CMU Digest

CMU Digest 26.08.19: Led Zeppelin, Eminem, Baby Shark, Tidal, Drake

By | Published on Monday 26 August 2019

Led Zeppelin

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

The US Copyright Office and justice department intervened in the ongoing ‘Stairway To Heaven’ plagiarism legal battle. In an amicus brief the government agencies told the Ninth Circuit appeals court that they should uphold a lower court ruling that said Led Zeppelin did not infringe the copyright of earlier word ‘Taurus’ on their classic track. The amicus brief firstly confirms that for pre-1978 works only the song as represented in the registered sheet music has copyright protection. And second that, where a similarity between two songs involves the arrangement of a small number of standard musical elements, then those two arrangements must be very similar indeed to constitute infringement. [READ MORE]

Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style sued Spotify over unpaid mechanical royalties Stateside. The lawsuit centres on the same complaints as all the previous lawsuits on this issue, arguing that Spotify did not fulfil the required formalities to rely on the compulsory licence that covers the mechanical rights in songs in the US. The Music Modernization Act, which will set up a collecting society to facilitate the payment of these royalties, in theory stops any new lawsuits of this kind. But Eight Mile Style argues that that limitation in the MMA was, in fact, unconstitutional. [READ MORE]

American children’s entertainer Johnny Only commented on his lawsuit against South Korean firm Pinkfong over its much-viewed ‘Baby Shark’ videos. Although its not known who first came up with the ‘Baby Shark’ song – it beginning as a American campfire chant – Only claims that the version Pinkfong has been using rips off his adaptation of the original. In particular, Only removed the lines that involved the song’s narrator having their limbs eaten by the titular shark, something he did to make it suitable for much younger children to sing. Pinkfong counters that ‘Baby Shark’ is public domain and therefore there is no case for copyright infringement. [READ MORE]

It emerged that Tidal has sent a legal letter to the Norwegian crime agency investigating allegations it fiddled with the figures, complaining that the investigation violates a treaty between Norway and Poland. Said crime agency is investigating claims that Tidal boosted the listening stats for the Beyonce and Kanye albums it had exclusives on, which would have deprived other artists of royalties. Tidal denies the allegations. And now Tidal’s Poland division is saying that the investigation of its Norwegian business violates an investment treaty between the two countries. It remains to be seen how Norwegian officials respond. [READ MORE]

Drake was accused of ripping off an earlier song on two tracks on his 2018 ‘Scorpion’ album. In the latest song-theft lawsuit in the American courts, musician Sam Skully says that Drake tracks ‘In My Feelings’ and ‘Nice For What’ borrow beats from his 2000 work ‘Roll Call’. He says he became aware of the alleged copyright infringement after seeing Drake collaborator Adam J Pigott talking about the two ‘Scorpion’ recordings. Skully wants damages and a cut of Drake’s profits. [READ MORE]

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