Universal settle with FBT over digital royalties dispute
Artists , Copyright , Record Labels / December 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, artists   I am slightly disappointed to report that FBT, early producers of Eminen, have settled their dispute with Universal over the rate at which royalties should be paid on digital product, having successfully argued on appeal in the US courts (Ninth Circuit) that a bigger share of revenues applied to digital sales – a share of licensing revenues rather than the ‘per unit’ royalty applied to physical sales. The Supreme Court refused to hear UMG’s appeal. The case will spare UMG having to reveal what royalty rates it will pay FBT, aka The Bass brothers,  and as importantly will save UMG having to reveal what royalty reducers it applies to international royalties before any royalty calculation is made. FBT had planned to challenge how Universal deals with international revenues, and the tendency for substantial portions of revenues to stay with local Universal divisions, so that UMG only has to pay the artist a share of the 29% of total revenue that ends up with the US division to which Eminem and FBT have their direct deal. Again the producers planned to argue that this was unfair in the digital age, where the cost to the record…

Has Japan’s new download law pushed record sales down?
Copyright , Internet / December 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   As of the 1st Octobet 2012 in Japan,  it has been an offence to knowingly download copyright material without permission with punishments extending to a 2 million yen fine and prison terms of up to two years. With only 1 download in 10 legal in Japan according to industry figures the move seemed a step forward – except it seems Japanese consumers have stopped buying music – with a massive 68% prompting some commentators to ask if Japan’s new law has had a negative effect on sales. http://en.rocketnews24.com/2012/11/05/a-month-after-japans-strict-new-download-law-comes-into-effect-survey-suggests-that-consumers-are-spending-less-than-ever-on-music/

50 cent says plaintiff has no right to claim in sampling case

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishing   50 Cent has argued that the claimant bringing a sampling case against him over the use of 70s Persuaders hit “Love Gonna Pack Up and Walk Out” on 50 cent’s track “Redrum” doesn’t own song he recently sampled – saying Robert Poindexter doesn’t own the rights to the allegedly-stolen song because he signed them over to Warner Music Group awhile ago … therefore he can’t sue. http://worldswagg.com/50-cent-says-that-copyright-lawsuit-is-bull-sht/

Lil Wayne loses film case after failing to attend
Artists , Copyright / December 2012

COPYRIGHT Artistes   Lil Wayne’s recent health scares have meant that the rapper has lost two legal battles on account of not being able to fly.  Both battles involved Quincy Jones III. Initially, Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit against Jones after it was revealed that he was working on a documentary on the rapper branding the work as a scandalous portrayal but also that Jones didn’t get appropriate approval to use many of the songs featured in the film. Unfortunately the hearing could not have been more poorly timed for Lil Wayne who hit headlines after TMZ leaked that he had had not one, but two seizures while onboard his private jet and so could not attend and testify. With the jury trial scheduled the judge in the case then had two options, either declaring a mistrial or forcing Wayne’s legal reps to plead their case without him there. The latter was chosen and Wayne’s lawyers were forced to display their client’s disposition, in which he is uncooperative and highly critical of the hearing. The disposition was via a pre-recorded video and it seems the judge became angered by the rapper’s tone and attitude in the video, claiming that Wayne seemed to…

Pandora issue proceedings against ASCAP, but is fighting to keep the Internet Radio Fairness Act on track
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / December 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing   Pandora, the American streaming music service, has issued legal proceedings in the USA on the basis that the rates currently being offered by ASCAP, the US collecting society are unfair, because they are not as favourable as those offered to traditional broadcasters like Clear Channel which have recently moved into the online music space. Arguing that Clear Channel have an advantage as it can negotiate the royalties they pay for their online services at the same time as negotiating music publisher fees for their FM networks, via the Radio Music Licensing Committee, the move comes after direct negotiations had failed. However, in the world of sound recordings, the collection societies are fighting back with the news that SoundExchange, the non-profit organisation that represents record labels and recording musicians, has launched its opposition to the Internet Radio Fairness Act, highlighting a letter signed by 125 artists who oppose Pandora’s plan to cut artists’ pay when music is played over Internet radio. The open letter, which has over 40 Grammy winners and includes Kiss, Dead Kennedys, Missy Elliot, Pink Floyd, Megadeath, Robert Plant, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Maroon 5, Martha Reeves, David Sanborn, Ne-Yo, Common and Roger…

PRS For Music Launches new Code of Conduct
Copyright / December 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   PRS for Music, the not for profit organisation that represents 95,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK, has launched a revised Code of Conduct for its members and over 350,000 existing customers. The code follows the British Copyright Council Principles of Good Governance for Collective Management Organisations and also takes into account the recently published Intellectual Property Office Minimum Standards for UK Collecting Societies (October 2012). It outlines how PRS for Music will seek to achieve best practice by “responding to the needs of members and licensees alike and conduct its licensing business fairly and transparently”. Detailed in the code are commitments to: Provide information about the general governance, licensing and membership activities of PRS for Music Set standards of conduct that members and licensees can expect from the society Set standards for transparency Outline the complaints procedure for members and customers Provide an independent ombudsman for complaint resolution The PRS say that the introduction of the Code follows a consultation period with members, customers groups, trade associations and other stakeholders. The PRS for Music Code of Conduct can be viewed at http://www.prsformusic.com/codeofconduct

Brazil blocks EMI mergers

COMPETITION Recorded music, music publishing   Both Sony/ATV and Universal have been told by the Brazilian competition regulator that they could not merge the respective EMI publishing and recorded music  businesses with their existing companies in Brazil. This is a more difficult position that both majors face in Europe where divestments had been agreed. US regulators did not set any hurdles for the two mergers, seemingly relying on the EC measures. In one of his first interviews since acquiring the EMI record companies, Universal chief Lucian Grainge said he planned to launch EMI’s American label brand Capitol in the UK, the mega-major having been forced to sell off EMI’s UK-based Parlophone brand by European regulators.

Four dead in Spanish festival tragedy
Health & Safety , Live Events / December 2012

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector   Four young women have been killed at a festival in Madrid on Wednesday night after a crowd surge in a reportedly over-packed venue. The Thriller Music Park event took place at the 12,000 capacity Madrid Arena, though a licence for the show allowed 10,600 tickets to be sold. Promoters insist the venue was not over capacity, and say that the event had actually not quite sold out. Some audience members have disagreed with that claim on the social networks, one estimating up to 20,000 people were in the building at the time, though there is evidence to suggest that the problem wasn’t venue-wide overcrowding, but a bottleneck around one exit from the main arena. Some gig-goers have also claimed not enough exits were open during the event, with some claiming only one was available for much of the night. The event was headlined by DJ Steve Aoki. Promoters say that they believe the fatal surge was caused when a flare went off within the audience area, though some bystanders have subsequently claimed the flare occurred sometime after the crush began. Emergency staff were called to the scene at about 4am and found five people in distress: two were…

Advertising scaffold collapse kills one and injures nineteen in Cape Town
Health & Safety , Live Events / December 2012

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live events sector   One woman died and nineteen others were injured while queuing for a Linkin Park concert in Cape Town on Wednesday night after temporary scaffolding built to host advertising by Lucozade collapsed in strong winds. Twelve of those injured required hospital treatment, while a city spokeswoman confirmed to media that one of those near the scaffolding when it collapsed, Florentina Heaven-Popa, had died from her injuries. The Linkin Park gig went ahead, despite the bad weather and resulting scaffolding collapse, with the band unaware of the injuries and fatality until after the show but the band subsequently posted a message on their website expressing “deep sadness and concern for those injured and our heartfelt condolences to the family of the fan who died as a result of her injuries”. The band have no connection to Lucozade or the scaffolding company. The City of Cape Town has appointed structural engineering firm, Vela VKE, and an aerodynamics expert to investigate and assess the scaffolding structure which collapsed. http://www.iccmss.co.uk/2012/11/city-of-cape-town-appoint-experts-to-investigate-the-collapse-of-advertising-structure/

Lawsuit against Britney Spears dismissed
Artists , Contract / December 2012

CONTRACT Artistes   CMU Daily reports that the lawsuit being pursued against the Spears family by the one-time close friend of Britney, Sam Lutfi, was thrown out of court last week after two weeks of hearings. Lutfi was suing for defamation, assault and breach of contract; defamation over a book written by Britney’s mother that accused him of escalating her daughter’s very public mental breakdown in 2007/8; assault over an altercation between Lutfi and Britney’s father Jamie in 2008; and breach of contract in a bid to win a cut of pop star Spears’s earnings from 2007 and 2008, on the grounds Lutfi was her manager during this time and therefore was due a management commission. Although Britney herself was never due to testify, her mother had already taken to the witness stand as part of the trial, as had Lutfi himself, and the former boss of Spears’s record label. One time Jive Records boss Barry Weiss denied that Lutfi ever acted as Britney’s manager, saying that the singer managed her relationship with her record company herself while the star’s long term rep Larry Rudolph was out of the picture. Jamie Spears told TMZ he was “thrilled” by the quick ruling, adding that…

RFU wins another battle with Viagogo
Contract , Live Events / December 2012

CONTRACT Live events sector   Viagogo has lost another battle in its battle to avoid handing over details of its ticket sellers to The Rugby Football Union, this time in the UK’s Supreme Court. The RFU ticket’s terms conditions prohibit their re-sale by original purchasers. Viagogo now say that despite the Courts ruling in their view this can can only apply to legacy ticket resales, because new data protection technology further protects the identity of current sellers. The case is important as whilst (with the exception of football tickets and Olympics 2101 tickets) it is not illegal to tout tickets in the UK, many sport and entertainment promoters include clauses in their terms and conditions that say that tickets cannot be resold, often refining this by adding that the condition would only apply to tickets sold by way of a profit-generating commercial transaction. Anyone who buys a ticket and resells it for profit can therefor be sued for breach of contract – but event organisers can only sue if they know the details of re-sellers on sites like Viagogo and eBay. After the Supreme court decision the RFU said “Today’s dismissal of Viagogo’s final appeal sets an important precedent for…

Indie woe as more VAT loopholes spring up

TAXATION Recorded music, retail   It seems the UK government’s plans to stem the sale of VAT free CDs and DVDs in the UK faces a new challenge. With the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) tax dodge loophole used by online retailers based in the Channel Islands having been closed, the Guardian revealed that The Hut was now using a warehouse in Chicago, seemingly to benefit from the tax relief that occurs when low-cost goods are sold from outside the EU into the UK. It means The Hut does not need to charge VAT on CDs or DVDs, giving it a 20% advantage over mainland sellers. One of the lobby groups that campaigned against LVCR abuse has now said that some operators are finding other ways of avoiding paying tax, but predicted that most alternative methods would be stopped by the authorities in due course too.  Independent retailers argue that the exploitation of LVCR by a small number of big mail-order firms, plus HMV and the supermarkets, helped contribute to the demise of many indie record sellers, who couldn’t compete on the high street, or transform their brands into successful mail-order businesses, because their offshore competitors had such a big…

Leaflet rules ‘catastrophic’ for small venues and comedy
Environmental Law , Live Events / December 2012

ENVIRONMENT Live sector   A letter in the Daily Telegraph from over 100 signatories including comedian Al Murray, Radiohead manager Brian Message, Live Nation boss Paul Latham and promoter Harvey Goldsmith says that comedy nights, arts festivals and local music venues are being driven out of business by councils demanding hefty fees for the right to hand out leaflets with campaigners saying that the cost of licensing is having “catastrophic” effect on the arts. Around one in three councils restrict leafleting, with charges running to hundreds of pounds per day. The letter points out that a licence to hand out flyers in Basildon on a Saturday costs £350 – although many find the practice itself annoying with one commentator saying “comedy nights, arts festivals and local music venues are probably the biggest producers of litter and detritus in our communities” which councils then have to clear up, and others pointing out that digital solutions such as e-flyers and social networking are a much cleaner solution. The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 allows local authorities to designate areas “where it is satisfied that the land is being defaced by the discarding of free printed matter” (or litter!) where a licence…