Wood Dale Police ‘were aware’ of dangers of fast approaching festival storm
Health & Safety , Live Events / February 2016
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector     New allegations have been made in the USA against the local police in Wood Dale, Illinois, after the death of one festival goer and injuries caused to nearly two dozen more at a suburban festival near Chicago which it is now said could have been prevented had the festival site been evacuated by the police ahead of a major storm. Thirty-five-year-old Steven Nincic was killed when a tent collapsed at Prairie Fest on 2 August 2015. According to police communications obtained by the Chicago Tribune, Wood Dale Police Department was aware of the storm but decided against evacuating attendees to a nearby school, with which it had a “tentative agreement” to use the building for shelter.   A lawsuit on behalf of the victims – which also includes an 81-year-old woman, Lorraine Nocek, whose family claim later died of her injuries – states that the festival’s organisers shouldn’t have gathered visitors together under a poorly secured tent in the storm. The tent was supplied by a firm called Classic Party Rentals. “[Classic Party Rentals] supplied tents, tables and various equipment,” says the victims’ lawyer, Michael Progar, “but they obviously didn’t organise anything.” Classic Party Rentals…

Burning Man laments Nevada’s new entertainment tax
Live Events , Taxation / January 2016
USA

TAXATION Live events sector   Organizers of the Burning Man festival are challenging a Nevada state tax which they say could cost them nearly $3 million if enforced. The 25-year-old annual arts festival now attracts  80,000 participants to the Black Rock Desert 100 miles north of Reno.   The Reno Gazette-Journal reports (http://tinyurl.com/nrfm3hq) that Burning Man  have written to the state Department of Taxation on Friday saying that the festival should be exempt from the recently amended tax on live entertainment. Burning Man attorney Ray Allen said the 9 percent tax would translate into a tax bill of about $2.8 million. He said the tax is known by some as the “Burning Man tax” and the festival’s website says “Some seem to view Burning Man as the ‘golden goose’ they can turn to when they want money for other projects.”   In June, the Legislature approved a revised version of the live entertainment tax, which originally came into law in 2004 as a way for the state to gain revenue from Las Vegas’s robust live entertainment industry. The revised version became effective on October 1st. Business Insider reports that certain events — including school, sporting, racing and nonprofit events attended…

Adele snub prompts New Jersey tax rethink
Live Events , Taxation / January 2016
USA

TAXATION Live events sector     A New Jersey state lawmaker has used that the fact Adele is snubbing of New Jersey as a reason to pass his proposal to “give tax breaks to A-list stars”. Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean says the fact that the singer’s upcoming tour bypasses New Jersey in favor of New York and Philadelphia proves the need for the state legislature to pass his bill. It would exempt performers who play at least four nights in Atlantic City from having to pay state income taxes on all shows in New Jersey that year. If enacted the Bill would exempt artists from state taxes not only on their Atlantic City performances but also on shows at New Jersey venues including arenas in Camden, Trenton, Holmdel and Newark.   Adele is scheduled to stage six performances in New York City and two in Philadelphia.   Nicknamed the “Britney bill” for Kean’s references to multi-night engagements that pop star Britney Spears has done in Las Vegas, the bill has yet to pass through the Legislature. Senator Kean said “New Jersey gets nothing from Adele performing eight shows in neighbouring New York and Pennsylvania” adding “New Jersey will continue…

Tax boost for Broadway
Live Events , Taxation / January 2016
USA

TAXATION Live events sector     Under wider tax legislation that has now passed through the House and Senate, Broadway and live theater productions can now benefit from the same advantages that have long been afforded to TV and film productions. Live theater and concert productions can now get up to $15 million in tax credits if they spend at least 75 percent of their budgets in the U.S. The new rule would apply for productions starting after Dec. 31st 2015. The change has been championed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Roy Blunt of Missour and and stars including Neil Patrick Harris and Bryan Cranston. Schumer, who has been working on the tax break for four years, said the change would create “thousands and thousands” more jobs for actors and backstage workers, and produce more shows nationwide, helping hotel, restaurant and taxi industries. He noted that other countries also grant live theater similar breaks, especially in London, which has been luring away American production.   The tax law change, part of a bill that President Obama is expected to sign, would provide an incentive for investors in live theatrical productions by accelerating deductions and by ending the practice of requiring…

Something for the Weeknd?
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Cutting Edge Music Limited has issued proceedings against The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), his producers and music giants Universal, Warner Chappell, Sony/ATV and others in the federal courts in California.  The plaintiff identifies itself as a company that finances films and acquires interest in film score compositions and sound recordings. The Machine, about cyborgs created for a war, was one of the films, released in 2013 and had a score by Tom Raybould – which has allegedly been infringed.  The key evidence in the complaint — is an alleged message sent through Twitter by co-defendant Emmanuel “Mano” Nickerson, a prominent music producer who worked on “The Hills.” The Hollywood Reporter says that according to the complaint “On or about March 9, 2015, Defendant MANO sent Raybould a Twitter direct message stating ‘I sampled your music might make it 2 the weeknd next album. Huge fan of what u did 4 the machine movie!’ ” “The Hills” was released in May as the second single from The Weeknd’s album, “Beauty Behind the Madness.” It’s topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for several weeks and has been remixed by Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. As for alleged substantial similarity,…

Pandora shares soar after Copyright Royalty Board set new rate
Copyright , Internet / January 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, broadcasting, recorded music   Pandora, the world’s largest Internet radio service, will pay record companies more money to stream its music following a long-awaited decision on Wednesday by the three-judge panel of the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board.  The Board, a panel of three federal judges, decides how much Internet radio stations such as Pandora must pay record companies. Under a 1995 law and its successors, disputes over this rate are settled by the Copyright Royalty Board. But the new fee represents a comparatively small increase – the record companies were seeking much higher rates. The new statutory per-stream rate os paid to recorded music rightsholders by non-interactive digital ‘radio’ platforms such as Pandora and iHeartRadio.  the non-subscription per-stream rate set by the CRB will be $0.0017, which $0.0003 more per stream than recorded music rightsholders currently receive from Pandora. According to MBW calculations, that will mean Pandora paying out $94.1m more to recorded music rightholders next year compared to 2015 for the same amount of consumption. However this rate will only apply for definite in 2016 – the following four years (2017-2020) will be determined by fluctuations in the US Consumer Price Index, which could bring the rate back down – or…

Spotify face $150 million lawsuit from songwriter over infringement and non payment issues
Copyright , Internet / January 2016
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet     A US recording artist has filed a US$150 million lawsuit against Spotify, alleging that the market leader in the streaming sector has knowingly reproduced his copyrighted songs – without permission or payment. David Lowery, best known for leading alternative rock bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, has now asked a US judge to allow a class action suit on behalf of “hundreds of thousands” of potential plaintiffs he believes were similarly affected.   The lawsuit, filed in the federal court in Los Angeles, accuses the streaming giant of ignoring mechanical rights. The singer-songwriter and musician’s rights advocate, who holds a degree in mathematics and is a lecturer at the University of Georgia, accused Spotify of copying and distributing compositions for its online service without permission or informing the copyright holders, listing four tracks from Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker that he said were used without his permission.   The lawsuit also alleged unfair business practices by Spotify saying that its payment structure was arbitrary and “depresses the value of royalties” overall: “Unless the court enjoins and restrains Spotify’s conduct, plaintiff and the class members will continue to endure great and irreparable harm that cannot be fully compensated or…

Taylor Swift Seeks More Trade Marks
Artists , Trade Mark / January 2016
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes, merchandising   Taylor Swift has filed trade mark applications for 20 words and phrases in the U.S including “Blank Space” and “1989” (the name of her last album) as well as “Swiftmas”. Whilst some commented that Swift appeared to be trying to gain trade mark protection for large swathes of the English Language (including Republican Congressman Justin Amash from Michigan), the Tantalizing Trademark blog notes that the reason Swift’s lawyers filed for so many applications is that trademarks only protect specific categories of goods and services. A trademark for a category covering handbags won’t apply to cars, for instance. And in some cases, including Taylor’s “1989,” the application isn’t for the word mark itself, but for a stylized writing of it as a logo.   Swift has also  been accused of wrongfully using an artist’s work to promote 1989. US artist Ally Burguieres complained on Facebook after Swift used a wrongly-credited drawing of a fox identical to one of her watercolour designs. Swift removed the image but the artist claims she took months to compensate her, that it wasn’t enough and she was told she had to give it charity. Swift’s representatives say Ms Burguieres is just…

‘The Slants’ trade mark CAN be registered – for now
Artists , Trade Mark / January 2016
USA

TRADE MARK Artistes   A U.S. appeals court has overturned the legality of refusals of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s to register offensive trade marks. The case, which concerned a band’s name, had been closely watched as the decision could impact on the attempt by the NFL’s Washington Redskins to overturn the cancellation of its trademarks. The NFL team had seven trade marks cancelled on the grounds the mark disparages American Indians. The new decision vacates the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to register the name of the Asian-American rock band The Slants: The Portland, Oregon-based band, which plays “Chinatown dance rock,” appealed because the USPTO had twice rejected its name for a trademark on the grounds it disparages Asians. The Slants’ front man Simon Tam (Simon Young) had argued  that the band adopted the name as a way to reclaim what had become a racial slur. In an interview after this decision he rejected any concern that the ruling would open the floodgates for racism or hate speech. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sitting ‘en banc’ said approach taken by the USPTO violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court struck down the…

Nickleback insurance claim disputed
Insurance , Live Events / January 2016
USA

INSURANCE Live events Sector   Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger is reportedly being sued for failing to disclose the pre-existing throat condition which forced the group to cancel a string of concerts. The band cancelled more than 60 shows earlier this year when Kroeger had a cyst surgically removed from his vocal cords and the cancellations were put in place to allow Kroeger an “extended period of vocal rest”   This resulted in a $13 million claim to cover losses for the cancelled concerts but TMZ reports that  documents from insurers argue the singer had the condition prior to taking out his policy but never disclosed this. Lloyd’s of London is now suing to cancel the policy, according to the report.   At the time the band said “Most of all, we are sorry to miss our fans out on the road this fall, but Chad’s health, healing and full recovery are what is most important right now,” read a statement issued by the band in August.   http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6805339/nickelback-sued-insurance-claim

Ticketmaster face anti-trust action from SongKick
Competition , Live Events / January 2016
USA

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST Live events sector   Online concert-ticket retailer Songkick has accused Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour by pressuring touring artists and concert venues to not work with Songkick’s service.  New York-based Songkick has filed Law suit in THE U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, saying that Live Nation is in violation of federal antitrust laws, marking the latest legal challenge to the Beverly Hills-based company. In the complaint, Songkick says Ticketmaster and Live Nation have “attempted to destroy competition in the artist presale ticketing services market.”  Songkick says Ticketmaster has used its clout in the ticketing industry to try to force the company to pay service fees for pre-sales, and intimidated concert venues to not work with Songkick and other rival ticketing services.  The complaint also says that artists have also come under pressure: the company says a “global superstar,” whose name was not revealed, was denied marketing from Ticketmaster because the musician used Songkick for pre-sales.   The company is seeking unspecified damages, including punitive damages and attorneys fees. Songkick  says it has worked with artists including Kenny Chesney, Metallica and Mumford & Sons. Just last week, Songkick said it sold 230,000…

At least 45 dead after nightclub fire in Bucharest
Health & Safety , Live Events / December 2015
Brazil
USA

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   At least forty people – mostly teenagers and young people – have been killed after fire broke out at a nightclub in Bucharest, officials say. The blaze took hold at the Colectiv club on Friday night (30th October), where rock band Goodbye to Gravity were celebrating a new album with a free concert, causing a stampede for the two small exits – one of which was reportedly closed or blocked. Emergency response chief Raed Arafat said 155 people were being treated in hospitals in the Romanian capital. The fire is believed to have been caused by fireworks that were let off inside the club. The pyrotechnics were reportedly part of a show by the heavy metal band, and ignited polystyrene decor in the club. Arafat told the BBC that “the only information we have is that fireworks were used in the club and after that the tragedy happened. Of course, this is under investigation”.  Local media reports suggesting two of the band are among those seriously injured or dead. Officials say  that they fear the death toll could as yet double in number.  Arafat, said people were treated for burns, smoke inhalation and…

Amen for crowdfunding
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     One of the musicians behind the most-sampled pieces of music in history has finally been rewarded for the work. Not by the courts – but by a crowdfunding page. The Amen Break – a six-second drum solo in The Winstons’ 1969 track “Amen, Brother” – was performed in 1969 by drummer Gregory Cylvester “G. C.” Colem   The six second riff has been sampled by artists including The Prodigy, Oasis and NWA. It became very widely used as sampled drum loops in breakbeat, hip hop, breakbeat hardcore, hardcore techno and breakcore, drum and bass (including old school jungle and ragga jungle), and digital hardcore music. The Amen Break was used extensively in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the basis for drum-and-bass and jungle music— “a six-second clip that spawned several entire subcultures.” It is one of the most sampled loops in contemporary electronic music and arguably the most sampled drum beat of all time.   But its writers never received any royalties from those recordings. In an effort to correct that, British DJs Martyn Webster and Steve Theobald set up a crowdfunding page (GoFundMe) and Spencer  urged musicians who had used…

Swift settles T-shirt claim, and walks away free from plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Record music, music publishing, merchandising     Taylor Swift has settled out of court with a US clothing company that accused her of copyright infringement. Blue Sphere, a clothing company based in California, had alleged that the singer infringed on its ‘Lucky 13’ trademark for her own run of T-shirts. The company’s head, Robert Kloetzly, accused Swift of targeting a similar audience to that of Blue Sphere. Swift’s lawyers responded by alleging that Kloetzly attempted to bully their client into a settlement. The settlement means that Swift  will not have to face deposition. The full details of the settlement are confidential between the two parties.   And U.S. District Court Judge Gail Standish has dismissed a copyright lawsuit against Taylor Swift by using some lyrical terminology. Musician and songwriter Jessie Braham has accused Swift of stealing “Shake It Off” lyrics from his song “Haters Gonna Hate,” and attested that he had the song copyrighted back in February. Braham was suing Swift for $42 million in damages and a writing credit on her hit song. Standish wrote, “At present, the Court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court. But, for now, we…

Music Tank debate points out the reality of how the music industry uses the law to underpay performers
Contract , Copyright , Internet / December 2015
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, streaming     Performers and songwriters – the actual creators of recorded music – have been making noises recently in the ongoing debate about reforms to copyright.  Indeed the Featured Artists Coalition and the globally-focused International Artists Organisation have issued an urgent call to the European Parliament demanding That the Parliament ensures that performer rights be included in the European Union’s current review of copyright law. The move comes as part of the campaign called Artists In Europe which is a bid to “ensure that protection for artists’ intellectual property sits at the heart of the new legislation”. Songwriters have already had a say. BASCA chairman Simon Darlow has used his speech at the 2015 Ivor Novello Awards to criticise current ‘safe harbour’ provisions in EU and US law, pointing out that the likes of YouTube undermine streaming services, and were exploiting safe harbour legislation saying this was “undermining the value of our music”. But even those who do pay songwriters and their publishers don’t pay much. Internet radio service Pandora is currently appealing the US Rate Court’s decision to order it to pay 2.5% of revenues to compensate BMI songwriters and publisher members. The rate of rival PRO ASCAP…

Copyright Royalty Board reference cheers indie labels
Copyright , Internet / December 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music     The U.S. Register of Copyrights has delivered her Memorandum Opinion in response to a “novel material question of law” referred to her on September 11, 2015 by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) who will be setting royalty rates for the period of 2016-2020. The question asked whether the Board would be prohibited by the governing statutes from setting rates and terms that may differ across different types of categories of licensors – in essence, whether they can set statutory webcasting royalty rates that vary depending on the identity or category of the record company that owns the recordings performed by a webcaster. The Register of Copyrights concluded that the question was not properly referred to the Copyright Office for consideration, and therefore she could not offer an opinion on the question of differentiated rates for licensors; BUT and its a big ‘but’, the Register further stated that because all participants in the Webcasting IV proceeding had assumed a non-differentiated rate structure for licensors, that is the only reasonable outcome in the Web IV proceeding, effectively dismissing calls from the major record labels, Sony and Universal, for a variable royalty rate for internet radio play in…

Wilma Theatre venue management contract ends up in Court
Competition , Contract , Live Events / December 2015
USA

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST / CONTRACT Live events industry     The previous and current owners of the Wilma Theatre in Montana are being sued in U.S. District Court by concert promoter Knitting Factory Presents who claims they’ve engaged in “anti-competitive behavior” and the induced termination of  a nine year agreement in July 2014 to exclusively manage the theater and buy talent for it with Simba Entertainment, a company owned solely by then venue owner Rick Wishcamper. Simba Entertainment was to pay Bravo $85,000 each year, plus ticket fees and a percentage of concessions and sponsorship revenue Knitting Factory Presents (also known as Bravo Entertainment) says it lost at least $609,000, and is seeking to triple those damages to an estimated $2,210,255. The previous owner, Rick Wishcamper, counters that under Knitting Factory Presents’ management, the venue saw steeply increasing losses, a “fiasco” in a critical staff position after general manager after Marcus Duckwitz resigned and his replacement had “serious alcohol issues”, alienated other staff, upset other local companies and left after just four months, and other actions that breached the contract. The current owner, Nick Checota, says Knitting Factory is free to book concerts elsewhere in Missoula besides the Wilma and his Top Hat Lounge (a competing…

Performers speak up for their rights in the big IP debate
EU
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Artistes, music publishing, recorded music, internet   The Featured Artists Coalition and the globally-focused International Artists Organisation have issued an urgent call to the European Parliament demanding it ensure that performer rights be included in the European Union’s current review of copyright law. The move comes as part of the campaign called Artists In Europe which is a bid to “ensure that protection for artists’ intellectual property sits at the heart of the new legislation”. Continuing recent debates in the artist and songwriter communities, the FAC and IAO say that to achieve a “vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age” both the business and law-makers need to ensure there is transparency throughout the music value chain and that there is an enhanced duty of care from corporations so that artists know their interests are protected. Artists should also share in the profits from all the ways their music is exploited. FAC boss Paul Pacifico says: “To ensure a vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age, it is essential that the review of copyright currently underway in Europe puts the rights of creators and artists front and centre of any new legislation. If not, we stand to lose an…

A fair share: should we take a lead from France on fair digital payments to artistes?
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet, music publishing, artistes     The new digital music Code Of Conduct ushered in by the French government and signed up to by the major and independent labels, publishers, digital services and artist representatives has laudable aims (even more laudable if you are French)  and seeks to ensure the following: – The development and vitality of the music industry; – The preservation of cultural diversity and growth in innovation; – The creation of greater transparency in interactions between participants; – A fair distribution of value created by musical recordings. The provisions relating the the share of the ‘digital pie’ allocated to the service itself, songwriters and their publishers, record labels, recording artistes and the services themselves have long been a bone of contention between artistes and their labels, between labels/artistes and songwriters/publishers, and between the content owners and the actual digital services. In the absence of a fiduciary duty being imposted on record labels to treat their recording artistes fairly, ongoing confusion about how equity stakes gained by the majors in services such as Spotify, and a general lack of transparency in who gets what from the digital pie, are these French reforms something the EU and US…

Music Streaming – a timely update
Artists , Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / November 2015
France
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music, artistes, music publishing   As Music Law Updates finalised the November Updates, news broke that streaming platform Deezer had postponed its planned IPO (initial public offering) on the Paris Stock Exchange due to difficult ‘market conditions’. MBW opined that the least of Deezer’s worries were competition from Apple Music and Spotify, a declining subscriber base and a currently loss making business model. In a timely article, George Chin looks how streaming has developed and the major players in the field – against of background of the success of streaming being blamed for declining physical product and download sales, but conversely offering a workable alternative to piracy to many consumers as habits change, and a valuable new source of revenues, at least for the record labels.   The latest Music 360 report from Nielsen (9th Sept 2015) confirms that sales of recorded music are down and that streaming is growing with 75% of the population (in the USA) listening to music online.  Given that there is now a wide choice of music streaming services available, the report reveals that when making a choice, over 80% of users cite cost and ease of use as their deciding factor…

Happy Halloween – Physical formats are back from the dead
Copyright / November 2015
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   By Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)   There is a terrible monster of which many speak. They say this monster is worse than anything that went before. They say it never sleeps and has left nothing but ruin and destruction in its wake. They speak of the empires it has crushed and the things it has murdered with fear in their eyes.   This monster’s name? The internet. Plenty of people have gravely accused the internet of slowing murdering the music industry. And while one of those people was Kanye West, that view point was so well regarded that for a time, it was heralded as something of a prophecy – the music industry would soon be dead and physical formats would be the first to go. This then morphed into the view that, excluding piracy (as pirates don’t pay anyway), digital consumption would come in and obliterate physical sales. So many people pronounced physical formats dead at the scene of the Spotify app. Much like their predecessors of new consumption formats/methods (think Cassettes, CD’s and mini-discs), streaming and digital downloads were blamed for more stuff than I have the time to write about. The physical doomsday envisioned a vinyl, cassette…

Jay Z prevails in ‘Big Pimpin’ – a case which was never as simple as it looked
USA

COPYRIGHT / MORAL RIGHTS / CONTRACT Music publishing     Attorneys for Jay Z have told a U.S court in Los Angeles that the rapper had properly acquired the rights to an Egyptian musician’s melody to use for his hit 1999 song “Big Pimpin’,” as a trial in a longstanding copyright lawsuit Jay Z (Shawn Carter and hip hop producer Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley are among the defendants named in a 2007 complaint by the nephew of late Egyptian songwriter Baligh Hamdy, who argue that the rapper had used his uncle’s composition from the 1950s without permission. Jay Z’s lawyer Andrew Bart argued that the explicit lyrics of “Big Pimpin’” should not be discussed in relation to the lawsuit, as a depiction of the words as “vulgar” and “disgusting” could prejudice the jury against Jay Z, a move supported by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder who ruled that examining Jay Z’s lyrics would be irrelevant in this case, although Attorney Peter Ross, representing Hamdy’s nephew Osama Ahmed Fahmy, told the eight-member jury that the defendants had purposefully avoided asking permission to use Hamdy’s track because they allegedly knew it wouldn’t be granted given the risqué lyrics. Timbaland used Hamdy’s 1957 Egyptian tune…

The Dancing Baby grooves on
Copyright , Internet / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The ‘Dancing Baby’ case is not over – with BOTH sides aiming for a rehearing: Whilst at the time of the appellate court’s judgement, the EFF called it “an important win for fair use,” now both the EFF (which is representing the plaintiff, Stephanie Lenz, who filmed her then toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” ) and Universal Music Corp. have requested an en banc rehearing from the Ninth Circuit. It seems the EFF are looking to streng the case for ‘fair use’ by breathing new life in section 512(f), which allows the targets of illegitimate takedowns to sue the people who sent the invalid notices – potentially arguing that on the facts of this case, Universal could not possibly have acted in ‘good faith’ when issuing a DMCA takedown’ notice  The Universal petition claims that Lenz had no standing for an appeal in the first place because she was not injured by the takedown. UMG will also ask the court to clarify some of the language in the opinion.   And have a look at this excellent article by Serona Elton on the Music Business Journal here http://www.thembj.org/2015/10/the-fair-use-check/

Pandora settles pre-1972 claim – but CBS fights on
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings     An Illinois couple who own several recording companies specializing in doo-wop, jazz, and rhythm and blues have filed law suit against the major satellite and Internet radio companies in the US over their playing of pre-1972 songs. Following on from the actions from Flo & Eddie of the Turtles and and RIAA, it’s the third lawsuit that seeks to obtain payment for use of sound recordings under state copyright laws. Arthur and Barbara Sheridan filed two lawsuits in New Jersey federal court: one against Pandora and Sirius XM (PDF) and another against iHeartMedia (PDF), the parent company of online music service iHeartRadio. Their lawsuits seek class action status, looking to represent owners of pre-1972 songs. The action says that the companies have derived “significant benefits,” including “millions of dollars in annual revenue,” by playing those songs without permission, the suit alleges. In an action brought by ABS Entertainment, which owns the recordings of Al Green, among others, terrestrial radio broadcaster CBS has argued that not only does state law not apply to their use – a matter the recorded music industry had until recently accepted this interpretation of the law – CBS also says that as it only plays…

Janet Jackson legal blitz shocks fans – and prompts an apology
Artists , Contract , Copyright , Live Events / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artiste, live events sector     Janet Jackson’s fans have accused the singer and her team of some heavy handed tactics after they posted pictures and short video clips of her current “Unbreakable” tour on their Instagram feeds. Numerous fans have claimed that after posting pics of Jackson live in concert, they’ve received e-mails from the social-media app explaining: “a third party reported that the content violates their copyright.” One Jackson concert-goer in Los Angeles told Page Six that the morning after the concert, her Instagram account was deleted, “Without warning. Every. Single. Photo. Gone.” Another blogger reported the same issue, claiming they had, “five e-mails from Instagram . . . about the five videos I had posted . . . It seems like Miss Jackson’s [legal] team is on fire. What a shame they don’t understand the times we live in.” Jackson’s team is said to be very ‘struct’ – accredited photographers are given just 30 seconds to catch images at her concerts at the beginning of her set.   A representative for  Instagram blamed the issue on “a bug.” “We have identified a bug that resulted in the removal of accounts that shouldn’t have been removed” adding in a statement “We…

Aurous and Sampson face record label fury – and seemingly surrender
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings   The RIAA – on behalf of UMG, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic and Capitol Records – has filed a lawsuit against Aurous and its founder Andrew Sampson for what it calls “wilful and egregious copyright infringement”. It appears the recorded music sector’s trade body will look to shut down the site using injunctive relief, and seek actual or statutory damages. We first noted Aurous on the 1709 blog back in September. The trade group said in a statement: “This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale. Like Grokster, Limewire or Grooveshark, it is neither licensed nor legal. We will not allow such a service to wilfully trample the rights of music creators”.   An injunction then followed on Thursday (15.10.15) ordering Aurous founder Andrew Sampson to halt further distribution of the app. The injunction is a “temporary restraining order”, and shortly after receiving it Sampson announced on Twitter that “Aurous downloads have been suspended until further notice” and he appointed a legal team. This in turn was followed by news that Aurous had seemingly released the ‘back-end’ source code to the app on Github, announcing on…

Santa Clause copyright comes home to Fred Coot’s heirs
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” is back into the hands of the heirs of a songwriter who composed it.  The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that rights to the classic yulertide ditty – the all-time most performed holiday song – will revert to the heirs of J. Fred Coots – his daughter Gloria and his six grandchildren. Coots, who died in 1985, co-wrote the song with James Lamont “Haven” Gillespiein in 1934, and made a deal with Leo Feist, who ran a music publishing company that was eventually acquired by EMI.  In 1976, the U.S. Congress allowed authors or their heirs to terminate copyright grants to publishers after 35 years. Coot’s heirs sued EMI Feist Catalog Inc. in the Southern District in 2012, claiming entitlement to re-establish their share of publishing copyright ownership in December 2016. However, Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that EMI Feist (NYLJ, Dec. 19, 2013) could hold the rights until 2029. EMI Feist is an arm of the London-based music company EMI Group. During the long history of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Coots’ family and EMI’s predecessors made various agreements with each other. In particular, Coots granted renewal…

Ray Charles’ wishes may yet be honoured
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s dismissal of a suit brought by the sole beneficiary of the Ray Charles estate, the Ray Charles Foundation, concluding that the Foundation had standing to challenge Charles’s heirs in their attempt to reclaim several copyrights to the late singer’s works because the Foundation’s right to royalties from such works would be affected. Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson et al., Case No. 13-55421 (9th Cir. July 31, 2015) (Christen, J.). The case in question was initiated in 2012 by the Ray Charles Foundation against 7 of the musician’s 12 children, to block their attempted terminations of copyrights under §§ 203 and 304(c) of the Copyright Act in 51 of Charles’ songs, including “I Got A Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So.” to get the return of the copyrights. The charitable Foundation was Charles’ sole heir and received the entirety of his estate, including the rights to receive royalties for his songs.  Charles’ children each got a trust worth $500,000 apiece shortly before his death and were required to sign written contracts effectively waiving their rights to any other inheritance. Regular readers will recall the termination right…

Jersey Boys case heads for a thin trial
Copyright / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Book publishing, theatre     According to The Hollywood Reporter, a judge has now partially denied a summary judgment motion in the trial in which The Four Seasons members Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio must defend themselves against allegations that the Tony Award winning smash hit musical Jersey Boys infringes an author’s copyright. Rex Woodard was the co-author of a biography of Four Seasons member Thomas Gaetano DeVito, jointly created with the musician, and based on a series of interviews and discussions between the pair over a number of years which revealed  that the wholesome foursome had actually been engaged in “criminal enterprises” and had “underworld contacts”.  The pair agreed to be co-authors and share in any profits. Woodard died of lung cancer in 1991 and subsequently DeVito registered the Work at the US Copyright Office, in his name alone. He subsequently granted defendants Frankie Valli and Robert Gaudio (also both Four Season’s members) an irrevocable, exclusive, perpetual, worldwide and assignable licence to freely use the Work and Gaudio and Valli further sub-licensed these rights, which allowed the Work to subsequently form the basis for the screenplay of the hugely successful ‘Jersey Boys’ musical. After the play was first staged in…

US Judge not happy with Malibu Media’s “fishing expedition” – and neither are Verizon
Copyright , Internet / November 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Porn producer Malibu Media, which has filed more than 4,000 copyright lawsuits since 2009 — several times more than any other company — is currently trying to compel Verizon to reveal the identities of Internet users Malibu believes are illegally sharing its movies. But lawyers for the telecom company  have told a court that they’ve had enough of Malibu’s “defective” and “unenforceable” subpoenas. As TechDirt rightly tells us that the giant telco has a history of protecting its users against so called “copyright trolling” and other forms of attacks: Verizon led the way in fighting back against the RIAA when it started demanding ISPs hand over information on customers before any lawsuits were filed. Verizon won. FightCopyrightTrolls details the case before Judge Katherine Forrest where Malbu were trying to ascertain the identity of a ‘John Doe’ defendant: Malibu’s counsel propounded a morass of irrelevant questions concerning, inter alia, Doe’s educational background (including factual and technical details about the courses Doe studied), the identity and location of Doe’s family members, the identity and location of Doe’s employers years before the relevant period herein (including factual and technical details about Doe’s job roles and responsibilities), the location of Doe’s residences years before the relevant…

Hendrix Estate seeks to reclaim ‘stolen’ Black Widow guitar
Artists , Contract / November 2015
USA

CONTRACT Artistes     The estate of Jimi Hendrix is suing an Arizona guitar shop owner for the return of a guitar once owned by the rocker, claiming it was stolen by an erstwhile member of the group Earth, Wind & Fire. When Hendrix died in 1970 his effects – including the disputed guitar, which may or may not have been played b Jimi  – went to his father, James “Al” Hendrix, who formed Experience Hendrix in 1995 and died seven years later, leaving the guitarist’s adopted sister Janie in control of the estimated $80m estate. According to a court filing, Experience Hendrix, the company responsible for Hendrix’s estate, alleges that Harvey Moltz, the owner of Rainbow Guitars in Tucson, is not the rightful owner of the Acoustic Black Widow guitar as  the Black Widow was in fact stolen by Sheldon Reynolds, a sometime singer and guitarist for Earth, Wind & Fire, who is also a former member of The Commodores – and a former husband of Janie. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Mr Moltz says he bought the instrument for $80,000 (£52,000) in June 2014 from Brian Patterson, who in turn acquired the instrument from Sheldon Reynolds;  Moltz says…

Fredericksburg to review outdoors noise limits
Licensing , Live Events / November 2015
USA

LICENSING Live events sector     Fredericksburg, just west of Austin, is a weekend destination for many Texans with the country music hotspot of Luckenbach just a short drive away. But now it seems that one of the most inviting pieces of the Fredericksburg experience – live outdoor music – could be in danger. According to reports from a city council meeting, amplified outdoor music could soon be a thing of the past. It seems that complaints to city council members from residents and bed-and-breakfast owners near the town’s Main Street area have been mounting. City Manager Kent Myers said in a statement that no votes were taken at the meeting and no decisions were made, but the town’s police chief was expected to present some findings on sound complaints in the area by the end of the year. A sound ordinance is already in place in Fredericksburg. Currently outdoor amplified music is subject to nightly 11 p.m. curfew. It seems that everything is up for debate: Reports say that it’s possible that decibel level limits may be reduced or enforced, or that venues might need to change the arrangement of outdoor speakers. But outdoor events might be more seriously…

Prince and Universal wrong to take down that ‘dancing baby’
Copyright , Internet / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet     In an important decision, and one which will undoubtedly have an impact on how content owners deal with what they consider is infringing content on the likes of YouTube, the Universal Music Group have been told by the U.S. appellate court that they should have considered whether a woman’s 29-second video of her two kids dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” was a fair use before issuing a takedown notice to YouTube. Cast your minds back to 2007 and you might remember that Prince persuaded Universal, his publisher, to take down a slightly blurry user generated video on YouTube of a toddler dancing to a snippet from “Let’s Go Crazy”. The mum who uploaded the video, Stephanie Lenz, was not amused. Prince had publicly said in a September 2007 statement that he intended to “reclaim his art on the internet” and Lenz was put on notice that her use of Prince’s music violated the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and that if she violated it again, she could lose her YouTube account and any videos she’d uploaded to it. Lenz sent a counter notification, and YouTube eventually reinstated the video that year. Lenz then  sued Universal Music, arguing…

Bandier urges songwriters to reject licensing changes
Copyright / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier has written to the publisher’s Nashville-based songwriters urging them to attend a National Music Publishers Association meeting to voice concerns about new proposals currently being considered in Washington as part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees – in particular proposals that would allow “100% licensing” by performing right organisations  ASCAP and BMI saying, “If either of these PROs controls any part of a song, no matter how small, they would be required to license the entire song without the approval of those who control the remainder” meaning songwriters could find their work licensed without consulation if a collaborator approved the use, saying “Requiring PROs to grant 100% licenses would be an unprecedented change to well-established licensing practices create widespread administrative confusion and potentially undermine a songwriter’s relationship with his or her chosen PRO,” he suggests. The DoJ’s review became necessary in the wake of both ASCAP and BMI’s rate court judges having ruled that partial withdrawals of digital rights were not allowed under the consent decree; publishers either had to be all-in or all-out. Bandier’s letter: To our Nashville based songwriters:   As you know…

RIAA and NMPA focus in on the value of music
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     The CEO and chairman of the RIAA has said that the current notice and takedown anti-piracy process is both costly and increasingly pointless. Cary Sherman says the USA’s safe harbor provisions contained in the DMCA have forced labels into a “never-ending game” of whack-a-mole while sites under its protection effectively obtain a discount music licensing system clarly highlighting the frustration the major record labels and their Hollywood counterparts feel about framework designed to facilitate the removal of infringing content on the Internet. Sherman also commemnted on “the flawed licensing regime in which we have to operate” saying “Government-set licensing has enabled services like Sirius XM to use music at below-market rates, based on a decades-old subsidy that has long outlived its purpose” adding “Even worse, under current law, AM/FM radio broadcasters pay absolutely nothing for the sound recordings they use to draw listeners and generate billions of dollars in revenue. In a marketplace that values innovation, it’s ironic that it’s the legacy technologies enjoying government-granted economic benefits and competitive advantage” and “while the music industry has embraced new technology and business models, the beneficiaries of this broken system cling to this antiquated law that was enacted at…

SAG-AFTRA announce new streaming deal terms with record labels
Artists , Copyright / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, performers     The major record companies have agreed a new deal with a performers body in the US, improving the lot of their members from label streaming royalties. SAG-AFTRA represents around 160,000 members, including DJs and recording artists in addition to actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, TV presenters and voiceover artists. The body’s members have now voted to ratify a new National Code of Fair Practice for Sound Recordings (Sound Recordings Code) for online streaming and non-permanent digital downloads. This covers money generated for performers outside the US, with particular allowances for label contributions to artists’ Health and Retirement (H&R) savings and the agreement includes all three major record labels, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group as well as signatory independent record labels.   The benefits of the new contract for the artists include ‘Groundbreaking’ inclusion in payment formulas of label revenue generated from worldwide exploitation of member work in online streaming services and as non-permanent digital downloads’. There is also a new provision for the payment of AFTRA Health and Retirement (H&R) contributions on a portion of domestic and foreign streaming payments; Substantial restructuring of the compensation system for licensing of sound recordings, streamlining and making…

Happy Birthday IS in the public domain
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     In the USA, a federal judge has found that the song “Happy Birthday To You” is entirely in the public domain. U.S. District Judge George H. King held in a summary judgment that the song’s original copyright, assigned  Clayton F. Summy, who copyrighted and published them in a book titled “Song Stories for the Kindergarten” is now free of copyright claims. The rights to the song were bought for $15 million in 1988 by music publisher Warner/Chappell Music Inc. Any copyright now only covered specific piano arrangements of the song and not its lyrics. “It now belongs to the public,” Mark Rifkin, a lawyer representing a documentary filmmaker who filed the suit against the publisher told reporters adding “We did exhaustive historical research and none of it showed that the publisher owned anything other than copyrights to four very specific piano arrangements”. One of the co-plaintiffs, Ruypa Marya of the music group Ruypa & The April Fishes, also praised the decision as momentous, saying “I hope we can start reimagining copyright law to do what it’s supposed to do — protect the creations of people who make stuff so that we can continue to make more stuff.”  Marya, said she…

YMCA’s Willis triumphs again on costs claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Victor Willis, the ‘cop’ and a naval officer in the ‘70s disco group The Village People has been awarded more than a half-million dollars in attorney’s fees by a federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz granted Willis $527,236 to cover his attorney’s fees and $3,034 in costs incurred during copyright battles to reclaim ownership of his share of the songwriting and the associated revenues in over 33 of the songs Willis co-wrote, including Village People’s huge hit “YMCA” as well as “In The Navy”, “Go West” and “Macho Man”. The right to reclaim arose when the Copyright Act amendments went into effect in 1978 and it meant that songwriters could terminate copyright grants to publishers and record labels 35 years later. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that the 64 year old songwriter said the award sent a loud message to record producers “attempting to stop artists like myself” from asserting their rights to let them know “there are going to be repercussions” and commenting to the two music publishing companies and music producer Henri Belolo who fought his claims he said “I had to put out a lot of money to fight him,” says Willis, who was…

Everyday I’m hustlin’ ……. but now rapper’s case is shufflin’
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing     Rapper Rick Ross cannot copyright the words “Everyday I’m hustlin’,” a U.S. judge has ruled, putting an end to his claim against music group LMFAO for selling T-shirts with the similar catch-phrase “Everyday I’m shufflin’.” Ross sued LMFAO in 2013 over their 2010 hit ‘Party Rock Anthem’ because it contains the line “Everyday I’m Shuffling” which, the rapper claims, is a rip off of his 2006 track ‘hustlin’, which contains the lyric “Everyday I’m hustling”. In her ruling in the Miami federal court, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams said Ross’s slogan, a prominent part of his 2006 debut hit “Hustlin’,” is a short expression that courts have repeatedly said cannot be copyrighted. Ross, whose real name is  William Leonard Roberts II, has alleged the Los Angeles-based electropop duo, made up of Stefan Gordy and Skyler Gordy, copied “Hustlin’” into”Party Rock Anthem” – which contains the lyric “Everyday I’m Shufflin’.” The hip hop star said LMFAO’s song was “an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame and success of Hustlin’.” He also sued Kia Motors for using “Party Rock Anthem” in an advertising campaign. In the complaint, Ross claimed LMFAO also violated his copyright by selling T-shirts and other…

Universal set to settle digital royalty suit
Artists , Contract , Copyright / October 2015
USA

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, performers   Universal Music Group has as said that it ‘shortly’ expects to settle a major US class action lawsuit with a group of artists, having made a significant offer of monetary compensation. The lawsuit dates back to 2011, when a group of recording artists including Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Rob Zombie, the Rick James Estate, Whitesnake and Ron Tyson of The Temptations filed a claim seeking additional royalties for the online sale of downloads and master ringtones claiming that iTunes royalties should be paid on a ‘licence’ terms – 50/50 split between label and artist – rather than on a unit ‘sale’ basis which applies to physical sales a nd generates far lower royalty payments for artistes. In 2012, the production company who discovered Eminem, FBT Productions, settled with Universal out of court in a similar case. Warner Music concluded an $11.5m settlement with 2,000 artists making claims on the same basis, and Cheap Trick, the Allman Brothers and a number of other Sony artistes in settled a similar claim made against Sony.   This motion for approval was submitted to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston and according to UMG parent company Vivendi: “This settlement transaction is expected to be formally approved by…

The Queen of Soul succeeds in obtaining a ban on ‘lost’ documentary
Contract , Copyright / October 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Film & TV, performers     Aretha Franklin has been granted an injunction against the premiere of the movie Amazing Grace as Telluride Film Festival, on the basis that the film violates her right to her own name and likeness, invades her privacy abd interferes with her contractual right of approval. The film,  “Amazing Grace”, documents Franklin recording the live gospel album of the same name recorded at the New Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972, with Rolling Stone Mick Jagger one of many stars in rhe audience. Aretha was backed up by a gospel choir and the recording is the best selling gosepl album of all time in the USA. At the time a technical error meant that the sound was never synchronised with the film’s images as the film’s director, Sydney Pollack, who collected over 20 hours of footage, failed to bring along the equipment that would allow him to synchronize the sound to the live pictures. The (silent) movie then sat for decades in a vault unseen, until  it was completed recently by Alan Elliot.  Pollack died in 2008. Franklin sued Elliott in 2011 in a bid to stop the documentary ever being made public. The…

EMI production Music launch Song Sample Amnesty
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2015
EU
UK
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   The EMI Production Music catalogue, which contains thousands of tracks, spanning every genre of music, and which over the years have been sampled by artists including Jay Z, Mark Ronson, Nelly and Fatboy Slim, has set up a unique “sample amnesty”: Anyone who has sampled a song in the catalogue without getting the sample cleared will be able to come forward, declare it, and agree a legitimate release for the recording. The “sample amnesty”, believed to be the first of its kind, will run for 6 months, has been approved by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which owns EMI Music Publishing. Alex Black, EMI Production Music Global Director said “We’re offering those labels and artists the chance to legitimise their master recordings. We will not seek past royalties from the songs created before the amnesty and we will set up a licence going forward on sensible commercial terms.” adding “The artists can then licence their tracks for advertising for adverts and soundtracks without the fear that EMI will come knocking at the door. The original composer of the source work will get recognition. It works for everybody so we’re hoping that people will come forward with something…

Insane Clown Posse battle with the FBI back on
Live Events / October 2015
USA

DISCRIMINATION Performers     Insane Clown Posse have scored a court win in their ongoing litigation against the FBI, after the appeals court reinstated their U.S. legal action which was dismissed last year. Rappers Insane Clown Posse, aka hip hop duo Violent J and Shggy 2 Dope, filed a lawsuit against the US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2014, over a report which labelled their fans as ‘gang members’ and  announced that they had gained support for their legal action against the FBI from civil rights organisation the American Civil Liberties Union and law firm Miller Canfield.   The band’s fans, known as ‘Juggalos’, were referenced in the FBI’s ‘National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends’ report in 2011, which said: “The Juggalos, a loosely-organised hybrid gang, are rapidly expanding into many US communities. Although recognised as a gang in only four states, many Juggalo subsets exhibit gang-like behaviour and engage in criminal activity and violence – law enforcement officials in at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo subsets”. The case was dismissed after the US Department Of Justice argued that the FBI cannot be held responsible for how information in any of its reports is used…

Tennessee tries to ban handguns are popular events
Licensing , Live Events / October 2015
USA

LICENSING Live events sector     Americans shoot Americans and most Americans seem to accept this,  as the right to ‘bear arms’ (and thus allow these shootings of the innocent) trumps all. President Obama has expressed his frustration at this, and the appalling statistics on gun deaths in the USA need no more comment. There are the odd glimmers of hope and common sense. With some lack of clarity over whether those legally allowed to carry handguns can take them into sporting and entertainment events in public parks and other recreational facilities, a new bill in Tennessee aims to allow public concert venues and professional sports stadiums owned by local municipalities to be able to maintain a ban on guns at events. The measure would create an exemption to the “guns in parks” law for ticketed events at public parks and any site used by a professional sports team for training or games.  The Tennessean reports that State Senate Majority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, said: “Allowing guns in areas with large crowds where alcohol is consumed is a recipe for disaster, and creates a grave danger for law enforcement officers, who might not be able to distinguish friendlies with a gun…

Class action filed in SFX share buy back debacle
Live Events / October 2015
USA

EXCHANGE AC Live events sector     A US law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against EDM promoter SFX on behalf of anyone who bought shares in the company between the 25th February and 17th August of this year. Abbey Spanier LLP, which specialises in class actions, alleges that SFX and its CEO Robert Sillerman made “materially false and misleading statements” in the first half of this year in relation to the latter’s much publicised plan to buy-back all the shares he doesn’t currently control in the business, taking the EDM powerhouse back into private ownership. Sillerman floated SFX in 2013 at a price of $13 per share, and indeed his buy-back plan, initially at $4.75 per share, was not well received by investors. A committee of independent directors at SFX approved the proposal after Sillerman improved his offer to $5.25 per share (which was then well above the share price of $3.13). However the SFX share price subsequently dropped, at one point hitting a low of just $1.94 cents: last month Sillerman admitted that he couldn’t raise enough finance to go through with the proposed deal and also had to make a public apology after SFX subsidiary…

AFM launches legal action to force digital pension payments from the major labels
Artists , Contract , Copyright / September 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music   The American Federation Of Musicians has launched a legal action against the three major record companies in the New York courts relating to an agreement between the majors and the AFM pension fund, in which the American branches of the record companies promised to pay 0.5% of all receipts from non-domestic digital transmissions of recordings into the fund. This agreement includes the ever growing monies from streaming, non-permanent downloads and ringbacks, and dates back to the 1990s – when such income was marginal. The AFM says that independent auditors have identified missing payments last year, but attempts to settle the matter directly have been unsuccessful. AFM International President Ray Hair says: “The record companies should stop playing games about their streaming revenue and pay musicians and their pension fund every dime that is owed. Fairness and transparency are severely lacking in this business. We are changing that”.

Warner’s will share SiriusXM settlement with artistes
Artists , Contract , Copyright / September 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Recorded music, artistes     The Warner Music Group has pledged to share its portion of a recent $210m Sirius XM settlement with its artists, paid via SoundExchange. The money is due to be paid to major labels plus ABKCO – the owner of classic Rolling Stones copyrights – by the US satellite/digital radio giant, Warners has said that it will share its portion of the proceeds with artists on the same basis as it usually shares royalties from Sirius, which means the cash will be paid to artists via SoundExchange. However, both what Warner’s share of the settlement actually is, and the share of that paid to artistes remains to be seen http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/warner-well-share-sirius-xm-payout-artists-via-soundexchange/   And take a look at MMF Board Member Andy Edward’s blog “On a day-to-day level, many of us in the management world like and respect the individual label executives with whom we work; but a substantial overhaul of business practices at a corporate level is essential and not just in labels; PROs and publishers also need to change.” http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/transparently-obvious-the-music-business-has-to-change/

Breakbeats – time to judge the beat that’s on the street
Copyright / September 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     Producer Dr Luke is facing court over the use of a breakbeat in Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag’. If successful, the case could have serious implications for thousands of other artists and producers says The Hollywood Reporter. A breakbeat “is a portion of a percussion track played solo without other instruments. These have long been popular with producers because they can be sampled and looped to create new drum parts and “a staple in hip hop, electronic, funk, jazz and other musical genres”. Dr Luke is being sued over the alleged use of a popular breakbeat, taken from ‘Zimba Ku’ by Blackheat. New Old Music Group, which is owned by the writer of the 1975 track, Lenny Lee Goldsmith, sued the producer earlier this year claiming similarities between the Zimba Ku break and the drum part in ‘Price Tag’. In a ruling last week, a New York judge refused to dismiss New Old Music’s claim and proposed that the case should be put before a jury. Similarly to arguments raised in ongoing the “Blurred Lines” litigation, the producer’s lawyers have said that the drum part merely contains elements representative of a particular style. Judge Ronnie Abrams disagreed…

Mega lawyers argue that US Authorities should preserve and pay to keep blocked data
Copyright , Internet / September 2015
USA

COPYRIGHT Internet   Lawyers for MegaUpload are asking the courts to ensure that the American government pays to preserve the servers that contain files once uploaded to the defunct file-transfer platform, so that the data stored on them can be kept as evidence, and be ultimately returned to the people who uploaded the content in the first place.   US authorities took controversial file-transfer set-up MegaUpload offline in 2012, at the same time charging its management with various crimes. Users of the service lost access to files they were storing on the company’s servers without warning and whilst it is alleged much of the material was infringing – much was also quite legitimate. MegaUpload server space was rented from other companies, and one server company in Europe, Leaseweb, then deleted the MegaUpload data it had stored. However, the biggest server firm, US-based Carpathia, is still storing its former MegaUpload files, not least because the American authorities said they might need access to them as part of the criminal investigation into the former file-transfer service and its management. Understandably, Carpathia, which was recently acquired by another company called QTS, is not keen on carrying on  covering the costs of storage. The server company…

Dr Dre and Ice Cube ask to removed from Suge Knight litigation
Liability / September 2015
USA

LIABILITY All areas     Dr Dre and Ice Cube have requested to be removed from civil lawsuit hat stemmed from the incident when one time Deathrow Records boss Suge Knight drove a vehicle into two men, killing one of them in January. Knight is also facing criminal charges in relation to the incident. It’s claimed he deliberately drove his pickup truck into Cle Sloan and Terry Carter, killing the latter, after an altercation outside a burger bar in LA. In the civil action filed  by Carter’s widow, it is stated that the altercation –began on a nearby film set where a commercial for the new NWA biopic ‘Straight Outta Compton’ was being filmed. Carter’s filing says that Sloan had been hired to recruit local gang members to participate in the film shoot, as extras and security. Both Dre and Cube were present at the filming, which caused problems when Knight – (who has long feuded with Dre) also showed up, seemingly to berate those working on the movie over his portrayal in the biopic. Dre then seemingly requested that Sloan remove Knight from the site, which resulted in a fracas that then continued a few miles away outside that burger bar. It is thought Carter…