|THURSDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The National Music Publishers Association in the US has welcomed a ruling in the BMG v Cox case that has added an extra $8 million to what the latter will have to pay the former. As previously reported, BMG sued US internet service provider Cox arguing that the net firm had such a dodgy procedure for dealing with repeat infringers amongst its customer base that it should lose its safe harbour protection... [READ MORE]|
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Net firm Cox ordered to pay $8 million more to BMG
As previously reported, BMG sued US internet service provider Cox arguing that the net firm had such a dodgy procedure for dealing with repeat infringers amongst its customer base that it should lose its safe harbour protection. The safe harbour is the thing that says net firms can't be held responsible for the copyright infringement of its customers providing it takes measures to stop infringing activity once made aware of it.
In court, BMG presented evidence which showed that while Cox publicly said it fulfilled its obligations under safe harbour rules, behind the scenes it deliberately turned a blind eye to repeat infringers so as not to lose their custom. The court sided with BMG and ordered Cox to pay $25 million in damages. The ISP is currently busy appealing that ruling.
Meanwhile, having inflicted the injury and reckoning it could now have a go at insult, BMG asked the court to force Cox to pay its legal bills in relation to the case, which topped $10 million. And while judge Liam O'Grady knocked a little off that sum, he has still told Cox to pay the music company a further $8,383,468.
However, more interesting were O'Grady's disparaging comments about Cox's case, in which he basically said that the net firm shouldn't have fought the action given its useless arguments, and that's why it is justified to have the company now pay much of BMG's legal costs.
Said the judge: "In a hard-fought litigation battle such as this one, discovery disputes and fierce briefing are to be expected, and they should not be held too harshly against either party. Nonetheless, there are a few instances in which Cox's advocacy crossed the line of objective reasonableness. In particular, both Cox's attempts to obscure its practice of reinstating infringing customers, and its subsequent assertions of a deeply flawed DMCA defence evince a meritless litigation position that Cox vigorously defended".
The "DMCA defence" that evinced a meritless litigation, as it were, refers to the net firm's interpretation of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which contains America's safe harbour provisions. The judge added that he hoped the extra costs to the internet company stemming from this litigation would provide an incentive to sort out its procedures for dealing with its infringing customers, so to avoid further legal action. Though you might have thought the $25 million in damages had already done that.
Speaking for the American music publishing sector, NMPA boss David Israelite welcomed both the latest ruling and BMG's decision to sue in the first place. He told reporters yesterday: "The Eastern District Of Virginia's awarding BMG over $8 million in attorneys' fees underscores just how egregious Cox's behaviour has been towards intellectual property owners, and this award - in addition to BMG's $25 million win over Cox - is a victory for all copyright holders".
He went on: "As defenders of music creators, we applaud BMG for standing up to mass music piracy enablers like Cox, and we echo Judge O'Grady's words that awarding legal fees rewards plaintiffs like BMG 'for facing up against wilful infringers with deep pockets'. The court's firm renouncing of Cox's conduct serves as a stern warning to web providers who turn a blind eye to music theft".
New emails surface in Kesha v Dr Luke case
As much previously reported, this case centres on claims by Kesha Sebert that producer Dr Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald, with whom she has several deals, has been abusive towards her during their time working together. Most seriously, she accuses him of drugging and raping her. She is seeking to be released from her various contracts with him and his companies, including his Sony Music imprint Kemosabe Records. He, meanwhile, says that the allegations against him have been fabricated and he is suing for defamation.
The legal battle was renewed late last month, after attempts to broker a settlement failed. Both sides moved to rework their claims against each other, with both ultimately claiming that the other side was attempting to ruin their career. Gottwald later countered Sebert's new claims of withheld royalties, saying that she actually owes him $1.3 million.
The submission of these emails from 2012 into the case is seemingly an attempt to get the judge to overturn a ruling made last year which denied the singer an injunction that would release her from her recording contract while the case is ongoing, allowing her to work on new tracks without Gottwald's involvement.
The emails particularly focus on the producer's apparent criticism of Sebert's weight. According to Page Six, in one he wrote: "Nobody was calling anybody out. We were having a discussion on how she can be more disciplined with her diet. There have been many times we have all witnessed her breaking her diet plan. This perticular [sic] time it happened to be Diet Coke and turkey while on an all juice fast".
He also said that he had "a list songwriters and producers [who] are reluctant to give Kesha their songs because of her weight".
In one email, Cornia asks Gottwald to be more supporting because Kesha is "a human and not a machine". He replies: "If she were a machine that would be way cool and we could do whatever we want".
On another occasion, Cornia puts forward a request from Sebert to have a line in her song 'Crazy Kids' changed, to which Gottwald replies: "I don't give a shit what you want. If you were smart you would go in and sing it".
Responding to the emails that have now been made public, Gottwald's lawyer Christine Lepera said that the messages took conversations out of context, and failed to show ways in which he was supportive of Sebert.
"Kesha and her attorneys continue to mislead by refusing to disclose the larger record of evidence showing the bad faith of Kesha Sebert and her representatives which is greatly damaging to them", says Lepera. "It also shows the tremendous support that Dr Luke provided Kesha regarding artistic and personal issues, including Kesha's own concerns over her weight".
The two sides are reportedly scheduled to have a conference call with the judge in the case next week.
Judge dismisses rapper's penis cut defamation lawsuit
As previously reported, in June 2014 another Wu-Tang associate Andre Johnson, aka Christ Bearer, was found injured having jumped off a balcony after cutting off his penis. In TMZ's initial report, it mistakenly reported that Roxx, real name Marques Johnson, had been the rapper involved in the incident. The error - seemingly caused by the overlap between Roxx's stage name and real name with Christ Bearer's real name - was corrected, but by then the news had already spread around the internet.
Roxx was actually in prison at the time, and was apparently put into protective custody after "other inmates began threatening, harassing and attacking him" over the story, despite him clearly not being the rapper in question.
Christ Bearer has subsequently spoken candidly about the incident, saying that he had been on a cocktail of drugs at the time and had not been sleeping. Despite the severed section of his penis not being re-attached, he has said that he sees it as a positive outcome, telling New York Daily News shortly afterwards: "I definitely believe sex is for mortals, and I am god. So this is a blessing, not a curse".
None of this placated Roxx, who launched legal action against TMZ last year, claiming libel, defamation and invasion of privacy. He also added other media outlets, including CBS Interactive, Viacom and iHeartMedia, for spreading the story.
Almost a year later, a judge dismissed the case this week, saying that Roxx had waited too long to sue. He also said in his judgement that the specific rule under which Roxx was making his claims would not apply, even if the case had been filed sooner.
musicFIRST calls for US federal law to apply to all sound recordings
Prior to that 1970s rejig of federal copyright law sound recordings were protected by state-level copyright rules. And recordings released before 1972 still are. That's one of the things musicFIRST would like to see fixed.
As much previously reported, the pre-1972 anomaly means that the royalties online and satellite radio stations have to pay artists and labels under federal law don't apply to older tracks. Which has meant heritage acts have had to fight for payment through the state courts. Flo & Eddie have led on that of course, being successful in California, but less so on appeal in New York. It would be much easier if federal law just applied to all sound recordings that are still in copyright.
Or, in the words of musicFIRST Executive Director Chris Israel: "Thanks to a quirk in US law, songs recorded before this date in 1972 do not have federal copyright protection, and that is a huge problem. Up to 15% of all the music on some digital radio services was recorded before 15 Feb 1972. Streaming, satellite and FM radio have entire channels dedicated to this iconic music, yet this anomaly in US law allows them to use pre-72 music without requiring them to compensate the artists whose recordings they play on the air".
He goes on: "Many older artists have been forced to pursue fair compensation in a variety of state courts. This is extremely inefficient, unfair and unnecessary. Simple legislation will address this clear problem. This Congress provides a historic opportunity to fix the flaws of our current copyright system and treat music the same regardless of when it was recorded".
Not that federal copyright law is perfect, of course, or at least not as far as the record industry is concerned. That copyright system doesn't provide a general performing right for sound recordings, which is unusual, and means that while satellite and online radio has to pay royalties to artists and labels, AM/FM stations do not. Perversely, one conclusion of the Flo & Eddie royalties win in the Californian courts is that at a state level in California AM/FM broadcasters possibly should be paying royalties, not that they ever have.
Either way, musicFIRST would like a proper performing right added to federal law just before it's applied backwards to pre-1972 catalogue. Adds Israel: "Protecting pre-72 sound recordings, establishing a performance right for radio and establishing rate standard parity across various digital platforms enjoy broad bi-partisan support in Congress. We look forward to engaging Congress and all other industry stakeholders to ensure music creators are compensated fairly for their works across all platforms".
While it's true that the reforms musicFIRST advocates do enjoy some Congressional support, it's also true that the radio lobby remains powerful in Washington. Though Prez Trumpy's going to pull down that legacy lobbying machine, isn't he? So I'm sure it'll all be fine.
Spotify to open new office in New York and boost its headcount
In completely unrelated news, Spotify has said it plans to increase its US headcount by as much as a thousand in the near future, necessitating a move of its New York HQ to a modest little office suite over at the World Trade Center.
We know this because New York governor Andrew Cuomo felt the need to tell us, seemingly so that he could brag about the fact that the leading premium streaming platform is putting so much of its operation in the city. Assuming it ever gets around to its IPO, Spotify is expected to float in New York, so an increasing presence there makes sense, even if hiring so many new people might seem odd for a company that needs to demonstrate to Wall Street how it will eventually go into profit.
That said, while Cuomo tweeted that "Spotify is going to be adding over 1000 employees here in the great State of New York", the accompanying jpeg said: "Spotify will create over 1000 jobs at Four World Trade Centre". As Spotify will move staff from its existing New York base to the new offices, they could in theory be included in that 1000. Though that would make the governor's own tweet somewhat misleading.
But worry not - he then tweeted a Spotify playlist, so all is fine.
CMU:DIY and Urban Development put spotlight on getting started and building a team
This edition is called 'Getting Started And Building A Team' and - after last meeting month's beginners guide to the music industry - provides practical advice for what DIY artists should be doing right now to capture and grow fanbase, get their music out there, and start building some initial revenues.
CMU MD and Business Editor Chris Cooke will kickstart the proceedings before interviewing A&R Shaurav D'Silva from 2-Tone Entertainment, artist manager Jamila Scott from Method Music and Will Spencer from direct-to-fan platform Music Glue.
Says Cooke: "New artists first engage with the music business these days by becoming a music business - which is to say by building a small business around their music. A plethora a digital tools help with this process, though time is always in short supply. So artists need to decide what to prioritise while also starting to build a team. We'll be discussing those tools - and how to go about recruiting a team - next Tuesday.
Tickets for the session are just £5 - or if you join the UD Creative scheme for £20 a year you get in to all these sessions for free as well as a range of other benefits. Click here to book.
PWR BTTM announce new album, tour dates
And here are those tour dates:
10 Apr: Dublin, The Workman's Club
The Grammys don't have "a race problem at all", says Grammys boss
Speaking to Pitchfork, he said: "I don't think there's a race problem at all. Remember, this is a peer-voted award. So when we say the Grammys, it's not a corporate entity - it's the 14,000 members of the Academy. They have to qualify in order to be members, which means they have to have recorded and released music, and so they are sort of the experts and the highest level of professionals in the industry. It's always hard to create objectivity out of something that's inherently subjective, which is what art and music is about. We do the best we can. We have 84 categories where we recognise all kinds of music, from across all spectrums".
Of course, the make up of voters for award ceremonies has been a topic of conversation in recent years. Both the Oscars and the BRIT Awards have made moves to improve diversity among the groups who choose their winners, precisely because the prizes have tended to skew white. Since Sunday's Grammy awards, many have pointed out that only ten black artists have ever won the Album Of The Year prize at the ceremony, and none since Herbie Hancock in 2008. But the diversity of voters is not a problem for the Grammys, insists Portnow.
"We don't have that kind of an issue in that same fashion", he said. "But we are always working on increase diversity in membership, whether it's ethnicity, gender, genre, or age. In order to maintain our relevance, we have to be refreshing all the time and we have to be doing that across the board".
One person who would disagree with that is Frank Ocean, who refused to enter his two 2016 albums into this year's Grammys in protest against poor diversity. "I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated", said Ocean last year.
Again, Portnow disagrees: "[Ocean] made a conscious decision to not enter his music in the process. I think that's a personal choice. Not everybody likes or wants to be part of every organisation or awards process. I respect that. What I'll say about Frank is he did have his earlier album out at an early stage of his career, we were delighted that it was entered, we were delighted that he was a Grammy winner, we were delighted to have him on our stage, which gave him a platform very early in his career. That's something we're proud of, and down the line he may feel differently. Artists change their opinion. I don't begrudge his choice at all and we'll see what the future brings".
The 1975 named best live worst band, and other tales from the NME Awards
Wiley got his Outstanding Contribution prize, while the Pet Shop Boys were name Godlike Geniuses. But most importantly, Nigel Farage was named Villain Of The Year. That'll learn him.
Five Seconds Of Summer also held their Worst Band title for the third year running - an accolade last won by another band in 2014, when it was taken by The 1975. This was noted by The 1975 when they took the Best Live Band prize last night. Can you be good live but still be one of the world's worst bands overall? I don't know, maybe ask Coldplay.
Here are all the winners:
Best British Band: Biffy Clyro
Best International Band: Metallica
Best Album: Bastille - Wild World
Best Festival: Glastonbury
Best TV Series: Fleabag
CMU's One Liners: Blondie, Colin Stetson, Cosima, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Blondie have released the video for 'Fun', their collaboration with Dave Sitek.
• Colin Stetson will release new album, 'All This I Do For Glory', on 28 Apr. Here's the first single, 'Spindrift'.
• Cosima has released the video for her new single, 'To Build A House'. She's also announced that she'll headline a show at the Bussey Building in London on 3 May.
• !!! will be releasing a new album in May. They'll be touring too, with UK dates in Bristol, Brighton and London at the end of the month.
• I know how you're still haunted by memories of Savage Garden's split, so here's a petition to bring some level of hope back to your life. Although it remains a fact that Darren Hayes once said he'd only reunite the duo "if it cured cancer". Still, fingers crossed!
Venue cancels Martin Shkreli event to air unreleased Wu-Tang music
Shkreli announced earlier this week that he would be hosting an event at Webster Hall in New York on Monday. You'd have to sit through a lecture on "investing, healthcare and politics", but in a Q&A session afterwards, the event page promises that "he WILL play tracks from his unreleased music collection", including Wu-Tang.
This hit a snag yesterday when Webster Hall cancelled the event. "Webster Hall has cancelled the event", Shkreli said on Facebook last night, claiming that "threats" had led to it being pulled. Meanwhile, the venue also confirmed to Pitchfork that "officially, it is not happening".
Tickets for the event are still on sale, though no venue is listed, which suggests the Shkreli is hoping to find somewhere else to give his presentation. So maybe you'll still get to have what sounds like a riveting Monday night out. Or, you could wait for Shkreli to release the Wu-Tang record, as he promised he would if Donald Trump was elected president.
Alternatively, there are many actually good Wu-Tang albums already publicly available.