Sly Stone sues manager of twenty years
Artists , Contract / March 2010

CONTRACT Artists Recording star Sly Stone filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday, claiming that his former manager committed fraud and breach of contract for more than twenty years. The lawsuit also accused Jerry Goldstein of breach of fiduciary duty and conversion for diverting, converting and misappropriating Stone’s royalties and assets, and demands a full accounting from royalty collection companies to determine actual amounts taken, but they are estimated to be in the $20-30 million range. Robert J. Allan of Allan Law Group, who represents Stone, said in a statement. “Not satisfied with the royalties he diverted from Sly Stone, Goldstein, without Stone’s knowledge or consent, registered his trade name — Sly and the Family Stone — with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as owned by a Goldstein company and borrowed millions of dollars secured by Sly’s future royalties.”

Dre looks for the Death Row money
Artists , Contract / March 2010

CONTRACT Artists Dr Dre has launched a lawsuit against Death Row Records claiming that he is owed royalties by the company. In legal documents filed in february he claims that he has received no payments from the company since 1996 and that the label’s re-release of a  collectors’ edition of his 1992 album ‘The Chronic’ and a greatest hits package were without his consent. Dre’s lawyer Howard King told a judge at the Los Angeles Federal Court “When it came to paying artist royalties and honouring limits on Dr Dre recordings that could be released, the ‘new’ Death Row Records, to quote our client, ‘forgot about Dre’. This lawsuit will make sure they remember”. The hip hop star is seeking unspecified damages for breach of contract, false advertising and trademark infringement. Death Row was acquired by media company WIDEawake last year.

Black Eyed Peas face Boom Boom bust
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2010

COPYRIGHT Music publishing The Black Eyed Peas have been accused of plagiarism by rapper Phoenix Phenom who along with songwriter Manfred Mohr, have launched a lawsuit claiming that the Black Eyed Pea’s  track ‘Boom Boom Pow’ is “virtually identical” to their song ‘Boom Dynamite’ which they say they had already submitted to the Pea’s Interscope label. Artists in the USA are increasingly facing claims both of unlicensed sampling and all out plagiarism – Britney Spears faced a succession of claims and recently Coldplay faced a claim from Joe Satriani over alleged plagiarism in Vida la Vida. You can view Boom Dynamite here: – and make up your own mind. Me, I think it could be an interesting case! The White Stripes have a gripe too …The musician who wrote the music for that US Air Force advert, aired during the US football Superbowl, has issued an apology to The White Stripes after the duo complained that it sounded very similar to their song ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’. Songwriter Kem Kraft says the similarity is entirely unintentional.  From the CMU Daily 29th January 2010 and see the CMU news Blog at

Kookaburra wins down under

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, record labels More of the same – An Australian Court has found that Men at Work did copy Larrikin Music’s  song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, written by Marion Sinclair in 1934, in their composition and recording Down Under. Down Underrecord company Sony BMG and publisher EMI Songs Australia had disputed the claim but today the Federal Court ruled in Larrikin’s favour and Larrikin Music’s lawyer Adam Simpson welcomed his win saying it was yet to be decided what percentage of earnings from the song they’d be seeking commenting “It depends. I mean anything from what we have claimed which is between 40% and 60% and what they suggest which is considerably less”. The judge also ruled that a Qantas advertisement which used a small similar section of the riff was not in breach of copyright laws. EMI said it was pleased with this decision but Larrikin Music’s has said that it wasn’t ruling out further legal action. In an interview with ABC Australia’s The World Today programme music lawyer Stephen Digby said he was surprised by the court’s decision saying “ think it could have gone either way but my initial reaction and also looking at this case…

Australian court holds ‘safe harbour’ for ISPs
Copyright , Internet / March 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet, all areas Australia’s Federal Court has ruled that Internet Service Providers cannot be held liable for copyright infringements committed by their subscribers, dealing a blow to content owners in a closely-watched lawsuit against Australian Internet Service Provider iiNet. Justice Dennis Conroy found that whilst it was shown that iiNet had knowledge that its customers were committing copyright infringement, this knowledge did not equate to “authorizing” the activities ruling “While I find that iiNet had knowledge of infringements occurring, and did not act to stop them, such findings do not necessitate a finding of authorisation. I find that iiNet did not authorise the infringements of copyright of the iiNet users”. The case was brought by AFACT (the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) on behalf of a consortium of film and TV companies and centred on the ISP’s liability for illegal file-sharing committed by its customers. AFACT had asked for damages and wanted iiNet to be forced to disconnect any customers it knew were illegally sharing music online. The ISP had refused to forward file-sharing warning notices to its subscribers on behalf of the studios, saying they violated privacy provisions in Australian law. Instead, iiNet had taken to forwarding the…

Jammie Thomas faces third trial
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels I imagine the mention of the names Joel Tenenbaum and Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the two high profile and currently convicted file swappers in the USA, probably drum up nothing but despair in the offices of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in light of the ongoing negative press the record labels face for ‘suing their own customers’ etc etc. Even so, the RIAA has rejected a judge’s order reducing the damages awarded against convicted file-swapper Jammie Thomas-Rasset from $1.92 million to $54,000, meaning that the Minnesota single mum will now face a third trial on the issue of damages In her first trial, a jury found Thomas-Rasset guilty and ordered her to pay $222,000 in damages for copyright infringement. However, the judge later said he had erred in his instructions to the jury and ordered a new trial. In the second trial the jury again found Thomas-Rasset guilty, but this time awarded $1.92 million in damages. Then last month the judge from the second trial, Judge Michael Davis, sided with Thomas-Rasset’s attorneys and reduced that  jury award to $54,000, representing $2,250 for each song that Thomas-Rasset was found guilty of sharing – triple the statutory minimum…

Tenenbaum appeals too!
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, who along with a team of his students is defending Joel Tenenbaum, the post graduate student ordered to pay the recorded music industry the combined sum of $675,000 for downloading and sharing songs online has asked a federal judge to reduce the penalty or order a new trial. Nesson’s latest argument is that Tenenbaum only caused the companies to lose a total of $21 when he failed to pay 99 cents charged online for each of the 30 songs in question – and this should be the limit of his damages. Tenenbaum, a Boston University student admitted to downloading music and was penalised in July after being found guilty of violating copyright rules for downloading songs between 1999 and 2007 (see previous blogs on this site). His lawyers have appealed against the “severe” and “oppressive” damage award, asking that it be reduced to 99 cents for each song. The recording labels have described Tenenbaum as a “hardcore” infringer. Interestingly I asked my own students about the latest appeal and a straw poll revealed that sympathy had actually swung to the record labels! The idea of a ‘infringe now, pay iTunes…

High Court rejects PPL tariff appeal

COPYRIGHT Live events industry, record labels Last October the Copyright Tribunal rejected new rates that Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) wanted to bring in, siding with the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Hospitality Association who were fighting three new tariffs. Somewhat understandably, the collecting society had argued that larger premises should more than smaller ones for use of music. Where PPL had been asking for a hotel or pub of under 400 sq metres to pay a tariff of £464.80 for a licence, the Tribunal stuck at a rate of around £110. Unhappy with that decision, PPL asked the High Court to review and overturn the Tribunal.  Mr Justice Arnold has now rejected PPL’s appeal prompting a short statement from PPL which states as follows: “On the appeal, the Judge was limited to considering whether the Copyright Tribunal had erred in law, not whether the decision was one he would have made based on the evidence. Naturally the company is extremely disappointed that the Judge found there was no error of law although he identified some problems with the decision of the Tribunal. This leaves PPL with tariffs that it believes substantially undervalue the rights of its performer…

Four charged in Thai nightclub disaster
Health & Safety , Live Events / March 2010

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events industry Four people have been formally charged over the New Year’s Eve nightclub fire in Bangkok that left 67 people dead at the Santika nightclub in Bangkok. Three Santika employees and the lead singer of the band on stage when the fire broke out (Burn) have been charged with various counts of gross negligence. The fire broke out in the packed club as about 1,000 people were celebrating the start of the New Year. Hundreds of people were trapped inside the building, which had no proper fire exits, no sprinkler system, no emergency lights and was registered as a private residence. Witnesses said people were trying to find their way to the single exit using their mobile phones for light. The club was in an area where nightclubs were banned, the owners had failed to get an entertainment licence and the city architect’s signature on the building design approval had been forged according to a Ministry of Justice investigation. Thai police have been criticised for the slow pace of their investigation and there have been many accusations of lax enforcement of fire regulations. Band singer Saravuth Ariya has been charged with setting off the fireworks that police believe…

The everlasting threat of noise
Licensing , Live Events / March 2010

LICENSING Live events industry ARTICLE LINK:  By Peter Coulson in the Morning Advertiser An [noise] abatement notice is a potent weapon in a local authority’s armoury because the threat it poses is more or less everlasting. It just stays in the background, waiting for something to happen … with news that a number of venues in the UK are facing closure over noise complaints, sometimes from just a handful of people, Peter Coulson’s article is a practical read.