The Authorized Beat: Phoebe Bridgers & Spotify Can’t Dodge Depositions


That is The Authorized Beat, a weekly e-newsletter about music legislation from Billboard Professional, providing you a one-stop cheat sheet of massive new circumstances, vital rulings, and all of the enjoyable stuff in between.

This week: Phoebe Bridgers and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek each attempt (and fail) to keep away from sitting for depositions by arguing “harassment,” Cardi B secures a everlasting injunction in opposition to a YouTuber’s “disgusting lies,” Brian Wilson faces a combat along with his ex-wife over his previously-undisclosed $50 million publishing deal, and extra.

THE BIG STORY: Are Depositions Harassment?

No one likes being deposed. Not Justin Bieber, not Mark Zuckerberg – no one. However does asking for a deposition of a strong or well-known particular person rely as “harassment”? That query cropped up twice final week in main music circumstances, one involving Phoebe Bridgers and one other with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.

Bridgers is dealing with accusations that she defamed producer Chris Nelson by echoing allegations of abuse made in opposition to him by one other lady. She’s argued he’s utilizing the court docket system to attempt to silence her and desires the case dismissed instantly, however Nelson says the choose can’t rule till he will get an opportunity to depose her. Since he must show that she acted with “precise malice” – that she lied deliberately or reckless disregarded the reality – Nelson says he should be in a position ask her whether or not about her mindset when she posted the accusations.

Final month, Bridgers argued that Nelson was merely attempting to burden her and delay the proceedings by looking for depositions and different discovery. Her attorneys warned that Nelson’s “amorphous request for discovery,” based mostly on what they referred to as “round” logic, was “nothing greater than thinly veiled harassment.”

However in a ruling final week, a Los Angeles choose sided with Nelson. As a result of Bridgers’ “subjective perception” is vital to Nelson’s case, the choose mentioned the singer herself “is essentially the first, if not sole, supply of proof concerning precise malice.” The choose didn’t handle Bridgers’ declare of harassment.

In Spotify’s case, the corporate is dealing with a copyright lawsuit for allegedly failing to acquire the right mechanical licenses to play Eminem’s music. Confronted with a requirement to depose Ek, the streamer argued he had little data to supply concerning the lawsuit, and that Eminem’s writer was simply attempting to “harass and annoy” him.

Specifically, the corporate mentioned Ek was not “instantly concerned in Spotify’s day-to-day licensing practices, not to mention its U.S. mechanical-licensing practices specifically.” And it argued {that a} top-level government like Ek shouldn’t be drawn right into a court docket case with out superb motive, as a result of it imposes a heavy burden on somebody with a busy schedule and international tasks.

However in one other choice final week, a federal choose mentioned the chief government would want to seek out the time.

“Undoubtedly Mr. Ek has a full schedule [and] the court docket credit Spotify’s assertion that he’s very busy certainly,” the choose wrote. “But, the difficulty of correct licensing relationships with the artists whose work includes the whole lot of Spotify’s enterprise and its sole product is unquestionably additionally a matter of significance to Spotify, worthy of a few of Mr. Ek’s time and a focus.”

Bridgers is due for questioning earlier than the top of the month; a schedule wasn’t set for Ek’s deposition. Let’s simply hope they deal with the questions just a little bit higher than Robin Thicke and Pharrell did.

Billboard’s favourite legal professionals revealed…

Earlier than we get to the remainder of this week’s information, a quick highlight on High Music Legal professionals – Billboard’s yearly showcase of music business attorneys. The 2022 record is out now, that includes one of the best of the authorized greatest: the highest in-house counsel working on the labels and streamers, the elite dealmakers dealing with all these catalog gross sales, and the scary litigators repping artists and music corporations once they head to court docket. For this 12 months’s record, we requested the attorneys not solely about their large purchasers and main achievements, but additionally their prime issues for the music enterprise. Go learn the entire thing to seek out out what they mentioned.

Different prime tales this week…

CARDI B WINS INJUNCTION – The rapper secured a court docket order in opposition to Tasha Ok that requires the YouTuber to drag down greater than 20 defamatory movies and bans her from ever posting about Cardi once more on a spread of particular topics, together with herpes, cocaine or “a debasing act with a beer bottle.” The order got here two months after Cardi B received a $4 million verdict over the movies, which the rapper referred to as “disgusting lies.” Up subsequent: an enchantment of the decision to the Eleventh Circuit.

BRIAN WILSON’S $50M DEAL SPARKS LEGAL BATTLE – Seashore Boys legend Brian Wilson is dealing with a brand new lawsuit from his ex-wife that claims she’s owed tens of millions from his previously-undisclosed $50 million take care of Common Music Publishing Group. The case is certainly one of many dealing with the music business that middle on “termination rights” – the facility to regain music from a label or writer a long time after it was offered. The basis of the dispute? A part of Wilson’s UMG deal concerned a big fee to keep away from a dispute over termination, however his legal professionals say she’s not entitled to that cash as a result of it occurred years after they acquired divorced.

BLACK CROWES DRUMMER SEEKS LEGAL ‘REMEDY’ – Former Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman filed a lawsuit accusing former bandmates Chris and Wealthy Robinson of not paying correct royalties and refusing to permit him to audit the band’s books within the years since he left in 2012. He mentioned: “I remorse that it has come to this, as I stay extremely pleased with the music we created as a band, however their conduct has left me with no alternative.”

SONY CAN’T BEAT TM SUIT OVER ALBUM NAME – Band names usually result in trademark disputes, however what about album names? A federal choose shot down Sony Music’s movement to dismiss one such case, which claims that Excessive Off Life – the identify of Future’s chart-topping 2020 album – infringed the rights of a inventive company that makes use of that very same identify. Expressive works like music are normally shielded from such lawsuits by the First Modification, however the choose dominated that it was too early within the lawsuit to dismiss the case on these grounds.

ELON IS AN EMINEM FAN, APPARENTLY – Elon Musk cited an uncommon authorized authority in his newest courtroom conflict with the Securities and Change Fee: Eminem. Asking a federal choose to revoke strict guidelines that require him to get his tweets about Tesla pre-approved by legal professionals, Musk quoted from Eminem’s 2002 “With out Me.” The music makes reference to a case during which the Federal Communications Fee fined a radio station for enjoying Eminem’s music – a wonderful that was later lifted out of deference to the First Modification. Musk’s level? That the SEC’s restriction on his tweeting pose related free-speech issues.

The most effective of the remainder…

-6ix9ine reached a settlement to finish a copyright lawsuit filed by a Texas-based manufacturing group referred to as Beatdemons, which had claimed that the rapper had copied the melody, construction, and total composition of his 2020 single “Gooba” from their 2018 music “Common.” (Advanced)

-Six separate copyright lawsuits filed by comedians in opposition to Pandora over royalties have been formally consolidated right into a single massive case. The litigation, which entails the estates of Robin Williams and George Carlin and several other dwelling comics, accuses the streamer of failing to pay the equal of publishing royalties for spoken-word content material. (Law360)

-Fortnite proprietor Epic Video games was hit with a lawsuit by a YouTuber who says the sport infringed his copyrighted choreography by providing players a dance transfer referred to as “It’s Difficult.” The case is the most recent in a string of comparable (largely unsuccessful) circumstances in opposition to Epic over such “emote” dances in Fortnite. (Polygon)

 





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