Bjork: the new kid on the blockchain
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2017

COPYRIGHT Recorded Music   The Icelandic singer, songwriter and DJ, Bjork, is very well known for being a “restlessly experimental creative force” and is releasing her new album, Utopia, on the blockchain. She has announced that the latest album will only be available for purchase by way of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain, at its core, is a decentralised distributed ledger that registers and validates transactions without the need for a central authority. Further, the information that is stored on the blockchain is virtually tamperproof because of cryptographic hashes. This all means that two parties are able to exchange currency, data, or almost anything else in a secure way. Bjork has teamed up with British start-up Blockpool to put blockchain on the centre stage for the new release. Fans will need Bitcoin, Litecoin, DASH, or AudioCoin if they wish to purchase the album. In fact, it will not be possible to purchase the album with usual currency. Further, whilst fans will need cryptocurrencies to purchase the album, they will also receive cryptocurrency for doing so. Fans of Bjork will be given 100 Audicoins, a cryptocurrency designed for the music industry and currently worth around $0.19 each, when they purchase the album. Fans will…

Male model sues Cardi B over mixtape cover
Artists , Image Rights / December 2017

IMAGE RIGHTS Artistes   Cardi B is reportedly being sued by a male model who allegedly features on the cover of her 2016 mixtape, ‘Gansta Bitch Music Vol 1‘, with the image used suggesting that the model is performing oral sex on the rapper. Although Kevin Brophy’s face cannot be seen in the image, he alleges that the distinctive tattoos on his back confirm his identity. TMZ reports that Brophy did not model for the artwork, and only became aware of the cover when a friend told him that they’d seen him “cunnilinging this rapper called Cardi B”. Brophy said that the image has negatively affected his family wife, he was worried that his wife would think he had been unfaithful to her and his young son saw the image and wanted to know “what Daddy was doing”. Brody says that he has had his tattoo of a tiger fighting a snake for over ten years, but has never met Cardi B or anyone on her team. In a lawsuit, he is suing the rapper and her management for $5 million. You can see the cover and the model here and more here

Activist sues the Ultra Music Festival over accessibility
Live Events / December 2017

EQUALITY Live events sector   One of America’s largest EDM festivals, Ultra Music Festival is being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.  A legally blind activist and Paralympic athlete with cerebral palsy, Juan Carlos Gil, has brought a legal action against the organisation on the grounds that their website and live events are not easily accessible for the visually impaired or those with other disabilities. The law suit is described as a “public motion for greater inclusivity” and Gil’s lawyer, Scott R. Dinin, told reporters:  “All we’re asking [Ultra] to do is recognise [that] this is a very diverse population, to make all their offerings available to all people in that population. We think it’ll make it a better Ultra experience and, obviously, a better Miami”  adding “I think the biggest misperception of this law is that people don’t understand that it’s been law for 25 years,” Dinin said. “This same law is a civil rights law”.    Dinin has said that he hopes the festival will feel pressure to adopt measures more sensitive to people with disabilities. He cites Colorado and California concerts he’s attended, which often have sign-language interpreters and other accommodations. He adds that the visually impaired can enjoy music like…

Two big decisions examine web blocking in the USA
Copyright , Internet / December 2017

COPYRIGHT Internet   In the space of under a week there have been two big cases in the USA looking at web blocking – and with differing results.  First off, a federal judge in California has issued a preliminary injunction preventing Canada’s Supreme Court from forcing Google to de-list websites for Datalink on its American search engine. The Canadian Supreme Court (Google Inc v Equustek Solutions Inc, 2017 SCC 34) affirmed the decision from the Supreme Court in British Columbia and ordered Google to delist a tech company’s website(s) worldwide. The music industry trade body Music Canada welcomed the judgement saying it was “a crucial development given that the internet has largely dissolved boundaries between countries and allowed virtual wrongdoers to move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in search of the weakest enforcement setting”.   The web giant responded by saying the ruling conflics with the right to a freedom of expression  contained within the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and that the Canadian Supreme Court had no right meddling with the American Constitution. Google’s argued “This is about whether a trial court in a foreign country can implement a law that is violative of the core values of this country … imagine if we…

Met axes Form 696
Live Events / December 2017

EQUALITY Live events sector   IQ reported that London’s Metropolitan police is to abolish form 696, the controversial risk-assessment document critics claim discriminates against grime and other predominantly black music, in a move welcomed by mayor Sadiq Khan. Following a review process, which included consultations with local authorities, venues, the Musicians’ Union, London Promoter Forum and the Institute of Licensing, the Met announced it is to abolish the form – which it acknowledged was perceived to “disproportionately affect” certain genres of music – in favour of a “new voluntary partnership approach” with venues and promoters in the city.    A survey had revealed that almost half the British general public think that the controversial risk-assessment document Form 696 is discriminatory against those forced to complete it. The results of the survey are part of Ticketmaster’s State of Play: Grime report and shows that 48% of those polled – a “nationally representative” sample of the British population – think the form is discriminatory because it only applies to certain events. Culture minister Matt Hancock and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, are among those to have called for a review of form 696, which is used by London’s Metropolitan police to determine the potential level of…

Agent of Change to (hopefully) change and protect UK Live Music and Venues
Live Events / December 2017

PLANNING Live events sector   UK Music has launched a new campaign with the aim to persuade Parliament to introduce the “agent of change” principle into UK law.  It’s been bubbling under for some time now (see and we last updated readers on this in March 2017.  But what is the “agent of change” principle? Three years ago, Frank Turner warned the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid that  the country is facing “a meltdown in the British live music circuit” as venues closed – often forced to shut by new developments as new residents and businesses who move in then objected to being next door to a venue. In short it means that the person/ business responsible for the change is also responsible for the management of the impact of the change.  For example, new houses are being built near a live music venue: Under the agent of change principle, because the business behind the new houses is creating a change, the business would be responsible for paying for the soundproofing.  On the flipside, if a new music venue wanted to set up in a residential area, the venue would be responsible for the newly required soundproofing.  UK law at the moment says…

Las Vegas atrocity prompts multiple law suits
Criminal Law , Live Events / December 2017

NEGLIGENCE Live events sector   Hundreds of victims of the October 1st mass shooting in Las Vegas have filed five lawsuits in the Los Angeles Superior Court against the operators of the hotel from which the gunman fired, the organisers of the country music festival he targeted and the killer’s estate. The shootings at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas claimed the lives of 59 people and left hundreds of others injured. Gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, targeting music fans at the country music festival. The largest of the law suits names 450 plaintiffs. Amongst those being sued are MGM Resorts International, owner of the Mandalay Bay resort; Live Nation, organiser of the event; and the estate of gunman Stephen Paddock. Muhammad Aziz, a Houston-based lawyer who has filed the lawsuits said they were filed in California because nearly all the plaintiffs lived in the state and had been treated there. He also noted that Live Nation Entertainment was a California-based company. The plaintiffs claim negligence by both MGM and Live Nation. They accuse MGM of not having adequate security policies, not properly…

CTS Eventim’s acquisition of Four Artists blocked
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / December 2017

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   Germany’s competition regulator has blocked CTS Eventim from acquiring Berlin-based booking agency Four Artists, citing concerns about the ticketing firm’s dominance in the country’s live industry. Among the artists represented by Four Artists are David Guetta, James Blunt, Chase & Status and Best Coast. Andreas Mundt, the President of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) , said: “CTS Eventim is already the market leader in Germany and by far the largest ticket system. In addition, it has already integrated various tour operators into its group structure in the past” adding that the Four Artists acquisition “would strengthen CTS’s existing dominant position [in the ticketing market] thereby significantly hindering effective competition in the affected markets” explaining that “With Four Artists, CTS Eventim would integrate a major event organiser into its group, locking additional ticket allocations of between 500,000 and one million tickets per year to its own system”, it went on. “The expansion possibilities for competing ticket system providers would thereby be weakened”. The Bundeskartellamt said the CTS Eventim system distributes 60 to 70 per cent of all tickets sold in Germany via its systems. In contrast, most other providers are much smaller, and “in part…

CMA to take action over secondary ticketing abuses
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / December 2017

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   Hot on the back of news that Google is updating its rules on how ticket-resellers can advertise on its search engine, meaning secondary ticketing platforms globally will have to be certified with Google before they can advertise using its AdWords platform (in turn promoting greater transparency), comes the announcement that the UK’s Competition And Markets Authority (CMA) will take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law following a long-running investigation – through the courts, if necessary. The CMA said it has gathered evidence, which it considers reveals breaches of the law, and identified “widespread concerns” about the information consumers are given. The CMA launched an “enforcement investigation” into secondary ticketing in December 2016. The CMA then said that it intended to “consider whether, in its view, both the businesses selling tickets and the secondary ticketing platforms advertising them are failing to provide the full range of information in breach of the law and, if so, take enforcement action”, responding to claims that the major re-sale platforms were ignoring transparency obligations laid out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. These include stating the face value of the tickets being sold, information on the…

Will a 1972 agreement determine who owns Steely Dan?
General / December 2017

CONTRACT Artistes   Steely Dan are the American jazz rock band founded by core members Walter Becker (guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Donald Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals) in 1972. The band enjoyed critical and commercial success until breaking up in 1981. Rolling Stone has called them “the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies”. Steely Dan reunited in 1993 and has toured steadily ever since. Becker died on September 3rd, 2017, leaving Fagen as the only official member. And now Fagen is embroiled in a complicated legal feud with Becker’s estate. By way of background, Fagen is claiming that his bandmate’s estate is refusing to honour the ‘Buy/Sell’ Agreement from 1972 which he says stipulated that when a member of the band died or left the band, the other members would purchase that person’s share in the band. Both parties are accusing the other of instigating the feud. “We believe the agreement to which Mr. Fagen refers in his suit, drafted 45 years ago,  was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death,” a representative for Becker’s estate said in a statement to Rolling Stone.  Why is this so important? Well it is believed that Fagan is concerned that his ability to continue touring…