McGraw wins first round of exit battle
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / January 2012

CONTRACT Artistes, record labels Country star Tim McGraw has won the first round of a legal battle with his record label partners Curb Records. The relationship between McGraw and Curb, which began at the start of McGraw’s career in 1992, has seemingly been deteriorating for some time. In May 2011 both sides filed lawsuits against the other. At the centre of the litigation was whether McGraw’s latest work, the album  ‘Emotional Traffic’, fulfilled the artist’s delivery contractual commitments to the label regards new recordings, whether he was due an advance on it, and whether or not on delivery he was out of contract with the record company. Curb said the songs on ‘Emotional Traffic’ were not sufficiently new and that McGraw remained tied to the label when it came to recordings. McGraw’s lengthy countersuit said the new album was in line with his contract, and that he now considered himself to be a free agent label-wise. The label said recordings started in 2008: McGraw claims the studio work took place in 2009/10), Now the Nashville Tennessean reports that a judge has uled in McGraw’s favour  with regard to the singer’s contractual commitments, concluding that the artist had provided Curb with…

MegaSong sparks mega row

COPYRIGHT / CENSORSHIP Internet, record labels This story has been rumbling for while now but the ‘Mega Song’ dispute is taking all sorts of twists and turns. Let’s start at the beginning: MegaUpload is a file sharing platform that produced a video for what we will call the ‘Mega Song’ featuring numerous big name artistes such as, Chris Brown and Macy Gray all, well, ‘bigging up’ MegaUpload. This was posted up on YouTube. So far, so good. But it didn’t stay on YouTube for long as Universal Music Group (UMG) took umbrage and had it taken down under YouTubes takedown procedures (or so we thought).   MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom (ermmm, that’s actually not his real name, its Schmitz, but wouldn’t it be great if it was) responded insisting his company had permission from all of the artists involved and owned all copyright in the track. He then said he was launching an action against UMG for improper use of the USA’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Universal firstly (and seemingly) said that their actions were correct as they were acting on behalf of one of their recording artistes featured in the MegaSong who had not given their consent to be…

Aceh police enforce strict code on punk rock fans
Censorship , Live Events / January 2012

CENSORSHIP Live events Police in Indonesia’s Aceh province are enforcing a strict Islamic code and authorities recently rounded up 65 male and female punk-rock fans after a concert for “re-education.” That meant having their mohawks and dreadlocks shaved, their clothes destroyed and their piercings removed “before they were paraded around like crime suspects” and then forced to sit in a muddy pool for what police called “spiritual cleansing.”  The fans were then detained for ten days. The fans have now alleged harassment but the authorities say they’ve done nothing wrong: “We’re not torturing anyone. We’re not violating human rights,” the provincial police chief said “We’re just trying to put them back on the right moral path.” In 2005, after years of armed rebellion, residents of secular Aceh province on the island of Sumatra were granted permission to impose strict sharia, or Islamic law, to better promote moral values in the now-semiautonomous province. Religious police can now enforce the codes where adultery is punishable by stoning and homosexuals have been jailed or lashed in public with canes. Human Rights groups have also complained that women are told they must wear head scarves and cannot dress in tight pants.  “Why? Why my hair?!” called out one 20-year-old fan said…

X-factor accused on Sony bias
Regulation / January 2012

BROADCASTING REGULATION Broadcasting Warner Music has submitted a formal complaint to UK media regulator OfCom claiming that ‘X-Factor’ producers had unfairly prioritised artists signed to Sony Music labels or its highly viewed final shows. The shows featured four Sony acts – Leona Lewis, One Director and JLS (all former contestants) and Westlife, formerly managed by Judge Louis Walsh and another Sony act. Two artistes from other major labels appeared – Coldplay (EMI) and Michael Buble (Warners). Particular anger is directed at lewis who has no current album to promote, although she is a previous winner of the show.  Sony owns half of Simon Cowell’s Syco company, one of the producers of contest. With slots for new pop and rock music on TV in serious decline, X-factor remains an important platform for existing acts.  With the demise of programmes such as Top of the Pops and CD:UK (Top of the Pops is now just a Christmas special)  coverage is now restricted to later night slots such as Later with Jools on BBC2, festival coverage such as Glastonbury and the Radio Big Weekend, along with occasional Channel 4 and ITV specials (who broadcast a Beyonce special) and chat show special appearances. Warner’s…

Mixed results for content industries in Spain and Ireland
Copyright , Internet / January 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet An attempt by the Spanish record industry to sue the provider of file-sharing technologies in Spain has failed. All four majors joined with Promusica to sue Pablo Soto and his MP2P company, which distributes various file-sharing clients, including Blubster, Piolet and Manolito P2P. Paszt rulings have led to an approach that individuals sharing copyright content online do not infringe if the users are not profiting from their actions. The Spanish music industry hoped that if they could prove MP2P was profiting from activities that were detrimental to their business that might be a strong enough case in itself (similar arguments have had some success in the Italian courts) but it wasn’t to be. According to El Mundo, a Spanish court has now ruled that Soto and his companies provide a neutral technical function, and that there is no liability for any sort of infringement. Spain’s Sinde Law will provide a system through which rights owners can have copyright infringing websites blocked. Whilst approved by the country’s parliament, implementation of the Sinde Law has been delayed by an election and now a change of government in Spain. Eircomm’s voluntary the ‘three-strike’ anti-file-sharing system being operated by Eircom has been…

State of Indiana settles in Sugarland tragedy
Health & Safety , Live Events / January 2012

HEALTH & SAFETY Live Events Industry The State Of Indiana has now reached settlements with 63 of the 65 claimants after the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in August when 7 people died and over 40 more were injured when one of the stages at the State Fair collapsed when hit by freak winds just before a concert featuring country duo Sugarland was about to begin.  State Law limited that liability to a total of $5 million. Officials have also distributed almost $800,000 donated by the public after the incident. 48 affected parties have also begun legal proceedings against Sugarland and their business associates, on the basis the band had a contractual right to cancel the show over weather concerns, and were therefore negligent not to exercise that right.

Kanye and Jay-Z respond to sampling claim

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishing Lawyers for Kanye West and Jay-Z have responded to the lawsuit filed by soul man Syl Johnson over a track on their collaborative album ‘Watch The Throne’. Johnson says the duo’s track ‘The Joy’ samples his song ‘Different Strokes’ without permission. Johnson’s lawsuit gives further detail saying that West’s people had approached his representatives about using the sample on his ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ album but no agreement was reached. The sample then showed up on ‘Watch The Throne‘ without a request even being made. The defence raised is primarily on technicalities relating to US copyright law. ‘Different Strokes’ dates from 1967, five years before the 1972 federal copyright protection applies. Although Johnson’s lawsuit specifically claims copyright protection under Illinois State Law, the West-Z rebuttal disputes that any such protection exists and according to their Answer: “Any claim based on the alleged use of Plaintiffs’ recording is barred because, inter alia, (a) the allegedly copied portion of the Plaintiff’s recording is not part of the musical composition; and, if it is part of the composition, (b) is not protectable and/or (c) any use was de minimis.” In a separate matter, the estate of the late…

Canadian Supreme Court to look at all things copyright
Copyright / January 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas The Supreme Court of Canada has been considering five separate intellectual property disputes in one go. Good times which prompted a gathering of rights owners, music collection societies (SOCAN and CSI the performing rights and mechanical rights respectively, and representatives from digital, telcom, ISPs and gaming industries who arrived in Ottawa to present their respective sides of the argument. One of the most interesting of all the debates is the one related to iTunes previews, the thirty second clips consumers can stream in order to decide whether they want to buy a song (or more likely to confirm it’s really the song they think it is) which content owners, including SOCAN, argue is a performance attracting a royalty. In their way is a Canadian case called Bell v SOCAN as its been argued that those clips constitute private research on the part of the consumer, and should therefore be covered by so called ‘fair use’ rights – or, to be technically correct, for copyright systems with their origins in English law, ‘fair dealing’. The Canadian Recording Industry Association, SOCAN and CSI each presented arguments as to why fair dealing should not apply in the case of preview…

IFPI – Google, could do better in USA – Baidu: no longer on the naughty step in China
Copyright , Internet / January 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry and the Recording Industry Association Of America have published an overview of Google’s efforts to stop its various platforms – including the search engine, YouTube, the Android app store and Google’s advertising network from assisting music pirates, either by providing exposure or direct revenue. The overview relates to pledges made by Google on these issues in December last year, and whilst the IFPI accepts that there is  much to be commended, it  concludes that the web giant has much still to do to make good on its commitments. The IFPI report says : “While Google has taken some modest steps to deal with copyright infringement online, the promises made by Google remain unfulfilled. Despite its steps, the simple fact is that Google continues to both receive financial benefits from sites and applications that engage in piracy and place artificial road blocks in rights holders’ efforts to protect their content online, contrary to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act”. The IFPI paper also plays down Google’s claim at a recent congressional hearing in the US that it had invested $60 million in the last year to crack down on violations of its advertising…

Updates from the Electronic Frontiers Foundation on global broadcasting issues
Regulation / January 2012

BROADCASTING REGULATION Broadcasting The EFF reports that the Indian Telecommunications Minister has met with top officials of Internet companies and social media sites, including the Indian units of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, to try to compel them to filter offensive content. The New York Times reported that Minister Kapil Sibal met with executives to ask the companies to create internal mechanisms that would prevent any comments the state deemed “disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory” towards political and religious figures. A Belgian Internet watchdog group (NURPA) has reported that one of the three major mobile Internet providers in Belgium, Base, voluntarily started blocking access to the Pirate Bay. This block comes after a case initiated by the Belgian Anti-Piracy Federation, in which an Antwerp Court of Appeals ordered two major fixed broadband providers to block access to the Pirate Bay at the DNS level. EFF also reports from Thailand, which declared at the start of December that Facebook users “liking” or sharing content offensive to the Thai throne could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison; Joe Gordon, an American-Thai who translated a banned biography of Thailand’s king and posted the content online while living in Colorado was sentenced to…

Ryan Giggs’ case provokes new questions about ‘super injunctions’
Artists , Privacy / January 2012

PRIVACY Artistes, broadcasters, press The Ryan Giggs privacy case has ended up as a bit of a disaster for Giggs himself, a married father of two, his reputation in tatters, and hasn’t done much for the High Court’s seeming approval of so called privacy ‘super injunctions’ for celebrities – well, that’s according to those very same august organs of the press barred from initially reporting the story –  until Gigg’s name was leaked onto the internet, ‘tweeted’ 75000 times, published by the Sunday Herald in Scotland and his name mentioned in Parliament by John Hemming MP. Mr Justice Eady, who granted the order, had rejected a second application by News Group Newspapers to discharge a privacy injunction relating to Giggs, on the basis that to continue it would be “futile”, given recent widespread publicity about his identity saying “It has never been suggested, of course, that there is any legitimate public interest, in the traditional sense, in publishing this information” adding “The court’s duty remains to try and protect the claimant, and particularly his family, from intrusion and harassment so long as it can.” Giggs has now been forced to admit that some allegations about his former lover Imogen Thomas…

US Government seemingly blunders in takedown farce
Copyright , Internet / January 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet An attempt by the US Department of Homeland Security to take down an alleged infringing hip-hop website has become somewhat of an embarrassment according to CNET. The US Government officials initially trumpeted the seizure of the music blog,  and 81 others as an example of the law prevailing over pirates. Attorney General Eric Holder warned at the time that “intellectual property crimes are not victimless,” and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director John Morton proclaimed that “today, we turn the tables on these Internet thieves.” But problems became apparent when Dajaz1’s editor, who’s known as Splash, showed The New York Times e-mail messages from record label employees sending him unreleased songs. ICE had claimed that the music was “unauthorized.” Things went from bad to worse when ICE then apparently pressed to keep all matters confidential, filing all the court documents under seal. Attorney Andrew Bridges whi represents Dajaz1 said “They kept getting extension after extension from the court under seal without showing me any papers whatsoever,” The RIAA remains convinced the site was infringing saying that ‘for a year and a half we monitored the site where its operators had uploaded content to unauthorized file sharing services where the recordings could be freely downloaded …. Dajaz1 profited…

Universal lose Veoh appeal
Copyright , Internet / January 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet The USA’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down its decision in UMG v Veoh, a case addressing copyright liability for ISPs that host infringing works. By way of background, Veoh operates a publicly accessible website that enables users to share videos with other users. UMG is one of the world’s largest recorded music and music publishing companies. In addition to producing and distributing recorded music, UMG produces music videos. Although Veoh has implemented various procedures to prevent copyright infringement through its system, users of Veoh’s service have in the past been able, without UMG’s authorisation, to download videos containing songs for which UMG owns the copyright. UMG responded by filing suit against Veoh for direct and secondary copyright infringement in 2007. Two years later, the US District Court for the Central District of California granted summary judgment to Veoh after determining that it was protected by the DMCA “safe harbor” limiting service providers’ liability for “infringement of copyright by reason of the storage at the direction of a user of material that resides on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider.” 17 U.S.C. §512(c). UMG appealed the decision and made several…

Italian Courts find ‘active hosting liability’ for ISPs
Copyright , Internet / January 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet Our good Friend from the City University, Dr. Enrico Bonadio, has kindly sent us details of the link to a brief case note which Enrico co-authored with his colleague Mauro Santo, and which has been published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice. As Enrico explains “It is a comment of two decisions of the Court of Milan in case of copyright liability of Internet Service Providers: In June and September 2011 the Court of Milan released two interesting decisions in the field of liability of Internet Service Providers for copyright infringement committed by their users. In particular, the Court found that the Internet Service Providers Italia On Line and Yahoo! Italia were liable for copyright infringement in connection with the uploading of several videos on their platforms and that they could not rely on the hosting provider exemption under the E-Commerce Directive. The two decisions are particularly interesting as the Court of Milan ‘created’ from scratch a new category of internet service provider liability: so-called active hosting liability.” This is the SSRN link:

Hard Cheese for content owners in the cantons
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels, film industry Torrentfreak reports that the Swiss Government has decided that downloading music and movies will stay legal With an estimated one in three of the Swiss population admitting to downloading content without permission, Swiss policy will now be that downloading for personal use WILL be legal since people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products. The Swiss government has been conducting a study into the impact downloading has on society and their findings and the overall conclusion of the study is that the current copyright law, under which downloading copyrighted material for personal use is permitted, doesn’t have to change. The Report notes that whilst the photocopier, audio cassette tape and VCR were all excellent and efficient copying devices, the internet has an added ‘bonus’- the world wide web offers near instant and global distribution of copies at the click of a button. The Report, which favours the option of putting technology to good use instead of taking the “repressive” approach says “Every time a new media technology has been made available, it has always been “abused”. This is the price we pay for progress. Winners will be those who are able to use…

UK Government seeks views on proposed copyright law reforms
Copyright / January 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas Its all been surprisingly fast moving in the world of IP in the United Kingdom since Professor Ian Hargreaves published his review of IP and Growth – and now new government copyright proposals are being opened up for consultation until a closing date of the 21st March 2012 and the proposals are “to modernise the copyright system and remove unnecessary barriers to growth”. The consultation “seeks relevant evidence on the potential for the proposed measures to improve the contribution of the copyright system to UK economic growth, and to inform decisions on legislative and other actions in these areas. The consultation is aimed at individuals and organisations, including small and medium sized business, which may be impacted by the proposed changes to UK copyright laws.” So what’s on the table? Well here’s a snapshot: – Creating an exception to allow limited acts of private copying – so making the widespread practice of coping a CD to an MP3 player legal saying “This move will bring copyright law into line with modern technology and the reasonable expectations of consumers.” – Widening the exception for non-commercial research to allow data mining, enabling researchers to achieve new medical and scientific…

Honey to The Bee
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / January 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists ARTICLE LINK: In this article on the 1709 Blog, Monika Bruss explains Elvis Presley Enterprises’ so far unsuccessful claim against Arista Records in Germany for ‘equitable remuneration’ for records sold in the country. Expect an appeal sooner rather than later!

UK managers push for ticket re-sale legislation
Live Events / January 2012

TICKETING Live events industry Concert promoters and artist managers in the United Kingdom are calling on the country’s culture secretary to back a proposal that would cap resold ticket profits at 10 percent above face value. The plan was initially proposed in Parliament earlier this year by member Sharon Hodgson, but it has since languished but was kicked back into play at a meeting with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt where industry representatives including Muse manager Anthony Addis and Iron Maiden manager Ron Smallwood called for action. A 2010 Government report said that the secondary ticket market could police itself – and after the meeting the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) released a statement saying that it did not anticipate a move towards regulation. Edward Parkinson from Viagogo told that price caps were not the answer.