Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 26.06.22: Four Tet, MegaUpload, Ed Sheeran, IMPALA, Jimi Hendrix

By | Published on Sunday 26 June 2022

Four Tet

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

Four Tet and Domino settled their legal dispute over streaming royalties. The musician sued the indie label seeking court confirmation that, because his 2001 record deal didn’t mention streams, streaming money should be treated as licensing income not sales income. That would mean he’d receive a 50% royalty on that revenue, rather than the 18% Domino had been paying. Although it disagreed with Four Tet’s interpretation of his old record deal, in the out of court settlement the label nevertheless agreed to pay him the higher royalty rate on streams. Confirming the settlement, the musician said on Twitter that “it has been a difficult and stressful experience to work my way through this court case and I’m so glad we got this positive result”. Domino said it was pleased the case had been settled while insisting that the settlement didn’t set any wider precedent regarding what royalty should be paid for streams to artists on pre-digital record deals. [READ MORE]

Two former MegaUpload chiefs pleaded guilty to running a criminal enterprise. Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk were among four New Zealand based execs at the long defunct file-transfer platform that American prosecutors wanted to charge with criminal copyright infringement. To that end, those prosecutors had been trying to extradite the two men to the US for years. But last month it was announced that a deal had been done meaning Ortmann and van der Kolk would avoid extradition and be charged in New Zealand instead. This week they pleaded guilty to those new charges. The US authorities will be hoping that that outcome will strengthen their case against overall MegaUpload boss Kim Dotcom, who still faces extradition, pending the approval of NZ’s justice minister. On Twitter, Dotcom described his former colleagues as “shady guys who just made a deal with the US and NZ Govt to get out of the US extradition case”. [READ MORE]

The London high court ordered Sami Chokri to pay the legal costs Ed Sheeran and his ‘Shape Of You’ co-writers incurred after he accused them of copyright infringement. It follows the judgement earlier this year that Sheeran did not rip off Chokri’s earlier song ‘Oh Why’ when he wrote his 2017 hit. Chokri’s lawyers argued that their client shouldn’t have to cover the other side’s legal fees, despite him losing the case, on the basis the Sheeran side had failed “to engage in pre-action correspondence” and “provide disclosure of documents relating to how ‘Shape’ came to be written”. But the judge said that he wasn’t convinced Team Sheeran were obliged to go as far as Chokri’s lawyers were suggesting when to came to disclosing such documents. To that end he ruled Chokri should cover the legal costs of Sheeran et al, ordering an interim payment of £916,200. [READ MORE]

IMPALA urged European countries to take a French approach to dealing with concerns around fair artist remuneration in the streaming music domain, not a Belgian approach. In France, artist and label groups recently reached a voluntary agreement around fair remuneration which includes measures like a minimum artist royalty and kickbacks for session musicians. Meanwhile in Belgium law-makers have amended copyright law to provide performers with an equitable remuneration right on streams, meaning they will receive some of their streaming royalties directly through the collective licensing system at industry standard rates. IMPALA, the pan-European trade group for the independent music sector, said “so-called ‘equitable remuneration’ is simply not equitable – it limits labels’ capacity to invest in new music and reduces their revenues along with the revenues of their artists”. However, the French deal was a “historic and consensual agreement … addressing value in the digital music chain for the first time”. [READ MORE]

Sony Music said a legal dispute over the rights in the Jimi Hendrix Experience catalogue should be fought in New York not London. Companies representing the estates of late Experience members Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell have sued Sony in the UK, it distributing the band’s recordings on behalf of the Hendrix estate. The two companies argue that they control rights in those recordings and are owed millions in unpaid royalties. But the Hendrix estate says that Redding and Mitchell gave up all claims to the Experience recordings via deals they signed in the early 1970s. Those deals were agreed in the US, which is why the Hendrix estate and Sony reckon this dispute should be pursued through the courts in New York, where they have already begun legal proceedings. To that end, Sony has asked the judge in the London case to pause the Redding and Mitchell companies’ litigation, at least until the New York action has gone through the motions. [READ MORE]

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