Stars cancel concerts over LGBT laws

DISCRIMINATION Live events sector     Bryan Adams has cancelled a concert in Mississippi in protest of the state’s ‘Religious Liberty’ bill. The 56-year-old singer was due to perform at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on 14 April. However, in a statement posted on his social media pages, Bryan explained that he made the decision to pull the gig because he disagrees so strongly with the 1523 bill – which allows business, religiously-affiliated organisations and individuals the opportunity to deny service to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people, single mothers or anyone who offends their “sincerely held religious belief”. Bruce Springsteen’s decision to cancel a concert in North Carolina over an anti-LGBT law has been called a “bully tactic” by a US congressman. On 8th April, Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro because of a controversial law that critics say legalises discrimination against LGBT people. Under the law, all public institutions must post signs designating that bathrooms and locker rooms are to be used only based on the biological sex reflected on their birth certificate. Springsteen issued a statement explaining that he and the E-Street Band did not want to play the gig because they “want to show solidarity for…

IFPI Global Music Report 2016
Copyright , Internet / May 2016

COPYRIGHT Recorded music, internet     The record labels’ international trade body, the IFPI, has published its Global Music Report for 2016 with headline news that global recorded music revenues are up 3.2% as digital revenues overtake physical for the frst time. The report highlights: –       Digital revenues contribute 45 per cent of industry revenues, overtaking physical’s 39 per cent share –       Streaming revenues up 45.2 per cent, helping to drive 3.2 per cent global growth –       Music consumption is exploding globally, but the “value gap” is the biggest brake on sustainable revenue growth for artists and record labels Digital revenues now account for 45 per cent of total revenues, compared to 39 per cent for physical sales. IFPI’s Global Music Report 2016 also reported a 10.2 per cent rise in digital revenues to US$ 6.7 billion, with a 45.2 per cent increase in streaming revenue more than offsetting the decline in downloads and physical formats. Total industry revenues grew 3.2 per cent to US$ 15.0 billion, leading to the industry’s first significant year-on-year growth in nearly two decades.  Digital revenues now account for more than half the recorded music market…

Artistes call for major reforms of take down policies and the ‘largely useless’ DMCA
Artists , Copyright , Internet / May 2016

COPYRIGHT Internet, artistes     Some 400 recording artists, songwriters and groups including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are calling on Congress to reform existing US copyright law saying that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is obsolete, dysfunctional and harmful,  and calling for stronger measures against the ongoing piracy troubles they face. The DCMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1998 and aimed to ready copyright law for the digital age. Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Steve Tyler, Lionel Richie and Garth Brooks are just some of music’s biggest names want to make it harder to pirate music online. The musicians are asking lawmakers to make “drastic reforms” to the Act. “Artists spanning a variety of genres and generations are submitting comments to the federal government’s U.S. Copyright Office …. demanding reforms to the antiquated DMCA which forces creators to police the entire Internet for instances of theft, placing an undue burden on these artists and unfairly favoring technology companies and rogue pirate sites,” says a statement issued by the Recording Industry Association of America: Recording artistes including deadmau5, Tony Bennett, Pearl Jam and Bette Midler have filed petitions to the U.S. Copyright Office detailing their struggles…

PRS for Music welcomes the Collective Management of Copyright (EU Directive) Regulations 2016

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     PRS for Music has issued a statement saying that the CMO supports the principles and objectives of the Collective Right Management (CRM) Directive which came into force yesterday. Details of the UK Regulations can be found here (The Collective Management of Copyright (EU Directive) Regulations 2016). In welcoming the new UK Regulations, PRS believes the CRM Directive will improve the way collective management organisations operate across the EU, which will be in the best interests of rightholders and users. The CRM Directive is intended to provide long term legislative solutions to ensure all collective management organisations operating in Europe meet minimum standards of transparency, governance and customer service generally and also in respect of multi-territorial online licensing. With 60% of PRS for Music’s international revenues deriving from the EU, greater transparency and efficiencies will improve the administration and collection of royalties for PRS members, and are in the best interests of all affiliated parties. Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive, PRS for Music, commented: “From its inception we have supported the overarching principles and objectives of the CRM Directive and the intention to create a framework that promotes transparency, efficiency and accountability by collecting societies in Europe. These characteristics…

Led Zeppelin face trial over ‘Stairway to Heaven’ plagiarism claims

COPYRIGHT Music publishing     Members of legendary rock band Led Zeppelin will face a May 10th trial over claims that they plagiarised Spirit to make their iconic song “Stairway to Heaven.” The lawsuit was filed by the trustee of the late Randy Craig Wolfe (Randy California) of the band Spirit, who played with Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s. Wolfe drowned off the coast of Hawaii in 1997, but a trustee for his estate has sued Led Zeppelin and the three band members, plus music publishers Super Hype Publishing Inc. and Warner Music Group Corp. The 2014 suit claims that Led Zeppelin, which opened for Spirit in the 1960s, copied a musical composition Wolfe wrote called “Taurus.” On March 23rd , both sides failed to reach a settlement in the dispute. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles then scheduled a trial, subsequently ruling that the song and the 1967 instrumental ‘Taurus’ by the band Spirit were similar enough to let a jury decide whether Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are liable for copyright infringement.

Universal and Capitol fly high with copyright win
Copyright / May 2016

COPYRIGHT Recorded music     Universal Music and Capitol Records have obtained summary judgment against IFP and parent company Global Eagle, an in flight music licensing company, and the two recoded music companies can now look forward to a jury deciding the quantum of damages to be awarded, with reports saying this “could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” IFP is a worldwide provider of in-flight entertainment from movies to songs and IFP provided American Airlines (and later US Airways) with music playlists obtained via physical CDs and digital downloads. In 2008 the company approached the major labels for a deal and what followed has been described as a “few years of painstaking negotiations over advances and revenue apportionment, complicated by some catalogs not being available for in-flight licensing as well as IFP not wishing to let the cat out of the bag about the lack of licenses.”   Added to this was the fact that although IFP was based in Los Angeles, and had completed some of the early reproduction work there, the company said that duplication and encoding was taking place in the U.K. under a different licensing regime. Added to this was the position advanced by IFP that it…

Lil’ Wayne looks to UMG for his share of profits
Artists , Contract / May 2016

CONTRACT Artistes, recorded music     Regular readers will no doubt have noticed recent articles featuring claims from Lil Wayne that he is owed tens of millions of dollars for discovering and nurturing successful recording artists Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga – but that this money has been unlawfully retained by Universal Music Group according to a federal lawsuit filed by the rapper-producer’s attorneys Monday in California. SoundExchange, the not for profit  CMO that collects and distributes digital performance royalties on behalf of copyright owners, is also named as a defendant in the suit. Lil Wayne (Dwayne Carter Jr.) claims Universal diverted tens of millions of dollars of his profits to repay itself for the $100 million it advanced to Cash Money Records Inc. Carter’s Young Money Label is a joint venture with Universal’s Cash Money Records, designed to manufacture, distribute, promote and exploit performances of new recording artists discovered by Carter and signed to the label.  Carter claims that Universal and non party Cash Money entered into a series of agreements which, among other things, diverted his “substantial” profits – to repay Cash Money’s debts. According to the complaint: “With Universal’s knowledge of Lil Wayne’s rights to partial ownership and profits…

Jay Z seeks rebate over TIDAL sale
Contract , Internet / May 2016

COMMERCIAL / CONTRACT Internet, streaming   Jay Z, who purchased  TIDAL from Nordic parent company Aspiro for 464m Swedish Krona ($57m) in March last year, is taking action against the vendors for over estimating the number of subscribers at the time of sale. Whist TIDAL said “We are excited that one year after TIDAL launched, we have surpassed 3 million subscribers globally” they added “It became clear after taking control of TIDAL and conducting our own audit that the total number of subscribers was actually well below the 540,000 reported to us by the prior owners.” According to Swedish news service BreakIt – quoting an article in Norwegian title Dagens Næringsliv (“Today’s Business”) – Aspiro’s former major shareholders, including Schibsted and Verdane, have been contacted by TIDAL. TIDAL now says “As a result, we have now served legal notice to parties involved in the sale. While we cannot share further comment during active legal proceedings, we’re proud of our success and remain focused on delivering the best experience for artists and fans.“ It is thought Jay Z and his finance vehicle, Project Panther Bidco will try and to claim back a sum in the ‘region of 100 million Krona’.   Schibsted…

Aceh Province bands outdoor music concerts under an interpretation of Sharia law
General , Licensing , Live Events / May 2016

LICENSING Live events sector     Outdoor music concerts have been banned in a Regency in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province on the grounds they violate Sharia law. New regulations – including a ban on women straddling motorcycles (they must ride side-saddle), unaccompanied women working or visiting night spots after 23.00 – as well and a requirement that boys and girls are taught separately at school – have been introduced in different parts of Aceh in recent years. he province, the only part of Indonesia that enforces Sharia law, also outlaws gambling, drinking and even fraternising with the opposite sex outside marriage. Muslim women must wear a hijab in public and gay sex is punishable by 100 lashes of the cane. The outdoor music ban comes after local singing sensation Ady Bergek was told he could not proceed with a concert on April 3rd because it would violate Sharia law. Bergek (whose name means unruly in the Acehnese language) is famous for his take on Dangdut, a genre that borrows from traditional Indonesian music as well as from Indian and Malaysian films. West Aceh Regent (Bupati) Teuku Alaidinsyah was quoted in Kompas saying the ban was based on a recommendation by Ulema (a body of Muslim…

Buenos Aires bans EDM events
Licensing , Live Events / May 2016

LICENSING Live events sector   The Mayor of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires has stopped issuing permits for major electronic music festivals in response to the death of five people who died of drugs overdoses at an event. Horacio Rodriguez Larreta  said the measure would remain in effect until the city legislature approved a new law to prevent drug abuse during such events. Authorities have said five people had died  as a result of drug overdoses during the Time Warp festival on April 15. Another four were taken to hospital critically ill. Witnesses said that festival-goers were often offered a variety of drugs including ecstasy pills, LSD, marijuana, poppers and cocaine. Five people have been arrested. Time Warp began in Germany in 1994 and was being held in Buenos Aires for the third year. The organiser’s German website said We are dismayed and deeply saddened by the death of five young people at Time Warp Buenos Aires. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the deceased and the five visitors who are still under medical treatment. We pray for their quick recovery. The German Time Warp companies, “Planwerk Events GmbH & Co KG“ and “cosmopop GmbH“, were not in any way…

Love Parade tragedy – criminal charges dropped

HEALTH & SAFETY Live events sector     A German court has ruled that the 10 people charged in connection with the deaths of 21 and injury of over 500 at the final Love Parade festival have “no case to answer”. The Festival, which began in 1989 as a Berlin-based free event, began travelling to different German cities each year in 2007, and was taking place in Duisburg in 2010. The event was always well attended, and though turnouts had fallen in the years prior to 2010, it was estimated by investigators that almost half a million people had attended that year on the site on a former freight rail yard. The site’s capacity, however, was 250,000 and despite the large number of people attending, crowds entering were funnelled through a single underpass (pictured), which quickly became crowded on the Saturday morning of the event – there was a surge in the crowd, which caused panic in the tunnel  -followed by a stampede. In 2014 six of the event’s organisers and four city workers were charged with negligent manslaughter and bodily harm. On conviction they faced up to five years in prison. All denied any wrongdoing. Earlier six people had…

Ticket fraudster convicted in  Burlington
Criminal Law , Live Events / May 2016

CRIMINAL Live events sector   A New Jersey woman has pleaded guilty to ‘third-degree theft by deception’ after being caught selling tickets to a non-existent Sheryl Crow concert. Kelly Bryan admitted the charge at Burlington County Courthouse. Between December 2014 and May 2015, Bryan sold tickets to the fictitious ‘show’  through a company called KBR Promotion and Booking Agency. Police learnt of the concert and contacted the resort to begin planning public safety measures, it emerged that Crow was not booked to perform. Between 50 and 100 people were defrauded by KBR, although many who paid online have already been reimbursed.   The Burlington County Times reports that Bryan faces up to five years of probation when she is sentenced on 14 June, and will also have to pay between US$20,000 and $30,000 in restitution.

Concert fraudster gets two years in prison
Criminal Law , Live Events / May 2016

CRIMINAL Live events     CRIMINAL: A man who defrauded people out of more than $1 million by falsely claiming he could help book a Pharrell concert for a South Korean steel company – and also by targeting women in online dating scams – has been sentenced to two years in prison in the USA. Billboard reports that Sigismond Segbefia, 29, a native of Ghana who lived in Silver Spring, Maryland at the time of the frauds, was arrested in New York and prosecuted by federal authorities in Pittsburgh because one of his biggest dating scam victims was a Pennsylvania woman he defrauded out of more than $222,000 by using the name and address of an unwitting Pittsburgh-area postal worker. Segbefia, who pleaded guilty in December, must pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution. He has agreed to be deported after serving his prison term for aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. In pleading guilty to the dating scams, Segbefia acknowledged his role in the unrelated crime of defrauding Dosko Co. out of $375,000 by pretending he could arrange to promote a show by Pharrell Williams. Nobody else has been charged in that scheme, though Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci told Senior…

Carolina Country Music Festival gets tax boost
Live Events , Taxation / May 2016

TAXATION Live events sector     The Carolina Country Music Festival will receive $75,000 in accommodation tax revenues to promote its second concert series this June. However Mayor pro-tem Mike Lowder voted against the measure to give the Carolina Country Music Fest $75,000 in accommodation tax funds, after the city agreed last month to give the group $108,000 in in-kind services to police and clean up the event. Lowder noted that groups shouldn’t be allowed to “double dip” into city coffers, especially after the council denied a local organization receiving a-tax money $2,800 in in-kind services for a St. Patrick’s Day event. The State’s accommodations tax is collected when visitors pay to stay in area hotels and at other lodging. Under state law the tax revenue is to be used for advertising and promoting tourism-related activities that increase tourist attendance. Funds can also be used for additional city resources needed to accommodate increases in tourism, like law enforcement, highway and street maintenance and beach renourishment.

Feyoncé – B asks the court to put a stop to it
Artists , Trade Mark / May 2016

TRADE MARK Artistes     Beyoncé  has issued legal proceedings against Texas company, Feyoncé Inc, for “brazenly” selling merchandise that infringes her intellectual property.   A year ago it was reported that Beyoncé’s legal team had complained to online peer2peer marketplace Etsy the sale of “Feyoncé” mugs. Those items were promptly removed, but other products featuring “Feyoncé” remained widely available.   The lawsuit has been filed in Manhattan federal court and includes three defendants from San Antonio. The singer is seeking unspecified damages. The suit claims that Feyoncé has ignored the singer’s requests to stop selling their products, and that their items not only confuse consumers, but have caused the pop star irreparable harm. The Feyoncé site sells a variety of shirts, hoodies, tank tops and other clothing items. However the lawsuit focusses on a mug stamped with the phrase, “Feyoncé: He put a ring on it.” Whilst this could be a pun on “fiancé,” somewhat unsurprsingly the lawsuit claims the mug was specifically designed to make a reference Beyoncé’s 2008 hit, “Single Ladies”, which includes the lyric “Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it”. Beyonce is of course married Jay Z in…

West faces legal action from a fan over his Tidal “exclusivity” broken promise
Consumers / May 2016

CONSUMER Recorded music, streaming     Tidal and Kanye West are being sued over West’s claims (via tweets) that the only place anyone would ever get access to his new album ‘The Life Of Pablo’ would be on Tidal, a claim that ended up being somewhat false. Tidal did have an exclusive, with the album appearing there first, even before West had actually finished the record, with occasional updates being made to tracks even as they were streaming.  And West, a shareholder in Tidal, tweeted “my album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal”.   However when West’s new tracks subsequently popped up on the other streaming services,  West fan Justin Baker-Rhett wanted to know, why having subscribed to Tidal to access the new record, he subsequently discovered he could have enjoyed that music without signing up – and why this isn’t false advertising, unfair competition, fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment.   Summarising the litigation, the law firm leading on the action, Edelson PC, argue that Jay-Z’s business empire and West himself “duped consumers into signing up for Tidal subscriptions – which required handing over troves of valuable personal data including credit…

EU digital chief takes aim at YouTube
Competition , Internet / May 2016

COMPETITION Internet     The head of the EC’s digital single market, Andrus Ansip, has spoken out over what he perceives as unfair competition in music streaming. He said that YouTube’s comparatively small payments to artists gave it an unfair advantage over rivals such as Spotify, the Swedish streaming service.   Ansip said “this is not only about rights owners and creators and their remuneration — it is also about a level playing field between different service providers,” said the former prime minister of Estonia. “Platforms based on subscriptions are remunerating those authors; others service providers do not. How can they compete?” Record labels have long complained that YouTube — which has become the world’s most popular music service — pays too little to use their songs.   And Artistes have also been vocal in their complaints: “YouTube is paying out about a sixth of what Spotify and Apple pay artists,” said Nikki Sixx adding: “[YouTube is] hiding behind this safe-harbor loophole. That is allowing them the freedom to not take care of artists.” Metallica manager Peter Mensch said: “YouTube? They’re the devil. If someone doesn’t do something about YouTube, we’re screwed. It’s over. Turn off the lights.” YouTube has publicly blamed non-disclosure…