Saturday, 13 October 2018


Gwen Stefani and Pharrell were hit with a copyright lawsuit last year regarding their 2014 track “Spark the Fire.” In the lawsuit, musician and former Stefani hairdresser Richard Morrill alleged that the song featured in Stefani’s track lifted it's chorus from Morrill’s 1996 song “Who’s Got My Lightah.” Morrill, who later re-recorded the song in 2009, claimed to have played it to Stefani in the ’90s in his salon, citing the way both song rhyme “lighter” and “fire” on both singles, as well as the two-syllable pronunciation of the word “fire.” Now, a California federal judge has ruled in favour of Stefani and Pharrell. Billboard reports that Judge Dolly M. Gee has determined that the similarity of vocal inflection isn’t enough to sustain a copyright claim, and that “the last word on beat four of a line often rhymes" adding “[P]ronouncing words that end in ‘er’ with an ‘ah’ sound is a common practice in African-American Vernacular English.” Based on this ruling, Morrill couldn’t present further evidence to keep the copyright claim alive.

Inside Higher Ed reports that the American Chemical Society and Elsevier are again suing academic the 'networking site' ResearchGate in an another attempt to block the wesbite from  posting copyrighted research papers. Berlin based ResearchGate  is facing increasing pressure from publishers to change the way it operates - this time with an action in Europe, following on from the action in the U.S. The publishers accuse ResearchGate of “massive infringement of peer-reviewed, published journal articles”  and they say that the networking site is illegally obtaining and distributing research papers protected by copyright law - and add for good measure that the site may be deliberately tricking researchers into uploading protected content saying “ResearchGate is not the passive host of a forum where infringement just happens to occur,” the publishers said in the court document. They suggest that not only is ResearchGate uploading and making copies of journal articles that it locates by scraping the internet, it is also tricking authors into uploading copyrighted content.

"I steal music and I'm not going away" - still true it seems!
More than one-third of global music listeners are still pirating music, according to a new report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). While the massive rise in legal streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal was thought to have stemmed illegal consumption, 38% of listeners continue to acquire at least some of their music through illegal means. The Guardian reports that the most popular form of copyright infringement is stream-ripping (32%), downloads through “cyberlocker” file hosting services or P2P software like BitTorrent came second (23%), with acquisition via search engines in third place (17%).

President Donald Trump has just taken the long-awaited step of signing the Music Modernization Act into US law.  The President welcomed various artists to the White House for a signing ceremony, including Kid Rock, Kanye West, Beach Boys singer Mike Love and country singer Craig Morgan.The news comes after the bill was unanimously voted through both the US House of Representatives and the Senate. The Music Modernization Act reforms mechanical licensing through the creation of a Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), paid for by digital companies, which will offer digital streaming services a blanket license in return for improved payments to songwriters and copyright owners. "The Music Modernization Act closes loopholes in our digital royalties laws to ensure that songwriters, artists and producers receive fair payment for licensing music" President Trump said before signing the bill into law. Michael Huppe, CEO of US recording industry collecting society SoundExchange: "With today's signing of the Music Modernization Act, we mark a historic accomplishment. But more importantly, we mark what it means. For creators, it means getting paid more fairly. For those who recorded music before 1972, it means assurance you'll get paid for your work. For songwriters, publishers and producers it means making the digital economy work for you" but added "I urge you to stay active because there is much more work to be done before we can truly say all music creators are treated fairly".

And finally from the CopyKat, the Calcutta High Court has directed Vodafone Idea Ltd to deposit Rs 2.5 crore into the court registry as a result of India's music collection society Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) Ltd's copyright claim against the telecoms company's use of its songs for its value-added services such as caller ringback tones and mobile apps like Vodafone Play, Idea Music and Idea Movies & TV. The court has ordered both parties to submit affidavits in support of their respective positions. 

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