EC launches consultation for European copyright law reform
Copyright / January 2014

COPYRIGHT All Areas   The European Commission has launched a public consultation as part of its on-going efforts to review and modernise EU copyright rules. Set in the context of an introduction that says “Over the last two decades, digital technology and the Internet have reshaped the ways in which content is created, distributed, and accessed. New opportunities have materialised for  those that create and produce content (e.g. a film, a novel, a song), for new and existing  distribution platforms, for institutions such as libraries, for activities such as research and for  citizens who now expect to be able to access content – for information, education or  entertainment purposes – regardless of geographical borders”  The Review of the EU Copyright Rules invites stakeholders to share their views on areas identified in the Communication on Content in the Digital Single Market including territoriality in the Single Market, harmonisation, limitations and exceptions to copyright in the digital age; fragmentation of the EU copyright market; and how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of enforcement while underpinning its legitimacy in the wider context of copyright reform. The Review says this as a backdrop: “The “Licences for Europe” process has been finalised now. The…

Ariana Grande, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood face sampling cases in the USA
Artists , Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2014

COPYRIGHT Music Publishing, recorded music, artistes   The Tennessean reports that pop star Ariana Grande, along with her publishing company and record label, are facing copyright infringement lawsuit related to her hit song “The Way.” The suit claims Grande and producer/writer/co-performer Mac Miller copied from the 1972 disco song “Troglodyte” when they recorded “The Way,” which became a major hit earlier this year and iTunes no 1 single, selling more than 2 million copies. The federal suit from  Minder Music claims Grande and Miller duplicated the vocal beginning to the Jimmy Castor Bunch’s “Troglodyte” when they recorded “The Way.” “Troglodyte” begins with Jimmy Castor speaking the phrase, “What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time.”  “The Way” begins with the spoken phrase “What we gotta do right here is go back, back into time.”  The attorney in the claim is Richard Busch of King & Ballow who has previously successfully brought claims against samplers – in particular of George Clinton and Funkadelic and on behalf of Bridgeport Music. And more from the Tennessean:  A US federal judge has ruled that a “song-theft” lawsuit against country superstars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood over their duet…

EU term extension prompts ‘rare grooves’ outing
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2014

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   It seems that the major record labels have decided that the new EU wide term extension for sound recordings does not apply to unreleased material: Rather than full scale releases, some of the labels have decided on limited releases only: A new Sony collection of unreleased Bob Dylan recordings — concerts, radio and television appearances, and studio outtakes, all from 1963 — has just appeared in a limited edition of 100 copies, on six vinyl LPs – “The 50th Anniversary Collection: 1963”. Universal and Apple are being a lot more generous to fans:  Universal plans to release, on iTunes only, “The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963” a compilation of 59 recordings, among them a handful of studio outtakes; a few dozen BBC performances, drawn from the same well as the recent “On Air” BBC two-CD set; and informal demonstration recordings of two songs the group gave to other artists — Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s acoustic guitar duet version of “Bad to Me” and a Lennon piano demo of “I’m in Love.” Some interesting comment on the labels’ thinking can be found on the NY Times website here.

Pirate Bay domain sets sail again, and again, and again, and again!
Copyright , Internet / January 2014

COPYRIGHT Internet   Those pesky Peruvian authorities have now interfered with the Pirate Bay’s Peruvian URL- – meaning yet another move for the embattled Bucaneers. Peru’s snappily named National Institute For The Defense Of Competition And The Protection Of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI) ordered the country’s biggest ISP, Red Cientifica Peruana, to suspend the domain or face a fine of up to 666,000 soles (£145,000). The Bay then briefly went to a new home, this time in Guyana,, the fourth time the Pirates had to up anchor and sail to new waters in a week. In recent history the Pirates were in Sint Maarten – but BRIEN forced the registry to seize the .sx domain names as Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Pirate Bay then moved to the Acension Islands to a new .ac domain, perhaps foolishly, as the Isle is under direct control of the UK as a British overseas territory, and it was only a matter of days before that domain was seized as well. After the original Swedish .se domain was seized, and having tried Iceland and Greenland, Guyana, Peru, Sint Maarten and the Acension Isles, it now…

Lloyd Webber show prompts new action against American Music Theater
Copyright / January 2014

COPYRIGHT Theatre   American Music Theatre, which as the CopyKat had previously reported is being sued for copyright infringement over use of material from The Producers, Billy Elliot, Wicked, Jersey Boys, the Lion King and Disney’s Mary Poppins in its “Broadway Now & Forever” production, has filed it’s defence saying that it has blanket license agreements with the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers and Broadcast Music Inc. to perform “all allegedly copyrighted works at issue.” The theatre also denies it will be violating copyright when it opens “Music of the Night: The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber” for a six-month run from April 2014. The Theatre now faces an action, in the Philadelphia federal court, to stop “Broadway Now & Forever” and prevent the upcoming Andrew Lloyd Webber focussed show featuring Cats, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera from opening. The Pennsylvanian1,600 capacity theatre on Lincoln Highway East has now said it’s productions fall under the fair use doctrine saying “… use of the allegedly copyrighted works was transformative in nature, only an insubstantial portion of each alleged work was used in relation to each work as a whole …”. Among it’s other defences, American Music Theatre…

PIPCU ‘goes global’ in pursuit of illegal websites
Copyright , Internet / January 2014

COPYRIGHT All areas, internet   A press release from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) tells us that the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit “goes global in its pursuit of illegal websites” with the missive highlighting: ·         A pilot collaboration between PIPCU, the advertising sector and the creative industries ·         40 national and international websites suspended by domain name registrars ·         Pirate sites exposing consumers to malware and fraudulent scams targeted   The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is based at the City of London Police and has been set up to protect UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content. The operationally independent unit is initially being funded by the Intellectual Property Office, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. PIPCU have also released details of their “innovative three month pilot, in collaboration with the creative and advertising industries” designed to disrupt advertising revenues on infringing websites has seen a clear and positive trend, with a reduction in advertising from major household brands. A detailed report looking at 61 websites over the course of the pilot, evidenced as profiting from advertising and operating without licenses…

Beastie’s Girls spat goes legal

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, advertising   CMU Daily reports that the  dispute between the Beastie Boys and American toy company GoldieBlox over the latter’s use of a rework the former’s track ‘Girls’ in an advert isn’t going away, even though the toy maker swapped in an alternative piece of music on the ad and issued a positive statement professing admiration for the band. Whilst the surviving members of the Beastie Boys Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz issued an open letter said they respected GoldieBlox’s mission to make toys for young girls that break down gender stereotypes, they added, they had previously made a conscious decision to not license their tracks for use in advertising, so much so that the third Beastie Boy, the late Adam Yauch, stated that desire in his will. Before the Beastie Boys’ open letter, GoldieBlox had issued a pre-emptive legal strike anticipating the band’s claim seeking court confirmation that, because their version of ‘Girls’ mocked the sexist lyrics of the original, that constituted parody, and therefore the toy firm was allowed to use the track without permission under the doctrine of “fair use”.  Interestingly it seems GoldieBlox had posted similar adverts online before, including music…

Sirius XM Will Have to Defend Multiple Lawsuits Over Pre-1972 Music
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2014

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   Sirius XM have failed in an attempt to move a $100 million class action lawsuit in California for distributing and performing pre-1972 sound recordings to New York, where the broadcaster is facing another action. The satcaster is also facing two more actions brought by major record labels and a fifth lawsuit from SoundExchange, the digital performance rights organization that collects royalties on behalf of sound recording copyright owners. The California lawsuit is being led by members of The Turtles who say that Sirius cannot rely on section 114 of the US Copyright Act for protection – as pre 1972 recordings are subject to state law – which may arguably mean that Sirius plays songs recorded before that date without permission. Sirius argued that the plaintiffs were playing “lawsuit lottery” alongside the actions in New York and the third in Florida and sought to have the case transferred to New York and perhaps consolidated. But U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez denied Sirius’ motion saying “it seems at this point that although the three suits share a common factual core, they are legally distinct and will turn on the separate interpretations of California, New York, and Florida…

Russia’s Supreme Court critical of Pussy Riot ruling
Artists , Criminal Law / January 2014

CRIMINAL Artists Russia’s Supreme Court has criticised the guilty verdicts in the Pussy Riot case and ordered a review of the ruling that convicted three members of the punk protest group of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after the band staged a provocative performance that criticised the Russian government  in a Moscow cathedral in August 2012 Two of the three, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were jailed. The Supreme Court has now said that the prosecution in the case failed to demonstrate that the defendants were motivated by hatred towards a specific social group, which, appeal judges said last week, is necessary for this ruling. The Supreme Court added that judges in the lower court should also have considered that Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were mothers with young children when sentencing them. The ruling comes alongside the recently announced amnesty bill’ y put forward to the country’s parliament by premier Vladimir Putin, which aims to show leniency on the twentieth anniversary of the Russian Constitution (and remove embarrassing Russian court rulings before next year’s Winter Olympics in Russia) could also lead to the Pussy Riot two being freed early although with just three months left to run on both protestors’ sentences,…

Global Radio halts appeals over competition issues
Competition / January 2014

COMPETITION Broadcasting   Global Radio has confirmed that it will agree to Competition Commission demands related to its acquisition of the Guardian Media Group’s former radio business. Global acquired GMG’s Smooth and Real Radio networks last year in a £70 million deal, but the arrangement required clearance from the competition regulator which ruled that the radio giant could only keep a minority of the additional stations it had acquired, and would have to sell off outlets in seven regions, either its recent Real Smooth acquisitions, or one of its existing operations in those markets. Global called the ruling “outdated”, and said it failed to appreciate new competition in the advertising market that meant that the FM radio sector no longer operated in isolation. Last month the Competition Appeal Tribunal dismissed Global’s arguments against the Commission’s original ruling. Global has now said that it would not seek a further appeal, and instead would comply with the Commission’s ruling and put several stations up for sale in early 2014.

Styles wins banning order on paps
Artists , Privacy / January 2014

PRIVACY & HARRASSMENT Artists   Harry Styles has won a court order that bans the paparazzi from pursuing the One Direction star in the street or stalking the singer outside of his home, an interesting move which has the potential to set new precedent with regards how the law can be used to control the paparazzi. The Styles’ injunction issued my Mrs Justice Nicola Davies bans unnamed photographers from pursuing the singer by car or motorcycle, placing him under surveillance or loitering within 50 metres of his home to monitor his movements. Efforts are being taken to identify all paparazzi involved in the harassment,  with a request having been mad to the DVLA to identify the owners of vehicles and enquires made with the photo agencies that use the paparazzi’s photos.  According to The Times, Style’s lawyer David Sherborne said: “This is not a privacy injunction. Mr Styles is not trying to prevent fans approaching him in the street and taking photos. He remains happy to do that, as he always has. Rather, it is the method or tactics which have been used by a certain type of photographer”. Mr Sherborne has also acted for Cheryl Cole, Lily Allen, Sienna…

Belfast court passes suspended prison sentences on file-sharers
Copyright / January 2014

COPYRIGHT Motion pictures, software   Two men have received suspended sentences in the Belfast Crown Court for their involvement in running the file-sharing operation Araditracker, which was mainly known for providing unlicensed access to movies and software. Hugh Reid and Marcus Lewis, a father and son-in-law now based in Belfast and Suffolk respectively, took “donations” for about a year from people who used Araditracker to access free music, movie and software files. In late 2007 the film industry’s Federation Against Copyright Theft took action, forcing Araditracker offline, though Reid and Lewis quickly set up an alternative service. Reid’s Belfast home was raided in August 2008, and Lewis’s home, then in North Wales, was similarly raised three months later. Prosecutors said that they secured a range of evidence to prove the two men’s involvement in the file-sharing operation, which Reid seemingly first set up when his radiator business hit the hard times in 2006. The two men pleaded guilty to the infringement crimes, which Judge Philpot tdescribed as “nothing less than theft”, adding to the two men “you must have known from an early stage that this was criminal behaviour” adding: “There are people who work here locally making films, both…

Italian comms regulator gets web-blocking powers
Copyright , Internet / January 2014

COPYRIGHT Internet   Italian regulator AGCOM, which loosely translates as the Electronic Communications Authority, has announced that it will assume the power to instigate web-blocks against copyright infringing websites from next April, meaning that rights owners won’t have to pursue civil litigation to gain online blockades. More on the 1709 Blog here

Court decision a setback for Pandora
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / January 2014

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing   A court ruling in the US yesterday will potentially cause problems for leading American streaming service Pandora, after it was ruled that some key music publishers can withdraw their catalogues from the licence provided to the digital firm by collecting society BMI. As previously reported, Pandora is wholly licensed in the US via the collective licensing system. On the recordings side, in America the record companies are obliged by law to license Pandora-style set-ups collectively, and do so via SoundExchange. The publishers initially voluntarily opted to license Pandora et al via their collecting societies ASCAP and BMI. But in the last year or so some of the big publishers have started to look to licence more digital services directly, believing they can negotiate more favourable terms that way, and remove the restrictions that come with collective licensing deals. In a similar squabble with BMI the court has ruled in favour of the society, mainly because of the timing and wording of the most recent agreement between Pandora and the rights group, which – a judge confirmed this week – allowed for alterations in catalogue, foreseeing that the big publishers were moving toward direct licensing in…

Pussy riot pair freed by new Russian amnesty laws
Artists , Criminal Law / January 2014

CRIMINAL Artists   Russia’s state Duma has unanimously agreed to a new ‘amnesty’ law which proposed by president Vladimir Putin to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia’s post-Soviet constitution. The amnesty bill looks to free prisoners who have been jailed for certain non-violent crimes, women with dependent children, juveniles, veterans, invalids and first time offenders and is likely to include the 30 Greenpeace crew and journalists from the Arctic Sunrise, currently on bail on charges of hooliganism in Russia after boarding a drilling rig. The bill specifically included the charge of hooliganism, which was used to prosecute 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists, among them six Britons, over a protest at Russia’s first offshore oil platform in the Arctic. The 30 will still need exit visas to leave Russia. Others who may be freed include some, but not all, of the political protesters arrested during clashes with police after Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as Russian president for a third term last year. The ruling prompted the release of the two members of Pussy Riot, jailed for religious hooliganism.  Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were each sentenced to two years in prison after the band staged a provocative performance that criticised the…

Charges against Live Nation trio in Finland dismissed
Licensing , Live Events / January 2014

LICENSING Live events   The charges of violations of the Environmental Protection Act brought by the Helsinki District Attorney against three employees of Live Nation have been dismissed by the District Court of Helsinki. The charges against promoter Scott Lavender and production managers Chad Taylor and Tom Ahlberg stemmed from live performances by Madonna and Bruce Springsteen at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium last year, both of which exceeded the 11pm curfew granted by the Helsinki Environment Centre by roughly an hour. Two previous shows, Metallica at the Sonisphere festival and Rihanna’s Party on The Beach had also broken curfews but were not included in the charges.   In court, the legal representative of Live Nation argued that the delays were caused by the artists: Springsteen played for four hours (a Finnish record!) , whereas Madonna entered the stage notably later than planned. The court ruled on 21 November that the defendants would not have been able to pull the plug on the performers for defying the curfew (and it was the band’s own generators) and consequently had not acted deliberately or negligently. In an interview with Helsingin Sanomat a few weeks before the ruling, Nina Castrén, the managing director of Live Nation…