Closing the window – but have the little birds flown?
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2011

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet Readers of this blog may or may not be aware that almost ever since radio, and then television, became the music industry’s most important marketing tools, record labels and artists have used what seems to be an ever extending period between releasing a track to the media and actually selling discs (and now downloads) to the consumer to promote the song and the sound recording. For the last few years, as rampant peer to peer file swapping and illegal downloading  seriously decimated record label’s profits, many commentators have warned the labels that the ‘I want it now’ generation – brought up in a digital world of instant gratification – Google, Youtube, Spotify, We7 – simply won’t play the waiting game, however hard the labels try. Now Sony and Universal have finally decided to give in – by making legal downloads available on the same day that tracks hit the radio airwaves. With labels have sometimes waiting up to six weeks between starting promotion and releasing tracks to customers the writing was definitely on the wall for the practice – enhanced by the idea that if the digital customer can’t buy then they might just might ‘steal’…

Updates on copyright law
Copyright / March 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas A new survey in the US commissioned by NBC Universal shows that 23.8% of global Internet traffic involves “digital theft,” with the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol accounting for 11.4% of this figure. Brand and trademark monitoring firm Envisional’s analysis of the top 10,000 peer-to-peer swarms found that 99.24% of non-pornographic material being traded was copyrighted material. It also found that “infringing cyberlocker sites” accounted for 5.1% of global Internet traffic, while “infringing video streaming sites” made up 1.4% of global traffic. Nearly 100,000 North Americans have been sued for suspected copyright infringement on file-sharing networks over the past twelve months according to details of a study published by TorrentFreak. Again the majority are alleged to have utilised BitTorrent, although some users of eDonkey were also targeted. Chinese officials say they have arrested 4,000 people in relation to 2,000 separate cases of intellectual property infringement since last November. Gao Feng, Deputy Director of China’s Ministry Of Public Security’s Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau confirmed that the Chinese government had stepped up its efforts to fight commercial piracy operations. The USA estimates that US IP industries alone lose $3.5 billion a year to Chinese piracy. It also appears that Google has responded pressure from…

Spain (re)introduces tougher new copyright law
Copyright , Internet / March 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet The Spanish Parliament has passed the reintroduced legislative proposals that make it easier for content owners to target copyright infringing websites, after the proposed new copyright laws were originally knocked back by the country’s parliament just before Christmas. The so called Sinde Law is Spain’s attempt to introduce new regulations that reduce levels of illegal file-sharing and would offer a fast-track system through which content owners can force commercial websites that exist primarily to assist others in their illegal file-sharing offline.  Amid a high profile campaign by some internet service providers, websites and consumer groups, including the accusation that the legislation was ‘US influenced’, the House of Representatives originally voted against the proposals. The legislation has been reintroduced with new safeguards which include a judicial stage in the shut down process. The French government also had to add in a judicial stage into their Hadopi three-strike law.  A January 23rd poll in France indicated that 49% of French Internet users continue to illegally download music and video,8599,2045149,00.html CMU 28th February 2011

Google join the EFF in MP3tunes’s battle against EMI

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels, music publishers Google have reportedly filed a paper with the New York District Court in support of in its legal battle with EMI, joining The Electronic Frontiers Foundation who had previously filed a brief of Amici curiae in support of the company and its founder Michael Robertson. MP3tunes provides an online music “locker” service where users can store their music and access it from computers and mobile devices. MP3tunes also operates a music search engine called Sideload where users can find music tracks on other sites and then put them in their locker. EMI says the service makes mass copyright infringement easy by letting users upload music they didn’t buy and providing links to online songs that users can then “sideload” into their library and EMI claims that digital locker service such as MP3tunes infringes copyright unless  licensed by rights holders . Robertson unsurprisingly argues that EMI’s position is an incorrect interpretation of copyright law saying that MP3tunes is shielded from liability by the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – because it doesn’t encourage copyright infringement and promptly removes infringing content when notified but EMI. Applying for summary judgment, EMI said that “This case…

EU Commissioner calls for one-stop digital licensing

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, record labels Neelie Kroes, the EU’s Commissioner, has called on content owners of Europe to construct a “simple, consumer-friendly legal framework” for making digital content available across the Union. Speaking at an event in London alongside the bosses of Amazon and BT, and the government’s culture minister Ed Vaizey, Kroes said that the traditional content industries had not developed their licensing models fast enough to cope with the new demands of internet services.  She told the event: “Digitisation has fundamentally changed content industries, but licensing models simply have not kept up with this. National licensing can create a series of Berlin cultural walls. The price, both in pounds and frustration, is all too real, as creators are stifled and consumers are left empty-handed. It is time for this dysfunction to end. We need a simple, consumer-friendly legal framework for making digital content available across borders in the EU”.

ACS: law ends downloads battle – and ends itself
Copyright , Internet / March 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet The UK press widely reported that Andrew Crossley, the lawyer behind controversial law firm ACS:Law, had withdrawn from pursuing 26 alleged illegal filesharers, blaming “criminal attacks” and bomb threats as reasons. In a statement read out in court by Tim Ludbrook, barrister for MediaCAT, Crossley’s client, Mr Crossley said “I have ceased my work…I have been subject to criminal attack. My e-mails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats,” adding “It has caused immense hassle to me and my family”. This Blog previously reported (28/09/10) that in September, ACS: Law was the victim of a cyber attack which exposed thousands of its e-mails which provided personal details of the people ACS:Law were pursuing and the pornographic films they were accused of downloading for free. That data breach is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Information Commissioner. Which? had complained to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority over ACS: Law’s ‘bullying’ and ‘excessive’ behaviour in 2009. HHJ Colin Birss QC, Judge of the Patents County Court, was rather unimpressed with ACS:Law and Mr Crossley, with the BBC reporting that Judge Birss described the twists and turns as “mind-boggling” and saying “I am getting the impression… says artists must embrace technology
Copyright / March 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas, the Black Eyed Peas frontman, thinks artists’ interest in technology shouldn’t end with just releasing their tracks via an online retailer. The rapper/producer recently chatted with attorneys and music industry insiders at the Grammy Foundation’s annual Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon in Los Angeles, and according to The Hollywood Reporter urged his fellow recording artists not to think of mega-successful e-retailer iTunes as a panacea for moving units saying “Believe me, I love Apple … but iTunes shouldn’t be the answer,” adding, “[For artists], it should be the scariest thing in the world.” Saying that aspiring artists should actively embrace technology as a means of enhancing their creative expression, Will explained “Nearly everything I do involves processors and computers, and when I see an Intel chip I think of all the creative minds involved that help to amplify my own creativity” adding “Teaming up with the scientists, researchers and computer programmers at Intel to collaborate and co-develop new ways to communicate, create, inform and entertain is going to be amazing.”

Scottish bootlegger jailed
Copyright , Record Labels / March 2011

COPYRIGHT Record labels, film industry A Scottish father of seven has been jailed for sixteen months after admitting to making and selling illegal copies of albums and movies between 2007 and 2009. Police found 4000 fake CDs and DVDs worth £200,000 when they raided Paul McPhillips’ Edinburgh home. He had been selling the bootlegs online. Judge Frank Crowe in the Edinburgh Sheriff Court said whilst he understood that the operation had originally been small scale, the scale McPhillips’ piracy operation was sufficient that prison was “the only option”. The Minister for Intellectual Property, Judith Wilcox, welcomed the ruling, adding that the government remained committed to the principle of custodial sentences for those involved in criminal copyright infringement.

Murphy v MPS
Competition , Copyright / March 2011

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Broadcasting, content owners Murphy v MPS – The Advocate General’s opinion might have serious ramifications for the pan-European TV market and territorial licensing deals within the European Community One of the most interesting copyright vs competition law cases has finally reached the European Court. Its one we have been watching and waiting for!  In Murphy v MPS, a pub landlady, Karen Murphy was convicted of copyright infringement for using a Greek ‘Nova TV’ decoder to play English Premier League football matches live in her pub. Sky owns the right to screen EPL matches in the UK but the Premier League sell the rights to other broadcasters in Europe such as Nova in Greece. Unsurprisingly it was a lot cheaper to subscribe to the Greek service and unsurprisingly Sky decided to take action against her and she was convicted in the Magistrates Court and this was upheld in the Crown Court. This was then appealed to the High Court who referred it to the ECJ. The Advocate General has now decided that (and in a ‘nutshell’) copyright is trumped by completion law ….. so it was LEGAL for Ms Murphy to purchase her football from Greece … well it is a…

Apple apps deal sparks prompts thoughts of anti-trust lawsuits
Competition / March 2011

COMPETITION Online Apple’s announcement that it would take a 30% commission for all sales of content made through its apps subscription system has prompted talk of anti-trust law suits from online operators such as Rhapsody. Any subscription-based app made available via Apple’s store will have to offer customers the option to pay for their subscriptions via the Apple platform at the same price as if they chose to have a direct billing relationship with the service provider.  It would be a brave content owner who walked away from Apple’s iPad and  iPhone customers ….. although if enough did it might be the start of something very interesting if Google’s Android system and the new Microsoft/Nokia conglomerate started to pick up annoyed content owners – and it seems a few might – Google has announced a payment system that allows newspaper publishers t charge readers ti access online content –and Google will take just 10% of these micropayments. In the UK Associated newspapers have signed up as have Spain’s El Pais and in Germany Tomorrow Focus and are both on board. According to various reports, officials at the US Department Of Justice have approached both affected content providers and Apple to discuss…

Artists U2’s Mullens loses defamation case

DEFAMATION Live events industry, publishing It seems U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr has lost a defamation lawsuit pursued against him, Bono and a Rio-based newspaper by Brazilian concert promoter Franco Bruni.  The litigation related to a U2 interview in Brazil’s O Globo newspaper back in 2000 where it seems  Mullen Jr claimed the band had not been paid for three concerts that were promoted by Bruni in 1998. Bruni countered that he had paid the band their performance fees, and all that remained ‘unpaid’ was publishing (eg PRS) royalties, which, the promoter claimed, was out of his hands to pass over to the band.  In the ruling Bono was found not to be liable, but Mullen Jr, the journalist who wrote the interview and O Globo were all found liable. They were ordered to pay Bruni 800,000 Brazilian real (about $480,000).

Zimbabwe clamps down on press freedom
Media / March 2011

MEDIA Broadcasting, press The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) are calling on Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government to repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) after a late 2010 amendment to the legislation hiked mandatory registration and accreditation fees for the press working in the country by as much as 400%. The AIPPA requires news organisations and journalists operating in Zimbabwe to annually register with the government and pay accreditation fees under penalty of prosecution and custody. Following the September 2008 power-sharing Global Political Agreement between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, in April 2010, the Zimbabwe Media Commission lowered the fees, which once peaked at a total of US$30,000 in 2009 for foreign news outlets. The new amendments, published by the Zimbabwe government on 31 December 2010, and effective 1 January 2011, appeared to target international news media outlets operating in Zimbabwe and their local correspondents. Under the new fee structure obtained by CPJ, an international news outlet must pay US$6,000 for permission to operate a bureau in Zimbabwe (triple the old rate of US$2,000) in addition to a US$1,000 application fee for such permission (double the old rate of US$500). Renewal of…

Indonesian star jailed over sex tape
Artists , Censorship / March 2011

CENSORSHIP Artistes Nazril ‘Ariel’ Irham, the Indonesian pop star, has been jailed for three and a half years in his after video footage seemingly showing him having sex with various celebrity girlfriends circulated on the internet. Irham, of Indonesian boy band Peterpan, was prosecuted under strict anti-pornography laws passed in the country in 2008, which ban public displays of nudity and behaviour that could “incite lust” despite the fact it seems the video was circulated after his laptop was stolen. Irham denied the charges and denied being in the tape but the  judge ruled “the defendant is legitimately and convincingly guilty of giving chances for others to spread, make and provide pornography”.  A massive police presence was needed to keep order at the court where a large crowd of the pop star’s fans were outraged at the sentence. Representatives from Muslim groups were angered that the outcome wasn’t more severe.  CMU Daily 1st February

Cohl countersues Live Nation
Contract , Live Events / March 2011

CONTRACT Live events industry Promoter Michael Cohl has is countersuing his former employer Live Nation in their dispute over an agreement the two parties signed in 2008 when Cohl quit the live music group.  Live Nation sued Cohl late last year claiming he owed them multi-million dollar payments in relation to that agreement saying that Cohl,  the then outgoing Chairman, agreed to make sizable payments to Live Nation over a period of years in return for keeping certain assets of CPL, his former company which Live Nation had taken control of in 2006. It seems that these cash payments were conditional on Live Nation giving Cohl permission to continue to work with certain major league artists, something a non-compete clause in his original contract with live music firm would have prevented. Live Nation claimed that  Cohl had defaulted on those payments and currently owed the company in the region of $5.5 million. But Cohl has now filed a countersuit in which he reportedly argues that he has stopped making payments to Live Nation because it defaulted on that 2008 agreement with regards the Rolling Stones saying that Live Nation had told Cohl that they would bid for the 2011 Stones…

Ticketmaster takes $22 million hit for charges
Contract , Live Events / March 2011

CONTRACT Live events industry Ticketing and concert promotions giant Live Nation Entertainment has announced that it is taking a one-time, $22.3 million charge for expense against earnings to settle a class action lawsuit over the delivery and processing fees its Ticketmaster division charges. Specific details of the settlement were not disclosed, but in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the company said it was not admitting any wrongdoing in relation to the lawsuit, which originally had been filed in 2003 by ticket buyers Curt Schlesinger and Peter Lo Re. The two fans had argued that Ticketmaster’s fees of between $14.50 and $25 were misleading because they were profit generators for the company and not simply passed on fees related to delivery. In a SEC filing Live Nation said “Ticketmaster and its parent, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., have not acknowledged any violations of law or liability in connection with the matter, but have agreed to the settlement in order to eliminate the uncertainties and expense of further protracted litigation” … “Pursuant to the terms of the settlement, among other things, Ticketmaster will pay the fees of the claims administrator as well as the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and certain…

Hendrix dispute rumbles on
Image Rights , Trade Mark / March 2011

TRADE MARK / IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes A Las Vegas company co-owned by Leon Hendrix, brother of rock icon Jimi Hendrix, has succeeded in Trade Mark litigation with the company that licenses Hendrix music and trademark – companies controlled by Leon Hendrix’s sister by adoption Janie Hendrix. U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly said that a 2008 Washington state law that would have provided a “right of publicity” to Experience Hendrix LLC and Authentic Hendrix LLC was unconstitutional. The ruling appears to strengthen the rights of the Las Vegas company — formerly known as, doing business as Hendrix Artwork and — to sell Hendrix merchandise. The Jimi Hendrix licensing companies control the Jimi Hendrix music, recordings and artistic properties and have federally-registered trademarks including rights to the phrases “Jimi Hendrix” “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” and certain logos. In 2009, Janie Hendrix’s companies sued Pitsicalis,, Hendrix Artwork and in federal court in Seattle, alleging trademark infringement because those companies were using the Hendrix name and selling Hendrix-oriented merchandise, allegedly in a manner “designed to capitalize on the goodwill and source recognition associated with the Hendrix family companies’ marks and rights.” Merchandise includes artwork, posters, t-shirts and home decor items….

Forced to walk the line?
Health & Safety / March 2011

HEALTH AND SAFETY All areas We have all probably had the same experience of walking along a pavement and having to negotiate around someone else who is walking slowly, weaving or bumping into other pedestrians because he or she is talking on a cell phone, listening to an iPod or texting on a Blackberry. Now a US politician, Carl Kruger, the state senator from Brooklyn, NY, wants to make it illegal to use an electronic device whilst crossing city streets on foot. He has an ally in Arkansas state Senator Jimmy Jeffress, who wants to ban pedestrians from wearing headphones in both ears on or near a roadway. And in Australia New South Wales Police  have said “should legislation such as that described be introduced, it would receive our support and ongoing attention”, a U-turn from the 2007 view of  NSW Police State Traffic Commander John Hartley, who said when the US laws were first talked about, that “you can’t legislate stupidity”. The Pedestrian Council of Australia said there should be a much stricter legislation and an enforcement campaign to complement an awareness campaign. They also said device manufacturers had a “moral and corporate responsibility” to put warnings on their…