Has Italy legalised P2P file sharing?
Copyright , Internet / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Internet The Italian parliament may have unwittingly legalized sharing music over P2P networks. A new copyright law, passed by both houses of parliament, would allow Italians to freely share music over the Internet as long as it was noncommercial and the music “degraded”. Italian copyright attorney Andrea Monti told Italian paper La Republica that whoever authored the law failed to take into account that the word “degraded” has a very precise meaning when it comes to computer files. Slashdot points out that all music sold on the major music download sites is degraded in some form or another so in theory music fans would be able to freely share their music libraries over P2P networks although the law does limit such sharing to “educational or scientific” use. The legislation still needs to be published in the Italian Official Journal to pass into law. The Recording Industry in Europe has already suffered a number of setbacks including last months ruling by the European Court of Justice (Promusicae v Telefonica, see below) setting out guidelines that domestic courts must use when balancing the rights of copyright owners against the privacy rights of consumers in civil cases and German prosecutors have refused…

Productores de Música de España (Promusicae) v Telefónica de España C275/06
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Music and film companies suffered a partial setback in their fight against internet piracy after the European Court of Justice ruled that European countries do not have to compel telecoms companies and other internet service providers to disclose information about customers suspected of illegally sharing music files online, the region’s top court ruled yesterday. However, the Court said member states did need to ensure that a “fair balance” was struck between the privacy rights of individuals and the rights of intellectual property owners – such as music and film producers – seeking to pursue civil legal claims over copyright infringement. But IP rights holders insisted the decision was not discouraging. “The court has provided a welcome reminder that there is a balance in law between the rights to privacy and other fundamental rights,” said Christopher Marcich at the Motion Picture Association and the IFPI, which represents the recording industry, put a positive spin on the decision saying “The judgment means that music rights holders can still take actions to enforce their rights, and it has sent out a clear signal that member states have to get the right balance between privacy and enforcement of IP rights.”…

Good news for the labels as the UK follows France in looking to ISPs
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet But whilst in Spain, Italy, Germany and Switzerland the record labels faced up to bad news in their ongoing battle against internet piracy and illegal downloading, in The United Kingdom the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a green paper on the creative industries and one new suggestion was a “three strikes and you’re out law” to combat illegal downloads. Under the proposal, UK internet users will be monitored by their ISP’s for illegal downloads, and those caught will receive an e-mail warning in the first instance, internet suspension the second time, and then termination of their contract on the third strike. A similar law was proposed in France in November 2007 and Australian legislators are considering the idea too. In the UK, broadband firms which fail to enforce the rules could be prosecuted, and the details of customers suspected of making illegal downloads would be made available to the courts. I n Denmark, the Danish Courts have barred internet access to The Pirate Bay download site (although it seems the publicity has generated new traffic to the site). The organisers of the site are already facing criminal prosecution in Sweden (on both stories…

The Recording Industry steps up their campaign against piracy in China
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet ***We have become a bit concerned about the accuracy of some of the IFPI’s reports recently and would like to point readers to an article on the Music 2.0 website regarding the background to the IFPI’s actions against Baidu and Yahoo! China: http://www.music2dot0.com/archives/95*** With that in mind, we should make it clear that the following is taken from an IFPI press release The IFPI has announced a series of new steps to “try to develop a music business in China based on respect rather than blatant violation of copyright laws” saying that legal proceedings have been filed today against the country’s biggest internet company, Baidu. Separate actions have also been brought against Sohu and its associate company Sogou.  Meanwhile, Yahoo! China faces fresh proceedings following its refusal to comply with the court ruling in December confirming it violated Chinese law by committing mass copyright infringement.  All of the Chinese companies involved operate similar services based on delivering music to their users via “deep links” to hundreds of thousands of infringing tracks on third party sites, with the aim of driving their own advertising revenue.  Such services have been confirmed as in breach of copyright by the December…

Pirate Bay blocked in Denmark
Copyright , Internet / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Internet There was more good news for the record labels in Denmark. Following the news Swedish prosecutors last week charged four men behind The Pirate Bay, a Danish court has now ordered Internet Service Provider Tele2 to block access to the BitTorrent tracker, meaning anyone accessing the internet in Denmark via Tele2 will no longer be able access the Bay. It is believed that the ISP may appeal the order as, like many ISPs, it does not feel it is right for ISPs to police their members’ activities. Whilst Tele2 is only one of several ISPs in Denmark, the legal precedent could be extended to other internet providers, and beyond the Danish jurisdiction also – the Finnish division of the IFPI is reportedly already considering pursuing a similar order through the courts there.

Microsoft survey on copyright theft points to need to educate
Copyright / March 2008

COPYRIGHT All areas Microsoft has announced the results of a new survey which has prompted the software company to launch a campaign to teach teens about intellectual property rights and the risks they face when breaking the law. The survey showed that teens appear to be willing to curtail illegal downloading when told they face fines or jail time. Microsoft’s survey found that about half of the teenagers surveyed (49%) said they are not familiar with the rules and guidelines for downloading content from the Internet. Only 11% understood the rules well, and of those, 82% said downloading content illegally merits punishment. Among those unfamiliar with the law, only 57% supported punishment for intellectual property violations. More worryingly for the music industry, The Microsoft survey also found that many teens believe online music is overpriced. It found that 41% of teens believe the cost to download a song should be between $0.50 and $1. Twenty-six percent of respondents said digital songs should cost less than $0.50 and 21% said online music should be free. The Company has turned to Topics Education, a developer of custom curricula, to create a curriculum called Intellectual Property Rights Education for US middle and high school teachers….

The future’s bright, the future’s free
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet ARTICLE:  Cassandra Williams, postgraduate law student, The College of Law Radiohead kicked off the new trend that is now seemingly sweeping the music industry, allowing fans to choose what price to pay for the download of their new album ‘In Rainbows’ – effectively in many cases giving it away for free. To many this may have seemed like a hollow gesture as the album was then released on a physical format as well as part of a box set. And many argued that the majority of artists will not be able to survive without a record company behind them. In fact some commentators added that rather than helping make music more accessible there is a possibility that Radiohead’s model would actually deter record companies from developing new artists and actually have a detrimental effect upon the industry. But now both The Futureheads and the Guillemots have announced that they shall be ‘giving’ their music away for free. The Futureheads, who are now on their own record label, emailed a free new track to fans on December 25 th to wish them a Merry Christmas. The track was sent to the email of anyone who has signed…

France backs term extension for sound recordings
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists It seems that the show’s not over for an extension to the copyright term of sound recordings. According to an article in the Times, France is due to make the extension a priority of its upcoming six-month presidency of the EU, despite opposition from the UK and Germany. According to the French Culture Minister, Christine Albanel. “Today, whole swaths of the recording catalogue of the 1950s and 1960s, representing a significant part of the national pop heritage, are falling progressively into the public domain…That creates an obvious problem of fairness. Artists who began their careers very young are being stripped today of all remuneration from their first recordings.” The illustrious IPKat says it cannot quite share Ms Albanel’s indignation adding that “there aren’t many other industries where success in your youth guarantees you an income for life”. See more on this from the EC and Scotland below.http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2008/02/french-connections.html

Now Scotland pushes for term extension independence
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists The wonderful IPKat reports that The IPKat that a Scottish MSP has put forward a Private Members’ Bill titled “Sound Recordings (Copyright Term Extension) Bill 2007-08“, with the apparent aim of “extend[ing] beyond 50 years the copyright term of sound recordings; and for connected purposes“. What exactly this would entail is not yet clear, as the bill has not been published. It is, however, due for its second reading in the UK Parliament on 7 March 2008, when we should be able to find out more. This seems to be in line with European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy who says that he wants the same thing Europe. The MP in question is Peter Wisehart who just happens to be an ex-member of Scottish folk-rock group Runrig as well as being SNP Member of Parliament for the Perth and Perthshire North constituency. On the latest update of the House of Commons Register of members Interests he states, “I receive royalty payments from EMI/Ridge Records [Runrig’s record company] for my recorded works with Runrig, with whom I serve as an unremunerated director. I receive payments for my published works from the Performing Rights Society.” The IPKat adds that “whilst…

EU proposes extending the term for sound recordings

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists, internet Having been knocked back in the UK in the Gowers Report, record labels and artists will be delighted with the news that European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy feels that performing artists should no longer be the ‘poor cousins’ of the music business, and is proposing an increase in the term of copyright for sound recordings from 50 to 95 years across Europe saying “I strongly believe that copyright protection for Europe’s performers represents a moral right to control the use of their work and earn a living from their performances. I have not seen a convincing reason why a composer of music should benefit from a term of copyright which extends to the composer’s life and 70 years beyond, while the performer should only enjoy 50 years, often not even covering his lifetime It is the performer who gives life to the composition and while most of us have no idea who wrote our favourite song – we can usually name the performer“. The proposal is set against the copyright term for music copyright (songs and lyrics are protected for the life of author plus 70 years), the position in the USA (where copyright in sound…

Clear Channel in multi million dollar settlement over Great White Tragedy
Health & Safety , Live Events / March 2008

HEALTH & SAFETY Live event industry (From The CMU Daily) Now here’s a warning to any US media entering into co-promotion deals with live music companies. American radio major Clear Channel may pay out $22 million in relation to that much previously reported 2003 fire at a Great White gig in Rhode Island where 100 people died. As previously reported, 100 people were killed and double that injured when The Station nightclub in West Warwick burned down during the 2003 gig by the LA rock band. The fire was caused by pyrotechnics used during the gig, and there was much dispute between the owners of the venue and the band’s management as to whether permission had been granted by the former to the latter to use the pyros in a venue that, it transpired, had very flammable sound proofing. Club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and Great White tour manager Dan Biechele all received criminal convictions: Biechele received a four year prison term with a further eleven years suspended in relation to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter. After a bitterly contested plea bargain, Michael Derderian, who purchased the foam for the venue, received a four year prison term and both…

French love attracts labour laws
Artists , Employment Law / March 2008

EMPLOYMENT Artists, television Contestants on the French equivalent of Temptation Island, I’lle de la Tentation, have been awarded substantial payouts by the Paris Appeal Court which found their activities on the island were subject to full French Employment laws. Production company Glem, the reality division of broadcaster TF1, had contracted to pay each contestant E1,525 (about £1,200) as an advance payment against Image/merchandising rights. But the court decided that during the twelve day ordeal the contestants were employed as production staff and they worked 24 hors a day, 7 days a week. The French maximum working week is 35 hours and Glem were ordered to pay the three claimant contestants E8,176 in overtime, E817 for holiday pay, E500 for unfair dismissal and E1,500 for wrongful termination of contract with a further E16,000 awarded for illegal employment. Glem had said the contestants were engaged in entertainment, not work. In the UK we have not heard about any claims against the contracts contestants enter into with the producers of programmes like Big Brother and Castaway – but a number of contestants most notably Jade Goody have become national celebrities and have made substantial sums from a variety of new revenues streams after…

Universal faces royalty dispute
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / March 2008

CONTRACTS Record labels, artists CMU Daily report that Universal Music and one of its subsidiaries have “pervasively and systematically breached” artist agreements since at least 1998 by employing devious accounting tricks that conned artists out of royalties they were due” in a claim brought by high profile classic artists in a lawsuit launched against the major record company in the New York courts last week. Among the artists making the claim (or the estates of artists in the case of the dead ones) were Patti Page, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Les Brown, Richard Hayman, Dick Hyman, Woody Herman, Kitty Kallen, Frankie Laine, Tony Martin, John Mills, Jerry Murad, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Sarah Vaughn. The litigation claims Universal provided false information in its biannual royalty reports to artists between May 1999 and February 2007. It says: “Despite a relationship based on trust and manifold contractual obligations, and despite the fact that defendants realised an overwhelming windfall to both its finances and reputation as a result of this relationship” the major “utterly failed” to meet its contractual obligations. The lawsuit is seeking $6.07 million in allegedly lost royalties plus legal costs and punitive damages. However, Universal has denied any wrong doing,…

Busted case finally makes it to court
Artists , Contract / March 2008

CONTRACT Artists The claim by two original members of boy band Busted, Ki McPhail and an Owen Doyle, that they were forced out of the band and made to sign away lucrative intellectual property rights in songs has finally reached court. The action, dating back to the early days of Busted in 2002, has come about as McPhail and Doyle say that before being pushed out they co-wrote some of the hit songs that appeared on Busted’s eponymous and very successful debut album. As a result they want a cut of the royalties those songs have generated. Both claimants signed an agreement on their departure giving up all claim to the band’s intellectual property, but both now claim that agreement should be set aside for various reasons, including the fact that they allegedly weren’t told of Universal’s interest in the band and their music before entering into the agreement and that their management owed them a duty as their managers to not let them sign such a foolish contract. It appears that their then managers not only let them sign the agreement but actually wrote it too. There is a further allegation that the contract was signed under duress. McPhail…

Medianet repond to publisher’s lawsuit

COPYRIGHT, LICENSING Music publishing, internet Digital music provider MediaNet – formerly MusicNet – has hit out at the US’s National Music Publisher Association who have begun legal action against them. The NMPA have accused MediaNet of reneging on past commitments to pay publishing royalties – both ‘performing’ and ‘mechanical’ kind – on their on-demand and limited play download services. There is an ongoing dispute over what publishing royalties such MediaNet services should pay – especially with mechanical royalties – but the publishers argue that MediaNet have changed their position regarding paying some royalties for past services once an agreement is finally reached. MediaNet has denied any wrongdoing, and criticised the legal action arguing it is one of the few organisations that actually has a long history of working with music companies to properly licence digital music services, in a domain dominated by illegal unlicensed music operations. MediaNet provides the back-end to digital music services operated by a number of other brands and retailers. From the CMU Daily www.cmumusicnetwork.co.uk

Fleetwood loses claim for BBC masters
Contract , Record Labels / March 2008

CONTRACT Record labels Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac has lost his long-running legal battle against the Beeb in relation to the distribution rights of session recordings from the BBC’s archives. The dispute was between Fleetwood’s company Bee Load Ltd and the BBC’s commercial division BBC Worldwide. The former entered into a contract with the latter back in 2001 giving Fleetwood’s company the right to release CDs featuring various BBC recordings of artists like Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Who, The Stones, The Beatles, Elton John, Santana and Led Zeppelin. The relationship fell apart in 2003, though, and Fleetwood claimed the Beeb were in breach of contract for refusing to work with his company, and sued through the US courts for damages (Bee Load being primarily based in the US). However, a judge in Maine last week ruled in favour of the BBC, concluding that it was Fleetwood’s business partner, Joseph McNulty, who caused the business deal to fault, because he became “obsessed” with gaining exclusivity rights for distributing the BBC recordings, even though such rights were not part of the 2001 deal. BBC Worldwide, the judge ruled, did everything they could do to make the deal work despite McNulty’s obsession with…

Visions of an online cartel

COMPETITION Record labels, internet ARTICLE LINK  An interesting blog by Greg Sandoval linking US anti-trust law to the possibility of the major labels jointly participating in an online music subscription service http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9867814-7.html?tag=newsmap