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First off today, Tim Kenneally at The Wrap reports that Joss Whedon and Lionsgate have been sued by the author of a self published novel who claims that the movie The Cabin in the Woods is an infringement of his work.
According to the author, Peter Gallagher, his book The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines is “virtually identical” to the movie including the basic premise, the number of characters and even the similar names of the two lead characters. As a result, he is suing Whedon and others involved with the film for $10 million.
According to Gallagher, his book sold approximately 7,500 copies and was sold regularly in the areas around Los Angeles, where Whedon is based. Whedon nor Lionsgate have responded to the lawsuit.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at Billboard repots that Universal Music has agreed to pay up to $11.5 million in back royalties and increase royalty rates going forward for musicians whose work is sold via download services, such as iTunes and Amazon MP3, settling a class action lawsuit with many of its artists.
The lawsuit centered around whether music downloads were a “sale” or a “license”. This is significant because, under many contracts, a license earned the artist a 50% royalty rate where a sale was just 15%. The record labels had classified downloads as sales but a ruling involving the musician Eminem ruled that a license was more appropriate. This helped spark the class action lawsuit.
The other two major record labels, Warner Music and Sony, have both long settled their similar cases. Universal held out but has settled the matter as well, with $3 million of the $11.5 million going to attorneys fees and another $200,000 going to named plaintiffs. The remainder goes to the plaintiffs in the class itself.
Finally today, Rhian Jones at MusicWeek reports that the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has said that it will begin seeking legal and legislative action against sites, like YouTube, the monetize music content uploaded by users and a reduced rate.
According to the IFPI, many sites exploit the safe harbor provisions of various countries to accept uploads of infringing content and monetize against it, with only the requirement to remove it when notified that it is infringing to ensure legal protection. The IFPI claims this not only helps those sites play less for such content, if anything at all, but harm the ability of rightsholders to negotiate fair deals with other services.
The IFPI noted, for example, that Spotify and Deezer, two licensed music streaming services, have a fraction of YouTube’s audience, but generate nearly three times the revenue for the industry.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.