Archive for the Legal Category

Bob Marley Family Loses Lawsuit Over Hit Records | Billboard.com

Posted in Copyright, Legal, Music on September 15, 2010 by stacyepps

Bob Marley Family Loses Lawsuit Over Hit Records | Billboard.com.

Bob Marley’s family lost a lawsuit seeking the copyrights to several of the late Jamaican reggae singer’s best-known recordings.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said the UMG Recordings unit of Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group is the rightful owner of copyrights to five albums that Marley had recorded between 1973 and 1977 for Island Records.

The albums “Catch a Fire,” “Burnin’,” “Natty Dread,” “Rastaman Vibrations” and “Exodus” were recorded with Marley’s band the¬†Wailers. They include some of Marley’s best-known songs, including “Get Up, Stand Up,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “No Woman, No Cry” and “One Love.”

Marley died of cancer in 1981 at age 36.

Friday night’s ruling is a defeat for Marley’s widow Rita and nine children who had sought to recover millions of dollars in damages over UMG’s effort to “exploit” what they called “the quintessential Bob Marley sound recordings.”

L. Peter Parcher and Peter Shukat, who are lawyers for the family, did not immediately return calls seeking comment. UMG spokesman Peter LoFrumento said the company is pleased with Cote’s ruling.

Marley’s family accused UMG of intentionally withholding royalties from their company Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Ltd, and ignoring a 1995 agreement assigning them rights under the original recording agreements, court papers show.

It also accused UMG of failing as required to consult with them on key licensing decisions, including the use of Marley’s music as “ringtones” on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile phones, the papers show.

But Cote concluded that Marley’s recordings were “works made for hire” as defined under U.S. copyright law, entitling UMG to be designated the owner of those recordings, for both the initial 28-year copyright terms and for renewals.

“Each of the agreements provided that the sound recordings were the ‘absolute property’ of Island,” Cote wrote. “Whether Marley would have recorded his music even if he had not entered the recording agreements with Island is beside the point.”

She added that it was irrelevant that Marley might have maintained artistic control over the recording process. What mattered, she said, was that Island had a contractual “right” to accept or reject what he produced.

Cote also denied the Marley family’s request for a ruling upholding its claims over digital downloads, citing ambiguity in a 1992 royalties agreement.

She directed the parties to enter court-supervised settlement talks, and scheduled an October 29 conference.

The case is Fifth-Six Hope Road Music Ltd v. UMG Recordings Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-06143.


(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Derek Caney)

Independent Artists Need Legal Assistance Too!

Posted in Legal on February 12, 2010 by stacyepps

Jacks and Jills of all Trades

This topic is very important to me especially being an independent artist myself. Often I have found that many independent artists undervalue the necessity of having their business and legal issues in order. I understand, especially in my own experience, how much of the art and business that we handle on our own. We are responsible for so many of the aspects of creation, marketing, promotion, distribution among living our own lives, that getting contracts done or incorporating our companies may be the last thing on our minds. However, these items are very important to the building and maintenance of our careers.

For example, incorporating your business is an integral step in limiting your personal liability if someone files a lawsuit against you. This way your personal assets cannot be attached to the lawsuit. In addition, certain qualified business expenses that you are incurring in the creation of your art can be written off on your business’s taxes.

Resources are Available

Another concern is access to resources and the ability to afford legal assistance as an independent artist. However, there are attorneys such as myself that are willing to work with talented artists at affordable prices. Even further there are various organizations including the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (http://www.vlany.org/) existing in many major cities that will provide legal assistance to artists at little or no cost.

I also just recently found a cool website called Know the music biz (knowthemusicbiz.com) that contains many informative articles and forums in reference to the music industry.

Act Sooner to Save from Headaches Later

It is important to be proactive and handle certain business and legal items in advance, it will save you so much in the long run. I can tell you from my experience of neglecting certain matters that took so much time after the fact to fix. However, had I just taken the time to handle the issue in the beginning things would have been much smoother.

An example of this is waiting on filing your trademark. I have personally seen an artist that had been using his name for years, and finally decided to register the trademark. Unfortunately,his registration was denied because someone else had registered it just one month prior. Even further, the prior registrant had only been using the name for less than a year.  There are ways, albeit costly, to challenge this, but in the end it truly is a race to the trademark office to register your marks. Whoever gets their registration in first will most likely win.

Another quick example are songwriter split sheets. Whenever you collaborate with an artist or producer have a split sheet with you, so that the parties can agree to the percentages of ownership for the song and sign it right then and there. This saves you significant headaches letter in trying to determine who owns what.

Be Careful to Ensure you Have Competent Assistance

I have heard many stories of people who will just pull a contract off of the internet and use that for their deals. But it is important to ensure that this contract is an adequate legal document that truly protects your rights. There are a lot of half-rate contracts online so if you can, please have an attorney review it or draft you an agreement.

Any Questions Reach Out

I know this is very quick and brief overview, but I really wanted to express the importance of handling business from the start. If we want to create long-lasting and lucrative careers in the entertainment industry, it must be treated as a business as well. If you have any questions feel free to hit me up at theartoflaw.info@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!