Curb v McGraw – and this time it’s federal
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / June 2013

CONTRACT Artists, record labels   Having lost its contract claim against country artist Tim McGraw at both first instance and on appeal in Tennessee, US label Curb Records is going federal in its ongoing legal dispute. The near two decades long relationship between McGraw and Curb ended in legal action in May 2011, with both sides suing the other. At the centre of the litigation was whether McGraw’s album ‘Emotional Traffic’ fulfilled his contractual commitments to the label regards new recordings, whether he was due an advance on it, and whether he was now out of contract with the record company. It was complicated, but ultimately the State courts sided with McGraw. With McGraw’s ‘Two Lanes Of Freedom’ now out (with the court’s permission) Curb Records has launched litigation in the federal courts, accusing McGraw and his new label Big Machine of breach of contract and copyright infringement.  The new lawsuit seeks ownership of the master recordings, compensation and an injunction stopping McGraw from recording until the ongoing dispute is resolved.

Alice in Chains face royalties claim from late lead singer’s Mother
Artists , Contract / June 2013

CONTRACT Artistes   CMU Daily have reported that Alice In Chains are being sued by the mother of their late frontman, Layne Stayley. Nancy McCallum claims that the surviving members of the band are withholding money she is due on revenues earned outside of Stayley’s songwriting royalties. The report says that McCallum has filed a lawsuit saying that the band are now also trying to cut her out of future payments. She says that she was contacted by the band’s lawyer last September and informed that a revenue sharing agreement that had been in place since her son’s death was being dissolved. But lawyers for the band counter that she has already been paid more than was ever due – an accountant apparently working out that Stayley’s share of revenues stands at $341,000, while she has so far received $705,000. They also added that she has attempted to trademark the Alice In Chains name. Stayley’s estate, the band’s lawyers say, will continue to receive royalties from songs which he wrote.

SABAM launch pre-emptive strike against ISPs

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet   SABAM, the Belgian collection society for authors, composers and music publishers, has launched a legal action against the country’s three biggest ISPs, arguing that they should be paying copyright levies for offering access to their members’ copyrights. No stranger to the courts, SABAM wants the court to rule that Internet access providers Belgacom, Telenet and Voo should pay 3.4 percent of their turnover in copyright fees for the use of music, because they make substantial profits from offering high speed Internet connections that give users easy access to copyright protected materials – legally and illegally – whilst hiding behind their status as intermediary “without taking responsibility for the information transmitted over their networks” In a press release, SABAM noted that since 2000, revenues generated from music featured in the physical media (primarily CD sales) have declined by 54 percent, adding that this “huge loss” has not been compensated by collections from online services like iTunes, YouTube and Spotify. SABAM have been asking for voluntary levies from ISPs since November 2011 and have now launched their claim in the  Brussels Court of First Instance.

There was always something there to remind me — but was it protectable?

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, record labels, artistes   The Metro carried an interview with Sandie Shaw, a 1960s pop star who has reinvented herself many times over the years as, among other things, a psychotherapist and a litigant. As her Wikipedia entry states: “Shaw also embarked on a successful legal battle to establish ownership of her entire recording catalogue and began working with contemporary acts and producers, reworking much of her 1960s and 1980s material. In 2003, Shaw licensed her recording catalogue worldwide to EMI, continued to develop her Arts Clinic, and began executive coaching and mentoring”. The Metro article alludes to this, as the following exchange shows: “[Andrew Williams]: Did you have problems with legal aspects of your career?  Yeah but I’ve always fought them and I’ve always won. I’d never take on anything I didn’t think I could win. I’m focused and never give up and if I don’t get what I want immediately I’ll stick at it and win in 15 years. There’s no reason for musicians to get ripped off any more. Artists now have an advantage because the middlemen have been cut out with the advent of digitisation”. From this it sounds as though Ms Shaw, now 66, has a fairly…

Universal counter artist digital royalty demands with confidentiality claim

COPYRIGHT / CONTRACT Artists, record labels   The issue of commercial confidentiality has been raised  in the ongoing legal battle between Universal Music and a consortium of its legacy artists in America over what digital royalties the major should be paying its acts, as the plaintiff artists try to gather information together to help justify their litigation being a class action. The mega-major continues to fight moves to give the case class action status (in addition to its efforts to have the entire claim dismissed). The main action, led by Rob Zombie and the estate of Rick James.  Are seeking to make their case a class action, which would mean that any artist signed to Universal  with a standard record contract would be able to claim higher digital royalties if the Zombie/James lawsuit was successful. Universal  treat income from downloads as “sales” instead of “licenses” allowing for substantially lower payments to be made to artists. The plaintiffs want access to digital accounts from Universal, outlining what kind of revenue different artists are receiving, both in terms of percentages and quantum of payments.  Understanding that such terms and data will be confidential,  the Zombie/James legal team say that only the plaintiff’s…

Berlin and London will be home to the Global Repertoire Database
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2013

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   The Global Repertoire Database (GRD) – the project that aims to catalogue the world’s music – has announced that it will set up its global headquarters in London and will base its operations centre in Berlin. The London office, housing corporate functions and business development capabilities is scheduled to open later in 2013, and will work alongside the current London-based project team in the first instance. The Berlin operations centre will provide registrations and data processing facilities, and may provide a template for further operations centres to support the global operation as it grows. When completed, the main aim will be to create a new and more effective global infrastructure for music rights management, leading to an improved path to music licensing for digital and other music services, and to efficiency benefits for the whole music ecosystem saving extensive costs currently lost to duplication in data processing. Alfons Karabuda, President of ECSA, the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance, said, ‘We are happy to have a home for the Global Repertoire Database. These two great cities of Berlin and London with their proud heritage and strong support for authors’ rights and for copyright will serve our needs…

Samsung accused of Betaband video rip off
Artists , Copyright / June 2013

COPYRIGHT Artists, video production   Former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason has accused Samsung of stealing the concept of a new advert for the company’s Smart TV range from the video for the band’s 2004 single, ‘Assessment’. Samsung’s ‘Charge’ advert for the F8000 model TV was directed by Romain Gravas, best known for his videos for MIA’s ‘Born Free’ and ‘Bad Girls’, as well as Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘No Church In The Wild’ and The Last Shadow Puppets’ ‘Age Of The Understatement’. He has also directed adverts for Adidas. I think he had more money …… The Beta Band’s video shows soldiers from different times and cultures, including Roman centurions and ancient Chinese warriors, relaying down a beach with an unidentified object, at one point with army helicopters hovering above. Samsung’s advert meanwhile shows a variety of people, including centurions and cheerleaders, as well as police cars, chasing down a beach, and also includes a shot in which army helicopters hover above. Mason told CMU Daily “This is OUTRAGEOUS plagiarism being passed off as original work. But what can you do? It’s happened to The Beta Band before and to many other artists. A huge company or huge artist…

Bieber and Usher face copying claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2013

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Justin Bieber and Usher are facing a claim that they “clearly copied” their song “Somebody to Love“. Devin Copeland, professionally known as De Rico, and his song-writing collaborator, Mareio Overton, say Copeland first recorded the song on his album “My Story II” in 2008 saying that a year earlier, a promoter had introduced them to scouts of (nonparty) Sangreel Media, who presented their copyrighted music to R&B singer Usher Raymond IV and to Jonetta Patton, Usher’s mother and on-off manager. The $10 million action has been brought in the Virginia Federal Court and alleges that “Sangreel never returned any of its copies of Copeland’s “My Story II,” and plaintiffs heard nothing further from Patton or any other representative of Usher,” but that Patton and Usher then conspired with four songwriters — Ray Romulus, Jonathan Yip and Jeremy Reeves, collectively known as the Stereotypes, and Heather Bright — to “directly copy” Copeland and Overton’s song “Somebody to Love” and pass it off as their own. Their complaint lists more than a dozen “points of congruence” between the two works, including the same underlying beat pattern and “nearly identical opening lyrics.” The list of defendants is impressive and…

Eminem’s publishers take on Facebook
Copyright , Music Publishing / June 2013

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Eminem’s song publisher Eight Mile Style have accused Facebook and it’s ad agency Wieden+Kennedy tof copyright infringement, saying that a short Facebook advert copied music from Eminem’s 2000 song Under the Influence. The advertisement, broadcast during a launch event for the feature called ‘Airplane’, was distributed and streamed all over the world. Fans of the rapper noticed the similarities between the music in the Facebook “Home“ advert and ‘Under The Influence’, and the legal team for Eight Mile Style quickly sent Wieden+Kennedy a cease and desist letter. The plaintiffs allege that the music contained in the Airplane advertisement infringes the worldwide copyright in the Eminem/D12 composition as the music is substantially similar.” Eight Mile Style said that th believed W+K used the music to ingratiate themselves with Facebook boss Matk Zuckerberg, an apparent fan of Eminem (something suggested by a teenage webpage created by the Facebook boss that re-emerged online last month), saying “W+K incorporated said music into the Airplane advertisement in an effort to curry favour with Facebook by catering to Zuckerberg’s personal likes and interest, and/or to invoke the same irreverent theme as the Eminem/D12 composition.” The publisher claims that W+K changed the music…

Class action against YouTube fails
Copyright , Internet / June 2013

COPYRIGHT Internet   A U.S. federal court has denied class-action status to copyright owners suing Google Inc. over the usage of material posted on YouTube. U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected a motion to approve a worldwide class of copyright owners in a long-running lawsuit over videos and music uploaded on the popular website. In denying class certification Judge Stanton said that that copyright claims have only superficial similarities ruling. “The suggestion that a class action of these dimensions can be managed with judicial resourcefulness is flattering, but unrealistic” The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in 2007 and included as named plaintiffs the English Premier League, the French Tennis Federation, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and individual music publishers. The NMPA settled with Google in 2011. In April this year Judge Stanton had dismissed the 2007  copyright infringement complaint by Viacom International and others against YouTube over the Google company’s alleged unauthorized hosting on YouTube of clips uploaded by users from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “”South Park” stating that YouTube was protected under the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium…

RIAA calls for DCMA ‘safe harbor’ and takedown review
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2013

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   Back in November 2011 the 1709 blog mentioned that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wanted “DCMA clarity” from Congress  – and now the recording industry’s trade organization has urged Congress to overhaul the safe harbor provision of copyright law that shield websites from infringement actions provided they remove infringing material after being notified, saying the law is too burdensome for copyright holders. Congress is planning a comprehensive review of copyright law in the digital era, and RIAA Executive Vice President for Anti-Piracy Brad Buckles said in a post on the organization’s website that “the balance is off” in the current system and  “it’s time to rethink the notice and takedown provisions of the DMCA” , going   on to outline the various ways that the DMCA isn’t working. In The blog, titled “One Year, 20 Million Links To Illegal Songs Sent To Google: This Is How It’s Supposed To Work?” Buckles says “We are using a bucket to deal with an ocean of illegal downloading” in a post to mark the 20 millionth takedown notice the trade body has issued against Google, requesting that it remove from its search engine a link to unlicensed…

EC approve UMG and Sony divestments

COMPETITION Record labels, music publishers   The European Commission has granted approval for the sale of the Parlophone Label Group to Warner Music. When it acquired EMI last year, Universal Music was forced by competition regulators to sell the Parlophone Label Group – which includes the UK-based Parlophone frontline label and catalogue, some more British EMI archive, and EMI operations in various other European markets – and it was announced that Warner would buy it in February in a £478 million deal.  Beggars boss Martin Mills told Music Week: “This is good news for the market, and goes some way towards mitigating the concerns raised by Universal’s EMI acquisition, which we are already seeing become reality. As the clearance says, the strengthening of both Warners and the independents, as a consequence of Warner’s agreement with IMPALA and Merlin, should go some way to counter the power of Universal – and the existing duopoly of Universal and Sony – to unilaterally determine the shape of the marketplace. The consequent strengthening of the independent sector as a whole should be especially welcomed”. And BMG’s acquisition of the EMI publishing catalogues Sony/ATV was forced to sell has also been approved by European regulators….

Final Competition Commission report into Global/GMG published
Competition / June 2013

COMPETITION Broadcasting   The Competition Commission (CC) has decided that Global Radio Holdings Limited (Global) must sell radio stations in seven areas of the UK following its completed acquisition of Real and Smooth Limited (formerly GMG Radio Holdings Limited). In its final report, the CC has concluded that the merger is likely to lead to higher prices for advertising in seven areas of the UK. The CC has found that in 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 airtime and sponsorship and promotion activity. Global had asserted that higher costs would not result from the merger. The stations Global will be required to sell are as follows: East Midlands:   Smooth OR Capital Cardiff and South Wales:   Real OR Capital North Wales:   Real OR Heart Greater Manchester and the North-West:   Capital OR Real XS with either Real or Smooth North-East:   Real OR Smooth OR Capital South and West Yorkshire:   Real OR Capital Central Scotland:   Real OR Capital The CC found that advertisers would not be adversely affected in London and the West Midlands. The CC has also…