Could the ‘agent of change’ principle finally become UK law?
Live Events / January 2016

PLANNING Live events Sector   The live music sector has welcomed amendments to the UK’s Planning Bill which would introduce the ‘agent of change’ principle into UK law on a statutory basis. The amendments are planned to be debated this week as part of the Public Bill Committee consideration of the Housing And Planning Bill in the House of Commons.   When Labour’s Michael Dugher  became shadow culture secretary, one of the first issues he raised was the plight of small music venues. Of the 430 that traded in London between 2007 and 2015, only 245 remain open. At the Music Trust’s Venue Day 2015, Dugher, renowned for his love of karaoke, warned: “There is a real crisis at the moment and that’s why we need a national strategy to support small music venues before many more shut.”   The agent of change principle ensures that a new development must shoulder responsibility for compliance when situated near an existing music venue. Similarly, if a music venue opens in a residential area, it too would be responsible for complying with residential requirements.   Jo Dipple, CEO, UK Music, said: “Grassroots music venues are under threat. They are closing. These venues are…

Live sector call for action over threats to festivals and small venues
Live Events , Taxation / January 2016

TAXATION / PLANNING Live events sector   The UK festival industry has been given more time to prepare its case on how business rates are assessed against agricultural land that hosts music events. Music Weeek reports that a Live Nation led coalition of 720 interested parties, including the Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF), UK Music, The Agents’ Association, The Concert Promoters Association and The Association Of Festival Organisers, has called for an immediate halt to the rating of festival sites for business rates by the Valuation Office Agency until a clear policy is established. “We do not consider that festivals and events sites should now be rateable as they are essentially temporary and ancillary uses of agricultural land,” it said in a letter to MPs.  The proposed changes including backdating the rate bill for five years, and could put the future of some festivals at risk as rural landowners take stick of financial risks. Last week’s Spending Review by Chancellor George Osborne did not include an announcement on the Business Rates Review, which will now revert to March 2016. AIF general manager Paul Reed said events and festival organisers are hoping the Government will use the extra time to take action on business…

Burning Man laments Nevada’s new entertainment tax
Live Events , Taxation / January 2016

TAXATION Live events sector   Organizers of the Burning Man festival are challenging a Nevada state tax which they say could cost them nearly $3 million if enforced. The 25-year-old annual arts festival now attracts  80,000 participants to the Black Rock Desert 100 miles north of Reno.   The Reno Gazette-Journal reports ( that Burning Man  have written to the state Department of Taxation on Friday saying that the festival should be exempt from the recently amended tax on live entertainment. Burning Man attorney Ray Allen said the 9 percent tax would translate into a tax bill of about $2.8 million. He said the tax is known by some as the “Burning Man tax” and the festival’s website says “Some seem to view Burning Man as the ‘golden goose’ they can turn to when they want money for other projects.”   In June, the Legislature approved a revised version of the live entertainment tax, which originally came into law in 2004 as a way for the state to gain revenue from Las Vegas’s robust live entertainment industry. The revised version became effective on October 1st. Business Insider reports that certain events — including school, sporting, racing and nonprofit events attended…

Adele snub prompts New Jersey tax rethink
Live Events , Taxation / January 2016

TAXATION Live events sector     A New Jersey state lawmaker has used that the fact Adele is snubbing of New Jersey as a reason to pass his proposal to “give tax breaks to A-list stars”. Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean says the fact that the singer’s upcoming tour bypasses New Jersey in favor of New York and Philadelphia proves the need for the state legislature to pass his bill. It would exempt performers who play at least four nights in Atlantic City from having to pay state income taxes on all shows in New Jersey that year. If enacted the Bill would exempt artists from state taxes not only on their Atlantic City performances but also on shows at New Jersey venues including arenas in Camden, Trenton, Holmdel and Newark.   Adele is scheduled to stage six performances in New York City and two in Philadelphia.   Nicknamed the “Britney bill” for Kean’s references to multi-night engagements that pop star Britney Spears has done in Las Vegas, the bill has yet to pass through the Legislature. Senator Kean said “New Jersey gets nothing from Adele performing eight shows in neighbouring New York and Pennsylvania” adding “New Jersey will continue…

Tax boost for Broadway
Live Events , Taxation / January 2016

TAXATION Live events sector     Under wider tax legislation that has now passed through the House and Senate, Broadway and live theater productions can now benefit from the same advantages that have long been afforded to TV and film productions. Live theater and concert productions can now get up to $15 million in tax credits if they spend at least 75 percent of their budgets in the U.S. The new rule would apply for productions starting after Dec. 31st 2015. The change has been championed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Roy Blunt of Missour and and stars including Neil Patrick Harris and Bryan Cranston. Schumer, who has been working on the tax break for four years, said the change would create “thousands and thousands” more jobs for actors and backstage workers, and produce more shows nationwide, helping hotel, restaurant and taxi industries. He noted that other countries also grant live theater similar breaks, especially in London, which has been luring away American production.   The tax law change, part of a bill that President Obama is expected to sign, would provide an incentive for investors in live theatrical productions by accelerating deductions and by ending the practice of requiring…

Music promoters form new self regulating body in Russia
Licensing , Live Events / January 2016

LICENSING Live events sector   In response to new legislation in Russia, promoters have combined to form a self-monitoring organisation with the aim of improving the sector’s operations. The new organisation is named “Soyukontsert” and founder members include SAV Entertainment, PMI and NCA. The proposed new regulations outline greater responsibility for promoters around customer care and will make the industry more professional and efficient, reports Billboard.   Amongst it’s activities Soyukonsert will   – Create  an emergency fund to cover expenses for cancelled shows – Form a disciplinary commission that will assess professional standards for the live sector   – Liaise with local authorities to avoid cancellations of show   “The creation of a self-regulating organization is a natural step as the live entertainment industry moves towards greater professionalism,” said Dmitry Bogachev, head of Stage Entertainment. “Similar professional organisations exist in many countries. And, similarly to them, we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to formal regulation of relations with consumers.”   Legislators are expected to adopt the new regulations early in 2016.

Fabric fights off strict licensing conditions
Licensing , Live Events / January 2016

LICENSING Live events sector   CMU Daily reports that London night club Fabric has successfully appealed a number of new licensing conditions placed on the venue by Islington Council late last year. Fabric had faced losing its licence after a review of its operations was launched by the local authority last year. The review followed complaints by police, mainly in relation to alleged drug incidents, and claims that there had been a “wholly unacceptable number of deaths and near death incidents at the venue”. although the club managed to keep its licence, it had to agree to a number of strict new security measures, including sniffer dogs and ID scans althogh the owners said they would appeal the Local Authority ruling, saying at the time: “We need to see their written reasons but we fundamentally disagree on a number of key points. We are on the same page in lots of ways, we just have fundamental differences on how to operate that”.   As the conditions were appealed, most of the new security measures were never implemented, although ID scanning was trialled for a short period.

New South Wales bans private sniffer dogs
Licensing , Live Events / January 2016

LICENSING Live events sector   Event organisers and club owners down under who are trying to keep illicit drugs out of their venues have been prevented from using hiring private sniffer dogs – to search for either narcotics or terrorist threats. A change to the law means that only official NSW Police sniffer dogs can be used for drug detection purposes.   Alpha K9 Security owner Madeleine Mortiss, said she understood the legislation had been amended to prevent guard dogs from being used in crowds, but had also put detection dogs into the same category.

C’MOn C’MOn – Music Publishing
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2016

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Ahh, music publishing. While the Collective Rights Management Directive technical review by the UK IPO is still underway (coverage of the Directive on the 1709 blog here), discussions on music publishing are lively.  Today a group of researchers, industry and policy makers gathered at Birkbeck workshop to debate recent research on music publishing. We started with a trip down memory lane with Fiona Macmillan and Jose Bellido presenting on the history of Collective Management Organisations (CMOs). Granted by access by PRS for Music to the PRS legal archives, the researchers detail the evolution of PRS from the early 1900s. As is often the case, starting a CMO ain’t easy, and the early days of PRS required negotiation with other organisations (including a boycott in 1918 by the Amalgamated Musicians’ Union) and recruitment struggles. PRS’s early litigation was very strategic, typically successful and ran about one case per year from the early 1920s to the early 1940s. (These cases likely represent only about 10% of disputes, with the rest settling out of court.) Interestingly, the young PRS was very protective of its reputation, and took pains to set the record straight in the reporting of the cases and brought actions for libel. While PRS was a bit late to the CMO…

PRS live music consultation prompts a range of responses

COPYRIGHT Live events sector, music publishing   The music publishing sector’s collecting society PRS For Music has confirmed that it has received 111 direct responses to its consultation on the way the organisation licenses live events – the so called ‘Tariff LP’ (Popular Music Concerts Tariff’). Concert and festival promoters, as well as their trade bodies such as the Concert Promoters Association (CPA) and the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), clubs and other venues submitted their views, along with the PRS membership (which comprise songwriters and music publishers). There was some disquiet about the way PRS for Music attempted to structure responses, and indeed how a body seeking to increase a rate could be allowed to run an ‘independent’ consultation. The current rate is 3% of gross box office, but PRS for Music would like to expand this to secondary ticketing, sponsorship and ancillary income. The PRs reviewed the rate just 5 years ago, and were again criticised not only for yet another review, but also for launching the review in the busy summer season, leaving the live events sector little time to respond, although the deadline was later extended at the request of the CPA.  The Report can be found…

I financed it so it’s my copyright–well, not really
Copyright / January 2016

COPYRIGHT Recorded music   Aaron Wood has provided THE IPKat an edifying summary of a recent case from the UK Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, Henry Hadaway Organisation v Pickwick Group Limited and Ors [2015] EWHC 3407 (IPEC), concerning the vexing question that copyright practitioners know all too well: Who is the owner of the copyright in a recording where one party finances and the other is the creative/organiser? Here’s what Aaron writes:   “Mr Lorenz, a well-known musical producer, had entered into an agreement with a company called Pickwick (called Pickwick 1 in the case and not the same Pickwick as the defendant), which resulted in the making of recordings in various shows called The Shows Collection. The claimant’s position was that it was the exclusive licensee of various recordings from GLPL, the company through which Mr Lorenz operated before his death, and was the owner of copyright in the remainder of the relevant recordings by virtue of an assignment from the same.   It alleged that the defendant company Pickwick (called Pickwick 2 throughout the case to distinguish it from the earlier company) had infringed the copyright by copying, issuing copies to the public and communicating to the public the Recordings and adaptations…

Something for the Weeknd?
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2016

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, music publishing   Cutting Edge Music Limited has issued proceedings against The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), his producers and music giants Universal, Warner Chappell, Sony/ATV and others in the federal courts in California.  The plaintiff identifies itself as a company that finances films and acquires interest in film score compositions and sound recordings. The Machine, about cyborgs created for a war, was one of the films, released in 2013 and had a score by Tom Raybould – which has allegedly been infringed.  The key evidence in the complaint — is an alleged message sent through Twitter by co-defendant Emmanuel “Mano” Nickerson, a prominent music producer who worked on “The Hills.” The Hollywood Reporter says that according to the complaint “On or about March 9, 2015, Defendant MANO sent Raybould a Twitter direct message stating ‘I sampled your music might make it 2 the weeknd next album. Huge fan of what u did 4 the machine movie!’ ” “The Hills” was released in May as the second single from The Weeknd’s album, “Beauty Behind the Madness.” It’s topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for several weeks and has been remixed by Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. As for alleged substantial similarity,…

Pandora shares soar after Copyright Royalty Board set new rate
Copyright , Internet / January 2016

COPYRIGHT Internet, broadcasting, recorded music   Pandora, the world’s largest Internet radio service, will pay record companies more money to stream its music following a long-awaited decision on Wednesday by the three-judge panel of the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board.  The Board, a panel of three federal judges, decides how much Internet radio stations such as Pandora must pay record companies. Under a 1995 law and its successors, disputes over this rate are settled by the Copyright Royalty Board. But the new fee represents a comparatively small increase – the record companies were seeking much higher rates. The new statutory per-stream rate os paid to recorded music rightsholders by non-interactive digital ‘radio’ platforms such as Pandora and iHeartRadio.  the non-subscription per-stream rate set by the CRB will be $0.0017, which $0.0003 more per stream than recorded music rightsholders currently receive from Pandora. According to MBW calculations, that will mean Pandora paying out $94.1m more to recorded music rightholders next year compared to 2015 for the same amount of consumption. However this rate will only apply for definite in 2016 – the following four years (2017-2020) will be determined by fluctuations in the US Consumer Price Index, which could bring the rate back down – or…

PRS and Soundcloud settle
Copyright , Internet , Music Publishing / January 2016

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, Internet     PRS for Music has written to its membership informing them that it has settled the recently launched legal action against the online music platform, which is widely used by PRS members. The licence covers the use of PRS for Music repertoire from SoundCloud’s launch, and extends to. cover SoundCloud in its plans to introduce subscription and advertising supported platforms across Europe in 2016.   Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive of PRS for Music said: “On behalf of our members, I am pleased that we have been able to reach a settlement with SoundCloud without extended legal proceedings. This ends over five years of discussions on the licensing requirements for the platform, resulting in a licence under which our members are fairly rewarded for the use of their music.” adding “The safe harbours in current legislation still present ambiguity, and obstruct the efficient licensing of online services, but our agreement with SoundCloud is a step in the right direction towards a more level playing field for the online marketplace.”   The letter from Karen Buse, Executive Director, Membership and International, reads:   I wrote to you earlier this year to explain our action against the online music streaming service SoundCloud. After five…

Spotify face $150 million lawsuit from songwriter over infringement and non payment issues
Copyright , Internet / January 2016

COPYRIGHT Internet     A US recording artist has filed a US$150 million lawsuit against Spotify, alleging that the market leader in the streaming sector has knowingly reproduced his copyrighted songs – without permission or payment. David Lowery, best known for leading alternative rock bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, has now asked a US judge to allow a class action suit on behalf of “hundreds of thousands” of potential plaintiffs he believes were similarly affected.   The lawsuit, filed in the federal court in Los Angeles, accuses the streaming giant of ignoring mechanical rights. The singer-songwriter and musician’s rights advocate, who holds a degree in mathematics and is a lecturer at the University of Georgia, accused Spotify of copying and distributing compositions for its online service without permission or informing the copyright holders, listing four tracks from Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker that he said were used without his permission.   The lawsuit also alleged unfair business practices by Spotify saying that its payment structure was arbitrary and “depresses the value of royalties” overall: “Unless the court enjoins and restrains Spotify’s conduct, plaintiff and the class members will continue to endure great and irreparable harm that cannot be fully compensated or…

Taylor Swift Seeks More Trade Marks
Artists , Trade Mark / January 2016

TRADE MARK Artistes, merchandising   Taylor Swift has filed trade mark applications for 20 words and phrases in the U.S including “Blank Space” and “1989” (the name of her last album) as well as “Swiftmas”. Whilst some commented that Swift appeared to be trying to gain trade mark protection for large swathes of the English Language (including Republican Congressman Justin Amash from Michigan), the Tantalizing Trademark blog notes that the reason Swift’s lawyers filed for so many applications is that trademarks only protect specific categories of goods and services. A trademark for a category covering handbags won’t apply to cars, for instance. And in some cases, including Taylor’s “1989,” the application isn’t for the word mark itself, but for a stylized writing of it as a logo.   Swift has also  been accused of wrongfully using an artist’s work to promote 1989. US artist Ally Burguieres complained on Facebook after Swift used a wrongly-credited drawing of a fox identical to one of her watercolour designs. Swift removed the image but the artist claims she took months to compensate her, that it wasn’t enough and she was told she had to give it charity. Swift’s representatives say Ms Burguieres is just…

‘The Slants’ trade mark CAN be registered – for now
Artists , Trade Mark / January 2016

TRADE MARK Artistes   A U.S. appeals court has overturned the legality of refusals of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s to register offensive trade marks. The case, which concerned a band’s name, had been closely watched as the decision could impact on the attempt by the NFL’s Washington Redskins to overturn the cancellation of its trademarks. The NFL team had seven trade marks cancelled on the grounds the mark disparages American Indians. The new decision vacates the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to register the name of the Asian-American rock band The Slants: The Portland, Oregon-based band, which plays “Chinatown dance rock,” appealed because the USPTO had twice rejected its name for a trademark on the grounds it disparages Asians. The Slants’ front man Simon Tam (Simon Young) had argued  that the band adopted the name as a way to reclaim what had become a racial slur. In an interview after this decision he rejected any concern that the ruling would open the floodgates for racism or hate speech. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sitting ‘en banc’ said approach taken by the USPTO violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court struck down the…

Horan libel case proceeds in the right direction
Artists , Defamation , Music Publishing / January 2016

DEFAMATION Artistes, publishing   A libel case brought by One Direction’s Niall Horan against the Daily Star will proceed, after a judge refused the tabloid’s request to have the case dismissed. The case centres on an allegation made in an article in July 2015 that implied Horan had used drugs during a night out with Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson. Horan’s legal team have claimed that claims their client was “staring blankly” and that there were “rumours the singers were using hard drugs”, coupled with some ‘Breaking Bad’ references, made it very clear what the Star was alleging. The newspaper has countered by saying that there is enough doubt its story – at one point stating of hard drug use that “there is no suggestion that this is the case”  that readers would not have interpreted the article in the defamatory way that Horan claims. Mr Justice Dingemans said that the tabloid’s piece was at least capable of bearing the defamatory meaning that Horan claims. Therefore, he said, this case should proceed to a full hearing, and the Star’s application for dismissal was rejected.

Nickleback insurance claim disputed
Insurance , Live Events / January 2016

INSURANCE Live events Sector   Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger is reportedly being sued for failing to disclose the pre-existing throat condition which forced the group to cancel a string of concerts. The band cancelled more than 60 shows earlier this year when Kroeger had a cyst surgically removed from his vocal cords and the cancellations were put in place to allow Kroeger an “extended period of vocal rest”   This resulted in a $13 million claim to cover losses for the cancelled concerts but TMZ reports that  documents from insurers argue the singer had the condition prior to taking out his policy but never disclosed this. Lloyd’s of London is now suing to cancel the policy, according to the report.   At the time the band said “Most of all, we are sorry to miss our fans out on the road this fall, but Chad’s health, healing and full recovery are what is most important right now,” read a statement issued by the band in August.

Glastonbury faces sewage charges
Environmental Law , Live Events / January 2016

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW Live events sector   Local press reports says that the Glastonbury Festival is being prosecuted after failures in the way the event deals with the thousands of gallons of human urine and excrement. The charges stem from the 2014 Festival, the first year the majority of the toilets on the site were specially-built long drop toilets, which collected the waste in huge underground concrete tanks.  Organiser Michael Eavis had earlier that year said the Festival had plans to store human waste on site and convert this to fertiliser for farmland (although not for Worthy Farm itself).   It is understood the charges relate to the numbers of people urinating into hedgerows, with the Environment Agency closely monitoring the pollution levels in the stream that flows through the Worthy Farm site.   Operations Director Christopher Edwards appeared before Magistrates in Yeovil to represent the company, and faced a charge that on or before June 29, 2014 at the Glastonbury Festival, ‘otherwise that under, and to the extent authorised by an environmental permit, caused or knowingly permitted a water discharge activity or groundwater activity, namely the discharge of human sewage derived from the Glastonbury Music Festival’, breaching the  Environmental Permitting…

Adele fights back against the ticket touts
Consumers , Live Events / January 2016

CONSUMER Live events sector   Last week Sir Elton John branded ticket resale websites “disgraceful” for selling tickets to his gigs at inflated prices, joining other big name such as Mumford & Sons, Prince and Coldplay, who have all recently attacked the resale “rip-off”. Adele is now taking much publicised action to fight off the touts on her latest dates. The Observer has also revealed that Justin Bieber fans wanting tickets for his October 2016 London O2 dates are being asked on Get Me In to hand over as much as £1,825 for seats with a face value of just £50. That figure includes a £285 cut taken by Get Me In. The Observer has monitored the main sites in the UK (Seatwave, Viagogo, Get Me In and StubHub) and has found all four carry listings that appeared to be in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which requires anyone who resells an event ticket via a secondary market website to provide details of the seat row and number, as well as the face value and information about any restrictions amid fresh claims that many sites are flouting the law and supporting “industrial-scale touting”.  A spokesman for Viagogo told the…

Ticketmaster face anti-trust action from SongKick
Competition , Live Events / January 2016

COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST Live events sector   Online concert-ticket retailer Songkick has accused Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour by pressuring touring artists and concert venues to not work with Songkick’s service.  New York-based Songkick has filed Law suit in THE U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, saying that Live Nation is in violation of federal antitrust laws, marking the latest legal challenge to the Beverly Hills-based company. In the complaint, Songkick says Ticketmaster and Live Nation have “attempted to destroy competition in the artist presale ticketing services market.”  Songkick says Ticketmaster has used its clout in the ticketing industry to try to force the company to pay service fees for pre-sales, and intimidated concert venues to not work with Songkick and other rival ticketing services.  The complaint also says that artists have also come under pressure: the company says a “global superstar,” whose name was not revealed, was denied marketing from Ticketmaster because the musician used Songkick for pre-sales.   The company is seeking unspecified damages, including punitive damages and attorneys fees. Songkick  says it has worked with artists including Kenny Chesney, Metallica and Mumford & Sons. Just last week, Songkick said it sold 230,000…