US Appeals Court look at internet rights (and wrongs)
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing I have always been suspicious that the only reason that the songwriter and music publisher collection societies the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical Copyright Collection Society (MCPS) ever evolved into ‘PRS for Music’ was because that no-one then quite knew what a stream or a download was “in law” and that the merger only way they could sensibly (and legitimately) explain their right(s) to collect royalties from the use of their member’s songs on the internet. There was (and still is) much debate about what constitutes a ‘stream’ and what constitutes a ‘download’ and whether these form a public performance (whether a broadcast or a ‘communication to the public’) or are more like the sale of a copy of a copyrighted work – a ‘per unit’ sale. There again, some ask whether they both? Or are they the same thing? Or is copyright law so hopelessly out of tune with the modern world that none of these definitions are actually applicable? Well now a US Federal appeals court has had a go at casting some illumination on these issues and indeed on how the US collection society should be levying royalties for the use of collection society’s ASCAP (songwriter and music…

“Music labels lose downloads case” as Irish High Court reverses its earlier decision
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The extraordinary and wonderful IPKat reports in detail on an article in the Irish Times (11/10/2010). The story is a sequel to the efforts made in Ireland to get a “three strikes” policy up and running in the Emerald Isle in respect of unauthorised copying and file-sharing by internet users. Big-name recording companies Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony BMG and EMI Records brought an action in which they sought to have unauthorised internet copyists identified and then cut off, but in today’s High Court judgment Mr Justice Peter Charleton held that there was no legal basis for such relief in Ireland. According to the press report, the judge agreed that online infringement not only undermined the recording companies’ business but “ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living. It is destructive of an important native industry”. However, there were no laws in place in Ireland to enforce disconnections over illegal downloads despite the record companies’ complaints being merited. He also said this gap in legislation meant Ireland was not complying with European law. Meanwhile defendant internet service provider UPC predictably said it would work to identify and address the main areas of concern…

Google could fix record label piracy concerns – at a price
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet Google has offered the US record industry a new tool to help it more easily find links to infringing content that appear on the search engine – but wants to charge a fee for the tool. CNet reports that a letter sent to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), a Google executive advised that his company is making a number of new web search ‘API products’ available, one of which would be useful for content owners trying to keep track of illegal content sources appearing in Google searches and once the content owner has found an illegal source they can use the take-down system that exists under America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act to ask Google to remove the offending content link. So it seems that a search of the site costs, but a take down is free. The cost of using the new service, Site Search, will be five dollars per 1000 queries. CNet cite a music industry source who estimated that such charges could add up to several million dollars a year and this has ‘raised eyebrows’ in the music industry. CNet says that at a…

Online infringement
Copyright , Internet / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet ARTICLE LINKS;  A useful review of the recent Digital Music Summit at Belmont University titled “Music industry fights clashing digital battles” with comments from record label associations the IFPI and the RIAA and some different views from consumer champions EFF, amongst others: Also, in the wake of the cyber attack on ACS:Law and the leaking of personal details of thousands of suspected illegal downloaders and file shares, an update on the Ministry of Sounds’ actions against individual actions in the UK here and actions by filmmakers in the USA here and for Kiss front man Gene (sue ‘em all) Simmon’s views see Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement co-ordinator , visited the Future of Music Policy Summit and offered a brief summation of what’s on her agenda at And France’s brand new three strike’s law has launched wit the first wanrning emails being sent to suspected illegal downloaders and file shares. More here All Eyes on France as Officials Enforce New Antipiracy Law at

Bounty Hunters Let Loose
Copyright , Internet / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet ARTICLE:  By Cassandra Williams BA(Hons) LLB(Hons) The gloves are seemingly off as certain rights holders are turning to what some say are dubious tactics in order to prosecute and receive compensation for alleged infringement. However this is giving rise to data protection worries and possibly even worries of false accusations. One of the most well know “bounty hunters” in this field are ACS:Law, a London based legal firm who have been accused of being lax in their data protection and who have also been accused of “intimidating” people to enter into out of court settlements where the defendants have been accused  of illegally accessing and downloading porn, an accusation many would have been nervous about facing in court.   These concerns have been raised earlier this year by Which? Magazine and according to the BBC the Solicitors Regulation Authority is reviewing ACS’s letter-sending campaign on behalf of their content owning clients. Now ACS:law itself has become the “victim” of a hacker in a move which enabled a list of thousands of Sky web users details including names, contact, credit card information and potential details of alleged pornography downloaders who were accused of accessing to be published. ACS:Law had their…

High Court adjourns in ongoing data leaks case
Copyright , Internet / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet The U.K. High Court has granted BT, the telecommunications firm, request to stay an order requesting it hand over the identities of ISP subscribers suspected of illegal file-sharing. Dance music record label Ministry of Sound had hired law firm of Gallant Macmillan pursue internet users suspected of sharing its songs online; the firm identified computer IP addresses connected to the activity, and then asks ISPs, including BT, to identify the subscribers in question. Their action was pushed into the public eye after personal data on thousands of suspected file-swappers from ACS:Law, another law firm hired by copyright holders to seek out infringers, was leaked onto the internet net after a cyber attack on ACS. BT told the Guardian “We want to ensure broadband subscribers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people,” adding “the incident involving the ACS:Law data leak has further damaged people’s confidence in the current process. We’re pleased that the court has agreed to an adjournment so that our concerns can be examined by the court, this will then act as a precedent/test case for the future.” See

Judge Tells LimeWire to Disable Its Software
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Judge Kimba M Wood in the Federal District Court in Manhattan has issued an injunction that will essentially shut down LimeWire, the music file-sharing service that has been embroiled in a four-year legal struggle with the music industry. The case has already resulted in the company and its founder being found liable for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in damages (see Music Law Updates August 2010). The company says that it will continue negotiations with the major music companies in an effort to offer music legally for sale with a subscription service but in her ruling, the Judge forced the company to disable “searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality” of the company’s file-sharing software. Visitors to LimeWire’s Web site were greeted with a legal notice and the words, “downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorization is illegal.” In a statement the Recording Industry Association of America, the music industry’s trade group that had led the suit, said: “For the better part of the last decade, LimeWire and [founder Mark] Gorton have violated the law. The court has now signed an injunction that will start to unwind the massive piracy machine that LimeWire…

Swift faces action by ex-manager
Artists , Contract / November 2010

CONTRACT Artists Taylor Swift’s one-time manager, Dan Dymtrow has filed a lawsuit against the popular US singer, her father-manager and her record label Big Machine. Dymtrow worked with Swift back in 2004 on her early recordings but was fired by Swift’s father  in July 2005 ahead of him signing his daughter to country indie Big Machine. Dymtrow claims that Taylor Swift’s father conspired to cheat him out of millions of dollars earned by launching the Grammy-winning country star because he discovered Swift, signed her in April 2004 when she was 14 and played a key role in building her career before being dumped in July 2005. |he argues that his management deals with Swift and parents Scott and Andrea Swift provided that he be paid between 5 percent and 10 percent commission (or more) from Taylor’s music career but that after developing Swift and introducing her to industry heavyweights like Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta, he was strung along by the family and then fired to avoid paying him. In response, the Swifts claim that because Dymtrow failed to obtain the required court approval of his management contract with Taylor, then a minor, she legally disaffirmed the deal in 2005,…

Astronaut sues Dido
Artists , Image Rights / November 2010

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes The astronaut Bruce McCandless is suing Dido and her record label over unauthorised use of a photo of his 1984 space flight for the cover of her 2008 album “Safe Trip Home”. McCandless said he never gave permission for Dido to use the photograph, which shows him “free flying” about 320 feet away from the space shuttle Challenger. The Lawsuit, also naming Getty Images and Sony Music Entertainment, seeks unspecified damages for unauthorised use of McCandless’s persona (although of course being encased in a spacesuit his ‘image’ is somewhat obscured!). Comment from Simon Bradshaw, in the IPKat, explains that There’s clearly no case in copyright law as NASA pictures are, by US Government policy, in the public domain”. Bruce McCandless v. Sony Music Entertainment, 10-07323, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles)

A rather honest admission from Diana Vickers
Copyright , Music Publishing / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing CMU Daily reported that The Red Hot Chili Peppers are reportedly considering suing former ‘X-Factor’ semi-finalist Diana Vickers over her new single ‘My Wicked Heart’, which the US band say borrows from their 1992 song ‘Under The Bridge’. Rather more alarmingly for Vickers, she seems to have admitted all in an interview with Digital Spy, telling the website, when asked about the similarity between her song and the RHCP track: “Yeah, that happened without even knowing. We wrote the song in an hour. We had the song and it didn’t have the ‘My Wicked Heart’ bit in it and then we put the vocal in and we were like, ‘Why does it sound so familiar?’ Then we realised it was because we were listening to ‘Under The Bridge’ the day before” adding (legal belt and braces?) “We were saying, ‘Should we change it? Should we not? What should we do? Sod it, no, we’re just gonna keep it, it works’”. I do hope Diana isn’t expecting song writing royalties from the track ….

Eminen dispute goes back to court
Contract , Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2010

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Last month we reported on FBT’s success in challenging royalty rates calculated by Universal. FBT were Eminen’s production company – and now the rapper himself has begun an action – or rather re-commenced an action – again against Universal. Last year Eminem’s company Eight Mile Style sued Universal, UMG’s label Aftermath and Apple Inc over the sale of Slim Shady’s track on iTunes, it appears on the grounds that Universal did not have the rights to licence Eminem’s music for download. Based on that claim, Eight Mile Style said it was due millions in damages but the case was settled by Universal and/or Apple and a promised payment in damages of over $2 million was agreed. Now it seems that Universal and/or Apple have not made good on that promise and, according to, Eight Mile Style has now filed a new lawsuit at the Detroit District court requesting a judge enforce the earlier settlement. Should this get to court this time round, it’s not clear if the case would centre on the contractual agreement made last October or on Eight Mile Style’s original claim regarding the download rights in Eminem’s music. In related…

Reeperbahn Campus Conference concludes with thoughts of Love Parade
Health & Safety , Live Events / November 2010

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events industry Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the tragedy at the Love Parade in Duisburg that focussed minds at the Reeperbahn Campus Conference, with delegates concluding that more should be done to share crowd management knowledge and experience across Europe, both within the live entertainment sector, and also with those in local government who regulate large scale events. Jens Michow, boss of trade body BDV said “With a tragedy this size, of course there will be a reaction, with people and government calling for new rules or regulations” but added “but in reality German law is already quite extensive in this area, and a lot of the new regulations being informally called for post-Duisburg are already there in the law … that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement”, he conceded. “Especially regarding the way venues and promoters agree security arrangements; but it’s important people don’t get hysterical here and overlook the protection that already exists in Germany”. But it was the lack of information, in particular with Local Authorities, that was talked about. Delegates pointed out that there was a lot of “great knowledge out there across Europe about how best to manage large events” but…

A memory of 1967: Harold Wilson wins Moving apology
Artists , Copyright / November 2010

COPYRIGHT Artists, politicians An article in the (paywall protected) Times in October reminded me of 1967 case involving the Move and the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. The promotional campaign for the Move’s hit single “Flowers in the Rain” backfired badly after the band’s manager Tony Secunda, without consulting the group, produced a cartoon postcard showing a nude Harold Wilson in bed with his secretary, Marcia Williams. Wilson sued The Move for libel and the group lost the court case and had to pay costs, with all royalties earned by the recordings, the song and the B-side “Lemon Tree” (the latter of particular chagrin to  composer Roy Wood) being awarded to charities of Wilson’s choice. The postcard’s designer and printer also paid damages, again to the charities. The ruling remained in force after Wilson’s death in 1995 The BBC website has this to say: The Move pop group have made an apology in the High Court to the Prime Minister for a “violent and malicious personal attack”. Libel action was taken by Harold Wilson after a postcard was published, promoting the group’s new record Flowers in the Rain. It featured a caricature of the Labour Prime Minister in the nude….