IP and Media in the Digital Age conference
Copyright , Internet / February 2012

CONFERENCE All areas Increasingly the population is turning to online and digital methods to consume media. This has led to a proliferation of ways in which intellectual property rights can be abused, which is particularly demonstrated by the increase in illegal download websites and peer to peer software. However, the entertainment industry has begun to fight back, with Hollywood winning a High Court case against BT forcing them to block the website Newzbin2. This case is likely to be followed by the music industry as they plan to take on the website Pirate Bay. With this emerging case law it is essential that you keep up to date with the competing issues being fought out in the courts, as well as understanding the complexities of new online business models. To be held on 23rd March 2012 in Central London, Butterworths’ IP and Media in the Digital Age conference will provide a comprehensive analysis of new approaches to protecting intellectual property rights. Join our expert speaker panel to discuss the following critical issues: Understand the implications of Hollywood’s High Court win requiring BT to block the website Newzbin2 Discuss what ‘communication to the public’ means in today’s digital environment Explore the regulatory…

Spain implements web blocking law
Copyright , Internet / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   The BBC reports that the Spanish Parliament has implemented the somewhat controversial Sinde law. The legislation, which had already been enacted into law, will make it easier for content owners to target copyright infringing websites from March 2012 onwards. The legislation was initially criticised for being ‘US influenced’ and, like ‘three strikes’ Law Hadopi in France, because it lacked any provision for scrutiny by the courts. The latter point has been rectified and the legislation creates a government body with powers to force internet service providers to block sites. The Intellectual Property Commission will decide whether it wants to take action against an infringing site or the ISPs and websites providing links to infringing content and the case will then be passed to a judge to rule on whether the site should be shut down, this judicial process being completed within seventy two hours. A report commissioned by a coalition of Spain’s rights-holders suggested that piracy in Spain cost legal content rights owners $6.8 billion in the first half of 2010 alone, claiming 97.8% of all music consumption and 77%  of movie downloads in Spain were illegal. Illegal downloading in Spain constitutes around 45% of internet use…

Obama administration responds to SOPA blocking debate
Copyright , Internet / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet Victoria Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at the Office of Management and Budget, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Howard Schmidt, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff, have respondd to two petions against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act by blogging this as the official White House response to the “VETO the SOPA bill and any other future bills that threaten to diminish the free flow of information” petition (the bold text is in the White House post): Right now, Congress is debating a few pieces of legislation concerning the very real issue of online piracy, including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the PROTECT IP Act, and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN). We want to take this opportunity to tell you what the Administration will support—and what we will not support. Any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet. While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression,…

Irish Three strikes works ‘incredibly well’ – but will it spread?
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels   The battle for the heart and soul of copyright in recorded music continues in Ireland, where The Irish Times (“EMI Records launches action against State over anti-piracy order”, by Carol Madden) reports on further legal action to prevent unauthorised music downloads.  According to this article: “The Irish arm of multinational music group EMI has launched a High Court action against the State as part of its bid to stop the illegal downloading of music. The Government recently pledged to issue an order to allow copyright holders to compel internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to websites that they consider are engaged in piracy. However, EMI Records (Ireland) remains unhappy with what it perceives to be foot-dragging on the part of the Government in tackling this issue. It is concerned that the matter could be delayed again, and that even if a statutory instrument is issued, its contents may not be satisfactory. Chief executive Willie Kavanagh … said yesterday that EMI asked the Government to show them the forthcoming instrument, but it has not yet received it, “leading me to believe it’s unlikely to satisfy the music industry’s requirement for injunctive relief”. … [In] 2010, … EMI and a number of…

Court of Appeal confirms Viagogo ticket re-sale ruling
Contract , Live Events / February 2012

CONTRACT Live events industry The UK’s Court of Appeal has confirmed a decision by the High Court ordering ticket resale platform Viagogo to hand over the names of suppliers of tickets which it then re-sold for rugby union football matches. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has specific contract terms that prohibit the resale of its tickets above face value by individuals except to family or friends or to one of six official ticketing sites. The RFU argued that those who attended matches on resold tickets were trespassers and that those who sold the tickets had acted as accomplices in this act and sought the identity of a number of persons who had supplied tickets. Viagogo refused to supply these details as it has a policy of keeping sellers’ identities private. Having balanced the conflicting arguments the Court confirmed that the RFU was entitled to know about who was infringing its contract terms and ruled that the lower court (Mr Justice Tugendhat) was right to grant the RFU a “Norwich Pharmacal Order” against Viagogo to reveal the data. Despite both court rulings, Viagogo has so far refused to hand over any information and has said it will fight on and in…

Live Music Bill close to becoming law
Licensing , Live Events / February 2012

LICENSING Live events industry   The UK music industry is “celebrating” after the Live Music Bill passed its third reading and report stage in the House Of Commons. The Bill, introduced by Lib Dem Peer Tim Clement-Jones and promoted in the Commons by Bath MP Don Foster, should now proceed to Royal Assent. As a result, small venues wanting to host live music events will no longer need a local authority entertainment licence – cutting bureaucracy and expense, and making it easier for pubs and clubs to host live performances. Jo Dipple, acting chief executive of UK Music, the UK commercial music industry’s umbrella body, said: “This is a great day for music. The Live Music Bill will make a real and positive difference to lives of musicians. There is no doubt that the current Licensing Act has created needless layers of bureaucracy – making it complicated and expensive for pubs and other small venues to host live gigs. The entire industry would like to thank Lord Clement-Jones and Don Foster MP who have made this change possible.” John Smith, Musicians Union General Secretary, added: “We are delighted that the Live Music Bill has finally made it through Parliament. It…

‘Tiffany’s take a bite out of Coca-Cola’s Big Apple dream-trip promotion’
Artists , Live Events , Trade Mark / February 2012

TRADE MARK Live events industry, artists Advertised on tens of thousands of Appletiser cans and featuring a iconic black and white photo of Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s“, a multi-million pound promotion for Trips to New York was described by Coca-Cola as the trip of a lifetime – an all expenses paid trip to the Big Apple with flights, accommodation, Broadway and for 151 lucky winners “dinner for two at Tiffany’s 5th Avenue store followed by a personal shopping experience and a £1,000 Tiffany’s gift card” Only no one asked Tiffany & Company, who now seem rather upset and have filed an action at the High Court demanding Coca-Cola withdraw the promotion, destroy all merchandise bearing the offer and pay damages and costs – and the jeweller has also filed actions against four big UK supermarket chains Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury – it seems that three of the four have already removed offending product from their shelves. A Tiffany’s representative told the Telegraph “There is no dinner at Tiffany’s. There is no personal shopping experience. These things are only organised by invitation from Tiffany’s. The issue we have is that Coca-Cola launched its promotion using the Tiffany’s Trade Mark…

Terra Firma fails in High Court bid to re-open EMI forced sale
Business , Record Labels / February 2012

BUSINESS Record labels   CMU Daily reports that private equity group and one time EMI owner Terra Firma has failed in its bid to force PricewaterhouseCoopers to hand over documents relating to the winding up of the music major’s holding company last January, the move than enabled US bank Citigroup to take control of the London-based music company off the equity firm, and put it up for sale. Terra Firma has questioned the decisions made by PWC that enabled Citigroup to repossess EMI, and also questioned the accountants’ valuation of the music business at the time the equity company lost control, and that PWC was not validly appointed as administrator for the EMI holding company. Terra Firma lost the entirety of its investment after CitiGroups takeover, totalling some £1.85bn. Terrra Firma had previously lost an action over the way Citi behaved when the equity group first acquired the music company in 2007. In the current case, Mr Justice Nicholas Warren has ruled that there is no case to force the accountancy firm to hand over any documents at this time, partly because there isn’t “the slightest suggestion [Citi] effected sales at undervalue” because it wouldn’t make commercial sense for them…

Banana splits for Warhol’s Underground work
Artists , Copyright , Trade Mark / February 2012

TRADE MARK / COPYRIGHT Artists   Members of the iconic new York band The Velvet Underground have taken legal action to stop the use of the famous Andy Warhol designed ‘banana’, which originally featured on the band’s 1967 eponymous album, being used on covers for Apple iPads and iPhones. The action is actually against the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for  trademark infringement, and claims that the banana album design – from the 1967 album The Velvet Underground and Nico which has the yellow coloured banana and the words  “Peel slowly and see” printed near the tip –  along with Warhol’s signature, was synonymous with their work. Apple is not named as a defendant in the civil case filed in Manhattan federal court. Warhol managed the Velvet Underground and the band performed regularly at his studio, The Factory. The album was nicknamed “The Banana Album”. The lawsuit claims that “The symbol has become so identified with the Velvet Underground … that members of the public, particularly those who listen to rock music, immediately recognise the banana design as the symbol of the Velvet Underground”. The complaint added that the band had repeatedly asked the Foundation to stop licensing…

French fans launch Jackson action
Artists , Criminal Law / February 2012

CRIMINAL LAW Artists   In another bizarre twist in the Michael Jackson story, a group of French fans of the King of Pop are launching a legal action in France against Dr Conrad Murray, who has now been convicted of involuntary manslaughter after the singer’s death in 2009 in the USA. They are each claiming symbolic damages of one Euro for the ’emotional damage’ the death has had on them. Murray was sentenced to four years imprisonment. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/29/justice/california-conrad-murray-sentencing/index.html and Leonard Watters, the 24 year old unemployed Irish dance instructor who wrongfully accused X-Factor judge and BoyZone/Westlife manager Louis Walsh of groping him in a Dublin nighclub toilet has been imprisoned for six months.

Music Business Tunes for Next Copyright Fight
Copyright , Record Labels / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels                                        ARTICLE LINK:  A useful update on the recorded music sector’s current position on piracy and its presumed wish list for legislative and other change http://www.pcworld.com/article/248915/music_business_tunes_for_next_copyright_fight.html

IFPI Digital Music Reports says its growth – but is it good news?
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   The IFPI’s Digital Music Report 2012 has just been published and headline figures from the record industry’s global trade body show Major international music services which include streaming services like Spotify are now in 58 countries, up from 23 in January 2011 Digital music revenues are up 8 per cent to US$5.2 billion The IFPI say that anti-piracy action has made an impact in France, New Zealand with the US to follow in 2012 but the IFPI says that piracy and the ‘legal environment’ remain a problem The IFPI say that consumers are benefitting from a widening choice of services for experiencing digital music. In 2011, subscription services expanded and linked with new partners to reach new audiences. Meanwhile cloud technology is helping transform the way fans manage and store their music. Global revenues to record companies grew by an estimated 8 per cent to US$5.2 billion in 2011 – a faster rate than 2010 – with strong consumer demand for both single track downloads (up 11 per cent by volume), digital albums (up 24 per cent by volume) and fast-expanding subscription services. The number of users paying to subscribe to a music service leapt…

Andrew Crossley suspended by Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
Copyright / February 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   Andrew Crossley, The London-based lawyer at the centre of a long-running row over internet piracy has been suspended for two years and ordered to pay £76,000 in costs. Andrew Crossley, the sole solicitor behind now-defunct law firm ACS:Law, admitted six charges against him at a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing. David Potts, a lawyer who represented some of those accused by Crossley of copyright infringement, said the ruling would be welcomed by innocent recipients of ACS:Law letters that demanded a £500 ‘settlement’ payment for illegally downloading music and adult material http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jan/18/acslaw-solicitor-internet-piracy-suspended?newsfeed=true

Seattle professor loses copyright claim over classical music use
Copyright , Live Events , Music Publishing / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Live music industry, music publishing The lead plaintiff challenging a U.S. copyright law says the works of some important 20th Century composers will now be effectively off limits to orchestras in small and middle-sized cities after the US Supreme Court upheld a decision that extends copyright protection to books, musical compositions and other works by foreign artists that had previously been available without paying royalties. The law stems from US legislation bringing S514 of the Uruguay Round Agreement Act (URAA) into US law. University of Denver music professor Lawrence Golan says the ruling will make it too expensive for smaller orchestras to perform works by composers such as Shostakovich and Stravinsky. Golan, a violinist, is also the conductor of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra He had hoped to have it open the new season with a celebratory Shostakovich concert but now plans to feature Tchaikovsky instead. The Supreme Court upheld a 1994 federal law that gave copyright protection to millions of foreign-produced books, movies and musical pieces. The 6-2 ruling takes works by Alfred Hitchcock, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky and J.R.R. Tolkien out of the public domain, barring use without permission of the copyright owner. The decision is being hailed as  a victory for the…

New US Report says pre-1972 sound recordings should be ‘Federalized’
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Record industry, Internet   A Report from the US Copyright Office has recommended that all pre-1972 sound recordings become subject to US Federal Law. They are currently protected by state law. The move, if implemented, would open up a number of new opportunities, not least in making life easier for libraries and archivists who preserve old recordings.  Commercial use remains an issue though: with internet radio stations though, the move would expose the stations to paying royalties for using pre-1972 sound recordings to SoundExchange who currently do not (or cannot) always collect under state laws for the public performance right. The Copyright Office Report makes no comment on the position that no royalty is due to SoundExchange for US works from pre 1972 (unlike foreign works which are covered), but if pre-1972 works were to be covered, they would then need to be registered at the US Copyright Office. Some suggest that ‘Federalization’ of pre-1972 recordings would clear up all ambiguities and actually make it easier for internet based radio companies and streaming services to licence works. Terrestrial stations are exempt from performance royalties in the USA and there is no equivalent PPL ‘needletime’ payment for soudrecording use as…

What Are Some Basics of Music Publishing Income?
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing ARTICLE LINK:  By Doron F. Eghbali:  This article looks at revenue streams from the business of songs from a US perspective, including mechanical royalties, the concept of controlled compositions, synchronisation revenues, performance related income and the role of collection societies. http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=92a0d3cd-79f7-4b71-b01f-f39119e43591

Content owners play “keepy uppie” in technology races
Copyright , Internet / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, Technology The music, film and television industries’ recent successes in fighting illegal file sharing by promoting both legislative change and winning court decisions such as Newzbin2 and the recent Dutch Courts decision to block access to The Pirate Bay are all well and good for content owners, but in the fast moving world of the internet things don’t stay still for long and news now reaches the 1709 Bog that The Pirate Bay will start linking by default to ‘magnet’ rather than BiTorrent downloads in what only can be seen of as a move to avoid detection. Whilst BitTorrent links will still be available (being the currently preferred option for downloaders, both legal and illegal), they will be a secondary option for the time being. The magnet system makes user and file identification even harder and it is expected that The Pirate Bay will now phase out traditional BitTorrent file-sharing.  And controversial US streaming platform Grooveshark, no stranger to this blog and currently facing legal actions from all four major record labels, has just launched a new HTML5 app making it easier for music fans to access the service on their smartphones. Grooveshark had already launched apps for…

EMI launches ReDigi action
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   EMI has filed a lawsuit against digital track reseller ReDigi, alleging that the company’s plans to enable the selling of “used’’ digital music constitutes copyright infringement. On its website, ReDigi claims that the marketplace that it created to resell digital music is as legal as someone reselling an album to a used-record store. “Once you sell a song, you no longer have access to it,’’ the company says on the site. “This is how ReDigi stays legit, and how you now have access to an incredible marketplace where rights long accepted in the physical world may now be applied to digital goods.’’ http://bostonglobe.com/business/2012/01/07/emi-sues-cambridge-digital-music-reseller/bwemnUEMuWS6k9GKkJINdI/story.html and see http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=427

UK student faces extradition to the USA on infringement charges
Copyright , Internet / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   A UK student faces extradition to the USA after District Judge Quentin Purdy ruled that the extradition could go ahead at Westminster Magistrates Court. Richard O’Dwyer, a 23 year old studying at Sheffield Hallam University faces charges relating to his ‘TV Shack’ website that allegedly linked to infringing films and television programmes that could be found on other internet sites. No infringing material was held on the site although allegedly after it was closed down for the first time, O’Dwyer simply re-started it the next day and made substantial financial returns from selling advertising on the site.   District Judge Purdy ruled that “there are said to be direct consequences of criminal activity by Richard O’Dwyer in the USA, albeit by him never leaving the North of England” adding “such a state of affairs does not demand a trial here if the competent UK authorities decline to act and does, in my judgment, permit one in the USA”. O’Dwyer’s lawyer, Ben Cooper, said the matter would be appealed to the High Court. In a completely separate action Christopher Tappie, a retired businessman, who faces extradition to the USA on charges of conspiring to sell batteries used in Iranian…

US study says customers prefer a legal download – sometimes…
Copyright / February 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   A US study has found that people are happy to pay for online content, provided that it is offered at a fair price and the service is convenient, and in general terms would rather not infringe copyright law. The research, based on a study of 2,303 people by US think-tank American Assembly, shows that illegal file sharing among family and friends is relatively common – but that people would prefer to use a legal alternative if one was available at the right price and usage point. So far the data suggests that streaming music services are getting this right, but users are still unwilling to accept the current range of video streaming offerings at the current price and convenience points. The survey found that 46% people surveyed had engaged in piracy, with this rising to above 70% for people aged 19 to 27. Over two thirds of those questioned would share music within family or friends, and over half would share video content in the same group. But when it comes to uploading material, however, support drops off radically with less than 4% saying they would upload with 0% of the over 65s saying they would…

Comet faces action from Microsoft over Vista CDs
Copyright / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Technology   British electrical and computer retailer Comet Group is facing proceedings from Microsoft for allegedly creating and selling more than 94,000 sets of counterfeit Windows Vista and Windows XP recovery CDs which were then sold to customers who had purchased Windows-loaded PCs and laptops at a price of £14.99, netting some £1.4 million gross. Microsoft allege that Comet produced the counterfeits in a factory in Hampshire and then sold the discs to customers from its 284 retail outlets across the UK. Comet has yet to formally respond to Microsoft’s action but told the Guardian newspaper that it will contest Microsoft’s claim because it acted in the interests of consumers after Microsoft had stopped supplying the recovery discs with new computers and Comet said it had “sought and received legal advice from leading counsel to support its view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft’s intellectual property”. In November the Comet business is in the process of being sold by its owners, the French company Kesa Electricals, for a nominal sum (£2) to a private equity firm OpCapita, with Kesa retaining responsibility for the Comet pension plan, currently £50 million in deficit. Kesa’s shares dropped 8% on…

Megaupload bosses arrested in New Zealand raid
Copyright , Internet / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, film, television   Reuters report that Kim Dotcom (Kim Schmitz, a 37 year old German national) the Megaupload boss, has been arrested by police in New Zealand and that the US Government has shut down the content sharing website which recently featured on this Blog. It can hardly have escaped anyone’s notice that the actions come against the background of heated debate over the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) legislation in the USA but Reuters report that a US Justice Department official said the timing of the arrests was not related to the battle inside and outside  Congress. Schmitz lives in New Zealand and it appears that some 70 police officers  raided 10 properties and also arrested the website’s chief marketing officer, Finn Batato, 38, chief technical officer and co-founder Mathias Ortmann, 40 (both German nationals)  and Dutch national Bram van der Kolk, 29, who is also a New Zealand resident. Alongside these arrests, NZ police seized several million dollars worth of assets and NZ$10 million from financial institutions. The Organised & Financial Crime Agency New Zealand said they would work with US Authorities to enable extradition proceedings to proceed. Those arrested…