US Appeals court gives funkmaster George another victory
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2009

COPYRIGHT Music publishing George Clinton has done rather well out of music sampling lawsuits – he is a heavily sampled artist. Now songwriters David Spradley, Garry Shider along with George have won another claim after their track Atomic Dog was sampled.  The trio created the song and recording in a recording studio in January 1982, working without a written score. The track was released in the same year on the Computer Games album issued by Capitol Records, which retained the sound-recording copyright to the album. Spradley, Shider, and Clinton later transferred their interest in the composition of “Atomic Dog” to Bridgeport. This case arose out of an alleged sample of the track – in particular the sample of certain phrases. Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey set out the background to the case which is one of several hundred filed by Bridgeport Music, Inc., and Southfield Music, Inc., against entities and/or individuals associated with the ‘rap’ or ‘hip-hop’ music industry,” seeking declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and damages from some 800defendants for copyright infringement under the federal copyright statute, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq. Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Still N The Water Publishing, 327 F.3d 472, 475(6th Cir. 2003), one of 476 separate actions alleging infringement of musical…

Britney’s alleged lip synching prompts political debate
Contract , Live Events / December 2009

CONTRACT Live events industry It all started when Britney Spears was alleged to have mimed on her recent fourteen date tour of Australia and now the great lip syncing debate continues and has clawed its way up the political agenda with the country’s Musicians Union stepping in and backing an Australian politician’s call for promoters to make it clear when artists are going to mime on their marketing literature. The Fair Trading Minister of New South Wales, Virginia Judge, got the ball rolling by saying her state government was considering new rules to force promoters to tell ticket buyers if artists would not be singing live at events, either on promotional literature or printed tickets. The story gained momentum when some Australian media reported that fans had walked out of Spears’ first gig in the country in protest at all the miming and whilst the reports of fans leaving have strongly denied, Indeed the promoters of Spears’ dates said that the singer makes no secret of the fact she mimes and that fans understand this is because of the lengthy energetic dance routines which add to the overall entertainment experience. The Musicians Union of Australia says that it backs Judge…

Rammstien album cover deemed harmful to minors
Censorship / December 2009

CENSORSHIP Recorded music The artwork for the new album from German band Rammstein has been banned from public display in their home country after a Federal media regulator ruled that depictions of sado-masochism were harmful to children and young people. The Deputy President of the Federal Office also said that one track on the album in particular, ‘Ich Tue Dir Weh’ (or ‘I Want To Hurt You’) caused concern, possibly as a result of the line “Bites, kicks, heavy blows, nails, pincers, blunt saws – tell me what you want” and the regulator was also concerned about artwork showing guitarist Richard Kruspe with a masked naked woman on his knees. Another track, single release ‘Pussy’, was also criticised for glorifying unprotected sex (and Rammstein members are seen having full on sex in the video to ‘Pussy’, although a spokesman for the rockers insists doubles were used for the explicit scenes). As a result of the ruling no shops will be able to display the album in any place where it might be seen by anyone under eighteen and German retailers were given 24 hours to comply with the notice. Universal Music Germany has announced it will release a new version of Rammstein’s new album ‘Liebe Ist…

ISPs given safe harbour in Norway
Copyright , Internet / December 2009

COPYRIGHT Internet The At Last the 1709 Copyright Blog reports a 6th of November decision by a Norwegian District Court which concluded that there were no grounds for ordering internet service supplier Telenor to block internet access to The Pirate Bay. The case did not concern the question of whether customers of Telenor infringed copyright by using The Pirate Bay, but whether Telenor, by granting access to The Pirate Bay, committed an illegal act. The Asker og Bærum District Court concluded that Telenor did not unlawfully contribute to copyright infringements that take place by its customers’ use of The Pirate Bay. Accordingly, the court held that that there was no legal basis for ordering Telenor to block access to the website. Telenor has repeatedly emphasized that it does not support infringements that take place through use of The Pirate Bay and says that it co-operates closely with rights holders by establishing solutions for legal downloads and streaming of content. In its assessment, the court emphasised the unfortunate consequences of imposing blocking obligations on internet service providers. The decision is not yet legally in force and the music and film industry are considering appealing against the decision. From At last the 1709 Copyright Blog   12th…

Copyright Time Bomb Set to Disrupt Music, Publishing Industries

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, record labels, artists ARTICLE LINK By Eliot Van Buskirk The late 1970s, when punk exploded and disco imploded, were tumultuous years for the music industry. A time bomb embedded in legislation from that era, the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, could bring another round of tumult to the business, due to provisions that allow authors or their heirs to terminate copyright grants — or at the very least renegotiate much sweeter deals by threatening to do so.  and see

The Beatles “download” site ordered offline by US Judge
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / December 2009

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet             At the start of the month the internet was alive with rumours and then reports that a US website had made the Beatles catalogue available online – with tracks selling at the bargain price of 25c each. The news prompted the fab four’s label EMI to issue legal proceedings against which in turn prompted the boss of Music Rights Technologies, owners of Bluebeat, to produce a novel argument that his company were not infringing EMI’s copyrights – because they were their’s. Hank Risan’s argument was this – before making music files available via the service, his company made a new recording of each track using what he calls “psychoacoustic simulation”. By doing this, Risan says his company creates a new master recording and one in which they, rather than EMI or Apple Corp, own the recording copyright. So Risan’s argument was that providing BlueBeat pay a mechanical royalty to the songwriter or publisher who owns the actual song, they don’t need any licence from a record company or recording artist. The matter escalated when EMI realised that other recordings from the EMI catalogue were online including Blondie, Blur, Coldplay, Radiohead and Norah Jones and…

The Song Remains The Same: A Review of the Legalities of Music Sampling

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists, music publishing ARTICLE LINK: By Ben Challis A new abridged and updated version of Ben Challis’s 2003 essay on music sampling, “The Song Remains The Same”, has just been republished in the WIPO Magazine which is free both online and as a pdf. Ben’s article is followed in this issue by another essay, “Is Sampling Always Copyright Infringement?” by Polish lawyers Tomasz Rychlicki and Adam Zieli?ski, co-authors along with DJ Twister of “Sampling and scratching in US copyright and Polish law: a comparative analysis”, published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Law Practice earlier this year. In turn this is followed by a third article looking at  contemporary copyright issues – “Legal Use of Digital Content – Making it Clear and Simple” by Lesley Ellen Harris. A pdf of the entire magazine (Issue 6/November 2009) can be downloaded at