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EC's safe harbours report leaks as YouTube music chief hits back
As much previously reported, the safe harbours of US and European law say that internet companies are not liable if their customers use their servers and networks to distribute copyright protected material without licence, providing the net firm has some sort of takedown procedure in place. It means that YouTube isn't liable when its users routinely upload music without permission from the label or publisher, because Content ID allows the rights owner to block or monetise the offending tunes.
But, say many music companies, Content ID is only effective to a point, meaning that keeping your content entirely off YouTube is a labour intensive task. Which means a lot of unapproved music content stays on there. Which strengthens the Google service's negotiating hand when agreeing licensing deals with the music industry.
Which, of course, is why the music industry wants safe harbour rules rewritten so that services like YouTube no longer benefit from them. Copyright rules in Europe have been under review for a while, and the US Copyright Office instigated a specific review of safe harbours late last year. It's as a result of the latter that a flurry of notable artists have spoken out against YouTube in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, back in Europe, the European Commission is busy preparing an update on its ongoing Digital Single Market project, which includes the copyright and safe harbours review. And yesterday a draft of that update leaked via Politico.
In it, the Commission makes it clear that it has no ambitions to radically overhaul the E-Commerce Directive from which the European safe harbours stem, though there is talk about ensuring a "fairer distribution" of the value of user-upload sites and introducing some EU-wide standards on takedown systems.
The draft report begins: "Although the present intermediary liability regime, as set out in the E-Commerce Directive, was designed at a time when online platforms did not have the scale they have today, it created a regulatory environment that has considerably facilitated their scaling up ... The public consultation showed strong support the existing principles of the E-Commerce Directive".
Though, it does then concede that there is nevertheless "a need to clarify certain concepts, including the scope for the safe harbour for intermediary liability, including for online platforms". This will be achieved, the report reckons, with "sectorial legislation, on the basis of maximum harmonisation and a problem-driven approach, without prejudice to the E-Commerce Directive. This is particularly the case for ensuring a fair allocation of revenues for the use of copyright-protected content".
So what does that all mean? Well, "while [user-upload] services are attracting a growing audience and gaining economic benefits from the content distribution, there is a growing concern as to whether the value generated by some of these new forms of online content distribution is shared in a fair manner between distributors and the right holders. In their replies to the public consultation, right holders across several content sectors reported that their content is increasingly used without authorisation or through licensing agreements which, in their view, contain unfair terms".
So what's to be done? "In the next copyright package, to be adopted in the autumn of 2016, the Commission will aim at ensuring fair allocation of the value generated by the online distribution of copyright-protected content by online platforms whose businesses are based on the provision of access to copyright-protect material".
Which is wonderfully ambiguous. What the music industry really wants is YouTube to be held liable for all the unlicensed content on its platform so that Google would have to invest the time into removing unapproved files from its servers. This would mean that the music industry could demand better terms - which mainly means more minimum guarantees in addition to the existing revenue share arrangement - because without the labels and publishers on board, Google would be left with an awful lot of monitoring work to do.
But the EC's talk of finding a better way to allocate the value of online distribution doesn't sound anywhere near so draconian.
Meanwhile, another EC priority is reviewing - again - whether there should be EU-wide standards for the takedown element of safe harbours, something YouTube would probably welcome given that, for all its limitations, Content ID is one of the best takedown systems out there.
"The Commission will continue to review the need for formal notice-and-action procedures during the second half of 2016", says the draft report. "Taking into account the effect of the updated audio-visual media and copyright framework on illegal content online".
It remains to be seen what the final version of the EC's Digital Single Market report looks like, and what impact it has on the music industry's lobbying efforts in Brussels. Though the YouTube-bashing seems set to continue, as does YouTube's recently stepped up efforts to fight back in the war of words, which this week included an article by the firm's Head Of International Music Partnerships, Christophe Muller, in The Guardian.
"The truth is that YouTube takes copyright management extremely seriously", he wrote. "And we work to ensure rightsholders make money no matter who uploads their music. No other platform gives as much money back to creators - big and small - across all kinds of content".
He went on: "Today, thousands of labels and rightholders have licensing agreements with YouTube to actually leave fan videos up and earn revenue from them. They agree that a world in which fans express love for their favourite artists by uploading concert footage and remixes is something to be celebrated. And they see that fan-uploaded content can be a way to drive exposure and boost sales".
Five Finger Death Punch respond to label's breach of contract lawsuit
The band's contract seemingly prohibits them from beginning work on a new album until nine months after the release of their previous record. Their latest LP 'Got Your Six' was released on 4 Sep last year, meaning work on the follow-up should not begin until at least 4 Jun this year. The label alleges that the band is working on the album already because of fears that frontman Ivan Moody, who has an alcohol addiction, will become unable to work.
"Regrettably, with the encouragement of their entertainment lawyer and business manager, the members of FFDP have unequivocally repudiated their contractual obligations to permit Prospect Park to determine the recording elements of a new record and a greatest hits record", says the lawsuit. "In doing so, the members of FFDP are shamelessly attempting to cash in before the anticipated downfall of their addicted bandmate".
In their response to the filing this week, the band said in a statement that Prospect Park's "completely meritless" actions were the latest in "a long line of exploitative and abusive bullying tactics used by our former manager and current label CEO Jeff Kwatinetz to extract money from and wield power against the band".
They also claim that, due to various artists leaving the label, their recordings "are now one of Prospect Park's last remaining and most valuable assets still under contract".
The band continued: "Five Finger Death Punch is prepared to record and deliver the final album this year under its recording agreement, but instead of allowing us to record, Prospect Park has chosen to sue us, hold us for ransom and squeeze extra money out of its contract rights by attempting to sell an interest in future recordings. What's worse is that Prospect Park very deliberately filed their meritless lawsuit the same week we are trying put our fall co-headlining arena tour on sale".
"As for our singer, Ivan Moody", they added, "his issues are no secret and were recently and successfully addressed with the love and support of his family and bandmates in a rehabilitation facility. Never once did Prospect Park Management or Recordings support any efforts to get him sober, preferring the band continue making albums and touring".
They finished by announcing their intention to file a counter-suit against Prospect Park.
IFPI welcomes move to ramp up performing rights regime for recordings in Nigeria
COSON was founded in 2009 and represents both song and recording rights, as well as songwriters and performers, in Nigeria, and said earlier this month that it planned to "aggressively pursue the licensing of sound recording rights exploited by users in all commercial and public settings" across the country.
COSON chief Tony Okoroji added: "After several consultations and careful review of the Nigerian Copyright Act, international best practices in collective management of music copyrights, and the needs of our members, assignors and affiliates, the COSON board has decided that it is in the best interest of stakeholders that the licensing drive for the rights in sound recordings is immediately intensified".
The society's GM Chinedu Chukwuji then added that the organisation's decision to ramp up efforts on the recordings side of music copyright - in addition to existing efforts in the publishing domain - should benefit users of music too because it "can save them from avoidable legal palaver". And who wants that?
Welcoming the recent developments, the IFTTPI's Rob Hooijer said earlier this week: "We are excited about the potential of the Nigerian music market and we are pleased to partner with COSON to help the industry exercise their rights in Nigeria. We hope that the example set by COSON will encourage other countries and music licensing companies to work with the local and international music industry".
Ninja Tune's publishing company Just Isn't Music launches US sync office
The company's existing Creative Director David O'Bryan will move to LA to head up the new US-based sync operations. "I am massively excited about this opportunity to represent Ninja Tune for sync in LA, working from the office there", says O'Bryan.
"My experience in the London office has been massively rewarding, as I get to work with one of the best independent music catalogues in the industry, so to be able to work this catalogue for the dynamic US sync market is real thrill, and will hopefully result in many more US sync placements for our artists".
Just Isn't Music boss Martin Dobson adds: "We are going to sorely miss having David in the UK office, not just for what his great experience in the industry brings to the team, but as a huge personality too. I could not think of anyone better to head out and take the LA sync industry by storm; they won't know what's hit them!"
Of hiring Pimentel, who is joining from Big Sync in the role of Senior Creative Sync, Dobson continues: "With such a large Ninja shaped hole to fill in the UK we aimed high, and in Sergio we have an industry giant who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the sync industry. We've worked together extensively throughout his tenures at Sony and Big Sync, and having him join us on the other side is going to be invaluable. We can't wait for him to start".
Pimentel himself adds: "I've been a huge fan of Ninja Tune since the beginning. I'm very excited to be working with such fantastic artists and writers. Having worked with Ninja over the last sixteen years on many video game and advertising campaigns, I'm looking forward to joining the sync team in London".
The deal with Maxim of The Prodigy, meanwhile, includes publishing, co-writing and sync representation. "Being a huge fan of The Prodigy, it's a real honour to have Maxim join the roster", says Dobson. "Alongside writing many of the band's major hits, Maxim has a huge amount of solo material and non-Prodigy related co-writes which we are very excited to introduce to our clients".
The Prodigy released their most recent album, 'The Day Is My Enemy', last year. Maxim's last solo album, 'Fallen Angel', came out in 2005.
CMU@TGE Previews: Transparency through technology - and what the hell is the blockchain?
The bloody blockchain hey, that's become quite the talking point of late, hasn't it? Understand it yet? Well, worry not, Marcus O'Dair, convenor of the 'Blockchain For Creative Industries Research Cluster' at Middlesex University, is going to join me at TGE next month, and together we're going give you the real beginners guide.
After which PledgeMusic founder Benji Rogers, who has been leading the debate on the role the blockchain may play in solving the music industry's copyright data problem, will update us all on his vision, and how it has developed in recent months.
Then digital music experts Sammy Andrews, Jimmy Mikaoui and Andy Edwards - all vocal proponents of the need for more transparency in the digital music sector and the role technology can play - will then provide their perspectives.
These discussions are, of course, all about trying to improve the efficiency and transparency of the way digital income works its way through the system, and we'll be exploring the many elements of the debate during the wider data strand at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape, identifying the challenges ahead and hopefully some solutions too. Let's see if we can, indeed, make some buzzwords happen.
'Transparency through technology - and what the hell is the blockchain?' will take place at 1.45pm on Thursday 19 May - find out more about the full-day data strand it is part of here. TGE delegates get access to all of CMU Insights @ The Great Escape and all the other festivities that take place over the three days of the festival - passes are £230 and available here. This year tickets are also available for just the convention side of the proceedings for £100 and those can be bought here.
NoLay regains consciousness, though condition remains unclear
Speaking to the Evening Standard yesterday, her manager Tyler Jones said: "NoLay has opened her eyes for the first time today. NoLay is in a minimal conscious state occasionally aware of her surroundings, but incapable of producing any reliable responses verbal or otherwise at present that rule out any signs of brain damage".
Revealing the severity of her injuries, he added: "NoLay has a fractured pelvis, fractured vertebrae, fractured sternum and a nasal fracture. She also has suffered a lot of bruising and swelling subsequently from the accident".
NoLay recently premiered new single 'Gotta Love It', featuring Kid D.
Kesha releases new single with Zedd
Kesha revealed that they were recording the track on Instagram last week, saying: "It's a miracle when someone gives you a chance at finding your voice again with no reason other than that he is a fucking beautiful person with a heart of gold".
"Just to clarify, we didn't use any loopholes", tweeted Zedd, after announcing the release. "Kemosabe [and] RCA gave us permission to release this song".
"Thanks for the clarification Zedd", added Dr Luke.
A previously reported, Kesha was recently unsuccessful in her bid to gain an injunction to temporarily release her from a record deal with Dr Luke's Kemosabe label while legal proceedings between them continue. She accuses the producer and label boss of drugging and raping her. He denies the claims.
One of the reasons she was denied the injunction was that Sony and Dr Luke maintained that she was already free to record with other people. Dr Luke and his legal team will presumably hope that this new release proves that they are being accommodating.
Yann Tiersen announces solo piano album
"Ushant is more than just a home - it's a part of me", says Tiersen. "The idea was to make a map of the island and, by extension, a map of who I am. To begin with I chose ten locations on the island and made a series of field recordings at each of them. The pieces of piano music I then went on to write are named after these locations, and the sheet music for each piece is accompanied by a GPS coordinate and a photograph of the site taken by Emilie Quinquis".
Music Week Awards presented
Most amusing acceptance speech of the night goes to Dermot O'Leary's Radio 2 colleague, who accepted the Best Radio Show prize on the presenter's behalf by saying: "Dermot would have loved to be here tonight, but this event isn't televised so clearly he wasn't going to come". The Big D did later tweet that he was "THRILLED" though.
The most poignant award of the night was the lifetime achievement trophy, which went to Max Hole. The former Chairman and CEO of Universal Music's international division stepped down last October, as he continued to recover from the rare medical condition encephalitis, with which he was diagnosed in January 2015.
Receiving a standing ovation when he took the stage to accept the award, which was presented to him by Chris Rea, Hole said: "I've been very lucky to work with extraordinary artists, incredible producers and wonderful executives".
Here are all the winners:
Outstanding Contribution To Charity: The BRIT School
Live Music Promoter: SJM Concerts
Publisher of the Year - Singles: Sony/ATV
Music & Brand Partnership: Google/Abbey Road Studios - Inside Abbey Road Studios
Retail Brand: HMV
Radio Station: BBC 6 Music
A&R Award: Atlantic Records
Catalogue Marketing Campaign: Sony Music Commercial Group - Elvis Presley: If I Can Dream
Independent Record Company: Bella Union
The Strat: Max Hole
Calvin Harris, Blink 182, AlunaGeorge, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Calvin Harris unveiled a new Rihanna collaboration, 'This Is What You Came For', on the Radio 1 breakfast show this morning. Here's a clip of the track.
• Blink 182 have released a new track, 'Bored To Death', from their new album 'California', which is out on 1 Jul.
• The new AlunaGeorge tracks just keen coming. This, featuring Zhu, is 'My Blood'.
• Becky Hill has a new track out. This is 'Back To My Love', featuring Little Simz.
• Former Klaxons frontman James Righton has released a track from new project Shock Machine, also called 'Shock Machine'.
• Cat's Eyes have released a new single, 'Be Careful Where You Park Your Car'. They've also announced an album launch show at The Lexington in London on 14 Jun.
• White Lung have another new video out, ahead of the release of their new album 'Paradise'. They've dressed up all formal this time, with the video for 'Below'.
• Plaid have announced that they will release a new album, 'The Digging Remedy', on 10 Jun. You can find bits of lead track 'Clock' here.
• Kate Jackson has released the video for her single 'The End Of Reason'. "It stars my car Mimi the BMW who is 25 years old", says Jackson. "I wanted something to remember her by after being told last year she would never make it through another MOT! She just passed!"
• Gaika has released the video for 'Buta', from his new mixtape 'Security'.
CMU Beef Of The Week #303: Beyonce v Becky With The Good Hair
Last week she released a couple of trailers for something apparently called 'Lemonade'. All would be revealed on Saturday evening on HBO, we were told. Saturday comes round and HBO screens an hour-long musical film. Then at the end of it, hey, the new album's up on Tidal. It appeared on iTunes on Monday too, and the rest is history.
Both the film and album are layered with meaning. Though exactly what it all means is not clear cut. To some it is an allegorical tale of the struggles of women, particularly black women, in a supposedly enlightened society. That's quite a big thing to get your head around though, so many people seem to have just decided that it's an autobiographical recounting of Jay-Z's infidelity. Particularly, people have honed in on the character of "Becky with the good hair", who gets a mention in the song 'Sorry'.
Marital strife has been a theme in Beyonce's work for some time, and rumours of Jay-Z's infidelity are nothing new either. In 2014 security camera footage of Solange Knowles attacking Jay-Z in a lift leaked, she reportedly lashing out at the rapper for cheating on her sister. Rumours went so far as to name fashion director Rachel Roy, former creative director of Rocawear, as the other woman.
This week, Roy made the error of posting a photo on Instagram with the caption "Good hair don't care" shortly after 'Lemonade' was released. And so she set in motion a trend that has continued through the week, of Beyonce fans en masse setting upon those they suspect of being 'Becky'. After Roy, it was Rita Ora, who posted a picture of herself on Snapchat in a bra with two lemons printed on it. Beyonce fans also thought she was wearing a necklace with a 'J' on it, though it was actually an 'R'.
Various other women have come under attack online over the course of the week, due to theories that they could have tempted Jay-Z away from his wife. And "tempted" is the word, these attacks all portray the women as the ones in the wrong, while Jay-Z himself has seemingly been left pretty much alone. Why go after the man who you are certain has caused Beyonce pain when you can guess which vague social media updates are a woman's admission of guilt?
As for Jay-Z, if the theory that the album is all about him is true, then it's happened with his participation. While it seems likely that some of the record's lyrics are drawn from Beyonce's personal experiences, it has also gone out as an exclusive on his streaming service. So he is still involved in its presentation.
Neither Jay-Z nor Beyonce have commented on any of this, so everything is speculation. Perhaps she's feeling like a weight's been lifted off her, having made all this public. Perhaps she's happy that the ambiguity of her lyrics has done the work of a marketing team for her. Or perhaps she's annoyed that a story she wrote to convey specific ideas has been boiled down to one line in one song. I don't think it's an accident that the film was premiered on HBO, a channel known worldwide for its reputation for making high quality drama shows.
Clearly a great deal of work has gone into this album - its themes, story and songs have been crafted, tweaked and finessed with numerous collaborators in secret, before being unveiled to the world. It likely draws on real life, but so do all great works of fiction. But many of Beyonce's fans now seem to assume that this whole project was all just quickly thrown together off the top of her head.
The creative direction in which Beyonce was moving was first shown at the Super Bowl in February, where she first aired her Black Panthers-themed performance of 'Formation'. Heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, it so incensed police that they threatened not to provide security for her shows - something she turned around on them by offering 'Boycott Beyonce' t-shirts at concerts this week, where those threats were not carried out.
As she pushes her idea of an empowered black woman, unafraid of a fight, a section of Beyonce's fans seem to want to reduce her to a victim who needs their protection.
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