Category Archives: News & Events

SESAC Offering Bonds Backed By Rights Money from Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond

Sesac Inc., a performance-rights company, plans to sell $300 million of bonds linked to licensing agreements, copyrights and royalty payments for artists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Robert Johnson, and Rush.  The Nashville, Tennessee-based company will use the proceeds to refinance debt and pay a dividend to the owner, as well as cover transaction costs.

Bob Dylan accounts for 7 percent of Sesac’s royalty expenses according to rating company Standard and Poor’s. The company also claims that royalty payments connected to performances rights for copyrighted music have shown to be “relatively insulated from economic downturns.”

Standard & Poor’s have given the Sesac offering a rating of triple-B minus, one notch above “junk” status.   As a so-called 144A private placement, the bonds are only available to “qualified institutional buyers,” or those with $100m or more of assets to invest.

Composer Launches Class Claims With Major Music Retailers

The composer Norman Blagman has sued Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft as well as eMusic.com and Orchard Enterprises, claiming that they “accept and sell unlicensed music” from “music aggregators,” and also alleging “massive and systematic” copyright violations. Blagman has been a successful songwriter for over five decades with artists such as Elvis Presley, Los Lobos, and Dion and the Belmonts having recorded his compositions.

He claims the defendants are “unlawfully copying and distributing plaintiff’s copyrighted musical works (and the musical works of thousands of others) and profiting greatly from their illegal activities, all without plaintiff’s authorization or permission … None of the defendants, however, are meeting their statutory obligation to obtain mechanical licenses for all of the digital musical compositions they reproduce, distribute and sell online. Nor have they confirmed that all persons or entities who upload digital recordings have obtained the required mechanical licenses for the musical compositions embodied in those recordings.”

Blagman claims the defendants violated his copyright on the tune Jazz is His Old Lady and My Old Man “Apple, Amazon, EMusic and Microsoft have all reproduced, redistributed and sold … digital recordings of [the composition] …in their online music stores as individual downloads or as part of various albums” and that the digital recordings of Blagman’s composition were duplicated and transmitted to Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and EMusic by Orchard and/or other aggregators.

Amendments to Copyright Act Passed by Indian Senate

The historic Copyright (Amendment) Bill was passed unanimously by all members of the Rajya Sabha without opposition.  The Bill designates the authors as the copyright owners which can’t be assigned to producers contrary to the current practice.

The Act makes it mandatory for radio and TV broadcasters to pay royalty to the owners of the copyright each time that work is broadcast, with the copyright board deciding the amount. The Act bans the release of cover versions of any literary, dramatic or musical work within five years of their original publishing.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal said the new law would help artists in their old age when they would reap the rewards of work done during their professional life.  He added, “We have embraced the wisdom of the standing committee in bringing about various provisions of this Bill.”

UK High Court Rules The Pirate Bay to be Blocked by ISP’s

The British High Court has ordered five of the U.K.’s biggest ISPs to
block users from accessing illegal file-sharing site the Pirate Bay.
The ruling requires internet providers Sky, Everything Everywhere,
TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media to commence blocking actions within the
next few weeks

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said in a statement: “The High Court
has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive
scale. Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting
music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people
who created them. This is wrong – musicians, sound engineers and video
editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else.”

Justice Arnold stated that “Despite their ability to do so and
despite the judicial findings that have been made against them, the
operators of the Pirate Bay take no steps to prevent infringement.
On the contrary, they actively encourage it and treat any attempts to
prevent it (judicial or otherwise) with contempt.”

Sony and Mubadala’s Takeover of EMI’s Music Publishing Approved by Commission

The European Commission approved the acquisition of EMI’s music publishing division for $2.2 billion by Sony Corporation of the USA and Mubadala Development Company PJSC, an investment fund based in the United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, stipulating that the group must sell the publishing rights to four catalogs and 12 contemporary artists.

The deal makes Sony’s publishing division, which was the fourth-largest before the merger, the largest. EMI’s publishing group manages the rights to songs of the Beatles, Beach Boys and others.

“Sony and Mubadala have offered to divest valuable and attractive catalogues containing bestselling titles as well as works of successful and promising authors,” Joaquín Almunia, the commission’s vice president in charge of competition policy said in a statement. “I am therefore satisfied that the competitive dynamics in the online music publishing business will be maintained so as to ensure consumer choice and cultural diversity.”

UNISON BENEVOLENT FUND RECEIVES GENEROUS DONATIONS FROM CANADIAN MUSIC PUBLISHERS THROUGH CMPA

The Unison Benevolent Fund is pleased to announce its $1Million funding goal is in sight, thanks in part to a generous donation from the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) and individual music publishing companies. With this generous donation of $100,000, Unison has now reached $800,000! $1M is the benchmark set for the organization to become operational.

The $100,000 is gratefully received from CMPA as a whole and the following member companies which have donated funds: Casablanca Media Publishing, EMI Music Publishing, Music Revenue Data Inc., Ole, Peer Music, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music Canada.

Unison’s Treasurer, Lisa Zbitnew comments: “We are so pleased to receive this donation from the music publishers in Canada. It is heartening to see our industry recognize this cause, and pull together to support it. We’re looking forward to a day, very soon, when we can announce that Unison is ready to help our community.”

“This donation recognises the music publishers’ belief in this important new means of support for our community and we are looking forward to the fund’s inauguration once the million dollar target has been met,” comments CMPA’s Treasurer Elisabeth Bihl.

The Unison Benevolent Fund is an assistance and referral program – created and administered for the music community, by the music community. Unison is designed to provide discreet relief to music industry personnel in times of personal hardship and crisis. The first two priorities for Unison are the Emergency Relief Fund and the creation of a counseling service, similar to the Employee Assistance Programs often available to staff of larger organizations. Details on the launch of these services will be announced soon.

We’re so close to our funding goal, but we still need your help! For those who are interested in: learning more about the Unison Benevolent Fund, making a donation, finding out how to help the cause, or accessing Unison’s services are encouraged to visit www.unisonfund.ca and register. Although registration is not required for services, it will expedite the process should an emergency funding request be made, and will also allow Unison to keep registrants up to date on discounts and benefits on offer.

Sony Pays $8 Million in Digital Music Class Action Lawsuit

A five-year battle between Sony BMG and musicians including The Allman Brothers, Cheap Trick, and The Youngbloods has been settled.  According to the deal, Sony will pay its recording artists (and the lawyers) a total $7.95 million to resolve outstanding claims in the case.

A substantial portion of the settlement will go to artists who had at least 28,500 downloads from Apple’s iTunes, with a small amount set aside for artists with lower download levels.

“We believe that the settlement is in the best interest of the class,” says Brian Caplan at Caplan & Ross, who represented the plaintiffs.  The deal comes after the plaintiffs’ lawyer reports two years of “extensive, intense settlement negotiations,” with assistance from a mediator and the named plaintiffs.

Euro Mergers Fought By Indies

Euro indie collective agency Impala  confirmed that it will urge the European Commission to block  both Uni/EMI and Sony/EMI mergers.  In a press release Impala states that it welcomes the start of the regulatory process and that it will now supplement the evidence already provided to the regulators in early January.

Critics of the deals point to the imbalance in market share that would result among the remaining major companies. Universal would control about 40 percent of the global market for recordings, and Sony about 32 percent for music publishing.

In the release, IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith, stated: that “we expect this to lead to an outright rejection of both Uni/EMI and Sony/EMI mergers. Keeping the online market as open as possible is essential for competition and for responding to piracy, as well as other market problems. Turning music into a two-horse race would hamper the natural development of the market and increase prices.”

CMRRA, SOCAN, SODRAC Exploring Integrated Approach to Music Rights Management

CMRRA, SOCAN, and SODRAC, today announced that they are exploring opportunities to create a more integrated approach to the management of performing and reproduction rights of music creators and publishers in Canada. Together, they will look for ways to create efficiencies that would benefit members of all three organizations, which include more than 100,000 Canadian music creators and publishers, as well as over 3 million international music creators and their publishers. In addition, an integrated approach would simplify the licensing process for companies that use music to enhance their business activities.

“Working together we can strengthen our ability to serve all of our members and make it easier for businesses to comply with licensing requirements”, said David Basskin, President of CMRRA, the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency.

“This is a great step forward in terms of ensuring the most effective and efficient management of the rights of music creators and publishers”, said Eric Baptiste, CEO of SOCAN, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada.

“This collaborative effort reflects the ability of our three organizations to remain flexible and adapt to the rapidly evolving music industry”, said Alain Lauzon, General Manager of SODRAC, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada.

While an agreement has been made to examine opportunities for the three organizations to work together, the next step involves a feasibility study to determine the best way forward.

File Sharing Site Shut Down

On 19 January, one of the world’s largest file-sharing sites, Megaupload.com, was shut down following charges of violating piracy laws.  Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited – have been accused of costing copyright holders more than US$500 million in lost revenue from pirated content.  Site owner Kim Dotcom was arrested at his estate in New Zealand where officials seized guns, millions of dollars, and nearly $5 million in luxury cars.

The indictment came the day after a 24-hour “blackout” of Wikipedia, a protest doodle on the homepage of Google, and numerous other protests across the Internet against the proposed SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy legislation.

Commenting on the indictment, National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) President and CEO David Israelite said: “On behalf of the songwriting and music publishing community, the NMPA applauds the Justice Department for fighting and indicting those who support the theft of copyrighted materials. Yesterday’s shuttering of Megaupload and the indictment of its executives is one of the largest criminal copyright cases to date. This case rightly demonstrates the value of copyright to our economy and the challenges creators face every day protecting their works.”