Cross-Border Licensing In Europe One Step Closer To Reality

BNA reports that the European Parliament approved (by a vote of 640-18 with 22 abstentions) a system that will allow online music services to get licenses that cover multiple EU member states.  Currently, licensing rights must be obtained in each of the EU member states.  Further approval is required before becoming law.

English Court Finds TopShop's Sale Of Rihanna T-Shirt Without Her Approval Was "Passing Off"

Robyn Rihanna Fenty et al. v. Arcardia Group Brands Limited (t/a Topshop) et al.; No. HC12F01378, [2013] EWHC 2310 (Ch. July 31, 2013).

This case was before the English High Court of Chancery in London.  In March 2012, the retailer Topshop started selling a t-shirt with an image of the pop star Rihanna on it.  Topshop had a license from the photographer, but not from Rihanna who contended that sale of the t-shirts without her permission infringed her rights.

The court found it "important to state at the outset that this case is not concerned with so called 'image rights'.  Whatever may be the position elsewhere in the world, and how ever much various celebrities may wish there were, there is today in England no such thing as a free standing general right by a famous person (or anyone else) to control the reproduction of their image."  Instead, "this case is concerned with passing off."  The burden was on Rihanna to establish that she has a goodwill and reputation amongst relevant members of the public, the conduct complained of was likely to deceive those members of the public into buying the product because they think it is authorized by her, and that misrepresentation damaged her goodwill.  For passing off to succeed, there must be a misrepresentation about trade origin.

The Court concluded that Rihanna "was and is regarded as a style icon by many people..." and that she had ample goodwill to succeed in a passing off action.  The scope of her goodwill was not only as a music artist but also in the world of fashion.

"The real issue in this case" was misrepresentation.  The Court concluded that a misrepresentation was made, and held that "it is a matter for the claimants and not Topshop to choose what garments the public think are endorsed by her."  Finding in favor of Rihanna.

Barring Foreign FM Broadcasts in Europe

Sabrina Tavernise, "Azerbaijan Bars Foreigners From Use of Its FM Band", 1/6/09 New York Times (World).

Azerbaijan has begun to enforce a law that bans foreign companies from broadcasting on national frequencies, effectively closing its airwaves non-domestic radio broadcasters. Foreign companies are still permitted to broadcast on shortwaves, satellite and cable. “They can broadcast any way they like, except for on our national FM frequency,” said an official in Azerbaijan’s presidential administration.

The Pirate Bay - Owe $2.5 Mil?

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry made a $2.5 million compensation claim Monday in a Swedish court, where the developers of The Pirate Bay (torrent-tracking site) have been indicted for copyright violations related to the sharing of 24 music albums, nine films and four videogames.

In response, Gottfried Svartholm Warg, one of four founders of The Pirate Bay, said Monday that "record companies can go screw themselves".

[Wired article]

Winehouse Visa Denied - US Embassy Link

Much has been written about Amy Winehouse not being able to attend the Grammy's this year due to the US Embassy in London denying her visa application. OTCS, frankly, does not get what the fuss is about; it appears that Ms. Winehouse may be performing for the awards ceremony via satellite, obviating the need for a visa given that the main audience of her performance is television-viewers anyway.

But, for readers interested in the visa application process for UK citizens, here is a link to the US Embassy in London's visa services page.