Custodial sentences for family counterfeiting business
Copyright , Record Labels / May 2007

COPYRIGHT Record industry, film industry According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), counterfeiting costs the music industry £165m a year in lost sales as part of a total loss to piracy , including illegal downloads and file swapping, of something approaching half a million pounds in the UK and so it’s no surprise that the BPI has welcomed prison sentences for the ringleaders of what was one of Britain’s biggest and most extensive counterfeiting gangs. Sentencing after a BPI private prosecution at Durham Crown Court, His Honour Judge Hewitt, said “It is clear that this was a substantial operation, on a much greater scale than just friends and family. It caused an incalculable loss to the industry and would have continued had the industry not taken this action.” After a two week trial, ringleader James Glen Cowan, 41, was yesterday jailed for 2 years for conspiracy to defraud, tax evasion and benefit fraud. His wife, Ann Cowan, 38 was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, benefit fraud (up to £30,000) and attempting to pervert the course of justice. She received a 9 month sentence suspended for 12 months and also has to spend 150 hours working unpaid in the community….

The Impact of the Groskster decision on file sharing
Copyright , Internet / May 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet ARTICLE LINK: By Odia Kagan As the law suits against YouTube mount up (led by Viacom’s billion odd dollar claim) this article is a timely reminder of the Supreme Court decision in MGM v Grokster and the decision’s effect on file sharing in the US. The Author (a lawyer qualified in Israel, the USA and the UK) also looks at the position of illegal file sharing in Israel. also see the excellent article ‘Peer to Peer Music Sharing since MGM v Grokster [2005]’

Are Songwriters double dipping? By Steve Gordon

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing ARTICLE LINK –  Should songwriters get paid for a public performance when you download a song? Well US publishing bodies ASCAP and BMI have brought a case in New York asking for this right But a summary Judgement by Federal Judge William Connor has left ASCAP reeling after he ruled that the act of downloading a music file does not constitute a public performance of a song, stressing that “a person must be able to perceive the song as it is being transmitted” for it to be considered a performance. Digital music services AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo! won the summary judgment after objecting to proposals put forward by ASCAP to include a performance fee for downloads. As a result of the judgment the services are not required to pay royalties for downloads to the performing rights organisation. The case goes forward to trial on 21st May.

Trespass – An Ancient Legal Doctrine Gains Traction In Cyberspace
Internet , Media / May 2007

MEDIA LAW Internet ARTICLE LINK By Eric Sinrod Fed up with commercial spammers invading your inbox, unauthorized deep linking to your website, spyware on your PC or finding out that someone is using your server to send out spam – well here Eric Sinrod explains that the ancient legal doctrine of trespass to chattels which establishes liability when one person dispossesses or causes physical harm to the chattel (private property) of another person can be useful in Cyberspace. As Information technology development continues to advance at an astonishing pace, and with the law evolving at a much slower rate, traditional legal theories have had to be dusted off to grapple with Internet disputes and the best example is the application by the courts of the trespass to chattels notion to the new world of the Internet. Cases reviewed include AOL v IMS, AOL v LCGM,Compuserve v. Cyber Promotions Kerrins v. Intermix Media and Ticketmaster v. See the Article Internet Trespass:  Measuring and Controlling Internet-Distributed Advertiser-Funded Content Music Law Updates April 2006 and a review of Kerrins v Intermix Media Music Law Updates March 2006

Ticket Touting – the Great Rock & Roll Swindle

HEALTH & SAFETY / LICENSING Live Event Industry ARTICLE LINK –  “The city is wrapped in spring smog as a queue snakes its way around the Forum in Kentish Town. Even here in grubby north London, at 7pm on a weekday evening, with the modest attraction being the indie jangle of the Shins, every ticket has been sold. Except, of course, they haven’t. Easy to spot in the forest of skinny jeans are the oversized sports jackets and white trainers of the ticket touts, selling and reselling for a tasty profit ……. A useful article on touts – old style and the new bedroom tout using eBay and other online sites to sell tickets at often vast profits. ….” See the full article at,,2050841,00.html see also

Beach Boys lose case to reclaim memorabilia
Image Rights , Trade Mark / May 2007

TRADE MARK / IMAGE RIGHTS Merchandising Former Rock ‘n Roll musician Roy A. Sciacca has won a victory against The Beach Boys’ company, Brother Records, when Judge Manuel L. Real of the United State District Court for the Central District of California turned down a $60 million lawsuit. The lawsuit accused Sciacca of stealing a treasure trove of original Beach Boys lyric sheets, sound recordings, videotapes, photographs and other items from a warehouse in 1994. Sciacca is an avid collector of memorabilia. Following the $1.25 million sale in 2005 John Lennon hand written lyrics, Sciacca contacted auctioneer CooperOwen’s Music Legends to arrange the sale of some of The Beach Boys’ original lyric sheets and other items he had purchased at a warehouse sale in the 1980s. This alerted Brother Records who filed the lawsuit claiming, among other things, copyright, trademark, and right of publicity infringement. Judge Real ruled that there was no evidence to suggest that Roy Sciacca and warehouse owner Allen Gaba had stolen the memorabilia and Sciacca is now free to sell the items. See

US webcasters fail to have new royalty rate overturned
Copyright , Internet / May 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet A panel of copyright judges has dismissed US webcasters’ appeal to re-consider the new online music royalty rates which were set last month by the US Copyright Royalty Board. The CRB controls the royalty rates for US music services. The only leniency offered to the webcasters was a decision to put off the proposed change in the way fees are calculated – from an ‘average listening hours’ system to a ‘per-song, per-listener’ system – for a year. The change in the will itself also increase the amount of royalties webcasters will have to pay for music and sound recording rights. The webcasters can now appeal the matter to the US Court Of Appeals for the District Of Columbia Circuit, but that this will take at least a year. CMU Daily See Law Updates April 2007 and and

RIAA v Santangelo rolls on

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels The long running litigation in the case(s) between the Recording Industry Association of America and various members of the Santangelo family rolls. The action stated with a suit against Patricia Santangelo, the American mother accused of illegally sharing music via her PC. Launched in 2005 the case has been problematic for the RIAA from almost from the word go because it quickly became apparent Santangelo herself had clearly not shared any music, and attempts by the industry association to suggest the mother should and could be held liable for any filesharing committed by her children or their friends on her home PC were generally rejected by the courts. The RIAA then dropped the case to concentrate of Ms Santangeo’s children and did obtain a judgment in default against Patricia’s daughter Michelle. Patricia’s son, teenager Robert, is still fighting his case. But in a new the federal judge considering that application to dismiss the case against Patricia has only agreed to dismiss the case ‘with prejudice’ meaning that the RIAA can not now launch future proceedings against Patricia and they may be open to a claim for Patricia’s legal costs in defending the action – something another…

MPS v Murphy: The legality of pubs using foreign satellite signal goes to the High Court
Copyright / May 2007

COPYRIGHT Television Karen Murphy was convicted under s297(1) of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 for showing Premiere League football matches in her pub using a legitimate Greek satellite service, Nova The conviction was upheld at Portsmouth Crown Court but Murphy has now lodged an appeal with the High Court. The Crown Court in MPS v Murphy came to a very different decision to the Crown Court in FACT v Gannon on the same basic facts meaning it will be up to the High Court to decide whether or not the section in question is relevant for prosecution. The case has also thrown up the interesting fact that whilst Sky is taking action against UK landlords and licensees using the Nova signal to protect its UK market, Sky’s ‘UK’ signal is of course picked in numerous pubs and bars in Spain, Portugal and France and used in competition to official broadcasters in those territories who have licensed English Premiership football for their countries from the FAPL (the UK premiership rights licensing body). So in a world of ‘Television Without Frontiers’ the FAPL may need to look at how it licences its football matches in the future. For the views of the Association of European…

Busted bust up still a dust up
Artists , Contract / May 2007

CONTRACT Artists The Universal Music Group has been brought the legal action involving former UK chart topping boy band Busted which has been brought by two former members Ki Fitzgerald and Owen Doyle who were axed before the band became successful. The label is added as new matters include allegation that the axed members’ vocals appeared in on the band’s 2002 album Busted released by the major. Fitzgerald and Doyle have already claimed that they were integral in the creation of the Busted franchise, coming up with the name and co-writing some of the band’s early hits. They claim they were unfairly cut out of the equation by manager Richard Rashman and that Rashman failed to fulfill his contractual commitments as a manager to protect their interests by making them sign agreements on their departure that greatly favoured Rashman and remaining band members, James Bourne and Matt Willis. Fitzgerald and Doyle’s 2005 legal action seeks a cut of the royalties from the band’s early songs and trademark use. Rashman, Bourne and Willis are named as defendants. The claimants are also looking at the band’s US trade mark registration which is allegedly held in Rashman’s personal name. The High Court has ordered evidence…

Yahoo! China must remove links to illegal websites
Copyright , Internet / May 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet A Beijing Court has confirmed that Yahoo! China has clear responsibility for removing all links to websites hosting infringing download tacks tracks on its service.  Yahoo’s China website, operated by, has been ordered to pay the compensation of 210,000 yuan ($27,000) for copyright violations and must delete links to 229 songs on nonaffiliated sites by the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court. About 85 percent of recordings in China are illegal, with sales of pirated music worth $410 million in 2005, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the industry group that brought the claim. EMI, Warner Music Group and nine other record companies sued Yahoo China in March claims the service violated copyrights by allowing users of its search engine to find links to pirated music. The music industry had previously lost a similar case in China (although on first appeal) against Baidu – a leading Chinese links/search site. That case is being appealed again and the IFPI are obviously hoping that the Yahoo! case, decided under new Chinese regulations, will prove a valuable precedent in the Baidu appeal.

AIM to challenge suggested private copying right
Copyright , Record Labels / May 2007

COPYRIGHT Record labels The proposals in the Gower’s report on IP that the UK’s copyright should be changed to allow for a private copying rights are being challenged by AIM, the association of independent labels who say that such a move could ‘open the floodgates’ to other copyright infringements and would damage artists, labels and music publishers. Whilst accepting the practice is widespread, AIM is lobbying the UK Government against any change in the law (which only allows copying of TV and radio programmes for ‘time shifting’ and say they will take the matter to the European Commission if necessary.