Sound recording copyright term extends to 70 years in Canada
Copyright / July 2015

COPYRIGHT All areas     The sound recording copyright term in Canada is now 70 years, mirroring the term in Europe. Recordings previously had 50 years of copyright protection in Canada, but legislators have now followed the lead of the European Union in extending the term of protection to 70 years from release, despite opposition from various quarters, with some critics arguing that copyright terms are, in the main, already too long and shouldn’t get any longer. Welcoming the development, Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada, said yesterday: “In extending the term of copyright in recorded music, Prime Minister Harper and the government of Canada have demonstrated a real understanding of music’s importance to the Canadian economy. Thank you. We are thrilled to see Canada brought in line with the international standard of 70 years”.

Sirius settles pre-1972 sound recordings claim in USA
Copyright / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting   US satellite broadcaster Sirius XM has reached a settlement with all three major record labels over the long-rumbling pre-1972 copyright dispute in the US, which has been highlighted in the actions brought by Flo & Eddie of the band the Turtles in New York, California and Florida. The recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claim settlement also includes ABKCO – the owner of classic Rolling Stones copyrights – and the claimants (Capitol Records LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings Inc, Warner Music Group and ABKCO) have jointly been awarded $210m as part of a settlement with Sirius. In a statement, Sirius said: “The settlement resolves all past claims as to our use of pre-1972 recordings owned or controlled by the plaintiffs and enables us, without any additional payment, to reproduce, perform and broadcast such recordings in the United States through December 31, 2017. As part of the settlement, we have the right, to be exercised before December 31, 2017, to enter into a license with each plaintiff to reproduce, perform and broadcast its pre-1972 recordings from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022.” That license should ensure that the majors, at least, are compensated for the performances…

SiriusXM prevail in pre-1972 claim in Florida
Copyright / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting     SiriusXM has won a rare victory over its use of pre-1972 recorded music in the satellite radio broadcasters’ ongoing battle with Flo & Eddie, founders of The Turtles. The musicians filed separate lawsuits in California, Florida and New York in 2013, aiming to use state laws to stop SiriusXM using their sound recordings such as “Happy Together” without paying royalties. California and New York judges have both favored the argument that state laws protect the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings in the absence of federal legislation. The Florida judge was last to rule, but has gone the other way: U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles decided to rule in favor of SiriusXM’s summary judgment motion. The judge said he understands why his judicial colleagues in other states ruled differently noting that California and New York are creative centres of culture, and laws have been enacted there to protect artistic rights, and there have been prior cases that have touched upon the present controversy. But Judge Gayle said that “Florida is different” saying “There is no specific Florida legislation covering sound recording property rights, nor is there a bevy of case law interpreting common law copyright related to the arts.” Declining…

When claimants stand up for copyright, defendants can get sent down
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   Phonographic Performance Limited v Fletcher is an extempore ruling by Mr Justice Arnold, sitting in the Chancery Division, England and Wales, last Monday; being extempore it isn’t available on BAILII but it was noted in brief on the subscription-only Lawtel service. It’s one of those rulings that reflects on the sad end which some defendants face when they just keep carrying on infringing, ignoring every cue to stop. In these proceedings Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), a UK music licensing company, applied to commit Fletcher for contempt of court, following his breach of an order prohibiting him from playing sound recordings without a licence at a nightclub. Fletcher himself was the premises licence holder of a night club. Despite PPL’s warning, Fletcher did not take out a licence to play music the rights to which were administered by it.  PPL then applied for judgment in default for copyright infringement, securing an injunction that ordered Fletcher not to play PPL’s songs in public without a licence. At this point Fletcher agreed to pay the outstanding licence fees by monthly instalments — but then he defaulted on payment. Subsequently allowed to make weekly instalments, he paid them late. PPL…

Apple Music v Taylor Swift

COPYRIGHT Online, recorded music, artistes   On Monday 8th June, Apple launched its music streaming service, aptly named – Apple Music – at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (where else) in San Francisco.  Introduced by the rapper Drake and Beats Music co-founder Jimmy Iovine.   Apple Music will roll out in 100 countries at the end of June i.e. next week.  Initially announced, after a three month trial, the service will cost $9.99 a month or $14.99 for a family plan for up to six people.   Apple Music is combination service – first, a streaming on-demand service of millions of songs and videos; secondly a 24-hour radio station called Beats 1 curated by former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe; and thirdly Connect, a music-focused social network, a cross between Facebook and Soundcloud, where artists can connect with their fans by uploading and posting videos, music, photos and comments.   A storm of controversy has raged over the three month free trial.  At first, Apple said that during this period, no artists will be paid for music streamed. At issue is Apple Music’s 90-day free trial, which effectively cuts out any revenue from streams ­during that time period. According to Merlin, the…

Swift accused of hypocrisy by photographer after Apple dispute ends
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Live events sector     Having managed to reverse Apple Music’s ‘no royalties’ policy for the first three month launch period, Taylor Swift has come under fire from freelance photographer Jason Sheldon, who points out that photo waivers for the pop star’s concerts stipulate that a photographer can use their images from the show only once and only within the published report on that performance – meaning that whilst the copyright owner, they can’t sell their images to other editorial outlets, nor can they sell prints of the image in any way – and to add insult to injury – they have to sign over ‘publicity’ and non commercial right on a royalty free basis to Swift. For the life of copyright. “You say in your letter to Apple that ‘Three months is a long time to go unpaid,’” Sheldon writes. “But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity…”   And another complaint here, this one signed by another photographer Matthew Parri Thomas after Swift’s Hyde Park show…

Apple reverse ‘no royalty’ launch policy after Swift pulls out

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music    Apple Music has reversed its (non) payment policy, a day after the singer Taylor Swift said she was refusing to allow the company to stream her album 1989 because the computer and music giant were offering no royalties in a three month launch period free trial period for subscribers. Indepdent record labels and their trade bodies including AIM (UK), A2IM (US), UFPI (France) and VUT (Germany) had already voiced their critcims. Now Apple says it will pay artists for music streamed during trial periods. “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple,” tweeted executive Eddy @Cue. Swift had said the plan was “unfair”, arguing Apple had the money to cover the cost and AIM CEO Alison Wenham had written to AIM members to encourage them to “make their own decision” about Apple Music – but criticised the new streaming service for essentially “asking the independent music sector to hedge its risk, to fund their customer acquisition programme and to shoulder the financial burden for their global launch.” And see Eamonn Forde’s article in the Guardian here   George Chin writes   On Monday 8th June, Apple launched its music streaming service, aptly named – Apple Music –…

EU Legal Affairs Committee moves copyright reform one step closer
Copyright / July 2015

COPYRIGHT All areas     Following a vote by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, an amended version of its report on the implementation of the EU’s 2001 InfoSoc/Copyright Directive will now go forward for further likely amendment and vote a by the full European Parliament on 9 July 2015. The draft report amongst other things calls for: – An impact assessment in relation to any single European copyright title proposal – looking at issues arising from geo-blocking of access to certain content services within the EU. the draft report contains strong language in favour of protecting the rights of “cultural minorities” living in the EU to access content in their native languages, which they are now often prevented from doing because of geo-blocking practices. – Mandatory adoption of some copyright exceptions and limitations – whilst recognising that some difference may be justified on the grounds of specific cultural and economic interests – Assessment of proposed new exceptions to allow (for example):- Libraries to lend e-books; and text and data mining – An impact study of the Commission’s copyright modernisation initiative on the production, financing and distribution of films and TV content, and on cultural diversity. – The report rejected the…

High Court sides with music industry on copying levy
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing     In London the High Court has ruled against the UK Government in a Judicial Review brought by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the Musicians’ Union (MU) and UK Music.  These three bodies challenged the Government’s decision to introduce a private copying exception into UK copyright law, arguing that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to rightholders.  UK Music’s press release goes on to say “BASCA, MU and UK Music had welcomed a change to UK law which enabled consumers to copy their legally-acquired music for personal and private use. However, ahead of the introduction of the private copying exception, they consistently alerted Government to the fact that in such circumstances significant harm is caused to rightholders and European law requires fair compensation to be paid.  The High Court agreed with the music industry and found that Government’s decision not to provide fair compensation was based on wholly inadequate evidence – and that Government’s decision was therefore unlawful.”  Commenting on the outcome of the case, Jo Dipple, CEO UK Music emphasised the value of the music industry to the British economy and said: “The High Court agreed…

US appeals court revives claim against Bieber and Usher
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing     A federal appeals court has revived a copyright infringement lawsuit against Justin Bieber and Usher, marking the latest in a string of high-profile decisions attempting to clarify the nebulous difference between inspiration and copyright violation in the music industry. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that there is sufficient reason to allow a jury to consider whether “Somebody to Love,” a 2010 chart-topper from Usher and Bieber, bears too much resemblance to an earlier song of the same name recorded by two Virginia musicians, Devin Copeland and Mareio Overton. “After listening to the Copeland song and the Bieber and Usher songs as wholes, we conclude that their choruses are similar enough and also significant enough that a reasonable jury could find the songs intrinsically similar,” Judge Pamela Harris wrote for the court.

BUMA kickback scheme spark angry response from managers
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Live events sector     Dutch collection society BUMA’s recent practice of rewarding the country’s biggest promoters with a kickback for ‘helping’ to collect the levy on live music concerts to reward songwriters and music publishers has come under fire after a number of tour accountants for acts who pen their own material could not reconcile deductions made by promoters against revenues received by their songwriter clients from their own collection societies – even after taking into account usually collection society commissions which are generally accepted. BUMA apparently set up the practice around 1999 after forcing through a rate riise for the use of music to 7% of Box Office net of VAT  – but was offering a 25% kickback of that levy to some promoters and venues in the Netherlands. Two managers, Paul Crockford who manages Mark Knopfler, and Brian Message of ATC who manages Nick Cave & the Bad Seed,  both made arrangements with their artistes’ publishers and UK music collection society PRS for Music to make direct collections from promoters. Message also manages P J Harvey and Radiohead and Crockford also manages Level 42. Whilst many managers are asking for ‘transparency’, the UK’s Music Managers Forum…

BPI launches online portal to help labels and musicians

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, artistes     The BPI has launched its new Copyright Protection Portal at a Midem The portal is intended to help labels, musicians and music businesses see where illegal copies of their music are being made available illegally online and track how BPI is responding. This tool will be available free of charge to all BPI members, PPL’s performers and members of AIM (The Association of Independent Music) who are registered with PPL. The portal will allow users to upload their repertoire into BPI’s bespoke crawlers and to view the ‘pirate activity’ that has been prevented or “disrupted”. It will show how many infringing links have been removed from Google and other search results, how many links have been removed via notice and take down from the source or website hosting them without permission, and which tracks from a label or musician’s repertoire are being pirated the most and on which sites. Commenting at the launch of the Copyright Protection Portal at Midem, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: “BPI is absolutely committed to protecting the creativity, hard work and investment of UK musicians and labels.  We are the leading force removing illegal copies of British music online and…

Kobalt relaunches AMRA as global collection society
Copyright , Music Publishing / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Music publisher Kobalt has launched what it calls the world’s first ‘global, direct, digital mechanical and performing rights society’. The new venture is based on the existing operation of AMRA (American Music Rights Association), which Kobalt acquired last year. What other music publishers make of a publisher owned collection society remains to be seen – but the new service promises two services to clients: (i) licensing of AMRA publisher members’ Anglo-American repertoire to DSPs operating in multiple territories and (ii) collection of writer’s share of public performance monies on behalf of AMRA writer members. AMRA plans to collect from th likes of YouTube and Spotify globally rather than in individual territories and promises to be “the most efficient way to handle the ‘high volume/low transactional value’ of music repertoire in a streaming world.” AMRA says this: “Despite the fact that the major digital music platforms today are all global companies (i.e. Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, etc.), the music industry traditionally collects its revenue at the local and regional levels. This ‘local’ approach creates glaring inefficiencies for all sides: the digital platforms are challenged to clear licenses locally, while the rights holders face an increasingly complex and fragmented collections process, causing…

Musicians Union take ‘agent of change’ principle to government
Licensing , Live Events / July 2015

LICENSING Live events sector     The Musicians’ Union has begun lobbying the UK Parliament and government over the so called ‘agent of change’ principle which is meant to ensure that property developers who wish to build or convert properties into residential addresses next to existing live music venues should have to take legal and financial responsibility to provide whatever sound proofing is necessary to ensure the venue and future residents can co-exist. Recent noise complaints have forced a number of UK venues to close, often brought by people who moved to the area knowing there was a music venue located there. London Mayor Boris Johnson brokered a deal to protect the Ministry of Sound in in South London from a proposed development, but many  grassroots music venues rarely have the time, resources or budget required to battle developers, residents or to pay for costly sound proofing to be put in. The ‘agent of change’ principle already exists in Australia and was recently introduced in San Francisco. In Australia, under the ‘agent of change’ doctrine, residential developers building city centre apartments are obliged by law to soundproof their developments themselves: The Musicians Union’s General Secretary John Smith said: “Music venues…

Mouse wars: Deadmau5 and Disney settle trademark dispute
Trade Mark / July 2015

TRADE MARK All areas   Canadian DJ Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, and Disney have “amicably resolved their dispute” over the producer’s attempt to trademark his mouse head logo in the U.S. Disney lodged its opposition to Zimmerman’s trademark application with concerns over the similarity to its own ‘Micky Mouse’ logo saying it was “nearly identical in appearance, connotation and overall commercial impression to Disney’s Mouse Ears” and would confuse people. The producer and his legal team pointed out that he had been using the logo, based on his on-stage headgear, for almost a decade without issue, had registered Trade Marks in over 30 other countries,  and subsequently launched lawsuit against Disney, after finding Disney had put a clip from one of its TV shows featuring his music on YouTube (the music had been licensed for TV broadcast but not for subsequent online use.  Negotiations have now resulted in an amicable settlement. Exact details have not been revealed yet, but Disney will apparently remove its opposition of the application.

Warners move to settle unpaid internships claim
Employment Law / July 2015

EMPLOYMENT All areas   Warner Music has submitted papers to a federal court in Manhattan proposing a settlement in the class action lawsuit that claimed the US arm of the recorded music major broke employment laws by taking on unpaid or very low paid interns. Two former Warner Music interns sued, with over 3000 former interns being subsequently contacted once the case became a class action against a backdrop of a move against unpaid internships in both the UK and the USA. $4.2 million is set to be paid over, with people who interned at the company without pay as far back as 2007 set to receive some form of payment, likely to be equivalent to what their work would have earned at minimum wage. According to Reuters, the deal is limited to 1,135 claimants. The deal needs court approval to go ahead. Meanwhile the mini-major says: “We continue to stand by our internship programme as an invaluable educational experience for students looking to obtain hands-on, real-world training”.

EU gives all clear for PRS-GEMA-STIM hub

COMPETITION Music publishing   The European Commission has given the all clear for European collecting societies PRS, STIM and GEMA – which represent publishers and songwriters in, respectively, the UK, Sweden and Germany – to form a central hub to license and process royalties from multi-territory digital services. PRS For Music CEO Robert Ashcroft: “This is a very significant day for online music licensing as our new joint venture is uniquely positioned to deal with the rapidly transforming online music market. What this clearance means is that we are now able to work even more effectively on behalf of songwriters, composers and their music publishers, while at the same time helping to develop the Digital Single Market across Europe” whilst STIM CEO Karsten Dyhrberg Nielsen said: “Today’s competition clearance announcement is testament to the incredible work that has gone into the design of this new offering, which will provide a seamless service for both music rights holders and pan-European digital service providers. It’s the result of years of productive collaboration between STIM, GEMA and PRS For Music to deliver a solution that will help the digital market grow”.

Apple Music launch sparks anti-trust investigation and indie label backlash

COPYRIGHT / COMPETITION Recorded music, internet, music publishing     Apple has launched its Apple Music streaming service at this year’s WWDC conference in San Francisco. Headline news is that the new platform will be available from 30th June for $9.99 a month, after a free three months period – with a ‘family’ package costing $14.99 a month for up to six family members sharing with the service promising to “change the way you experience music forever”, initially available on iOS, Mac and Windows, with an Android version following in autumn. Opening his presentation by explaining ““So now, 2015, music industry is a fragmented mess. Do you wanna stream music? You can go over here. If you wanna stream video, you can check some of these places out. If you wanna follow some artists, there’s more confusions with that… So I reached out to [Apple executives] Tim Cook and Eddy Cue and said ‘guys, can we build a bigger and better ecosystem with the elegance and simplicity that only Apple can do?”, Interscope Records / Beats by Dre co-founder Jimmy Iovine promised “one complete thought” around music. Labelled a “revolutionary music service”, the new service aims to streamline the experience of enjoying music. It also…

Radar launches new contract for independent music video makers
Contract / July 2015

CONTRACT Video production   Radar Music Videos will launch a new standard contract for independent music video makers today. Created in partnership with media law firm Wiggins, the document aims to provide a simple and fair agreement at minimal cost. Announcing the document, Radar said: “We hope this contract will standardise protocols in the unregulated world of low-budget music video production. Users are taken through all the common requirements for production, like cashflow, re-edits, ownership and promotional use – and are able to customise the contract as appropriate for each particular project. The contract is unique, in that it is equally fair to both parties. It’s also written in plain English and downloadable”. The contract will be made available to Radar members at a cost of £25 – or £35 for non-members. Full details of the document were announced at Music Vid Fest in the Roundhouse’s Studio Theatre in London.

BMG look to Modular and UMG for Tame Impala mechanicals

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Music Publishing   The founder of Aussie independent record label Modular Recordings, Steve “Pav” Pavlovic, is being taken to court by BMG over an alleged non-payment of $US450,000 (about A$588,000) in unpaid mechanical royalties for Aussie rock outfit Tame Impala works. Modular, along with its co-owner, Universal Music Australia, Universal Group, Universal Music Australia and others have been accused by BMG of withholding substantial royalty payments and failing to meet agreed 45 day payment windows in each quarter, and ignoring legal advice to cease and desist selling operations with regard to Tame Impala’s recordings as mechanical royalties were not being paid for use of the songs This resulted in a law suit being filed with the New York Southern District Court early last month. BMG owns the rights to Tame Impala’s songs through its publishing agreement with songwriter Kevin Parker. Parker recently alluded to a lack of payment for international sales during a recent Reddit AMA. In his words “Up until recently, from all of Tame Impala’s record sales outside of Australia I had received zero dollars. Someone high up spent the money before it got to me. I may never get that money.” BMG’s allegations are that they haven’t received any…

Wenham speaks out on digital royalties

CONTRACT / COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing, artistes   The World Independent Network has welcomed Sony and Universal’s recent statements on on breakage which have come out after the leak of the Sony-Spotify 2011 contract which added further evidence that the major labels were receiving large advances from digital services – promoting many to ask what the major labels actually did with this money.   WIN says UMG and Sony’s statements simply echo commitments that the indie labels had previously all signed up to in their Fair Digital Deals Declaration – but added that “it is telling that there are no specifics in these recent statements from these corporations”. In an open letter, Alison Wenham, boss of both WIN and the UK’s Association Of Independent Music, said: “We don’t know how long these policies have been in place, how much of the revenue they are actually sharing, whether this applies to all types of non-unit revenue, or how this money is distributed across their catalogues. We don’t know what analogue-era deductions are still getting made against digital income. As usual these facts are withheld”. And Wenham celebrates the indie’s position which she says “makes it clear that signatory companies will share the benefits of dealing…

UMP leak heats up the digital pie debate

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, internet   As the U.S. press said that Spotify’s total payments to rights holders rose by another $300 million in the first quarter of 2015, news also broke of a leaked UMPG internal email and in MIDEM German music publishers set out their thoughts on how the digital pie should be shared. Billboard revealed that Spotify has now paid out $3 billion to music rights owners since launching in 2008, $2 billion of which has come in since the beginning of 2014, but the big news was the boss of Universal Music Publishing boss, Jody Gerson, who was the centre of attention after a confidential internal memo was leaked in which Gerson expresses her annoyance over “self-interested parties” that are stoking worries amongst songwriters, particularly when it comes to to unallocated ‘breakage income’ from big advances. In her email Gerson said this: Over the past several months I’ve read or heard comments by self-interested parties that aim to mislead our songwriting community and ultimately devalue songs. These misrepresentations work against the mutual best interests of both songwriters and publishers. To paraphrase that old saying, sunlight is the best disinfectant. So let’s shed some light on the facts and make sure…

PRS extend live music consultation
Copyright , Live Events / July 2015

COPYRIGHT Live events sector   PRS for Music have extended the consultation to review the terms of it’s Popular Music Concert Tariff (Tariff LP). Tariff LP is applied to ticketed live popular music events such as concerts and festivals.  Currently promoters pay 3% of Box Office receipts (after VAT)  to the PRS for songwriters. The extension has been granted following the Concert Promoters Association’s (CPA) stated interest in conducting its own research in response to PRS for Music’s consultation documentation which was announced on April 13. The extension will help the CPA respond more comprehensively to the tariff review and the PRS welcomed the CPA’s commitment to engaging in this process. The extension is also supported by a number of industry bodies in the live sector.  Tariff LP was originally agreed in 1988, though was last reviewed as recently as 2010/11, when the PRS decided to keep the system as it was. The deadline for the consultation’s completion has now been extended until 30 September.

SGAE scandal looms

CRIMINAL Music publishing     The former head of Spanish music collection society SGAE’s digital arm has been accused of orchestrating false payments worth €57,000 – and could face a substantial prison term. The case dates back to the three years between 2008 and 2011. Spanish singer José Ramón Márquez (Ramoncín) who was also a SGAE Board member, is accused of issuing false invoices to SGAE that allowed him to extract nearly €60,000 out of the songwriters and publishers organisation. Jose Luis Rodriguez Neri, who was Director General of Spain’s Digital Society Of Authors (SDAE) until 2011, faces charges of financial misappropriation – by consenting to Ramoncín’s invoices – and faces a maximum sentence four years and ten months of jail time if found guilty. Ramoncín, who potentially faces the same jail term as Neri, announced that he is aiming to “hang a sign” behind him in which “reads ‘innocent’”. The former MD of SGAE, Enrique Loras, faces over two years in prison  for ‘misuse’ or a fine of €20,866 euros for ‘mismanagement appropriation’. The former director of Legal Services for SGAE, Pablo Hernandez Arroyo, is also implicated. He potentially faces two years and nine months in prison or, alternatively, a fine…

Slovakia introduces domestic music quotas for radio
Legislation / July 2015

BROADCASTING REGULATION Broadcasting     In Slovakia, private radio stations will have to broadcast at least 20 percent Slovak music starting next year, and at least 25 percent since 2017, as the result of an amendment to the law on broadcasting and re-transmission approved by the Slovak government May 27. The public Slovak Radio will have to give at least 30 percent of local music on the air in 2016 and at least 35 percent as of 2017, on each of its broadcast zones. One-fifth of that should be songs from the past five years.  Only songs played between 6.00 and 24:00 will be included in the quotas. A song or composition can be considered Slovak if at least one of the authors (writer, composer) or performer has, or had permanent residence in Slovakia