Jamie Thomas-Rasset file-sharing damages back up to $1.5 million
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / December 2010

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet In her third trial on copyright infringement charges for sharing 24 songs online, a US jury has ordered Jammie Thomas-Rassett pay $1.5 million in damages, or $62,500 per song. In the previous trial, the judge reduced a jury award from $1.92 million to $54,000. Both sides appealed that amount, which eventually led to a third trial solely on the matter of damages. Thomas was one of the thousands of people sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for file-sharing but unlike many who settled, she chose to fight her case in court, but lost twice but the question pf the quantum of damages remains.  US copyright law allows infringement damages of  between $750 and $150,000 per infringement. In the first trial Thomas was ordered to pay $9,250 per song, or $222,000 in total. After the trial judge held that he may have erred in law, a second jury awarded the record industry $1.92 million in damages. But Judge Michael Davis said that level of damages was totally inappropriate for the sharing of 24 songs on the internet and he cut the payment to a total of $54,000. The RIAA, while rejecting Davis’s damages ruling, offered…

Limewire pirated
Copyright , Internet / December 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet Less than two weeks after Judge Kimba Wood in the federal District Court in Manhatten ordered a halt to distribution of the file-sharing software application LimeWire, TorrentFreak reports that a “secret” development team has reengineered the software and released it back onto the Internet as the new and seemingly improved “LimeWire Pirate Edition” which is based on the LimeWire 5.6 beta released earlier this year. TorrentFreak say “LimeWire is back as good as new” with “a few significant changes which make it better and more streamlined than before”. A source told TorrentFreak that after the court’s decision “a horde of piratical monkeys climbed aboard the abandoned ship, mended its sails, polished its cannons, and released it free to the community” adding “All dependencies on LimeWire LLC’s servers have been removed, all remote settings have been disabled, the Ask toolbar has been unbundled, and all features of LimeWire PRO have been activated for free”. http://s0.2mdn.net/1651284/v3_new.html?rfp=http://www.v3.co.uk/v3/news/2272936/limewire-riaa-p2p-pirate andhttp://torrentfreak.com/limewire-resurrected-by-secret-dev-team-101108/ 

Pirate Bay four resentenced on appeal – fines up, but custody down
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / December 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Three of the four defendants in the Pirate Bay trial have had their custodial sentences reduced; Fredrik Neij will now serve ten months, Peter Sunde eight months and Carl Lundstrom four months (all reduced from original sentences of twelve months). Gottfrid Svartholm who claimed he was too ill at the time of hearing will have his sentence reviewed at a later date. The fines payable have been have been raised from 30 million kronor to 46 million Kroner (US $6.4m). The Pirate Bay website is still functioning. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11847200

Three arrested in UK ticket scam investigation
Criminal Law , Live Events / December 2010

CRIMINAL Live events industry Three people have been arrested in the UK for allegedly defrauding fans out of £1 million (E1.15 million) through two bogus ticket websites, worldwideticketstore.com andlivelinetickets.com.  premises of the first site was raided by Trading Standards Officers and the website for the latter closed by Police. Victims were usually told that their credit card had been declined and ask to send a cheque which was then cash but not tickets were forthcoming. The suspects, two men aged 68 and 54 and a woman aged 62 were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation in Surrey and Bromley. Police believe they have disrupted a ‘significant criminal network’ during the raids and arrests. In related news, after thre ticket resale problems at the last two Olympics officials in London are taking a hard line stance against ticket resellers. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has already set its sights on touts threatening legal action and the closing of illegal resale Web sites. In a recent meeting of National Olympic Committee delegates in Acapulco, Mexico, LOCOG Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe remarked, “The reputational damage for everyone across the board is huge if the…

BT’s deletions thwart Ministry’s trawl
Copyright , Internet / December 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet Music and club brand the Ministry of Sound has had to give up chasing 25,000 alleged file sharers – because BT has deleted their details. The Ministry of Sound started legal action in July to force ISPs to hand over customer details. The nightclub claimed these customers were guilty of infringing its copyright and somewhat controversially its lawyers Gallant MacMillan sent letters demanding £350 for the claimed uploading. After the well publicised hacking of ACS:Law in a similar case involving alleged illegal downloading of porn, BT decided to challenge this process and went to court to demand Ministry provide more information to make sure BT customer privacy was not breached. Ministry claimed it was happy to do this despite extra costs incurred, and despite the fact that it wasn’t using ACS Law. But it said it later found out that BT had deleted 20,000 of the 25,000 records and Ministry have decided it wasn’t worth the cost of providing the extra information to pursue just 5,000 people, so it has put the pirate chase on ice. BT said it had stopped bulk disclosures from 29 September until proper safeguards for its customers are put in place. BT said:…

UK Government announce (another) IP review
Copyright / December 2010

COPYRIGHT All areas David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, has announced another review of IP law saying “The founders of Google have said they could never have started their company in Britain. The service they provide depends on taking a snapshot of all the content on the internet at any one time and they feel our copyright system is not as friendly to this sort of innovation as it is in the USA” adding “Over there, they have what are called ‘fair-use’ provisions, which some people believe gives companies more breathing space to create new products and services. So I can announce today that we are reviewing our IP laws, to see if we can make them fit for the internet age.” A Press Release said that the Review will develop proposals on how the UK’s intellectual property framework can further promote entrepreneurialism, economic growth and social and commercial innovation.  It will examine the available evidence as to how far the IP framework currently promotes these objectives, drawing on US and European as well as UK experience, and focusing in particular on: .       Identification of barriers to growth in the IP system, and how to overcome them; .       How the…

TalkTalk and BT win review of online piracy law
Copyright , Internet / December 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet BT and TalkTalk have won their battle for a judicial review of the controversial Digital Economy Act designed to crackdown on music and video piracy. The telecoms companies had argued that the law, which calls on internet service providers (ISPs) to block illegal file sharing from accessing the internet, had been rushed through parliament in the “wash up” period before May’s general election. Mr Justice Hinkinbottom in the High Court has now granted a review of the Act on the grounds that it may conflict with European Union privacy laws and the Government may be forced to amend the law following the review, which is due to take place in February. Andrew Heaney, executive director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk, said the Act had serious flaws, and the debate that saw it passed in to law was attended by only 6 per cent of MP saying “The provisions to try to reduce illegal file-sharing are unfair, won’t work and will potentially result in millions of innocent customers who have broken no law suffering and having their privacy invaded,” he said. “We look forward to the hearing to properly assess whether the Act is legal and justifiable and…

Fela! Musical hit with lawsuit by star’s biographer
Copyright , Live Events / December 2010

COPYRIGHT Live events industry Producers of the $5 million stage musical on the life of Fela Kuti have been hit with a five million dollar lawsuit from the late star’s official biographer, who claims the show’s creators have ripped off his book.  Carlos Moore says he was approached by the makers of ‘Fela!’ in 2007 and $4,000 for the stage rights to his biography. Calling that offer “grossly insufficient”, Moore rejected the offer, saying he’d need a considerably larger advance and a cut of any stage show revenues to agree to participate.  Moore claims he then heard nothing more before the opening of ‘Fela!’ in New York. The show, he alleges, is wholly based on his book, which was used by the musical’s creators Jim Lewis and Bill T Jones without his “knowledge, authorisation or consent”. He this week filed a lawsuit, claiming $5 million in damages.  Producers of the show, which is backed by Jay-Z and Will Smith among others and which opened in London last weekend, say they are shocked by the lawsuit, not least because Moore took part in the publicity that surrounded the show’s Broadway opening, during which he praised the stage show for its “tremendous…

Bollywood star threatens legal action over ‘fake’ in advert
Artists , Image Rights / December 2010

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes Amitabh Bachan, one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, is threatening legal action over a tobacco advert that features a ‘sound alike’ of the actor promoting gutka, a mixture of chewing tobacco, crushed betel nuts and spices. Bachan, who says he does not smoke nor would he promote smoking, says the advert is unethical and paints him in a bad light and that  he will ‘take steps to stop this illegal practice’ saying ‘manufacturers of products be it toothpaste or a car or a mobile spend huge amounts of money and time and management to build its brand value with certain credibility. For it then to be destroyed through unfair and illegal means is not acceptable. In the USA, image rights have been extended to include cover ‘look alikes’ (Onassis v Christian Dior) and even ‘sound alikes’ – the 1988 case of Bette Midler v Ford Motor Co found that hiring a sound alike vocalist to impersonate Bette Midler in an advertisement was “to impersonate her voice’ and thus was ‘ to pirate her identity’ just as Dior’s action in using a Christine Onassis look alike model had infringed her rights. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bollywood-star-blasts-voiceover-fake-for-advert-2129787.html Bette Midler v Ford Motor Co (1988) 849 F 2d 460 Onassis…

Donald keeps injunction but loses anonymity
Artists / December 2010

REPUTATION Artistes The “super injunction” that stopping the UK media from reporting that Take That’s Howard Donald had been battling to stop an ex-girlfriend from dishing the dirt on their relationship has been lifted, though an injunction stopping the dirt dishing itself is still in place. Donald  went to court to stop Adakini Ntuli from selling her story to the tabloids after she sent Donald a text message in April which read: “Why shud I continue 2 suffer financially 4 the sake of loyalty when selling my story will sort my life out?” In response Mr Justic Eady granted the super injunction but this was appealed, and yesterday the Court Of Appeal lifted the super-injunction but kept the ban on the content Ntuli is planning to make public. Take That’s new album Progress has shifted 530,000 units in the UK in its first week, which according to the UK Official Charts Company, makes it the fastest selling album of the decade. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11764242

EMI dispute George Martin royalty for Fab Four Rock Band video game
Copyright , Record Labels / December 2010

COPYRIGHT Record labels According to the Daily Mail, EMI and Chrysalis could be about to commenced battle in court over whether legendary Beatle’s producer George Martin is due his usual 1.5% producer royalty on The Beatles catalogue in relation to the Fab Four edition of video game ‘Rock Band’, which released last year. Music publisher Chrysalis represents Martin’s producer Martin’s copyrights, including the 1.5% record sales royalty he is due, a right stemming from a 1965 agreement. However, it seems that EMI is arguing that its 1965 royalty agreement with Martin doesn’t apply in the case of the ‘Rock Band’ video game, because such a product does not come under the definition of ‘record’ in that contract. Needless to say, Chrysalis does not concur. In a letter included in a High Court submission, seen by the Mail, EMI’s legal beagles claim “[The] concept of a music video game neither then existed nor could be said to be in the contemplation of the parties”, and therefore the royalty payment did not cover such things. But Chrysalis argues that is irrelevant because “it was plainly the parties’ intention that the 1965 agreement would extend to cover formats and technologies which had not…

Dutch courts explain the copyright levy paradox
Copyright , Internet / December 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet Another legend, Jeremy Philips, blogs ( http://the1709blog.blogspot.com/2010/11/copyright-owners-better-off-in-regime.html ) on two recent and equally striking Dutch decisions handed down by the Court of Appeal of The Hague. In the two separate cases, the court ruled that, since downloading from illegal sources for private use was permitted under Dutch law, this was to the copyright owner’s advantage and explained this paradoxical position as follows: “In ACI et al. v Stichting de Thuiskopie the question was how the Dutch private copy levy (the “thuiskopievergoeding”) on blank CDs and DVDs should be calculated. Contrary to the decision of the District Court, the Court of Appeal ruled that downloading from illegal sources is permitted and should therefore be taken into account when determining the level of the levy: that should also compensate for loss of income due to downloading from illegal sources. The Court of Appeal stated that the private copying exemption in the Dutch Copyright Act does not differentiate between copies made from legal or illegal sources. With reference to statements made by the Minister of Justice, the Court argued that the legitimate interest of the right holders is more adequately protected in a regime that allows downloading from illegal sources. In view of the Dutch government’s…

Terra Firma lose Citigroup claim
Contract , General , Record Labels / December 2010

CONTRACT Record labels The Wall Street Journal report that EMI’s parent company Terra Firma has lost its legal dispute with Citigroup, in which it had alleged the bank misled it into paying too much to acquire the label.  Citigroup was found not guilty of fraud in a federal court in New York, after Terra Firma founder Guy Hands had alleged he was misled by Citi about competing bids for EMI. Terra Firma acquired the major label and music publisher for $6.3 billion in 2007 and the label has carried a heavy debt and Terra Firma has struggled to meet loan repayments to Citigroup. After the jury had revealed its conclusion, Citigroup’s legal representative Ted Wells criticised Terra Firma for pursuing the litigation. He told reporters: “I think Mr Wormsley was put through a terrible ordeal. He was totally innocent, he did nothing wrong. He is a man of honesty and integrity”.  EMI chief Roger Faxon insisted that the major was unaffected by the ruling, telling reporters: “EMI has had a solid operational performance over the last six months, driven by considerable success in both recorded music and music publishing. We are wholly focused on further developing our business, and on…