered voters cast a vote.   Initially there were no provisions in town ordinances regarding outdoor entertainment, so the Range’s owners consulted with police about appropriate times. When some residents expressed concerns about the noise and parking, town officials told the venue to stopm and apply for a variance.   At an initial re-hearing of the already approved zoning amendment, attorney Peter J. Nicosia who represents opponents of the re-zoning reportedly said the zoning amendment was too vague, with no limits on sound or light….

IsoHunt founder finally settles with the Canadian content industries
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2016
Canada
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, film, recorded music   One of Canada’s longest-running copyright infringement lawsuits has ended with a judge in Vancouver announcing a $65 million settlement in the IsoHunt case that dates back to 2008. According to various reports, Gary Fung, founder of isoHunt Web Technologies Inc, which was found to have infringed music and film companies’ copyrights in both Canada and the USA , shared music files via isoHunt, a network of BitTorrent file sharing sites.  In the US, a federal district court found isoHunt liable for copyright infringement against the Motion Picture Association of America for sharing illegally downloaded movies. In 2010, more than 20 Canadian and international music companies sued isoHunt and Fung for “massive copyright infringement. In 2013, the US federal court of appeals upheld the 2009 ruling, isoHunt and Fung entered into an agreement to stop all international operations and agreed to a $110 million settlement. The British Columbia Supreme Court has now ruled against isoHunt and Fung, ordering him to pay $55 million CAD in damages for copyright infringement and an additional $10 million (CAD) for punitive damages, and ordering Fung to agree to never again be involved in a service that provides stolen or pirated…

Stairway to Heaven decision to be appealed
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The estate of musician Randy California, of L.A. rock band Spirit, intends to appeal the jury verdict last month that found that Led Zeppelin did not lift music that formed the basis for the group’s hit “Stairway to Heaven” from an earlier Spirit instrumental, “Taurus”. The appeal against the unanimous verdict in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles will challenge 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.” Plaintiff’s attorney Francis Malofiy later claimed he lost his case on a technicality, insisting…

Apple suggests new royalty rate for streaming music
Australia
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet, artistes     Apple has filed a new proposal with the US Copyright Royalty Board which it says it hopes will “simplify” songwriting royalties in the States by 2018. Apple has suggested that all on-demand streaming services should pay songwriters a statutory rate of 9.1 Cents every 100 plays – a per-stream rate of $0.00091, or $910 per million streams, or $910,000 for a billion – thought to be more that Spotify’s ‘free’ ad supported platform would generate.   And in Australia, commercial radio broadcasters will have to pay a licence fee for songs streamed over the internet after a Copyright Tribunal ruling. The long-running legal battle between the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) and Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) finally reached a conclusion after nearly seven years. CRA had previously argued that as it already pays a licence fee for music for radio and shouldn’t have to pay again for making  that broadcast available over the internet. Now the Copyright Tribunal has finalised the terms of the scheme where commercial radio broadcasters will pay simulcast licence fees for songs streamed over the internet.   And Screen Producers Australia (SPA) has reached agreement  with performers for the broadcasting, repeats and…

Were Sony’s MFN deals with Rdio anti-competitive?
Competition , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COMPETITION Recorded music   Sony Music has said that the suggestion of antitrust violations are “nothing but speculation and conjecture” and a pretext for avoiding $17 million claim and allegations of fraud by Rdio, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since November 2015. Rdio received $75 million from Pandora for the sale of assets – and Sony want their share – but is now facing some serious allegations of anti competitive behaviour from Rdio. Rdio was an online music streaming service that offered ad-supported free streaming and ad-free subscription streaming services in 85 countries. It was available as a website and via apps for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone mobile devices, which could stream music from Rdio’s servers or download music for offline playback.   The Hollywood Reporter reports that Rdio has retained Winston & Strawn to investigate whether Sony for colluded with Universal and Warner Music in the streaming music market.  Sony has itself issued legal proceedings against three of Rdio’s top executives, alleging that before Rdio declared bankruptcy, the company made misrepresentations, false statements and concealments in order to avoid paying millions of dollars for streaming music from Sony artists including Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce…

Spotify launch anti-trust claims against Apple
Competition , Internet / August 2016
EU
UK
USA

COMPETITION Internet   Music streaming platform Spotify has accused Apple of using its control of the iOS platform and App Store to keep the latest Spotify app out of the iOS ecosystem, in a move that favours its own Apple Music service. Spotify said that Apple rejected a new version of the firm’s app from the App Store, citing various technicalities. Apple has insisted that Spotify’s app did not conform to “business model rules”, and demanded that Spotify use Apple’s own billing system “to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions”. Companies such as Spotify have sought to sidestep Apple’s App Store cut by encouraging consumers to sign up for their services online. Apple forbids developers from promoting alternative payment methods within their apps. This is a requirement of all app developers who wish to sell apps on Apple’s App Store. iOS is a closed platform, and so Spotify say there is no choice but to comply. Apple takes a 30 per cent fee for the privilege, which Spotify is forced to pass on to customers. Spotify claimed that this makes its service appear uncompetitive. But Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell countered that the company deserves a cut of transactions in the App Store for its…

DofJ’s decisions on music licensing upset everyone
Competition , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COMPETITION Music publishing   In a major setback to music publishers, the Justice Department decided this week it will not alter a decades-old system that requires royalty collection societies ASCAP and BMI to license songs to everyone at a fixed rate.  The Justice Department dealt another potential blow to the music industry by calling for so-called “100% licensing.” In cases involving songs with multiple songwriters. This would require ASCAP and BMI to provide a license for the whole song, and then apportion revenues amongst the different writers. The heads of two of the world’s biggest publishing companies have now both said that they aren’t happy with the recent ruling. Universal Music Publishing Group CEO Jody Gerson and Warner/Chappell boss Jon Platt want publishers to be allowed to negotiate digital rights outside of blanket licenses offered by Collection Societies joining Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier in declaring the position taken by the DofJ is deeply disappointing, and a threat to the livelihood of songwriters. The DofJ confirmed existing consent decrees – effectively a blanket licence – tat have governed ASCAP and BMI since 1941 and leaving them intact will mean publishers remain unable to partially withdraw their repertoire from the PROs in order to negotiate…

Michigan court finds that a free stream is not a ‘rent, lend or sale’
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT / PRIVACY Internet, recorded music   The Michigan Court of Appeals has confirmed that music service Pandora didn’t violate a 20 year old Michigan privacy law by allegedly disclosing information about users of its free service to Facebook. in a unanimous decision the court said that the state’s Video Privacy Protection Act doesn’t apply when companies stream music to users for free. That law prohibits companies that rent, lend or sell music (as well as books and videos) from disclosing customers’ identities without their consent, upholding U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown in Oakland, California who had dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that Michigan’s law doesn’t apply when companies stream tracks. She said the law only applies to companies that lend, rent or sell material. Michigan resident Peter Deacon had begun the action against Pandora, a potential class-action, saying that Pandora wrongly disclosed his music-listening history to all of his Facebook contacts that also used Pandora. In 2010 Pandora partnered with Facebook for the first version of its “instant personalization” programme which automatically shared Facebook users data with outside companies. People could opt out, but at launch the feature operated by default. Having lost at first instance, Deacon appealed to the 9th Circuit Court…

Florida’s Supreme Court to look at pre-72 copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Florida’s Supreme Court will now hear the three year old class action brought by former members of the Turtles after the The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday certified questions of state law to the Florida Supreme Court i Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, known as Flo & Eddie, filed suit in California, New York and Florida against satellite radio operator Sirius XM, arguing that Pre-1972 sound recordings are protected by a patchwork of state and common laws meaning they would need to consent to their recordings being played an should be paid for this. Whilst Flo and Eddie were successful in California and New York, they failed at first instance in Florida, prompting the initial appeal. In Florida U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles decided to rule in favour of SiriusXM. The judge said he understood why his judicial colleagues in other states ruled differently, noting that California and New York are creative centres of culture, and laws have been enacted there to protect artistic rights, and there have been prior cases that have touched upon the present controversy. But Judge Gayles said that “Florida is different” saying “There is no specific Florida legislation covering sound…

Utsick faces substantial jail term
Criminal Law , Live Events / August 2016
USA

CRIMINAL LAW Live events sector   Jack Utsick, the former concert promoter who was charged with defrauding an estimated 3,300 investors out of nearly US$300 million, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a mail fraud charge. Many who lost substantial sums were former airline pilots, Utsick’s own former profession. Prosecutors say that that Utsick, 73, who appeared in court in Miami, operated his promotion company, Worldwide Entertainment, as a “ponzi scheme”, repaying older investors with money from newer ones. Worldwide promoted tours by arena-filling artists such as The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, The Pretenders, Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac before being placed into administration amid mounting debts in 2006. A subsequent investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) discovered that Utsick had in reality lost money on most tours. Utsick departed for Brazil after the company failed, but was extradited to the US in 2014 after a protracted court battle, and since then has been in custody. Utsick will be sentenced on 23 August and has been ordered to repay $169m to Worldwide’s investors. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article52742440.html http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article83118357.html

Former SFX directors to face criminal charges?
Criminal Law , Live Events / August 2016
USA

BANKRUPTCY / CRIMINAL LAW Live events sector     The new management of SFX Entertainment – reported to be led by two senior creditors, investment firms Allianz and Axar Capital Management – have signalled their intention to bring charges against the company’s former directors, including ex-CEO Robert FX Sillerman. New documents, filed in the Delaware bankruptcy court, outline alternative post-bankruptcy plan for the dance music promotion group and says there may be a claim for damages for “breaches of fiduciary duty by former directors and officers of the debtors, and avoidance actions, such as fraudulent transfer claims under federal and state law”   SFX’s new management may also seek to recover “amounts reimbursed to Sillerman” during the bankruptcy process, as well as “licensing fees, employee compensation, a cash collateral release [and] certain settlement payments” and “the termination fee the company paid in connection with the termination of the merger agreement”, which relates to a failed 26 May 2015 merger between SFX Entertainment and two other companies forming part of Sillerman’s  EDM empire, SFXE Acquisition LLC and SFXE Merger Sub, Inc. The revised post-bankruptcy plan will go before US bankruptcy judge Mary F. Walrath for approval on 30 August. At the time…

Digitally re-mastered tracks are NOT pre-1972 copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   The Turtles may have done well in battering Sirius XM’s attempts to avoid paying royalties for the use of pre-1972 copyrights, but now CBS Radio has advanced an interesting new argument on the same topic – and a California judge has handed down a big ruling that could help “immunize” terrestrial radio operators and others from lawsuits and “upend many preconceived notions about copyright”. The decision from U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson comes in a dispute between ABS Entertainment, owner of recordings by Al Green and others, and CBS Radio, and was based on the concept that pre-1972 songs are protected under state law rather than federal law,  and therefore can’t be broadcast without permission (and payment). In reaction to the ABS lawsuit, CBS tried out a new response – it was not performing the original analogue recordings, but rather NEW digitally remastered versions that came out after 1972. Under this argument, the specifically performed works aren’t protected by state law, and CBS doesn’t have to pay. And the court agreed. More on Billboard here http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7392764/cbs-beats-lawsuit-pre-1972-songs-bold-copyright-argument http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/1972-and-all-that-but-does-turtles-win.html

Is music sampling back in Vogue?
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   A US Appeals court has decided that Madonna did not violate copyright law when her producer allegedly used a short section of music taken from another recording for her hit song “Vogue”. The split 2-1 decision must  call into doubt the strict approach taken by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in the leading case of Bridgeport Music, Inc., et al. v. Dimension Films, et al 410 F.3d 792 (September 2004). There the court in Cincinnati posed the question “If you cannot pirate the whole sound recording, can you ‘lift’ or ‘sample’ something less than the whole?” The Court’s answer to this was in the negative” and the court added “Get a license or do not sample – we do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way.” But in this new case, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the horn segment at the heart of the copyright lawsuit  lasted less than a second and would not have been recognisable to a general audience. Judge Susan P. Graber said for the majority: “The horn hit occurs only a few times in ‘Vogue’ …. without careful attention, the horn hits are easy to miss.” The decision fits in neatly…

Sorry not sorry – Justin Bieber and Skrillex deny copying vocal loop to produce ‘Sorry’
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music   By Emma Perot writing for the IP Kat   Justin Bieber and Skrillex have been accused of copyright infringement by artist Casey Dienel, aka White Hinterland. The suit probably does not come as a complete surprise to the duo, as Dienel claimed that she contacted Bieber’s lawyers when “Sorry” was initially released, but did not receive a response.   Dienel alleged that Bieber and Skrillex, whose 2015 hit single ‘Sorry’ has received 1.4 billion hits on YouTube, copied her vocal loop from her 2014 song ‘Ring the Bell’. The allegedly copied segment can be heard in the first five seconds of each song. Skrillex and Bieber have both denied the claims on their Twitter accounts. If this claim goes to trial, it could be the 2016 edition of the infamous “Blurred Lines” dispute, which resulted in Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke being ordered to pay Marvin Gaye’s family $7.4 million USD for infringing copyright in his 1977 hit ‘Got to give it up’ (discussed on IPKat here). After the ‘Blurred lines’ case, this Kat would be surprised if Bieber’s lawyers took this case to trial, but let’s consider what Dienel would need to prove to win her claim for infringement:…

Does Axl’s photograph claim carry any weight?
Artists , Copyright / July 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Artistes, photography   Guns N Roses and now AC/DC frontman Axl Rose has filed six DCMA take down notices in what is seen as an attempt remove an unflattering photo of him from a 2010 Canadian concert from the web. The requests were filed on behalf of Rose by anti-piracy firm Web Sheriff, and all target examples of the same picture hosted on Blogspot and GoogleUserContent domains which have has spawned a series of ‘Fat Axl’ memes relating to the singer’s increased weight with labels such as ‘Sweet Pie of Mine’, ‘Take Me Down To the Bakery City’ and ‘Welcome to McDonalds’.   The original image was taken by Winnipeg Free Press photojournalist Boris Minkevich, who was initially unaware that any action was being taken over the image he snapped – and who is reported byTorrentFreak to have said that the only copyright being infringed is his: “The photo was stolen off our website with no permission granted by the Winnipeg Free Press”. However Web Sheriff told TorrentFreak that all photographers at the concert were said to have been required to sign an agreement passing copyright ownership of images taken to Rose’s company, The photographer cannot remember whether he signed the agreeement…