Love is in the air and to commemorate the spirit of St. Valentine (resenting happy people), weâ€™re reviewing the recent trend of partnership disputes plaguing the comic book industry.Â The first case portrays the culmination of a decade-long feud between two industry greats.Â Â The second depicts the early stages of a dispute between childhood friends.Â Both cases involve Image Comics, a comic book publisher founded by Todd McFarlane.
Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman finally ended their decade-long ordeal. Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn and collaborator Neil Gaiman had been disputing copyright ownership over a few characters from the Spawn drama.Â Spawn was a graphic novel series created in 1992 and centered on Al Simmons, a dead soldier who makes a pact with Satan in an attempt to reunite with his wife.
After ten years of litigation, a Wisconsin federal judge confirmed a settlement between the parties. The settlement declared Neil Gaiman the copyright co-owner of five comic book issues in dispute.Â (Two Spawn book issues: #9, #26, and the first three Angela issues.)Â The judge relied on evidence that when Todd McFarlane left Marvel to start his own studio, Image, it was â€ś[f]ounded on the principle of creatorsâ€™ rights rather than the work-for-hire system at Marvel.â€ťÂ While at Image, McFarlane and Gaiman entered into an oral agreement for Gaimanâ€™s work on Spawn.Â Gaiman produced Spawn issue #9, which introduced new key characters including Angela and Medieval Spawn.Â Gaiman claimed that he was asked to write a spin-off mini-series for Angela after the success of Spawn #9.Â He also declared that a partial script he created was published in Spawn #26.Â He also maintains that McFarlane attempted to circumvent their deal by recreating the disputed characters under different names.
Letâ€™s start by taking a look at Grooveshark. Universal Music Group (UMG) filed a complaint in Manhattan District Court on November 18, 2011 against Escape Media and five of its executives alleging that Grooveshark engaged in a plethora of infringing conduct. According to the complaint, â€śEscape publically touts the fact that it has a catalog of 15 million sound recordingsâ€¦ by top commercial artists such as Bob Marley, Elton John, Jay-Z, the Black Eyed Peas, and Lady Gaga.â€ť Read more
On his last day at Warner Music Group, Chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. had some strong words for Universal Music Group: â€śIt does strike me as hubrisâ€¦ particularly for Universal to think its going to be easy to buy EMI and, in fact, frankly that they can buy EMI at all.â€ť
Tuesday, January 31st, may have marked Edgar Bronfmanâ€™s final day as chairman of Warner Music Group, but that didnâ€™t stop him from making one more promise regarding the labelâ€™s future plans on his way out.Â In an interview with Peter Kafka at the â€śD: Dive into Media Conference,â€ť Bronfman had some choice words regarding Universal Music Groupâ€™s scheduled purchase of EMIâ€™s recorded music division.Â Not only did he publicly call Universalâ€™s planÂ â€śdangerous,â€ť â€śproblematic,â€ť and a deal that â€śhas got to be stopped,â€ť Bronfman showed no hesitation in promising that, even after he steps down, Warner Music Group will be fighting the Universal-EMI merger â€śtooth and nail.â€ť
On January 27, 2012 the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York approved a settlement reached after a nearly two year debate over the fees the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) would pay for the privilege to air the approximately 8.5 million songs in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) arsenal. The battle between the 10,000 or so radio stations verse the 425,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members began when the previous agreement expired on December 31, 2009. Read more
Elvis Presley "Magic Moments"
On January 18, 2012 inÂ Golan v. Holder the Supreme Court upheld amendments made to the “Copyright in Restored Works” section of the U.S. Code in response to the Uruguay Round Agreements Act Â§ 514 as per the U.S. membership in theÂ Berne Convention. Article 18 of Berne requires countries to protect the works of other member states unless the works’ copyright term has expired in either the country where protection is claimed or the country of origin. While the U.S. upon becoming a Berne member state in 1989, notably 103 years after its formation, initially offered minimal compliance with Article 18, in 1994 when the World Trade Organization’s “Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights” provided a more secure forum for enforcement, Congress felt compelled to implement the amendment at issue in Golan.
Thanks to the Copyright Act of 1976 the recording industry has yet another battle to worry about . . . copyright termination. What do I mean by termination? Well, the Copyright Act includes sections 203 and 304, which are often called the â€śtermination provisions.â€ť These provisions allow authors to recapture their copyrights after a certain number of years. Specifically, section 203- which is the section Iâ€™ll be referring to- allows authors who granted a transfer or license of copyright on or after January 1, 1978 to recapture the copyright after 35 years. This means that January 1, 2013 marks the first day that terminations can go into effect for sound recordings- that is, if the artist(s) successfully satisfies the notice requirements (which are essentially a number of procedural hurdles that an artist must satisfy before he/she can recapture copyrights). Another major part of the termination provision- if not the most important part- is the work made for hire exception which essentially states if sound recordings fall within the work made for hire provision, record labels are the legal authors of the recordings and artists can say goodbye to their right to recapture copyrights. Do you see why this is an issue? If artists are able to recapture their sound recordings (often called â€śmastersâ€ť), the recording industry will be at a huge financial loss that will greatly affect its already â€śrockyâ€ť stability. Under these circumstances, the threshold question that creates the battle between artists and the recording industry is: are sound recordings works made for hire?
In a world where Newt Gingrich is being sued for copyright infringement by the composers of â€śEye of the Tigerâ€ť, lays the hopes and dreams of Indie music labels.Â These labels have been making gains in pursuing their goals; the start of which was their â€śManifestoâ€ť produced on January 29th.
January 28-31, 2012 marked this yearâ€™s Annual MIDEM (â€śMarchĂ© International du Disque et de l’Edition Musicaleâ€ť) Festival in Cannes, France. At this three-day, internationally renowned trade festival, artists, label representatives and industry professionals gathered, shared ideas, networked, and apparently lobbied their complaints and some responses to those complaints.Â This is precisely what a few, big names from independent music labels did at MIDEM and the result was a list of 10 bullet-points which outline and detail a plan to increase the Indie music sectorâ€™s rights and reputation.
The â€śworldâ€™s largest funding platform,â€ť Kickstarter raised $20 million for musicians in 2011. The Kickstarter-crowdfunding model demonstrates that musicians can successfully (and directly) obtain funding for their creative projects from their fans, without record label backing- either major or independent. This all begs the question, what does Kickstarterâ€™s $20 million mean for the future of the music industry?
Double, Double, Newtâ€™s In Trouble.
With the Republican primaries approaching an end, I am sure a few candidates and their advisors have been thinking of ways to motivate voters. The power of music has long been recognized to move people and stir emotions. So if Orpheus could convince Hades to free his beloved Eurydice from the underworld, surely â€śEye of The Tigerâ€ť could at least have some sway on voters. Â Unlike Newt Gingrich however, Orpheus was not living in a world of copyright law.
Facebook has launched a lawsuit against Adscend Media, alleging that they developed and encouraged others to spread spam using a variety of tactics, but most notably clickjacking. Facebook is not going at this alone. The State of Washington has filed suit, alleging violations of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), 15 U.S.C. Â§Â§7701-7713 and other laws, against Delaware-based Adscend and co-owners Jeremy Bash and Fehzan Ali. Both Facebook and The State of Washington allege the advertising company has profited by collecting money from clients for every Facebook user misdirected to an advertisement or subscription offer.