Will asks is I AM protected? Justin gets into Nightime trouble and, Game falls foul of Rolex.
Artists , Trade Mark / August 2013

TRADE MARK Artists   Will.i.am is taking legal action against Pharrell Williams over the latter’s use of “I AM” in a trade mark dispute – Will.i.am is claiming that he owns rights to the phrase “I AM” and that Pharrell’s logo to his brand “i am OTHER” is “confusingly similar” with court papers saying “The registration of the mark . . . is likely to dilute the I AM mark and the WILL.I.AM mark”. And in another name spat, US sexual assault awareness charity Take Back The Night has issued a complaint via lawyers over the new Justin Timberlake “very sexual” single, which bears the same name and the charity believes the single could have a detrimental effect on the charity’s online presence with Executive Director Katherine Koestner explaining: “Everyone at Take Back The Night is really shocked, because normally, we get asked when people want to use the name. Normally entities as large as Justin Timberlake do very kind and thoughtful things to support our cause. We have some big concerns. For example, all of a sudden on Wikipedia, ‘Take Back The Night’ has a different definition. That’s not been helpful”. The legal grounds fro any complaint remain unclear…

Rihanna tests image rights in English law
Artists , Image Rights / August 2013

IMAGE RIGHTS Artists, merchandise Rihanna has succeeded in an action against TopShop, after asking the High Court to issue an injunction against the UK retail chain to prevent further sales of T-shirts bearing her likeness. The complaint, against Topshop’s parent company Arcadia Group Brands Limited, was in relation to a line of products which featured a photo of Rihanna, taken by a freelance photographer “without her permission” while on the set of her music video We Found Love in 2011. It was argued that the image used on the T-shirts was “very similar” to pictures included on CD sleeves for her album Talk That Talk, on which the single is featured, and therefore could have duped fans into thinking the products were licensed by the star and as such amounted to passing off, and likely to have damaged her reputation with fans once they discovered it was not a “genuine” piece of merchandise with an “emotional connection to their heroine”. Topshop’s legal team argued “We resist the claim on two main bases; first, this is, in substance and reality, an impermissible attempt by Rihanna to establish an image reproduction right in the UK. There is no such right. “On the contrary, Topshop are…

Article: What goes around comes around: the copyright roundabout
Copyright / August 2013

COPYRIGHT All Areas By Andrew Potter   It is said that when David Cameron was recently in Brussels, he was asked by other leaders why, when the UK was probably the richest European country in term of creativity, he wanted to water down the copyright law. This apparently made him sit up, and there is increasing evidence of a sea change from the time when Google appeared to be dictating the new government’s policy in this area. With copyright, governments tend to behave to a pattern: when they are newly elected, they are immediately lobbied by powerful users who claim that copyright stunts business development. Then they start to learn what it is all about and realise that creativity is a business too, that many creative people can be useful and prominent advocates, and that the likes of Adele or Anthony Gormley can be a cause of national pride. So, instead of watering it down, successive governments during the past century have been persuaded with each new law or amendment to strengthen rather than weaken copyright. The latest cycle began with the Hargreaves Review. It dutifully asserted that copyright laws are ‘today obstructing innovation and economic growth’. It offered a…

Freddie Gorilla ga ga gone
Artists , Copyright / August 2013

COPYRIGHT Artistes   A gorilla sculpture, painted to resemble the Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, has been removed after a complaint Queen’s manager Jim Beach on behalf of the Freddie Mercury estate. The organisers of Go Go Gorillas, a public art trail in Norwich, were told that the painted suit “worn” by the gorilla breached copyright. It asked for the Freddie “Radio Go Go” Gorilla sculpture, which Norfolk artist Mik Richardson took three days to create, to be removed from public view. Mr Richardson said the decision to order its removal was “absolutely shocking”. Mr Richardson was paid £800 to design and paint the gorilla and he explained “I’m a mural artist and I have to be very careful about copyright” adding “I didn’t copy the suit exactly. I alter enough so that it’s fan art, rather than a copy of it. The “Radio Go Go” gorilla is one of 53 life-size gorillas decorated by Norfolk artists and displayed on the streets of Norwich over the summer. An additional 67 baby gorillas, painted at local schools, made up the 120-strong public art trail. The Freddie Mercury gorilla sculpture will be repainted with a “new and exciting design” and should be back…

Copyright Hub launches consultation pilot
Copyright / August 2013

COPYRIGHT All areas   The UK’s new Copyright Hub (“Your gateway to information about copyright in the UK”) has launched a consultation pilot. The idea of a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE) was first proposed by Ian Hargreaves in his 2011 Review of IP and Growth. In 2012 Richard Hooper and Ros Lynch completed a feasibility study on the DCE and chose the cooler term ‘Copyright Hub’ to indicate a not-for-profit, industry-led (but see here) system based in the UK that “links interoperably and scalably to the growing national and international network of private and public sector digital copyright exchanges, rights registries and other copyright-related databases”: Put it otherwise, the Copyright Hub is two things: A hub … 1)    A web portal connected to a network of organisations from the audio-visual, publishing, music and images sectors of the creative industries (which includes DCEs that do automated licensing); and 2)     A forum for collaboration between the different creative sectors and their organisations.   Above all, the Copyright Hub is intended to do three things: a.    Help people find out about copyright and find their way through the complexities of copyright; b.    Be a place where rights holders can, if they so choose,…

Thom says its time to pay: Spotify in the spotlight as acts complain of low royalty rates
Artists , Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / August 2013

COPYRIGHT Internet, artistes, record labels   One of the most important posts I have ever read about how the music industry might function in the future has been published on the CMU Daily website – I say ‘one’ – its actually two posts looking at the Spotify business model – and why its good for tech start ups and their record label partners – and very bad indeed for artists who are currently receiving a (usually) tiny share of revenues from their labels for digital uses – and in the case of two of the three majors, Sony and Universal, the very same labels who co-own Spotify Now Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich have taken to the net to formally express displeasure in the all-you-can-eat streaming business model. To prove their point they announced that their respective solo albums, and the long-player from their collaborative venture Atoms For Peace, had all been removed from Europe’s highest profile streaming service. Announcing what he dubbed as a “small meaningless rebellion”, producer Godrich said via a string of tweets: “We’re off of Spotify. Can’t do that no more man. Someone gotta say something. It’s bad for new music. The reason…

Ed Money and the Doobie Brothers settle digital royalty claims
Artists , Contract , Record Labels / August 2013

CONTRACT Record labels, artists   Both American rocker Eddie Money and the Doobie Brothers have reached out of court settlements with their record labels, Sony Music and Warners respectively, regarding the payment of royalties on digital revenues. The cases were two of the many that US heritage artists have brought against all of the majors following the landmark ruling in the case between FBT Productions and Universal Music over whether download money should be treated as record sales or licensing income – artists usually get a much bigger cut of the latter than the former. Doobie Brothers frontman Michael McDonald used lawyer Richard Busch (King & Ballow), who won a landmark digital royalties decision in 2010 when he represented rapper Eminem’s producers FBT against Universal (F.B.T. Productions v. Aftermath Records).  Busch has led the charge in the songwriters and recording artists  assault against labels over royalty money and Busch has reportedly negotiated confidential settlements for such clients as Peter Frampton, Kenny Rogers and Roy Thomas Baker, who produced albums for Queen, The Cars and others. Busch filed a $5 million royalties suit in April for “Weird Al” Yankovic, which is still pending. Having commented on Spotify and digital royalties in…

With Love From Me To You? Rival Beatles tributes shows head to court.
Artists , Contract , Copyright / August 2013

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Theatre, artistes   The producers of Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles have filed a copyright infringement suit against Broadway’s Let It Be – another Beatles’ tribute show that started life in London. The creators of Rain, which played on Broadway from October 2010 to July 2011 filed the suit last month against Let It Be producers Jeff Parry and Annerin Productions (amongst others) and are asking for a 50-50 split of the revenue from Let It Be, and asks that the Rain Corporation is listed as a joint author of Let It Be. The suit claims that Let It Be pulls much of its material from Rain, including musical arrangements, songs used in the show, artwork, staging, costume styling and more. Now readers might think – hang on – the songs – by the Beatles – costumes – by the Beatles – arrangements – by the Beatles! However, both shows include performances of The Beatles’ songs and dialogue between the actors playing the iconic band members. Rain’s score has 31 of The Beatles’ greatest hits, such as Yesterday and Hey Jude, and 28 of these appear in Let It Be. The Rain creators claim that “the artwork used as backround during the performance of many of…

Nikita and Natasha – a story of unrequited love
Copyright , Music Publishing / August 2013

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   A songwriter called Guy Hobbs has failed in his plagiarism claim against Elton John and his co writer Bernie Taupin, after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a judge’s decision to dismiss his claim that Elton John had borrowed the lyrics for his 1985 hit “Nikita“. Hobbs had claimed Sir Elton’s song was copied from his song “Natasha” which Hobbs said he had submitted to Sir Elton’s publishing company prior to Sir Elton writing his hit. Hobbs claimed his song was based on his short romance with a Russian woman he met while working as a cruise ship photographer. The court helpfully fleshed out Hobb’s claim (who said the long delay in bringing the action was because he had never seen Taupin’s lyrics until 2001) and compared both songs noting that the alleged similarities extended to (1) A theme of impossible love between a Western man and a Communist woman during the Cold War; (2) References to events that never happened; (3) Descriptions of the beloved’s light eyes; (4) References to written correspondence to the beloved; (5) Repetition of the beloved’s name, the word “never,” the phrase “to hold you,” the phrase “I need …

Ferguson settles with Modest!
Artists , Contract / August 2013

CONTRACT Artistes   Former X-factor finalist Rebecca Ferguson has settled her contractual dispute with Modest! Management. The 2010 ‘X’ runner had previously called the Modest! team “vile” and tweeted “Be nice to have a nice new responsible caring management team! Who care for me and my children’s wellbeing. See you in court!” Modest! sued Ferguson after she unilaterally terminated her contract with the company. In September 2012 the firm filed legal papers seeking damages and a cut of Ferguson’s future earnings to the end of the five year term of the singer’s original agreement with the company. And while disputes of this kind are usually settled out of court, for a time neither side seemed especially keen to budge. The parties have now “settled their outstanding legal disputes”.  Whilst confidential, Modest! noted that “Rebecca is a great artist and we wish her all the best for the future”, while Ferguson said: “I would like to thank Modest! for the contribution they have made to my career over the past years. They have done a great job”. http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/rebecca-ferguson-settles-with-modest/

Katy settles with GHD
Artists , Contract / August 2013

CONTRACT Artistes, endorsement   TMZ reports that Katy Perry has settled her dispute with hair products giant GHD and has received “a significant amount of money”. The legal dispute began when GHD asked a court to confirm that a two year alliance was over.  Perry countersued, saying that the company had continued to use her image for promotional purposes after the original deal had ended, suggesting that the continuation of the $2 million deal.  Perry’s legal team also alleged that GHD wanted to delay the end of the deal because its parent company Jamella Group was in the process of being acquired with a spokesperson for Perry saying ‘They’re backing out of the deal because of an ownership change, and just throwing shade to hide their bad faith.’   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2357481/Katy-Perry-styling-tool-giant-ghd-2M-lawsuit.html  

Shakira’s ex denied access to “shared” bank account
General / August 2013

CONTRACT Artistes   A court in Geneva has ruled that Antonio de la Rua, the ex-boyfriend and former business partner of Shakira, must be denied to one of the singer’s bank accounts. De la Rua had claimed that he should have access to the account because it contained revenues from his former business partnership with the star. De la Rua, the son of former Argentine president Fernando de la Rua, sued Shakira last November, claiming that the singer had reneged on business commitments made after the couple’s romantic relationship ended. He argues that while Shakira initially said their professional relationship would continue after they split as a couple in 2010, last year she dropped his business services, cutting him out of the profits of deals he claims he negotiated, including a major contract with Live Nation. The Swiss court had ruled that de la Rua did not have sufficient evidence to prove what agreements the couple reached regards Shakira’s business affairs in 2010 and de la Rua conceded that the agreement had not been written down. The bank account in the current action was in Shakira’s sole name. De la Rua’s $100 million law suit against his ex is being…

Wylie faces legal action after festival fiasco
Artists , Contract , Live Events / August 2013

CONTRACT Live events sector, artistes   Wiley has called the audience at the CockRock Festival in Cockermouth, Cumbria “pagans” after he was booed off stage just 15 minutes into his set. The grime MC had been tweeting all day with negative comments about the Festival and was met with jeers from the audience, before he told the crowd “This is the truth, if one more can comes flying I’m coming off stage. You cannot throw cans at me because of a situation that I had with my agent … you can’t be angry at me.” The audience jeered and laughed at the rapper before he left the stage. Wiley (real name Richard Kylea Cowie) had shared his dismay while en route to the event saying “Just the name makes me not wanna go,” he wrote, before adding: “My agent knows that there are cool places to play and other places are just not worth the hassle.” As well as slamming the festival’s name, Wiley said he was unhappy with his agent for making him play a farm in Cumbria tweeting to agent Billy Wood: “Billy please stop sending me to farms to perform please mate. I am a yardie man.” Following his…

Gaga asks for gag
Artists / August 2013

CONFIDENCE Artistes   Lady Gaga has asked the US courts to seal aspects of a legal squabble between two of her former collaborators, to prevent information contained in papers relating to the case being made public. The legal battle is between Rob Fusari, the producer involved in creating the star’s early recordings and  who claims he is responsible for conceiving the Gaga persona, and Wendy Starland, who says that it was she who first introduced Fusari to a young Gaga, then still performing under her real name Stefani Germanotta, and that she is therefore due a cut of the money for actually discovering the future star. Gaga herself is not party to the Fusari/Starland dispute, but the singer says that some information in papers relating to the dispute is “sensitive, private and personal” and would “inflict significant personal and professional harm upon” her if it was made public. Gaga says that she has a non-disclosure agreement with Fusari that provides grounds to have the courts seal elements of his legal battle with Starland. Whether the courts concur on that point remains to be seen. If not, you can be sure the press will scrutinise any published papers relating to Starland…

Pussy Riot pair lodge appeal at Russia’s Supreme Court
Criminal Law / August 2013

CRIMINAL LAW Artistes   Lawyers for the two members of Pussy Riot jailed for their involvement in a protest performance in a Russian cathedral are set to take the case to Russia’s Supreme Court. Originally three members of the Russian punk outfit were jailed last August for taking part in the performance of a protest song in a Moscow church. One of the jailed women, Yekaterina Samustsev, was given a suspended sentence on appeal and freed, but Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova remained incarcerated after the appeal hearing in Gulags. More recently both were denied parole. Lawyers hope to argue in the Russian Supreme Court that the ruling that members of Pussy Riot were guilty of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ was in fact illegal, and the convictions should be reversed.   http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1569241/pussy-riot-members-to-appeal-conviction-to-russias-supreme-court

Article: Art vs Personality right: German rapper Bushido causing “stress for no reason”?
Artists , Censorship / August 2013

CENSORSHIP / PERSONALITY Artistes By Birgit Clark From Germany comes the news that Berlin’s mayor Klaus Wowereit has filed legal action against a new song by German rapper Bushido: “Stress ohne Grund” (“Stress for no Reason”).  The news has prompted German media to excitedly discuss the legal conflict between one person’s personality right and another person’s right of free expression and/or freedom of art.  Today, the debate heated up further after the German authorities for the protection of youth have ruled that Bushido’s song (together with the album that contains it) is to be banned for minors. In his latest offering enfant terrible Bushido is rapping about “coming to a party and causing stress for no reason.”  However, the song also includes lyrics that are directly aimed at public figures and which can very easily, indeed only, be interpreted as a call for violence.  About Claudia Roth, the head of the German Green Part, Bushido raps: “I’ll shoot at Claudia Roth and she willl be full of holes like a golf course”.  About Mr Wowereit, who is openly gay, he includes rather crude, homophobic comments relating to his sexualty.  Mr Wowereit, who is known to be tolerant, clearly did not…

EPIC calls foul over Jay-Z download
Artists , Internet , Privacy / August 2013

PRIVACY Artistes, internet, technology   The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC for short) has called on the US government’s Federal Trade Commission to investigate the app through which Jay-Z made his new album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’, available to over one million Samsung mobile phone users ahead of its official release with EPIC saying “Samsung failed to disclose material information about the privacy practices of the app, collected data unnecessary to the functioning of the ‘Magna Carta’ app, deprived users of meaningful choice regarding the collection of their data, interfered with device functionality, and failed to implement reasonable data minimisation procedures”. Responding to this, Samsung said in a statement: “Any information obtained through the application download process was purely for customer verification purposes, app functionality purposes, and for marketing communications, but only if the customer requests to receive those marketing communications. Samsung is in no way inappropriately using or selling any information obtained from users through the download process”. Despite the give away, Jay-Z still managed to sell 527,000 copies of the new record in the US during its first week on sale – the second biggest one-week sales of the year in the American market – sending it straight…