Motion to Amend Granted to Producer

Moman v. Sony BMG Entertainment, No. 604392/04, 2/5/09 N.Y.L.J. Decision of Interest (Sup.Ct., N.Y. Co. decided Jan. 20, 2009).

The court granted Plaintiff record producer leave to amend his complaint to add an additional cause of action for breach of a third-party beneficiary contract between defendant Sony and Willie Nelson in 1983. Producer argued the 1983 contract surfaced during settlement discussions, and stated that he would receive $225,000 advance royalty payment on his services for CBS Records for co-producing a single Nelson album. Sony argued the 1983 contract was merely a Letter of Direction (LOD) and was not an "open mutual account." It also argued the six year statute of limitations period expired on the claim. The court rejected Sony's argument that the breadth of a 1990 judgment audit of the CBS books and records would have also encompassed royalties from the 1983 LOD. The court noted that Producer claimed he was unaware of the 1983 LOD until 2007 when his current attorney and manager received a copy from Sony.

iTunes Goes DRM-Free on Remaining Majors

Apple reportedly has signed a deal with three more major labels (Sony, Universal and Warner Music) to bring more DRM-free MP3s to iTunes.

As part of the deal, Apple will reportedly be more lax on their strict price fix, breaking MP3s into three tiered pricing: Older catalog tracks,79-cents; newer songs, 99-cents; and hit songs, more.

[Rolling Stone]

NY State Action Against Labels

In New York Supreme Court, New York County, Plaintiff filed summons with notice for breach of contract and unjust enrichment against two major labels, his former band ("Dr. Hook") and a band-mate. Alleged damages: $500,000.

Plaintiff's autobiography, including statements concerning his relationship with the band, appear on his website.

George Cummings Jr. v. EMI Music Inc.; Sony BMG Music Entertainment; Dr. Hook of Tennessee Inc.; Dennis Locorriere. No. 08-603856; filed 12/30/2008.

Antitrust Claims Against Majors Dismissed

In re Digital Music Antitrust Litigation, No. 06 MDL 1780, 10/17/08 N.Y.L.J. "Decision of Interest" (S.D.N.Y. decided Oct. 9, 2008) (Preska, J.)

Plaintiffs sought to represent a nation-wide class of buyers of "digital music" on claims that defendant recording companies conspired to artificially fix prices on digital music (both CDs and Internet music). Defendants, the major record labels (EMI, SonyBMG, UMG, anmd Warner) allegedly fixed a high price for, and restrained availability of Internet music - by imposing the same price and use restrictions (i.e., DRM) on their sale thereof - which "buoyed" the price of CDs.

Plaintiffs' second consolidated amended complaint dismissed under the pleading standards of Bell Atlantic v. Twombly. Plaintiffs' first claim was for violation of section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The court concluded it was unreasonable to infer that defendants' adoption of DRM and parallel price arose from their membership in joint ventures that were created to distribute Internet Music. Other circumstantial evidence also did not justify an inference that defendants' parallel conduct resulted from an illegal agreement under the Sherman Act. For example, the court found there was no "antitrust record" based on investigation by government agencies, including the NY Attorney General. Nor would"mere participation in an industry trade association" yield an inference of improper inter-firm communication.

Similarly dismissed as predicated on the same allegations were state antitrust claims, consumer protection claims, and the unjust enrichment count.

The Strokes Looted

A complaint filed in New York Supreme Court alleges that plaintiff (as subrogee of Sony BMG Entertainment) parked a rented rented truck that contained video and camera equipment for a Strokes music video shoot at the defendant's garage. When the truck was picked up, its lock had been tampered with and certain video equipment had been stolen. Alleged damages: $89,000.

[Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC as subrogee of Sony BMG Entertainment/HSI Productions v. Wooster Parking Corporation. Filed 4/9/2008; No. 08-105083]

The Tables Have Turned

Thanks to the Patry Copyright Blog for calling the following to our attention:

Sony BMG, ardent foe of music piracy, is in trouble for using pirated software.
The company is being sued by
PointDev, a French software company that makes Windows administration tools, after an IT worker at Sony BMG called and supplied the company with a pirated license number for one of its products.

Isn't it ironic?

Sony Adds Catalogue to Amazon; Ups Competition with iTunes

Sony BMG became the last of the major labels to begin selling its music in mp3 format on The deal includes the labels entire catalogue.

The result of the deal is two-fold. First, it increases's competition with Apple iTunes. Second, the music will be sold without digital rights management software, or DRM, nailing another coffin in an on-line music distribution model based on limiting user's experience with the media.

...and again, this is good for the consumer! More choice, more options, more freedom. It now seems inevitable that iTunes will need to lift its DRM software in order to offer consumers a competitive product.

And Then There Were None

With the announcement that Sony BMG will cease distributing music on-line with digital rights management (DRM), there are no longer any major labels using such technology to curb on-line copyright infringement. (See OTCS links to "Digital Rights Management", below.)

Though Sony BMG is making the move to DRM on less-than-its-entire catalogue, this marks the end of an era in the way media companies distribute content on-line. Following an old addage, as goes the music business, so goes the others. OTCS can't help but predict that in the near future, other media outlets (e.g., broadcast networks, who only recently distribute video on-line) will be forced to cut-back on anti-copying measures.

What does this mean for iTunes? Or its now-and-future competitors? All OTCS can do is observe that whatever effects this has to on-line distribution businesses, the inevitable elimination of all DRM is only good for the consumer, and similarly, artists alike.

A Flurry of John Doe Suits

The past two days saw a "flurry" of law suits filed by major labels in Federal District Court: no less than 17 copyright infringement cases were filed against John Doe defendants and IP-addresses by, collectively -- Zomba, Atlantic, Capitol, Sony BMG, MoTown, Warner Bros. Records, Elektra, UMG, Maverick, and Arista.

Additionally, several suits were filed against actual named defendants - whom were identified by 3rd party investigators for using P2P networks at the defendant's IP-address. (e.g. case no
Notably, many of the cases were filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with the labels (for the most part...) represented by the SAME attorney: Jennifer K. Welsh. Talk about a pay-day! Other courts include New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Tennessee.
Is there some sort of quota the labels fill before the end of the year?

[UNVERIFIED Case nos.: 1:2007cv00972; 4:2007cv03278; 1:2007cv00416; 5:2007cv03883; 2:2007cv05463; 2:2007cv05464; 2:2007cv05457; 2:2007cv05461; 2:2007cv05467; 2:2007cv05458; 2:2007cv05459; 2:2007cv05456; 2:2007cv05460; 2:2007cv05462; 2:2007cv05465; 2:2007cv05466; 1:2007cv00479; 3:2007cv00481; 6:2007cv00569; 4:2007cv04525; 4:2007cv04527; 4:2007cv04528. ***OTCS did not verify all case numbers; Check case files and citations before citing***]

My My, Hey Hey

My my, hey hey...what OTCS can miss in ONE DAY!

Arista Records filed 12 - yes, TWELVE - copyright infringement suits in various federal district courts, each against John Doe defendants, between Nov. 27 and Nov. 29, 2007. Presumably, all relate to on-line infringement and the defendants must be identified by their IP addresses.

Additionally, UMG Recordings, Zomba, Sony BMG, and LaFace Records filed John Doe complaints over the same period of time.

OTCS has a full-time job and can't read all the complaints - so who knows what is going on? Anyone? Bueller?

SonyBMG-MySpace Licensing Deal

SonyBMG is licensing its artists materials to MySpace for a cut of the sponsorship & ad-revenue generated from the music videos and profile pages.

What does this mean to you, the consumer? Nothing really. OTCS suspects that a very small % of bands on MySpace are signed to a SonyBMG label, and those that are, OTCS suspects were already putting their music/video online anyway.

But mazel to SonyBMG for figuring out a way to monetize this avenue of communication. Of course, the financial terms of the deal were not whether or not it is successful, only time will tell.

Hello. Is there anybody out there? Just Nod if you can...

Anyone out there (and I know there are some people out there...thank you Google Analytics) know what this case is about other than copyright infringement?

Robbins Entertainment LLC; Sony BMG Music Entertainment; Rocks LLC v. Koch Entertainment Distribution; Sheridan Square Entertainment Inc.; Musicrama Inc.
10/15/2007 (NY) 07 CV-9236

This just in. Complaint filed 10/15, entered 10/17...and on the 17th? Still no copies of the complaint online. What gives ECF? What gives?