Album Roundup: News in the world of the LP

July 15th, 2011

A couple exciting happenings in the land of the full-length album:

  • In with the new: Madonna has officially begun work on her 12th studio album.  A tweet from her manager Guy Oseary on July 5, announced the icon’s first day back in the studio.   This will be Madonna’s first release since 2008′s Hard Candy.  Possibly released before the end of 2011, the album is rumored to include collaborations with David Guetta and A-Trak.
  • Withstanding the test of time: According to reports from Nielson Soundscan, Adele’s 21 is now the high-selling digital album of all time, surpassing former record-holder Eminem’s album Recovery.  21 is also the best selling album of the year thus far, with physical sales of over $2.5 million.

Monkey Photo Take Down Notice to TechDirt

July 13th, 2011

Further to my post on Monday about the monkey taking a photo of itself, the source I had quoted, TechDirt, has since received a letter from David Slater’s lawyers requesting them to take down the monkey photos used in their story.

Read about TechDirt’s response to the letter (and the lawyer’s subsequent responses) here.

Interestingly enough, Slater’s lawyer’s never claim copyright ownership of the photograph and also do not address TechDirt’s argument that the inclusion of the photos in the article is a fair use of the copyrighted works.

Big Brother Cast Contract Leak: 10 Reasons to Avoid Reality TV

July 13th, 2011

With a dozen seasons under its belt, Big Brother is one of the major players in reality television.  Ever consider what rights you have to sign away to get into the house?  Now we know.  According to realityblurred.com, the contract sent out to finalists in the casting process was leaked and is available online here.  The only change is that personal information has been blocked out.

I would recommend reading the full agreement for yourself, especially if you’ve ever considered becoming a reality tv star.  But here are 10 (there are many more than 10 baddies in this contract) of the worst provisions (from the participant’s perspective) listed in order of their appearance in the contract:

1. “. . . until the conclusion of the initial network television broadcast of the cycle of the Series on which [participant] appear[s], if any, [participant] shall not be allowed to maintain a personal website” or permit anyone else to maintain a website on their behalf “regardless of whether its contents do or do not relate to [his/her] experience in connection with the Series . . . ”

>> Sites already in existence must be taken offline, and the producer can register domains of the participant’s name and own them forever.

2.  For one year following initial broadcast of the final episode of that season, the participate “will not be permitted to render services or make appearances in any and all forms of media for any third parties.”

3. Participant agrees “to read, to acknowledge understanding of, and to following and obey [the official] Series Rules (as they may be changed, modified or amended by Producer in its sole discretion from time to time with or without prior notice to” participant.

>> The participant is agreeing to following rules that can be changed at any time and they may not know about the changes (but still need to follow them, unconditionally).

4.  “The water supply to the House will be rationed by Producer, and that Producer will ultimately control all power and other utilities flowing into the House.”

>> Let’s hope no one gets food poisoning right when the Producer decides to cut the water off.

5.  Participant releases, indemnifies, and holds harmless Producer, Network and other “Released Parties” from any claims and liability asserting a violation of participant’s rights of privacy, intentional (!!!) or negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and/or any  (!!!) other tort and/or damages in any way relating to the disclosure of personal or other information about participant.

>>>  The producer can commit intentional torts against the participant and the participant has no cause of action (i.e., can’t sue) against them.  So even if the information is false (i.e., defamation) and the Producer never rights the lie, no claims. Example:  Someone on the show says (or it is blatantly implied) that the participant has a particularly nasty sexually transmitted disease (even though they have to get tested as required by the contract) and the participant suffers damages (like, loses his job as a doctor, teacher, etc. or his wife leaves him because she doesn’t believe he’s clean), no claim for damages against Producer. 

Later in the agreement, participant similarly acknowledges and allows producer to use footage in any manner, even though it may be “disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature and may expose [participant] to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation.”

6.  Producer is not required to get any insurance covering participant’s death and/or disability; Participant alone is responsible for any insurance to cover death, disability, etc.

>> I’m guessing that many people leave their jobs for this “opportunity,” which lasts over 3 months, so many may no longer have insurance policies.

7.  If participant plays music that he wrote before the series, participant grants a blanket synch license to let producer record and reproduce the music in or outside of the Series, forever, in any media.  If participant plays music during the series that wasn’t written before (i.e., written during the show), Producer owns it (i.e., Participant has no rights to it; it is considered a work for hire).

8.  Producer can terminate or abandon the production for any reason at any time and is not obligated to award any prize to any participant if the show is terminated or abandoned.

9.  If participant breaches the confidentiality provision in any way, he/she agrees to pay to producer $5,000 in liquidated damages (plus reasonable attorneys fees).

>> So basically if you tell anything about the show to anyone (family included) before the episode with that information airs, you must pay $5,000 to the producer.  The producer doesn’t have to prove that they suffered $5,000 worth (or any amount) of damages. You still pay.

10.  Participant cannot ever write, prepare or produce written, audio, visual, a/v, or any other work with a third party that “depicts, concerns or relates to the Series in any way . . . without prior written consent” of Network or Producer.   This includes TV shows, books, articles, and websites.

Not only that… Particpant grants to Producer the exclusive right to his/her life story, which Producer can produce (in books, theater, tv, movies, etc) “either accurately or with such liberties and modifications as Producer determines necessary or desirable in its sole discretion . . .”  And you have to get similar releases from your family members.

>> No compensation is addressed here.  So basically, you can’t commission or produce a book or movie about your own life. The producer can make whatever they want about your life, forever, in any form, and you have no say over what they include or how they present it.  And you make no money from it.

The Grand Prize is $500,000 (although it can be taken away at any time in Producer’s sole discretion if you are found to have broken any of the terms of the contract).  Is signing this contract worth the (remote) chance of winning?

Resource: Contract Law General Information

July 12th, 2011

I rarely simply link to a great resource, without much further comment, but here is a great site that explains some basic (and extremely important) contract principles.  Many of these contract provisions are extremely common in entertainment agreements so it’s worth familiarizing yourself with them, even if you’re not a lawyer.

http://askthelawyer.info/contracts/

Here are some of the explanations in the article that I often find myself going over with clients:  (Please note that these are direct quotes. My comments are italicized.)

Consult An Attorney:
Once you decide to enter into a contractual working or business relationship, you should consult an attorney early in the process to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected. Do not wait until the contractual relationship breaks down and you face the prospect of legal action to solicit an attorney’s advice.

>> This seems obvious but I know how tempting it is to try and write and negotiate contracts on your own.  The DIY approach may work fine some of the time, but many forms available online do not cover all aspects of agreements or don’t have tailored language for the individual situations/needs.  Lawyers are an additional cost, but it’s much better to pay a fee up front to protect your interests properly rather than face costly lawsuits in the future as deals break down.

Option Contracts:
An option contract is an express promise to keep the offer open for a specified period of time in exchange for consideration. Offers to purchase film scripts typically involve options. For example, a filmmaker might pay the writer for the option to purchase a script at a specific price. If the filmmaker then chooses to purchase the script, the writer must sell to the filmmaker at the previously agreed price.

Non-Compete Clause:
A non-compete clause provides that a party cannot establish a rival business to the other party, within a narrow geographical area for a limited period of time.  Non-compete clauses are often found in employment agreements (applicable to the employee for a period of time following termination of employment) and contracts relating to the sale of a business (applicable to the seller for a period of time following closing of the sale).  A court will enforce a non-competition agreement only if:

1) the restriction is necessary for the other party’s protection, AND
2) time limit, geographical area, and burden on the other party are all reasonable, AND
3) the general public will not be harmed by the restriction.

If the party breaches a reasonable non-compete provision, the other party can sue to obtain either injunctive relief or damages.

>> Non-compete Clauses are sometimes confused with or wrongly used interchangeably with NDA/Confidentiality clauses (see below).  While both offer protections for the business, they are very different and one or both may not be appropriate in certain situations.

Non-Disclosure (Confidentiality) Clause:
A non-disclosure clause is a contract provision in which one party agrees not to disclose the confidential information of the other party.  For instance, a producer might agree not to disclose trade secrets that he learns while working with a company, or a potential client might agree not to disclose a designer’s proposals to others and not to use the proposals without the designer’s permission.

Indemnification Clause:
In an indemnification clause, one party agrees to be responsible for a loss or liability that arises under the contract.  For example, an author might agree to indemnify a publishing company and assume responsibility for any copyright infringement or defamation claims that arise from his work.

Also see specifically the article from the same website: What should be avoided in contracts?

Event: Benefit Concert to Support Music Programs in NY Public Schools

July 12th, 2011

The ROCK THE SCHOOLS concert will take place on Monday, August 29that 7:30pm at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC.

Actor/Singer/Songwriter Tyler Hilton (One Tree Hill, Walk the Line, Charlie Bartlett) and Pop/Rock  sensation Ryan Cabrera will be Co-Headlining with Special Guests Dion Roy, Locksley and Actor/Singer/Songwriter, Val Emmich (Ugly Betty, 30 Rock). The concert is being hosted by Z100 DJ, Trey Morgan.

There will be a VIP pre-party for those coming out for the cause and members of the film/television/music industries and beyond. All of the artists are attending as well as other celebs and artists that were unable to play the show but want to come anyway. VIP tickets are $75.00. We already have a huge list and a limited amount of tickets so go online now and grab a ticket while they last!

A limited number of special discounted pre-sale General Admission tickets are now on sale for $35.00 at btfconcerts.com/tickets  and full price tickets for $40.00 will go on sale through ticketmaster on Monday, July 11th at 10:00am. There is also an option to add a post-show meet and greet with Ryan Cabrera and Tyler Hilton.

For any press inquiries contact Jessie Neff: Jessie@btfconcerts.com

Can I Monkey Own (and License) a Copyright?

July 11th, 2011

I came across this article today about a wild monkey that picked up a camera and took photographs of himself, including the one below.  Somehow, two of the pictures ended up being licensed to Caters News Agency.  The question is – how did the photo get licensed to the news agency? The owner of the camera did not take the pictures so does not own them. According to US copyright law, animals cannot hold a copyright.  One comment on the post suggests that the owner of the monkey (so the owner of the land?) would actually own the copyright to the pics.   I don’t think any of the legal questions are particularly relevant to most (or any) practices, but I love this photo so had to write about it.  Isn’t it funny that the wild monkey knew how to not only take the picture but also give a big smile during the shot?

Can a Monkey Own (and License) a Copyright?

July 11th, 2011

I came across this article today about a wild monkey that picked up a camera and took photographs of himself, including the one below.  Somehow, two of the pictures ended up being licensed to Caters News Agency.  The question is – how did the photo get licensed to the news agency? The owner of the camera did not take the pictures so does not own them. According to US copyright law, animals cannot hold a copyright.  One comment on the post suggests that the owner of the monkey (so the owner of the land?) would actually own the copyright to the pics.   I don’t think any of the legal questions are particularly relevant to most (or any) practices, but I love this photo so had to write about it.  Isn’t it funny that the wild monkey knew how to not only take the picture but also give a big smile during the shot?

Event: Women in Music & Media

July 8th, 2011

And another great event coming up in NYC…

Women in Music & Media

When: Tuesday, July 12 · 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Where: St. Mark’s Bookshop

Mindy Abovitz (Tom Tom Magazine, Editor), Emily Rems (BUST magazine, Editor), Shirley Braha (MTV, Producer) talk shop. We will be addressing women’s visibility in the media based on our own experiences in consuming and creating media. Questions and conversations with the attendees are welcomed.

Mindy Abovitz, Creator/Editor-in-Chief of Tom Tom Magazine, is a self-taught drummer/drum machine programmer. She has been drumming for 11 years in NYC bands such as Taigaa, Hot Box, Chica Vas, and More Teeth. She has drum instructed at Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and Vibe SongMakers. Mindy has received her Masters in Media Studies and started this magazine because we need it.

Emily Rems [twitter.com/emilyrems] is a feminist writer, editor, rock star, playwright, and occasional plus-size model living in New York’s East Village. Best known as managing editor of the young women’s pop culture magazine BUST, Emily is also a music and film commentator for New York’s NPR affiliate WNYC, and is the drummer for the horror-punk band the Grasshoppers. Her writing has appeared in the anthologies Cassette from my Ex and Zinester’s Guide to NYC.
Shirley Braha [twitter.com/shirley_beans​ ] is a producer of indie music tv and is currently developing a new music video show called “Weird Vibes” for MTVHive.com, set to launch in the upcoming weeks. Prior to this she created New York Noise and produced 89 episodes from 2003-2010 on the city-government station NYC TV. Shirley “brought much needed originality to her field” according to The Village Voice and the show “developed a cult following among musicians” according to the New York Times. Her involvement in the NYC music scene since her teenage years also includes running a record label, programming radio stations, DJing and booking shows.

Facebook Invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=227424973947214&notif_t=event_invite

Event: AIMP Discusses the HFA Reduced Commission Program

July 8th, 2011

HFA Reduced Commission Program

July 27, 2011

Time: 5:30-7:00

Join AIMP for a special meeting on July 27th at 5:30 pm to discuss the HFA: Reduced Commission Program (which I blogged about here).

During this meeting you will learn about the benefits of this program, which allow those using HFA to have lower fees taken from their gross collections. A perfect opportunity to have your questions answered directly by HFA.

Space is limited and reservations may be cut off before the deadline.  Reservations will be honored on first come first served basis as long as payment due, for non-members, is received before 7/25.

Reservation Cutoff: July 25, 2011

Panelists

Al Pedecine
Sr VP, Chief Financial Officer

Michael Simon
Sr. VP of Bus. Affairs, General Counsel

Place: View Map
Wolf, Haldenstein, Adler, Freemen and Herz
270 Madison Avenue (39th Street) – 10th floor
New York, NY 10016

Cost:
AIMP Members – $0.00 per person
AIMP Non-Members – $15.00 per person

More info on the event on the AIMP website.

Spotify Coming to US

July 7th, 2011

Spotify has officially announced its US launch.  The date is still unclear, but Spotify has set up a splash page here and is taking email addresses of people interested in subscribing.  Even though the European version’s free services have been pared down over the past year in favor of a fee-based membership, the US version at this point promises, “Any track, any time, anywhere.   And it’s free!”

In the meantime, US-friendly rdio.com provides a similar service for a monthly fee (although they do offer a free trial).

In other Spotify news – Spotify has also signed a deal with Virgin Media in Britain, which promises to significantly expand its reach in the English market.  Virgin, a cable/phone/internet provider in Britain, will now directly provide Spotify through its services.