Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ford, General Motors Sued for Unpaid Royalties

GM headquarters, Detroit, Michigan.
The headquarters building of General Motors Co.

The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies -- which represents artists' and recording companies' interests within the digital duplication sector (think blank CDs and "digital jukeboxes") -- has brought a suit in Washington, D.C., against two major automobile companies, Ford and GM, as well as two technology companies, Denso and Clarion, over unpaid royalties related to the Audio Home Recording Act. (The AARC was created to oversee administration and enforcement related to the AHRA.)

The suit brought by AARC alleges that Ford and General Motors, via the technology companies Clarion and Denso respectively, have failed to register their in-vehicle media duplication devices, which AARC stresses are subject to the royalties mandated by the AHRA. Both companies' devices offer the same functionality -- to store a CD's audio on a hard drive for later playback, as well as apply identification information from Gracenote (artist, album and song titles, etc.) for the stored recordings. You can read the complaint in full here.

AARC seeks an injunction against the four companies for sale and distribution of the devices, statutory damages of $2,500 per device for three years up to the filing of the lawsuit, all royalties that would have been normally owed by the companies in the three years prior plus 50 percent, and attorneys' fees.

The Audio Home Recording Act was signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1992 in order to address the (at the time) new developments in digital replication, which allowed companies and fans to create one-to-one copies of recordings. The crux of the legislation was to introduce a statutory royalty for manufacturers of digital copying technologies and devices to pay in order to avoid a spiderweb of litigation by songwriters and trade bodies over their usage. The law also featured provisions for end users' ability to use these technologies for their personal use, such as making a backup copy of an album they had purchased.

"While no one likes litigation," said AARC executive director Linda Bocchi in a statement, "Ford, GM, Denso, and Clarion have stonewalled long enough, and we are determined to collect the royalties our members -- and all artists and music creators with rights under the AHRA -- are owed."
Neither Ford nor General Motors immediately responded to a request for comment.

Judge OKs Clippers Sale to Steve Ballmer

UPDATED: The Los Angeles superior court ruled against current owner Donald Sterling.

Associated Press
Donald Sterling’s time as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is one step closer to over.
A Los Angeles superior court judge Monday ruled against Donald and approved Shelly Sterling’s deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Shelly had the right to negotiate the sale of the Clippers in a record $2 billion dollar deal and rightfully had her husband removed from the family trust that owned the team, Judge Michael Levanas stated in a tentative ruling.

The decision, which will likely be approved in writing in 10 days, included an order that specified the ruling would stay in effect even if Donald's lawyers filed an appeal.

That order was given due to the time sensitivity of Ballmer's offer, which is set to expire Aug. 15.

While Shelly's and Ballmer's attorneys are very hopeful the deal will be closed in a few weeks, Donald's lawyers emphasized that he has other cases in progress to block the sale, which Donald's attorney Bobby Samini says means the sale is not guaranteed. In addition to the dispute that triggered today's ruling, Donald filed a new lawsuit Tuesday against the NBA, the Clippers and Shelly with allegations of being defrauded. He also sued the NBA in May, alleging antitrust and privacy violations.

His legal team intends to fight Monday's decision by filing a writ against Levanas' order when the judge's decision becomes final, Samini said. If that's approved, the appeal will take effect and stay the decision.
Samini said  his client's reaction to the ruling had been "very calm," but that he intends to continue trying to block the sale of the team in court. "His comment to me was that we have to push on and keep fighting on the other fronts," Samini said.

"This is one stage of a long war. This is one battle. We'd hoped for a different result, but this is not the end," he added.

The decision concludes a three-week probate trial over Shelly's negotiation to sell the team after her husband's racist remarks led the NBA to force a sale. His attorneys argued that the neurological examinations that found him incapacitated had been improperly conducted with the intent to remove him from the trust, and that when he later dissolved the family trust, Shelly was without rights to negotiate the sale of the team.

Levanas said in his ruling that he was convinced the exams by Drs. Meril Platzer and James Spar had been conducted solely because of Shelly's concern at her husband's cognitive function and emotional swings. 
They were not part of a plan to remove Donald from the trust if he did not comply with his wife's negotiations to sell the Clippers, Levanas said. "The court does not find any credible or compelling evidence of a 'secret plan B,'" he said, using to a term Donald's attorneys had often attached to Shelley's alleged scheming.
Shelly would not have been formulating a secret plan, he said, because Donald had encouraged his wife to negotiate the sale with Ballmer—telling her "Wow, you really did a good job" when she secured the $2-billion offer, she testified weeks ago—before abruptly pulling the plug on the sale on June 9.

Levanas dismissed other objections Donald’s lawyers had to the examinations—he stated he did not believe Donald's assertion that Dr. Platzer had been intoxicated while examining him, and that he believed Drs. Platzer and Spar's assertions Donald could not have "prepared" better for their exams had he known they would be used to remove him.

He ruled that while Donald had dissolved the trust on June 9, Shelly selling the team would be within the "winding up" of a trust's affairs permitted by the state probate code. 

Finally, Levanas granted a 1310(b) order to keep his ruling in effect even if Donald's lawyers file an appeal.
The order is for situations in which the trustee's property is in imminent danger. Levanas found the Clippers to face a significant decrease in value if the team is not sold to Ballmer, citing the previous week's testimony by Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons that Clippers head coach Doc Rivers may quit and players may boycott the team if Donald Sterling remains owner. Levanas also agreed with Shelly's lawyers, fighting for the 1310(b) order, that the disclosure of offers lower than Ballmer's ($1.2 and $1.6 billion) would lower the team's going price if it were to be auctioned off by the NBA, which will seize the team on Sept. 15 if the Ballmer sale is not completed.

Shelly Sterling said in a press conference after the hearing that she is "sure" her husband will drop his continuing lawsuits over the team in light of the ruling. She said she thinks the NBA's lifetime ban on her husband will be lifted and that he will attend Clippers games when the team has "the best new owner anyone could find."

She expressed hope for her marriage, though the trial saw him call her a "pig" and testify that she had deceived him. "I hope it'll all work out between us—it will," she said. 

Pierce O'Donnell, Shelly's lawyer, said after the hearing that he is confident the sale will hand the team off to Ballmer by August 15, though he concedes Donald's other litigations present a potential stumbling block. "We hope at this point Donald realizes he can't run out the clock forever," O'Donnell said. "We're thrilled with this victory."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Licensing Music

License your music today! Music licensing is a billion business, with endless opportunities to place music. Every company, or business uses music in some form or fashion. If you are flexible, organized, and patient it can be very rewarding.


Here are some vital steps to licensing music.

1. Quality recordings are paramount.
These are not the good old days when an artist could say, I didn't have access to a professional recording studio, because today, if you have a computer, tablet, and even some cell phones, you can create quality recordings. Demos don't work anymore, and the competition is stiff, so you have to bring your 'A' game. Top notch productions, and top notch recordings will generate multiple opportunities for your music. Bring it!

2. Own 100% of your masters.
If you do not own the music you are recording, then you essentially have music that can not be licensed. A lot of Hip Hop guys like to go on soundclick and download free beats with voice tags (uugh). They record vocals over these beats and put the songs on mixtapes, but the songs can not be sold, or licensed because the artist does not own the rights to music. Music supervisors and record labels will almost always pass these type of recordings up.  Go exclusive, and own 100% of your masters!

3. Get affiliated with a P. R. O. ( ASCAP - BMI - SESAC)
If you and your music are not registered, you will not be paid for any public performances of your music. Your P. R. O. collects the money your music generates, then sends out a check to you on a quarterly basis. each country has it's own P. R. O., and it's absolutely imperative that you join one.

4. Good song titles, and alternate versions are key.
The more attractive or catchy your song titles are, the more compelled your listener will be to listen to them. "01 Track 01" is not compelling at all, but "Skyscrapers, and Cocktails" may grab your attention. Alternate versions give music supervisors and music editors more flexibility,  so having a vocal version, a radio edit, an instrumental, a bass and drum mix, and a drums only mix, will make you a music supervisors best friend.

5. Learn the business.
Legal representation is always the best thing, but it is better to get a grasp of things for yourself, in other words,  you won't have to pay an attorney $500.00 per hour to read a contract for a placement that may not even earn you $500.00 in a year. Most of the licensing agreements you get will be non-exclusive with a 50/50 split across the board, pretty standard these days. Most companies don't even have time to rip off artist, because they are doing so well being on the up and up, it doesn't make any sense to cheat the artist.  Not to say that it does not happen, you should still be sure to read everything, that way, at least you will know whats going on.

Coolio Is Just the Beginning, Says PornHub

A lot of conversations about artistic collaboration result in nothing, but when PornHub's head of PR and marketing, Matt Blake, and the rapper Coolio began chatting at the porn industry's annual AVN Awards, a lascivious creative partnership was struck.

"We threw a party at a strip club during the AVN Awards, and we invited Coolio," said Blake. "We had some drinks, and I pitched him the idea of coming out with new music on PornHub. He loved it."

The result of that meeting is "Take It to the Hub," a song and forthcoming music video featuring Coolio and the pornstars Alexa Aimes (as a twerking dinosaur), Phoenix Marie, Jessica Bangkok, Missy Martinez and Skin Diamond. The video is set to be released in the following weeks.

While TMZ broke the news, some of the details they put forward were inaccurate. As Coolio said to Rolling Stone: "I let them into the video shoot willingly and then the first thing they do is talk bullshit about me and try to make me look bad. They were trying to say it was my comeback. Man, I ain't trying to make no f--kin' comeback off some porn."

"The way TMZ spun it," Blake said, "they made it seem like we have the exclusive forever [on his music], which isn't true -- him and I have spoken about this, at the end of the day it's all about money. It would depend how much exposure it generates. If it works, we'll go forward. We love Coolio, he was a great sport. If he wants to do again, we'll be more than happy to set it up."

To the outside observer, PornHub may not be the most natural selection for an artist to distribute their work. But consider that PornHub draws 40 million visitors a day and is ranked the 47th most-visited site in the U.S. according to Alexa, and to an artist it starts to look pretty enticing.

While financial details of the deal weren't disclosed, Blake said that it included some money upfront for Coolio, with Coolio agreeing to include some branding in his lyrics (they're right there in the title, after all). PornHub will, instead of monetizing the video for advertisements as they do with the other content on the site, will direct viewers to wherever Coolio wishes -- his website, his iTunes page. The contract was not a record deal, akin to a label.

Pharrell to Leave ASCAP for Irving and Grimmet's Global Music Rights

Pharrell Williams, 2014

Global Music Rights, the boutique performance rights organization being built by Irving Azoff and Randy Grimmett under the Azoff MSG Entertainment banner, has just signed another big name in Pharrell Williams, sources have confirmed. He joins stable mate Ryan Tedder -- they are both managed by Ron Laffitte of Front Line/Artist Nation -- at the new PRO.

Singer/songwriter/producer Williams has been a steady chart presence since last year. In addition to being featured on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" (which he also co-wrote) and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" (which he co-wrote and produced), Williams spent 10 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 with the self-written and self-produced "Happy." The Academy Award-nominated song from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack is also the multiple platinum-selling lead single from Williams' second album Girl. Released in March via Williams' i Am Other label and Columbia, the set debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Among Williams' current projects are his upcoming stint as a coach for The Voice and collaborating on T.I.'s upcoming Columbia album.

Meanwhile, Global Music Rights roster is expected to encompass between 30 and 60 writers, with about half of them expected to be drawn from the Azoff Music Management portfolio. But the new company has also sent out invitations to select songwriters, like Tedder and Williams.

Sources suggest that Williams has sent in his termination notice to ASCAP and will be officially taken over by Global Music Rights come Oct. 1. At press time, ASCAP and Global Music Rights couldn't be reached for comment.

Nicki Minaj Keeps Her 'Anaconda' Tamed, Won't Unleash Her Azz-ets Just Yet

Young Money's Nicki Minaj is going to leave fans hungry for more this week after announcing a delay for her highly-anticipated "Anaconda" single. 

Nicki broke the news to her fans Sunday (July 27) via photo-sharing social network Instagram.
"My darlingz, I've pushed the release of Anaconda to next week, Monday 8/4. I promise you will understand why before the week is out. Loveeeeeeee uuuuuu," Minaj captioned to a photo of herself July 27. (Nicki Minaj's Instagram)
Last week, Minaj resorted to dealing with some critics going after her neck over a steamy "Anaconda" single cover art reveal.
The rap diva took to Instagram to post a series of photos of models with their butts to the camera to illustrate the double standards in beauty. She wrote "acceptable" next to racy images of Kate Upton and Nina Agdal posing in swimsuits. "Angelic. Acceptable. Lol," she said of a Sports Illustrated cover with Agdal, Lily Aldridge, and Chrissy Teigen. To make her point, she then reposted her "Anaconda" cover art, which shows her squatting down in a G-string. She captioned the risqué photo "UNACCEPTABLE." (Rap-Up)
R&B singer John Legend's model wife Chrissy Teigen also felt the wrath of Nicki's fans.
Some of Nicki's Barbz went on the attack, hurling insults at Teigen. "Nicki Minaj gets King magazine covers & @chrissyteigen can only get sports illustrated she a bum hoe," tweeted one. "I just landed and I have a nicki minaj fans going absolutely batshit on me. No idea why," wrote Teigen. (Rap-Up)
Minaj treated diehard fans to her cover art, which features herself in a hot pink g-string, Wednesday (July 23) night.
Can somebody please wipe me down? Nicki Minaj's new "Anaconda" cover art just turned the temperature up to boiling point. The Young Money rapper has been teasing a "surprise" for her Barbz on Twitter since yesterday, and I was expecting a new single, or a snippet of a new single, but somehow just the cover art for a new single managed to top an actual song. Now, this isn't the first time that we've seen Nicki in this rare squat position, but it just seems to get better every time. That poor g-string never had a chance. (MTV)

Dept. of Justice Looks to Make Illegal Streaming a Felony


A Department of Justice office told a House Judiciary hearing Thursday he supports a felony penalty for illegal streaming.

Noting the rise of streaming, David Bitkower, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, said tougher penalties would reflect the reality of today's media consumption. "Misdemeanor penalties are real, but when you look at the massive profits that infringing websites can make from streaming media, misdemeanor penalties are simply not sufficient to deter those large-scale infringers."

While the illegal downloading of copyrighted works is a felony under copyright law, illegal streaming violations are treated as misdemeanors. In more technical terms, copyright law treats differently the rights that cover downloading (reproduction and distribution) and streaming (public performance).

The disparity between public performance and other rights has been discussed before. In recent years, the Copyright Office and Attorney General Eric Holder have weighted in on the issue. In 2011, the White House recommended that illegal streaming be classified as a felony. Last year, a green paper from the Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force also called for illegal streaming to be punished as a felony.

Bitkower's suggestion came during a hearing titled "Copyright Remedies" held by the same Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet that has recently held hearings on licensing and copyright issues pertaining specifically to the music business.

Illegal streaming is likely more of a problem with video than music. Bitkower cited research that indicates bandwidth consumed by illegal video streaming grew 470% between 2010 and 2012. But in citing players in the growing, legitimate streaming marketplace, Bitkower named popular music services Pandora and Spotify as well as leading video streaming services YouTube, Netflix and Hulu.

The new law would target commercial piracy rather than individuals. In his prepared remarks, Bitkower specified the law would apply only to "unauthorized public performances conducted for commercial advantage or private financial gain."