Major Labels Sue Verizon Over Music Piracy

Legal

Abby Jones, writing at Stereogum:

Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group have filed a joint lawsuit against Verizon, alleging the internet service provider of facilitating “massive copyright infringement committed by tens of thousands of its subscribers.”

The suit, filed in filed in Manhattan July 12, claims that Verizon has failed to protect copyrighted material by knowingly providing high-speed internet to a large community of online pirates.

Explaining the RIAA’s Lawsuit Against AI Music Startups

Legal

Devin Coldewey, writing for TechCrunch:

Like many AI companies, music generation startups Udio and Suno appear to have relied on unauthorized scrapes of copyrighted works in order to train their models. This is by their own and investors’ admission, as well as according to new lawsuits filed against them by music companies. If these suits go before a jury, the trial could be both a damaging exposé and a highly useful precedent for similarly sticky-fingered AI companies facing certain legal peril.

The lawsuits, filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), put us all in the uncomfortable position of rooting for the RIAA, which for decades has been the bogeyman of digital media. I myself have received nastygrams from them! The case is simply that clear.

DOJ to Sue Live Nation/Ticketmaster

Legal

The New York Times:

The Justice Department and a group of states plan to sue Live Nation Entertainment, the concert giant that owns Ticketmaster, as soon as Thursday, accusing it of illegally maintaining a monopoly in the live entertainment industry, said three people familiar with the matter.

The government plans to argue in a lawsuit that Live Nation shored up its power through Ticketmaster’s exclusive ticketing contracts with concert venues, as well as the company’s dominance over concert tours and other businesses like venue management, said two of the people, who declined to be named because the lawsuit was still private. That helped the company maintain a monopoly, raising prices and fees for consumers, limiting innovation in the ticket industry and hurting competition, the people said.

Tennessee Signs ELVIS Act

Legal

Tennessee has unveiled the ELVIS act, aiming to protect the voices of artists as a protected personal right:

Present law provides that every individual has a property right in the use of that person’s name, photograph, or likeness in any medium in any manner. This bill adds to the present law by providing that an individual also has a property right in the use of that individual’s voice. […]

This bill adds to the present law by providing that any person who knowingly uses or infringes upon the use of an individual’s voice, in any manner directed to any person other than such individual, for purposes of advertising products, merchandise, goods, or services, or for purposes of fundraising, solicitation of donations, purchases of products, merchandise, goods, or services, without such individual’s prior consent, or, in the case of a minor, the prior consent of such minor’s parent or legal guardian, or in the case of a deceased individual, the consent of the executor or administrator, heirs, or devisees of such deceased individual, is also liable to a civil action.

The goal is to protect musicians against unauthorized AI usage.

Rising Costs to Tour the United States

Legal

Anthony Pawelski, writing at AILA:

International artists face another barrier: a U.S. work visa. The O or P visa are commonly used for musicians. They are each limited to specific purposes and not a substitute for a green card. An artist may even have multiple O visas depending on their overall activities in the United States. Both O and P visas can be labor intensive depending on the musical genre, profile of band/artist, nature of the arrangement, and timeline. Like any U.S. visa, there are associated filing fees and attorney fees but, unlike the H-1B work visa, the O or P do not mandate the sponsor/employer pay all legal or government filing fees.

And now, touring is getting even more expensive. On April 1, 2024, the new fee schedule from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will take effect. Applications for most work visas and employment-based green cards will now have higher filing fees and require a new mandatory asylum fee ranging from $300 to $600 (non-profits are exempt). This new fee will be used to fund part of the costs of administering our nation’s asylum program and will be paid each and every time an O or P visa is filed (side note that it is possible that the final fee rule will be challenged in court and all or part of the new fee rule may be enjoined).

Merch Company SCP Owes Millions

Legal

Chris Eggertsen, writing for Billboard:

Illinois-based merch company SCP owes more than $4 million to over 300 clients including Mitski and Brent Faiyaz after abruptly shutting down operations last week, according to internal documents obtained by Billboard. And with plans to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy on Friday, it’s unlikely those clients will ever recover all the money they’re owed. 

Some of SCP’s other clients included Father John Misty, Chappell Roan, T-Pain, Finneas, Brand New and Carly Rae Jepsen; record labels Loma Vista Recordings and Triple Crown Records; Pharrell Williams‘ Something in the Water music festival; and online content creators such as the Dungeons & Daddies podcast and YouTubers Team Edge.  

Jimmy Irvine Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone:

A woman is filing a lawsuit against music executive Jimmy Iovine, alleging the Interscope Records co-founder sexually abused her and forcibly touched her, according to court documents. Iovine tells Rolling Stone he’s “shocked and baffled” by the claim. 

A Jane Doe plaintiff filed a summons and notice on Wednesday in New York and alleges Iovine, 70, engaged in “multiple instances of sexual abuse and forcible touching of her, including a specific incident of sexual misconduct” that occurred in New York City in August 2007. The legal filing contained little additional information regarding the woman’s specific claims, but a lawsuit is expected by the end of the year. The woman also alleges that she faced sexual harassment and retaliation, and is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. Doe’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor, declined to comment further on the case. 

Major Labels Trying to Stop Artists from Re-Recording Songs

Billboard

Steve Knopper, writing for Billboard:

The major labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group, have recently overhauled contracts for new signees, according to top music attorneys, some demanding artists wait an unprecedented 10, 15 or even 30 years to re-record releases after departing their record companies. “The first time I saw it, I tried to get rid of it entirely,” says Josh Karp, a veteran attorney, who has viewed the new restrictions in UMG contracts. “I was just like, ‘What is this? This is strange. Why would we agree to further restrictions than we’ve agreed to in the past with the same label?’”

And:

Adds Dina LaPolt, a music attorney with a long history of grappling with labels over contracts: “Now, because of all this Taylor Swift stuff, we have an even new negotiation. It’s awful. We’re seeing a lot of ‘perpetuity.’ When we were negotiating deals with lawyers, before we would get the proposal, we’d get the phone call from the head of business affairs. We literally would say, ‘If you send that to me, it will be on Twitter in 10 minutes.’ It never showed up.”

Ian Watkins Stabbed in Prison

Legal

Ian Watkins was stabbed multiple times in prison over the weekend:

Former Lostprophets singer and convicted pedophile Ian Watkins sustained multiple stab wounds after being held hostage by other inmates in the British prison where he is currently serving a 29-year sentence on sex offenses involving young children.

Following the incident, Watkins was hospitalized with injuries the Sky News reported were “not life-threatening.” According to their report, Watkins was taken hostage by three fellow prisoners Saturday morning, leading to a six-hour standoff with corrections officers during which Watkins was repeatedly stabbed and beaten by the inmates.

The National Music Publishers Association Sues Twitter

Legal

The Verge:

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is suing Twitter on behalf of 17 music publishers representing the biggest artists in the business. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tennessee, claims the company “fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical compositions, violating Publishers’ and others’ exclusive rights under copyright law.” 

It also has a list of 1,700 or so songs (included below) that the publishers say have been included in multiple copyright notices to Twitter without the company doing anything about it, asking the court to fine Twitter up to $150,000 for each violation.

Taylor Swift Has “Shake It Off” Lawsuit Dismissed

Taylor Swift

The “Shake It Off” copyright infringement lawsuit has been dismissed.

A copyright infringement lawsuit against Taylor Swift has been dismissed with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs cannot refile the same complaint in the same court. The suit had been filed in a California federal court in 2017 by songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who claimed that Swift who took lyrics from 3LW’s “Playas Gon’ Play” for her 1989 single “Shake It Off.”

Judge Dismisses Music Producer’s Defamation Suit Against Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers

MyNewsLA:

A judge Wednesday dismissed on free-speech grounds a lawsuit brought against Phoebe Bridgers by a music producer who alleged the singer-songwriter made false and defamatory statements on social media as part of a vendetta to destroy his reputation.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin heard arguments on Bridgers’ dismissal motion on Aug. 11, saying at the time that he was leaning toward tossing plaintiff Chris Nelson’s case. He instead took the issues under submission before ruling Wednesday.

Nelson filed the suit in September 2021, also alleging false light and emotional distress. On Feb. 14, the 28-year-old, Pasadena-born Bridgers’ attorneys brought a motion to dismiss the suit on free-speech grounds, arguing that Nelson was “seeking to chill Ms. Bridgers’ allegations of abusive conduct, which are protected by the First Amendment.”

MoFi Hit With Lawsuit Over Analog Vinyl Controversy

Legal

Billboard:

“MoFi never disclosed this fact, nor did it change its representations to reflect the fact that its records were using DSD,” lawyers for the accuser wrote in a complaint filed Thursday in Chicago federal court. “Instead, MoFi intentionally hid this fact from consumers.”

The lawsuit claims buyers paid extra for the supposedly all-analog vinyl, labeled as either “Original Master Recording” or “Ultradisc One Step” – not only for better sound but also because they’re intrinsically more scarce than recordings that incorporate digital processes.

Epic Ask Court to Keep Google from Removing Bandcamp

Bandcamp

Jay Peters, writing at The Verge:

Epic Games has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Google from removing independent music storefront Bandcamp from the Android app store — which Google has apparently threatened to do because Bandcamp is using its own billing system instead of paying Google an app store fee.

Bandcamp, which Epic acquired in March, has used its own billing system on Android since 2015, and was able to do so because of rules exempting digital music from having to use Google’s billing system, according to a blog post from Bandcamp co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond. “However, Google is now modifying its rules to require Bandcamp (and other apps like it) to exclusively use Google Play Billing for payments for digital goods and services, and pay a revenue share to Google,” Diamond says

Ed Sheeran Wins ‘Shape of You’ Plagiarism Case

Ed Sheeran

The New York Times:

Ed Sheeran did not steal from another songwriter when he wrote his 2017 megahit “Shape of You,” according to a highly anticipated court ruling here on Wednesday.

Justice Zacaroli, the judge overseeing the case, said “Mr. Sheeran neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied” the track “Oh Why,” by the British songwriter Sami Chokri, who records as Sami Switch.

There was “no more than speculative” evidence that Mr. Sheeran had even ever heard “Oh Why,” Justice Zacaroli added, dismissing Mr. Chokri’s claim of copyright infringement.