Category Archives: Business Law

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Downloaded music causing legal headache for wedding parties

An increasing number of wedding halls are not permitting the use of music downloaded from the Internet, even legitimately, for wedding parties. Doing so is considered beyond private use of the music and in violation of the Copyright Law.

Since playing music on CDs is permitted at wedding halls, customers of online music distribution services are complaining that it is unfair to prohibit legitimately purchased downloaded music.

“Please purchase a CD, because you cannot use this music here,” a wedding hall employee told one woman in Tokyo who was asked about the entertainment for her friend’s wedding party. The woman had paid for the song and downloaded it from an online music distribution service.

“Recently, some songs have only been distributed via the Internet,” she complained. “Although I purchased it, like a CD, I was told using it at my friend’s wedding party would be in violation of copyright. I can’t agree with that.”

However, the wedding hall has a legitimate reason for not allowing her to use the music she bought: According to the Copyright Law, copying and playing music and other media without permission of copyright holders is prohibited, except for private use.

An official of the copyright section of the Cultural Affairs Agency says that legally, “private” means use of a copyrighted item among four to five people with an intimate relationship similar to that of a family. Use of downloaded music at wedding parties is considered in excess of this restriction, according to the official.

Even if a song is legitimately purchased, playing it at a wedding party constitutes a violation of the Copyright Law because the song is considered a copy, having been downloaded from the Internet to a portable music player or computer.

The Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) and the Recording Industry Association of Japan asked the Bridal Institutional Association, a group of hotels and wedding halls, in July 2014 not to use copied music at wedding parties without permission.

Distribution of music via the Internet has spread worldwide since Apple Inc. started selling its iPod portable music players in 2001. Although CD sales still account for a large portion of Japan’s music industry, the share of songs distributed online doubled to over 19 percent of all music sales in 2014 from a little less than 9 percent in 2005. On the other hand, the total production value of CDs in Japan dropped to ¥184 billion in 2014 — about half of the ¥359.8 billion seen in 2005.

“It is natural that copyright holders want to protect their rights because high-quality copies can be made easily today thanks to the advancement of digital devices,” said Kensaku Fukui, a lawyer knowledgeable about copyright. “However, it is also understandable that consumers find it unfair that use of legitimately downloaded songs at wedding parties is prohibited, because they don’t intend to distribute pirated copies. It is necessary to discuss solutions moving along and at the time.”

Using CDs permitted

According to JASRAC, the “copying right” must be obtained to play downloaded music, which is considered copied, at wedding parties and other public occasions.

The copying right might be granted if a user directly contacts a music creator or record company to seek permission and pays several thousand yen per song. Yet, most people do not try to deal with this by themselves, an official of the Cultural Affairs Agency said.

Read Full Article – http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002697689

How Misguided Drug Policies Are Failing the EDM Community

ON JANUARY 27, 2016, 9:00AM
 In 2002, a bipartisan group of three Republicans and four Democrats led by then-Senator Joe Biden responded to growing public concern about MDMA use. A flurry of legal pressure had risen from the drug-related death of 17-year-old Jillian Kirkland, who passed away after an evening at New Orleans’ State Palace Theatre in 1998. Nearly four years later, the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, aka the R.A.V.E. Act, was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
The loosely worded act was an extension of the 1986 “Crack House Statute,” under which promoters and event organizers could be charged with “maintain[ing] a drug-involved” premise. Wondering what that phrase actually means? So have US promoters, venue owners, advocates, artists, and fans since a slightly augmented act — the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act — was tacked onto a 2003 Amber Alert bill, which passed without a vote or much debate. Like most US drug policies, the act has hindered true harm reduction within club and festival culture.
During what has been reported as the plateau of MDMA use and resultant hospitalizations in the US, the DEA sent baby-faced undercover agent Michael Templeton to the site of Kirkland’s death to acquire a firsthand account of the environment and the interactions between club owners, drug dealers, and revelers. During a six-month period in early 2000, Templeton and a fellow DEA agent were able to, according to a Time report, purchase 45 hits of ecstasy. Instead of arresting any of their dealers, the DEA and the New Orleans Police Department gathered info to prosecute State Palace managers Robert and Brian Bruner, as well as promoter Donnie Estopinal, aka Disco Donnie.
The feds weren’t just building their case on the ecstasy hits, but the culture itself: uptempo beats, touching and massaging, glow sticks, availability of free water, and even the energetic style of dancing. “The country was a lot more conservative and much less open-minded,” remarks Estopinal via telephone about the era. “Scary times in this industry … [we] didn’t know who would be next.”
Unable to convict any party under the Crack House laws, the government pushed for new regulations that would allow for easier prosecution. By naming easy access to free water and “chill rooms” as indicators of drug-involved premises, authorities eliminated two primary harm reducers in order to make their next arrests. While the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act has yet to be used to successfully prosecute a single promoter or venue owner, the lack of those harm-reduction essentials has itself claimed multiple lives.
After heading to D.C.’s Echostage with some of her fellow University of Virginia Alpha Phi sorority sisters on August 30th, 2013, Shelley Goldsmith consumed unadulterated MDMA as many of her classmates had done since heading off to university. Later, she would succumb to hyperthermia, possibly to do excessive dehydration, and eventually die of cardiac arrest at the age of 19.
Eight months later, Shelley’s mother, Dede Goldsmith, would lead the collective efforts to Amend the R.A.V.E. Act. “In this situation, it became very clear that there is a problem with the law, but also a problem on college campuses in terms of identifying and supplying harm-reduction techniques for these substances just like there already is with alcohol,” says Goldsmith via phone.

Misinformation about MDMA is rampant. In contrast to underage drinking, little has been done at universities and colleges to properly educate young adults on the risks associated with club drugs. As Goldsmith points out, “[There are] organizations like SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) that work with more of an alternative crowd, but no one that really reaches out to Greek Life.” Given the increased risk of drug use within the US Greek system, that’s one communication gap that needs to be bridged.

 

“Everyone feels safe to come together around the drug war. ‘Those evil drugs, we gotta get ‘em,’” quips Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies’ (MAPS) Policy and Advocacy Manager Natalie Ginsberg.

Even though we are nearly 50 years removed from the cultural renaissance that was 1968, politicians are still wary of the PR associated with progressive drug reform policies. While Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) has assisted Goldsmith in officially connecting with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Goldsmith herself has been appointed to the Virginia Commission on Youth, no legislator has officially supported or introduced an amendment initiative. And Goldsmith doesn’t envision any campaigning politician to support the policy shift in the foreseeable future.

 

Full Article – http://consequenceofsound.net/2016/01/how-misguided-drug-policies-are-failing-the-edm-community/

Popular celebrity-endorsed lip balm EOS subject of class-action lawsuit


A California law firm has received over 5,000 calls from around the world after it launched a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against EOS — a lip balm that’s been endorsed by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Hilary Duff.

The lawsuit (which you can read in its entirety below) alleges the product can cause “devastating adverse reactions.”

Rachael Cronin, who launched the suit, claims her lips began cracking, blistering and bleeding within days of trying the product. Her condition reportedly lasted for 10 days.

“She describes not being able to eat food because it was so painful,” said Ben Meiselas, an attorney at Geragos & Geragos.

Cronin approached the law firm in December after going to a doctor and doing some research online, where she reportedly found similar complaints from people on message boards.

In the lawsuit, the potential side-effects of using the lipbalm include:

  • rashes
  • dryness
  • bleeding
  • blistering
  • cracking
  • loss of pigmentation

The latter symptom can allegedly last anywhere from a few days to a few months, according to the lawsuit.

EOS bills its lipbalm as 99 per cent natural, gluten and paraben-free.

“Poison ivy is 99 per cent natural and organic,” Meiselas said of the claim. “Stating something is natural, organic or gluten-free — that doesn’t tell you what’s in it.”

Cronin’s legal team believes certain ingredients in the product are problematic. At least one, Meriselas claims, is apparently a major nut allergen and not labelled as such. Meiselas says another has allegedly been known to cause hemorrhaging and bleeding, and medical literature reportedly says you shouldn’t apply it to your face or lips.

“When you go to the website, there’s absolutely no warnings,” he said, adding there are also no warnings on the packaging.

Read Full Article – http://globalnews.ca/news/2453993/popular-celebrity-endorsed-lip-balm-eos-subject-of-class-action-lawsuit/

Time for J&J to pay up in $124M Risperdal case as SCOTUS deflects final appeal

January 11, 2016 | By

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) fell short Monday in its final effort to escape a Risperdal marketing penalty in South Carolina. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up J&J’s last appeal in the case, putting the company on the hook for a $124 million penalty.

J&J had cited the Eighth Amendment in arguing against the penalty, saying it qualified as an “excessive fine.” As Reuters notes, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had backed the drugmaker in seeking Supreme Court review.

J&J’s Janssen unit has been fighting South Carolina’s deceptive trade practices court win since 2011, when a jury ordered the drugmaker to pay $327 million for Risperdal marketing violations. The company succeeded in lowering the judgment twice, first to $136 million and then, last year, to the final $124 million.

The lawsuit centered on promotional materials Janssen used to market the antipsychotic drug. Key to the case was a letter sent to South Carolina physicians, which overstated Risperdal’s benefits compared with other drugs in its class and downplayed side effects, the jury found. The trial court judge ordered Janssen to pay about $4,000 for each of the more than 7,000 letters mailed.

The original $327 million judgment dwarfed other similar rulings in drug-marketing lawsuits, including sizable decisions and settlements in other Risperdal-related litigation, but it fell far short of a $1.2 billion verdict in Arkansas. The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down that judgment in March 2014, and the company later negotiated a settlement of $7.5 million.

The South Carolina decision survived that state’s top court in a ruling last year, in which Justice John Kittredge backed the decision at trial, but lowered the $327 million penalty to $136 million.

In affirming the judgment against the company, Kittredge echoed the trial judge’s “profit-at-all-costs” characterization of Janssen’s marketing efforts. “Janssen’s desire for market share and increased sales knew no bounds, leading to its egregious violation of South Carolina law,” Kittredge wrote in the February 2015 ruling.

Janssen had argued that it did not intentionally deceive doctors with the now-notorious “Risperdal letter” that has featured in several state-court lawsuits. The drugmaker also contended that South Carolina’s attorney general didn’t prove patients were actually harmed by the drug. It was on that point that Kittredge lowered the judgment.

The “Risperdal letter” lawsuits compose only part of the mountain of litigation J&J has fought over the antipsychotic drug. The company agreed to pay $2.2 billion in a marketing settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and a group of states.

And the litigation isn’t over yet. The company now faces more than 1,000 lawsuits over Risperdal’s ability to trigger breast development in boys. J&J lost the first court battle last February, as a Philadelphia jury ordered J&J to pay almost $2.5 million to a young man who developed breasts while using Risperdal. In November, another jury awarded $1.75 million in a similar case.

Read Full Article – http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/time-jj-pay-124m-risperdal-case-scotus-deflects-final-appeal/2016-01-11

Massachusetts Senate Panel on Legal Pot to Visit Colorado

  • By BOB SALSBERG, ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON — Jan 8, 2016, 5:04 PM ET

Members of a Massachusetts Senate panel plan to visit Colorado next week to learn more about that state’s experience with the legalized use of recreational marijuana.

The Senate Special Committee on Marijuana was created last year in response to a likely 2016 ballot question that — if approved by voters — would allow pot to be used recreationally in Massachusetts.

A draft itinerary for the four-day trip starting Monday includes meetings and discussions with Colorado state regulators, legislators and law enforcement officials.

“We have recognized all along that the best way to really learn about the impact of legalizing marijuana is to spend time on the ground in the state that has the most experience with it, and that is Colorado,” said Sen. Jason Lewis, a Winchester Democrat who chairs the committee of 10 senators, eight of whom plan to be on the trip.

The visit is being paid for by Milbank Memorial Fund, a nonprofit foundation that specializes in health policy, Lewis said Friday.

Three other states — Washington, Alaska and Oregon — have legalized recreational pot.

A group called The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collected more than enough signatures last year to advance the proposed ballot question, which would allow Massachusetts residents 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. It would also create a 3.75 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana sales that would be assessed on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

Massachusetts voters approved two earlier ballot questions that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and authorized patients with certain medical conditions to use the drug.

“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes and the challenges we had in implementing the medical marijuana question,” said Lewis, referring to regulatory delays that kept the first dispensaries from opening until last year.

Regulating recreational marijuana would be even more complex, he said, with issues that include public safety, licensing, taxes and compliance with federal law.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and state Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, are among those lined up against the proposed ballot question, with Baker saying he is “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana.

Read Full Article  – http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/massachusetts-senate-panel-legal-pot-visit-colorado-36170306