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New Royalty Rates for Digital Music

17 Apr

Google, Apple Inc., and Amazon reached an agreement last week with record industry representatives to set royalty payments for their cloud services.  Last year the companies started their cloud services  allowing users to access, purchase and store music from the Internet.  These services were not covered by the earlier royalty agreement.  The new proposal would create guidelines for five new types of services, including online “locker” services.

“If you purchase a cell phone and got song as a ringtone, if you pay for a subscription to an on-demand service such as Spotify, if you stream your own collection via a “locker” like Amazon’s Cloud Player or Apple’s iCloud, a new agreement between music industry officials, cell phone companies and digital streaming services will determine how much the copyright holders will make each time you press play.”

Once the proposal is approved by the Copyright Royalty Board, the new terms would go into effect in 2013, and expire in 2017.

To find out more, visit the NPR blog at this link.

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US Band Sues UK’s One Direction

11 Apr

Credit: Reuters

British boy band One Direction has been sued by a small California pop-rock group for trademark infringement.  The California band is seeking an injunction to prevent Simon Cowell’s entertainment joint venture with Sony Music, Sysco Entertainment,  from using the One Direction name in promotional material.

 The California band began using the name One Direction in 2009 and plays local fairs and bars.  An application to register the tradmark was filed by the California band in Feburary 2011.  The British boy band One Direction was discovered in 2010 on Cowell’s show, “The X Factor.”  Since 2010 the British boy band has enjoyed great success with their first single reaching the top of the UK charts.  The band is followed by 4.2 million fans on Facebook and 2.8 million fans on Twitter.  

“The lawsuit said the continued use by both bands of the same name was causing substantial confusion and substantial damage to the goodwill earned by the California group.” 

The full article from The Baltimore Sun, can be found at this link

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Sony Sued by Weird Al Yankovic for Underpayment of Digital Royalties

3 Apr

Sony Music Entertainment has been sued yet again for underpayment of royalties (see our earlier post entitled Sony Sued by Toto Over Unpaid Online Royalty Payments).  Parody singer Weird Al Yankovic recently filed a $5 million lawsuit against Sony alleging Sony is not paying 50% of revenues per licensing deals as the parties agreed but is instead paying a straight royalty for download sales.  In addition to his underpayment of digital royalties claim, Yankovic also alleges Sony did not give him any money from Sony’s settlements with peer-to-peer music sharing sites  Napster, Kazaa and Grokster.

“The lawsuit filed in Federal court in the Southern District of New York follows a recent federal class action suit against Warner Music Group by band Tower of Power that makes similar claims of underpayment of royalties.

Both Yankovic’s suit and Tower of Power’s class action rely on the famous 2010 appellate ruling involving Eminem. Similarly, the rapper sued his record label, Universal Music Group, for the way royalties are calculated for digital music — whether they are considered a license or a sale.

Ultimately, the court found that digital music should be treated as a license. Like most artists, Eminem signed a contract that specifies he receives 50 percent of royalties for a license as compared to 12 percent for a sale. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the lower court’s decision, so the 2010 appellate ruling stands as the precedent in cases regarding digital royalties.”

To view the full article from The Huffington Post, follow this link.

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Kanye West and Jay-Z Settle in Sampling Lawsuit

12 Mar

Last October, Syl Johnson brought suit against the rappers claiming that their sampling of “Different Strokes” was without permission.  Johnson claimed that he received no remuneration from the use.  The main point of contention for Jay-Z and West was whether or not the song was actually protected since it was recorded before 1972 where song recordings were not yet included under the copyright protection.  The case has since been dismissed due to a settlement reached by the parties.

Read the full article here.

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Sony Sued by Toto Over Unpaid Online Royalty Payments

2 Mar

According to reports by Billboard.biz and Rolling Stone, the band Toto has filed a lawsuit against Sony for not treating download sales as a license agreement.  In the band’s lawsuit, they argue download sales by a digital store, like iTunes, is a licensed arrangement and should be treated the same as other deals where music is licensed to third parties.  The band argues that digital downloads of their music should be paid as licenses and not as a simple sale as with CDs.  If the digital downloads are paid as licenses, Toto would receive 50% of net proceeds instead of the 12 to 20% of wholeslae for artist royalties for CD sales.  Toto is also alleging breach of contract by Sony for failure to pay the proper royalties.

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ASCAP Reaches Fee Settlement with Radio Stations

8 Feb

The US District Court in the Southern District of New York approved the settlement agreement between ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) setting the fees radio stations are to pay to publicly perform ASCAP’s 8.5 million plus works through 2016.  The Broadcast Law Blog recently highlighted the details of this settlement:

“Music radio pays ASCAP 1.7% of “revenues subject to fee from radio broadcasting.”   Under this new deal, New Media revenues that are more than just simulcasting your over-the-air signal are also covered, and are also subject to the same 1.7% of revenue fee, but there is a 25% deduction from that fee (presumably due to the higher commissions customarily paid for online revenues, but subject to adjustment back to 12% if the total of the higher new media deductions would cost ASCAP more than $5,000,000 than if the deductions had been at the 12% level).  Other good news includes that the broadcast industry has been paying too much from January 1, 2010, when this rate period began, until now, and the radio industry is owed a $75 million refund by ASCAP.”

Follow this link to check out the full blog.

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