Were YouTube within their rights to pull Rasta Rock Opera video?
Contract , Internet / March 2015

CONTRACT Internet   After Rasta Rock Opera’s video “Luv ya Luv ya Luv ya” garnered more than 23,000 views in roughly two months on YouTube, the  video was pulled by YouTube, who deemed that the relative success of the unknown band must be due to the use of ‘bots’ to artificially inflate viewings. This has prompted a lawsuit from the band who claim that the action of removing the video – leaving viewers landing on a page showing a frowning face and the words: “This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service. Sorry about that” – caused many potential fans and sponsors to jump to negative conclusions. Rasta Rock Opera says it suffered damages when its original video was removed. After YouTube removed the video April 18th, Rasta Rock Opera complained to YouTube and four days later, YouTube reposted the music video under a new link that did not have the view counts or comments from the original posting. But Rasta Rock Opera says the link to the message regarding prohibited content was not removed until August, hurting its reputation. The band also say this prompted Nike to cancel an opportunity to have Rasta Rock…

Turk sues Cash Money for unpaid royalties
Contract , Music Publishing / March 2015

CONTRACT Music publishing   Tab Virgil Jr. also known as “Turk,” is suing Miami based Cash Money Records claiming he’s owed $1.3 million for songs he wrote for Hot Boy$, a group that included rappers Lil Wayne, B.G. and Juvenile. Turk says he has not been paid any artist (recording) or music publishing royalties for the songs he had written, and that no accounting of royalties has ever been rendered by Cash Money. The claim also alleges that even though he has written songs for since1998 under an exclusive agreement, he has not received promised artist – either as a recording artist or as a songwriter – and that Cash Money has also failed to copyright any of his music, as required under the agreement. It seems Cash Money Records has been on the receiving end of similar claims in the past: Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit in Manhattan to end his contract with rapper Birdman and Cash Money Records for allegedly withholding millions of dollars in song royalties. http://www.entlawdigest.com/2015/02/09/3657.htm

Lewis County Adopts Revised Code on Music Festivals
Licensing , Live Events / March 2015

LICENSING Live events sector   Lewis County Commissioners have  approved a revised County Code regarding music festivals that in effect makes a law that was previously updated in 1998 up to date, especially after officials said a planned rave in 2014 in West Lewis County skirted the permitting process and nearly 19,000 people were invited to the event. Lewis County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 census, the population was 75,455. The county seat is Chehalis, and its largest city is Centralia. The changes to the Code included bringing the minimum number of people expected to attend the festival down from 500 to 200, and requiring the landowner or the occupant of the property on which the festival is to be held to consent to possible searches of the property during the event. David Fine, the deputy civil prosecuting attorney for the county, said the code addresses “inadequate provisions” for attendees and some residents. Those issues include ensuring roads remain open for emergency vehicles and local traffic, adequate sanitation and insurance requirements. Officials had expressed concern about several of those issues when they learned about the Epic III rave coming to West Lewis County…

Peppa Pig cracker roasted by global media giant
Trade Mark / March 2015

TRADE MARK Television, sound recordings   Joshua Lima – aged 10 – and his brother Noah (8), who perform as ‘Magician’s Nephew’, have reportedly received a legal letter from Peppa Pig’s owners Entertainment One saying their song Peppa Pig, which describes how the St Albans’s based boys and their band have fallen out of love with the global children’s brand, needed to be taken off iTunes. Why? Well, because the artwork they used infringes Trade Marks associated with Peppa Pig – and possibly copyrights too in artwork,. The song itself is not the issue (although undoubtedly very annoying for the owners of a brand which brings in £600 million a year). The songs itself looks pretty damn original and it begins with “My friends have lost their faith, they will scream it in your face, In the playground of our school, Peppa Pig is no longer cool!” and ends with “I know this must be hard, and I mean no disregard, Let’s go our separate ways, me and you were just a phase“. But the boys have been told to remove a recording from iTunes because they used a picture of the animated pig in their video for the song…

Bombay blues for Indian songwriter
Artists , Censorship / March 2015

CENSORSHIP Artistes, sound recordings   An Indian songwriter who used ‘Bombay’ to rhyme with ‘today’ has seen his song censored when it was used in a television show – with the pre 1995 name for Mumbai removed. Censors stood by their decision to bleep out ‘Bombay’ in Mihir Joshi’s song Sorry about the gang rape of a girl on a Delhi bus, saying using the old name provoked ‘unnecessary controversy’.  The renaming of cities in India started in 1947, following the end of the British imperial period in India, and continues today.  In 1995 the Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena won elections in the state of Maharashtra and presided over a coalition that took control of the state assembly. After the election, the party announced that the port city had been renamed after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, the city’s patron deity. Federal agencies, local businesses, and newspapers were ordered to adopt the change. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaming_of_cities_in_India

Police stick with ‘ban on ‘obscene’ music at the Newcomers Parade
Censorship , Live Events / March 2015

CENSORSHIP Live events sector   In the U.S., local Police Chief Calder Hebert has confirmed to reporters that the St. Martinville Police Department will continue with its policy of keeping the Newcomer’s Parade as “family-friendly” as possible by removing any parade float playing “obscene” music, Hebert’s comments come just a few days after receiving a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana stating SMPD attempts to remove floats due to playing ‘obscene’ music would be considered unconstitutional and the letter, addressed to Hebert and SMPD, states the police department does not have the right to enforce an obscene music ban during the parade. The letter said: “First, we recognize that the Newcomer’s Club is a private organization with the right to set rules for participation in its parade. Our concern is not whether or how a private club may regulate participation in its event, but rather how police will enforce those rules,” the letter stated. The three-page letter, written by ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman, also cited an article published by The Teche News stating that city officials had singled out “rap” music in a January 20th St. Martinville City Council meeting. Esman said singling out…

Evoking Audrey Hepburn’s image in an ad is not OK, says Italian court
Artists , Image Rights / March 2015

IMAGE RIGHTS Artists   The IP Kat has noticed a recent trend in advertising, ie the use of the image of icons of the past and Eleonora Roasti has blogged on this.   Perhaps it was Dior and Chanel to start this trend a few years ago by using the image of a young Alain Delon as the face (and body) of Eau Sauvage   [and Marylin Monroe as that of Chanel No. 5, respectively. However these days it seems that everybody is doing it. The question thus becomes: do you need permission to use the image of a celebrity? In those countries which recognise image rights  [not the case of the UK, as the Court of Appeal of England and Wales recently  confirmed in the Rihanna case ] , Italy being one of them   [see Article 10 of the Italian Civil Code] ,  the answer seems pretty straightforward: yes, you do need permission. But what happens when you do not use the image of a celebrity, but rather elements that merely evoke him/her  [see here for an interesting Israeli case] ? The Court of First Instance of Milan recently dealt with these issues in an intriguing case concerning unauthorised use of…

Appeals court upholds ruling on unofficial Bob Marley T-shirts
Trade Mark / March 2015

TRADE MARK Merchandise   The Bob Marley estate has successfully persuaded an appeals court in the US to uphold a ruling in their favour over unofficial t-shirts that featured the late reggae star. The Marley Estate, and their merchandising company Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, first sued clothing makers AVELA over unofficial Bob Marley t-shirts it was selling in Walmart and Target back in 2008, winning the case three years later. AVELA was ordered to pay the Marley estate $750,000 in profits generated by the t-shirts, as well as $300,000 in damages and $1.5 million to cover legal costs. The clothing firm appealed. The case was based on the false endorsement elements of American trademark law. Although not as narrowly defined as passing off, those US laws are much narrower than publicity rights. According to The Hollywood Reporter, one of the appeal judges hearing the case noted that: “This case presents a question that is familiar in our circuit. When does the use of a celebrity’s likeness or persona in connection with a product constitute false endorsement that is actionable under the Lanham Act?” Consumer confusion need to be proven and lawyers for the Marley estate presented a survey in which…

Just who did write YMCA?
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   In May 2012, original Village People singer-songwriter Victor Willis won a case before a California federal judge allowing him terminate the licence of his share of the group’s songs – he could regain ownership of his own copyrights. As a result, the royalty payments that Willis received from music publishers were due to increase from a 12-20 percent rate. But exactly how much did he get? Whilst Willis contends he co-authored the songs with just Jacques Morali and therefore is entitled to a 50 percent share but Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions, the publishers, point to copyright registrations indicating a third author, Henri Belolo. It’s their contention that the songs were originally French and then adapted by Willis, who in turn says Belolo didn’t have much to do with the songs in question. The music publishers only believe Willis is entitled to a 33 percent share. Among the witnesses scheduled to testify on behalf of Willis is his ex-wife Phylicia Rashad, who is famous for playing Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show. She is expected to say that she witnessed Willis writing many of the songs at their home and they were never adapted from…

Lots of talk on copyright revision in the air post Grammys
Copyright / March 2015

COPYRIGHT All areas   The U.S. Copyright Office has released a comprehensive study, “Copyright and the Music Marketplace,” detailing the ageing music licensing framework as well as the ever-evolving needs of those who create and invest in music in the twenty-first century. In addition to providing an exhaustive review of the existing system, the report makes a number of recommendations that would bring both clarity and relief to songwriters, artists, publishers, record labels, and digital delivery services. “Few would dispute that music is culturally essential and economically important to the world we live in,” said Maria A. Pallante, Register of Copyrights, “but the reality is that both music creators and the innovators who support them are increasingly doing business in legal quicksand. As this report makes clear, this state of affairs neither furthers the copyright law nor befits a nation as creative as the United States.” There is broad consensus across the music industry on a number of key points: (1) creators should be fairly compensated; (2) the licensing process should be more efficient; (3) market participants should have access to authoritative data to identify and license sound recordings and musical works; and (4) payment and usage information should be…

Pre 1972 Sirius claim heads for appellate court
Copyright / March 2015

COPYRIGHT Sound recordings, broadcasting   A New York federal judge has agreed to certify an interlocutory appeal by SiriusXM against the ruling that gave state copyright law protection to pre-1972 sound recordings.  As a result, the 2nd Circuit will now address the legal issue that copyrights in pre-1972 sound recordings didn’t cover the right to exclusive public performance – a position successfully challenged by Turtle’s musicians Flo & Eddie of The Turtles who filed filed separate 2013 lawsuits in California, Florida and New York.   http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/judge-allows-siriusxm-appeal-big-772212

Jersey Boys decision reversed on appeal
Copyright / March 2015

COPYRIGHT Theatre, film, book publishing   The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a decision in a copyright lawsuit against two members of the Four Seasons and the developers of the group’s Tony Award winning biographical musical “Jersey Boys.” Donna Corbello sued Frankie Valli and fellow “Four Seasons” band member Robert Gaudio in 2011 for copyright infringement, claiming the musical was based in part on an unpublished autobiography of Four Seasons band member Thomas DeVito that her late husband Rex Woodard ghost-wrote. Although initially registered in DeVito’s sole name, Corbello amended the US copyright registration so Woodard and Devito were co-owners. She said she deserved to share in the profits from the musical’s success.  The appellate court said there was contradictory evidence about whether Valli and Gaudio executed an agreement with DeVito to produce the play in time to avoid termination of their ownership rights but that “a co-owner of a copyright must account to other co-owners for any profits he earns from licensing or use of the copyright.” The case will now be sent back to Nevada federal court to determine if the musical infringes the autobiography, and Corbello is entitled to royalties from  the theatre show…

Is Nomm’s U.S. visit a blow for Dotcom?
Copyright , Internet / March 2015

COPYRIGHT Internet   Andrus Nomm, a 36 year old Estonian who lives in the Netherlands, and one of a small group of ex MegaUpload staffers who are facing extradition to the US for involvement in the running of the controversial file-transfer company, has pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement charges and has been sentenced to a year and a day in a U.S. prison. Nomm pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to conspiracy to commit felony copyright infringement. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the guilty plea and imposed the sentence. Nomm is the first defendant to face charges in the U.S. in the Department of Justice’s long-running copyright infringement case against Megaupload, and Nomm voluntarily waived his right to fight extradition. The plea is “a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in U.S. history,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement.  Speculation remains that he had done a deal with prosecutors, and will agree to testify against his former colleagues, including Kim Dotcom. Prosecutors agreed to a light sentence for his guilty plea, the DOJ said in a press release.The DOJ has accused the operators of Megaupload of running…

Blurred Lines updates
Copyright , Music Publishing / March 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   This first update is from Tom Ohta writing on the IPKat Robin Thicke’s hit, Blurred Lines, has caused controversy not only for its lyrics, but also for its musical provenance after Marvin Gaye’s children alleged that Blurred Lines infringed copyright in Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up resulting in a trial before the Californian District Court currently scheduled to start next Tuesday, 17 February. As readers may recall the litigation arose after Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and Clifford Harris, Jr., pre-emptively sought declaratory relief that Blurred Lines did not infringe copyright in Gaye’s Got To Give It Up, following accusations by the Gaye family of unlawful similarities between the two works. The Gaye’s expert musicologist studied the sheet music and sound recordings of the two works and identified eight “ substantially similar” features which “ surpass the realm of generic coincidence”. The Gayes argued that it was improbable that a third-party work would contain all of these features in a “ similar constellation” – and that those similarities in Blurred Lines must therefore be indicative of unlawful copying. In this case, it was not disputed that Robin Thicke had listened to Gaye’s Got To Give…

Secondary ticketing back on the UK legislation agenda
Consumers , Live Events / March 2015

CONSUMER LAW Live events sector     In a policy U-turn, the UK Government is set to regulate ticket touting, with those breaching the new laws face fines of up to £5,000. The onus on stopping mass industrial scale toutng is to be shifted onto venues, however. The move came from the UK Government who had previously rejected attempts to amend legislation. The amendment now stands a much better chance of passing into law. Recently over 80 signatories to a open letter to the Government including the managers of One Direction and Arctic Monkeys, leading booking agents and the Association of Independent Festivals called on the Government to take action against ticket abuse and mass touting.  Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood recently criticised the “ever-increasing plague of ‘secondary ticketing’ excess” as a “blight on live music and sports events and much to the detriment of fans”.   Under new legislation, passed by the House of Lords, people re-selling their tickets to music gigs and sports events in the secondary market will be regulated more closely. Sellers will have to provide information on how much the ticket cost, the seat number and any restrictions imposed by the venue. This will expose…

Message’s message calls for more transparency in the digital pie

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, digital distribution, artistes   Radiohead manager and former Chair of the Music Managers Forum Brian Message has used the launch of the Entertainment Retailers Association’s new manifesto to single out the secret deals concluded between content owners – in particular the major record labels and new digital services – for criticism. Pointing out that artistes and their management have the potential to be increasingly closer to the fan he added: “that economic chain isn’t without it’s challenges, as you probably know just as well as us; in fact, many of my colleagues would go as far as to say that it’s pretty well broken and needs fixing. For us, central to this structural failure is the NDA [Non Disclosure Agreement] culture that is now ingrained in the licensing of creator catalogues to retailers and digital services”. “The lack of transparency and the very real erosion of trust felt by many creators and managers in how the economic value chain now operates is an issue that the MMF and ERA needs to focus on together so we can add real value to our members”. He added “Since taking on my new role within MMF and having…