WEDNESDAY 31 OCTOBER 2018 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Viagogo has told an Australian court that the consumers who claim they have been misled by the ticket resale website were just "exceptionally careless" and not the victims of any misleading or deceptive conduct on its part. Also, when the secondary ticketing firm used the word "official", it obviously meant that it was officially Viagogo, not that it was the official ticket agent of one show. And what the hell is misleading about that?... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Aggrieved Viagogo customers were just "exceptionally careless"
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LEGAL Led Zep ask appeals court to reconsider its Stairway song-theft judgement
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Sony/ATV extends GEMA/PRS alliance on digital licensing
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ARTIST NEWS Kanye West vows to step away from politics, after being associated with 'Blexit' campaign
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Massive Attack re-imagine Mezzanine for 21st anniversary shows
The Specials announce 40th anniversary tour
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ONE LINERS Thundercat, Deerhunter, Flohio, more
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AND FINALLY... Little Mix dragged into feud between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B
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Aggrieved Viagogo customers were just "exceptionally careless"
Viagogo has told an Australian court that the consumers who claim they have been misled by the ticket resale website were just "exceptionally careless" and not the victims of any misleading or deceptive conduct on its part. Also, when the secondary ticketing firm used the word "official", it obviously meant that it was officially Viagogo, not that it was the official ticket agent of one show. And what the hell is misleading about that?

The always fun Viagogo company is currently facing legal action by government agencies in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission launched its action first in August last year, accusing Viagogo of breaching Australian consumer rights law by making false or misleading representations, and by engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct.

The Commission's more specific list of complaints was very familiar. It criticised the ticketing firm for failing to disclose upfront its significant booking fees; for making misleading statements like "less than 1% of tickets remaining", without explaining that that only referred to Viagogo's own supply of tickets; and for using the word 'official' in Google ads, implying it was an approved primary ticket seller rather than a market place for touts.

That action is now in court, and Viagogo's legal rep has been busy trying to pull apart the individual complaints of five former users of the site, whose experiences form the core of the Commission's case against the company. Lawyer Kate Morgan pointed to inconsistencies in some of the evidence presented by those complainants, and then asked whether those five people had taken reasonable care to protect their own interests.

According to Sydney newspaper the Daily Telegraph, Morgan cited a 1982 case in Australia involving the sale of knock-off furniture where the court ruled that while the law protects consumer rights to an extent, there was still an obligation on individual consumers to protect their own interests when making buying decisions. The lawyer argued that the five complainants had failed to fulfil that obligation.

That argument will require some consideration of what constitutes reasonable care on the part of the consumer when buying tickets online. Many consumers end up on touting platforms like Viagogo after searching for tickets for a show on Google. Those consumers often assume that whatever tops a Google search list must be an official source of tickets, not realising that companies like Viagogo can buy themselves to the top.

Critics of the company argue that Viagogo has a long history of exploiting this consumer ignorance, by utilising search advertising, and then adding to consumer confusion by using words like "official". Alerts suggesting that all tickets for a show are about to sell out also put pressure on consumers to buy there and then without researching other options. The fact that the consumer is buying from a tout and that Viagogo will apply a significant fee on top of the ticket price have traditionally been obscured.

Morgan nevertheless sought to put the blame on the careless consumers. According to the Telegraph, she told the court: "Here we have people searching for particular tickets, they are seeing an advertisement that refers to a name they've never heard of before and they don't take care, let alone reasonable care".

She went on, "they didn't do a basic check. Not one of them checked the 'about us' tab". Then, noting the obligation for consumers to take some responsibility for their actions, she said of the complainants: "We say they are not taking reasonable care. They are exceptionally careless".

As well as defending her client's infamous use of the word "official", Morgan also argued that the five former customers had only complained to the ACCC because they'd been through an expensive ticket-buying experience and were unhappy about that fact.

Since the ACCC filed its legal action last year, Viagogo has ceased some of the criticised practices in some markets, sometimes under pressure from regulators, other times to comply with new rules instigated by Google.

However, critics argue that Viagogo has deliberately exploited consumer ignorance for years, and only changes its ways when under considerable pressure. And mainly when failing to do so might threaten its ability to buy its way to the top of Google search lists, which is where the consumer confusion usually begins.

The ACCC v Viagogo case continues.

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Led Zep ask appeals court to reconsider its Stairway song-theft judgement
Legal reps for Led Zeppelin have requested that the Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US reconsider its recent decision to overturn the original ruling in the 'Stairway To Heaven' song-theft case. The band argue that by overturning the original judgement, the appeals court could upset the "delicate balance" between copyright protection and the freedom on music creators to employ common techniques and musical elements when songwriting.

Led Zep, as you may remember, were sued by the estate of songwriter Randy Wolfe - aka Randy California - which alleged that 'Stairway To Heaven' ripped off a song written by Wolfe. However, they ultimately defeated the litigation in June 2016 with the jury concluding that 'Stairway' wasn't sufficiently similar to Wolfe's song 'Taurus'.

The Wolfe estate then appealed that ruling in March last year, arguing that the jury had been badly briefed by the judge, in particular regarding some of the complexities of American copyright law that were relevant to the case. Last month the Ninth Circuit concurred with the estate, overturning the original judgement and forcing a retrial.

One of the complexities relates to what copyright law should do when two songs share certain elements, but those elements are arguably common features of certain genres of music and therefore probably not in themselves protected by copyright.

Do you therefore say that the fact the two songs share those elements cannot constitute copyright infringement? Or do you consider the way in which those elements have been employed in the first song, and whether that employment is copied in the second? If it is, could copyright protect the way in which those common elements have been employed?

Tricky stuff. The Wolfe estate argued that in the original court hearing the judge incorrectly advised the jury on that specific complexity. The Ninth Circuit agreed. However, in a new legal filing made last week Led Zep argue that the judge first time round actually gave the correct advice to the jury. Moreover, they say, suggesting otherwise sets a dangerous precedent.

The band's legal filing states that "if uncorrected", the Ninth Circuit's recent conclusion will "allow a jury to find infringement based on very different uses of public domain material" which, it then argues, "will cause widespread confusion in copyright cases in this circuit".

Led Zep's lawyers want the Ninth Circuit to reconsider last month's ruling 'en banc', which means all the judges of the court would take part rather than just a panel of three. That only usually happens for very important cases. But the band's legal team argue that this dispute has "exceptional importance not only to music, but all creative endeavours, and en banc review is necessary to avoid the widespread confusion the panel decision will create".

We await the Ninth Circuit's response.

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Sony/ATV extends GEMA/PRS alliance on digital licensing
Following the news last week that BMG had extended and expanded its alliance with German collecting society GEMA on digital licensing, Sony/ATV yesterday announced it was likewise extending its partnership - with both GEMA and UK society PRS - for the direct licensing of its Anglo-American repertoire to digital services.

The big publishers - and an increasing number of indie publishers too - often license their Anglo-American repertoires to multi-territory streaming services via direct deals, rather than relying on deals negotiated by the collecting societies, as is the norm elsewhere.

However, somewhat confusingly, publishers negotiate and administrate these direct deals in partnership with the collecting societies. Partly because of the complexities of processing digital royalties on the songs side of the business. And partly because, even when direct deals are done, some of the money said deals generate - that allocated to the 'performing rights' of the songs - still needs to flow through each songwriter's collecting society of choice.

Sony/ATV has an alliance with both GEMA and PRS which covers both its own catalogue of Anglo-American songs and the Anglo-American works in the EMI Music Publishing catalogue it co-owns and controls (and which it is in the process of buying outright). The deals are handled via a GEMA/PRS joint venture called SOLAR, with copyright hub ICE - co-owned by GEMA, PRS and Swedish society STIM - doing a bulk of the day-to-day admin.

That's all been going on for many years now and will continue to do so following yesterday's announcement, which confirmed that "in a multi-year deal SOLAR will continue to provide administration services in connection with licences that cover the exploitation of the combined Anglo-American catalogues of Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing for digital services across Europe and other territories".

Sony/ATV's boss man Marty Bandier added: "I am excited that we have extended our successful relationship with PRS For Music and GEMA and with their SOLAR joint venture. This will continue to make the licensing of our Anglo-American catalogue across Europe as efficient as possible while ensuring that our songwriters receive first-class administration services in the European digital market".

Meanwhile Dr Till Evert, MD of SOLAR, said: "Long-term and stable partnerships such as this are rare and of great value in today's complex and highly dynamic music market. Sony/ATV Music Publishing is an ambitious partner who has time and time again set standards for the music market with its innovative technical solutions. Together with our strong partner ICE, we are ideally positioned to meet the challenges of digital use and licensing of music for the next three years".

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Approved: Beast
Koen Holtkamp has released numerous albums as a solo artist, as part of the duo Mountains, and as part of other collaborations. His latest project, Beast, sees him working alone again, developing music and visuals in tandem.

His first two releases under the name, 'EPs 'Vol 1' and 'Vol 2', soundtracked a series of installations using 3D laser projections. For the first Beast album, 'Ens', he opts for simpler though no less arresting visuals, based on the colours he sees matching the music.

Of the red and blue shapes which move and pulse through the video for new single 'Paprika Shorts', he explains: "For me there's something mesmerising in simple combinations of colours that activate one another in such a way that even when static they seem to create movement"

He goes on: "In parallel to making 'Ens' I was working on a series of structural animation studies that explored different colour dynamics. My intention was to create a sort of visual character or identity to go along with the music for this album through a specific colour relationship".

'Ens' is out on 9 Nov. Watch the video for 'Paprika Shorts' here.

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Kanye West vows to step away from politics, after being associated with 'Blexit' campaign
Kanye West has denied involvement with the 'Blexit' campaign in the US, which is encouraging black voters to leave the Democratic Party. In a tweet, he declared that he had "been used to spread messages I don't believe in".

The campaign was launched last week by activist Candace Owens, who claimed at a conference organised by conservative advocacy group Turning Point America - for which she acts as Communications Director - that West had been involved with the visual branding of the project.

According to the New York Post, she told that event: "Blexit is a renaissance and I am blessed to say that this logo, these colours, were created by my dear friend and fellow superhero Kanye West".

Who describes themselves as a superhero? And thinks that compound words akin to 'Brexit' are a good thing? Well, Candace Owens, obviously.

And West does have an association with her. Earlier this year he tweeted that "I love the way Candace Owens thinks", and then subsequently met with her. He also admits to acting as a middleman with the designer who did create the Blexit logo, but denies that he himself created it, as Owens claims.

"I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo and they didn't want their name on it so she used mine", he says. "I never wanted any association with Blexit. I have nothing to do with it".

He continues: "My eyes are now wide open and [I] now realise I've been used to spread messages I don't believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative".

I'm sure many will breath a sigh of relief at that latter commitment. After all, the rapper has done and said plenty of stuff in recent months to make people think that he would be involved in a campaign like Blexit in some way.

Elsewhere in Blexit news, The Fader has done some light Googling and discovered that many of the images of apparent supporters of the project are in fact stock images, public domain photographs, or photos used without a proper licence.

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Massive Attack re-imagine Mezzanine for 21st anniversary shows
Massive Attack have announced a new live show, 'Mezzanine XX1', re-imagining their 'Mezzanine' album for its 21st anniversary.

Featuring Cocteau Twins' Liz Frazer, among other collaborators still to be announced, the show features new audio created from the original samples used on the album.

The band's Robert Del Naja proclaims that it will be "a one-off piece of work; our own personalised nostalgia nightmare head trip".

The live show follows the re-issue of the original album, including as DNA-encoded spray paint. Tickets for the live shows will go on general sale on Friday. Here are the dates:

28 Jan: Glasgow, Hydro
29 Jan: Manchester Arena
22 Feb: London, O2 Arena
24 Feb: Dublin, 3Arena
1 Mar: Bristol, Steel Yard

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The Specials announce 40th anniversary tour
The Specials have announced that they will head out on tour next year, marking their 40th anniversary. The dates will also follow the release of a new album, 'Encore', which features their first new material for 37 years.

The album is out on 1 Feb. Tickets for the shows go on sale on Friday, here are the dates:

11 Apr: Dublin, Olympia Theatre
15 Apr: Bournemouth, Academy
16 Apr: Portsmouth, Guildhall
17 Apr: Brighton, Dome
19 Apr: Plymouth, Pavilions
20 Apr: Exeter, Great Hall
21 Apr: Cardiff University
23 Apr: Blackburn, King George's Hall
24 Apr: Leicester, De Montfort Hall
26 Apr: Birmingham, Academy
27 Apr: Liverpool, Olympia
28 Apr: Manchester, Academy
30 Apr: Leeds, Academy
1 May: Carlisle, Sands Centre
2 May: Glasgow, Barrowland
4 May: Newcastle, Academy
5 May: Middlesborough, Town Hall
6 May: Scarborough, SPA Grand Hall
8 May: Scunthorpe, The Baths Hall
9 May: York, Barbican
10 May: Sheffield, Academy
12 May: Cambridge, Corn Exchange
13 May: Southend, Cliff Pavilion
14 May: Margate, Winter Gardens
16 May: London, Brixton Academy

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Thundercat, Deerhunter, Flohio, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Thundercat has released a new collaboration with Badbadnotgood, 'King Of The Hill'. The track is taken from the upcoming 'Brainfeeder X' compilation, marking the label's tenth anniversary. Thundercat will also perform at a 'Brainfeeder X' show at Brixton Academy on 15 Dec, headlined by label boss Flying Lotus.

• Deerhunter have announced that they will release their new album, 'Why Hasn't Everything Disappeared?', on 18 Jan. Here's first single 'Death In Midsummer'.

• Flohio has released the video for new single 'Wild Yout'. She has tour dates lined up in November and December.

• Planningtorock has released a new single, 'Beulah Loves Dancing', about their sister's love of house music in the 90s. It's taken from new album 'Powerhouse', out on 9 Nov.

• Helena Deland has released the video for her song 'Claudion'.

• DeWolffe have released a new single aiming to get people to listen socially. Split into different parts across five tracks, you can only play it in full by getting four or five smartphones with Spotify accounts together. Here's a video to explain.

• Bodega have released the video for 'Name Escape' from their 'Endless Scroll' album. The band are set to tour the UK again in February.

• Peluché have released the video for new single 'Figure Me Out'. They've also announced UK tour dates next month, starting at The Pickle Factory in London on 14 Nov.

• Gary Numan has announced that he will sit down for two on-stage interviews in London and Manchester in January. He'll appear at Manchester's Stoller Hall on 15 Jan and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on 16 Jan.

• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Little Mix dragged into feud between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B
Little Mix have now been dragged into the feud between Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, which remains a thing that is happening between two actual adults.

On Tuesday, Cardi B posted a series of videos on Instagram responding to claims Minaj had made on her Beats 1 radio show. In one video, she asserted that a number of opportunities had come to Minaj recently only after she had passed on them first. This included new Little Mix single 'Woman Like Me', on which Minaj provides a guest verse.

"That 'Woman Like Me' record?" she said. "I had to decline it because I've got a lot of pop records, so I can't over exaggerate myself. But that came to me first and then they gave it to you".

As proof, she played a version of the track she'd been sent off her phone, with space left for the then still required guest verse. However, Little Mix have now said that, while they did indeed approach Cardi B about a collaboration, Minaj was always their first choice.

"We love and respect both Nicki and Cardi B", they said in a statement on Twitter. "Both were approached by our label to work with us on 'Woman Like Me', Nicki then Cardi. We went with Nicki because, like we've said over and over for years, it's been a dream of ours to work with her since the beginning. We have nothing but love and positivity for both Nicki and Cardi".

So that's very diplomatic. Although it followed some less diplomatic comment-liking from the group's Jade Thirwall, and an Instagram story from Perrie Edwards saying: "Sorry Cardi hun but this is the T. We've always wanted the Queen".

Anyway, entirely coincidentally, Nicki Minaj has a new track out. She features on Tyga's 'Dip'. Presumably he asked Cardi B to guest first, but she was still worrying about over exaggerating herself.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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