|FRIDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: There were few surprises when legal reps for alleged KickassTorrents owner Artem Vaulin and the US prosecutors targeting the file-sharing site clashed in an American court earlier this week. Both sides stuck to past arguments over the criminal liability, or not, of the former Kickasser-in-Chief in relation to the rampant copyright infringement his website facilitated... [READ MORE]|
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US court formally hears Kickass arguments
As previously reported, key file-sharing platform KAT came crashing down last July after Vaulin was arrested in Poland at the request of the American government. Extradition proceedings were subsequently launched and are ongoing in Poland, where Vaulin remains behind bars. Meanwhile, back online, a number of KAT clones emerged over the summer and then, in December, a group of people seemingly involved in the original Kickass site launched a new version of the torrent platform.
In the US, Vaulin is being repped by the same lawyer as MegaUpload's Kim Dotcom, Ira Rothken. He points out that - like most file-sharing services - KAT never actually hosted any copyright infringing material itself. Rothken then argues that, while there may still be a case for so called secondary or contributory infringement against the KAT man for his role as a facilitator of other people's infringing activities, American law doesn't allow for criminal secondary infringement.
Repeating those arguments as a court in Illinois considered the case this week, Rothken told Torrentfreak: "We believe that the indictment against Artem Vaulin in the KAT torrent files case is defective and should be dismissed. Torrent files are not content files. The reproduction and distribution of torrent files are not a crime. If a third party uses torrent files to infringe it is after they leave the KAT site behind and such conduct is too random, inconsistent, and attenuated to impose criminal liability on Mr Vaulin".
Noting the landmark court case that confirmed the potential civil liability under American law of companies which provide file-sharing tools that primarily help others to infringe copyright, Rothken said: "The government cannot use the civil judge-made law in Grokster as a theory in a criminal case".
As is common when people defend file-sharing platforms like The Pirate Bay and Kickass, Vaulin's defence argue that his site was basically just a search engine and in that respect is no different to Google. If KAT is liable, so is Google, goes that logic.
The music industry, of course, does not concur. In countless civil cases, distinctions have been made between services specifically designed to facilitate the distribution of unlicensed content online and similar technologies or platforms that may inadvertently do the same thing, but which have other primary purposes.
Meanwhile, when the founders of The Pirate Bay were prosecuted in Sweden, not only was that distinction made, but contributory infringement on a massive scale was considered a criminal offence. But that wasn't under American law.
In the KAT case, US prosecutors are basically trying to portray Vaulin's defence as a technicality-fest designed to excuse a criminal racket. US Attorney Zachary Fardon previously wrote in a court submission: "For the defendant to claim immunity from prosecution because he earned money by directing users to download infringing content from other users is much like a drug broker claiming immunity because he never touched the drugs".
Meanwhile in court this week, according to Law 360, prosecutor Devlin Su honed in on the comparisons to other search engines, saying: "Google is not dedicated to uploading and distributing copyrighted works".
The Department Of Justice man urged the US court to await the outcome of the extradition hearing in Poland before ruling on Rothken's bid to have the American case against his client dismissed.
Judge discharges 50 Cent's bankruptcy after speedier than expected repayments
The rapper declared himself bankrupt in the midst of a legal battle with Lastonia Leviston, who sued him over a sex tape he had posted online in which she appeared. Though the bankruptcy didn't actually stop that litigation, as he had been hoped.
However, the court subsequently approved a bankruptcy settlement last July that saw Leviston getting slightly reduced damages of $6 million, while other creditors stood to see between 74% and 92% of what they were owed.
That deal involved a sizable upfront payment from 50 Cent, but then additional payments over the next five years. However, the big fat payday delivered by settling with those former lawyers helped speed up the repayment process. Hence the bankruptcy case being discharged early.
As previously reported, 50 Cent is now suing the lawyers who repped him in the Leviston case for $32 million.
BMG to administer Netflix's music publishing rights
"It is an understatement to say we are excited to be working with Netflix", says BMG's US President Repertoire & Marketing Zach Katz. "This agreement is a significant endorsement of the BMG team and platform from one of the most forward-thinking and innovative entertainment companies in the world. It also highlights the particular strength of Keith Hauprich [Deputy General Counsel, BMG US] and his film and TV publishing team".
Director oO Music Licensing over at Netflix, Dominic Houston, adds: "After a long process of selecting the right partner for Netflix, we are delighted to be able to announce this new partnership with BMG and look forward to getting started with the team there. We were particularly impressed by the commercial and technology expertise of BMG, and are excited to see what opportunities we can develop together".
The deal covers score, cues, themes and songs owned by Netflix for its Netflix Originals content.
Kylie Minogue signs new record deal with BMG
"We want to make a great, big, classic Kylie pop record", BMG's Alexi Cory-Smith told Music Week. "Thirty years she's been in the business, and she's better than ever before. There's so many different opportunities and with our reach into multi-media the possibility of making a documentary or book with her - it's all possible. She's just the ultimate artist".
Minogue's last album was her Christmas record, 'Kylie Christmas', in 2015, which was re-issued with new tracks in December.
Ole signs up with AMRA
As previously reported, Kobalt acquired and then relaunched AMRA in 2015, in a bid to create a new collecting society specifically designed for licensing song rights to digital services in multiple territories, while utilising its parent company's much hyped data management and reporting tools.
It was an evolution of the various collaborations that were struck up between the big music publishers and different European collecting societies after the former decided that they wanted to do direct deals with digital services over the mechanical rights in their Anglo-American repertoires - rather than leaving such deal-making to the collecting societies.
The publisher/society collaborations were necessary because the streaming services also need to exploit the performing rights in the same songs, and these are controlled by the societies not the publishers (outside the US, on an exclusive basis). It also makes sense to pool the processing of data and royalties once the deals are done. The result has been various new partnerships and, arguably, a new kind of business relationship between music publishers and the big European societies.
AMRA immediately became Kobalt's partner in this domain - taking over from Swedish society STIM - but it also sought to provide similar services to other publishers. Hence the deal with Ole under which AMRA will now license both performing and mechanical rights of some of the music firm's catalogues to digital services in multiple though not all territories.
The deal, the two partners say, "will allow Ole and AMRA to collaborate on licensing and data acuity in the digital space leveraging their respective proprietary technology platforms". And doesn't that sound like fun?
"We are THRILLED to have Ole partnering with AMRA", says the society's CEO Tomas Ericsson. "Ole is one of the most innovative music companies out there with a very strong client roster that will now be able to benefit from AMRA's new centralised collections model. Ole is a technology-driven company that matches our values on transparency, accuracy and speed of accounting and we look forward to working with Robert and his team in the coming years".
Who's Robert you wonder? Well, Ole CEO Robert Ott of course! Want do know what he thinks of the deal? No? Good, because here's Ole's SVP Finance & Administration Chris Giansante with a quote instead: "Ole is pleased to be working with AMRA's strong platform for the benefit of our clients in the international digital space. Working alongside Tomas and his team, we're confident that Ole's global collections will increase, benefitting our stakeholders in 2017 and beyond".
Dan Le Sac recommends videogame music on Bandcamp
I've spent the last couple of years away for the music industry, still making music but without that focus on selling music. As I work on a soundtrack for a small indie game release, researching other soundtracks as I do, something has struck me, "Why the hell haven't I heard all this before?"
In gaming, particularly with indie games, there is a wealth of gorgeous, intelligent, innovative music that just doesn't see the light of day in the music press. This could partially be to do with a lack of overlap between the gaming and music PR machines, or it could be that these soundtracks' primary distribution point is Bandcamp. Also these records rarely conform to the traditional LP format.
Whatever the reason, I wanted to go a little way toward fixing that by bringing some new noise to your ears, and with Bandcamp giving 100% of their revenue today to the ACLU, what better time to do it?
Austin Wintory - Journey
Disasterpeace - Hyper Light Drifter
Danny Baranowsky - Crypt Of The Necrodancer
Chris Christodoulou - Deadbolt
Chipzel - Super Hexagon EP
This is just the tip of the proverbial, I'm missing so many here. Fez, Undertale, Furi, Firewatch, Super Meat Boy, Hotline Miami, VVVVVV, Bastion, Transistor, Sunless Sea, Thomas Was Alone, No Man's Sky, Shatter, the list is endless.
And remember anything you buy today on Bandcamp supports the ACLU, and by supporting the ACLU you're pissing on Donald Trump's chips, which can't be a bad thing right?
Phew, I managed to write an article about Bandcamp with out mentioning that I have my own store on there.
CBS Radio and Entercom merge to create second biggest US radio firm
CBS will spin off its radio division into a standalone entity that will then merge with the Entercom business. CBS Radio shareholders will own 72% of that new company, while Entercom shareholders will control the rest.
Though it feels more like a takeover of the CBS stations by Entercom, and the new entity will be run out of the latter's base near Philadelphia.
CBS and Entercom say that their combined radio business will own 244 stations across the US, and will be the country's second biggest radio broadcaster by revenue.
From a US perspective, the radio industry could become enemy number one of the music business this year, as ongoing disputes over the royalties paid (or not paid) by American broadcasters escalate. As we discuss in this CMU Trends article here.
Candidates for new Musicians' Union boss announced
Following a nominations process, the two candidates going forward to a ballot of members are MU Executive Committee member Kathy Dyson and current MU Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge. The ballot of members will now be held between 6 and 27 Mar.
Commenting on his time at the top of the MU, which coincided with a dramatic period of change for the music industry, especially on the recordings side, Smith said yesterday: "As my time as General Secretary of the Musicians' Union draws to a close, it's gratifying to look back and see how the MU has consolidated its position within both the music industry and the trade union movement".
He notes that the MU itself has also gone through quite a bit of change on his watch, adding that: "I took over at a time of internal political turmoil and spent my first few years stabilising the organisation. I then oversaw the Union's restructuring and modernisation. This was achieved successfully which allowed me to concentrate on the MU's position as an important music industry body and an independent specialist trade union".
He concludes: "I've had a great group of people working with me over the last fifteen years and I'm sure that the MU will go from strength to strength after I've retired this coming summer".
UK Americana Awards presented
Among the winners was Van Morrison, who was presented the award for Best Selling UK Americana Album of 2016 for his LP 'Keep Me Singing'. He received his prize from Jools Holland and Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot, who was busy marking the first anniversary of the weekly Official Americana Albums Chart.
"It has been a great first year for the Official Americana Chart, which has brought attention to almost 180 releases in this burgeoning sector, generating sales of more than 500,000 albums", says Talbot. "Congratulations to Van Morrison, The Lumineers and Elle King in helping drive that success".
Here's the full list of winners:
UK Album Of The Year: Lewis & Leigh - Ghost
UK Artist Of The Year: Yola Carter
UK Song Of The Year: Lewis & Leigh - The 4:19
UK Instrumentalist Of The Year: Chris 'CJ' Hillman
Best Selling UK Americana Album: Van Morrison - Keep Me Singing
Lifetime Achievement Award: Richard Thompson
CMU Beef Of The Week #341: The Spice Girls v The Year 2050
It seems that builders working on the site had been wondering where the bloody 'Blue Peter' capsule was actually buried - no one seemingly having kept a note of it - though you sense the discovery this week might have been something of an accident. Certainly the capsule's container got somewhat bashed up during the unearthing.
"The team at The O2 and our contractors ISG have been searching for the Blue Peter time capsule since we started construction work in 2016", said a spokesperson for The O2, as the big tent is now known (though I'm no sell out, I still call it 'The Dome'). "Sadly it was accidentally damaged during excavations. The capsule and its contents are safely stored in our office and we've let the team at 'Blue Peter' know. We're going to work with them to either repair or replace the capsule and bury it again for the future".
You could infer from that quote that the capsule's premature excavation was the deliberate conclusion of a pre-planned search, though one source told The Sun that the discovery was unplanned and the damage came about because unnamed builders, totally unaware of the 'Blue Peter' project in 1998, started bashing it up in a bid to get inside.
"Nobody realised it was the Blue Peter capsule", said the tabloid's super source. "The boys thought they'd struck gold. They were going at it with anything they could find - hammers, shovels, the lot. At one point a bloke in a forklift squished it with the machine's teeth".
I've worked in a few warehouses in my time, and I don't remember forklifts ever having teeth, but whatever. The point is, they found it, and quickly treated it with the reverence it deserved. Actually, according to The Sun, despite having a large 'Blue Peter' logo on the side, it was just dumped in a skip until someone else noticed it later.
What was in this capsule, though? Nearly 20 years have passed since it was buried fifteen feet under what initially became an expensive embarrassment - rather than the bold celebration of a new millennium that it was supposed to be - though via deals with live firm AEG and phone network O2, the complex has since been put to some decent use. And don't you now wish for the days when taxpayer money being squandered on pointless vanity projects was the main issue you had with the government of the day?
The contents of said capsule were chosen by 'Blue Peter' viewers in a competition, and therefore largely represent what was on the collective minds of children back in the late 90s. Well, the sorts of children watching 'Blue Peter'. Those young minds were in part preoccupied with various events in very recent history, with the recently deceased Princess Diana, the Northern Ireland peace process, and the 1998 World Cup in France all represented in different forms. Though that's not to say kids of the 1990s didn't get distracted by nonsense fads. For example, there's a Tamagochi in there, a reminder of a brief craze from that era which, by 2050, will presumably be seen as an early warning of the artificial intelligence that will be running everything by then.
But what about music? How did the kids want future generations to remember the musical delights of their era? Well, with a Spice Girls CD, obviously.
Now, just the format already constitutes a slice of history, though presumably that's not what 'Blue Peter' viewers were thinking about. Napster was still not quite online yet in 1998, and mainstream web usage was in its infancy.
No, the children of Britain wanted the musical legacy of the late Twentieth Century to be represented by Posh, Baby, Scary, Sporty and Ginger. And why not, you musical snobs. The Spice Girls were still a powerful force in pop when 'Blue Peter' was surveying its viewers.
Their first and second albums were the third and fourth best-selling albums of 1997 respectively, and the group began 1998 with a number one single in the form of 'Too Much', which had helped end the short-lived chart dominance of those Teletubbies' (something else represented in the recently discovered time capsule).
Though, revisionist historians have recently noted, even then the Spice tower was wobbling. The group had already sacked manager Simon Fuller by the end of 1997, and between fans voting for the group's CD to be dropped into the ground via 'Blue Peter's capsule and the TV show actually burying the thing, Geri Halliwell had already quit the pop enterprise.
Still, it took another two and a half years for the Spice Girls show to finally shut down. And at the end of 1998 they equalled a Beatles chart record by scoring their third consecutive Christmas number one. But after the new millennium that capsule had been built to celebrate got underway, within a year the girl power group were officially on hiatus.
Still, their final single topped the charts, and - as all things Spice started to slip away into the hazy part of people's memories we like to called nostalgia - at least there was that CD in the 'Blue Peter' time capsule. And come 2050, the world at large would once again be able to relive the joy of the great pre-millennial pop phenomenon, back when boybands and girl groups didn't require talent shows to form.
Oh, except, yeah, fucking nostalgia is its own business these days isn't it? And so, in 2007, the inevitable reunion occurred. Still, they didn't try to make a new album, the one new single they did put out was sufficiently lacklustre that we all quickly forgot about it, and the reunion tour was pretty damn successful. It even included a seventeen night residency at The O2, where they got to dance each night on top of the capsule that was so carefully preserving their legacy deep in the earth.
We don't like reunions at CMU, but that was a nicely brief blast of nostalgia. So now let's leave things alone until 'Blue Peter's big reveal in 2050, right? Oh, what's that? You think the grand finale should be a West End musical of your songs? Hmm, not sure.
Yeah, who remembers 'Viva Forever', the musical that seemed to go live while still on its first draft, resulting in a painful series of public rewrites, none of which saved it from being a disaster. It hobbled on for six months before being put out of its misery, by which point the initially super keen Spice Girls were seemingly pretending they weren't aware of any musical.
Still, until I mentioned it there, you'd forgotten all about 'Viva Forever' hadn't you? See, legacy intact, bring on 2050. Oh, except there's all that talk of another Spice Girls reunion isn't there?
Despite Mel C and Victoria Beckham being confirmed no-shows, and the latter's reported legal efforts to block her former bandmates from further exploiting all things Spice. Her lawyers could still yet succeed, or the new reunion momentum could just falter on its own accord.
But, you know, this is 2017, no logic is capable of stopping bad shit happening these days. Though maybe the bad shit here need not be the Spice Three tour Mel B is so keen to organise. Perhaps the bad shit can be the destruction of the Spice Girls CD that the children of Britain had so carefully buried in the ground for the enjoyment of future generations.
In a statement about the capsule's accidental excavation this week, the BBC said: "We are looking forward to sharing these memories with viewers and making new ones as we rebury the capsule until 2050".
Does that mean they might put some new things in there before the reburial? Assuming so, let's put that knocked about Spice Girls disc in a nice new jewel CD box but resist the temptation to add anything more recent. Keep their legacy circa 1998 unharmed.