UK ISPS should adopt a voluntary blocking code
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   A group of content owners that includes the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), Motion Picture Association (MPA), Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), The Premier League and the Publishers Association have said that Internet search engines that operate in the UK could stop publishing links to websites that are deemed to be substantially infringing copyright under plans. The groups have proposed a voluntary code of practice for search engines in a move to get them to do more to prevent online copyright infringement. If adopted, the code would also require search engines to relegate sites that repeatedly link to pirated material in their rankings and conversely boost links to other “licensed” sites under a new “certification” scheme suggesting search engines should prioritise legal sites when consumers are clearly using search engines “trying to access digital content to download or stream, rather than simply looking for information” using search terms such as ‘torrent’, ‘download’, ‘free’ and ‘rip’ when eg combined with an artiste, song or an album name. The content owners would also like to see search engines stop promoting pirate websites or placing ads on those sites from selling keyword advertising related to piracy terminology as…

Google COULD face legal action from record labels

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Internet, record labels TorrentFreak reports that the recording industry is considering filing a lawsuit against Google for allegedly abusing its dominant market position to distort the market for online music saying “Industry groups including IFPI and the RIAA want Google to degrade links to ‘pirate’ websites in its search results” and that “IFPI has obtained a ‘highly confidential and preliminary legal opinion’ to see if they can force Google to step up its anti-piracy efforts though a lawsuit” – with the IFPI saying  “Google continues to fail to prioritize legal music sites over illegal sites in search results, claiming that its algorithm for search results is based on the relevance of sites to consumers” explaining “With a view to addressing this failure, IFPI obtained a highly confidential and preliminary legal opinion in July 2011 on the possibility of bringing a competition law [antitrust] complaint against Google for abuse of its dominant position, given the distortion of the market for legitimate online music that is likely to result from Google’s prioritizing of illegal sites.” So it seems whether the legal action will actually be launched is a matter of whether or not Google will come to the table…

IP and Media in the Digital Age conference
Copyright , Internet / March 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…

Apparently Veoh Isn’t Dead Enough For Universal Music; Asks For Rehearing of Its Bogus Copyright Lawsuit
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet ARTICLE LINK: An interesting take on the Universal v Veoh litigation and some thoughts on why (despite Veoh’s victory) UMG initiated the action and indeed continue with an appeal. …. despite Veoh’s demise.

Newt at the eye of the storm in campaign infringement claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Music publishing Another Republican candidate in trouble with the law! When will it end?! Following in the footsteps of the many offended songwriters and performers whose songs have been misappropriated by politicians, the composer and publisher of the hit song Eye of the Tiger have sued Newt Gingrich to stop the Republican presidential candidate from using the Rocky III anthem at campaign events. The lawsuit was filed in the US federal court in Chicago by Rude Music Inc., the music publishing company owned by Frank Sullivan, who composed the 1982 song. The lawsuit states that as early as 2009, Gingrich has entered rallies and public events to the pulsing guitar riffs of the song, which was the background track to Rocky Balboa’s training montages in the film and became a No. 1 hit. Hmmmm, my problem here is the halls probably have blanket ASCAP / BMI (PRS) licences so that public use, in itself, isn’t an infringement – although using the music in an advert most certainly would be. – and this may be why the suit mentions the internet videos featuring Gingrich that have been posted online by American Conservative Union who are also are named as defendants….

IFPI welcomes Russian ruling on unlicensed streaming platform
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet The IFPI has welcomed what it calls a “landmark ruling” by a Russian court that internet company vKontakte’s music service is liable for copyright infringement. The commercial (“Arbitrazh”) Court of Saint Petersburg ruled that the social networking site with an unlicensed music service is illegally offering unlicensed music to its users. vKontakte is Russia’s most popular online entertainment platform. It has over 110 million registered users and over 33 million users per day, and is one of the top 50 most visited sites in the world. The case against vKontakte was brought by SBA Publishing and SBA Production, members of the Gala Music Group in Russia. The cases were based on vKontakte making Gala’s music compositions and sound recordings available without licensing agreements. The unlicensed vKontakte music service allows streaming of music from an extensive catalogue of Russian and international sound recordings and encourages software developers to create apps for illegal downloading of content via vKontakte. The IFPI says that several further cases are pending. Reacting to the judgment, IFPI CEO, Frances Moore, said: “This is a very important ruling for Russia. It shows that sites like vKontakte cannot build a business on making music available without licences…

Pirate Bay founders lose final appeal
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet The defendants in the Pirate Bay trial, who were appealing their custodial sentences to Sweden’s Supreme Court, have now exhausted their options in Sweden after the Court refused to hear the final appeal. Two of the founders and the funder of The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundström, were found guilty of copyright infringement for their former roles at the Pirate Bay in 2009. A third founder, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, had already been refused future appeals for failing to attend his first appeal hearing on the ground of somewhat unspecified illness. Whilst their custodial sentences had been reduced on appeal that seems to be as far as the Swedish courts will go. Lundstrom’s legal team said “This ruling is absurd. I am disappointed that the court is so uninterested to dissect and look through all the legal comings and goings in one of the world’s most watched court cases of all time”. News then emerged that the current operators of The Pirate Bay, presumably in response to MegaUpload’s recent enforced demise, and possibly fearing the US authorities might use Supreme Court ruling to justify taking action against its .org domain, which is administered by the…

The Pirate Bay blocked in the UK
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet Mr Justice Arnold, sitting in the Chancery Division, England and Wales, has given judgment in the case brought against TPB in Dramatico Entertainment Ltd & others v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd & others and this is how Music Week saw the ruling: “The UK record industry has today claimed a major victory in its fight against the Pirate Bay – with the High Court recognising that the site’s owners and users are operating illegally. Claimants represented by the BPI – including Dramatico, EMI, Polydor, Rough Trade and Warner – argued that the UK’s leading six Internet Service Providers should block the filesharing site. Defendants including BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media did not attend the hearing and were not represented. Mr Justice Arnold ruled that “both users and the operators of TPB infringe the copyrights of the Claimants (and those they represent) in the UK”. He added (para81) “In my judgment, the operators of TPB do authorise its users’ infringing acts of copying and communication to the public. They go far beyond merely enabling or assisting. On any view, they ‘sanction, approve and countenance’ the infringements of copyright committed by its users. But in my view they also purport to grant users…

Why no royalties from Vevo US publisher asks?
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Music publishing Independent US music publisher Matt Pincus has highlighted the fact that whilst online video platform Vevo (owned by Universal, Sony and the Abu Dhabi Media Group) earned $150-million dollars in revenue in 2011 and supplies roughly 40% of the content streamed on YouTube, it has not paid over a single dime to independent music publishers or their songwriter clients in the USA saying that that they “have not received any money from Vevo. Ever. That’s right.  Vevo: $150 Million.  Independent publishers and songwriters: Zero.” In a very interesting piece in The Wrap, Pincus puts the blame very squarely at the doors of Universal and  Sony saying that whilst Vevo does pay over royalties to record labels they don’t pay music publishers because “the major record companies have warranted that they have the right to license songs to Vevo on behalf of publishers, backing up that claim with an indemnity” and then rely on “controlled composition” clauses in their recording contracts with artistes to avoid paying anything to use the songs ending up with the opinion that “Are record companies to blame for relying on shoddy language to withhold royalties, or is it Vevo’s responsibility to insure that the…

Top Techno Tubes in Takedown Trouble
Artists , Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, artistes I don’t know that much about the world of electronic music but I was sent an interesting read about a chap in the USA called Modular Punk who allegedly managed not only to copy, rename, re-brand and release fifteen tracks actually produced by Italian DJ and techno producer Alex De Stefano, he also copyrighted said tracks in the USA and claimed ownership of such. Perhaps unsurprisingly, said Mr M Punk (real name Felipe Cersosimo, aged 27) had a JD in Intellectual Property and International law apparently from the American University, Washington College of Law, and for a few weeks had ‘his’ tracks out on sale, distributed by his own label and distributors Dark Digital Underground, Iris Distribution and Perfection Recordings and he even managed to get them onto all major digital distribution platforms (including iTunes) and even got the onto the Billboard, MTV Meteor and MySpace techno charts. So, a now very peeved De Stefano tried to take action and a number (but not all) of the digital outlets removed the offending tracks BUT of course Mr Punk had those very annoying copyrights registered in the USA and so what ensued then appears to be a battle…

SOPA is not censorship says RIAA Chief
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Cary Sherman boss of the Recording Industry Association Of America has hit out at Wikipedia and its allies with a response in the New York Times to last month’s day of protests against the proposed SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills saying that the campaign was founded on a number of ‘mistruths’ and “Since when is it censorship to shut down an operation that an American court, upon a thorough review of evidence, has determined to be illegal? When the police close down a store fencing stolen goods, it isn’t censorship, but when those stolen goods are fenced online, it is? Wikipedia, Google and others manufactured controversy by unfairly equating SOPA with censorship”. A recent Columbia University survey found, in fact, that 70 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they had bought, copied or downloaded unauthorized music, TV shows or movies, compared with 46 percent of all adults who’d done the same. CMU Daily 9th February 2012

Re-Digi case goes to full hearing
Copyright , Record Labels / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels EMI has failed to get a summary judgement against the MP3 resale website ReDigi, meaning the case will now get a full court hearing which will examine the digital company’s claim that it is possible that American copyright law allows consumers to resell MP3 as the ‘first sale’ doctine must to apply in the digital space as much as it applies to CDs and vinyl.  Whilst Judge Richard Sullivan declined to accept a amicus curiae brief from web giant Google, he has decided that it would be inappropriate to find in EMI’s favour without giving its claim full consideration, mainly because he didn’t feel the major had proven “irreparable harm” in its initial legal papers. The judge declined to issue an injunction against Re-Digi and the site remains open for business pending the trial.

Where next for EU copyright law revisions?
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet The IPKat reports that the European Commission has announced that it will be taking a look at ‘take down’ procedures within the different countries of the EU which variously operate under the E-Commerce Directive which sets up the liability regime of Intermediary Service Providers depending on the different types of activities provided — i.e. acting as a mere conduit, catching or hosting, and provides the basis for a “notice and action” procedure but does not establish one as such. Each country has therefore acted upon its own criteria in that matter. As a result, while the internet is ubiquitous, Europe is fragmented in terms of procedures and remedies to block or remove illegal content. The Commission will review the IP Enforcement Directive in parallel to this initiative. The adoption process for this initiative will be keenly watched since it will surely trigger passionate debates between rightholders, ISPs and civil society who have differing and often opposing views, especially with regard to the following aspects of a notice and action procedure: requirements for the notice, the possibility to submit a counter-notice by the alleged infringer, the timeframe for blocking or taking down the unlawful content, liability for providing wrongful notices…

SOCA takedown pulls no punches
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet , the British music blog that posted, amongst other things, links to unlicensed music files, has been shut down by the Serious Organised Crime Agency.  The website currently hosts a SOCA statement that says the UK government agency has taken control of the domain, and that the individuals behind the website have been “arrested for fraud”. The SOCA statement also notes: “The majority of music files that were available via this site were stolen from the artists. If you have downloaded music using this website you may have committed a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of up to ten years imprisonment and an unlimited fine under UK law”. The UK authorities’ previous criminal action against a similar website, Oink, was unsuccessful.  The arrests are not under the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988, but appear to be for the criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud. The SOCA ‘takeover’ is quite bizarre actually. I would never have thought a UK court would imprison someone for 10 years for illegally downloading and when I went online to check the site today (after it was closed) and my own IP address was noted, dated and timed and the…

Spanish courts ignore Sinde principles
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet Spanish court has found another internet service free from liability for the actions of its users, holding that Cinetube, which redirects  web-users to film files online (the  majority of which are unlicensed), free from liability for copyright infringement. Spanish courts have generally not been willing to hold such websites liable, especially if they are not run for profit. The landmark ruling in Spanish law involves the P2P file sharing service Sharemula, again found free from liability, although that case was distinguished in another more recent Spanish case where the operator of a file-sharing links service who profited from ad sales and SMS services was found liable. However, Spain is on the brink of a major change with the proposed implementation of the “Sinde” law and whilst currently subject to a challenge in the country’s Supreme Court, Cinetube is known to be high up on the target list of the content industries, who hope the new web-blocking law will overrule past precedents and enable them to force ISPs to block access to websites that link to illegal content.

Hadopi enters first round of the ‘third strike’phase
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   Hadopi, the French authority responsible for the protection of content owner’s rights on the Internet, has revealed that it has now sent its first batch of files of Internet users suspected of illegally downloading films and music protected by copyright law to the French public prosecutor’s office. The public prosecutor’s office must now decide whether or not to instigate legal proceedings against the repeat offenders as the final [art of the French ‘Three strikes’ or graduated response programme. All of those accused will already have had a warning email and if they continued to infringe, a further  letter sent by registered post and email. Punishment includes a fine of EUR1,500 (USD1,971) and the initial suspension of the individual’s Internet account for a period of up to a month. All decisions are made by a court. At the end of December, 822,014 Internet users had been sent a first warning, 68,343 had received the “second strike”, the registered letter, and 165 repeat offenders had been placed under investigation. In January 2011 research showed that despite the new law, 49% of French internet users continued to illegally download music and films.

ACTA runs into belated European opposition
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPRIGHT Internet   Having been referred to the ECJ, ACTA is in the news after digital campaign organisation Avaaz handed the European Parliament a petition with the names of over two million people who have backed an online call for a rethink of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA has already been signed by a majority of EU member states but not by the EU itself nor some five member states including The Netherlands and Germany. The Treaty has already been denounced by the French MEP, Kader Arif, the rapporteur for ATCTA who was charged with compiling background information on the Treaty and who resigned his position saying “I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement”, while the European Parliament’s current President, Martin Schulz, said he didn’t think ACTA was “good in its current form”. Now the Scottish MEP who will oversee the treaty’s passage through the European legislature, David Martin, has also said he is concerned that ambiguities in the agreement could have negative consequences telling reporters “I have no interest in criminalising individual consumers. I think you have to distinguish between the consumer and the producer of…

Entertainment lawyers lunch, Ek talks big on streaming, Branca adds to the fun, student gets the cheers!
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, Technology Is streaming really the future of the music industry? Will it be the saviour of record labels? I doubt it very much myself, but is a dang good approach if you are Daniel Ek, boss of Spotify. Now less than seven months after launching his digital music service in the US, Ek found himself rubbing elbows with the “upper echelon” of record industry executives who have descended on Los Angeles for this Sunday’s Grammy Awards and the 28-year-old Swedish entrepreneur addressed a ballroom full of entertainment attorneys  telling them all about the brave new world of digital music and boldly predicting  that revenue from streaming services such as Spotify will in two years return as much revenue to the industry as iTunes does today. Since launching its service in 2008, the Stockholm-based company says it has has remunerated more than $200 million, roughly 70% of its revenue, to labels and publishers. It has also grown into a valuable company with a tie in to Facebook (and making Ek a darn sight more money than the music industry – and artistes!) “The value of music is not $15 billion,” an estimate of annual music sales, Ek told his audience at the Grammy…

Getting paid for being played

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishing, Live Events Industry   Its easy getting played – but its often more difficult getting paid. In Vietnam 40 composers and members of the Ha Noi Musicians’ Association have signed a letter petitioning management agencies for tighter regulation on copyright payments and permission for live performances at a recent meeting. The meeting was organised by the Viet Nam Copyright Protection Music Centre (VCPMC) in response to recent cases which they say have revealed the inefficiency of agencies authorised to give permission for live performances. In the last year, the centre says that only one-tenth of the total number of music performances throughout the country have been collected. At the meeting, participants blamed the agency authorised to monitor and distribute payments, the Performing Arts Department in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, for granting performance organisers permission without demanding copyright payment for composers. In the UK a Bristol nightclub has been banned from playing recorded music after Mrs Justice Proudman banned owners Norcrown Ltd from playing any more recorded music at the club until the company brings its music licences up to date. The order was imposed after the judge heard that the company was…

Merlin settles for indies
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels   The global independent music rights agency Merlin has settled its long running copyright infringement claim on behalf of its members against the now defunct peer-to-peer service LimeWire.  The settlement was reached out-of-court subsequent to a lawsuit filed by Merlin in July 2011. Merlin’s settlement follows the major record labels’ announcement that they reached a $105 million out-of-court settlement with LimeWire in May 2011.  Merlin’s members’ claims against LimeWire were settled for an amount commensurate with the major record labels’ settlement, taking into account the aggregate market shares of the Merlin members relative to the major labels’ shares and costs of action. Merlin’s members’ market share in the US is around 10%. Merlin will pay out the proceeds of the settlement to its members shortly. Labels such as Epitaph, Merge, Warp, Yep Roc/Red Eye, Naïve, Naxos, Tommy Boy, One Little Indian, Kontor, Secretly Canadian, Beggars Group, [PIAS] Group,!K7, Sub Pop, Domino and Koch/E1 are all members of Merlin. Charles Caldas, Merlin CEO said: “It is deeply satisfying to announce this settlement today. The exclusion of independents from past major settlements such as Kazaa was a key factor in the formation of Merlin, and I am proud…

A bauble for Bon Bon – rapper does have a reputation but it isn’t greatly damaged rules Aussie court

COPYRIGHT / MORAL RIGHTS / CONTRACT Artistes, internet   This (again!) from the ever wonderful IP Kat: Question: what do you get if you cross an American rap artist with a digruntled Australian tour promoter and a song with the title ‘We No Speak Americano’? Answer: a moral rights dispute. If you have been on the dance-floor in recent times as many times as this Kat has, it would have been virtually impossible for you to miss hearing ‘We No Speak Americano’. This ditty, released in February 2010, was created by Australian duo Yolanda Be Cool and producer DCUP by sampling the 1956 Italian song ‘Tu vuò fà l’Americano’ (by Renato Carosone). This release soared to No 1 in the charts in many discerning nations and featured prominently in a number of Best Songs of 2010 lists. The combined song was further sampled in November 2010 by American rapper Armando Perez (stage name ‘Pitbull’) for the Spanish-language track  Bon Bon’ in his fifth studio album, Armando (the ‘Bon Bon Song’). Jamie Fernandez is a prominent DJ and live music promoter in Perth, Western Australia. Fernandez goes by the name DJ Suave and operates a website at (the ‘Suave Website’).Pitbull Perez was due to come to Australia to perform…

PPL delighted at jukebox jury

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, Record Labels, Collection Societies   Record label trade body BPI and recording rights collecting society PPL have welcomed a recent court ruling that will see a father and son team who ran an unlicensed jukebox business in the North East ordered t pay over £131,000 in compensation. Malcolm Wylie, his son Peter Wylie and William Ross were all handed custodial sentences for their involvement in the jukebox enterprise, which provided supposedly fully licensed jukeboxes to North East businesses, but the business paid no part of the income to the rights owners via PPL. Since then Ross has been ordered to pay £102,000 to BPI/PPL, and earlier this month Wylie Senior and Junior were together ordered to hand over £131,000. CMU Daily 24 February 2012

‘Jersey Boys’ author’s estate wins limited redress; Corbello v DeVito
Contract , Copyright / March 2012

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Books, all areas   Rex Woodward was the co-author of a biography of Four Seasons member Thomas Gaetano DeVito, jointly created with the musician, and based on a series of interviews and discussions between the pair over a number of years. The pair agreed to be co-authors and share in any profits. Wood ward died in 1991 and subsequently DeVito registered the Work at the US Copyright Office, in his name alone. He subsequently granted defendants Frankie Valli and Robert Gaudio (also both Four Season’s members) an irrevocable, exclusive, perpetual, worldwide and assignable licence to freely use the Work and Gaudio and Valli further sub-licensed these rights, which allowed the Work to subsequently form the basis for the screenplay of the hugely successful ‘Jersey Boys’ musical. After the play was first staged in 2005, Woodward’s widow, Donna Corbello, learned of the link in 2007 and amended the US copyright registration in 2009 to include Woodward and brought a claim in the District Court of Nevada against DeVito and the other defendants including Valli, Gaudio and the show’s producers and directors for copyright infringement. DeVito and the other defendants argued that the claim was barred by applicable statute…

Sabbath reunion falters as drummer Ward demands ‘signable’ contract
Artists , Contract / March 2012

CONTRACT Artistes   Drummer Bill Ward has said that he may not take part in the much heralded ‘original line up’ Black Sabbath reunion indicating that he has pulled out, because he is still to agree terms. The band have a new album planned, a headline slot at Download 2012 and a World tour in place. In a letter to the band’s fans posted on his website, Ward wrote: “At this time, I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the Black Sabbath album and tour. However, I am unable to continue unless a ‘signable’ contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band. Last year, I worked diligently in good faith with Tony, Ozzy and Geezer. And on 11/11/11, again in good faith, I participated in the LA press conference. Several days ago, after nearly a year of trying to negotiate, another ‘unsignable’ contract was handed to me”.  He continues saying “Let me say that although this has put me in some kind of holding pattern, I am packed and ready to leave the US for England. More importantly, I definitely want to…

Drake faces Marvin’s Room claim

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music publishing, artistes   Drake’s hits ingle, “Marvin’s Room” was not only a hot hit for Drake but also covered by a number of other artistes including Lil Layne, Chris Brown and even Justin Bieber. Now an alleged ex of Drakes’s, Erika Lee, is suing Drake for not including her in the co-writer royalties.  Lee’s voice is heard on the other end of a phone call at the start of Drake’s 2011 recording. She also claims that the two did more than work on a song together and that she and Drake were allegedly involved in a romantic relationship. Lee claims that during their time together they traded poems and songs and often spoke about making sweet music with each other. It was agreed that they would work on “Marvin’s Room” together and split the proceeds. It was also agreed that Erika would speak the opening of the song that set up the story about how Drake’s fame evoked his inner, drunken desire for his ex as the walls of fame and fortune got in his way and the suit claims that the  “Plaintiff’s contribution is highly significant to the overall work”. Unfortunately for Lee shortly after the…

Now Warners face digital royalty claim

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Artistes, record labels With Sony and Universal already facing claims over the way royalties are calculated (with actions from artistes including The Allman Brothers, Cheap Trick, Rob Zombie, Whitesnake, Chuck D and the Estate of Rick James) and the successful action already won by FBT Productions against UMG (in the ‘Eminen’ case) which set a precedent that royalties for iTunes-style downloads should not be treated the same as selling CD singles or albums and should attract a higher payment – usually a share of the profits from licensing revenues  – rather than a ‘per unit’ royalty based on dealer price, Warners are now facing an action from Sister Sledge and singer  Ronee Blakely whose lawsuit claims: “Rather than paying its recording artists and producers the percentage of net receipts it received – and continues to receive – from digital content providers for ‘licenses’, Warner wrongfully treats each digital download as a ‘sale’ of a physical phonorecord … which are governed by much lower royalty provisions than ‘licenses’ in Warner’s standard recording agreements”. Universal continues to insist the ruling in the FBT case is only relevant to the wording of that exact contract, and does not set a…

Judge sides with Herb Reed, the only surviving Platter
Artists , Trade Mark / March 2012

TRADE MARK Artistes Herb Reed, the only remaining member of the Platters, has secure another victory for original members of 50’s and 60’s bands to retain the use their names after federal Judge Phillip  M Pro issued an injunction against Monroe Powell who had been using the name “The Platters Featuring the Legendary Michael Powell” in performances in Las Vegas and other venues around the country. In his 14 page ruling Judge Pro said “Only You, Herb Reed have exclusive rights to the mark “The Platters.”” He enjoined Powell from using “The Platters” and “any equivalent or phonetically similar names or marks, in connection with any vocal group in any advertisements, promotional, marketing, or other materials. However Judge Pro did allow two exceptions, writing that Powell “may use the mark “The Platters” if the word “Tribute” or “Revue” is included and when displayed or advertised, the word “Tribute” or “Revue” is at least one half the font size of ‘The Platters.” Thirty-three states have passed Truth-in-Music laws prohibiting such performers, and requiring at least one member of the group to have a connection to the original band. A federal law is making its way through congress. Responding to the decision Reed said,…

Sugarland prompt angry reaction by daring to suggest fans may be partially to blame
Health & Safety , Live Events / March 2012

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events industry Lawyers working for Sugarland, who are facing multiple legal actions after the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair last August in extreme weather, have reportedly filed a defence stating the injuries suffered by claimants were, at least in part, to blame for their own actions, for failing “to exercise due care for their own safety”. As previously reported, seven fans died and 40 more were injured when staging collapsed in freak high-speed winds shortly before Sugarland were due to take to the stage at the State Fair. The band themselves fare facing actions because their contract with the State Fair gave them the right to cancel the show in extreme weather conditions. The State of Indiana has already settled the matter for $5 million, its maximum liability under state law although is considering adding another $5 million to cover victim’s medical bills. The move by Sugarland’s lawyers prompted outrage online and in the media and in response, the bad issued a statement saying: “Sadly when a tragedy occurs, people want to point fingers and try to sensationalise the disaster. The single most important thing to Sugarland are their fans. Their support and love…

If you are Blue Ivy Carter, it’s never too early to Trade Mark your name
Artists , Trade Mark / March 2012

TRADE MARK Artistes   This from Annsley Merelle Ward writing for the IP Kat who points out that on the “long list of To-Dos, after the birth of a new child” most people do not have “File baby’s name as a trade mark with the USPTO”.  Most people, except Beyoncé and Jay-Z  that is, who on 26 January 2012, four weeks after their baby girl. Blue Ivy Carter, was born, filed a trade mark application for the name with the USPTO.   The application made by Beyoncé’s company, BGK Trademark Holdings, is for the name BLUE IVY CARTER for goods that span the music mogul merchandise spectrum, including CDs, basketballs, baby carriers, baby rattles, fragrances, and earmuffs. Trade mark registrations afford you the exclusive right to use the mark in connection to those classes of goods under the mark.  Importantly it allows you to stop others from doing the same without your permission.  That is where the true value in Beyoncé/Jay-Z’s potential trade mark registration lies – in preventing the use of their child’s name being plastered over every polyester bib and sad looking bear from New York to L.A.  Indeed, earlier two separate third-party applications for the name were rejected by the USPTO on the grounds…

Madonna faces pornographic Trade Mark claim

TRADE MARK Artistes, music publishing News reaches us of a tale involving Madonna, her single called ‘Girls Gone Wild‘ (click for link to YouTube video), an adult film company called ‘Girls Gone Wild’ and this year’s Super Bowl. The IPKat reports that a certain Mr Joe Francis founded Girls Gone Wild Brands LLC, a company which produces the Girls Gine wild series. The description of the company website in a Google search reads ‘Girls Gone Wild is home to some of the hottest girls in America. Francis, through his company GGW Marketing LLC, owns the registered trade mark GIRLS GONE WILD in the US in for services in Class 41. The specification for this mark reads: ‘Entertainment services, namely, providing a web site featuring adult entertainment, adult content videos, related film clips, photographs, and other multimedia materials, featuring adult entertainment, webcasts in the field of adult entertainment, events, namely, promotional parties for various venues and vendors’. Madonna is due to release her 12th studio album MDNA in March 2012 before embarking on a world tour. One of the songs on MDNA is called ‘Girls Gone Wild’. To promote her album, Madonna agreed to perform at the halftime show at Super…

Justin looks to stop Joustin
Artists , Trade Mark / March 2012

TRADE MARK Artistes Justin Bieber’s legal team have issued a cease and desist letter against the creators of the Joustin Beaver, the animated star of a smartphone game. According to TMZ, the maker of the game, RC3, has received a demand they declare any revenues made from sales of the 99 cents aqp game so far. RC3 will continue selling the game, saying it is a parody and therefore protected under American fair use doctrines. Previously in the UK where no clear right of parody exists, Lady Gaga obtained a High Court order to stop the Moshi Monster social network from releasing songs from its character Lady Goo Goo, although both Lady Goo Goo and another Justin inspired Beaver – Dustbin Beaver – still live within the Moshi universe. After Bieber’s initiative, RC3 ten also petioned the court for a declaration to clarify their position.

Warners to fight EMI sale to Universal
Competition , Record Labels / March 2012

COMPETITION Record labels On his final day as Chairman of the Warner Music Group, Edgar Bronfman Jr has confirmed the World’s  third biggest music rights company would join with the independent sector fight ‘tooth and nail’ against the proposed merger of the EMI record companies with the market leader Universal Music Group. Saying that allowing Universal to take ownership of the EMI record companies “would create what I call a super-major that would control not only the future of recorded music but the future of all digital media”. According to the Wall Street Journal, he continued: “I think it’s dangerous, I think it’s problematic and I think it’s got to be stopped. It does strike me as hubris, particularly for Universal to think it’s going to be easy to buy EMI, and frankly to think they can buy EMI at all”. The position was subsequently confirmed by Warner Music’s CEO Stephen Cooper. Competition regulators in the EU. USA and elsewhere will be noting this with interest! And indie labels trade body IMPALA has repeated its opposition to the planned merger after Universal formally submitted its bid proposals to the European competition regulators. IMPALA’s Executive Chair Helen Smith said: “The clock…

EU and US approve Google’s Motorola acquisition
Competition , Internet / March 2012

COMPETITION Internet, Technology The European Commission has approved Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Illinois-based handset-maker Motorola Mobility. The deal, first announced in August, will give Google the hardware to go along with its popular Android smartphone operating system. In its ruling, the competition (antitrust) regulator said the acquisition “would not significantly modify the market situation in respect of operating systems and patents for these devices.” The U.S. Department of Justice simultaneously announced it has closed its investigation of this acquisition in the USA.

Notting Hill Music hit by £27,000 employment award

EMPLOYMENT All areas Music publisher Notting Hill Music have lost a case brought by former employee Luisa Berg who brought an action against the London based company after she was forced out of her job following maternity leave and offering Berg no choice between full time employment or leaving  her position as creative manager. The Employment Tribunal ruled the firm had unlawfully failed to make allowances for Berg’s baby daughter. The panel also ordered Notting Hill Music to attend equal opportunities training or face having the damages award set at £27,000 increased.

Channel Four ticketing documentary prompts fierce backlash
Live Events / March 2012

TICKETING Live events industry The UK’s Channel 4 has been able to broadcast an expose of Viagogo and Seatwave’s business practices, despite a legal challenge by Viagogo which was thrown out by the High Court. When it comes to where the tickets came from for the secondary market, SJM, Phil McIntyre, MCD, Metropolis, Live Nation and 3A were all named as alleged providers of ‘allocations’ to Viagogo – providing tickets for events including the V Festival, Strictly Come Dancing. Coldplay, X-factor and in particular Take That – whose tickets had an average 100% mark up. Even Channel’s own charity Comedy Gala was apparently on sale on secondary market places! But in particular the programme alleged that “Power sellers” (errrmmmm, touts) and “professional sellers” (ditto) provide allocations, and tickets were also acquired by as Viagogo’s own staff using their own (multiple) credit cards registered to different addresses to secure (or ‘harvest’) tickets The programme, titled ‘The Great Ticket Scandal‘ involved secret filming, and busted wide open the idea that the sites are ‘fan to fan’ facilities, alleging that it was the professional ‘brokers’ who list over two thirds of the tickets on Seatwave – in a billion pound market that includes…

Big Brother IS watching you
Internet , Privacy / March 2012

PRIVACY Internet, Technology Apple has moved to quell a growing storm over privacy saying that it would ban apps for the iPhone or iPad that collected personal data from users without their prior approval. The move follows revelations that services were collecting personal data including contact email addresses, contract telephone numbers. Path, a social networking app apologised after a researcher discovered it had uploaded his iPhone contacts to its servers. Other offending services included Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Yelp.  Twitter said it would make it more clear it collected the contact data and stored it for up to 18 months. Facebook said that when it collected data it made this quite clear. But Google has been accused of bypassing Apple’s privacy settings on Apple devices to track internet browsing habits, implementing new codes to override privacy settings on iPhones and iPads. Google has now disabled to code and said no personal information was collected. Remember, these firms are in control of the future of the internet. Frightening!  (The Times, February 17th 2012, p8).

Huge opposition to Scottish licensing reforms
Licensing , Live Events / March 2012

LICENSING Live events industry   ALMOST 15,000 people have backed a petition against changes to Scottish licensing law, which it is claimed will threaten the work of Scotland’s artists, musicians and performers. Objectors have said that the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act, which comes into force on April 1 will give local councils a wide discretion and will leave performers, musicians artists facing a “patchwork quilt” of widely differing Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) rules and charges in each authority’s area (something the Scottish Government seems to agree with). Using the examples of Glasgow which has currently suspended implementing the law for six months to enable consultation, obcvetors point out that whilst both City of Edinburgh Council and Highland Council will introduce licence charges even for free artistic events or exhibitions, Dundee City Council is as yet undecided and Aberdeen City Council confirmed that art shows or exhibitions would not require a PEL. Cultural Olympiad commissioned artist Craig Coulthard described the forthcoming legislation as “potentially devastating to grass-roots art and culture in Edinburgh and the rest of the country.”

Camden Coroner admits hiring of wife as deputy was ‘error’
Artists / March 2012

ARTISTS   The coroner who oversaw the inquest into Amy Winehouse’s death has resigned after it was revealed that she was not technically qualified to take on the role. The singer’s family are said to be “taking advice”. Camden Council has confirmed that Suzanne Greenaway had qualified as a lawyer in Australia in 1999 but had not practiced in the UK for the required five years before she became a coroner. But despite this she was appointed by her husband, Andrew Reid, who is coroner for the St Pancras area of London. Reid is now writing to 30 families to explain that the results of inquests into the deaths of loved ones carried out by Greenaway, while currently remaining legal, could be overturned by the High Court. In a statement, Reid said: “I appointed my wife as an assistant deputy coroner as I believed at the time that her experience as a solicitor and barrister in Australia satisfied the requirements of the post. In November of last year it became apparent that I had made an error in the appointment process and I accepted her resignation. While I am confident that all of the inquests handled were done so correctly,…