CMU Digest

CMU Digest 03.09.18: Copyright Directive, Michael Jackson, Viagogo, Spinal Tap, Cox

By | Published on Monday 3 September 2018

European Commission

The key stories from the last week in the music business…

The music industry ramped up its campaigning as the European Parliament prepares to consider the draft new copyright directive once again. MEPs voted down the proposals in July, in no small part because of the controversy over the safe harbour reforms that the music community has lobbied hard to secure. In the UK a plethora of trade bodies backed a new advert calling on artists to sign a petition, while European collecting society group GESAC launched a new initiative called Europe For Creators. Music business lobbyists also noted that recent real world protests against the copyright reforms drew very small crowds. [READ MORE]

Sony Music was removed as a defendant on a lawsuit that claims there are fake vocals on a posthumous Michael Jackson album. The major was sued by a fan in 2014, alongside the Jackson estate and the producer of the three tracks on 2010’s ‘Michael’ that many reckon feature another vocalist. Sony and the estate got themselves removed from the unfair competition litigation this week on free speech grounds, without the court actually considering whether or not Jackson sings on the tracks. Prior to that judgement, a comment made in court by a lawyer working for the estate was mis-reported as an admission that the vocals weren’t Jackson’s. It was not. [READ MORE]

It emerged that Viagogo is shifting much of its London workforce to New York. It comes as the controversial secondary ticketing site faces criticism and/or legal action from no less than three regulators in the UK, and follows a flurry of bad press for the firm in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. It’s thought the company hopes to step up its presence in the US market where ticket touting is regulated at a state level and – with a few notable exceptions – has generally proven less controversial to date. [READ MORE]

A US judge let the Spinal Tap lawsuit against Vivendi proceed, despite efforts by the entertainment group to have the case dismissed. However, most of the legal claims made directly against Vivendi’s music firm Universal will need to be revised and resubmitted, as the judge accepted the major’s argument that it wasn’t party to a 1982 deal that is key in the dispute between the creators of the cult film and Vivendi’s movie business StudioCanal. The four men behind Spinal Tap accuse the Vivendi companies of under-payment and fraud, and also seek to reclaim US rights. [READ MORE]

BMG announced it had settled its long-running legal battle with Cox Communications. The case tested the obligations of internet companies claiming safe harbour protection under US copyright law. An original judgement in BMG’s favour was overturned on appeal, but based on a technicality, and the case was due back in court this month. Appeal judges had pretty much backed BMG’s arguments. The music firm said it was “happy” with the financial terms of the out-of-court settlement which “reflect the seriousness” of the infringement. [READ MORE]

The big deals from the last seven days in the music business…
• Academy Music Group announced a new lease on Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse [INFO]
• Sentric Music acquired a stake in Black Rock [INFO]
• The Troxy in London allied with Dice on ticketing [INFO]
• Elton John allied with Twickets on his upcoming tour [INFO]
• Entertainment One signed a new deal with The Stereotypes [INFO]

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