Music Industry

News & Analysis as of

Prince in Perpetuity: Preserving a Legacy through Trademarks

Art often lives on long after the artist, serving as the artist’s legacy for generations. After an extraordinary career, Prince Rogers Nelson, suddenly passed away on April 21, 2016. He leaves a legacy of undisputable...more

Orchestra Left Without A Chair When The Music Stops: Another Independent Contractor Misclassification

How independent are musicians who play and perform with others? Do they have more artistic control on their own, or do they only become truly great artists in collaboration with others when their independent talents combine...more

Who’s Got PRINCE Control?

My home state of Minnesota prides itself primarily on three things: our ability to withstand our winters, our 10,000 lakes, and our dearly beloved Prince. While we take a beating when it comes to our sports teams, all of...more

The Beat Goes On: D.C. Circuit Upholds NLRB View That Orchestra Musicians Are Employees

Last week, a federal appeals court enforced a ruling by the NLRB that orchestra musicians are employees, not independent contractors. The import of the decision in Lancaster Symphony Orchestra v. NLRB is sure to reverberate...more

Weekly Web Wrap-Up

Welcome to Sheppard Mullin’s Weekly Web Wrap-Up, a quick list of the past week’s top news in the social media, gaming, and virtual goods and currencies industries curated by Social Media & Games Team. Here are some of the...more

Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc. - USCA, Second Circuit, April 13, 2016

In dispute over The Turtles’ pre-1972 recordings, Second Circuit asks New York high court to determine whether right of public performance for creators of sound recordings exists under state law....more

Stairway To Heaven: Did Led Zeppelin Spirit It Away?

Last year, I wrote a post about a case that was about to be filed challenging the authorship of Led Zeppelin’s rock classic, “Stairway to Heaven.”. Two weeks after that post, a lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Federal...more

Court Silences Sound Spark Studios’ Trademark Claims

In the summer of 2012, Jeremy Southgate applied with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register a design mark for “Sound Spark Studios.” A little over a year-and-a-half later, Southgate formed Sound Spark...more

Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin - USDC, C.D. California, April 8, 2016

In copyright infringement action over iconic Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven” filed more than 40 years after song was first released, district court partially denies defendants’ motion for summary judgment, allowing...more

Mayimba Music Inc. v. Sony/ATV Latin Music Publishing LLC - USDC, Southern District of New York, March 31, 2016

In copyright infringement dispute over Shakira’s song “Loca,” district court denies plaintiff’s motion to set aside judgment that plaintiff’s work was fabrication and partially grants defendants’ motion for attorneys’ fees...more

In re Tam: Still No Trademark Registration for The Slants

In the continuing saga of whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment, the rock band The Slants will have to wait a little longer before it knows whether it can register...more

Media, Sport and Entertainment Intelligence - April 2016

Looking ahead The latest US sales report for the music industry has been released, showing annual revenues are still hovering around the US$7 billion mark, as they have since 2010. But what has been changing is how the...more

The Dancing Baby Returns: Computer Algorithms, Good Faith and Fair Use

In “The Case of Prince, a Dancing Baby and the DMCA Takedown Notice,” we discussed the potential impact of the Ninth Circuit decision in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., 801 F.3d 1126 (2015), a.k.a. the “dancing baby case,” in...more

Freedom of Speech Protects “Disparaging” Marks, Federal Circuit Holds

In a recent landmark ruling, the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, held that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act’s ban on “disparaging” marks violates the First Amendment. Section 2(a) provides that no trademark shall be refused...more

Rolls-Royce & the Rapper: Social Media Activity Helps Decide a Trademark Tussle

We recently wrote about a musician who got into some trouble with a court by using social media to flaunt images of hundred dollar bills after he had filed for bankruptcy. Now, an Atlanta-based rapper known as Rolls Royce...more

Implementation of the CRM Directive – What does it mean for music users?

In 2014, the new Directive concerning the collective management of copyright was introduced. The Directive sought to overhaul the law regulating collecting societies and other rights management organisations in Europe. Since...more

What Music Rights Holders Need to Know About the Impending NMPA / Spotify Settlement

Not much is known yet about the impending settlement between the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and Spotify. Songwriters and other music rights holders will surely have questions regarding the potential impact...more

The man who sold the world: Bowie, bonds and IP securitisation

The loss of David Bowie at the start of this year prompted much discussion of his musical legacy, but less well-publicised was his contribution to finance....more

Second Circuit Tosses Out Time-Barred Copyright Claims Against Jay Z

Last month, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a New York judge’s decision to dismiss federal copyright and state tort law claims alleged against the hip-hop icon, Jay Z, and his affiliated companies. Mahan v. ROC...more

"Key Takeways: The Emerging Legal Landscape Regarding Ticket Sales"

Over the last few years, state lawmakers and enforcement agencies have focused increasingly on protecting consumers who purchase tickets to sports and entertainment events. Private actions also have targeted ticket sellers’...more

Battle of the Music Festivals: Why 'Hoodchella' is an Infringement of 'Coachella'

Most people have heard of the famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (“Coachella”). If you haven’t, it is an annual music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in India, California. Coachella began in 1999...more

Happy Birthday to All [Reprise]

Update on the Happy Birthday Case - Back in October, we discussed some of the implications of the Happy Birthday lawsuit, and now it appears that we have finally reached a coda for the two-year legal battle. On December...more

Waiting to File Makes No (50) Cents (Simmons v. Stanberry)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has held that the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations applies to exclusive licensees thereby precluding a lawsuit against rapper Curtis Jackson, also known as “50...more

Copyright, Content, and Platforms – This Week’s Odds and Ends

The increase—about twenty-five percent over this year’s budget—could help towards the Copyright Office’s goal of making registration and other transactions simple, transparent, and technologically savvy, as laid out by the...more

Third Circuit Finds That Alleged Legal Errors Do Not Justify Vacatur Of Arbitration Award

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently confirmed an arbitration award in a dispute concerning the ownership of certain music rights, rejecting the argument that alleged legal errors constituted...more

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