New term for sound recording copyrights in UK
Copyright / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings   The term of copyright protection for sound recordings in the UK runs for a marvellous 70 years, rather than the paltry 50 years that was previously the case. The move, which came into effect on November 1st and was dubbed “Cliff’s Law” after the veteran hitmaker Sir Cliff Richard (who backed the campaign to extend the copyright period) has not been without its critics, many of who said the move would only benefit record labels: The European Directive (2011/77/EU) that implemented the change requested that each country introduce measures to ensure artists received some benefit from extra 20 years of copyright protection. The specifics of those benefits in the UK have been in development for most of the year, and the Intellectual Property Office has now announced the following initiatives – A “session fund” paying many performers (such as session musicians) 20% of (gross) revenues from sales of their recordings. – A “clean slate” provision, whereby a producer may not make deductions from payments to performers (such as advances of royalties) from publication of a recording. – A “use it or lose it” clause – which allows performers and musicians to claim back their performance rights in sound…

BPI secures more file-sharing site blocks
Copyright / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music The UK’s record industry trade body the BPI has secured a new court order forcing UK Internet Service Providers to block a further 21 file-sharing websites. The BPI’s original action was against The Pirate Bay last year: The BPI’s Geoff Taylor said that the organisation had attempted to work with the sites newly added to the UK internet blacklist, but all had refused. He said in a statement: “We asked the sites to stop infringing copyright but unfortunately they did not and we were left with little choice but to apply to the court”. The full list of newly blocked sites is as follows: Abmp3. BeeMP3, Bomb-Mp3, FileCrop, FilesTube, Mp3Juices, eMp3World, Mp3lemon, Mp3Raid, Mp3skull, NewAlbumReleases, Rapidlibrary., 1337x, BitSnoop, ExtraTorrent, Monova, TorrentCrazy, TorrentDownloads, TorrentHound, Torrentreactor and Torrentz

You can’t Steel this name: Burdon of proof satisfied
Artists , Trade Mark / December 2013

TRADE MARK Artistes   This update by Jeremy Philips: This case relates to a trade mark application filed in 2004 for the name of the music group ‘The Animals’  and it’s the result of an appeal against an official decision dating back to 2008.  The case is Eric Victor Burdon v John Steel  case O-369-13 of 9 September, a decision of Geoffrey Hobbs QC, as Appointed Person. The appellant. Eric Burdon, may be known to some readers as the lead singer of The Animals pop group back in the 1960s and the rasping vocalist in that group’s major hit, The House of the Rising Sun (which, together with Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale, has the distinction of being instantly recognisable by its instrumental intro).  He was appealing against the rejection of his opposition to registration by the group’s former drummer John Steel to register the words THE ANIMALS as a trade mark for use in relation to CDs and musical recordings in Class 9 and musical live performances in Class 41. The group, like many in the 1960s, was in legal terms an incorporated association of individuals; no contractual or other arrangements governed the relationship between its members, and there…

Pirate Bay founder denied final appeal
Copyright , Internet / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Internet   Sweden’s Supreme Court has refused to hear the final appeal by Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm over his hacking conviction. Svartholm, also jailed for a year for his part in establishing the copyright infringing Pirate Bay, was found guilty of various unrelated hacking charges in June and although an appeals court reduced his sentence for the hacking crimes last month (by deeming that some of the charges against him couldn’t actually be proven), he was still left with another year of custody. The Bay man had hoped to appeal the charges that still stood, but Sweden’s Supreme Court don’t believe there is justification for a further hearing. Separately Svartholm is also trying to fight off attempts to extradite him to Denmark to face other hacking charges that could result in a much longer jail sentence. Last year Sweden’s Supreme Court also refused to hear the final appeal from Svartholm’s fellow Pirate Bay founders over their copyright convictions, though Svartholm himself had lost the right to even approach the highest branch of the country’s judiciary regards that case, having failed to show up for his first appeal hearing after going AWOL.

Gaga faces plagiarism claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, sound recordings   Lady Gaga is facing some controversy over her newly released single with R& B singer R. Kelly. The song, titled “Do What U Want”, is drawing criticism for sounding “suspiciously similar” to “The Deep”, a track from emerging dance-pop duo Dance With The Dead. Why so? Well, it seems both songs share the same musical key, and feature a virtually identical pulsating synth riff and drum pattern. Both are approximately 97 beats per minute, giving them the exact same driving dance rhythm. And says Gnomes “though each song ultimately travels in a different musical direction, it seems entirely plausible that whoever programmed Miss Gaga’s new hit took a little too much creative license in borrowing from the music of Dance With The Dead.”

Gaye’s family take on Thicke and EMI
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Soul legend Marvin Gaye’s family have now issued proceedings in an action involving Robin Thicke’s hit single “Blurred Lines”. Two of Gaye’s children have filed a suit against Thicke, producer and writer Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. for copyright infringement of Marvin’s classic tune “Got to Give it Up” along with a claim against EMI Music, saying the music publisher failed to act on Gaye’s behalf and breached it’s fiduciary duty, siding instead with Thicke and Williams. Williams is with EMI and from this relatonship the publisher has a controlling interest in the song. The claim also accuses the chair of EMI Music Publishing of intimidating family members.  According to Billboard, the suit claims that the Chairman of the publishing company personally contacted the Gaye estate’s attorney and accused the family of “ruining an incredible song” and “killing the goose that laid the golden egg” and allegedly said that he believed the dispute had stopped Thicke from winning a VMA gong and could prevent Blurred Lines  taking the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year in 2014:  The lawsuit says that EMI’s alleged failings are all the more worrying because of Sony/ATV/EMI’s dominance in the music publishing sector. On…

Toy advert ‘parody’ of Girls fires up the Beastie Boys
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, sound recording, artists   The Beastie Boys are seemingly less than impressed with a ‘parody’ produced by a new toy company called Goldieblox – a video of three girls playing with a Rube Goldberg-type invention and singing alternative lyrics to the Beastie Boys song “Girls.” Since the video went up online it has been viewed more than seven million times. Having received a letter alleging copyright infringement, Goldieblox are now seeking declaratory relief in the federal court in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California. It seems lawyers for the Beastie Boys claim that the GoldieBlox Girls parody video is a copyright infringement, is not a fair use and that GoldieBlox’s unauthorised use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property is a ‘big problem’ that has a ‘very significant impact.’ It might be one to watch as clearly the ‘parody’ is to promote a commercial concern and sell toys – although it may well have also stoked up a debate on young girl’s interest in science and scientific careers. In the original song, the Beasties sang: “Girls — to do the dishes/ Girls — to clean up my room/ Girls — to do the…

Madonna defeats Vogue sample lawsuit
Artists , Copyright / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, artists   Madonna has successfully defeated a claim there was an uncleared sample in her 1990 hit ‘Vogue‘.  American music company VMG sued Madonna and ‘Vogue‘ producer Robert ‘Shep’ Pettibone last year, claiming the duo illegally used a sample from a 1970s recording called ‘Love Break’, which the claimant owns, for their hit single back in 1990. The music firm said that Pettibone had cleverly hidden the sample, but that new technology had revealed that it is definitely there, hence why they were suing over two decades later. The legal claim related to a “single horn stab” that appears in both ‘Love Break‘ and ‘Vogue‘, an alleged sample so short that the court basically said it would be impossible to construct a case for copyright infringement. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the judge ruled: “Having listened to the sound recordings, the court finds that no reasonable audience would find the sampled portions qualitatively or quantitatively significant in relation to the infringing work, nor would they recognise the appropriation. The court finds that any sampling of the horn hit was de minimis or trivial”. The judge in this latest case made it clear that her ruling didn’t contradict…

New Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) makes third arrest
Copyright / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings   Detectives from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) have arrested a man at his Reading home on suspicion of operating a website that was illegally selling music albums, singles and films. This early morning operation, which followed a referral from PRS for Music is the third arrest made by City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) since its launch last month. The 33-year-old man is believed to have been using a website to sell discs containing music and films, which he does not hold the copyright licence for, for a small fee of only a few pounds. Each disc can contain up to 40 music albums and is estimated to be worth hundreds of pounds. The man was taken to a local police station for further questioning by PIPCU officers and subsequently an agreement was reached to transfer the control of the website to City of London Police. Detective Inspector Stirling, from PIPCU, said: “Today’s arrest forms part of just one of the many investigations PIPCU is currently pursuing. Since the launch of PIPCU we have seen a wide range of businesses come forward with referrals for the unit and today’s operation…

Bragg blasts labels for low streaming payments
Artists , Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Internet, artistes, recorded music   Billy Bragg has sent out a message to his fellow artists via Facebook saying that the low royalties being paid to artistes for streaming  is really the fault of the record labels – not of Spotify. Bragg was responding to the various artists who have recently hit out at Spotify and the streaming service business model  such as Nigel Godrich, Thom Yorke and David Byrne – who have said that the royalties paid out by these services are just too small, and if streaming is to ultimately replace both CD sales and iTunes-style downloading, then that’s a problem. But, Bragg notes, all but a handful of indie labels (most notably Ministry Of Sound) remain supportive of Spotify et al, which suggests that, in the main, they are doing very well from the growth in streaming music. CMY Daily reports that the issue for artists receiving tiny royalties  is that labels are not sharing enough of the loot with their acts, by applying royalty splits from the CD age, even though record companies do not have the costs or risks that were involved in manufacturing and distributing physical product in the digital domain. As this…

Lyric Site Takedown
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / December 2013

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, internet   The US National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has recently sent takedown notices to fifty websites displaying copyrighted song lyrics. Among the fifty recipients is Rap Genius, a high-flying New York start up that last year received a $15 million investment from Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowtiz. Rap Genius has quickly grown in popularity due to its interactive display of lyrics. The site does not simply reproduce the copyrighted text, but also enables users to annotate the text and interpret its meaning. When one searches for a song, the website returns that song’s lyrics. Clicking on lines in the lyrics opens a pop-up box with an interpretation of the wording. The site relies on user-generated content through a Wikipedia-like format of contribution, where contributors earn “IQ” points for contributing lyrics and providing interesting interpretations. According to Ilan Zechory, Rap Genius Co-Founder, this interaction between the song and the fans transforms “a static, flat lyric page into an interactive, vibrant art experience created by a community of volunteer scholars”. The Chief Executive of the NMPA, David Israel, has made it clear that their intention is not to harm fan-based websites. Instead they wish simply to prevent others…

JARAC’s practices violate competition laws in Japan
Competition / December 2013

COMPETITION Music publishing   Whether or not collection societies are monopolies, or act like monopolies, is a tricky issue: Many in the business world want ‘one stop shops’ for effective licensing, especially in a global digital market – but no one wants a bully! The Tokyo High Court has now overturned a previous ruling by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) and has concluded that the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) violates the country’s anti-monopoly law. The court says the JFTC ruling in 2012 that JASRAC was not a monopoly was “a mistake.” Presiding Judge Toshiaki Iimura said that JASRAC’s practices makes it very difficult for other music copyright businesses to enter the business, “essentially excluding them from competition”. The copyright society currently has ‘blanket licences’ with major broadcasting stations giving them unlimited access to songs that are under the JASRAC management for ja fee of 1.5% of the previous fiscal year’s broadcast earnings. Other copyright companies have to charge fees for each separate use of a song. The court found that because of this, broadcasters limit the use of non-JASRAC music  for purely economic reasons. In fiscal 2012, 98.03 of all music copyright fees were paid…

Michigan lawmaker seeks to make scalping legal
Competition / December 2013

COMPETITION Live events sector   A Michigan politician says he wants to make it legal to sell sporting event or concert tickets above face value and has introduced legislation that would repeal a 1931 state law that bans ticket scalping unless it’s authorised by the venue or event operators. Republican Rep. Tim Kelly of Saginaw Township said he is lining up bipartisan support for his bill. He says it’s a common-sense measure that would let the free market decide the price of a ticket saying “An individual who buys a ticket to a sporting event or concert owns that ticket, and they should have every right to sell it if they so choose” adding “This legislation, quite literally, is about allowing the man on the street to sell tickets at fair market value to willing buyers. It creates more fairness while providing some relief to our already overburdened court system.” Kelly said here is no reason for the government to interfere in a transaction between a willing buyer and willing seller. The legislation now goes to a House committee for consideration. And one of Kelly’s Democratic colleagues said allowing ticket re-sales is a matter of fairness. Rep. Doug Geiss of Taylor introduced a bill last…

Global lose Competition Commission appeal over Real and Smooth Radio acquisitions
Competition / December 2013

COMPETITION Broadcasting   Broadcaster Global Radio has in its bid to appeal a Competition Commission ruling on its acquisition of the Real and Smooth Radio networks. Global bought the Real and Smooth stations from the Guardian Media Group last year for £70 million, but various parties raised concerns about the dominance the transaction gave Global in the radio advertising domain in certain localities.  In its final report on the deal, the CC concluded that the merger is likely to cause higher prices for advertising in the UK regions earmarked for divestment. Responding to those concerns the Competition Commission told Global that they would have to sell off more of the Real and Smooth outlets than they’d be allowed to keep – or offload existing Global-owned stations in the regions where the Commission shared market dominance concerns). Global argued that the rules being used to block their Real Smooth deal are outdated, and ignore wider competition in the modern advertising market and that the competition regulator did not take reasonable steps to “acquaint itself” with information relevant to the Real Smooth deal, that it lacked evidence in some regions as to how local advertisers made buying decisions, and that it didn’t…

Ticket tout sentenced for tax evasion
Taxation / December 2013

TAXATION Live events sector   A London ticket tout had been handed a suspended prison sentence after failing to pay nearly £200,000 in tax. Donald Tiffin, of Park Road, Hampton Wick, had deposits of more than £915,000 in his own bank account and a further £656,000 had been paid into his girlfriend’s account.  The 63-year-old earned the cash by selling a range of tickets and packages to events including Wimbledon, the Champions League and the 2009 British Lions tour of South Africa and HM Revenue & Customs said the 63 year old failed to pay a total of £193,000 in income tax and VAT. Tiffin had admitted two counts of cheating the public revenue. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for failing to pay income tax, and to 18 months, also suspended for two years, for failing to pay VAT. He was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work and a compensation order in the sum of £193,000 was issued when he appeared at the Old Bailey.

Ministry asks Mayor Boris for protection
Licensing / December 2013

LICENSING Live events sector   Ministry Of Sound boss Lohan Presencer has asked Boris Johnson for a binding agreement confirming that a planned major residential development next to the venue in South London will not have future repercussions on his operation’s licence. Ministry had previously succeeded in blocking the plans by property developer Oakmayne to build a big residential complex next to the superclub, after the property firm’s proposals were unanimously rejected by Southwark’s planning committee, with Ministry successfully arguing that it was an important employer in the area, that it played an important role in the capital’s clubbing culture and local community, and that the planned residential development would cause problems because future residents would be certain to make demands on licensing officials regarding noise at the venue. Now London Mayor Boris Johnson’s office has agreed to reconsider the decision, placing the club under threat once again. Presencer called for the agreement by the Mayor in a letter to the London Standard and also said he wanted a legal agreement that Oakmayne will install sound-proofing into its new apartments (as was promised as part of its planning application) saying he wants a “legal agreement that guarantees that everything that…

Live Music Act consultation underway
Licensing / December 2013

LICENSING Live events sector   Further deregulation of entertainment licensing for live music venues is to be considered by the UK government, which could bring rules into line with those for live performances of dance and theatre.  Last year the new Live Music Act allowed venues in England and Wales which sell alcohol the freedom to host live music performances for audiences of up to 200 people between 8am and 11pm.  A consultation launched last week will look at increasing the upper audience limit to 500 people. A statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the reason behind the consultation on further deregulation was to grow the creative economy and remove burdens from small and medium-sized businesses saying “In particular, the measures in relation to live and recorded music are intended to help pubs, hotels and other hospitality businesses diversify their offer and access new markets,” said a spokesman. The Musicians’ Union said it welcomed the consultation and saw it as “positive step” towards removing live music from the Licensing Act altogether.   In full here and a summary here