|THURSDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: European law is likely fine with web-blocking. So gather one and all for a big fat web-block party. Though maybe we should wait until the European Court Of Justice itself has actually ruled on this, so far we're basing this conclusion on the opinion of the EU's Advocate General Maciej Szpunar. But he looks like he knows what he's doing... [READ MORE]|
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European Advocate General says web-blocking is just fine
So yes, web-blocking, as much previously reported, has become one of the music and movie industries' preferred anti-piracy tactics in those countries where copyright law allows for such a thing. Rather than a rights owner going to the bother of suing a piracy platform - which is likely based outside their local jurisdiction - they get an injunction forcing internet service providers in their home country to block their users from accessing said site.
Web-blocking has been employed in numerous countries now, and particularly prolifically here in the UK. Whenever web-blocks are first proposed in any one place, the local net firms commonly bluster and splutter about web-blocking being ineffective, about how they can't be the policemen of the internet, and about how web-blocking might get out of control and curtail free speech. Though then, once the web-block injunctions start to roll in, they usually just start quietly blocking any sites on the list and get on with their lives.
However, in the Netherlands, ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL continued to fight the good fight, and successfully had a court order to block The Pirate Bay overturned. The Dutch high court decided in 2014 that web-blocking was "ineffectual" and might "constitute an infringement of [people's] freedom to act at their discretion".
The country's anti-piracy agency BREIN appealed that decision to the Dutch Supreme Court, which then batted the matter up to the European Courts Of Justice, just to see whether European law had any issues with web-blocking, and the possible "infringement of people's freedom to act at their discretion" it might ensue.
That's how the EU's Advocate General Maciej Szpunar came to be pondering over the ins and outs of the web blockades. He has now provided his opinion to the European court, and while his conclusion isn't binding on the judges there, it is very influential.
As discussed in this week's CMU Trends article on so called contributory infringement, whenever file-sharing operations like The Pirate Bay face legal challenges from rights owners, they will always say two things: first that they don't actually host any copyright infringing content themselves, they merely connect other people who then infringe copyright; and second that their services have legitimate as well as illegitimate uses, in that a digital rights owner might choose to distribute their own content by employing P2P sharing.
Many copyright systems allow for facilitators of infringement to be held liable for that infringing activity though, even if they themselves don't actually copy or communicate the copyright work without licence.
Meanwhile, in his review of the Dutch Pirate Bay web-block case, Szpunar actually considers whether The Pirate Bay - by indexing unlicensed content and providing a search engine to help others access it - is in itself communicating said work to the public, an act restricted by the copyright.
He concludes that, under his interpretation of the relevant European directive, it is. Though only if "that operator is aware of the fact that a work is made available on the network without the consent of the copyright holders and does not take action in order to make access to that work impossible".
What about the fact TPB can be used for legitimate file-sharing, and the common argument that blocking the entire site would prevent such legitimate activity?
On that point Szpunar talks quite a bit about 'proportionality'. Which is to say, he reckons national courts can order for access to sites to be blocked, even if that means cutting off some legitimate activity, "provided that measure is proportionate to the significance and seriousness of the copyright infringements committed".
Given that rights owners in the Dutch case reckon over 90% of activity on The Pirate Bay is the sharing of unlicensed material - a figure not disputed by the net firms - a web-block against the infamous file-sharing site would seem to meet those criteria.
This all means that, if the European Court Of Justice now accepts Szpunar's conclusion, the Supreme Court back in the Netherlands could definitely get on with blocking the Bay without infringing anyone's rights under European law. Which is good news for the music and movie industries in all those other European countries - including the UK - that have already secured a flurry of blockades against various piracy sites.
US songwriters seek to stop dismissal of their 100% licensing lawsuit
So, you'll remember that, last year, after reviewing the consent decrees that regulate US collecting societies ASCAP and BMI, the DoJ decided [a] not to change anything and [b] that under current rules the two performing right organisations should be providing a 100% licensing system. That would mean a licensee could make use of a song with just an ASCAP licence even if it only represented one of the songwriters on a co-written work.
The music community argues that that's not what the consent decrees require, and that being forced to shift over to a 100% licensing system will cause all sorts of issues. When BMI took the matter to the judge who oversees its consent decree he agreed, quickly overturning the DoJ's decision. Though the government department is now appealing that ruling, so the matters is far from resolved.
Meanwhile SONA filed its own litigation against the DoJ on the issue last September, arguing that its ruling on 100% licensing was "an illegitimate assertion of agency power in gross violation of plaintiffs' due process rights, copyright interests and freedom of contacts", and that it therefore "needs to be set aside".
The DoJ hit back in November, calling for SONA's case to be dismissed, mainly on jurisdiction grounds. The government department argued that "the plaintiffs cannot meet the jurisdictional requirements of standing and ripeness because they do not allege any injury they have suffered or will suffer because of the statement [on 100% licensing]. The statement only lays out what the Department believes is required under the consent decrees; it does not change the terms of the consent decrees or have any effect separate from the consent decrees".
But, according to The Hollywood Reporter, legal reps for SONA have now hit back, arguing that the DoJ is wrong to down-play the significance of its statement on 100% licensing, which might not amend the consent decree put does force a totally different way of working on the songwriting and music publishing community.
They also argue that this is not simply a dispute between the DoJ and the two big song right collecting societies, because the government's decision impacts on the rights of the individual songwriters BMI and ASCAP represent.
The SONA motion says that its original lawsuit raises "claims that cut to the core of what we hold out to be our democratic values: the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to own and control one's intellectual property, and freedom from government interference with their most intimate creative relationships".
While BMI and ASCAP continue to fight the 100% licensing decision through the courts and in Congress - in addition to the SONA action - the music community also waits with interest to see whether the incoming new regime at the DoJ will take a different approach and back down on forcing the change on the collecting societies. Some reckon they might - a potential upside for the songwriting community of the Republicans now being in command in Washington.
Though once the US government has been officially merged with the Trump Organisation, and the Department Of Justice rebranded Trump Law, who knows what will happen? Tracks criticising the President will presumably be declared "fake songs" and be deprived any copyright protection at all.
INgrooves partners with Onelove Music Group
Best known as a promoter and record label, Onelove has been expanding since last year, launching publishing, A&R, management and tour management division, as well as bringing PR in-house.
Commenting on the INgrooves deal, its General Manager Ant Celestino says: "Our move towards creating a hub for artist development means more interaction with artists' rights, and that shift requires an update of the way we work with a distributor on a global level. Efficient digital delivery, trending models and world class label services are now essential tools at artist, executive and management levels, and a partnership with a top tier music company like INgrooves provides that support perfectly".
INgrooves' Amy Dietz adds: "The Onelove team has built an extremely successful brand through passion, focus and determination. We look forward to the work we can do together taking the success of their brand and artists to the next level".
Drake handed Global Recording Artist Of The Year Award
If you were to injure yourself reading the information that is coming up in this story it would really upset me. Every time a CMU reader gets hurt as a result of something we tell them it's like a dagger to my heart. And this is a particularly precarious situation, because the thing I'm about to tell you is that people like Drake.
Sorry, I came out with that a bit suddenly in the end. Are you OK? I really hope you're OK. Like I said, it would devastate me if me telling you that fact led to you even getting a paper cut. Worse, you might have received a mild electric shock by involuntarily spitting tea onto your computer. Oh God, you're going to need a new computer now. It's broken and that's that. Please remember though, I said that I would not accept any responsibility for what happened when you learned that people like Drake.
You might not believe this news, but I can assure you that it is true. The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry has asked around, and it turns out that people really like Drake. His last album 'Views' was really popular all over the world, so the IFPI is going to give him its Global Recording Artist Of The Year Award for 2016.
"I'm delighted to be able to honour Drake as the IFPI Global Recording Artist 2016", said IFPI's Frances Moore, confirming that Drake is well liked. "Drake's phenomenal success reflects how deeply his unique sound appeals to an enormous global audience. The Global Top 10 list features a number of amazing artists, and the variety and vibrancy of their art speaks volumes about the exciting state of music today".
Yeah, you read that right. I didn't want to tell you straight away because I was sure you'd fall down some stairs or out of a window due to the sudden shock. I guess the cat's out of the bag now though. Yes, nine other artists are also fairly popular. Not popular enough to get the IFPI Global Recording Artist Of The Year Award for 2016, but enough to get on a list. Though I imagine they all slipped off the list and broke every bone in their bodies when they all found out that they were on that list.
Here's that very list of the very artists that were very popular last year. Please do not read it if you are of a nervous disposition:
This is the fourth time the IFPI has thrown caution to the wind and let it be known which artist was most popular in the previous year. If you've got this far, I think you can probably handle knowing that One Direction were popular in 2013, Taylor Swift in 2014 and Adele in 2015. And, of course, Drake this year. Sorry.
Government proposes boost to 'agent of change' protections for music venues
The need for better law in this domain has become more apparent in recent years, as more music venues have been put out of business, or at least at risk of being forced out of business, by new residential developments. The 'agent of change' principal puts the responsibility for things such as soundproofing against noise on a developer which is putting new residential properties next door to a venue, rather than on the venue itself.
Perhaps the most high profile dispute in this area in recent years was between the Ministry Of Sound club in London's Elephant & Castle and property company Oakmayne, which wanted to build a new block of flats opposite the club, leading to concerns that complaints from new residents could impact on the venue's licence and ability to trade. Following a lengthy legal battle, the club and property firm reached a settlement.
However, the impact of such new property builds can prove more problematic for small venues that cannot afford to fight things through the courts, nor to pay for expensive soundproofing to abate what may be a complaint from one individual.
In proposals announced yesterday, the government said that it would amend the National Planning Policy Framework so to emphasise the consideration of existing venues in planning policies and decisions, in an attempt to avoid future noise complaints.
"UK Music has long argued that grassroots music venues need to be cherished as they are the incubators of music talent", says UK Music chief exec Jo Dipple. "That they are under threat has direct knock-on implications for the future of the sector, one that contributes £4.1 billion to the UK economy and supports thousands of jobs and businesses. Any new measure which acts to preserve, improve and protect these venues has the full support of our industry".
MVT CEO Mark Davyd adds: "This extends the impact of existing 'agent of change'-style legislation and advice. It's another huge step forward for protecting music venues and ensures residents and musical culture can exist side-by-side in towns and cities".
Meanwhile, MU Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge comments: "Grassroots music venues have for years been the starting place for so many of the UK's now headline artists. Musicians need a thriving network of venues to be able to hone their craft, develop their skills and make a living. We applaud these proposals which add a further level of protection and recognise the importance of music venues to musicians, fans and communities".
Rajar round-up: Digital up, but commercial radio has a rough three months
Anyway, yeah, the numbers people have been looking at radio listening for the last quarter of 2016 and wrote some of their favourite numbers down for all to see. Here are a few of the insights therein...
1. Chris Evans saw his Radio 2 breakfast show audience stay around the same size at nine million, slightly down on the year. Over on Radio 1, Nick Grimshaw lost half a million listeners year-on-year, now being at 5.4 million.
2. Commercial radio in general had a rough three months, although that may not be solace to News UK's Wireless Group, whose new Virgin Radio and TalkRadio digital stations both lost listeners over their first year on air. They had 324,000 and 252,000 tuning in during Q4 respectively.
3. Digital listening, and in particular people turning in via the DAB network, grew again, it now accounting for 45.2% of all listening, up from 41.7% from the same period in 2015. The most popular digital-only stations are BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 4 Extra. Commercial radio saw a 21% increase in digital listening, despite the general fall in listeners overall.
4. In part boosted by increased DAB use, in-car listening had its highest share of listening figure of all time, at 23.3% - a 40% year-on-year growth.
5. Significant drops in listener numbers for Capital and Heart mean that Kiss is now London's most popular commercial station overall, and also has the most popular breakfast show in the capital.
CMU Insights to discuss digital and music PR at Output
As always, both sessions will kick off with an insights presentation from CMU MD and Business Editor Chris Cooke. 'The Top Five Things Music PRs Do Wrong' will run through the common mistakes made by those in music reaching out to decision makers in the media, while 'The Top Five Streaming Developments In 2017' will look at the key trends in streaming that will dominate the coming year in digital music.
Each presentation will be followed by a series of interviews. Joining Chris to discuss trends in the music media, and best practice in music PR, will be Simon Harper from Clash magazine and Naomi Williams from Polydor and Totem PR. Meanwhile discussing the streaming market - and in particular how artists and labels can drive more streams on the key platforms - will be Spotify's Bryan Johnson and digital music expert Sammy Andrews.
Output takes place next Thursday, 16 Feb. You can still sign up to attend the event at large, and the CMU Insights sessions, at this web page.
Lady Gaga hits back at Super Bowl body shamers
"I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I'm proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too", Gaga wrote on Instagram. "No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don't need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That's the stuff of champions".
Here's the video of the Super Bowl show. Be sure to pay close attention to all the flashing lights and dancing and stuff, rather than Gaga's tummy, you idiots.
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds announce tour dates
Oh, but that's ages away. What if you buy tickets when they go on sale on 17 Feb, but then find out you can't go later? Say it turns out that it's your mum's birthday on the night of the show, or you finally get a date to have your brain transplanted into a robotic body. Well, it's fine, the band has set up a partnership with Twickets to allow you to sell your ticket on at face value to someone without such commitments. And without being branded a dirty tout.
The documentary film about the making of the band's latest album 'Skeleton Tree' - 'One More Time With Feeling' - is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 3 Mar too. No official system to resell that at face value has been established.
Here are the tour dates:
24 Sep: Bournemouth International Centre
David Guetta, ASCAP, Vevo, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• That David Guetta has signed on with that Scooter Braun's SB Projects, reckons Billboard. Braun's firm will work alongside the dancefloor botherer's existing management.
• US collecting society Simon Greenway has promoted ASCAP to the role of VP Membership UK & Mainland Europe. Or it might be the other way round. I can't quite remember.
• Vevo has appointed Kevin McGurn, formerly of YouTube multi-channel network Fullscreen, to be its Chief Sales Office. Given boss man Erik Huggers recently told Variety that the mooted Vevo subscription service is not currently a top priority, the video site will need more brand alliances as it ramps up international expansion and original content output.
• The New York Times is bundling Spotify subscriptions in with its own subscription package, though only for new subscribers who sign up for a year. It's a similar bundle to that offered by the Times in the UK a few years back. Try being more original New York Times. Isn't it enough that you nicked our Times' name?
• Paul White has released a new track with Danny Brown called 'Accelerator'. The video is quite something.
• Lydia Ainsworth has released the video for new single 'Afterglow'. Her new album, 'Darling Of The Afterglow', is out on 31 Mar.
• Bob Dylan will play three nights at the London Palladium on 28-30 Apr, in addition to his previously announced UK shows in May.
• Tamikrest have announced three UK shows, at CCA in Glasgow on 7 May, followed by two London shows at Nell's Jazz & Blues on 8 May and Café Oto on 9 May. Here's the video for new single 'Wainan Adobat'.
• Savoy Motel will play their first UK shows in April, including a date at London's Moth Club on 5 Apr. Here's the video for new single 'Western Version Boogie'.
Olly Murs rumoured to host Blind Date reboot
According to the BBC, Murs - who's yet to die and has never hosted 'Blind Date' - is currently one of several names being considered for the revamp of the show. Also in the running are Vicky Pattison, Georgia May Foote and Helen Flanagan, but none of them make this story relevant to a music news service, so I'm gunning for Olly.
The series will be co-produced by So Television and is expected to follow the original format of the show - a contestant picks one of three strangers hidden behind a screen to go on jolly with - rather than it trying to compete with the slightly cruder more modern knock-offs like 'Take Me Out' and 'Naked Attraction'.