Universal exec pleads guilty to £650,000 fraud
Criminal Law , Record Labels / October 2014

CRIMINAL Recorded music   A former Universal Music executive has admitted in court to stealing almost £650,000 from the major music company. Duncan Schwier, who worked for the production music division of Universal’s publishing business, admitted to taking £643,697 from his employer. The fraud was only uncovered when Schwier was promoted last year and his successor, John Clifford, discovered a number of invoices that had been paid to non-existent companies. Schwier has enjoyed a long career in the music production business, originally joining Atmosphere Music in 1984. That company was subsequently bought by the original BMG, the publishing side of which was acquired by Universal in 2007. Becoming a General Manager for Universal Publishing Production Music, he had been very involved in the firm’s alliance with the BBC. Pleading guilty to the fraud, Schwier, without legal representation, told Hammersmith Magistrates Court that ill-health had led to him stealing from Universal. According to the Daily Mail, he said: “The background for this is a series of cancers for which I have medical reports”. Prosecutor Caroline Mungal said: “The Crown invite the court to commit this matter for sentence. You can see the value of the monies involved, in excess of £600,000. The…

Miley Cyrus fights ‘lewdness’ ban
Censorship , Licensing , Live Events / October 2014

LICENSING / CENSORSHIP Live events sector   Miley Cyrus has reportedly filed a legal challenge against her concert ban in the Dominican Republic. The star was set to perform a show in Santo Domingo on September 13th as part of her Bangerz Tour, but the Caribbean country’s national entertainment and radio commission (CNEPR) didn’t authorise the concert, citing lewdness as the reason why the show was cancelled. According to E! News, Miley has answered the cancellation by filing papers in a Dominican court claiming the council’s ban on artistic expression goes against the nation’s constitution. “Miley wants to defend artistic expression for all artists,” an insider explained to the outlet of the singer’s alleged decision to put forth a formal legal challenge. Local Dominican outlet Hoy previously reported a poll taken showed that 64% of voters agreed with the CNEPR’s decision to ban Miley’s show, but the rest opposed, arguing the ban violates freedom of expression. In a statement released last month, the CNEPR stated Miley ‘undertakes acts that go against morals and customs, which are punishable by Dominican law’ in her concerts. According to Hollywood.com, the official letter went on to state the Wrecking Ball songstress wears inappropriate costumes…

Sony/ATV and EMI launch new pan European licensing scheme
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2014

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   Sony/ATV, EMI Music, PRS and GEMA are set to build on the success of CELAS and PAECOL by launching SOLAR to administer pan European digital licensing for Sony/ATV and EMI music and compositions, replacing the previous set-ups. Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier told reporters: “This agreement not only builds on our already successful relationships with PRS For Music and GEMA, but makes the licensing process in Europe more straight-forward as services will now have only one place to go for both Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing repertoire. It is also great news for our songwriters as we look to continue to facilitate licensing in this rapidly-evolving and expanding sector”.   http://www.prsformusic.com/aboutus/press/latestpressreleases/Pages/sony-atv-prs-for-music-gema-launch-joint-venture.aspx

Deadmau5 v Disney – the Mousequitears Dual On
Artists , Copyright , Internet , Trade Mark / October 2014

TRADE MARK / COPYRIGHT Artistes, broadcasting, internet   Disney is going after Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) and his logo, opposing a trademark application he submitted in the US last year. The company made a move to block Zimmerman from trademarking his familiar Mau5 head in the U.S., claiming the image is too similar to its iconic mascot Mickey Mouse, who first appeared in the 1928 animated short Steamboat Willie. In a statement earlier this week, the producer’s lawyer Dina LaPolt pointed out that Deadmau5 has been using his logo, based on his on-stage headgear, for almost a decade and that he’s already managed to secure the trademark in 30 other countries, and she added that her client “will not be bullied by Disney and is prepared to fight to protect his rights to his property”. Zimmerman himself said ““Disney thinks you might confuse an established electronic musician/performer with a cartoon mouse. That’s how stupid they think you are” and Deadmau5 tweeted “Lawyer up, Mickey,” to his three million followers. But in a twist to this tale, Zimmerman found another way to fight back: he and his lawyer discovered that between 2009 and 2012, the Disney Channel ran a series called ‘Have…

Jay-Z sampling battle to test precedents
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2014

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, sound recordings   In the appellate court ruling for the 6th Circuit in Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films  Judge Ralph Guy provided the much quoted principle “Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way.” When ruling that the use of a “a two-second sample from the guitar solo was copied” where “the pitch was lowered, and the copied piece was “looped” and extended to 16 beats” was not  de minimis and was infringing as it was used without permission, Judge Guy said “Even when a small part of a sound recording is sampled, the part taken is something of value.”  Pretty clear eh? That case was settled so no final appeal to the Supreme Court took place, but that may now change says TechDirt.  TufAmerica has sued Jay Z, Roc-A-Fella and Atlantic Records for the use of a “tiny sample” of the song “Hook & Sling” by Eddie Bo on Jay Z’s “Run This Town” with TechDirt saying “TufAmerica has been reprising the role of Bridgeport lately, suing lots of artists over samples, including the Beastie Boys (the day before Adam Yauch passed away). Meanwhile, Jay Z, in the past, has…

DIY Grooveshark cannot claim DMCA ‘safe habor’
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / October 2014

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels   A federal judge in New York has ruled that Grooveshark, the controversial online music service, has infringed on thousands of their copyrights. Grooveshark came under fierce attack from the recording industry for hosting music files without permission. Grooveshark (Escape Media Group) streams music uploaded by its users and Grooveshark’s defence has long been that it is legal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the federal law that protects websites that host third-party material if they comply with takedown notices from copyright holders. The company relies on advertising for its revenues .Granting summary judgment in a case filed in 2011 by the three major record companies, Judge Thomas P. Griesa of United States District Court in Manhattan ruled that Grooveshark was liable for copyright infringement because its own employees and officers — including Samuel Tarantino, the chief executive, and Joshua Greenberg, the chief technology officer — uploaded a total of 5,977 of the labels’ songs without permission. Those uploads are not subject to the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with the judge saying “Each time Escape streamed one of plaintiffs’ songs recordings, it directly infringed upon plaintiffs’ exclusive performance rights”.  According to Reuters, evidence against the executives included…

1972 and all that – but does the Turtles win against SiriusXM actually settle anything?
Copyright , Music Publishing / October 2014

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, recorded music   A California federal judge has delivered a “legal earthquake” by declaring Flo & Eddie of The Turtles “the victors in a lawsuit against SiriusXM over the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings” by finding that SiriusXM had violated the Turtles’ pre-1972 master copyrights by playing their music without licensing it or paying performance royalties. Flo & Eddie was created in 1971 and is owned and controlled by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, two of the founding members of the Turtles, who were most popular for their 1967 hit single “Happy Together.” The lawsuit was filed in August last year, seeking royalties from the satellite broadcaster. Billboard reports that the plaintiffs are seeking $100 million in damages, but says “the money is hardly the only consequence of a ruling on Monday that could eventually disrupt the operations of the satellite radio giant as well as other services like Pandora.” The band members launched the case in August 2013. But its not been plain sailing for pre-1972 copyright owners – nor is the whole issue exactly clear. In August this year, U.S. Federal Court Judge Mary Strobel indicated that she was leaning towards rejecting a motion by…

A Nightingale sues
Artists , Contract , Live Events / October 2014

CONTRACT Artistes, live sector   London booking agency EC1 has reportedly issued legal proceedings against Lily Allen for allegedly breaching a 2012 agreement that would have seen the company and its director Alex Nightingale act as booking agents for the singer’s 2013 and 2014 touring activity. According to the Mail On Sunday, Nightingale claims that Allen broke her contractual commitments when she switched allegiances to rival booking agency CAA, it seems because she’d been told the bigger agency could secure her “higher gross fees” from promoters. EC1 had already begun work on Allen’s proposed tour when it was told she was moving to CAA. The company is now suing for £100,000. Mr Nightingale argues he is entitled to compensation for the ‘very large amount’ of work carried out, adding there was no break clause in their agreement. A spokesman for Allen has denied the allegations made against her, saying that the singer’s lawyers “will be defending the matter vigorously”.   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2746302/Tour-boss-sues-Lily-Allen-100-000-breaking-contract-American-company-run-comeback-tours.html

Ellington Estate takes on EMI Music
General / October 2014

CONTRACT Music publishing   The estate of Duke Ellington is hoping to resurrect a royalties lawsuit against EMI Music Publishing, (now controlled by Sony/ATV)  after a lower courts sided with the music company in the legal dispute. The lawsuit, being led by Ellington’s grandson, first emerged in 2010, and centres on royalties – and the artificial reduction in artiste royalties as money is moved between a big music firm’s global subsidiaries and the division to which the creator is directly signed to. It is common practice for each subsidiary to take a commission, with the artist getting their percentage cut only of the monies that reach their home division – here with EMI treats its businesses in other countries as if they were third-party sub-publishers, with Ellington’s estate arguing in reality that they are, in fact, different offices of the same company. And more importantly, Team Ellington alleged that this directly breached the jazz great’s 1961 contract with Mills Music, which was subsequently acquired by the EMI publishing firm. The court which first heard the case concluded that while the 1961 contract did specifically ban the publisher from allowing its subsidiaries to take additional cuts of any royalties, that only…

Trindl takes on former bandmates in EDM mash up
Artists , Contract / October 2014

CONTRACT Artists   Kris Trindl, a founding member of EDM stars Krewella is suing sisters Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf for at least $5 million for kicking him out of the group and for allegedly violating an oath that dates back to the time when the three had “6-8-10” tattooed onto their bodies. The suit alleges that having quit alcohol after rehab, the Yousaf sisters (one of whom was a previous girlfriend) didn’t like the fact that Trindl wouldn’t party, mistook his condition for depression and began scheming to deny him membership in the group and subsequently removed his image from publicity shots and effectively ‘sacked’ Trindl by asking to get treatment for his “depression” for 60 days, meaning the Yousaf sisters could continue as a duo. The three met as students at Glenbrook North High School and it seems Kris’ career was already beginning to take off in the Chicago music scene, and on June 8th, 2010, the three are said to have marked “a vow to put aside any other career plans outside of music and commit to Krewella” with tattoos of the date. The three then moved into a loft together in Chicago and came up with an idea to mix heavy-metal…

ARTICLE LINK: 10 tips on the Live Music Act
Licensing , Live Events / October 2014

LICENSING Live events sector   Never has the UK’s law relating to live and recorded music been so complex. Here is a brief guide to the main issues licensees often ask. http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/General-News/Poppelston-Allen-Understanding-recorded-and-live-music-law

Agent of change principle gathers momentum
Licensing , Live Events / October 2014

LICENSING Live events sector   The now much debated ‘agent of change’ principle, designed to protect live music venues, bars and clubs in the face of the increasing numbers of residential properties being built close to venues has prompted the Musicians’ Union to call for new law to protect venues from noise complaints New regulations should be introduced to protect live music venues from possible closure following noise complaints, the Musicians’ Union has said. A similar law was recently introduced in the state of Victoria in Australia.  At the Trades Union Congress conference the MU proposed a motion, which was passed, demanding the introduction of new regulations that would help put a stop to the “worrying trend of long-established music venues being forced to close after only one or two complaints from neighbours”. John Smith, MU general secretary, said: “Venues must, of course, stick to the terms of their licence and residents must be able to complain if they do not comply or are causing a genuine nuisance. But equally, flats which are built above, adjacent or nearby to an existing music venue should not take precedent over an established institution. “The onus should be on the agent of change,…

Lieberberg prevails in Rock am Ring name dispute
Live Events , Trade Mark / October 2014

TRADE MARK Live events sector   Markek Lieberberg’s MLK has prevailed in his battle with Capricorn Automotive, new owners of the Nürburgring, home of the Rock am Ring festival site since 1985,  overturning the decision of the Koblenz District Court (Landgericht Koblenz) which had said that neither MLK or Capricorn had the right to use the name ‘Rock Am Ring’ without the permission of the other. The appellate court agreed with MLK that MLK and MLK alone owned the name. Ahead of the court hearings, Lieberberg told Der Spiegel that “Rock am Ring is a vision that I had 30 years ago. It’s an idea that I realized – at the Nürburgring and without help from third parties. We invented a brand. We’ve achieved cult status for it. And the brand will remain. It’s not at all tied to the Nürburgring itself.”  Having seen two  new affidavits of the ex – managing director of the Nürburgring GmbH , Friedhelm Demandt , and the concert organizer Matthias Hoffmann  (supported by a statement from music promoter Marcel Avram)  the court (Oberlandesgericht Koblenz ) agreed. The Festival has now relocated to Monchengladbach. Capricorn has left a further appeal a possibility,  with a spokesperson…

Keep the Faith, kill the trade mark application: you can’t monopolise Northern Soul 
Live Events , Trade Mark / October 2014

TRADE MARK Live events sector, fashion   From the IPKat   “Northern Soul” is not everyone’s favourite type of music. Indeed, many ardent music fans may not have experienced its delight at all. There is however a dedicated following for it, consisting of people who express their loyalty by purchasing memorabilia and buying handbags, or so it seems. Here’s a guest post from Katfriend Shalini Bengani to explain all about it: Retro Bag Shop’s application; opposition by Brian Poulton (Case 0/358/14) was decided last month by Hearing Officer Oliver Morris in the UK Intellectual Property Office. It sheds some fascinating light on Northern Soul music, about which more can be learnt through this BBC2 Culture show documentary link as well as the Northern Soul fans’ Facebook page. This case plays out between the Retro Bag Shop and Mr Brian Poulton (part owner of Indie Apparel Limited which trades on eBay as Atom Retro) regarding an application to register a figurative trade mark with the text NORTHERN SOUL KEEP THE FAITH (depicted here), filed on 27 December 2012 for Class 18 goods: imitations of leather, travelling bags, handbags, rucksacks, purses, wallets; flight and shoulder bags. Poulton’s opposition is based on absolute grounds of refusal under…

Iggy Azalea tries trade mark tactic to head of porn tape
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2014

TRADE MARK Artistes   Singer Iggy Azalea’s lawyers have fired off a legal warning to Vivid Entertainment over use of the singer’s name in connection with sex tape which allegedly features Azalea and rapper Hefe Wine – who says the tape does feature the couple. The letter says Vivid are unable to use the name “Iggy” in marketing. According to TMZ, the legal letter warns Vivid that the name “Iggy” is protected by US. Iggy’s lawyers claim that the tape isn’t of her, but that if a tape does exist it was filmed without her knowledge or consent and that she may have been under eighteen but Wine says Iggy was both of legal age and aware of the tape. The pair met when Azalea was 17. Sources close to Iggy say that she feels “betrayed” by Hefe. Azalea has launched separate legal proceedings against the former boyfriend, who, it seems, also released an EP of her early recordings this summer.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pair worked on music together, as well as beginning a relationship. At some point during this time, her lawsuit alleges, “Williams downloaded the entire contents of Azalea’s personal computer”. Last month, early Azalea tracks…

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain loses trade mark battle
Artists , Trade Mark / October 2014

TRADE MARK Artists   The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (UOGB) has lost round one of a trademark infringement battle against a rival band over the UOGB name, having argued that its reputation could be tarnished by the German-based United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra (UKUO). The UOGB had sought an injunction against the rival group ahead of the UKUO’s upcoming UK tour but Judge Richard Hacon in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ruled in favour of the UKUO, saying it was not in competition and that, as the group had been performing in Germany for some years, the UOGB should have acted sooner. Issuing an injunction would have forced the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra to cancel an already booked tour, costing them tens of thousands of pounds. Both orchestras perform their take on contemporary pop songs. The UOGB, whose members dress like a traditional orchestra and sing and tell jokes on stage, have been performing for more than 25 years, released records and have appeared on television. Despite the refusal to grant the injunction, a full trial should follow late 2014 or early 2015. The UOGB (a partnership consisting of George Hinchliffe and Marian Lux) have a Community Trade Mark registered…