Wednesday 16 October 2013

Its a show Jimi, but not as we know it

The CopyKat spotted an interesting article in London's Evening Standard highlighting a planned new tourist attraction in London's Camden - the Music Hall of Fame  - where visitors will be able to "jam on stage with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, be the fifth Beatle, or duet with Freddie Mercury at Live Aid". The attraction, set up by music entrepreneur Lee Bennett, uses the same hologram technology which allowed Tupac Shakur (who died in 1996) to perform with fellow rapper Dr Dre and Snoop Dog at last year's Coachella Festival in the USA - which created quite a buzz amongst music industry legal bloggers about the legal practicalities of achieving the feat - quite beyond the obvious technical challenges. 

So where do we start: whilst Mr Justice Birss recently affirmed that there "no such thing as a general right by a famous person to control the reproduction of their image" in the United Kingdom  (Robyn Rihanna Fenty v Arcadia [2013] EWHC 2310 (Ch)) the same cannot be said about the USA where image rights most certainly do subsist - and passing off, applied in the Rihanna case, was also used by the Court of Appeal in London to give some protection to Formula One driver Eddie Irvine when his image was 'monetised' in an advert for TalkSport Radio Ltd ([2003] EWCA Civ 423). 

Tupac at Coachella, 2012
Donald Passman, an entertainment attorney for the Los Angeles-based firm Gang, Tyre, Ramer, and Brown, Inc. and author of All You Need to Know About the Music Businesspointed out at the time of Tupac's "appearance" that above and beyond image rights, the creators of the Tupac hologram (and the Coachella Festival organisers) would also have had to clear each use of filmed material with the copyright holder of each and any clip, as well as the use of the song, and any separate sound recording - and even if it was a live recording, Passman advised that "recording agreements often cover any recording made of the artist during the term of the contract" saying "If this was like a TV performance or something like that they manipulated, the record company may have something to say about it as well." The London attraction also boasts that fans will be able to takeaway a DVD of their performances with the holograms and the Mayor of Camden Jonathan Simpson said "you can go and perform with your favourite bands - you you can be up there with Nirvana, you can be up there with Morrissey on the stage". 

Planned to launch in 18 months time - someone will have A LOT of legal work to get through - just looking at the list of names above I would have to suggest that this is going to be a herculean task ..... the Estates of Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix (the latter subject to various legal tussles over the years),  existing management and members of Queen and Nirvana, Morrissey, the Four Beatles (so two more Estates there as well as Apple), their record labels, the music publishers of the songs, the various film companies and TV rights owners, potentially some session musicians may retain rights, Live Aid,  Woodstock ... wow. Someone is going to be very busy indeed.

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