Friday, January 9, 2015
In the past year, record companies have been in court claiming copyright infringement onplanes in the sky and in automobiles on the road. Not every target has to be moving. Some are in prisons.
Among the items being sent to prisoners, according to a complaint filed in California federal court, are mixtapes featuring performances by artists like James Brown, Eminem, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. On Tuesday, Universal Music filed a lawsuit against a group of companies including the Centric Group and Keefe Group alleged to be selling "care packages" that family members and friends can send to inmates who are incarcerated in correctional facilities.
"Defendants boast on their website that their business 'was developed to eliminate contraband,' yet the infringing copies of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings and musical compositions, in which Defendants unlawfully transact and from which they unjustly profit, are contraband personified," states the lawsuit.
A few months ago, Universal put DJ music up for legal examination, and now the company is doing the same for mixtapes.
As the complaint explains, "Mixtapes are a form of recorded music in which DJs combine (or 'mix') tracks, often recorded by different artists, onto a single CD, sometimes creating overlaps and fades between songs, and/or reflecting a common theme or mood. Such so-called 'mixtapes,' unless authorized by the copyright owner or owner of corresponding state law rights, are nothing more than collections of infringing, piratical compilations of copyrighted or otherwise legally protected sound recordings and copyrighted musical composition."
Universal says the "mixtape" is "frequently a cover for piracy," but acknowledges there are authorized distributors out there.
The defendants are alleged not to be in that authorized category, that they are infringing the copyrights of Universal's records and publishing divisions as a "door opener to solicit customers." Indeed, Universal says that the defendants sometimes sell the music at a financial loss, using items like a hip-hop mixtape as a "loss leader to boost sales of their other goods and services." Presumably, Universal doesn't believe the mixtapes fall as a fair use.
For allegedly reproducing, distributing and preparing derivative works based on their compositions, Universal is demanding maximum statutory damages in the amount of $150,000 to each copyrighted work infringed. The plaintiff also is asserting state unfair competition claims and seeking the imposition of a constructive trust, restitution of unlawful proceeds, punitive damages and more. The lawsuit is being handled by Jeffrey Goldman at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell.
Representatives for the defendants haven't yet responded to our request for comment.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
The date is drawing near and while we anxiously await the Angela Bassett-directed Lifetime premiere of Whitney, a few lucky folks received first dibs of the project, Tuesday.
Bassett was joined by stars Yaya DaCosta, Arlen Escarpeta (Bobby Brown) and a long-list of A-listers as they gathered for the screening of Whitney at the Paley Center for Media, in California.
While everyone wore smiles, it didn’t go without notice that Whitney Houston’s family were no-shows at the premiere.
Quite interesting, being that it has been stated before that Bassett received the family’s blessing and that they trusted her vision for the film.
Is static brewing again?
If you recall, early on, Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina slammed Bassett in an one-sided twitter feud for not considering her to play the role of her mother.
Bassett eloquently responded as to why Bobbi Kristina was not considered for the role and assured that the family was extended an invitation to be a part of the project from the beginning but declined.
Maybe there is no drama. It could very well be that the biopic premiere was held in close vicinity to the Beverly Hilton hotel, where Whitney drowned in 2012. That could certainly still be traumatic to the family.
Who knows? But our question is: will you be watching?
“Whitney” premieres on Lifetime, January 17 at 8p.m. ET and marks the Oscar-nominated actress’ directorial debut.