Second Circuit Affirms “Fractional Licensing” Decision

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees do not prohibit “fractional licensing” of songs.  Fractional licensing means that if there are non-ASCAP or non-BMI songwriters who have partial rights in a particular song, ASCAP and BMI can license only the fraction of the song attributable to the ASCAP or BMI songwriters.  The other fractional interests of the song would have to be licensed elsewhere (for example, from SESAC or GMR).

Particularly with the recent advent of Global Music Rights (GMR), music licensees (such as broadcasters, websites, restaurants, bars, retail establishments, fitness clubs, and etc.) are concerned that the ruling could lead to additional performance rights licensing organizations (“PROs”), and in turn higher collective licensing fees (and exposure to potential copyright infringement claims to the extent such additional licenses are not secured).

It’s too early to tell what the practical effect of this ruling may be in the music licensing marketplace.

Mark Ronson Sued For Infringing 80’s Funk “Masterpiece”

On September 12, 2017, the publisher of the legendary song “More Bounce to the Ounce” filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against music producer Mark Ronson.  The suit alleges that Ronson’s hit song “Uptown Funk,” which has been certified 11 times platinum and held the number 1 position on Billboard’s Hot 100 for fourteen consecutive weeks, infringes Roger Troutman’s and the funk group Zapp’s 1980 song “More Bounce to the Ounce.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims that “Uptown Funk” copied elements from an extended passage of “More Bounce” that constitutes more than one half, and is the “heart,” of “More Bounce.”  The suit claims that “virtually the entire guitar part, bass melody and vocoder part of Uptown Funk, (as well as the combination and sequence of these elements in Uptown Funk), is copied from this continuous passage of More Bounce to the Ounce.”

Continue reading “Mark Ronson Sued For Infringing 80’s Funk “Masterpiece””

Court Rejects Infringement Claim Against Alan Jackson

On October 27, 2016, North Carolina songwriter Timothy Arnett sued the legendary country star Alan Jackson in the Eastern District of North Carolina for alleged copyright infringement.  Arnett claimed that Jackson’s song “Remember When” infringed Arnett’s song “Remember Me.”

Yesterday, August 14, 2017, the Court dismissed Arnett’s lawsuit.  A copy of the Court’s order is available here.

Continue reading “Court Rejects Infringement Claim Against Alan Jackson”

Television Broadcasters File Class-Action Lawsuit Against SESAC

A group of television station owners has filed a class-action antitrust lawsuit against SESAC and its affiliated composers and music publishers.  SESAC is a for-profit company that licenses public performance rights to copyrighted music compositions.  The complaint (“Complaint”) filed in a United States District Court in New York alleges that SESAC has engaged in anti-competitive behavior in violation of federal antitrust laws.  Continue reading “Television Broadcasters File Class-Action Lawsuit Against SESAC”

International DJ Expo

I’ll be in Atlantic City for the International DJ Expo on Monday August 10 through Wednesday August 12. 

On Tuesday, I’ll be conducting a seminar on music copyright law:  The Top 10 Things DJs Should Know about Copyright Law.  The seminar will be at 2:30 in Diamond Room D at the Trump Taj Mahal.  I’ll also be conducting free 30 minute one-on-one legal consultations throughout the Expo. Continue reading “International DJ Expo”

Welcome to DJ

Welcome to the DJ Blog.  This first post provides a brief overview of our new Blog.  Please check out this new website for more information about this Blog and other services available through this website and from entertainment and media practice of the law firm Brooks, Pierce, McLendon,  Humphrey, & Leonard, LLP.

The Blog is maintained by me, Coe Ramsey, a partner at Brooks Pierce.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, I was a DJ and re-mixer.  I continue to have a strong passion for DJing and music, and I am fortunate that I have been able to combine this passion with the practice of law.  From time to time, other members of the law firm will also contribute articles and engage in comment and discussion on the topics discussed here.

This Blog is dedicated to the discussion of general legal issues relating to the music entertainment business, with an emphasis on issues of interest to DJs, bands, producers, re-mixers, singers, songwriters, and other artists and music providers.  We encourage open discussion and comment on the issues covered here.

Blog posts will include articles on substantive areas of the law, including posts on basic music copyright law issues and issues relating to the operations of DJ businesses, bands, producers and other music businesses.  Blog posts will also cover current developments in music law and the music industry, such as developments in copyright litigation, legislation, online music usage, and new business models as the new digital delivery world evolves.

We hope that this Blog will serve as regular resource for DJs, musicians, and others in the music industry.  We welcome feedback, comments, and discussion as this Blog develops.

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