Friday 29 May 2015

The CopyKat - gazing across the pond

A U.S. judge in California has allowed a class action lawsuit to proceed against satellite-radio company Sirius XM Holdings Inc over the payment of royalties for pre-1972 tracks. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez marks another win for members of the 1960s band the Turtles, known for the hit "Happy Together," and means the company could face claims from a broader group of artists. "Sirius XM treats every single owner of a pre-1972 song the same, namely it doesn't pay them, so it was appropriate for this court to grant class certification," said Henry Gradstein, attorney for Flo & Eddie Inc, a company controlled by founding Turtles members Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman. Sirius XM had argued against certification because it said damages would be difficult to calculate accurately for different members of the class. Gutierrez rejected that argument saying "a class action is superior to individual litigation to the fair and efficient adjudication of the present controversy." More here.

In Jamaica, The House of Representatives has started to debate amendments to the Copyright Act to strengthen legal protection for creators of intellectual property.  Investment, Industry and Commerce Minister, Anthony Hylton opened the debate on the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2015. Among some of the proposed changes is the extension of the rights of companies to their work from 50 to 95 years. the proposed amendments also seek to provide certain exemptions that will give blind and visually impaired people greater access to copyrighted work. More from the Gleaner here.

Back in the USA, Techdirt has a fairly damning review of the actions of 'copyright troll' Malibu Media. Techdirt tells us "Federal district court judge Timothy Black appears to have had enough of Malibu Media and its copyright trolling practices. In two separate cases this week, Judge Black issued "orders to show cause" (more or less judicial language for "I think you've done something really bad and here's your last chance to show me otherwise) that go beyond the usual level of "Hey, it appears you've been acting naughty" to a full blown recitation of all of Malibu Media's questionable practices". Much more here.

The U.S. National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging copyright infringement against Wolfgang’s Vault, which hosts many thousands of hours of live concert recordings which it disseminates on websites such as YouTube, Music Vault, Concert Vault and Daytrotter. The NMPA claims the online live concert audio and video platform does not have proper licensing in place for the content it hosts. The NMPA says "Hopefully, this lawsuit will bring publishers and many iconic songwriters the revenue they deserve for the use of their music.”

And finally, US music collection society BMI has published an analysis of Judge Louis L Stanton's recent decision in the rate court which raised the royalty Pandora had to pay BMI members, noting that the ruling judge clearly stated that, even though the directly negotiated deals between publishers and broadcasters were put on hold by the courts, the "direct licenses between Pandora and Sony and Universal for the 2014 calendar year were the best benchmarks because they are the most recent indices of competitive market rates". The big publishers wanted to pull from the collective licensing system in the USA for digital rights but the courts decided their relationship with ASCAP and BMI was 'all or nothing' - all in or all out. Judge Stanton decided that Pandora, the digital radio service, must pay 2.5 percent of its revenue to BMI, which collects public performance royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers. More from the Hollywood Reporter here.

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