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…

Kanye West’s ‘Famous’ music video: publicity rights vs the First Amendment
Artists , Image Rights / July 2016
USA

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes   By Emma Perot   Kanye West’s music video for “Famous” has sparked outrage for portraying naked celebrities in bed, in the form of life-like wax figures. It is not simply the nudity, but the individuals portrayed, which has led to criticism; Rihanna is seen lying next to former boyfriend and abuser, Chris Brown, alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby is featured, as well as Taylor Swift, Anna Wintour and Amber Rose. Subsequent to the release of the video, Kanye tweeted, “Can somebody sue me already #I’llwait” but later deleted it.   While Kanye waits, this Kat contemplates on whether publicity rights can help those featured (this Kat thinks specifically of Taylor Swift who, lying next to Kanye in the video, is also mentioned in the song lyrics, ““I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that b**ch famous.”). It is an unusual issue, as publicity rights are usually invoked by celebrities against companies who use them in unauthorised advertising and merchandising, rather than their celebrity peers. Also, there have been few cases which have been brought to protect moral rather than economic interests. An exception is Waits v Frito Lay, 978 F. 2d…

Foos fight insurance underwriters and broker for cancellation pay out
Contract , Live Events / July 2016
Sweden
UK
USA

CONTRACT Live events sector   Billboard reports that the Foo Fighters have accused Lloyd’s of London and insurance brokers Robertson Taylor of ‘despicable’ behaviour in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, alleging they have “failed to pay amounts that even they appear to recognize are due and owing” on insurance claims the band made on several shows cancelled during its 2015 world tour. The cancellations resulted firstly after Grohl broke his leg on June 12th, 2015, during a show in Sweden (a show that Grohl finished before going to hospital). The injury resulted in the cancellation of seven shows, three of which are at the core of the band’s complaint — two shows at London’s Wembley Stadium and one at Edinburgh’s BT Murrayfield Stadium. After his leg was treated, Grohl went on to perform 53 shows from the “throne” he designed (or crutches). The complaint says: “After paying certain amounts owed under the Cancellation Policy for four of the cancelled performances, [the insurers] began searching for ways to limit their payment obligations on the other three performances, including the two Wembley Stadium shows, which represented the largest potential gross income” for the band’s tour. The complaint continues,(insurance broker) “Robertson Taylor failed to…

Spain’s Supreme Court sides with promoters over disproportionate 10% tariff
Competition , Live Events / June 2016
Ireland
Spain
UK
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector     The Supreme Court of Spain has ordered national music collection society the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, or Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE) to immediately abolish its “abusive” 10 per cent tariff on box-office receipts in favour of a “fair” levy to pay music copyright-holders. SGAE had appealed a ruling by the National Competition Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia, CNMC) which held that Spain’s 10 per cent rate was excessive and unfair to Spanish concert promoters noting that much lower royalty fees were applied in other European countries – the rate in the UK is a 3% tariff applied by the PRS on box office (Tariff LP) – and also noted the 1% tariff the US. In 2014 the CNMC ruled that SGAE had committed an abuse of a dominant position, and infringed Spanish and European competition regulation. The CNMC fined SGAE with 3.1 million euros and urged the Spanish collecting society to modify the rate system for live music licensing within a period of 3 months. SGAE had failed to comply with the CNMC resolution much to the fury of Spanish concert promoters The Supreme Court dismissed SGAE’s appeal. The court noted…

ASCAP Announces Settlement Agreement with U.S. Department of Justice
USA

COMPETITION Music Publishing     The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has reached a $1.75m Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice addressing two specific concerns raised during the Department’s ongoing review of the ASCAP Consent Decree.   The DOJ had claimed that ASCAP had violated the rules of the consent decree that governs the organisation by entering into exclusivity deals with some 150 of its members. In the US, the norm is that the organisation represents its members performing rights on a non-exclusive basis, meaning a licensee can circumvent the society and can  deal directly with a songwriter and/or publisher. In most other countries, when songwriters and publishers join a performing rights society, they give that organisation the exclusive right to represent the performing right elements of their copyrights. The DoJ said that since 2008 that ASCAP had added exclusivity terms to some of its agreements with members, and that this contravened the provisions of the consent decree The society said that it had never enforced any exclusivity provisions in its members contracts, adding that they had now been removed and would not be included in future agreement “By blocking members’ ability to license their songs themselves,…

No time for weaker antitrust enforcement
USA

COMPETITION Music Publishing   By David Balto   In the complicated world of music licensing there is a disturbing trend – even though there is clear evidence that publishers are exercising market power and consumers are paying more – many self-interested parties are currently lobbying the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to loosen the consent decree in order to give it more options to raise licensing fees. And to show their level of regulatory gall, they are seeking to weaken the order after the DOJ just fined ASCAP (the licensing entity) $1.75 million for violating the consent order. If there is one thing the DOJ should learn from dog owners, it’s that you don’t give a wily dog a longer leash. It’s easy to forget that the way music is licensed through publishing rights organizations (“PROs”) like ASCAP is price fixing. However, the music industry stands as one of the rare exceptions to the rule that price fixing is illegal. That is because the DOJ and the Supreme Court both concluded that, due to the complicated nature of music licensing, the blanket licenses offered by licensing entities do more good than harm.   This exception from regular antitrust laws was never…

CAA moves forward with action against UTA
Competition , Live Events / June 2016
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector   The Los Angeles Superior Court has issued a number of rulings in Creative Artist Agency’s (CAA) lawsuit which accuses United Talent Agency (UTA) of poaching several agents last year. While Judge Lisa Hart Cole rejected UTA’s motion to dismiss some portions of the suit, she also dismissed CAA’s claims for attorneys fees. The Judge also struck punitive damages allegations against UTA, but allowed them to go forward against agents Gregory Cavic and Gregory McKnight – two of the agents who left CAA for UTA in April 2015. However CAA will be allowed to file an amended complaint within 20 days to support their claim that Cavic and McKnight signed potential CAA clients for UTA during last year’s Sundance Film Festival, which they attended on behalf of CAA at UTA’s behest.   UTA had objected to CAA’s  “allegations of conspiracy to ‘steal clients and employees’ from CAA, as well as ‘the clandestine manner in which they carried out their plans,’” according to Variety. Calling the allegations “inflammatory,” UTA argued they were “irrelevant, false, improper or immaterial matters, which have absolutely nothing to do with this action but are prejudicial to the defendants.” The judge disagreed and ruled that rather than…

Stars cancel concerts over LGBT laws
USA

DISCRIMINATION Live events sector     Bryan Adams has cancelled a concert in Mississippi in protest of the state’s ‘Religious Liberty’ bill. The 56-year-old singer was due to perform at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on 14 April. However, in a statement posted on his social media pages, Bryan explained that he made the decision to pull the gig because he disagrees so strongly with the 1523 bill – which allows business, religiously-affiliated organisations and individuals the opportunity to deny service to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people, single mothers or anyone who offends their “sincerely held religious belief”. Bruce Springsteen’s decision to cancel a concert in North Carolina over an anti-LGBT law has been called a “bully tactic” by a US congressman. On 8th April, Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro because of a controversial law that critics say legalises discrimination against LGBT people. Under the law, all public institutions must post signs designating that bathrooms and locker rooms are to be used only based on the biological sex reflected on their birth certificate. Springsteen issued a statement explaining that he and the E-Street Band did not want to play the gig because they “want to show solidarity for…

IFPI Global Music Report 2016
Copyright , Internet / May 2016
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The record labels’ international trade body, the IFPI, has published its Global Music Report for 2016 with headline news that global recorded music revenues are up 3.2% as digital revenues overtake physical for the frst time. The report highlights: –       Digital revenues contribute 45 per cent of industry revenues, overtaking physical’s 39 per cent share –       Streaming revenues up 45.2 per cent, helping to drive 3.2 per cent global growth –       Music consumption is exploding globally, but the “value gap” is the biggest brake on sustainable revenue growth for artists and record labels Digital revenues now account for 45 per cent of total revenues, compared to 39 per cent for physical sales. IFPI’s Global Music Report 2016 also reported a 10.2 per cent rise in digital revenues to US$ 6.7 billion, with a 45.2 per cent increase in streaming revenue more than offsetting the decline in downloads and physical formats. Total industry revenues grew 3.2 per cent to US$ 15.0 billion, leading to the industry’s first significant year-on-year growth in nearly two decades.  Digital revenues now account for more than half the recorded music market…

Artistes call for major reforms of take down policies and the ‘largely useless’ DMCA
Artists , Copyright , Internet / May 2016
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, artistes     Some 400 recording artists, songwriters and groups including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are calling on Congress to reform existing US copyright law saying that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is obsolete, dysfunctional and harmful,  and calling for stronger measures against the ongoing piracy troubles they face. The DCMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1998 and aimed to ready copyright law for the digital age. Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Steve Tyler, Lionel Richie and Garth Brooks are just some of music’s biggest names want to make it harder to pirate music online. The musicians are asking lawmakers to make “drastic reforms” to the Act. “Artists spanning a variety of genres and generations are submitting comments to the federal government’s U.S. Copyright Office …. demanding reforms to the antiquated DMCA which forces creators to police the entire Internet for instances of theft, placing an undue burden on these artists and unfairly favoring technology companies and rogue pirate sites,” says a statement issued by the Recording Industry Association of America: Recording artistes including deadmau5, Tony Bennett, Pearl Jam and Bette Midler have filed petitions to the U.S. Copyright Office detailing their struggles…

Led Zeppelin face trial over ‘Stairway to Heaven’ plagiarism claims
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Members of legendary rock band Led Zeppelin will face a May 10th trial over claims that they plagiarised Spirit to make their iconic song “Stairway to Heaven.” The lawsuit was filed by the trustee of the late Randy Craig Wolfe (Randy California) of the band Spirit, who played with Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s. Wolfe drowned off the coast of Hawaii in 1997, but a trustee for his estate has sued Led Zeppelin and the three band members, plus music publishers Super Hype Publishing Inc. and Warner Music Group Corp. The 2014 suit claims that Led Zeppelin, which opened for Spirit in the 1960s, copied a musical composition Wolfe wrote called “Taurus.” On March 23rd , both sides failed to reach a settlement in the dispute. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles then scheduled a trial, subsequently ruling that the song and the 1967 instrumental ‘Taurus’ by the band Spirit were similar enough to let a jury decide whether Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are liable for copyright infringement. http://www.nationallawjournal.com/home/id=1202753816827/Stairway-to-Heaven-Leading-to-Trial-for-Led-Zeppelin?mcode=1202617074964&curindex=1&slreturn=20160304053343 http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=5821 http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=6322

Universal and Capitol fly high with copyright win
Copyright / May 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     Universal Music and Capitol Records have obtained summary judgment against IFP and parent company Global Eagle, an in flight music licensing company, and the two recoded music companies can now look forward to a jury deciding the quantum of damages to be awarded, with reports saying this “could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” IFP is a worldwide provider of in-flight entertainment from movies to songs and IFP provided American Airlines (and later US Airways) with music playlists obtained via physical CDs and digital downloads. In 2008 the company approached the major labels for a deal and what followed has been described as a “few years of painstaking negotiations over advances and revenue apportionment, complicated by some catalogs not being available for in-flight licensing as well as IFP not wishing to let the cat out of the bag about the lack of licenses.”   Added to this was the fact that although IFP was based in Los Angeles, and had completed some of the early reproduction work there, the company said that duplication and encoding was taking place in the U.K. under a different licensing regime. Added to this was the position advanced by IFP that it…

Lil’ Wayne looks to UMG for his share of profits
Artists , Contract / May 2016
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music     Regular readers will no doubt have noticed recent articles featuring claims from Lil Wayne that he is owed tens of millions of dollars for discovering and nurturing successful recording artists Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga – but that this money has been unlawfully retained by Universal Music Group according to a federal lawsuit filed by the rapper-producer’s attorneys Monday in California. SoundExchange, the not for profit  CMO that collects and distributes digital performance royalties on behalf of copyright owners, is also named as a defendant in the suit. Lil Wayne (Dwayne Carter Jr.) claims Universal diverted tens of millions of dollars of his profits to repay itself for the $100 million it advanced to Cash Money Records Inc. Carter’s Young Money Label is a joint venture with Universal’s Cash Money Records, designed to manufacture, distribute, promote and exploit performances of new recording artists discovered by Carter and signed to the label.  Carter claims that Universal and non party Cash Money entered into a series of agreements which, among other things, diverted his “substantial” profits – to repay Cash Money’s debts. According to the complaint: “With Universal’s knowledge of Lil Wayne’s rights to partial ownership and profits…

Jay Z seeks rebate over TIDAL sale
Contract , Internet / May 2016
Sweden
USA

COMMERCIAL / CONTRACT Internet, streaming   Jay Z, who purchased  TIDAL from Nordic parent company Aspiro for 464m Swedish Krona ($57m) in March last year, is taking action against the vendors for over estimating the number of subscribers at the time of sale. Whist TIDAL said “We are excited that one year after TIDAL launched, we have surpassed 3 million subscribers globally” they added “It became clear after taking control of TIDAL and conducting our own audit that the total number of subscribers was actually well below the 540,000 reported to us by the prior owners.” According to Swedish news service BreakIt – quoting an article in Norwegian title Dagens Næringsliv (“Today’s Business”) – Aspiro’s former major shareholders, including Schibsted and Verdane, have been contacted by TIDAL. TIDAL now says “As a result, we have now served legal notice to parties involved in the sale. While we cannot share further comment during active legal proceedings, we’re proud of our success and remain focused on delivering the best experience for artists and fans.“ It is thought Jay Z and his finance vehicle, Project Panther Bidco will try and to claim back a sum in the ‘region of 100 million Krona’.   Schibsted…

Ticket fraudster convicted in  Burlington
Criminal Law , Live Events / May 2016
USA

CRIMINAL Live events sector   A New Jersey woman has pleaded guilty to ‘third-degree theft by deception’ after being caught selling tickets to a non-existent Sheryl Crow concert. Kelly Bryan admitted the charge at Burlington County Courthouse. Between December 2014 and May 2015, Bryan sold tickets to the fictitious ‘show’  through a company called KBR Promotion and Booking Agency. Police learnt of the concert and contacted the resort to begin planning public safety measures, it emerged that Crow was not booked to perform. Between 50 and 100 people were defrauded by KBR, although many who paid online have already been reimbursed.   The Burlington County Times reports that Bryan faces up to five years of probation when she is sentenced on 14 June, and will also have to pay between US$20,000 and $30,000 in restitution.   http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/04/woman-sentenced-promoting-bogus-sheryl-crow-show/#.VwZZxqQrKM9

Concert fraudster gets two years in prison
Criminal Law , Live Events / May 2016
South Korea
USA

CRIMINAL Live events     CRIMINAL: A man who defrauded people out of more than $1 million by falsely claiming he could help book a Pharrell concert for a South Korean steel company – and also by targeting women in online dating scams – has been sentenced to two years in prison in the USA. Billboard reports that Sigismond Segbefia, 29, a native of Ghana who lived in Silver Spring, Maryland at the time of the frauds, was arrested in New York and prosecuted by federal authorities in Pittsburgh because one of his biggest dating scam victims was a Pennsylvania woman he defrauded out of more than $222,000 by using the name and address of an unwitting Pittsburgh-area postal worker. Segbefia, who pleaded guilty in December, must pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution. He has agreed to be deported after serving his prison term for aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. In pleading guilty to the dating scams, Segbefia acknowledged his role in the unrelated crime of defrauding Dosko Co. out of $375,000 by pretending he could arrange to promote a show by Pharrell Williams. Nobody else has been charged in that scheme, though Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci told Senior…

Carolina Country Music Festival gets tax boost
Live Events , Taxation / May 2016
USA

TAXATION Live events sector     The Carolina Country Music Festival will receive $75,000 in accommodation tax revenues to promote its second concert series this June. However Mayor pro-tem Mike Lowder voted against the measure to give the Carolina Country Music Fest $75,000 in accommodation tax funds, after the city agreed last month to give the group $108,000 in in-kind services to police and clean up the event. Lowder noted that groups shouldn’t be allowed to “double dip” into city coffers, especially after the council denied a local organization receiving a-tax money $2,800 in in-kind services for a St. Patrick’s Day event. The State’s accommodations tax is collected when visitors pay to stay in area hotels and at other lodging. Under state law the tax revenue is to be used for advertising and promoting tourism-related activities that increase tourist attendance. Funds can also be used for additional city resources needed to accommodate increases in tourism, like law enforcement, highway and street maintenance and beach renourishment. http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/article70027837.html

Feyoncé – B asks the court to put a stop to it
Artists , Trade Mark / May 2016
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes     Beyoncé  has issued legal proceedings against Texas company, Feyoncé Inc, for “brazenly” selling merchandise that infringes her intellectual property.   A year ago it was reported that Beyoncé’s legal team had complained to online peer2peer marketplace Etsy the sale of “Feyoncé” mugs. Those items were promptly removed, but other products featuring “Feyoncé” remained widely available.   The lawsuit has been filed in Manhattan federal court and includes three defendants from San Antonio. The singer is seeking unspecified damages. The suit claims that Feyoncé has ignored the singer’s requests to stop selling their products, and that their items not only confuse consumers, but have caused the pop star irreparable harm. The Feyoncé site sells a variety of shirts, hoodies, tank tops and other clothing items. However the lawsuit focusses on a mug stamped with the phrase, “Feyoncé: He put a ring on it.” Whilst this could be a pun on “fiancé,” somewhat unsurprsingly the lawsuit claims the mug was specifically designed to make a reference Beyoncé’s 2008 hit, “Single Ladies”, which includes the lyric “Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it”. Beyonce is of course married Jay Z in…

West faces legal action from a fan over his Tidal “exclusivity” broken promise
Consumers / May 2016
USA

CONSUMER Recorded music, streaming     Tidal and Kanye West are being sued over West’s claims (via tweets) that the only place anyone would ever get access to his new album ‘The Life Of Pablo’ would be on Tidal, a claim that ended up being somewhat false. Tidal did have an exclusive, with the album appearing there first, even before West had actually finished the record, with occasional updates being made to tracks even as they were streaming.  And West, a shareholder in Tidal, tweeted “my album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal”.   However when West’s new tracks subsequently popped up on the other streaming services,  West fan Justin Baker-Rhett wanted to know, why having subscribed to Tidal to access the new record, he subsequently discovered he could have enjoyed that music without signing up – and why this isn’t false advertising, unfair competition, fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment.   Summarising the litigation, the law firm leading on the action, Edelson PC, argue that Jay-Z’s business empire and West himself “duped consumers into signing up for Tidal subscriptions – which required handing over troves of valuable personal data including credit…

Songkick and Live Nation – let battle commence!
Competition , Internet , Live Events / April 2016
USA

COMPETITION Live sector, internet     Songkick’s legal battle with Live Nation is heating up, with Songkick filing new court papers in connection with their claim. Interestingly, Live Nation subsidiary Ticketmaster has also confirmed a new relationship with Bandsintown – a direct Songkick rival: now Bandsintown users will be able to buy tickets for shows through Ticketmaster within the Bandsintown app – a process that will make the ticket buying experience more seamless, according to the new partners. “By building on Ticketmaster’s new capabilities, we have dramatically improved the user experience, strengthening artists’ and promoters’ ability to sell out shows” said Bandsintown CEO Fabrice Sergent. Songkick, the website and mobile service that provides tickets and personalised calendars for live music events, sued Live Nation last December, alleging that the live entertainment firm – which is a significant player in tour and festival promotion, venues, ticketing and artist management – was holding the artists it works with to ransom, especially in the US, if they decided to collaborate with the gig recommendations service (such as the likes of Songkick) on fan club pre-sales. Songkick has been increasingly moving into ticketing itself – firstly merging with direct-to-fan platform Crowdsurge, and more recently Songkick has been working…

19 denied access to claim against Sony’s Spotify equity
Competition , Contract , Internet / April 2016
USA

COMPETITION / CONTRACT Recorded music, internet     Hot on the news that Sony had officially signed a licensing deal with SoundCloud, the last of the three major labels to sign an agreement with SoundCloud in an arrangement that involves the recording label major taking an equity stake in the streaming platform, comes the news that a federal judge has told 19 Recordings that it won’t be allowed to amend a lawsuit to address Sony Music’s equity stake in Sweden-based streaming giant Spotify. Between them, the majors – Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group – are believed to own somewhere around 15% in Spotify. In an ongoing US court case, Sony – which reportedly owns 6% in Spotify – was last year legally challenged by management company 19 Entertainment on the Spotify equity issue. Last June, in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit over royalties paid to artists including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, 19 attempted to add to their claim, saying that Sony had engaged in self-dealing by taking equity in Spotify, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in lieu of demanding fair-market royalty rates from the streaming company. 19 Recordings alleged this was a…

IFPI and Sound Exchange make ISRC Codes publicly accessible for the first time
Copyright / April 2016
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     The international trade body for the recording industry, IFPI, has partnered with the world’s biggest digital Collective Management Organisation, SoundExchange, to create a new website that will make it easier to identify sound recordings. SoundExchange collects and distributes royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners for non-interactive digital transmissions, including satellite, Internet radio, and cable television music channels. In addition to music, SoundExchange also collects royalties for comedy and spoken word recordings. The ISRC Search Site will provide access to nearly 20 million unique recordings, enabling recording artists, rights owners and music services to quickly identify data associated with sound recordings. The initiative will increase transparency and efficiency in the handling of data about recordings. ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the standardised identifier for recorded music and is a unique code assigned to every single music recording or music video to ensure their usage can be tracked and accounted for.  IFPI manages the ISRC system globally under an appointment from the International Organisation for Standardisation. For the first time, ISRC codes – supplied directly from record companies across the globe – will be publicly accessible and searchable. Commenting on the launch of…

Spotify settles NMPA mechanicals claim
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, internet     Spotify has agreed a settlement deal with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) which will ‘allow independent and major publishers to claim and receive royalties for certain compositions used on Spotify in the United States where ownership information was previously unknown’ although one commentator noted that the problem was less of Spotify not paying and more that  “America’s long inefficient mechanical licensing framework is really behind the unpaid monies” something more in the hands of the NMPA than Spotify. The digital services argue that a lack of decent copyright data – in particular a database that states which song copyright is contained within any one recording – makes it impossible for them to file the paperwork required by the compulsory licence. Services can license the mechanical rights in songs under a compulsory licence in America, which sets a standard rate. But under that licence the digital service must alert the rights owner that their songs are being used and arrange to pay the statutory royalties. In many cases this hasn’t happened, with the streaming firms arguing that they don’t know what songs are embodied in what recordings, because the labels don’t tell them. The NMPA…

McCartney moves to reclaim his US copyrights
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2016
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Following the news that Sony Corp was buying the Michael Jackson Estate out of its music publishing joint venture Sony/ATV at a cost of $750 million comes the revelation that Sir Paul McCartney is in the process of reclaiming US publishing rights for a huge chunk of The Beatles’ catalogue from Sony/ATV.  The former Beatle is using the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that writers of pre-1978 tracks can reclaim their US publishing rights – if they’ve previously signed them away – after 56 years. The publishing rights for McCartney’s share of Beatles songs will begin expiring in 2018 – 56 years after the Fab Four’s first hit, “Love Me Do”, was penned and recorded in 1962. The Lennon/McCartney repertoire is amongst the most prized of Sony/ATV’s catalogue. Music Business Worldwide trawled through the US Copyright Office’s records and discovered that McCartney filed termination notices last year for two batches of Fab Four tracks – “All You Need Is Love” and  23 other titles’. In addition “All Together Now” & 32 other titles had been filed. Between them, these filings included hits ranging from “Back In The USSR” to “Helter Skelter”, “Hey Jude”,…

Blurred Lines – are costs really appropriate the Gayes’ legal team?
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     The claim for $3.5 million in legal costs filed by the Gaye family and their lawyers after winning the ‘Blurred Lines’ plagiarism case may well hit a block in the form of Judge John A Kronstadt who seems less inclined to award costs than might be expected – it was after all Pharell and Thicke who actually started the litigation – seeking a declaration that they HADN’T plagiarised Gaye – only for the Jury to find the opposite. The Gaye’s attorney, Richard Busch says that the Gaye family’s successful litigation against Williams and Thicke over the ‘copying’ of ‘Got To Give It Up’ on ‘Blurred Lines’ “encourages the meritorious prosecution of copyright claims” but adds that if the Gaye’s have to pay his costs out of their winnings of $5.3 million (reduced by the court from $7.3 million), that will stop said people from taking action, even if meritorious with Busch saying (according to The Hollywood Reporter) : “They gambled and they lost and they should pay the consequences for doing so”. William and Thicke’s lawyer Howard King countered, saying that awarding legal costs in a case like this would set the dangerous precedent because the case “demarcated…

Tik Tok on the Ke$ha Appeal
Artists , Contract , Music Publishing / April 2016
USA

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music by Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)   As readers will remember, in February 2016 the New York Supreme Court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to the singer Ke$ha (real name Kesha Rose Sebert) that would enable her to record outside of her contract with Kemosabe Records, an imprint label of Sony. As a result of the Court’s decision, Ke$ha was left under contract with Kemosabe to produce a further 6 albums[1].  Now, Ke$ha has filed an Appeal, claiming that the Court’s decision is akin to allowing modern day slavery.   By way of background, Kesha signed to Kemosabe when she was 18 years old and “her 2009 single Tik Tok is the biggest selling single ever by a female solo artist”[2] and Kemosabe label boss Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald), remains “one of the most successful songwriters and producers of the century so far, working on music for stars including Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Katy Perry”[3].   Ke$ha claimed in her 2014 lawsuit that she had grounds to be released from her record contract as Dr. Luke had sexually assaulted her, harassed her and intended to inflict emotional distress on her throughout her career[4]. Dr. Luke then countered with suits for breach of contract[5],…

Souper Groove volunteer’s death not unlawful
Health & Safety , Live Events / April 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector     A volunteer’s death at a music festival has been ruled accidental, and not the result of any actions by police, a Monmouth County grand jury has ruled. Timothy Harden, 38, was pronounced dead at Jersey Shore Medical University Medical Center after an altercation with security and law enforcement officers at the Souper Groove Music Festival at the Priedaine New Jersey Latvian Society in Howell on September 5th of last year 2015. His family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Howell Township Police Department, the Latvian Society and the security agencies following his death, claiming that Harden died of “excessive force.” According to a release from Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni, an investigation found that Harden, who was working as a volunteer at the music festival, had been acting erratically, and audience members had suspected he was under the influence of illegal substances. When approached to a security guard, Harden punched him the face in an “unprovoked attack.” A toxicology test revealed that Harden had cocaine, alcohol and marijuana in his system at the time of death, “The cause of Harden’s death was determined to be as a result of drug-induced excited…

Beyoncé faces police backlash after controversial Superbowl performance
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY / CENSORSHIP Live events sector     Beyoncé is facing protest from the police as well as sports fans as well after her controversial halftime performance at Super Bowl 50. Beyoncé’s  show featured outfits resembling Black Panther and Black Power regalia.  The performance, viewed by more than 112 million people, also featured an unmistakeable ‘X’ formation (believed to commemorate the legacy of Malcolm X) and was soon followed by the equally controversial video for ‘Formation’. Immediately after the show, New York Mets enthusiastically announced that Beyoncé was scheduled for an upcoming performance at Citi Field, but many Mets vented their anger in social media, with angry fans demanding Citi Field cancel her event. Now, a number of police unions are speaking out against the singer, with some urging all-out boycotts. Police unions in Miami, Nashville, New York, and Tampa, Florida are taking the lead. Miami police union president Javier Ortiz said “Beyoncé used this year’s Super Bowl to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers, and her anti-police message shows how she does not support law enforcement”. The Tampa Police Benevolent Association expressed ‘disgust’ at both the half time performance and the ‘Formation’ video and urged “all law enforcement officers to boycott the purchase of Beyoncé’s…

Coachella targets Hoodchella
Live Events , Trade Mark / March 2016
USA

TRADE MARK Live events sector     Coachella Music Festival LLC has taken action against the underground music festival Hoodchella, now on its second edition, with a trademark suit in California federal court which claims that Hoodchella deliberately abuses the famous Coachella brand. Coachella and its producer, Goldenvoice LLC, claim that Kamil al-Ahdali, the operator and advertiser of Hoodchella, knowingly infringed and unfairly profited from common law rights and six registered trademarks by advertising a competing music festival called Hoodchella. The complaint alleges that al-Ahdali is harming and confusing both Coachella and the public by promoting a comparable event in the same market, and that the Hoodchella name infringes their trade marks, creates unfair competition and dilutes the Coachella brand.  The lawsuit seeks $100,000 and immediate abandonment of the “Hoodchella” name. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/coachella-sues-hoodchella-over-festival-name-20160130

New code changes would ‘destroy the music scene in Philly’
Licensing , Live Events / March 2016
USA

LICENSING Live events sector     A Philadelphia city council member’s bill that would require music venues to obtain contact information of performers, as well as create a registry of event promoters, has been met with opposition. Billboard reports that Democrat Councilman Mark Squilla is attempting to amend a section of the “Special Assembly Occupancies” code to further regulate the application process for various entertainment-minded events and increase certain fees. He says the primary goal of the bill is to close a loophole in current legislation that has allowed venues to operate without a special assembly license (SAOL). However, opponents believe there are elements of the proposal that amount to an unnecessary invasion of privacy. The bill would require venues to gather full names, addresses and phone numbers of “all performance acts” scheduled for a promoted or special event. A “performance act” is defined in the bill as “any person or group of persons engaged in the act of singing, disc jockeying, rapping, dancing, playing musical instruments, and/or acting for an audience or group of patrons.” The designation also applies to the presentation of streaming or recorded audio/video, whether or not it has been properly licensed. In addition to acquiring artist or performer…

Why can’t New Yorker get tickets? Attorney General plans to act on scalping
Consumers , Live Events / March 2016
USA

CONSUMER Live event sector     A new report from New York Attorney General, Eric T Schneiderman, has put ticket touting – or scalping – back on the agenda in the US. Schneiderman’s report on secondary ticketing in New York – ‘Why Can’t New Yorkers Get Tickets’ – is based on a three year investigation, and could result in a new crackdown against online touting. The regulation of ticket reselling in the US generally sits at a state-level. Rules in New York were actually relaxed in the early days of online touting, though the use of those bots to buy up large numbers of tickets is still banned there, and much of the new report – and possibly any resulting crackdown – is focused on the continued illegal use of such technology. According to the New York Times, the new report includes various touting claims, including that as many as half the seats for many popular concerts are not offered to the general public, that a single high-tech tout bought 1,012 tickets to a U2 concert in under a minute, and that free tickets that had been distributed for an appearance by Pope Francis in the city were resold for thousands of…

Changes Ahead in U.S. Copyright Statutory Damages Law
Copyright / March 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT All areas     By Marie-Andree Weiss writing on the 1709 Copyright blog   The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force  (the Task Force), which is led by both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), published on January 28 a  White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages which addresses three issues:   1) the legal framework for the creation of remixes; 2) the relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment; and 3) the application of statutory damages in the context of individual file-sharers and secondary liability for large-scale online infringement.   The Task Force had published a Green Paper, “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy” on July 31, 2013, which had identified these three issues warranting further review by the Task Force.   The Task Force then published a Notice in the Federal Register seeking comment on these issues. It conducted a public meeting in December 2013 and also held roundtables around the U.S., before reviewing comments from stakeholders as diverse as rights holder organizations, Internet-based companies, public interest groups, libraries, academics, and individual authors and artists.   Remixes   Remixes use existing works, some of them still protected…

Timberlake faces plagiarism lawsuits
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Justin Timberlake and will.i.am (William Adams) are facing a lawsuit from PK Music Performance claiming that their song “Damn Girl” (from Timberlake’s 2006 “FutureSex/LoveSounds” album) is too similar to the disco track “A New Day Is Here At Last,” according to TMZ. The latter was originally copyrighted back in 1969 by Perry Kibble and performed by J.C. Davis. PK Music Performance renewed the copyright license in January after Kibble’s sister Janis McQuinton granted them the rights: she inherited the copyright on Kibble’s death in 1999.   “A substantial amount of the music in ‘Damn Girl’ is copied from ‘A New Day Is Here At Last,’” the lawsuit reads. “Specifically, a substantial part of the drum, conga drum, organ, bass guitar, electric quitter and saxophone parts in ‘Damn Girl,’ were all copied from ‘A New Day Is Here At Last.’” . PK is reportedly seeking injunctive relief and an undisclosed claim for damages which includes an “award for actual damages,” song profits and attorney fees. PK also wants known copies of the song handed over to them to be destroyed, as well. Timberlake is also facing a separate legal battle over his song “Suit & Tie,”…

Roc Nation files $2.4 million suit against Rita Ora
Artists , Contract / March 2016
USA

CONTRACT Artistes     Jay​ ​Z‘s Roc Nation is suing Rita Ora for breach of her 2008 recording contract and failing to deliver four of the promised five albums in the deal The $2.4 million Manhattan civil suit filed by Roc Nation comes just six weeks after Ora herself sued the company in California, claiming executives had ‘pushed her aside’ when they started representing professional athletes. In the new suit, Roc Nation counters that it’s spent over $2 million developing and marketing the British pop singer’s still-unreleased second album saying it took Ora from an “unknown singer” and “has tirelessly promoted [her] career, investing millions of dollars in marketing, recording and other costs, which was instrumental in guiding Ms. Ora to her current level of success and fame.” The Los Angeles suit is still pending. Roc Nation says it filed the countersuit in Manhattan because Ora’s contact specifies that any litigation between the parties must take place in New York. Ora’s attorney, Howard King, said, “Jay Z has personally and graciously promised Rita complete freedom from Roc Nation, the details of which are now being finalized. “We believe that Roc Nation’s distributor, Sony Music, has required Roc Nation to file this action…

Ke$ha’s rape allegation does not free her from her Sony recording contract
Artists , Contract / March 2016
USA

CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes     Ke$ha broke into tears when a Manhattan Supreme Court judge refused to let her walk away from a six-album deal with Sony — and the man she claims raped her. The singer had sought to nullify her recording contract because it brought her into contact with super-producer Dr. Luke, whose real name is Luke Gottwald. The 28-year-old, whose real name is Kesha Rose Sebert, claims that Dr. Luke drugged her with a pill that made her black out and raped her shortly after her 18th birthday in California. He was never criminally charged. Gottwald has countersued, claiming Kesha’s allegations were part of a “campaign of publishing outrageous and untrue statements”. Sony has offered to let her work with another producer, but Ke$ha said she feared the company won’t promote her music as heavily if she’s not working with Gottwald, their biggest hitmaker. Ke$ha’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, had argued that Sony’s promise to connect her to another producer was “illusory” because even if the recordings were made, the record company wouldn’t promote them. He contended that Sony had more invested in Dr. Luke than in Ke$ha, and it would do everything to protect him because he makes them…

Warners agree to share any Spotify equity windfall with artistes – but how much?
Contract , Copyright , Internet / March 2016
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, internet     Warner Music Group has told investors that should the major ever sell its stake in Spotify, it will pay its recording artistes a portion of the proceeds. Warner is believed to own between 2% and 3% in Spotify – an equity position which it received via licensing negotiations – in effect for ‘free’ due to its position as the owner of a large catalogue of sound recordings. Warners also hold an equity stake in Soundcould on the same basis. Recent market analysis has given Spotify a valuation of $8bn – so the key question must be – WHAT percentage will they share with artistes – if they takethe ‘per unit’ rate from CD sales – npot very much … if they take a fair and equitable approach – upwards of half – a big difference! WMG CEO Stephen Cooper said “”As there is an ongoing debate in the media regarding how artists should be paid for use of their music on streaming services, we wanted to take this opportunity to address the issue head on” adding “the main form of compensation we receive from streaming services is revenue based on actual streams”, but acknowledged…

Burning Man must pay Nevada state entertainment tax
Live Events , Taxation / March 2016
USA

TAXATION Live events sector     Burning Man tickets will be subject to a live entertainment tax for the first time. The Nevada state Department of Taxation have notified organizers of the iconic Black Rock desert event that as more than 15,000 tickets were sold for the event it qualified it for the tax, the Reno Gazette-Journal reporst that Burning Man,  is required to register for the tax before tickets go on sale. Burning Man attracts 80,000 visitors. “The activities that take place during Burning Man constitute live entertainment, whether or not those activities are provided by patrons of the event. Because Black Rock City is located on public land and access to the area during the event is limited to those who have purchased tickets, it meets the definition of a facility,” wrote Nevada Department of Taxation Executive Director Deonne Contine. “Because Burning Man collects the taxable receipts from those attending the event, Burning Man is the taxpayer and responsible for paying (Live Entertainment Taxes) to the State of Nevada.” Burning Man  had written to the Department of Taxation saying that the festival should be exempt from the amended tax on live entertainment. Burning Man attorney Ray Allen said the 9…

Live Nation cleared in anti-trust law suit
Competition , Live Events / March 2016
USA

COMPETITION Live events sector     A US appellate court has affirmed the dismissal of an anti-competition lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment by Seth Hurtwitz-owned indie promoter It’s My Party (IMP). The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has confirmed the February 2015 ruling that dismissed all claims made by IMP, which alleged that Live Nation (LN) engaged in monopolistic (anti-trust) policies in violation of the Sherman Act by coercing artists to only appear at venues it owned and operated. Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III said that Maryland-based IMP misleadingly contrasted its own and Live Nation’s operations nationwide, as opposed to locally, to support its claim that LN was monopolising the concert-promotion market. Judge Wilkinson said “According to IMP, promoters compete nationally for contracts to promote performances anywhere in the country” and  “By defining the market as national, IMP could more easily construe LN’s nationwide network of promoters and venues as evidence of market power. In contrast, IMP could portray itself as a modest regional outfit whose resources pale in comparison.” and “If instead the market were defined locally and narrowed to just the Washington–Baltimore area, then IMP would appear more evenly matched against LN’s regional capacity. Unfortunately for plaintiff, its market definitions are blind…

German Judges put secret EU-US trade negotiations into the spotlight
Restraint of Trade / March 2016
EU
Germany
USA

TRADE AGREEMENTS All areas     German judges have dealt a blow to US-EU free trade agreement talks after declaring a proposed arbitration court illegal. But the decision is a rare glimmer of good news for opponents of the secretly negotiated trade agreement, as the signing of the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is imminent, and comes hard on the heels of the already signed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – another international trade agreement that was negotiated in secret between tweleve Pacific Rim nations including the US, Canada, New Zealand, Peru, Mexico, Vietnam and Japan.   As part of the TTIP, the European Commission had proposed setting up an investment tribunal court that would allow firms to challenge government decisions: these are the so called Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions –  instruments of public international law, which grants an investor the right to initiate dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government. Critics says the new court, which is intended to replace the actual ISDS system, would be even worse – and would will pressure governments into clawing back consumer protection rights, pushing up the price of medicines and watering down environmental protection to favour of corporate interests. Now the German Association of Magistrates, the…

Avenged Sevenfold look to leave Warners
Artists , Contract , Employment Law / February 2016
USA

CONTRACT / EMPLOYMENT Recorded music, artistes     After releasing four studio albums for Warner Bros. Records, Avenged Sevenfold are trying to end their as-yet-unfulfilled recording contract, using California’s “seven-year rule.” In turn, the label has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the band, seeking compensatory damages. The “seven-year rule” enshrined in the California Labor Code allows parties to leave personal service contracts under certain circumstances after seven years have passed. Record industry lobbying led to amendments to the 70-year-old law in the 1980s, to allow record companies to claim lost profits on uncompleted albums. However record companies only have 45 days to do so after an artist exercises the right to terminate. “Avenged Sevenfold recently exercised the rights given them by this law and ended its recording agreement with Warner Bros. Records,” the band’s attorney Howard E. King said. Since the 2004 contract was signed, King says the label “underwent multiple regime changes that led to dramatic turnover at every level of the company, to the point where no one on the current A&R staff has even a nodding relationship with the band.”  In its lawsuit dated January 8th, 2016, Warner Bros. says Avenged Sevenfold’s decision to utilise the “seven-year rule” is unlawful: The label says…