5 UK ISPS ordered to block The Pirate Bay
Copyright , Internet / June 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   The High Court yesterday has issued orders requiring five internet service providers to block access to The Pirate Bay file sharing site. The five ISPs are Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media.  BT, previously ordered to block Newzbin, was included in the application by record label trade body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) but had asked for more time (a ‘few more weeks’) to consider it’s response so was not included in the blocking orders. Welcoming yesterday’s web-blocking orders, Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI said “The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive scale. Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them. This is wrong – musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else” adding “Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists”.  Loz Kaye from The Pirate Party had a different take saying “Site blocking isn’t the solution to anything – it’s just censorship, and ineffective censorship at that. It’s laughably easy to…

YouTube v GEMA goes to appeal

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing Following the German court ruling last month in the long running dispute between YouTube and Germany’s music rights collecting society GEMA, both parties have appealed the decision. YouTube was held liable under the principle of Storerhaftung (disturbance liability – secondary liability for contributing to someone else’s breach of third party rights and was issued with a permanent injunction to take down a number of songs GEMA administers and ensure those songs do not appear on YouTube in the future Whilst YouTube seems more than safe under the US’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act and has a ‘takedown’ system for removing unlicensed content, the German courts have taken a firmer approach and seem to want YouTube to be more proactive in removing infringing material. YouTube will argue that their takedown system is already sophisticated and available to all content owners and that more onerous filtering and removal obligations would not only damage the Google platform, but also other websites and services: YouTube spokesperson Mounira Latrache said “The ruling to implement [more] filtering would be damaging for innovation and freedom of expression online”. GEMA has also filed papers seeking further clarification of  the rights of its members to protect their content online. It…

An IP address is not a person
Copyright , Internet / June 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, Technology In the USA, Judge Magistrate Gary Brown (US District Court, Eastern District of New York) has gone to great lengths to explain why an IP address is not the same as a person and cannot be used to bring claims against alleged copyright infringers. In the USA Mass-BitTorrent lawsuits have been “dragging on for more than two years” and involve more than a quarter million potential illegal downloaders. The copyright owners who start these cases generally provide just an IP-address as evidence of the infringement and as the identity of the ‘John Doe’ infringer. The court is then asked to grant a subpoena, allowing the claimant to require an Internet Service Provider for the personal details of the alleged offenders. Judge Brown is of the opinion this is a “waste of judicial resources” and that the argument that IP-addresses can identify the alleged infringers is very weak with Judge Brown saying “The assumption that the person who pays for Internet access at a given location is the same individual who allegedly downloaded a single sexually explicit film is tenuous, and one that has grown more so over time” adding “An IP address provides only the location at…

Performers in Ghana and Kenya asked to be paid
Copyright / June 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas The Ghana Association of Phonographic Industries (GAPI) is considering filing a legal suit against the Government of Ghana because government and other state institutions used Ghanaian music works without paying royalties. Project Coordinator for GAPI, Francis Mensah Twum told Adom Entertainment News the Information Services Department (ISD), and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) use Ghanaian music in their vans that go round to educate the public, but they do not pay royalties. GAPI also cited political parties for the same offence, saying that GAPI is speaking with its lawyers to prepare a legal suit against the offenders which, including the government. Mr. Twum Mensah however noted that alternatively, government could support the forthcoming Copyright Bank/Fund with seed capital to compensate for the millions of cedis of accumulated in unpaid royalties it owed the industry. He explained that apart from government not paying royalties due the industry, government also delayed the passage of the Copyright Law, and it took another four years before it enacted the Legislative Instrument to make the law operational which “allowed piracy to continue and the industry lost an average of $30 million a year, which amounted to about a $400 million…

Hologram Musicians: The Legal Implications

IMAGE RIGHTS / COPYRIGHT/ TRADE MARK Artistes ARTICLE LINK  Yvette Joy Liebesman, an assistant professor at St Louis University Law School, explains the legal implications of using a dead musicians’ image in the wake of the  ‘Tupac’ appearance at the Coachella Festival looking at image rights, trade mark issues and copyright. And Pepsi has done a deal with the Jackson Estate which will see the Michael Jackson’s image used in a new global ad campaign to coincide with a re-release of ‘Bad‘. Pepsi cans will also featured pictures of the singer and options to download some exclusive remixes as part of its ‘Live for Now” campaign . The Fix reports that control of the name and likeness of Kurt Cobain now sits with his daughter Frances Bean Cobain, and not his widow and her estranged mother Courtney Love. According to the website, in 2010 Love took a $2.75 million loan from her daughter’s trust fund, and as part of that transaction the trust gained control of Cobain’s image rights until the loan is repaid. Love also stood down as a director of the company which controlled those rights. Since Frances Bean turned eighteen in 2010 she has had direct control…

Neelie says ACTA is doomed
Copyright , Internet / June 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda has said that the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) , signed by almost all EU member states – but not all – is likely to follow the US’s SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) into the dustbin of failed legislation saying “We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the internet” adding “there is a strong new political  voice, and as a voice for openness, I welcome it even if I do not always agree with everything it says on every subject … we are now likely to be in a world without SOPA and ACTA”. ACTA is currently awaiting review by the Court of Justice and EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht had urged the EU Parliament to delay any formal ratification of ACTA until that happened, but it now looks like the whole process has stalled as member states (even those who had previously signed up) lose the political will to move the Agreement forward. In the USA, critics of the U.S. government’s antipiracy efforts have new ammunition to support claims…

Rhyming & Stealing: Let’s honor late Beastie with better copyright laws

COPYRIGHT Artistes, record labels, music publishing ARTICLE LINK: Just as the sad death of the Beastie Boys’ Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch from cancer was announced, aged just 47, Tuf America, Inc announced a new lawsuit against the band and co-defendants Universal Music, Brooklyn Dust Music and Capitol Records. Tuf America  administers the rights to the recordings of Trouble Funk’s catalogue, including the group’s 1982 funk classics, “Drop the Bomb” and “Say What” and the federal lawsuit relates to two songs on the Beastie Boys’ debut album, ‘Licensed To Ill‘, and two more on the follow-up, ‘Paul’s Boutique’. The company claims that the group illegally sampled the two Trouble Funk songs. The 20 years delay in pursuing the litigation is partly linked to the fact Tuf America only gained control of the copyrights in Trouble Funk’s catalogue in 1999, the additional ten year wait “seemingly being down to the fact it’s only recently that the label noticed the alleged infringements”. The law suit doesn’t surprise Kembrew McLeod, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, and co-author, with economist and researcher Peter DiCola, of the book “Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling” who says  “‘Paul’s Boutique’ and other albums of that era are like…

Willis wins YMCA rights reversion case

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, artistes In a court ruling which has significant implications for the music industry, a Californian judge has dismissed a suit by two song publishing companies aimed at preventing Victor Willis, former lead singer of The Village People, from exercising his right to reclaim ownership of YMCA and a number of other massive Village People hits he wrote and co-wrote in the 1970s. The right to reclaim arose when the Copyright Act amendments went into effect in 1978 and it meant that songwriters could terminate copyright grants to publishers and record labels 35 years later. If they were to do so, however, they need to send their termination notices not fewer than two or more than 10 years from the intended termination date. The floodgates have opened! But Willis met with resistance as music publishers Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions countered by arguing (a) that Mr. Willis had no legal standing to reclaim the song’s copyrights because he had “no right, title or interest in the copyright” as the songs had been created under the provisions of a “works for hire” relationship – in effect Willis and his co-writers were employees of the companies that managed the…

MP3 Tunes files for bankruptcy
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels MP3tunes, the cloud locker music service that has been engaged in a long and costly lawsuit with EMI, has filed for bankruptcy in federal court in San Diego. In court papers, it listed $7,800 in assets and $2.1 million in liabilities. MP3tunes was founded by Michael Robertson, the web entrepreneur who in the 1990s was one of the first to turn digital music into a big business, with MP3.com. Last year, the Southern District of New York District Court held that the MP3tunes’ model did not violate copyright itself and was protected by the ‘safe harbour’ provisions of the DCMA – but the company, a number of executives and Mr. Robertson personally faced liability for individual songs uploaded without permission and for ‘contributory infringement’. EMI appealed the ruling, and hearings were scheduled to begin next week. In a statement, an EMI spokesman noted that despite the bankruptcy, Mr. Robertson was still a defendant in the case – a potentially damaging claim as EMI have alleged Robertson personally loaded infringing material onto the service. Robertson told C-Net: “Four and a half years of legal costs and we’re not even out of trial. MP3tunes has no choice but…

Supreme court refuses Tenenbaum appeal
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels The US Supreme Court has refused to hear the Joel Tenenbaum case in a case brought by the Recording Industry Association Of America’s which resulted in a win for the RIAA and damages of  $675,000 awarded by the jury for illegally sharing 30 songs online. The damages were then reduced 90% by the trial judge Nancy Gertner on constitutional grounds but the appeals court subsequently criticised the judge’s process, and reinstated the $675,000 damages sum. Tenenbaum’s legal advisor Charles Nesson hoped to persuade the Supreme Court that his client’s damages were indeed unconstitutionally high and that Judge Gertner was correct when reducing the award. But the Supreme Court declined to hear Nesson’s arguments, meaning Team Tenenbaum will have to continue to fight the damages sum in the lower courts, which could involve several more hearings and appeals yet. Tenenbaum has said publicly that he (unsurprisingly) doesn’t have $675,000, and has previously suggested he’d have to bankrupt himself if that figure stood. http://articles.boston.com/2012-05-22/metro/31802695_1_copyright-joel-tenenbaum-downloading-music  and  http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/325282  

Mega boss won’t reveal passwords without assurances
Copyright , Internet / June 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   CMU Daily reports that MegaUpload founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz is refusing to give New Zealand police the passwords to encrypted data that they seized from his home earlier this year unless they agree to give him access to the digital files too. Dotcom’s lawyers have complained that they are being denied access to that data, which is hindering their efforts to defend the Mega chief against America’s attempts to extradite him to face criminal charges in the US.

German Pirate Party launch new agenda
Copyright / June 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas This from Monika Bruss writing on the 1709 Blog In recent weeks, copyright critics and author’s rights aficionados in Germany have been waging a war of words in a multitude of open letters), newspaper articles and at birthday brunches (or maybe that was just the birthday brunch I attended yesterday…). At the core of the debate is the political success of the Piratenparty (“Pirate Party”) that runs, inter alia, on the slogan of “de-criminalisation of non-commercial file sharing”. The Piratenpartei is keen to stress that they do not want to abolish copyright protection outright, but that they envisage a better deal for authors and users alike (at the expense of the much-loathed content industry). Others point out that “de-criminalisation” of file sharing amounts to much the same thing as the abolition of copyright. This morning, the Piratenpartei published what they deem the ten most important issues that should be addressed in reforming the current copyright law. As it is only available in German, I have translated (and somewhat summarised) them below: (i)         The term of (copyright) protection shall be shortened to 10 years post mortem auctoris. Among other things, this would alleviate the orphan works problem. (ii)        …

Bollywood moguls react with anger to India’s new copyright law
Copyright / June 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   Bollywood has reacted with anger to the new Indian Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010, which seeks to protect owners of literary and musical works and which has been passed by the Rajya Sabha (543-0) and will be presented to the Lok Sabha before it becomes law, much to the delight of singers, script writers, lyricists and composers. But some music and film companies feel that it is “extremely unfair”. The new Act is said to be “empowering the creative sector” and strengthens the royalty claims of artistes, song and script writers, musicians and addresses newer issues related to the digital world and the Internet. The legislation was approved by the Rajya Sabha on May 17th and law provides that authors are the owners of the copyright for their creative work and that this right cannot be assigned to producers, as has been common the practice. The Act also makes it mandatory for broadcasters from both the radio and television industry to pay royalty to the owners of copyright each time a work of art is broadcast. The law also bans cover versions of literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original…

Queen’s manager harks back to the ‘old’ EMI
Competition , Record Labels / June 2012

COMPETITION Record labels Whilst numerous music industry players have hit out at Universal’s plans to buy the EMI record companies – including Warners’ former chief Edgar Bronfman, Beggars Banquet chief Martin Mills and legendary producer George Martin (alongside negative comments from AIM and IMPALA), Jim Beach, manager of Queen, a band signed for most of their career to an EMI label before moving over to Universal once Terra Firma acquired the British label, has written a letter to the Times seemingly supporting a merger that will give Universal something approaching 50% of the recorded music market saying “Today’s music business is very different to that of 40 years ago, when the band I represent, Queen, began its career with EMI Records. Then the company was a hugely influential creative force in the UK and overseas. It gave us extraordinary music across virtually every genre, and its artists shaped the tastes of more than one generation”, “But”, he continued, “the latter-day EMI Records under private equity proved to be a very different place. Investment was slashed to the detriment of the artists, Queen among them, and we were not alone in jumping ship. I look forward to when EMI Records will…

Boss Act Back
Competition , Live Events / June 2012

COMPETITION LAW Live events industry   A New Jersey U.S. Representative is taking a second stab at passing national legislation that would bring transparency to online ticket sales and target the controversial use of computer technology in the purchase of concert tickets. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, announced that he plans on re-introducing “The BOSS ACT,” dubbing this incarnation the “2012 Tour.” Pascrell previously introduced a bill by the same name in 2009, but the Bill never made it past the initial committee stage. The new legislative initiative is, according to Pascrell, a response to the glitches that occurred in January of 2012 when Bruce Springsteen most recent tickets went on sale. reminding fans and the congressman of Springsteen’s 2009 concert tour, which saw fans being redirected to Ticketmaster’s secondary ticketing website and sparked a lawsuit that ended with a $16.5 million settlement. http://www.ticketnews.com/news/nj-politician-proposes-online-ticket-sale-law051207419?utm_source=email&utm_medium=2012-05-10 and more on Ticketmaster here http://www.consumeraffairs.com/entertainment/ticketmaster.htm

Hendrix biopic in the line of fire

TRADE MARK / COPYRIGHT Film, television, music publishing, image rights   The proposed Jimi Hendrix biopic starring Outkast MC Andre 3000 is definitely being made, despite the Hendrix Estate saying that it was not involved in any biopic last week, adding that that would stop any unapproved project from using the legendary guitarist’s music, which the Estate controls The biopic’s director, John Ridley, says he will begin filming his Hendrix movie in Ireland later this month, deriving part of his original screenplay from archived live and interview footage. A statement from Hendrix’s estate – which doesn’t rule out the potential for a Hendrix-scored Hendrix film in the future – says: “Experience Hendrix CEO Janie Hendrix, sister of Jimi Hendrix, and the EH board have not ruled out a ‘biopic’ in the future. Though producing partners would, out of necessity, have to involve the company from the inception of any such film project if it is to include original Jimi Hendrix music or compositions”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18032311

Morrissey’s battle with the NME approaches
Artists , Defamation / June 2012

DEFAMATION Artistes   A July date for Morrissey’s High Court action against the New Musical Express has been set for  July 16th to the 19th – although his tour dates in Athens and Istanbul on July 16th and July have Not been cancelled which seems a tad odd. . Fans hoping to show support for Morrissey have been encouraged to “make their presence known outside the High Court in London on these dates.” The former Smith’s frontman is suing the NME over an interview published November 28, 2007 that the singer claims was defamatory and portrayed him as racist. The singer claims the magazine and its then editor Connor McNicholas doctored his words and fabricated material.  His website True to You notes that the magazine proposed a formal apology on its website (and not in print), but that Morrissey rejected the offer “as disproportionate to the damage done to Morrissey by the NME magazine itself.”   http://pitchfork.com/news/46565-morrisseys-case-against-nme-set-for-july/

Viagogo ups sticks and leaves the UK
Business , Live Events / June 2012

BUSINESS Ticketing, Live Events   In the wake of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme and a High Court order requiring disclosure of customer details, Viagogo has wound up its UK company and seemingly moved its base to Switzerland. On the 22nd March Viagogo changed its name to Consolidated Information Services Ltd and then put the company into liquidation 4 days later.  The Viagogo website is now operated by Viagogo AG.  The High Court order, obtained by the Rugby Football Union in May 2011 and confirmed on appeal, required the company to reveal details of customers re-selling ‘Six Nation’ Rugby Union matches. Viagogo maintains it will not release customer information.   http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=4631 and http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=4682

New proposals to tackle drunkenness
Licensing , Live Events / June 2012

LICENSING Live events industry The UK Government has a proposed a number of changes to the Licensing Act 2003 to reduce drunkeness and alcohol related violence. Local authorities will have new powers to refuse, revoke or impose conditions on a licence to combat irresponsible behaviour  by bar and club owners – reducing the evidential threshold from ‘necessary’ to ‘appropriate’ A new local levy to enable local authorities to require business selling alcohol late at night to contribute to policing costs and other costs their trade causes Local health authorities will be ‘responsible authorities’ so, for example, a hospital regularly treating victims of alcohol violence from a particular venue could instigate a review of that venue’s licence. Hospitals could also share non-personal information concerning assaults and violence The strategy also plans to encourage local authorities to use existing powers under the Licensing Act 2003 – such as the offence of knowingly serving someone alcohol who is drunk – there have just been just three convictions for this offence since 2010. Source: The Magistrate May 2012

Could musicians fall foul of US environmental law?

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW Artistes A US senator has made it his mission to save musicians from a federal environmental law that could be cited to confiscate the instruments of US performers travelling abroad for the summer concert season? Republic Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee (its capital is Nashville, better known as Music City) says that the law should be clarified or ‘tweaked’ if necessary.   “I don’t want the musicians from Nashville who are flying to Canada to perform this summer to worry about the government seizing their guitars,” Alexander said in a statement. Why seize guitars? Because many of those instruments are made from exotic woods that were outlawed by a 2008 amendment to the century old  Lacey Act, an amendment Alexander himself proposed, by adding wood and forest products to Act, which was  first passed to protect endangered birds whose feathers were being used to decorate womens’ hats,   However, he now seemingly accepts that the law was not meant to apply to musical instruments made pre-2008 and wants to create a ‘safe harbour’ for instruments made before that date – saying “the law was never intended to apply to those instruments”. It’s no secret that American timber companies were being…

Revealed: drugs seizures at UK festivals
Criminal Law , Live Events / June 2012

CRIMINAL LAW Live events industry ARTICLE LINK:  Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act provide a unique insight into changing patterns of drug use at British music festivals. What the article fails to address is the approaches and resources of different police forces around the UK, which surely has a significant impact on these statistics.   http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/21/music-festivals-drugs

Gaga faces South East Asian backlash
Censorship , Live Events / June 2012

CENSORSHIP Live events industry Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way Ball’ tour of South East Asia has hit problems in the Philippines with Christian groups joining Muslim protests against her concerts. In particular Christians have said that they are appalled by the use of a crucifix in “a very denigrating manner” as were the lyrics as one of her songs “where she is belittling Jesus Christ himself and praising Judas as heroic. It us understood the concerts in Manilla will monitored for any hint of “blasphemy, devil worship, nudity or lewd conduct”.    40,000 fans in the Catholic-majority nation have snapped up tickets of up to 15,840 pesos ($370) each to watch the U.S. singer perform in Manila. Police in Indonesia had already halted what would have been the biggest concert on her Asian tour after fears that her sexual imagery and risque dance routines would undermine Islamic values and corrupt youth. Muslim hardliners under the Islamic Defenders Front banner claimed the Born This Way Ball would undermine the country’s moral fibre and had planned to blocade the country’s airport. The 52,000 capacity show at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium was scheduled for June 3rd, promoted by Big Daddy Promotions. The IDF’s Salim Alatas told reporters  “She’s a vulgar…