Thimbleberry organiser cleared of permitting drug use
Criminal Law , Live Events / May 2010

CRIMINAL Live events industry Thimbleberry Festival organiser Andy Norman has been found not guilty of allowing the use of cannabis on his festival site in 2009 after a police investigation. Durham County Constabulary charged 51 year old Norman with permitting the smoking of a class B drug on his premises. The offence was said to have taken place between September 24 and September 28, this year.”  Officers arrested him shortly after the three-day festival, which sees hundreds of music lovers from across the UK camp at Thimbleberry Hall Farm twice a year. Judge Christopher Prince recorded the verdict at Durham Crown Court after concerns over the committal and the definition of the word ‘premises’. Norman, who runs the Festival in both June and September, has already cancelled the 2010 June event but plans to now run the September event. He is seeking to recover £3,513 confiscated by the Police at the September 2009 event as potential proceeds of crime. In Cumbria a number of supply of drug related cases against individuals reached the courts after arrests at Kendal Calling. Judge Peter Hughes QC sitting in Carlisle Crown Court warned of the dangers of young people being tempted into selling drugs…

Oasis stage invader sentenced to house arrest
Artists , Criminal Law / May 2010

CRIMINAL Artists The man who attacked Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher on stage in Canada has been sentenced to 12 months’ house arrest. Gallagher suffered three broken ribs after Daniel Sullivan pushed him from behind during a show at the 2008 Virgin Music Festival in Toronto. The band later had to cancel concerts in Paris and New York. Sullivan, 48, had pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm. He said he was drunk and couldn’t remember how he got backstage at the concert. His sentence means he will be able to continue working. During the trial, Gallagher said in a statement that he felt like he’d been “hit by a bus” immediately after the attack. “I ended up in a heap on the floor,” he wrote. “I had no idea what had happened.”

Lib Dems push licensing reform for UK election
Licensing , Live Events / May 2010

LICENSING Live events industry Music Week reports that the Liberal Democrats, whose peer Lord Clement-Jones recently attempted to push his Live Music Bill through Parliament, is the only major political party that makes a specific promise to allow a licence exemption for small gigs. Music week say that the Lib Dem manifesto mirrors the key points in the proposed Clement-Jones Bill by suggesting it will “cut red tape for putting on live music”, provide an exemption from the Licensing Act for gigs of 200 people or less and reintroduce the two-in-a-bar rule. The manifesto adds, “We will reintroduce the rule allowing two performers of unamplified music in any licensed premises without the need for an entertainment licence, allow licensed venues for up to 200 people to host live music without the need for an entertainment licence, and remove the requirement for schools and hospitals to apply for a licence.’ The Clement-Jones Bill fell by the wayside because it was not afforded enough debating time to give it a Second Reading in the House of Commons. Instead the Government preferred to continue with its own small venue consultation, which has received over 800 responses that will form the basis of a…

Counterfeit T-shirt mastermind jailed for 15 months
Trade Mark / May 2010

TRADE MARK Merchandising Mark Blenkiron of Norwich has been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment after being found guilty of producing and selling counterfeit T-shirt for artists including Queen, Led Zepplin and Guns ‘N’ Roses.  Blenkion was arrested after Harringey Trading Standards raided his warehouse in North London and discovered a total of 8,600 items with a retail value in excess of £43,000 (E47,000). The raid was a result of information provided by security and intelligence firm Iridium Consultancy. Investigations showed he had ordered 200,000 blank T-shirts from one supplier alone. A Proceeds of Crime Act investigation has begun to recover profits Blenkiron made from his business, Shock Horror Limited. Blenkiron pleaded guilty to the charges at London’s Wood Green Crown Court.

Irish High Court upholds new internet laws
Copyright , Internet / May 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet Ireland’s High Court has approved the terms of a settlement reached between the Irish music industry and the country’s leading internet service provider, Eircom, to address piracy on its networks.  Under the terms of the settlement between Eircom and the music industry group IRMA, the ISP agreed to implement a graduated response system to address illegal file-sharing.  Eircom would send warnings to infringing file-sharers with the possible sanction of account suspension for those ignoring the messages and continuing to infringe.  During its implementation, the settlement was referred back to the Court due to concerns raised by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner that the settlement could be incompatible with data protection laws.  in the case, EMI Records (Ireland) Ltd and others v Eircom Ltd [2010] IEHC 108 Mr Justice Charleton rejected these concerns and held that the implementation of the settlement is lawful and does not involve a breach of data protection law saying  “It is completely within the legitimate standing of Eircom to act, and to be seen to act, as a body which upholds the law and Constitution.  That is what the Court expects of both individuals and companies.”  and “The internet is only a means of communication. It has not rewritten the legal rules…

BASCA query Spotify royalties

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing BASCA, the association that represents songwriters, composers and authors, has hit out at Spotify saying that the payments for copyright uses generated by the streaming on demand service are “tiny” and called for the company to be more transparent about the nature of its business. Last year it was claimed that over a five month period there were over one million plays of Lady Gaga’s hit Poker Face – the most downloaded song in the British chart history, and one of the most successful songs of the 21st century to date – but this earned the songwriters just $167 from Spotify. BASCA CEO Patrick Rackow told the BBC: “At the moment, the amounts of money that are actually being received are tiny. That might be because there is no money there. But there is no clear trail that can be established so that the songwriter can trace back what they ought to have got. These things are behind a blanket of secrecy, and that is extremely worrying and Rackow added “The danger is that these deals all become so secret that the mist that descends creates uncertainty, creates fear. That allied to the fact that the…

SXSW panel looks at music sampling: Why Hasn’t The Record Industry Sued Girl Talk?

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishing, artists There have been many defining records that were released without the artist first legally “clearing” the samples contained within.  Take for instance two coveted 1989 hip hop releases, Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys and De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, or Biz Markie’s precedent-setting 1991 release, I Need A Haircut.  These blatantly sample-heavy yet genius-laden works have helped to define hip-hop. and global culture at large for decades after their initial release, but have brought about an onslaught of lawsuits and hurt feelings along the way. Read more here

Italian court finds ISPs not liable for subscriber illegality
Copyright , Internet / May 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet An Italian court has ruled that Internet Service Providers should not be held liable for the illegal online actions of their customers, rejecting calls from copyright holders to compel ISPs to monitor users and block purported illegal file-sharing websites. Local film anti-piracy group Fapav (Federazione Anti-Pirateria Audiovisiva) filed the suit against Italy’s biggest ISP, Telecom Italia, in a bid to compel the company to take relevant actions against its subscribers. Judge Antonella Izzo did side with copyright holders on one issue, namely that ISPs must forward complaints of infringement from copyright holders to local prosecutors.

No Doubt win first round in Band Hero claim
Artists , Image Rights / May 2010

IMAGE RIGHTS Artists The CMU Daily reports that two efforts by gaming giant Activision to defend themselves against No Doubt’s lawsuit in relation to the ‘Band Hero’ game have been knocked back by the US courts. No Doubt had objected to the way their avatars in the pretend-to-play game could be ‘unlocked’ to play songs other than their own and the band argue that the gaming firm didn’t have the rights to use their likenesses in that way. As with when Courtney Love raised similar objections to the fact Kurt Cobain’s likeness could be made to perform non-Nirvana tracks, Activision denied any wrongdoing, claiming the artists knew what they were signing up to. CMU say that it is thought that the agreement between Activision and its artist partners doesn’t actually specifically cover the use of an artist’s avatar in songs other than their own, so this whole area is a bit greyer than the gaming firm originally implied (and indeed a win for No Doubt could expose Activision to claims from other featured artists). Activision’s response to No Doubt’s lawsuit included a claim that their use of Gwen Stefani’s avatar in tracks other than her own was covered by their…

Kelly Clarkson concert ‘banned’ by cleric because of smoking tie-up
Live Events / May 2010

RELIGIOUS LAW Live events industry Muslim organization Muhammadiyah has forbidden the upcoming Jakarta concert by US entertainer Kelly Clarkson because it promotes smoking. Yanuar Ilyas, head of the fatwa department at Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organization, said as it had previously declared smoking haram (forbidden), all things related to it were also forbidden, adding that it was not necessary to issue a new fatwa (religious edict). “We do not need to put another fatwa on a thing that is already clear,” Yanuar told the Jakarta Globe. The ban will have little impact on the concert actually going ahead, however, with the vast majority of religious rulings ignored. A spokeswoman for promoters JAVA Musikindo said they were discussing the controversy and were expecting to make a statement soon. Promoter Adrie Subono tweeted that “2,513 of my hairs fell out, I have a headache.” The controversy has also had an impact in the USA where the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said “If Kelly Clarkson goes ahead with the concert, she is by choice being a spokesman for the tobacco industry and helping them to market to children”.  In 2008, Alicia Keys was forced to “apologise for any misleading advertising initially associated with the show”…

LA court dismissed Carly’s coffee claim
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / May 2010

CONTRACT Record labels, artists A judge in Los Angeles has rejected a lawsuit from singer Carly Simon against coffee shifters Starbucks. Simon signed up to release an album via Starbucks’ short lived record company venture, Hear Music. ‘This Kind Of Love’, was released just as the coffee firm decided to bring the label project to an end, and Simon alleged that this  had a negative impact on the way her record was promoted and indeed sales of the album were disappointing, Simon accused the coffee firm of failing to fulfil its promises to market and promote the long player. She also said that bosses at the coffee giant had misled her when negotiating her record deal because they must have known the Hear Music venture was about to be scaled down, but they failed to share that information with her. Simon also argued that the coffee firm’s subsequent decision to discount her album in their own stores damaged her reputation. Starbucks refuted the allegations and said the main problem with the record release was that people just didn’t like the singer’s Brazilian-influenced fourteen track album. District Court Judge George Wu dismissed the case saying the singer’s contract with Starbucks said…

EU launch consultation on the creative industries
Legislation / May 2010

LEGISLATION All areas The European Commission is launching a public consultation on the future of “cultural and creative industries”. The Green Paper “Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries” is open to individual citizens and organisations and in particular national, regional or local authorities, the European institutions and associations from the cultural and creative industries. The period for consultation Is from 27th April to 30th July 2010 and the objective is to gather views on various issues impacting the cultural and creative industries in Europe, from business environment to the need to open up a common European space for culture, from capacity building to skills development and promotion of European creators on the world stage. The responses to the consultation will inform the Commission and help it ensure that EU programmes and policies involving cultural and creative industries are “fit for purpose”.