Articles / May 2009

Click here to download this article as a PDF file (.pdf) Update 28/05/09: Depeche Mode ticket re-sales banned in Germany CMU daily (28/05/08) reports that a German court has banned a secondary ticketing website from selling tickets to the upcoming Depeche Mode tour in the country. Promoter  Marek Lieberberg,  took ticketing portal Ventic, owned by Dutch company Smartfox Media, to court after they began reselling tickets for Depeche Mode gigs which they had bought off the promoter’s company, or third parties. The lawsuit was based on the fact the terms and conditions attached to the tickets ban their resale, which, therefore, technically speaking puts Ventic, and any third parties they represent, in breach of contract and because Ventic hid their intent to re-sell when buying from official sites and so they were also guilty of “fraudulent purchase”. A Munich court backed Lieberberg’s claims this week, and served an injunction ordering Ventic to stop the resale of tickets to the German leg of the Depeche Mode tour. Welcoming the ruling, Lieberberg told Billboard: “This decision is the first small step toward the long overdue regulation of ticket sales and the restriction of black market trading. Our aim must be to prevent professional ticket auctions and unacceptable commissions…

Term extension plans stumble and fall – and then rise from the ashes as the European Parliament comes to the rescue

COPYRIGHT  Record labels, artists The British music industry’s attempts to extend the recording copyright from the current 50 years, possibly to as much as 95 years, were dealt a blow at the end of March after the UK pushed for greater clarity in the workings of a ‘session fund’ to ensure musicians (rather than just record labels) benefit form the term extension need to be debated. EU Minister Charlie McCreevy, who put the original extension proposals forward at a European level, included provisions to ensure that musicians benefited from the extension, mainly by increasing the royalties that are automatically paid to artists and session musicians oblivious of contractual arrangements once the initial fifty year term is up (currently in the UK, the only royalties musicians have an automatic right to is a share of broadcast royalties collected by PPL). McCreevy proposed a ‘session fund’ into which a cut of fifty-year plus royalty revenues are paid, which are then distributed to musicians involved in those recordings. The UK’s IP Minister David Lammy has made it clear that it is the musicians who he cares about and the UK Government is adamant that the fund system must be properly set up. A…

New Swedish anti-piracy laws triggers a thirty three percent drop in internet use and legal downloads might have doubled
Copyright , Internet / May 2009

COPYRIGHT Internet It’s been good and bad news for record labels, film companies, music publishers and other content owners in April as legislators in two European countries finally began to tackle the problem of internet piracy and peer-2-peer file swapping. First up French lawmakers moved a step closer to passing a “three strikes” law under which people who repeatedly pirate music, movies or TV shows could have their Internet connections cut off for up to year. On the 2nd April  the National Assembly voted in favor of key elements of the law on April 2nd but whilst The Senate have passed the President Sarkozy supported Creation and Internet law, the French initiative stalled at the last hurdle when the National Assembly then failed to pass the legislation on the 9th April. Despite this setback it is expected the bill to pass possibly as early as April 29th and possibly in an amended form: When passed, France would be the first in the world to cut off Internet access to people accused of copyright violations although consumer groups and human rights activists oppose the move: some consumer groups had warned that the wrong people might be punished – should hackers hijack…

Swedish Court find Pirate Bay four guilty but now the judge is in the spotlight!
Copyright , Internet / May 2009

COPYRIGHT Internet The Stockholm District Court in Sweden has found the four men behind the infamous Swedish BitTorrent tracking site The Pirate Bay guilty of assisting copyright infringement. Each has been sentenced to one year in jail. Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and millionaire donor Carl Lundström must pay SEK 30 million (£2.41 million) in damages. After the three week trial in Mark the court ruled (17th April) that the four were responsible for “promoting other people’s infringements of copyright laws”. The defendants have said they will appeal to Sweden’s Supreme Court and possibly onwards to the European Courts. The international music industry welcomed the judgment and IFPI Chairman and CEO, John Kennedy, said “The trial of the operators of The Pirate Bay was about defending the rights of creators, confirming the illegality of the service and creating a fair environment for legal music services that respect the rights of the creative community. Today’s verdict is the right outcome on all three counts. The court has also handed down a strong deterrent sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed.  This is good news for everyone, in Sweden and internationally, who is making a living or a business from…

The Pirate Bay trial – an important victory?
Copyright / May 2009

COPYRIGHT ARTICLE   By Tim O’Shea, Solicitor, Michael Simkins LLP   Last week’s conviction of the four men behind rogue BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay has been widely applauded by the music and film industries. The Stockholm District Court convicted the defendants of aiding and abetting breaches of copyright by facilitating the making available of copyrighted material via The Pirate Bay service. The defendants were sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay SEK30million (£2.5million) in compensation to various rightsholder groups. The trial The Pirate Bay site enables internet users to find and exchange files. Its user-friendly interface and search function enables other users to search for specific content or to browse organised lists of music tracks, films, games and other content. It also provides a number of related “trackers” that assist users in connecting to listed content and downloading it. The case was a criminal prosecution. Initially the defendants were charged with direct infringement (in addition to the charges of aiding and abetting for which they were convicted). An early coup for the defendants came when the charges relating to direct infringement were dropped by the prosecution shortly after the trial began. The individuals based their defence on the following…

Prison term for Spanish links site operator
Copyright , Internet / May 2009

COPYRIGHT Internet A Spanish court has jailed a man for running a website that provided links to unlicensed music content. In an earlier case a Spanish court had held that Spain’s copyright laws did not cover websites that enable others to infringe – unless they were profit making. Now a court has ruled that whilst Adrian Gomez Llorente did not make money from direct pay-per-download fees or host content he did make a profit from his website through advertising and SMS services and thus was guilty of infringing. Llorente received six months in jail and a 4900 euro fine for operating his website. As Llorente has no prior criminal record it seems likely that he will avoid actually serving time in prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Rules Provision of Copyright Act Violates First Amendment
Copyright / May 2009

COPYRIGHT  All areas A federal judge in Colorado has upheld a challenge to the United States Copyright Act brought by Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. U. S. District Court Judge Lewis T. Babcock of Colorado ruled in Golan v. Holder that section 104A of the Copyright Act violates the First Amendment insofar as it suppresses parties’ rights to keep using works they began using when those works were in the public domain. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2001 on behalf of several music conductors, sellers of classical music and film distributors who rely upon works in the public domain for their trade. These works were produced by foreign authors and for varying reasons lost copyright protection in the U.S. prior to the enactment of section 104A, which Congress passed in 1994 in an effort to comply with the Berne Convention, an international treaty protecting copyright owners’ rights. Section 104A restored copyrights to the foreign authors and removed the works from the public domain, forcing the plaintiffs—who previously used the works royalty-free—to either pay to use the works or cease using them. In a 2005 ruling, Judge Babcock initially rejected the First Amendment argument. However, upon appeal, the U.S….

EMI links with lotteries for digital prizes
Copyright , Record Labels / May 2009

COPYRIGHT Record labels The start of April heralded an interesting new move by record labels to find new ways to monsetize copyrights when  EMI announced that they had entered into a deal with a leading US based lottery company that will see musical prizes such as downloads, ringtones, merchandise and ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experiences added as prizes on scratch card based lottery promotions. The major’s partner is Pollard Banknote, which runs 45 lotteries around the world.  Confirming the partnership, Pollard Banknote’s Sina Aiello told reporters: “Lotteries all over the world will now have the ability to work with EMI Music’s entire digital roster of music from today’s stars and legendary artists as a marketing tool to create an emotional connection with fans in the coveted 18- to 35-year-old demographic. We are pleased to offer our customers a vast, new array of compelling instant prize and second chance draw options that will really resonate with music fans”. EMI Music Services’ Ronn Werre added: “Adding music as a prize element to a lottery program is an entirely new and exciting enterprise. This was the result of a great collaboration between Pollard Banknote – a very creative and innovative partner – and EMI’s Brand Partnership…

China gets new ad sponsored Google music service

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet Google, the four major music labels and 14 independent labels have launched an ad-supported music service in China in an attempt to make online music profitable there. The venture will have to compete with the numerous search engines which link users to illegally hosted free files but Google hopes that the new service will make it even easier for users to find what they want online while ensuring artists get paid for their work. The service is run through the partially-Google-owned which is responsible for selling advertising space and dividing revenues between the music labels. The site will be limited to users with IP address in mainland China. The move follows a numb er of legal actins brought by both the Music Copyright Society of China and the IFPI against leading Chinese search engines including Baidu and Yahoo – which have had mixed results in the Chinese courts.

Sampling creates controversy in music industry

COPYRIGHT Record industry, artists, music publishing ARTICLE LINK  By Ott Tammik (University of Oregon) Is music sampling without permission simply copyright theft – or is there more to this debate? This article details a new film Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport which hopefully adds to this to the ongoing tension between what many see as a legitimate transformative art and others see as illegal sampling.

UK copyright laws “the worst” and ‘the most out of date’ says new report – but are they?
Copyright / May 2009

COPYRIGHT All areas UK copyright laws “needlessly criminalise” music fans and need to be updated and Consumer Focus say that UK laws that make it a copyright violation to copy a CD that you own onto a computer or iPod should be changed. The call came after global umbrella group Consumers International put the UK in last place in a survey of 16 countries’ copyright laws. Consumer Focus said the UK had to catch up with the rest of the world.  “UK copyright law is the oldest, but also the most out of date,” said Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus. “The current system puts unrealistic limits on our listening and viewing habits and is rapidly losing credibility among consumers. A broad ‘fair use’ exception would bring us in line with consumer expectations, technology and the rest of the world”.  Consumer Focus point out that whilst it is currently a copyright violation in the UK to rip a CD that you own on to your PC or iPod, over half (55%) of British consumers admit to doing it and three in five (59%) think this type of copying is perfectly legal. The watchdog’s call was backed by digital rights…

Tenenbaum case now won’t be streamed live
Copyright , Internet / May 2009

COPYRIGHT Internet The Recording Industry Association Of American’s litigation campaign against student Joel Tenenbaum will not be webcast after all. The US Court Of Appeals For The First Circuit have ruled that the case should not be webcast. The judge overseeing the case said the event could be broadcast on the internet, but the RIAA appealed that ruling, and yesterday won. The First Circuit ruling only applies to a specific hearing at the start of the court case, but experts say the principle will be applied to the whole case. CMU Daily 17 April 2009

EMI – a deal that struck a discordant note
Business , Record Labels / May 2009

BUSINESS Record labels ARTICLE LINK:  On the day it was announced that Pink Floyd are taking legal action against EMI over the alleged underpayment of royalties and join a long list of dissatisfied artists including Radiohead and Paul McCartney, Simon Bowers looks at Terra Firma’s acquisition of the troubled major label and asks “Guy Hands called securitisation the crack cocaine of finance, so why didn’t he kick the habit” The Observer (Business, p9) 19th April 2009

Imagen buys Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue
Business , Music Publishing / May 2009

BUSINESS Music Publishing Imagem Music Group, owned by ABP, the Dutch pension fund, which has already bought up some of the pop catalogues of the now defunct BMG Music Publishing, and prominent classical publisher Boosey & Hawkes, has announced it has acquired the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organisation which owns and administers all the songs and musicals written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II – which includes the likes of ‘Oklahoma!’, ‘Carousel’, ‘South Pacific’, ‘The King And I’ and ‘The Sound Of Music’ – as well as the works of over 200 other writers, including many other stage musicals. They also currently represent Andrew Lloyd Webber’s catalogue of tunes in North America. The deal will see Imagem take ownership of both the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalogues, and its New York based business operations. The publisher’s existing management team, including President Theodore S Chapin, will continue to run the company. The Times  21 April 2009.

Wiltshire police finally ban all music
Copyright / May 2009

COPYRIGHT All areas Wiltshire’s police managed to engineer the cancellation of Moonfest last year but now police officers in Wiltshire have been told by their Chief Constable that they cannot listen to music played publicly from radios, televisions, websites and MP3 players following a demand for payment of £23,000 from the Performing Rights Society.  The PRS licence is required for all uses of music in all the Wiltshire force’s police stations, offices, canteens and communal staff areas such as gyms and the PRS said the demand is in line with the rate agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers and that the majority of police forces in the UK had agreed to licence music. However, Wiltshire Police said the “playing of music by any means across the force” would “cease forthwith” and that the licence fee money would be better spent on policing, and added that it was forced to impose the music ban “to avoid being liable to charges”.

Brooker v Fisher reaches House of Lords

COPYRIGHT Music publishing The dispute over the songwriting and royalties of the UK’s most played record, Procul Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Palehas reached the House of Lords. Matthew Fisher, who played the organ on the track, claims he is entitled to a share of royalties dating back to 1967. In 2006, the High Court ruled he was entitled to 40% the copyright, but that decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal last year with Lord Justice Mummery ruling that Mr Fisher, now a computer programmer from Croydon, south London, was “guilty of excessive and inexcusable delay in asserting his claim” saying “He silently stood by and acquiesced in the defendant’s commercial exploitation of the work for 38 years”. Mr Brooker’s solicitor, Lawrence Abramson, has said that if the law Lords overturn the Court of Appeal’s ruling, the implications for the music industry could be severe. He said it would open up the prospect of countless claims from musicians who felt their contribution to a song had been overlooked in some way, regardless of past contracts.