As AEG take on Wembley Arena, the OFT will take a look at control of London’s Arenas
Competition , Live Events / March 2013

COMPETITION Live events sector   The Office of Fair Trading is to formally investigate plans to award AEG the management contract at the Wembley Arena, particularly in light of its continued management of the O2 Arena, and competition issues raised by its recent award to stage concerts in London’s Hyde Park and its purchase of the Hammersmith Apollo in the capital. A deal to manage Wembley Areana would put the company in control of London’s two main arena venues, as well as the Apollo, often the ‘stepping stone venue’ for bands and comedians looking to move from theatres to arenas. The OFT investigation will look at whether the proposed Wembley deal will lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” within London’s live music market. If the OFT decides there are legitimate concerns, it could refer the AEG/Wembley deal to the Competition Commission. AEG’s main rival Live Nation’s growth in London caused concerns at the OFT back in 2007 when it acquired a slice of the Academy Music Group, the Competition Commission decided that the proposed acquisition of a controlling interest in Academy Music Holdings Limited (Academy) by Hamsard 2786 Limited (Hamsard) would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in…

Competition Commission provisional decision on UK radio merger
Competition / March 2013

COMPETITION Broadcasting   The Competition Commission (CC) has provisionally found that the completed acquisition by Global Radio Holdings Limited (Global) of Real and Smooth Limited (formerly GMG Radio Holdings Limited) could lead to higher prices for advertisers in seven areas of the UK. In a summary of its provisional findings, the CC has found that in many areas where Global and Real & Smooth stations currently overlap and compete, advertisers buying airtime on a campaign-by-campaign basis, directly or through smaller agencies (non-contracted advertising) could face higher costs for both advertising and sponsorship and promotion activity. The CC has, however, provisionally concluded that advertisers using media agencies to buy airtime on a contracted basis and national sponsorship and promotion would not be significantly adversely affected. The CC has provisionally identified seven areas where advertisers could lose out from a loss of competition: the East Midlands; Cardiff; North Wales; Greater Manchester; the North-East; the South and West of Yorkshire; and Central Scotland. The CC estimates non-contracted airtime revenue in the seven areas to be around £50 million. The CC did not find that advertisers would be adversely affected in London and the West Midlands. Simon Polito, Chairman of the Global/GMG Radio inquiry…

Ray Charles Foundation loses case to soul legend’s children
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2013

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing Back in May last year we reported that the Ray Charles Foundation was taking legal action against a number of the late soul star’s children, claiming that they have reneged on an agreement reached with their father before he died in 2004 regarding his estate, by attempting to reclaim ownership of the copyright in some of the songs he wrote by using US copyright law provisions that say that works may be reclaimed after 35 years (for works written after the law was passed, longer for works that already existed). The Foundation had said that prior to his death, all of the soul singer’s children agreed to forego any future claims to their father’s estate in return for becoming beneficiaries of a $500,000 trust. The remainder of Charles’s estate, including future income from his copyrights, was left to the Foundation, which supports research and education programmes for the hearing impaired, as well as youth education initiatives. The Foundation says that the children have no right to try and reclaim control of the copyrights in their father’s songs. The Foundation’s lawsuit also claim Charles entered into a new deal with his publisher in 1980 involving a number of…

Is Universal Publishing’s exit from collective licensing a step backwards for music industry ‘one stop’ aspirations?

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music sector, internet   The one question I always get asked by young entrepreneurs setting out to create legitimate digital offerings in the digital music space is where do they go to get licences to use music, and make payments? Well, there is no easy answer. In 2012 Daniel Ek, the creator of Spotify, pointed out that the European Union alone had 27 different  music collection societies for songs – and a similar number for sound recordings as well as the the four major labels dealing directly  for digital rights: Ek said the service’s U.S. debut was then still a few months off as Spotify worked through a maze of licensing issues with publishers, labels and collection societies, saying that to create a new above-board music platform in America under current copyright law required big reserves of money, lawyers and perseverance. And that’s just America! At the time Johanna Shelton, senior policy counsel for Google Inc said “The Internet is a simple distribution platform … [but] we’ve made things unnecessarily complex,” noting that calls for a music rights organisation, a one-stop shop to deal with all licensing issues, had gone unheeded. But we all now know…

Welsh music dispute heads to Tribunal
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2013

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, broadcasting   The BBC is taking new Welsh language music collection society Eos to the Copyright Tribunal in a row about BBC radio royalties which began back in 2007 when the Welsh songwriters and music publishers were still members of PRS for Music. A three-way discussion between the BBC, PRS and the affected Welsh language music creators ensued and continued for a quite few years without resolution, until eventually over 300 Welsh-language creators and rights owners left the PRS and set up their own collecting society, Eos. There remains a ‘significant gap’ between what the musicians and publishers want, and what the BBC is prepared to pay, and currently BBC Welsh language programming is denied the use of the 30,000 songs is Eos’s database – previously core to BBC Welsh services – making it hard for the national broadcaster to meet Welsh language targets – and of course Welsh music isn’t being played on the BBC radio in Wales, meaning Eos songwriters and publishers are not getting paid. Eos claimed they were being short-changed and the group has accused the BBC of conducting “sham” negotiations. The director of BBC Cymru Wales, Rhodri Talfan Davies, says the corporation…

Prison term for kiwi karoke copycat

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing, sound recordings   The owner of a New Zealand karaoke business has been jailed for four months for offering and selling substantial numbers of karaoke tracks – which had been created from scratch by the owners of Auckland-based Sundown Karaoke, which creates karaoke recordings, burns them to disks and sells them around the world, paying on royalties to the appropriate songwriters. Desmond Robert Adams, 40, also known as Heremia Adams, appeared in the Rotorua District Court  having already  pleaded guilty  to a charge under the Copyright Act 1994 of making for sale an object that was an infringing copy of a copyright work. He was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay reparation of $784. Adams was the owner/operator of 1st Choice Karaoke, which provides karaoke and DJ equipment and services throughout New Zealand. According to the police Summary of Facts, in March 2011 Adams advertised karaoke and DJ equipment, and access to 37,000 karaoke songs, on auction website Sella. The complainants contacted him, and Adams sent them a list of songs, telling them he had sold the library to more than 50 clients worldwide. The complainants made a $200 deposit and one…

Germany passes new ‘watered down’ copyright law
Copyright , Internet / March 2013

COPYRIGHT Internet   German lawmakers approved legislation on Friday that grants publishers the right to charge search engines and other online aggregators for reproducing their content but continues to allow the free use of text in links and brief summaries. In it’s original form, the law was seen as a clear attempt to force big Internet companies like Google to share some of the billions of euros they earn from the sale of advertising placed alongside the news that Google links to. But a last-minute change, proposed last week by the Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in the German government, allowed for the use of “individual words or the smallest excerpts of text” free, meaning that only those companies who reproduce full texts for commercial use will be required to compensate the news publishers. Google welcomed the fact that only a weakened version had passed but made clear its opposition to any form of legislation and the Financial Time headline perhaps says it all – ‘Google wins Germany copyright battle’.

UK blocks another three bit torrent sites
Copyright , Internet / March 2013

COPYRIGHT Internet   The BPI won three more web-block injunctions, this time against Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents. Mr Justice Arnold said that The UK’s six main internet service providers – Sky, BT, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media – will have to block their customers from accessing these file-sharing sites. BPI boss Geoff Taylor said “blocking illegal sites helps ensure that the legal digital market can grow and labels can continue to sign and develop new talent”, but the Open Rights Group said widespread web-blocking would “encourage new forms of distributed infringement” and that “the BPI should be mindful that their tactics may have the opposite effect to their intention, by legitimising and promoting resistance

Opera singer’s life ‘destroyed’ by childhood deal
Artists , Contract / March 2013

CONTRACT Artistes Eliana Pretorian, a soprano who has regularly performed at Glyndeborne and Sadlers Wells, said an agreement made when she was just 17 had “derailed” her personal and professional life, leaving her fearing she could be jailed. Now, years after she became embroiled in legal disputes to overturn the deal, a judge has ruled a case against her was “doomed to failure”, with an application to commit her to jail “wholly without merit”. UK-based Pretorian appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice after Romanian businessman Ion Vasile applied for her committal to prison for alleged contempt of court for failing to provide him with financial details of her earnings, The case has its origins in a deal said to have been struck between Miss Pretorian’s father and Mr Vasile in 1999, which the businessman claimed entitled him to a share of her future earnings as a singer in return for financing her music studies. As she was 17, Miss Pretorian’s father is said to have agreed on her behalf to pay Mr Vasile 35 per cent of her professional income – ‘earned in such ten years as he might choose’ – in return for a $6,900 (£4,400) contribution to…

Taylor Swift faces legal call for advance paid on cancelled show
Artists , Contract , Live Events / March 2013

CONTRACT Artists, live events   Taylor Swift is being sued over a $2.5 million advance she was paid for a Canadian festival appearance that never took place.  Swift was due to headline the Capital Hoedown in Ottawa in the summer of 2012, but it was cancelled by organisers. The legal action was instigated by the event’s ticketing company who were forced to pay out $1.8 million in refunds. A spokesman for the singer pointed out that she had no direct agreement with the ticketing firm: I would imagine that if cancelled for no good reason, Swifts own contract (or contract rider) would be the determining document here – and that would be with the promoter – and this would no doubt cover what would happen to any deposit in the event of cancellation.

Brazilian nightclub owner wishes ‘he had never been born’
Health & Safety , Live Events / March 2013

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   The owner of the Kiss nightclub in southern Brazil where 238 people died in a fire has said he wishes he had never been born, and has deflected blame to architects, safety inspectors and “the whole country”. His lawyer,  Jader Marques, said his client, Elissandro Spohr (28), “regretted having ever been born” because of his grief over the fire, but still blamed Sunday’s tragedy on “a succession of errors made by the whole country.” Spohr and co-owner Mauro Hoffman had been arrested, along with  Gurizada Fandangueira member Marcelo Santos, who was arrested at the wake of band member Danilo Jacques who died in the fire. As the toll of those injured continued to grow as some 22 of those who escaped returned to hospital with respiratory complications, police investigating the blaze have confirmed it is likely to have started when the band Gurizada Fandangueira lit an allegedly cheap outdoor flare, which ignited soundproofing foam on the ceiling. That initial error was compounded by the near-total lack of emergency infrastructure such as a fire alarms or sprinkler systems. It also seems that the club also had only one working door, one or more faulty and sub-standard fire…