UK Government moves towards term extension for sound copyrights
Copyright , Record Labels / January 2009

COPYRIGHT Record labels The UK’s Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, speaking at the UK Music’s Creators Conference at the ICA in London has said he would now support an extension of the term in UK copyright protection for sound recordings from the current 50 years to 70 years. Record labels and some high profile artists have argued that the current term is unfair compared to the life plus seventy years term granted to writers and songwriters, and have been pushing for an extension from fifty to 95 years, which would bring the UK in line with the US. There is a sense of urgency about all this because some of the most profitable records of the rock ‘n’ roll era, including Elvis Presley, are already in the public domain, with early Beatles and Stones recordings are all due to come out of copyright in the next decade. Performers have been broadly supportive of the move but the Music Managers Forum have expressed some concerns, not least as the copyrights are normally owned by the record companies – and cynics argue that most artists don’t see that share until they have ‘recouped’ on the label’s initial investment, and that for many artists…

New strategic review of copyright law announced in UK
Copyright / January 2009

COPYRIGHT All areas Our friend Laurence Kaye has pointed us to the announcement that the UK Government has launched a strategic review of copyright law with David Lammy MP, Minister of State for Intellectual Property and Higher Education saying that the UK wants to be at the forefront of this debate at an international level particularly as the creative makes up 8.2% of GDP with 1.9 million people employed in the sector. The Intellectual property Office has formulated a wide ranging consultation and submissions can be sent to the IPO until February 6th 2009. The Government has created a new Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (SABIP) which will play an important role in the development of this work . In turn, SABIP has created an Expert Panel to help it develop its thinking on copyright and Laurie is on that panel. The IPO’s Issues Paper (see here ) focuses on the four areas being looked at and the questions posed are: 1. Access to works: Is the current system too complex, in particular in relation to the licensing of rights, rights clearance and copyright exceptions? Does the legal enforcement framework work in the digital age? 2. Incentivising investment and creativity: Does the…

Sony pay $1 million to settle child privacy case
Internet , Privacy , Regulation / January 2009

PRIVACY / REGULATORY AFFAIRS Internet Sony BMG Music Entertainment has agreed to pay $1 million to settle charges that it violated US law by collecting personal information online from children under the age of 13. Sony BMG agreed to the payment as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over charges it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The FTC had alleged that Sony BMG, through its music fan Web sites, had improperly collected and disclosed personal information from thousands of children under the age of 13, without their parents’ consent. Users are required to submit their date of birth to register for the sites, the FTC said, and on 196 sites, Sony BMG knowingly collected personal information from at least 30,000 underage children without parental consent which also meant that this might allow children to interact with adults through comments, message boards and other forums.

Madonna claims five million pounds for privacy breach
Artists , Privacy / January 2009

PRIVACY Artists Madonna is demanding £5 million from the Mail On Sunday after they published photos of her wedding to Guy Ritchie which had been “deviously” copied at her Beverly Hills home. CMU Daily report that the Mail published photos of the Madonna/Ritchie wedding in early October as the couple began divorce proceedings. No photos of the 2000 wedding at Skibo Castle in Scotland had ever been previously released and only photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino took photos at the event, and the only copies of his pictures were given to the couple. Madonna seemingly kept her wedding album at her Beverley Hills home. It’s alleged that an interior designer working at the singer’s property found the album and took photos of the photos. It was those that were sold to the Mail. Madonna has sued for breach of privacy and copyright and her lawyer told the court that the pictures of a “wholly private” event were copied and supplied “surreptitiously”, and that the tabloid had “ambushed” his client by publishing the photos without first approaching her about them, because they knew if they did she’d seek an injunction to stop their publication. The quantum claimed is likely to raise eyebrows and…

French first lady takes action over bag
Artists , Image Rights / January 2009

IMAGE RIGHTS Artists Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has brought a legal action in the St Denis Court in Reunion Island (located in the Indian Ocean) over the use of her image. The case centres on a bag produced by a company called Pardon which featured a ‘posterised’ nude image of Bruni- Sarkozy taken in 1993 for an anti-AIDS campaign when she was 25. The former model claimed damages of 125,000 Euros which it was argued represented the commercial rate which would have been appropriate although the claim made in clear that Bruni-Sarkozy had no wish to market her image in this way. The court agreed that Pardon did “not have, or even claim to have, Ms Carla Bruni’s consent to use her image as part of a publicity campaign.” Awarding Bruni-Sarkozy 40,000 Euros (£37,000), the court also banned all sales of the bag. Pardon’s, which sells fashion clothing and accessories on the Island had already withdrawn the 3 Euro bag. Boss Peter Mertes said after the hearing the damages were “excessive” adding “It’s a heavy price to pay for a silly mistake”. Pardon have said they will appeal. Sarkozy-Bruni (and President Nicolas Sarkozy) had previously filed a lawsuit…

Coldplay face Satriana in plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2009

COPYRIGHT Music publishing By Cassandra Williams, postgraduate law student, the College of Law Joe Satriani, American guitarist and session musician has claimed that the melody in the title track from the recent Coldplay album, ‘Viva La Vida’, is taken from his instrumental song ‘If I Could Fly’. He has now brought legal proceedings at the LA Federal Court, alleging the band used “substantial original portions” of his song. The guitarist has told reporters that suing Coldplay over his plagiarism allegations was the last thing he wanted to do, but that his hand was forced after the band refused to talk to him about the issue. Speaking to MusicRadar he said he wasn’t taking legal action out of “malice”, but that: “I’m just doing what I need to do as an artist, to protect what’s mine, to protect those feelings I put down in song. I did everything to prevent the case going to court, but Coldplay didn’t want to talk about it”. When he first heard the Coldplay song he claimed it “felt like a dagger went right through my heart”. It wasn’t only Satriani that recognised the similarities as he explains that “Almost immediately, from the minute their song came out,…

Iranian musicians condemn copyright infringement
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2009

COPYRIGHT Music publishing From the Tehran Times A meeting on the infringement and limitation of intellectual ownership rights in Iran was held on the sidelines at the December 12-16 Fajr International Music Festival at the Iranian Artists Forum. At the conference, the head of Hermes Music Recording Company Ramin Sediqi identified a number of issues said that that sometimes artists make false claims about their production and sometimes they are unaware of the rights they have concerning their works. Pointing to the composition “Kalider,” which was inspired by Mahmud Dowlatabadi’s renowned novel of the same title, Sediqi lamented that some artists accused “Kalidar” composer Mohammadreza Darvishi of plagiarism. “In music, we are permitted to draw inspirations from books if we do not use specific words from the work and do not quote any part of it in our musical composition”. Legal expert Hassan Mirhosseini also attended the seminar and said that the law protecting intellectual property rights, whose penalty for those convicted is three years in prison, was approved by the Iranian parliament in 1970 but pointed out that there were major problems with enforcement in Iran with a lack of effective sanctions and official organization to prosecute offenders. He added…

Mother in legal fight on music downloads
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2009

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels From an article by Katie Mulvaney in the Providence Journal A Providence woman has attended federal court to fight a music company’s efforts to seize her computer in its pursuit of allegations that her son illegally swapped songs online as a student at Classical High School. Capitol Records have filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts which accuses Joel Tenenbaum of violating copyright laws by downloading and sharing seven songs while a teenager living at home in Providence. Tenenbaum, 24, now lives in Boston, where he is studying toward a doctorate in physics at Boston University. The company has asked the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island to compel his parents, Judith and Arthur Tenenbaum, to turn over the family computer so experts can inspect it. Judith Tenenbaum said before proceedings were to begin yesterday that the family disposed of the computer her son used as a teen years ago.  “That was two computers ago,” she said. She is reluctant to turn over her current computer, she said, because it contains personal information.  Yesterday’s hearing before Magistrate Lincoln D. Almond was postponed after he concluded that Tenenbaum’s lawyer, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, was not eligible to argue before the court….

Warners propose university download licence scheme
Copyright , Internet / January 2009

COPYRIGHT Internet Warner Music Group’s digital music strategist, Jim Griffin, is proposing a “‘voluntary blanket licensing’ for online access to music” scheme whereby students are taxed for the privilege of legalized file-sharing with the proceeds collected by a nonprofit organization. A number of universities have expressed an interest, unsurprising in light the recent passage ofthe Higher Education Act (HEA), which included provisions forcing colleges and universities to combat illegal file-sharing on campus, may eventually cost these institutions some $500,000 USD annually. The proposal will make all students, whether they live off campus or not, or even whether they share music or not, to pay an extra fee with their college tuition as a levy. One article, Debating an ISP Piracy Tax, commenting on the idea says “The idea of collective licensing is obviously not new. The EFF proposed just such a system back in 2004 but the music industry instead decided that “suing the hell out of everyone” (TM) made better business sense. In light of the group’s creation, the EFF penned a guide on the right and wrong way to go about collective licensing” adding “The EFF believes a good system would be voluntary for users, artists and ISPs. A bad…

Facebook service held to be valid by Australian court
Litigation / January 2009

LITIGATION All areas I was recently asked about service by MySpace where a US band’s attorney had sent a cease and desist letter to a UK band they claimed had a similar sounding name. I have to admit I wasn’t sure this was effective service of any sort and I could not find any precedents on the matter. Now and in what may be a first, lawyers have pursuaded a judge in the Australian Canberra’s Supreme Court to allow them to serve the documents over the internet after repeatedly failing to serve the papers in person. Carmel Rita Corbo and Gordon Poyser had allegedly failed to keep up repayments on a $150,000 (£44,000) loan they had borrowed from MKM Capital, a mortgage provider. The pair had ignored emails from the law firm and did not attend a court appearance on Oct 3 and claimants said the pair had “vanished”. The claimant’s lawyer, Mark McCormack said “It’s somewhat novel, however we do see it as a valid method of bringing the matter to the attention of the defendant” and insisted there was no other way to find the pair saying “They weren’t available at their residence. They no longer worked at…

RIAA end lawsuits against individual downloaders
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2009

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The Recording Industry Association of Americas much criticised and sometimes ridiculed policy of suing individual fileswappers and downloaders is to be stopped. The group which represents the US recording industry has now said that it abandoned its policy of suing people for sharing tracks and will now work with Internet service providers to cut abusers’ access if they ignore repeated warnings (a policy already law in France and being mooted in the UK). The move ends a controversial program that saw the RIAA sue about 35,000 people for swapping songs online since 2003. The high legal costs for defenders saw virtually all of those hit with lawsuits settle, on average for around $3,500. However, the RIAA’s legal costs are thought to exceed the settlement money it brought in and artists benefited not one cent. The RIAA have said that they stopped sending out new lawsuits and warnings in August, and then agreed with several leading but as yet unnamed U.S. Internet service providers to notify alleged illegal file-sharers and cut off service if they failed to stop. The RIAA has credited the lawsuit campaign with raising awareness of piracy and keeping the number of illegal file-sharers in check while…