Producer Phil Spector has filed suit against his former attorney and longtime friend Robert Shapiro, in an attempt to reclaim a $1.5 million retainer Shapiro took when he represented Spector in his on
- Phil Spector Sues Robert Shapiro Over $1.5M Retainer 
- Death Row's Knight Settles Legal Fee Dispute 
- GNR Denied In Bid To Suppress Recordings 
- French Court Frees Solaar From Universal Contract 
- Jackson Lawyer Says Prosecutors Bullied Witnesses 
- Fuel 2000 Cries Foul Over Ad-Expense Flap 
- Hatch's 'Induce' Bill Spurs Debate Among Industry Groups 
- BPI: We'll Take Legal Action To Combat Internet's 'Culture Of Free' 
- Strict Sentence For British CD Pirate 
- Industry Presses EC To Review Recordings' Term Of Protection 
- Ontario Man Charged In Bootleg Case 
- This Week's Dream Makers & Deal Breakers 
- Industry Registry Could Clear Up Group-Name Quagmire 
Phil Spector Sues Robert Shapiro Over $1.5M Retainer
By Chris Morris
LOS ANGELES -- Producer Phil Spector has filed suit against his former attorney and longtime friend Robert Shapiro, in an attempt to reclaim a $1.5 million retainer Shapiro took when he represented Spector in his ongoing murder case.
The suit, which names Shapiro and the firm of Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro, was filed July 1 in California Superior Court in Los Angeles.
Spector was arrested Feb. 3, 2003, on suspicion of murder charges, after the body of actress Lana Clarkson, who had been shot to death, was discovered in his Alhambra, Calif., home.
According to the action, Spector turned to his "friend and confidant" Shapiro -- known for his work on O.J. Simpson's defense team -- for help.
The suit alleges that Shapiro "decided to use Mr. Spector's troubles an an opportunity to make a financial windfall and garner publicity for himself."
The action claims that Spector signed a letter engaging Shapiro's professional services on Feb. 7, 2003. The letter -- which the suit terms "vague, ambiguous and confusing" and "unconscionable" -- required Spector to immediately pay $1.5 million as a non-refundable retainer.
The suit notes that Shapiro was aware that Spector "was under the care of a mental health professional and was prescribed medications for the purpose of stabilizing Mr. Spector's mental condition."
It alleges that at the time Spector signed the agreement with Shapiro, he had not taken his medication for several days, and "was laboring under a tremendous amount of mental stress that comes with being arrested for murder."
Spector also maintains that Shapiro "did not devote significant time or energy to case, and had only a rudimentary understanding of the facts, evidence or issues involved in the case."
In one much-discussed example cited by the suit, Shapiro told prosecutors that he had discovered a fingernail that had purportedly been missed by investigators who searched Spector's home. Shapiro made this representation "even though (his) own hired consultants had told Shapiro that, in fact, no fingernail had been discovered."
Spector discharged Shapiro as his attorney in January. He has since hired Leslie Abramson, who defended Erik Menendez in the sensational Menendez murder trial of the '90s.
According to Spector's suit, a billing statement indicated that Shapiro's work on the case had generated only $95,407 in billable time, and that this figure was "grossly inflated."
Spector seeks a declaration that he is entitled to the retainer, in whole or in part; compensatory, special and punitive damages to be determined; and attorneys' fees.
Contacted by ELW, Shapiro says that he cannot comment on Spector's suit, citing attorney-client privelege. However, Shapiro adds, "We're going to contest all the allegations in court."
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Death Row's Knight Settles Legal Fee Dispute
By Chris Morris
LOS ANGELES -- Death Row Records, known these days as Tha Row Records, and owner Marion "Suge" Knight have settled a lawsuit filed last year by an L.A. law firm that claimed the rap label owed it more than $550,000 in unpaid legal fees.
During a mid-June settlement conference mediated by Gert K. Hirschberg, Knight agreed to pay the firm of McPherson & Kalmansohn $150,000 to settle all claims in the suit.
In its breach-of-contract suit filed Jan. 23, 2003, in California Superior Court in L.A., the firm claimed that legal bills rung up in the defense of a civil suit against Knight, Death Row and the rappers Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Kurupt went unpaid long after the action's 2000 trial.
McPherson & Kalmansohn resigned the case in early 2001. The firm's suit alleged that it did further legal work for Knight after being promised $200,000 of the bill, but the money was never paid.
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GNR Denied In Bid To Suppress Recordings
By Chris Morris
LOS ANGELES -- A federal judge has denied a request by Axl Rose and former members of Guns N' Roses for an injunction barring the L.A. indie label Cleopatra Records' release of an album by Hollywood Rose, an early incarnation of the L.A. rock band.
In June, Rose and ex-bandmates Slash (real name Saul Hudson) and Michael "Duff" McKagan filed suit against Cleopatra, charging that the album "Hollywood Rose: The Roots of Guns N' Roses" constituted trademark infringement, and competed with GNR's recently released greatest-hits compilation.
The Cleopatra album contains 1984 demos recorded by Rose, future GNR bandmate Izzy Stradlin, drummer Johnny Kreis and guitarist-bassist Chris Weber, whose parents paid for the session. Weber was later replaced by Slash, and Hollywood Rose morphed into GNR. Weber sold his rights to Cleopatra, whose Deadline Music imprint released the album on June 22.
The day before the album's scheduled release, GNR filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Allen Feess denied the motion for a restraining order, saying that GNR had unreasonably delayed their request and failed to make a case for such extraordinary relief.
In his 30-page order entered July 6, Feess was similarly unmoved by GNR's arguments.
He wrote, "At this stage of the litigation, serious doubts exist as to the merits of GNR's claims and they have not shown that the balance of the hardships in this particular case tips so strongly in their favor that preliminary injunctive relief is warranted."
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French Court Frees Solaar From Universal Contract
By James Martin
PARIS -- French rapper MC Solaar has won a legal battle against Universal Music France that started nearly seven years ago.
The judgment -- handed down June 21 by France's highest court, the Cour de Cassation -- says that Universal no longer has the right to exploit the artist's works. The court ordered Universal to give all of Solaar's recording masters, along with their videoclips, back to the artist.
The verdict confirms an April 2002 appeals court decision in favor of the artist, which forced Universal to remove from stores all four albums released through its contract with Solaar.
The artist, whose real name is Claude M'Barali, initially filed legal proceedings in 1997 before France's labour court, the Tribunal des Prud'hommes, seeking to free himself from an August 1993 recording contract with Universal's Polydor label. The contract was an extension of the original deal he signed with Universal (then known as PolyGram) in 1990.
On June 29, 2000, the Prud'hommes court ruled that the contract between Solaar and Universal was void and ordered the record company to revert all recordings to the artist. Universal appealed the decision, leading to the April 2002 verdict by the Appeals Court of Paris.
The ruling covers Solaar's first four albums, including his debut set "Qui Sème Le Vent Récolte Le Tempo" (1991) and "Prose Combat" (1994), each of which sold more than 600,000 copies in France. Since 1998, Solaar has been signed to Warner Music France's label East West, which has released "Cinquième As" (2001) and "Mach 6" (2003).
The crux of the dispute was Universal's release of the eponymous "MC Solaar" album nearly a year after the artist's contract should have ended. Solaar finished the set in March 1997, but had intended it to be half of a double album. Universal, however, released the first half separately in June 1997 as "Paradisiaque," supposedly against the artist's wishes.
This tactic, which Solaar's manager Daniel Margules says was intended to give Universal grounds for extending his contract, was accompanied with "threats towards the artist to ensure he didn't make an album with another record company."
Universal says in a statement reacting to the verdict: "This decision, on which Universal Music will not comment, does not allow MC Solaar to exploit those recordings of which Universal Music is the producer and as such the sole owner of their intellectual property rights."
In French legal terminology, the producer of a recording is the individual or the company which has bankrolled the recording and is therefore considered its owner.
This indicates that the case is not entirely resolved, says Isabelle Wekstein, a Paris-based lawyer who represents artists and songwriters. "Universal is not allowed to exploit the master recordings, but it's unclear whether MC Solaar can either. Universal remains the producer."
Margules contests this point. "The judgment puts everything back to before Solaar signed with Universal, so it's as if the contract never existed and Solaar never granted the record company the right to use his work."
The ruling should encourage French labels "to be more prudent," says Wekstein, "as it shows the extent to which contracts cover not only an artists' future, but his or her past, too."
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Jackson Lawyer Says Prosecutors Bullied Witnesses
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- Michael Jackson's lawyers, seeking to have a grand jury indictment on child sex abuse thrown out, have accused prosecutors of bullying witnesses and abusing their power.
Prosecutors allowed one witness -- apparently the mother of Jackson's now 14-year-old accuser -- to refer to the self-styled "King of Pop" as "the devil" in testimony before the closed-door grand jury proceedings in April, according to newly released court documents.
"There is no case in the history of the state of California that has condoned anything like the abuse of power demonstrated in this grand jury proceeding," lawyer Robert Sanger wrote in his motion to dismiss.
The grand jury indicted Jackson on charges of plying a child with alcohol, committing lewd acts and conspiracy to commit child abduction and false imprisonment.
The singer, who settled similar accusations 10 years ago with a $23 million out-of-court settlement to another boy and his family, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The courts have thrown a blanket of secrecy over the damaging new allegations brought by a young cancer patient seen holding hands with Jackson in a controversial 2003 TV documentary.
But 47 pages of a 126-page defense motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment were released on July 7 ahead of a court hearing July 9 on the request in the central California town of Santa Maria.
The bid by Jackson's lawyers to have the indictment thrown out is standard procedure in U.S. criminal cases, but rarely meets with success.
The defense motion stated that prosecutors "bullied and argued with witnesses," allowed others to disparage Jackson with "impassioned and prejudicial remarks" and generally ran proceedings "as if they employed the grand jurors."
In one instance, the court papers showed that one witness -- thought to be the alleged victim's mother -- stated that she didn't want to take "the devil's money." The prosecutor asked if she was "clear about that." She stated that Mr. Jackson "is the devil," Sanger's motion said.
Defense lawyers said the grand jury heard no admissible evidence against Jackson on the charges of false imprisonment, child abduction and extortion.
Those charges are thought to relate to an alleged attempt by Jackson or his aides to keep the boy and his family at the singer's Neverland ranch or a nearby hotel and persuade them not to file the child sex abuse charges.
Jackson's trial is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12.
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Fuel 2000 Cries Foul Over Ad-Expense Flap
By Chris Morris
LOS ANGELES -- Catalog label Fuel 2000 Records has filed a breach-of-contract suit against its former VP of sales Mark Heyert, alleging that he intentionally incurred enormous advertising expenses to inflate his annual bonus.
The label's suit, filed Wednesday (July 7) in California Superior Court in L.A., claims that L.A.-based Fuel 2000 incurred retailer charge-backs in excess of $250,000 due to Heyert's unauthorized advertising allowances, which increased by more than 150% in 2003.
The action also alleges that Heyert removed documentation of the ad deals and his employment contract from the Fuel 2000 offices without authorization.
Liquid 8 seeks special, general and punitive damages to be determined, plus a declaration that Heyert is entitled to no further compensation under his November 2000 employment contract.
Heyert, who joined Minneapolis-based Liquid 8 Records as VP of sales in February, could not be reached for comment.
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Hatch's 'Induce' Bill Spurs Debate Among Industry Groups
By Bill Holland
WASHINGTON, D.C.-The RIAA and recording-artist organizations are disputing claims by a coalition of consumer electronics, technology and Internet companies that the proposed "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act" (IICA), S. 2650, would undermine the Supreme Court's 1984 Sony-Betamax decision on legitimate uses of new technology.
That ruling held that time-shifting was a legitimate use for the VCR and that manufacturers of a product could not be held secondarily liable for infringing uses of the product by others so long as the product was capable of substantial noninfringing uses.
The new bill, authored by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, targets the makers of file-sharing software products that have made "free" trading of music and movies a worldwide phenomenon.
In the letter, the tech groups maintain that the proposed law would chill innovation and drive investment in technology and accompanying jobs overseas.
"By combining (1) a new and separate cause of action for 'intentional inducement,' (2) a lower civil, rather than higher criminal, standard of liability and (3) a circumstantially 'reasonable' test," states the letter, "S. 2650 would seem to ensure that massive and intrusive discovery proceedings and a jury trial would await any innovator or investor who introduces to the market a product that some copyright owner, someplace, believes will 'induce' infringement."
The letter's signatories include the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Verizon, TiVo, Intel, Google, the Consumer Electronics Assn. and Public Knowledge.
P2P United, the lobbying group representing Grokster, Blubster, Morpheus and others, also sent a letter to Hatch and the committee, saying the companies do not induce piracy. "The astonishing claim that the kind of wholly decentralized peer-to-peer software developed by the members of P2P United "functions like Earth Station 5's 'piracy machine' is utterly inaccurate and indefensible," says the group.
The RIAA, in contrast, says that the Hatch bill builds upon the Sony vs. Betamax decision, which explicitly said bringing a device like a VCR into the marketplace does not constitute an intentional inducement to infringe.
"Many products have a variety of uses, both legitimate and illicit," says an RIAA spokesman. "This Act only targets those who intentionally cause copyright infringement. Under the Act, the legal standards set forth by the Supreme Court in Sony are expressly preserved."
Jay Rosenthal, counsel for the Recording Artists Coalition (RAC), echoes that sentiment. "Congress is a very serious deliberative body. They understand how to parse the legal difference between the intent of the creator of the Betamax machine and the intent of the creator of a P2P music-sharing program," he says.
Upon introducing the measure, Senator Hatch stated: "This bill will also preserve the Sony ruling without reversing, abrogating or limiting it. The Inducement Act will simply import and adapt the Patent Act's concept of "active inducement" in order to cover cases of intentional inducement that were explicitly not at issue in Sony. The Inducement Act also preserves the Section 512 'safe harbors' for Internet service providers."
Sources say Hatch wants to pass a "solid" P2P anti-piracy bill before he steps down as chairman at the end of this session of Congress.
The bill has the co-sponsorship of Senate leaders from both parties, including majority leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; minority leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.; Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.; and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
"Congress is doing the right thing and shining a light on the bad actors who have hijacked a neutral technology," says the RIAA spokesman. "No amount of hyperbole or scare tactics can change that."
Behind the publicly aired debate, however, sources say that groups on both sides of the issue are working behind the scenes-but not together-to try and forge an amended version of the bill, or one with added language that might alleviate some of the opposition's fears.
In its announcement of support last month, the RIAA noted the words of U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson when he ruled in April 2003 on the liability of peer-to-peer services Morpheus and Grokster.
"The court is not blind to the possibility that Defendants may have intentionally structured their businesses to avoid secondary liability for copyright infringement, while benefiting financially from the illicit draw of their wares," wrote Wilson,
"While the court need not decide whether steps could be taken to reduce the susceptibility of such software to unlawful use, assuming such steps could be taken, additional legislative guidance may be well-counseled," he added.
Wilson, however, cleared the P2P firms of secondary liability. The RIAA has appealed the case.
Mitch Bainwol, chairman/CEO of RIAA, says, "As this legislation makes clear, the debate isn't digital versus plastic. It isn't old versus new. Here's what it is: Legitimate versus illegitimate. It's iTunes, the new Napster and Wal-Mart, Rhapsody and others versus the likes of Kazaa, Imesh and Grokster. It's whether or not digital music will be enjoyed in a fashion that supports the creative process or one that robs it of its future."
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BPI: We'll Take Legal Action To Combat Internet's 'Culture Of Free'
By Emmanuel Legrand
LONDON -- British music-industry body the BPI has confirmed that it plans to file lawsuits if serial uploaders don't stop sharing unlicensed music files over the Internet.
Speaking at the organization's AGM on July 7, BPI's new general counsel Geoff Taylor said that since the BPI started its instant-messaging warning campaign in March, over 215,000 messages were sent to people believed to be offering illegal tracks for download.
Taylor added that the campaign was producing results in that awareness among uploaders was growing, but "there is still a hardcore (group) of uploaders."
"If major uploaders continue, the BPI will take legal action," warned Taylor.
He added that "a combination of education and deterrent litigation can change attitudes and behavior."
At the AGM, BPI executive chairman Peter Jamieson added that the process that the BPI had started was "more than just a legal task."
"There are few greater challenges, but with this legal campaign we are not seeking to criminalize; we are not seeking financial gain. We are seeking to educate and we are seeking to deter," he explained.
To win this campaign, Jamieson said, the BPI needs wide support from the political spheres and other parties.
"It involves communications at every level from government -- three houses of parliament -- four relevant ministries and the Prime Minister's office, the wider music industry, other creative industries, the media and (consumers)."
Free downloads are a real threat to the existence of the music industry, Jamieson said. He singled out "those who dream of an anarchistic world in which all music is available for free on the Internet. For the creator, who we indirectly represent, the consequence of 'free music' is dire. For the investors, who we directly represent, it would mean death by a thousand cuts."
He concluded: "It is that culture of free which our Internet piracy campaign seeks to challenge and replace with one of authorization. Let those who invest and those who create have the ability to decide together where and if their music can be accessed for free."
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Strict Sentence For British CD Pirate
By Lars Brandle, London
LONDON -- The international recorded music industry has welcomed a lengthy jail sentence handed down to one of the world's most prolific CD pirates.
Mark Purseglove, 33, was sentenced July 8 at London's Blackfriars Crown Court to three-and-a-half years in prison for spearheading a global counterfeit-CD empire. Purseglove had pleaded guilty of charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.K. recorded music industry. At the sentencing, Judge Timothy Pontius also demanded Purseglove hand over assets valuing £1.8 million ($3.3 million), a British record for music piracy.
"It is normally drug barons who are being ordered to pay this amount of money. It's unprecedented as far as we are concerned," David Martin, director of anti piracy at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), tells ELW.
"I would say he's by far one of the biggest bootleggers in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world. He's a massive player and I think that's reflected in the 'proceeds of crime' award and the sentence he's been given by the court, Martin adds.
The confiscation order refers to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 .
Investigators at the BPI had pursued Purseglove and his illicit activities over the course of an 11-year crime spree. Purseglove's activities funded a lavish lifestyle of designer clothes, sports cars, holidays and properties in the most exclusive areas of London. Prosecutors told the court that Purseglove had amassed a fortune of at least £6.6 million ($12.2 million). Investigators believe that sum could be more than twice that figure.
Among the assets confiscated by the court were an Aston Martin sports car and three properties; two in the salubrious west London suburb of Chelsea and another in the seaside town of Brighton.
Should Purseglove fail to hand over his assets by the end of March 2005, a further five years will be added to his sentence.
Judge Pontius explained to the court that he "needed to pass a sentence to deter (Purseglove) and others and send a strong message that the courts will provide effective protection of the rights of producers, composers and publishers."
The counterfeiter's decision to "flout the law to reap considerable financial rewards" would not be tolerated, said Pontius, adding that the loss to the recording industry was "likely to be considerable."
Purseglove sold forged discs through an international network of wholesale dealers and at record fairs throughout the country. Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Coldplay were among the hundreds of celebrated artists whose music he pirated.
The court heard that Purseglove paid corrupt sound engineers and festival-goers to make many of his illegal recordings. He had also falsely advertised duplicated CDs as rarities through such Internet auction sites as eBay, charging up to £130 ($241) for a single disc, prosecutors told the court.
The judge explained to the court that he took into account Purseglove's "contempt of previous injunctions" and "repeated flagrant and blatant disregard for the law." The BPI had initially launched proceedings against Purseglove in 1991; the trade body had obtained a court injunction after he was caught importing bootlegs into the United Kingdom.
His activities continued until he was arrested in 1997 by U.S. customs for smuggling, the culmination of an elaborate sting operation orchestrated by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in collaboration with the FBI. When released, he was electronically tagged and lived with his aunt in Florida before being fined $5,000 and banned from entering the United States for 20 years.
Upon returning to Britain, he continued to expand his international bootlegging operation. The BPI pursued him through surveillance conducted with the Metropolitan Police. In 1999, he was arrested for selling illicit CDs at the annual summer Reading Festival, which resulted in a four-month prison sentence. He was arrested in the U.K. in June 2002 following a lengthy enquiry.
"This is an individual who had made an enormous amount of money by ripping off both the music industry and music fans," comments BPI chairman Peter Jamieson. "The result shows that there is no hiding place for these people, and after 10 years of chasing, we've succeeded in bringing him to justice."
IFPI head of enforcement Iain Grant says "this kind of sentence sets a good example to the criminals involved in music piracy all over the world, and to the judicial systems which need to deal with them."
Grant added the decision was "one of the most vital elements of an effective criminal justice system in dealing with this kind of organized crime."
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Industry Presses EC To Review Recordings' Term Of Protection
By Nigel Hunter and Emmanuel Legrand
LONDON -- The music industry's main priority on the legislative agenda in Europe is the issue of protection-term length on recording rights.
The EU is currently reviewing its past Directives on intellectual property. The review will cover the EU Term of Protection Directive ("Duration"). With this in mind, international trade body the IFPI officially requested the European Commission for an extension of Term of Protection for producers and artists, with the goal of ending the discrepancy between the United States and the European Union on the matter.
In the United States, sound recordings are protected for 95 years from the day of recording, in accordance with the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.
In most of the European Union, the duration is 50 years after the first release of a sound recording (see below). By this measure, many recordings from the '50s and the '60s will start falling into public domain in the coming years.
Author's rights have a different term of duration. In most countries, copyright in a work endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author's death.
"It's remarkable that Europe, which is the source of such a rich and diverse range of musical repertoire, should offer less protection than, for example, the U.S.A., where the term is 95 years," notes Jason Berman, IFPI chairman/CEO. "There are many other markets where recordings are granted a longer term of protection than in Europe. Australia recently committed to extending its term of protection from 50 to 70 years in a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. The EU should not delay in introducing a higher level of protection."
At the moment, the Commission is proposing only a few changes the current intellectual property Directives, prompting the industry to press the Commission for more action.
Brussels-based IFPI senior communications executive Francine Cunningham says the Commission "does not intend to propose an extension of term of protection for producers and artists. IFPI is therefore working with artists on a petition asking for term of protection in the EU to be brought in line with the longer terms in many other major music markets. We'll be working with the European Parliament and national governments to convince the Commission to amend its approach."
Peter Jamieson, executive chairman of British trade body the BPI, asked this week in his speech at the organization's AGM for the industry "to step up a gear or two in our campaign to lobby for a similar term in the EU (to the U.S.' term)."
Jamieson's concern is that "the end of the sound-recording copyright on the explosion of British popular music in the late 50s and 60s, not just the Beatles, but many other British artists, is only a short period away."
He warns, "If nothing is done, they will suffer loss of income -- not just for their sales in the U.K., but their sales across the globe."
Richard Constant, general counsel at Universal Music International, is enthusiastic for an increase in mechanical term protection. He would be "disappointed" if an extension fell short of 70 years on song copyrights.
"We are hugely active in the back-catalog area," he declares. "We would be in deep trouble if we didn't work it, because it accounts for a large proportion of our income."
Nigel Parker, joint founder and legal adviser of the British Assn. of United Recording Artists, also favors an extension to 70 or 80 years as a realistic first step towards parity with other copyright works.
"Since our foundation over 10 years ago, we have always believed that the extension in the term of copyright in sound recordings is a key issue," Parker says. "The release of public-domain recordings without royalty payment is the inevitable consequence of expiry of the copyright term.
"It's a very important issue for us because many performers live out their lives in penury while PD companies cash in on music to which they made no contribution. Given the huge increase over the past 50 years in the importance of sound recordings to consumers, the law should grant performers equivalent protection to composers."
Berman sees harmonization of the duration as useful in regulating online activity. "Having vastly different terms of protection in different parts of the world hampers the development of legitimate online music services," he observes. "Public-domain recordings in Europe, for example, may be distributed online from a European country into the U.S. where such acts amount to an infringement. In such cases, effective enforcement of right may be difficult.
"A longer uniform term of protection would provide an incentive for the development of new ways of disseminating back catalog and specialized genres online."
Duration terms of sound recordings:
U.K. (from the end of the year in which the recording was made); Germany (from the end of the calendar year of the first publication); Denmark (as for Germany); Sweden (as for Germany); Norway (as for Germany); New Zealand (as for Germany); Czech Republic (as for Germany); Cyprus (as for Germany); Latvia (as for Germany); Hungary (as for Germany); Malta (as for Germany); Poland (as for Germany); Slovakia (as for Germany); Switzerland (from Dec. 31 of the year of publication); China (as for Switzerland); France (from Jan.1 of the year following that in which the recording was made); Belgium (as for France); Netherlands (as for France); Luxembourg (as for France); Russia (as for France); Japan (as for France); Estonia (as for France); Slovenia (as for France); Finland (from the year in which the recording was made); Lithuania (as for Finland); Argentina (following the death of the author).
India (from beginning of the calendar year following that of first publication).
Australia (from the end of the year in which the recording was first published); Brazil (from Jan.1 following the year of fixation).
U.S.A. (from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first).
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Ontario Man Charged In Bootleg Case
By Larry LeBlanc
TORONTO -- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have charged a Hamilton, Ontario, resident with five counts of copyright infringement stemming from a June seizure of several hundred counterfeit copies of live concerts.
The RCMP officially charged Victor Joseph Patrick Avalis on July 7 in connection with the bootleg recordings, which were confiscated June 13 at a retail event at a Hamilton hotel.
"This is a very significant seizure of infringing recordings and Canadian artists and other rights owners can be grateful for the diligence and professionalism of the RCMP in this process," comments Brian Robertson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.
Information provided to the RCMP by CRIA investigators led to the seizure and the subsequent charges.
The alleged bootlegs seized by police include approximately 1,140 DVDs; 1,570 VHS tapes; 340 CDs; 50 audiocassettes and five CD-Rs. They contain unauthorized live concert recordings of the Rolling Stones, the Who, Guns N' Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Shania Twain, Nickelback, Rush, Avril Lavigne, Bryan Adams and Neil Young.
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This Week's Dream Makers & Deal Breakers:
The Handleman Co. has named Angelique Strong Marks as VP, corporate legal counsel. Marks, based at the music distributor's headquarters in Troy, Mich., will manage all legal affairs.
Marks most recently practiced corporate securities finance for two Michigan-based energy companies; she has also been an employment law litigator at Hardy, Lewis & Page, where she represented General Motors and Delphi Automotive, and served as in-house counsel for a national nursery retailer.
Handleman distributes music products in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.
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Industry Registry Could Clear Up Group-Name Quagmire
By Stan Soocher
The story is all-too-common: Time and/or tension dilute the amount of original or well-established members in a successful music group. The group then splinters into same-or similarly-named offshoots that compete for concert bookings and consumer dollars.
Purists, who may have been misled through vague or even false advertisements into going to a show at which no key bandmembers are performing, get infuriated at the venue and promoter, and develop skepticism about future uses of that group's name. And fans with more liberal views of what currently will hold up as a credible member-grouping of a favorite act may also feel cheated.
This scenario could trigger claims under truth-in-advertising and related consumer-protection laws. For performers, there are often lawsuits among band members or with non-artist parties, such as managers, who may claim rights in group names.
In recent years, lawsuits over rights in band names have resulted in court rulings involving such groups as Steppenwolf, Bad Company, the Beach Boys, War and the Crusaders. Litigation over name rights in the Platters, the most successful vocal group of the '50s, has raged for more than three decades, with at least five court rulings issued in the last three years alone. (Only Herb Reed survives as an original performing member.)
Claims in these cases can range from trademark infringement to dilution, unfair competition and breach of contract.
Even groups with modest success end up in court. The Intruders were primarily known for their 1968 Philly soul hit "Cowboys to Girls." In May 2004, a Manhattan federal court cancelled a federal service-mark registration for the Intruders name that had been filed by the leader of a lineup co-managed by an original member. The plaintiff, who manages competing Intruders, obtained his rights through the brother of group founder Eugene Daughtry. The federal court's detailed account of the complex history of the Intruders name made clear the fundamental value of such rights.
What all this demonstrates is that the music industry should consider forming a group-name registry to serve as a central information source as to who has rights in which names.
Performing artists, booking agents, promoters, venues and managers would become signatories to the registry, which would serve as an information clearinghouse.
The registry would require chain-of-title documentation verifying rights. Booking agents and promoters interested in a particular group could then check with the registry for valid parties to contact. Booking agent, promoter and venue signatories would use a registry seal in advertising and promotion.
Concert presenters would need to indicate whether original or well-established group members are in the current lineup. This would allow consumers to make informed choices when they are deciding whether to go to see a particular group in concert, as well as instill confidence in concert presenters that use the registry seal.
Registry signatories could be bound to submit disputes over rights in band names to a mediation body overseen by the registry. This would help centralize the arena for group-name disputes and eliminate the high costs and complexities in what can be multi-state litigation over group names.
Of course, there are potential liability issues for a group-name registry, but these can be mitigated by indemnification and warranty provisions signed by registry members.
At least one state has enacted legislation that regulates rights in band names. In April 2004, South Carolina's governor signed a law that requires a minimum of one member who played a significant role in a group's recordings to be performing in order for the group's name to be used for concerts.
Thus, the movement is already in place, and an industry registry seems like a next, but wider-reaching, logical step.
Stan Soocher is associate professor and former chair of Music & Entertainment Industry Studies at the University of Colorado at Denver. He also has a background as an entertainment attorney. He is the author of "They Fought the Law: Rock Music Goes to Court," and is at work on a music law textbook.
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