|MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The High Court in New Zealand has rejected an attempt by MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom to stop his extradition to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering. Though the man himself claims that the specifics of the ruling actually help his case, which still has further stages of appeal to go through before Dotcom can actually be forced into an American courtroom... [READ MORE]|
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MegaUpload extradition order stands, says court, though Kim Dotcom claims victory
As much previously reported, the US government has being trying to extradite Dotcom and three of his former colleagues ever since it shut down MegaUpload on copyright grounds in 2012. Those extradition attempts have been caught up in a flurry of technicalities, but in December 2015 the New Zealand courts finally said Dotcom et al could be extradited to America. The four men then appealed, and represented their arguments - and a whole load more technicalities - last September.
The judge considering the case, Murray Gilbert, revealed his latest judgement earlier today, concluding that there were indeed grounds to extradite Dotcom under New Zealand's extradition treaty with the US. However, Gilbert specifically ruled that those grounds were not based on the allegations of copyright infringement made against the former MegaUpload execs, but because of the accompanying claims of fraud.
That clarification was welcomed by Dotcom - who will appeal the ruling - because he says it confirms his side's argument from the off, ie that copyright infringement alone was not sufficient to extradite the MegaUpload team to the US. Though, while the original arrest warrant issued against Dotcom did cite copyright crimes, at both first instance and on appeal the prosecution focused much of its efforts on arguing that the copyright infringement undertaken by MegaUpload was sufficient to constitute fraud.
It's not unknown for prosecutors targeting copyright infringers to push for a conviction for fraud, sometimes to circumvent ambiguities in copyright law regarding the defendant's liabilities, and sometimes because the law usually provides tougher sentencing for fraud compared to infringement. Though a charge of conspiracy to defraud requires the prosecution to present evidence beyond the mere distribution of copyright material without licence, and at the next stage of appeal Dotcom's people are sure to argue that insufficient evidence has been supplied in this case.
Either way, Dotcom told the New Zealand Herald that this ruling constituted a "major victory" for his side, despite the extradition order still standing. "The major part of this litigation has been won by this judgment - that copyright is not extraditable", he told the newspaper. "They [the authorities in New Zealand] destroyed my family, destroyed my business, spied on me and raided my home and they did all of this on a civil copyright case. We have won. We have won the major legal argument. This is the last five years of my life and it's an embarrassment for New Zealand".
He continued: "Now they're trying through the back door to say this was a fraud case. I'm confident going with this judgment to the Court Of Appeal".
Those further stages of appeal will likely take at least another two years to go through the motions, something Dotcom himself noted when he added: "We'll be looking at a seven year total timeframe before there is a final resolution on this matter. I am now more confident than ever that we will prevail".
If the whole matter ever does get to an American court, the US government's case will likely focus more on copyright matters than the fraud allegations, which would make it an important trial for the music and movie industries, as Dotcom et al will plead safe harbours. That trial, therefore, would be another high profile test of the safe harbour protections provided to technology companies under US copyright law.
UK search engines sign up to anti-piracy code
As previously reported, government whip Peta Buscombe recently told the House Of Lords that officials from the Intellectual Property Office had recently "chaired a further round-table meeting between search engines and representatives of the creative industries" and that "the group is now agreed on the key content of a code and I expect an agreement to be reached very soon". The voluntary code meant that no measures were required in the current Digital Economy Bill to force the search engines into action, the peer added.
The music and movie industries have long argued that search engines should do more to demote and delist links to copyright infringing websites and material, especially if a court of law has ruled that a website is liable for infringement. Google has some measures in place to help rights owners - based around the takedown process via which content companies can demand individual links be removed from its database - though the record companies and movie studios have long argued these measures don't go far enough.
The web giants have, in the main, resisted efforts to make them do more to police their search engine databases, though the music industry has long hoped that the threat of new legal obligations might pressure the likes of Google to commit to do more. That is seemingly what has now happened, with record industry trade group the BPI leading the charge for the music industry.
Although it remains to be seen just what new measures the code of practice will result in, the BPI said in a statement that the new voluntary agreement will "kickstart collaboration between the parties to demote links to websites that are dedicated to infringing content for consumers in the UK. The code will accelerate the demotion of illegal sites following notices from rights holders, and establishes ongoing technical consultation, increased co-operation and information sharing to develop and improve on the process. It will also enable new practices to be adopted where needed".
One area where the rights owners hope for more progress is in the autocomplete suggestions Google provides to users. The web firm has already removed some key words from its autocomplete options - such as the names of major piracy platforms - though again the rights owners think that there is more that can be done to use this functionality to prioritise legitimate sources of content online
For the BPI, boss man Geoff Taylor said: "BPI has long campaigned for search engines to do more to ensure fans are directed to legal sources for music or other entertainment. There is much work still to do to achieve this. The code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site".
Noting that this code is something of a "world-first", Taylor added: "We are grateful for the support from UK government both for this code and for the 'Get It Right' campaign that encourages fans to support the artists they love. We look forward to working with Google, Microsoft and our partners across the creative industries to build a safer, better online environment for creators and fans".
Speaking for the Motion Picture Association, Stan McCoy said: "Pirate websites are currently much too easy to find via search, so we appreciate the parties' willingness to try to improve that situation. We look forward to working on this initiative alongside many other approaches to fighting online piracy. We are grateful for the government's involvement and support on this issue".
While Eddy Leviten at the Alliance For IP added: "The Alliance has been present throughout the discussions and has consistently made the case for a collaborative process that works for all rights holders and creators and starts to help the UK's intellectual property generators to promote and sell their works without unfair competition. Whilst there is still a lot of work ahead I would like to thank ministers, past and present, and [government] officials for their help in getting us to this crucial stage".
Another setback in Flo & Eddie's legal battle for royalties on pre-1972 tracks
As previously reported, although US-wide federal law Stateside says that online and satellite radio stations - unlike AM/FM stations - do have to pay royalties to artists and labels, recordings that pre-date 1972 are not covered by the federal copyright system. One-time Turtles Flo & Eddie argued that royalties were also due under the state laws that protect older sound recordings - even though those laws don't specifically mention online and satellite radio, and AM/FM stations have never paid royalties on the older records either.
The duo sued in three states and won in California, where the court decided there probably was a general performing right for sound recordings under Californian state law, meaning broadcasters technically need a licence to play copyright protected music. That ruling forced Pandora and Sirius XM to reach settlements with both the record industry and, in the latter's case, with Flo & Eddie and any other heritage artists that would fall under the duo's class action.
However, in New York, despite a judge there also initially siding with Flo & Eddie, just before Christmas an appeals court ruled against the duo, with one appellate judge noting that making Sirius liable for royalties on pre-1972 recordings would also mean AM/FM stations should have been paying money to artists and labels all these years. Not only have AM/FM stations never paid any such royalties, but no artists or labels have ever previously claimed them, making the lower New York court's decision "illogical", the judge said.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, in the wake of that ruling legal reps for Flo & Eddie went to the Second Circuit Appeals Court to argue "there was still an open question about whether Sirius XM had engaged in unfair competition".
Last week the Second Circuit said that the ruling in December on the existence - or, actually, non-existence - of a performing right for sound recordings in New York State settled all elements of Flo & Eddie's case there, and therefore a summary judgement should now be issued in Sirius XM's favour.
The satellite broadcaster's aforementioned settlement with Flo & Eddie acknowledged that the parties' legal battles in New York and Florida were not yet complete, and therefore the pay out the media firm committed to make varied according to the conclusion of those lawsuits. Which means the rulings in New York should save the broadcaster millions, though - as also previously reported - there is also a dispute on quite how to interpret those rulings in the context of the settlement agreement.
PPL announces Performer ER deal with Jamaican society
In most countries, like the UK, whenever the 'performing rights' of a sound recording are exploited - so that's mainly broadcast and public performance - both the rights owner and any performers who appear on a track are due 'equitable remuneration'. The performers' right to payment isn't linked to their deals with rights owners, which are usually labels, and the royalties are paid directly to said performers via their local collecting society.
However, in Jamaica there isn't currently a right to Performer ER under local copyright law. As a result collecting society JAMMS doesn't have any reciprocal deals with other performer right collecting societies around the world, which means performers there can't receive the royalties they are due when their recordings are broadcast or played in public in other countries. Though some bigger name acts are also PPL members, so they can receive their royalties in the UK.
JAMMS is hoping that copyright law will change in Jamaica, and as a result has now started accepting performer members. And thanks to the new reciprocal with PPL, those members will now start receiving ER income they are due from over here. The new arrangement builds on PPL and JAMMS' existing partnership relating to the rights of indie labels represented by both organisations.
The Jamaican Intellectual Property Office, which last reviewed the country's copyright law with a view to including ER in 2015, is due to review copyright matters once again this year. JAMMS is hoping that this time it can get ER inserted, and PPL is backing its partner society in that regard.
The addition of ER in Jamaica would make the PPL/JAMMS reciprocal a two-way arrangement, so that UK performers played over there would earn ER back. Though by putting the deal in place now, PPL hopes that Jamaican lawmakers will be convinced that performers there will benefit from new international royalties once ER is added to local law.
Commenting on the new reciprocal, PPL Director Of International Laurence Oxenbury said: "Any lover of popular music knows that the world owes a debt of gratitude to the musical talent and creativity of Jamaican performers. Having a local Jamaican organisation appointed by performers to manage their repertoire, collect revenue from the UK on their behalf and collectively represent their rights can only be a catalyst for the more effective flow of revenue back to Jamaica from the UK and hopefully other countries in the future".
He added: "We believe that the establishment of an agreement to remunerate performers where their recorded music is broadcast or played in public in Jamaica would be of considerable economic benefit to the Jamaican music industry and its performers. The strength and reach of the nation's music internationally places it in a unique position among its many counterparts to be a net earner of royalties for performers".
Viagogo criticised for selling hiked up tickets for Ed Sheeran charity show
The ticket resale site has been accused of "moral repugnance" for allowing tickets to appear on its platform for Ed Sheeran's upcoming show at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, with £75 tickets going for £1750 on the site.
The charity has already put in place a number of measures in a bid to ensure anyone with touted tickets will not get access to their popular season of shows at the Royal Albert Hall. It says on its website: "We are also doing our part by introducing additional measures like limiting the number of tickets people can buy, and requiring photo ID to enter the concert. ID will be rigorously checked and anyone with tickets purchased on the secondary market will not be admitted".
However, a statement on Viagogo's website tells buyers that they have a way of circumventing this measure, in that "buyers of tickets for this event will be accompanied into the venue by the seller".
Commenting on this attempt to circumvent the Teenage Cancer Trust's anti-touting measures, the FanFair Alliance - which campaigns for more regulation of secondary ticketing, of course - told reporters: "Teenage Cancer Trust have gone to huge lengths and expense to prevent resale and profiteering of their tickets. To all intents and purposes they are non-transferrable, with buyers needing to provide photo ID on the door".
It added: "Not only are Viagogo encouraging touts to sell these tickets at vastly inflated prices, none of which goes back to the charity, they attempt to circumvent the terms and conditions by advertising that the buyer will be accompanied into the venue by the seller. Leaving aside the moral repugnance of profiteering at the expense of teenage cancer sufferers, this appears a flagrant breach of consumer law and yet another reason why government intervention is so desperately needed".
Meanwhile, the whole escapade has forced the Teenage Cancer Trust itself to have state the fucking obvious, ie that "the only people who should profit from Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall are young people with cancer".
It's not the first time secondary sites have been called out for allowing tickets for charity events to appear on their platforms, with the touts often seeing much bigger pay outs than the charities themselves when a superstar act agrees to do a show at a much smaller venue than they would normally play because it benefits a good cause. Some resale set-ups have occasionally sought to remove such tickets from their platforms, but not the cunts at Viagogo, who are still listing plenty of overpriced tickets for the Sheeran charity show.
The resale site is also the subject of new rage in Spain after the promoter and management for Spanish singer songwriter Joaquín Sabina revealed that the touting platform started selling tickets for an upcoming show in the city of A Coruña, even though technical problems meant that the sale of tickets for the gig on the primary sites had been postponed.
That Viagogo seemingly still started advertising tickets for sale from the original on-sale date suggests speculative selling, where touts take money for tickets they are yet to actually purchase, another dodgy touting tactic much frowned upon my the anti-tout lobby within the music community, not to mention consumer rights campaigners.
CD Baby hopes to be back working today after database issues took site offline
It's not entirely clear what caused the outage, though a post on the firm's Facebook over the weekend said: "We encountered a database issue and needed to take it offline to fix the problem. Ensuring that your sales data is 100% accurate is top priority, so it took a bit of time to verify data integrity. That database has been restored, and we're working to get the site back online now. We know this is a huge inconvenience for some and sincerely apology to those who have been affected by the outage".
Meanwhile a statement on the company's home page now reads: "We're very sorry about the delays you're experiencing accessing the CD Baby website. During our scheduled routine maintenance of the website, we experienced an issue with our database that required us to take our system offline. This has taken longer to resolve than expected. We're working around the clock to bring the site back online".
The site being down means artists who use CD Baby to distribute their music have been unable to upload new releases or check their data and analytics. Though the firm insists that, beyond the inconvenience caused by the outage, there aren't any security issues and "all your info is secure".
B2B streaming service Soundtrack Your Brand raises funding for expansion
The company, which powers the Spotify For Business service currently available in Sweden, Norway and Finland, provides fully licensed streaming music for businesses to play to their customers - ie with a public performance licence included, in addition to the licences Spotify, or whoever, needs to stream the music in the first place. Although not the only service dabbling in this space, it seems to be the one making the most headway, and it now has plans to expand into the US, Asia-Pacific and further into Europe.
"While our competitors are focused on shipping CDs by mail to large chains in the US and Europe, we are growing the size of this market by digital means", says CEO Ola Sars, formerly COO of Beats Music, of the company's more traditional competitors in the pre-licensed in-store music domain. "We distribute our platform more efficiently and are continually improving the product experience. By selling online we reach the entire market, all the way down to mom-and-pops that nobody sold to before. And we do it on a global scale".
Meanwhile co-founder and former Spotify exec Andreas Liffgarden talks up the curation the digital approach to in-store music allows. "Background music today is sold as a utility, and there's rarely much thought going into what music brands are playing and why", he says. "Today's background music sucks for brands and consumers alike, and it's hurting the music industry at large. As lovers of music and technology, we're completely overhauling this industry, to once and for all kill bad background music".
New investors include Nordic venture capital fund Industrifonden and the UK-based Balderton Capital. Industrifonden's Johan Englund and Balderton's Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen will also join the company's board of directors.
PPL reveals most-played Nirvana songs for Kurt Cobain's 50th birthday
"Kurt Cobain was one of the most visionary figures in music in the late 1980s and early 1990s", says PPL's Head Of Music Reporting Services Tim Silver. "He inspired countless young people all over the world to start learning an instrument and to have the confidence to begin writing their own music. On what would have been his 50th birthday, we are delighted to be able to honour him with a chart of the 20 most-played Nirvana songs on radio and TV. There are a lot of their best-known tracks in there but also one or two curveballs as well".
Curveballs, you say? Well let's have a look at this list:
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
Tidal, David Bowie, Bono, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Like most of its rivals, Tidal seems to be boosting its original editorial credentials with two new hires: Rap Radar founder and former XXL Editor-In-Chief Elliott Wilson as an Editorial Director focused on hip hop and Tony Gervino - formerly with Billboard, Slam and XXL - as VP Culture & Content.
• HBO has acquired the rights to the documentary 'David Bowie: The Last Five Years', which first aired on BBC2 last month.
• Lana Del Rey went and released a new single. It's called 'Love'.
• Azealia Banks has released a new Lunice-produced single, 'Crown'.
• Le1f has released a new video for 'Umami/Water', taken from his 2015 album 'Riot Boi'.
• Dimmu Borgir have released a live performance of 'Mourning Palace', taken from their new live DVD 'Forces Of The Northern Night', which is out on 28 Apr.
• K-pop group Twice have released the video for new single 'Knock Knock'.
• High Contrast has announced that he will play his debut live show at Electric Brixton on 18 Mar.
Robbie not really sure why he got that BRITs Icon Award either
The justification for the event at the time was that Williams had a record-breaking seventeen BRIT Awards already. Although that wasn't really news, given that the last one he'd received was in 2011, as part of his brief return to Take That. The year before that he'd won the Outstanding Contribution To Music prize, which you might think would do the job of an Icon award.
Williams was only the third person to receive the BRITs Icon trophy. It was first handed to Elton John in 2013, at a similar standalone event fortuitously managing to coincide with the release of a new album. It was then rolled out again at last year's main BRITs show so that they could give something to David Bowie, who had just died. Then Robbie had an album out, so why not make it twice in one year?
"Look, it was a great bit of promo for my tour", shrugs Robbie in a new interview with Digital Spy. "It's kind of that big an achievement, [in] that it's hard to work out why I've got eighteen BRITs and no one else has. It's fucking odd".
I'm not sure that alone justifies a big party though. I mean, Kaiser Chiefs have three BRIT Awards, and we don't go around shouting about that.
"Why hasn't Paul McCartney got eighteen?" continues Robbie, warming to his theme. "Why hasn't Elton John? Why has a half decent singer who can't dance very well from Stoke got eighteen? It feels like a glitch in the Matrix".
Robbie was being interviewed to promote this year's BRIT Awards and his involvement with its Priceless Surprises initiative.