Hives have a ticking time bomb in song suit
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2008

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing The Hives are being sued by Jason Shapiro, songwriter for the bands The Roofies, Three Way and Celebrity Skin, for allegedly stealing a riff and vocal melody for their song ‘Tick Tick Boom’. Shapiro has recorded the song both with The Roofies (in 1996) and Three Way (in 2002) and only discovered the supposed similarity when the Hives song was used on the trailer for recent movie, ‘Get Smart’. Shapiro says that after consulting a musicologist he was left in no doubt that his song had been the source material. Shapiro told LA Weekly: “I absolutely love The Hives and don’t feel great about suing a band I love. But I also feel credit is due where it is due if you borrow a riff. [The musicologist] said the part in question – the main riff and vocal melody – was very similar and its uniqueness led him to believe it wasn’t just a coincidence. He also runs it through a background test seeing if any charts from previous songs are close and we were clear on that front. CMU Daily 31 October 2008

Idol faces lawsuit over record deal
Artists , Contract / December 2008

CONTRACT Television, artists American Idol bosses are threatening to take legal action against a former contestant, Josiah Leming, because he is planning to release an album, but not through the TV show’s associate label, SonyBMG. Leming, who was homeless when he entered the talent contest, made it through the audition process but not to the final 24 contestants who appear in the main show. However, all those who are selected to appear in the show sign a contract which only allows them to release music through SonyBMG. Leming’s debut album is due to be released in January by Warner Music, which has prompted Idol chiefs to send him a letter threatening to sue if he goes ahead with the release. A spokesperson for the singer told the New York Post: “Josiah was the only Idol contestant ever to get a record deal who didn’t make the top 24, and one of only four contestants to get a deal this year. He has personal reasons for getting his music out, threat or not. His mother has terminal cancer, and nothing is going to stop him from getting his music out while she is alive to share it. His album on Warner…

Krafwerk sample found not to infringe
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2008

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing Germany ‘s highest civil court has held that sampling musical notes does not always, in principle, violate copyright, asking that the decision of a lower Hamburg court be reconsidered. The lower court had held that German rap producer Moses Pelham, who used an uncleared two-second sample from Kraftwerk’s 1977 track ‘Metal On Metal’ in the rhythm sequence of the 1997 Sabrina Setlur song ‘Nur Mir’ had infringed the copyright in the song (rather than the sound recording). The new ruling finds that whilst sampling a melody does constitute infringement, the use of ‘notes’ in a recording in such a way that the original melody is not identifiable – which was arguably the case in ‘Nur Mir’ – does not infringe. The higher court decision means the Hamburg court will now have to reconsider the Kraftwerk case again. This decision is similar to the conclusion reached by the US courts in Newton v Diamond (2003) where it was held that the Beastie Boys had not infringed the copyright in the melody of a composition by James Newton as the use was not substantial. As the Beastie Boys had secured a licence to use the sound recording, no action could be brought.;_ylt=Ap3QE3xrQY2BjMA5V9kDR_SVEhkF

Law schools take on the major labels in downloading saga
Copyright , Internet / December 2008

COPYRIGHT Internet It may not be good for business, but the US record labels are providing a heck of a legal education for numerous young law students and high profiles cases for their professors. Now Harvard law school Professor Charles Nesson has raised the stakes with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents the major record labels, by arguing that the litigation brought by the RIAA against alleged illegal downloaders and fileswappers is an abuse of federal process and the US statute it relies upon is unconstitutional. The case involves Joel Tenenbaum, a teenager when he allegedly downloaded just seven tunes over a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing network, is acing a legal action from the RIAA in US federal court for copyright infringement under the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999. Over the course of years of litigation, during which he represented himself pro se with the help of his mother, Tenenbaum has filed a set of counterclaims against the music company plaintiffs, which he is pressing to have tried before a jury, and he also seeks to tack on the RIAA as a counterclaim defendant. It is in this context that Harvard Law…

Whiter Shade of Pale dispute goes to the House of Lords
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2008

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing The dispute between Procol Harum frontman Gary Brooker and the band’s original keyboardist Matthew Fisher over who wrote the famous organ music that appears in their biggest hit ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ is heading to the House of Lords. The song was originally credited to Brooker and Keith Reid and for nearly four decades that claim went undisputed with the duo receiving all the royalties generated by the track. The High Court found in Fisher’s favour, ruling he did write the organ music in the song and that he was therefore due 40% of the money generated by it, albeit only from the point where he filed his initial lawsuit in 2005 (this equated to 20% of the songs overall royalties including lyrics). Brooker promptly appealed, and earlier this year the Court of Appeal ruled that, while it accepted Fisher did contribute the organ melody to the song, because he had taken so long to make his claim he shouldn’t be given any royalties past, present or future. Fisher is now appealing the appeal and the House Of Lords have accepted his case. Confirming the case would now proceed to a second appeal stage, Fisher told reporters last…

Napster judge calls for major reform of copyright law in the USA
Copyright / December 2008

COPYRIGHT All areas Judge Miriam Hall Patel, who presided over the case that effectively shut down the ‘mother’ of download sites, the original Napster, has proposed a bold plan to reform copyright law in the USA by creating a new joint public-private organisation which would have authority over the licensing and enforcement of copyright. Patel said “there needs to be a comprehensive revision of the provisions that relate to the administration of copyright licensing, royalties and enforcement” adding “I propose that a joint public/private administrative body made up of representatives of all competing interest, including the public, be established and authorized to, among other powers, issue licenses; negotiate, set and administer royalties; and adopt rules and regulations to carry out these purposes.” Patel suggests that all copyrighted music in the US would fall into the system, that compulsory licences should be abolished and replaced with blanket licences, that a new royalty paying body would be set up, that there would be an independent arbitration body and finally (and quite controversially) any new devices and technology capable of recording, distributing or copying music would need to be approved before being released to consumers. “It was not surprising that the notion of free music caught on,”…

Sharkey says councils and police misusing Licensing Act
Licensing , Live Events / December 2008

LICENSING Live event industry UK Music boss Feargal Sharkey has hit out at the Metropolitan Police and London borough councils, saying they have overstepped the mark in their administration of 2003 Licensing Act. Sharkey, who previously headed up the Live Music Forum, the DCMS sponsored panel which was set up to monitor the impact of the 2003 Act on the live music community, was speaking about the state of gig licensing since the new legislation in front of Parliament’s Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee and explained that as licensing is handled by local councils who take advice from local police, the impact of the new laws varies around the country, but in some areas new licensing powers were being used to hinder legitimate live music events. Focusing on London, he said that a dozen councils in the capital had adopted a system proposed by the Police for the risk assessment of live music. This meant promoters were required to fill in the Metropolitan Police Form 696, which requires specific details about the type of music that will be performed plus the names, aliases, phone numbers and addresses of all performers up to 14 days before the event. This, Sharkey…

Gunners get three gigs a year
Licensing , Live Events / December 2008

LICENSING Live events industry Islington Council has agreed to allow three concerts a year at soccer team Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London, under strict conditions. According to the new licensing agreement, noise levels must not exceed set limits, concerts must finish by 10:30pm, a dedicated noise complaint line must be open for residents to use during concerts and Arsenal must put together a noise management plan before each concert. Arsenal applied for the introduction of music events at the 60,000-plus capacity stadium after Bruce Springsteen successfully became the first artist to perform there over two nights in May. “Arsenal worked closely with the council to minimise any disturbance from this year’s Bruce Springsteen concerts and now have a chance to show they can responsibly hold concerts in the future,” said Stefan Kasprzyk, chair of the Licensing Committee, in a statement. “If conditions … such as noise limits are broken then the licence can be brought back to the Licensing Committee immediately for review by anyone who feels they have legitimate cause.”

Clint Black files suit against ex-manager
Artists , Contract / December 2008

CONTRACT Artists By E Thomas Wood writing in the Nashville City Paper Fifteen years ago country star Clint Black fell out with his manager, ZZ Top co-founder Bill Ham. He filed a lawsuit over royalties and publishing rights, eventually spending seven months mired in litigation before reaching a settlement and signing on with a new manager/accountant, Charles Sussman. Now Black is suing Sussman and his firm, Gudvi, Sussman & Oppenheim. In a complaint filed in the Davidson County Chancery Court, Black asserts that Sussman and his firm “repeatedly engaged in self-dealing, negligence, and/or gross negligence” in steering his finances. The lawsuit says Sussman convinced Black to assign more than $500,000 in royalties to Equity Records, an independent record label in which both Sussman and Black have minority ownership. Black says he got nothing in return for this arrangement and was, in effect, “providing Equity an interest-free, unsecured loan.” Further, he claims, Sussman was taking monthly payments from Equity without his knowledge. Black claims Sussman also had him sign more than $1 million worth of personal guaranties for Equity. Black also claims that Equity did seem to have the benefit of a long term agreement with rising stars Little Big Town but last…

Kanye’s camera crackdowncall
Artists , Defamation , Privacy / December 2008

PRIVACY / DEFAMATION Artists Kanye West has spoken out against the paparazzi after being arrested on Friday following his latest altercation with the snappers, this time in the UK. Following his arrest in LA last month after a run in with a photographer at the city’s Airport, this time West was taken in for questioning after causing a photographer’s nose to bleed in Newcastle. He wasn’t actually charged on either occasion. West wrote on his blog this weekend: “Who’s winning, me or the media? Regardless of how much light I put out, there are people working just as hard to only deliver darkness. If you listen to my music, how could I deliver so many positive uplifting messages and be the monster that the media paints? Paparazzi give real photographers a bad name”. Commenting specifically on the Newcastle fracas, he continued: “I put my hand up to the camera in self-defence! Here’s what happened…when I left the club, I was encountered by a thirsty paparazzi as usual. He felt he had more rights to my space than me, so I put my hand up to prevent him from taking my image. I didn’t assault him but merely putting my hand…

McCain fights back against Jackson Browne lawsuit with fair use doctrine
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2008

COPYRIGHT Music publishing Senator John McCain, the loser in the US presidential campaign, is planning on fighting a lawsuit launched by singer songwriter Jackson Browne over the use of one of his songs in a McCain campaign ad. Quite a number of artists objected to their songs being used at Republican rallies in the run up to America’s election although the Republicans pointed out that recorded music played at events – even political events – is covered by blanket licences if the venue has these (the equivalent to PRS and PPL licences in the UK).  Browne’s 1978 song ‘Running On Empty’, however, was used in an advert, so. However, with only a few words used from the song, McCain’s lawyers are claiming that – while they didn’t clear the use of the track with Browne – it is covered by the fair use exemptions in US copyright law. His defence cites four fair use exemptions – that fact the song was used for non-commercial purposes, the fact the words that were used from the song (it’s title line) are an acknowledged cliché, that only a tiny portion of the song was used, and that its use won’t have damaged Browne commercially (in fact, they argue, it probably…

Should The EU Rethink Copyright Law For The Digital Music Age?
Copyright / December 2008

COPYRIGHT All areas ARTICLE LINK  This article takes an interested look at current issues in copyright and in particular the position of internet service providers in ‘facilitating’ copyright infringement. By William New at

Publicans drink the health of High Court judge
Copyright , Live Events / December 2008

COPYRIGHT Live events industry From the IP Kat The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Hospitality Association (BHA) are lifting their glasses to drink the health of Mr Justice Kitchin after he upheld their appeal against the decision of the Copyright Tribunal on the basis for the calculation of fees which their members have to pay for background music. The decision in Phonographic Performance Ltd and the appeal of the British Hospitality Association and other interested parties [2008] EWHC 2715 (Ch) was handed down on Friday. What was the dispute all about? As Kitchin J explained, it wasn’t just about the money — there was a serious issue relating to jurisdiction to deal with too: “This dispute has arisen in the context of references made to the Tribunal by the Secretary of State of various new licensing schemes issued by PPL for the licensing of the public performance as background music of sound recordings in public houses, bars, restaurants, cafes, shops, stores, factories and offices. These schemes were developed by PPL following an amendment to section 72 of the CDPA [Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988] … This removed what was perceived to be an anomalous gap…

Danish court confirms Pirate bay illegal and blocks access
Copyright , Internet / December 2008

COPYRIGHT Internet Music companies have welcomed a Danish ruling involving the world’s best known pirate distributor of  music, books and films. The decision confirms the illegality of Sweden’s Pirate Bay and requires a Danish ISP to implement measures to block access to the site. The judgment by the Danish appeal court upholds the decision earlier this year requiring access to the Pirate Bay to be blocked.  The court confirmed the mass scale infringement taking place on the Pirate Bay site and that the ISP in question, Sonofon, is contributing to the infringements by allowing access to the pirate site.  It is the latest step forward in attempts by the creative industries to engage ISPs in helping stop massive copyright infringement on the internet. The ruling was welcomed by IFPI, representing a membership of some 1,400 record companies internationally.  FPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy said: “This is a very important decision which sets a precedent for other countries and highlights the key role that ISPs should play in helping protect copyright online. The ruling is also a clear confirmation of the illegality of the Pirate Bay, coming just a few weeks before the criminal prosecution of the site’s operators in Sweden” adding “for…