Four guilty of CD piracy
Copyright , Record Labels / April 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels Four pirate CD traders have been convicted for running a £5 million illegal operation that imported discs from the Czech Republic and sold them in shops and stalls across South East England.  The recording industry’s UK and international trade bodies, the BPI and the IFPI welcomed the verdict at Snaresbrook Crown Court finding the four guilty of conspiracy to infringe copyright.  The case was brought by the Fraud Prosecution Service acting on information from the two music industry organisations.  A jury found two of the defendants guilty, while the other two had previously pleaded guilty in January 2008. Farhat Nissa and Mohammed Shaikh were found guilty after an eight-week trial. The court heard that Nissa’s company, SFH, one of the largest independent brokers, based in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, was commissioned by Waseem Mir, a market trader, and others to import the CDs.  Waseem Mir admitted supplying market stalls and shops throughout the South East. The operation involved the manufacture and distribution of unlicensed pirate urban music compilations. Some of these became brands in their own right with the “In The Club” series running for more than 15 editions.  BPI made a test purchase of a CD which was…

Irish labels take on Eircom
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / April 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The Irish recorded music sector’s four major companies – EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music, and Warner Music (together as the Irish Recorded Music Association) have decided to take Irish Internet Service Provider (ISP) Eircom to court in order to force them to implement countermeasures against piracy. Willie Kavanagh, Chairman of the Irish Recorded Music Association and Managing Director of EMI Ireland, blamed the action on a “dramatic and accelerating decline” in the Irish music industry’s income: 30% over the past six years, up to 2007. Kavanagh attributed a “substantial portion” of that decline to the increasing use of broadband, facilitating a sharp increase in the use of download services, like BitTorrent or LimeWire. Sales dropped from €146m ($224m USD, not counting inflation) in 2001 to €102m ($157m USD) in 2007, said Kavanagh. The case represents the first of its kind in Eire with record labels taking the ISP to court instead of individual file swappers and attempts to compel Eircom, under the Irish Copyrights and Related Rights Act of 2000, to implement specific countermeasures to prevent its network from being exploited for piracy. Last October Eircomm said that it was in no position to consider monitoring users and was under no…

Market owners prosecuted for allowing the sale of counterfeit goods
Copyright , Record Labels / April 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels Following in from our top story physical piracy, the owners of an open air market in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire have been ordered to pay over a total of £300,000 after being found guilty of allowing and profiting from the sale of counterfeit goods at their market. Wendy Fair Markets Ltd and its directors Nicholas Hobday and Sally Ward were ordered to pay back the £250,000 in rent money it was estimated they had taken off the owners of market stalls that sold pirated goods, and pay it, in addition to £50,000 in legal fees, back to the intellectual property industries that had lost out because of the bootlegger in the first time the owners of a market that enables bootleggers to reach their customers have been successfully prosecuted for IP crimes. It is hoped the ruling will make other market owners more vigilant in ensuring the stalls they host do not violate any intellectual property rights. Elsewhere in anti-piracy news, two Scottish music pirates have been ordered to pay £400,000 under the Proceeds Of Crime Act, a verdict which labels hope will deter others from getting involved in the illegal distribution and sale of bootleg CDs. The two men,…

Baidu faces fresh legal challenge in China
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / April 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   China ‘s leading search engine, Baidu is facing a new lawsuit just a month after it won a similar court challenge which freed Baidu from responsibility for illegal download sites linked too. An action against Yahoo at the same time was more successful as the action held that Yahoo was guilty of contributory infringement after failing to act on take down notices targeting links to illegal sites – sent from the labels. China ‘s music rights organization, the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC) and a leading Chinese digital music distributor, R2G announced the anti-piracy action against Baidu. MCSC have filed a lawsuit, citing infringement of at least 50 songs and is seeking compensation totaling one million yuan ($140,619) and an end to alleged violations. R2G has also issued a letter threatening legal action against Baidu requesting the de-linking of all its unlicensed content. Baidu asserts it has placed great importance on intellectual property rights protection and formulated measures to safeguard the rights of intellectual property right holders and the search engine claims that it has been exploring new types of commercial models to tackle copyright disputes, such as disc promotions and advertisements. In December, the People’s High…

Beach Boys settle dispute over name
Artists , Trade Mark / April 2008

TRADE MARK Artists The surviving members of the beach boys (Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love) have settled a decade long dispute over the use of the “Beach Boys” mark which the original members joint company (Brothers Records) granted to Love in 1998. The agreement was reached after two days of talks mediated by a Los Angeles superior court judge and covers the payment of Love’s outstanding estimated $2 million legal bills following his successful claims and the use of the band’s name in the live environment. The Guardian 22 March 2008 See past details of Love’s action against Wilson in Music Law Updates December 2005 below: Beach Boy Mike Love has filed a law suit against cousin and former Beach Boy Brian Wilson over the latter’s release of the concept album Smile which Wilson released in 2004 and a free CD giveway. The suit alleges the misappropriation of Love’s songs, likeness and the Beach Boys trademark. Smile was first recorded in 1967 but was disowned by Love and the album was, in effect, a Wilson solo project. However album was never completed and Wilson suffered a breakdown and withdrew from public life. Wilson was the Beach Boys main songwriter and although most…

Copyright Tribunal reforms proposed
Copyright / April 2008

COPYRIGHT All Areas The UK’s Parliament’s Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee has called for reform of the UK Copyright Tribunal in light of recent comments that the UK’s copyright court was “antiquated” and “in urgent need of reform”. Given the increasing complexity of copyright issues in the digital age the Committee suggested a paid Tribunal chair and called for more expertise among those who offer independent advice to that chief. The recent Gowers Review also suggested an easier to use fast-track service for copyright disputes involving smaller parties – say a pub or café – which would give them better access to the Tribunal in their royalty disputes (with eg the PPL or PRS). The UK Intellectual Property Office has also reviewed the Tribunal although its proposals have not as yet been made.

Apple Corp to take action over Hamburg tapes

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artists, record labels The Beatles company, Apple Corps, has confirmed that it is planning legal action against Miami based Fuego Entertainment, Inc., which is planning on releasing live recordings of the Beatles singing various cover version during their pre-fame residency days in Hamburg. Apple have filed a suit in the Miami Federal Court. Fuego say they acquired the rights to the recordings from Jeffrey Collins, a producer and promoter who says he represented the DJ who actually recorded the live Beatles show at Hamburg’s Star Club back in 1962. Collins says the DJ who recorded the gig had permission to do so from the venue and it appears the permission of the band. Under UK copyright law the copyright would be owned by the person who facilitated the recordings – here the DJ. Ben Challis adds “in the UK, S9 of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 does provide that, in the absence of any contractual provisions to the contrary, the person who makes the arrangements necessary for the making of the recording (eg makes the arrangements, pays for and/or facilitates a sound recording) will be the owner. The case of Bassey v Icon limits this to the…

Pumpkins to sue EMI/Virgin over Pepsi Stuff promotion
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / April 2008

CONTRACT Artists, record labels The Smashing Pumpkins are suing Virgin Records alleging that the label has breached its contract with the band by using the band’s name and music in promotional deals without their permission. The band allege that this has hurt the band’s image credibility with fans. The lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and the group say they have “worked hard for over two decades to accumulate a considerable amount of goodwill in the eyes of the public,” and that Virgin’s use of the band in a “Pepsi Stuff” promotion with and Pepsi Co. threatens their reputation for “artistic integrity.” Pepsi Stuff was an MP3 giveaway promotion in the US which was designed to promote the launch of Amazon’s DRM-free download service. Three of the majors made tracks available for the promotion, which music fans could download for free in return for vouchers from Pepsi bottles and the like. The band claim that their agreement with Virgin does not give Virgin the right to use the band in promotional campaigns to sell outside products. The lawsuit demands that Virgin pay with the profits earned in the promotion and asks for an injunction against using the Pumpkins’ name or music in the future.