New research suggests better legal services and reform are needed to fight piracy
Copyright / July 2014

COPYRIGHT All areas   A group at Lund University in Sweden have produced new research based on a survey  that had responses from around 4,000 individuals and which  suggest that the number of active file-sharers has dropped in the past two years. Those who share files daily or almost daily has decreased from 32.8 percent in 2012 to 29 percent in 2014. According to the head of the research group, this is why the numbers are dropping with the report saying “If you listen to what young people themselves are saying, it is new and better legal services that have caused the decrease in file-sharing, rather than respect for the law. There has been a trend where alternative legal solutions such as Spotify and Netflix are changing consumption patterns among young people.” Interestingly the report shows that same four-year period, the percentage of young people who said they believe that people should not share files because it is illegal dropped from 24 percent to 16.9 percent. So, even while young people are sharing files less often, their acceptance of the standards presented by the law appears to be dropping too “In other words, we need not only more good-quality services,…

One Direction lawyers cite privacy and copyright issues with leaked video
Artists , Copyright , Privacy / July 2014

COPYRIGHT / PRIVACY Artistes   Reps for One Direction have reportedly threatened legal action against Mail Online over the website’s ‘pop punks’ Peruvian pot puff’ exclusive after 1D boys Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik were seen and heard in a video, seemingly recorded on the former’s phone, smoking and discussing smoking cannabis, and possibly using a racial slur in the process. The band have alleged that the video was “stolen” from Tomlinson’s phone. According to the Press Gazette, law firm Lee & Thompson has written to the Mail and other news organisations stating that distribution of the video amounts to both an invasion of privacy (because the conversation happened in a private vehicle) and copyright infringement (because Tomlinson owns the copyright). The legal letter reads: “This video is a private ‘home’ video (filmed in a private vehicle) which has been stolen and the copyright in which is owned by our client Louis Tomlinson. Any publication of the video is unauthorised and unlawful and legal steps are being taken against the parties involved”. 1D member Liam Payne made a number of tweets saying  “I love my boys and maybe things have gone a little sideways, I apologise for that. We are only…

ReDigi chief speaks to Congress
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / July 2014

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels   The founder of the sometimes controversial MP3 resale platform ReDigi has given evidence to a congressional committee on intellectual property and the internet: the House of Representatives’ sub-committee on Courts, Intellectual Property And The Internet has been examining the USA’s ‘First Sale Doctrine’ and  ReDigi’s John Ossenmacher argued that the right t re-sell a legally purchased MP3 is just as valid as re-selling a CD – But that the content industries have been doing their best to water down the First Sale Doctrine for some time, most recently by exploiting terms and conditions nobody reads to claim that when a customer clicks a ‘buy’ button on a digital content platform, they aren’t actually ‘buying’ anything. Says Ossenmacher: “Consumers are given the option to ‘buy’ music, movies, and books on their screen and the ‘buy’ button looks identical for digital and physical items alike, but in the largely unintelligible legalese (that no one reads) the rights of ownership are watered down or worse, dissolved all-together for these digital purchases. Content holders are attempting to take away a fundamental consumer choice by styling what they call a long-term lease/license into their less-than forthright marketing strategies”. The content…

PRS for Music basically happy with independent code review
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2014

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   “PRS for Music welcomes Independent Code Review music licensing recommendations” is the very positive headline response, to the publication of the Independent Code Review by Walter Merricks, CBE That’s not to say, however, that the review has been accepted in its entirety: PRS for Music doesn’t like being called a “quasi public body”.  According to PRS for Music: Walter Merricks was appointed last year as part of a self-regulatory process put in place by the UK’s Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) to ensure Codes of Conduct were fit for purpose. Walter Merricks launched a consultation programme in November to collect evidence from the Ombudsman, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the BCC, collective rights management organisations (CMOs), PRS for Music members, copyright users and their representative bodies. The report finds that PRS for Music was compliant with its own Code of Conduct and with government standards for CMOs. The report also makes a number of recommendations that PRS for Music welcomes as part of its ambition to set best practice across all areas of its membership and domestic licensing activity: PRS for Music and PPL to include a commitment to cooperate in their codes of conduct; PRS, MCPS and PPL to…

Department of Justice to review ASCAP and BMI consent decrees
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2014

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   In the U.S. the Department of Justice is conducting a review of the consent decrees governing the nation’s largest performance rights organisations (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and Broadcast Music Inc.) which many see as a critical development amid the ongoing debate over copyright reform. ASCAP last had its consent decree, which governs how the collection society collects and distributes royalties, updated in 2001, while BMI’s has not been updated since the 1994 – and boy oh boy, has technology moved on since then! Both songwriters and publishing companies have suggested that the consent decrees need serious revision, with some even arguing they should be abolished – and ASCAP have already publicised some suggested changes. But the push for updates grew louder earlier this year when a federal rate court gave an unfavorable ruling to ASCAP in its royalty rate dispute with Pandora. Review of the consent decrees will trigger a 60-day public comment period, which is sure to draw in stakeholders ranging from songwriters and publishing companies, to broadcasters and record labels. With a music licensing system is decades old it will be scrutinised against the technology revolution and the pay that smartphones…

Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen prevail in song authorship challenge
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2014

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City have won a copyright challenge against their hit duet Good Time. The 28-year-old Canadian singer and Owl City’s Adam Young, 27, were sued for copyright infringement in October 2012 by Allyson ‘Ally’ Burnett who claimed their song borrowed from her 2010 release Ah, It’s A Love Song. BMI placed $804,156 in escrow in January otherwise due to Jepsen ( until the case was resolved). An attorney for Burnett told TMZ that she decided to withdraw her lawsuit afer an ‘extensive investigation’ confirmed Good Time was an original work an attorneys for Owl City have already filed a proposal in federal court on Monday that would award Young $525,901.77 in disputed royalties for the song. The deal must be approved by the court, but its completion was considered a formality.

New defence filed in Paul’s Boutique claim
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2014

COPYRIGHT Sound recording, music publishing   More Beastie Boys! In September 2013 a US  judge declined to dismiss TufAmerica’s complaint against the Beastie Boys and their label, finding that the Beasties’ use of the Trouble Funk songs, “Say What” and “Let’s Get Small,” on the 1989 “Paul’s Boutique” album was qualitatively and quantitatively significant. The case continues, but summary judgment motions delivered this week by the Beastie Boys, Universal-Polygram and Capitol Records present a rather compelling argument why the lawsuit is doomed. TufAmerica no longer control the copyrights to the two allegedly sampled tracks – so cannot bring a claim: In fact the copyrights are owned by Capitol Records owner Universal. According to the summary judgment motions, Trouble Funk members signed agreements in 1984 with Island Records, an affiliate of Universal. The deals were affirmed again in 1989. As a result of the agreements, Island became the exclusive owner to Trouble Funk sound recordings. What’s more, during depositions in this “Paul’s Boutique” sampling lawsuit, Trouble Funk members James Avery and Tony Fisher are said to have admitted that the agreements were valid and signed. Turning to the music publishing rights in the two songs, TufAmerica also says it now represents…

Eagles’ Don Henley defends legal action against Frank Ocean and Okkervil River

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music sector, artistes   In what might be a misguided move, The Eagles’ frontman Don Henley has taken aim at Frank Ocean and Okkervil River for reworking his band’s music, prompting Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff to respond in an article in Rolling Stone saying that copyright law is “strangling and depleting our culture”. Ocean used the instrumental version of The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ as the basis for the track ‘American Wedding’ on his 2011 free download album, ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ -a clear breach of US copyright law,  Writing on his Tumblr blog ahead of a performance at Coachella in 2012, Ocean said: “[Henley’s label Warner/Rhino] threatened to sue if I perform [‘American Wedding’] again. I think that’s fuckin awesome … They also asked that I release a statement expressing my admiration for Mr Henley, along with my assistance pulling it off the web as much as possible. Shit’s weird. Ain’t this guy rich as fuck? Why sue the new guy? I didn’t make a dime off that song. I released it for free. If anything, I’m paying homage”. In a new interview with Australia’s Daily Telegraph, Henley admitted that he had initiated this action, saying: “Mr…

Indies bring in the EU over YouTube negotiations
Competition , Record Labels / July 2014

COMPETITION LAW Recorded music   The independent label community will today step up its campaign against Google owned YouTube by calling on the European Union to intervene, having already criticised the way the YouTube is negotiating with the record companies in a bid to launch its much mooted and rather delayed audio streaming service, a new Spotify and Amazon competitor that will sit alongside YouTube’s vast music video catalogue – with what appeared to be an initial threat from the dominant YouTube – to remove all of the Indie’s material from YouTube if they didn’t sign up to what were perceived to be unfavourable terms all of their content on the Google site could be blocked. The royalty rates paid by YouTube when music videos are streamed on its site were already becoming contentious in the music industry, as the audio streaming services which pay higher rates started to stress that the free-to-view video site was hindering their attempts to woo more mainstream consumers. The rates subsequently offered for YouTube audio were similarly criticised once they were on the table – although the three major labels have done deals with YouTube, albeit on unknown terms. The threat of removing material…

Madonna faces lawsuit over Hard Candy fitness business
Artists , Trade Mark / July 2014

TRADE MARK Artistes   Madonna and her business partners in the Hard Candy fitness business have reportedly been sued by the Hard Candy cosmetics firm, the latter accusing the former of trademark infringement and unfair competition. Madonna, her manager Guy Oseary and gym entrepreneur Mark Mastrov launched their Hard Candy company in 2010, naming it after Madonna’s 2008 album of the same name. At the core of the operation are health clubs in Berlin, Mexico City, Moscow, Rome, Santiago, St Petersburg, Sydney and Toronto. According to, the Hard Candy cosmetics company, which formed in 1995, has filed a suit which says Defendants’ actions have caused and will cause Hard Candy, LLC irreparable harm for which money damages and other legal remedies are inadequate,” and the federal court papers state “Unless Defendants are restrained by this Court, Defendants will continue and/or expand the improper activities alleged in this Complaint and otherwise continue to cause great and irreparable harm and injury to Hard Candy, LLC.” The trademark infringement litigation has been filed in a Florida court seeking injunctive relief and damages.

Engelbert Humperdinck sued over cancelled show
Contract , Live Events / July 2014

CONTRACT Live events industry   The Palace Theatre in Albany, New York State, is suing crooner Engelbert Humperdinck over a concert he cancelled at the last minute back in 2011. The Palace claims that it paid the agents of the singer a $20,000 advance for the show, but that his agents refused to return the money when they cancelled the concert with one day’s notice, saying that their client intended to reschedule the performance. But, the venue says, it informed Humperdinck’s people that they didn’t want a rescheduled show. The Daily Gazette reports that the lawsuit says: “On or about 28 Jun, 2011, or 29 Jun 2011, the day before or the day of the concert, defendant Mr Humperdinck abruptly and without prior warning, cancelled the agreed-upon 29 Jun, 2011, performance, despite the fact that his band was already in place, and despite the fact that plaintiff had performed all of its duties and obligations pursuant to the agreement”. The venue is now seeking over $70,000 in compensation, which includes the deposit, advertising and other product costs spent before the show was pulled, and lost ticket sales. Humperdinck’s people are yet to respond to the litigation.

Beastie Boys win $1.7 million in Monster dispute
Artists , Copyright , Trade Mark / July 2014

COPYRIGHT / TRADE MARK Artists   The Beastie Boys have prevailed in their legal battle with the Monster Energy drinks firm, and while the $1.7 million in damages rewarded by the jury hearing the Case: whlist less than the figure the band had argued for, it is substantially more than the $125,000 the drinks maker argued was a fair settlement figure. Monster had used a montage of Beastie Boys tracks in a promotional video relating to a snowboarding event the brand sponsored, which was posted shortly after the passing of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who had included a clause in his will prohibiting his name, image or music being used in advertising or marketing materials. Monster conceded that it had used the music without permission, but said that it had done so by mistake, after one of its marketeers mistakenly inferred from Z-Trip, the DJ the company had worked with on the party in the promotional video, that the music had been cleared. Given it had infringed by mistake, and it had removed the video as soon as the Beastie Boys made a complaint, and the promo hadn’t been so widely seen by that point, the drinks company argued that…

Marley dispute ends with no change

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music publishing   High Court of Justice in London has ruled that Blue Mountain Music, and not Marley’ original publisher Cayman Music (CMI), is the owner of the copyrights in a number of Marley’s songs. CMI were Marley’s original publisher but it is commonly believed that Marley claimed various friends wrote a number of his songs to avoid the contract terms with CMI which would have automatically transferred the copyrights in his work to the publisher – for ‘No Woman, No Cry’ the credit went to Vincent Ford. CMI had previously said ““It is now common ground between the disputing parties that the songs – including ‘No Woman, No Cry’ – were actually written by Bob Marley but that the music publisher’s share was never credited to Cayman Music, who have now been denied their contracted entitlement for more than 40 years”. CMI claimed these songs were not included when it sold some of its rights in 1992 to Blue Mountain Music, as Marley, who died in 1981, had penned them under other people’s names. However the judge agreed the copyright had “passed” under the 1992 agreement. In his ruling on the case, Deputy High Court Judge…

Paul Weller’s wife calls for new privacy laws
Artists , Privacy / July 2014

PRIVACY Artistes   Hannah Weller, wife of Paul Weller and mother of three of his children has called for a change in the law to make it a criminal offence for newspapers to publish photos of children without the consent of their parents. The Wellers had successfully sued MailOnline after it published photos taken in California showing the one-time Jam and Style Council frontman shopping with three of his children and his wife. The singer said the photos were “plainly voyeuristic” and a “blatant impediment to the natural social progress of children”, and were taken despite him specifically asking the photographer to leave them alone. The Mail argued that the paparazzi in question did not violate any Californian laws, the photos were harmless, adding that Weller had discussed his family in interviews, his wife had tweeted photos of their twin sons, and his teenage daughter had modelled with Vogue. The High Court ruled that the MailOnline was part of a UK based media group Associated Newspapers, was governed by European privacy law regardless of where the photos were taken, and that the website had breached those laws by publishing the snaps. Weller was awarded £10,000 in damages. Hannah Weller has…

As venues face increasing complains from new neighbours – MVT calls for an urgent review of noise laws

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector   The Music Venue Trust has launched a petition calling on the UK’s Secretary Of State for the Environment Owen Paterson to “carry out an urgent review of noise abatement legislation”, after concerns that long-standing gig venues could face closure because of a small number of noise complaints. The move comes as two venues, Night & Day in Manchester and The Blind Tiger in Brighton (right) have recently run into problems after their respective local councils received complaints from local residents about noise. In both cases it has been alleged that the complaints have come from people who have relatively recently moved into properties near the venues. And then complain. The current laws prompted a lengthy spat between the Ministry of Sound and developers Oakmayne who now have permission to build 335 apartments and 65 affordable homes on the Eileen House site in Newington Causeway near the Ministry of Sound. The nightclub in Elephant and Castle had protested against the building as they feared noise complaints could force the venue to closure and after intervention of Mayor Boris Johnson the developer agreed to alter the block to protect residents from loud music.

New UK guidelines for secondary ticketing websites
Live Events / July 2014

CONSUMER Live events sector   In the wake of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse recent review of the secondary ticketing market, and the APPG’s plans to table amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment and Consumer Affairs Jenny Willott MP has issued a guidance for the secondary ticketing market, making it clear that sellers would be required to seat numbers and in some cases the face value if tickets being re-sold.  The APPG’s report did not seek an outright ban in ticket reselling but seeks safeguards to ensure resale platforms are not used by ticket fraudsters, and to ensure that sites are more transparent so vendors can be identified. In a separate matter, nine people have been arrested in Merseyside in connection with an online ticketing fraud that cost victims an estimated £116,000. The arrests, in Merseyside, were connected to concerts by the Arctic Monkeys, Beyonce, Arcade Fire and the Reading Festival. City of London ;police commander Stephen Head put estimates of online ticket fraud in 2013  at £3.7 million with over 4,000 victims. Police are currently investigating possible fraud at the Drake concert at the O2 and Beyonce’s at Manchester’s…

Tokyo’s late night dancing ban is in focus as the 2020 Olympics loom large
Licensing , Live Events / July 2014

LICENSING Live events sector   Tengri News reports that Tokyo’s status as one of the world’s clubbing capitals looks set to survive a potentially ruinous police crackdown on — of all things – dancing – with clubbers at risk of being arrested for failing to obey “No Dancing” signs at venues – which are in place because of an “an antiquated law prohibiting dancing after midnight” which is “zealously enforced by police in recent years; After decades of turning a blind eye to the clubs, a police crackdown began following the 2010 death of a 22-year-old student after a fight in an Osaka club. Hit by a wave of raids, most of the city’s venues were shut down for licensing violations, pulling the plug on Osaka’s thriving dance scene. Other cities followed. Big-name DJ Takkyu Ishino had a set broken up in Fukuoka when police crashed in and shut down the party in 2012. But with the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, Japanese lawmakers have decided the time has come to change the rules. A government committee last month agreed the Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Business, introduced in 1948 to curb prostitution at dance halls, needed overhauling….

Claudette Robison opposes Smokey’s motion
Artists , Copyright / July 2014

COPYRIGHT / FAMILY Artistes   The dispute between R&B singer Smokey Robinson and his ex-wife Claudette over the copyright to some of the singer-songwriters hits which include “My Girl” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” has moved on. After last month’s report (from Patrick Gould) that Smokey hoped to exercise his termination rights under federal copyright law to reclaim ownership over the song  and Claudette’s claim that because the songs were written during their marriage, they are community property under California state law – and she is accordingly entitled to fifty per cent of the royalties under a 1989 divorce settlement – Smokey sued Claudette in federal court seeking declaratory judgment that he may exercise his termination rights and that Claudette cannot claim any interest under California law. Smokey’s argument is that Federal law provides that Smokey  – alone – would recapture all rights in the copyright notwithstanding any agreements to the contrary” with his motion noting “On the other hand, Defendant asserts that under California community property and contract law, she is entitled to an undivided one-half interest in any recaptured copyrights Plaintiff may acquire in the future even though the marriage between Plaintiff and Defendant ended…