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German supreme court says web-blocks allowed
As much previously reported, web-blocking has become a preferred anti-piracy tactic of the music and movie industries in countries where such blockades are possible, either as a result of new specific legislation, or because a judge interprets existing copyright rules as enabling web-block injunctions to be issued.
Net firms are forced to block access to specific websites which exist primarily to enable and encourage copyright infringement, and generally do so without too much moaning, though arguably with limited effectiveness. The UK record industry has become particularly prolific in the web-blocking domain since such injunctions became available here.
In Germany, though, where collecting society GEMA tried to force Deutsche Telekom to block access to a now defunct piracy links site called 3dl.am, there was much debate as to whether web-blocks should be allowed. The case finally reached Germany's supreme court this year, and yesterday it ruled that internet service providers do have a duty to help combat piracy where online infringement cannot otherwise be stopped.
Web-blocking is usually used where it is hard to work out who is running a piracy website, or where the site is based outside the jurisdiction of the local courts, meaning even if a judge finds the set up liable for copyright infringement, it's hard to force the piracy operation to stop, change and/or pay damages to rights owners.
From yesterday's ruling, it seems that the German courts have set the bar higher for when web-blocking becomes an option, certainly compared to the UK.
In GEMA's specific case against Deutsche Telekom regarding 3dl.am, the court actually said the collecting society had not done enough to identify the owner of the site, so - had the site still be operational - it would not have got its web-block just yet. In a separate legal action, the major labels in Germany have also been declined a web-block because they have not done enough to try to stop the file-sharing site they are targeting through other means.
GEMA nevertheless welcomed the ruling, saying it clarified that web-blocking was an option in Germany as a last resort tactic to tackle online piracy. It now expects further clarification from the court as to what exactly it would have to do before seeking a web-block, but we know it will involve going to some effort to identify an offending site's owner.
Welcoming the ruling, GEMA boss Harald Heker told reporters: "We applaud the Federal Court Of Justice's ruling. This landmark decision was long overdue, and points the way forward for protecting the rights of authors in the digital music market. Finally we have legal clarity on the permissibility of blocking access to websites illegally offering copyrighted music works on a massive scale. This is a major step forward in the fight against internet piracy".
Embellishing on when he saw web-blocks being employed - ie only against significant piracy outfits - he continued: "We are talking about copyright violation on an enormous scale as a commercial operation. If the operators of these sites cannot be held legally responsible, access providers such as Deutsche Telekom will, as a last resort, have to co-operate in the fight against internet piracy. The Federal Court Of Justice has confirmed that this is the case in its ruling. We are aware that blocking websites is a drastic measure. However, if we have no defence against operators of these infringing sites, we must at least make such illegal activity more difficult by blocking the sites in question".
Competition authority to review previous undertakings made by PRS
Collective licensing, where pretty much all rights owners license certain groups of licensees as one through a collecting society, is very common in music of course (and occurs in some other creative sectors too), though still raises some competition law concerns. Which is why collective licensing deals are subject to extra regulation.
It also means that competition authorities in different countries often take an interest in the operations of local collecting societies. In the mid-1990s, the UK's Monopolies And Mergers Commission, a forerunner of the CMA, investigated the operations of PRS.
The society then gave a number of undertakings to the MMC in 1997, including, the CMA recalls, "allowing its members to administer their own live performing rights" and various commitments "over its corporate governance and the provision of information to the Office Of Fair Trading".
In July, the CMA began a consultation on whether or not it should review thirteen sets of "market and monopoly remedies" that were put in place by the authority's predecessors prior to 2005. And on the back of that, it has decided PRS's undertakings are something worth looking into.
It's worth revisiting those undertakings, says the CMA, because of "internal changes made by the PRS; legislative changes including the forthcoming implementation of a new EU Directive covering collective rights management; and wider changes in the music industry including the growth of online and digital music including downloads and streaming".
However, the CMA stresses, the review will only look at the impact those changes have had on the specific undertakings agreed in 1997, which may need altering or axing as a result of said changes. It will not be an all-encompassing review of the collective licensing of musical works in 2015.
Having recently confirmed this review is now on its agenda, the CMA says it will publish more details and a timeline next month.
IPO confirms no current plans to revisit private copy exception
As previously reported, UK copyright law is unusual in not allowing people who legitimately buy a sound recording to then make additional copies of said track for their own private use. Which means such private copies technically constitute copyright infringement, even though everyone has made such copies at some point or another, and no rights owner would ever sue someone who did so.
Following the Hargreaves Review of copyright rules in 2011, the government decided to introduce a so called 'private copy exception' into UK law, recognising that the lack of such an exception was damaging the credibility of the British copyright system.
The music industry opposed the government's proposals, not because it objected to private copying in principle, but because elsewhere in Europe the music community receives financial compensation for the private copies behind made. UK ministers were proposing a levy-free private copy exception. The government argued that the UK exception would be much narrower than elsewhere in Europe, so no levy was required.
Having failed to win the argument in Parliament, the UK music industry took the matter to court once the private copy exception was live, claiming the government's plans violated European law, because it had failed to meet its obligations in assessing whether or not a levy was necessary as a result of the new copyright exception. And the music industry won.
The entire private copy exception was abolished, with the government told to have good old rethink about how it might re-introduce the private copy scheme, either with a levy, or with better evidence as to why no levy was required. Since then, the government's Intellectual Property Office hasn't seemed in any mood to have such a rethink, and it recently told Outlaw.com: "The government is currently focusing its resources on the upcoming European copyright reforms, and does not intend to take further action on private copying at this time".
Which makes the music industry's win on this point something of a pyrrhic victory, in that it won't get the levy income it demanded and UK copyright law is still without its private copy exception. Outside the music community there is little sympathy for the idea of a private copy levy, and the concept has proven controversial elsewhere in Europe in recent years, as it became harder to work out what to apply the levy to (originally the levy was charged on blank cassettes).
The music community had an opportunity to score a PR victory here and boost the credibility of copyright - the thing the recording and publishing sectors rely on entirely - by telling the world that it recognised that the lack of a private copy right was dumb law and, as responsible copyright owners, they were going to get that fixed and ask for nothing in return.
Instead, the music industry is once again seen as a money-grabbing ungrateful bastard, and the tech brigade get further ammunition to back up their favourite nonsense statement that "copyright is not fit for purpose in the internet age". So well done everybody. You know we have a sister company that does corporate reputation consultancy, right?
Southbank Centre announces installation of iBeacon technology
Southbank Centre Director Of Marketing And Communications Chris Denton said in a statement: "We are delighted to be working with Live Beacon to deliver a new way for our many visitors to engage with the vibrant and diverse programme of events at Southbank Centre. We will use the technology not only to help deliver basic information but also as an extension of ways to interact with events happening across the site".
The first use of the beacon technology will be as part of the Being A Man festival at the Royal Festival Hall this weekend, kicking off today. Eventually over 100 individual beacons will be placed around the entire 21 acre site.
Domino publicist Jodie Banaszkiewicz launches PR company
"After over a decade at Domino, where I've learned a wealth of knowledge in my role as Senior Publicist, it was a big decision to leave to set up on my own", Banaszkiewicz told CMU. "I am however incredibly excited by this new challenge and to build Stay Golden PR, working with exceptional established and emerging talent, from a variety of areas and labels".
At launch, Stay Golden will represent Yeasayer, MMOTHS, Amber Arcades and Eera. Find more details here.
Independent Venue Week announces Wolf Alice as 2016 ambassadors
"We are proud to be ambassadors of this year's Independent Venue Week and ask for people's support so that these kinds of unique, intimate and sweaty shows continue for everyone to enjoy", said the band. "Venues that we started off playing, along with so many other bands, have created some of our funniest memories to date. We'd love for that to continue for us and for other bands, please show your support".
IVW founder Sybil Bell added: "It's great to be back again already - this third year is our most exciting yet. Wolf Alice have had an incredible year playing so many of the venues we are working with, culminating in their sell out show at Brixton Academy. That's the kind of journey bands go on and we're so chuffed to have them as our ambassadors this year".
Among the artists performing as part of next year's IVW event are Everything Everything, Matthew E White, Mallory Knox, Misty Miller, Eliza And The Bear, Georgia, Get Inuit and Edwyn Collins.
Here's another story about Adele breaking sales records, and some tour dates to flesh it out
Over in the US, she shifted more than three million copies of the record in one week, which is considerably more than previous first-week-sales record holders *Nsync managed with their 2000 album 'No Strings Attached'. It's also so many that there might now be a shortage of copies next week. Well, maybe, I'm not basing that on anything if I'm being honest. I'm just trying to build some new drama into this story.
Back in the UK, '25' easily sailed past Oasis's 1997 first chart week sales for 'Be Here Now', beating their 696,000 with a total of 737,000. Though if you want to throw a dampener on this, Oasis's album was released on a Thursday, so actually notched up all those sales in just three days (remember when albums came out on Mondays? No, me neither). Its actual seven day total was 813,000. So, basically, Adele is a failure.
She doesn't have all that much time to sit and think about what an awful flop her album has been in the UK though, because she needs to get ready for her European tour dates, which kick off in February. The shows will run all the way to June, leaving a little bit of space to rest before she headlines Glastonbury.
Here are the UK and Ireland dates:
29 Feb: Belfast, SSE Arena
You can buy tickets a week today - 4 Dec at 9am. Here's a video of Adele attempting to announce the dates herself.
The Line Of Best Fit announces 2016 Five Day Forecast residency
Among the bands on the line-up for the shows, which run from 11-15 Jan, are Pumarosa, Haelos, Diet Cig, Pleasure Beach, and Inheaven.
"The Five Day Forecast definitely all started out as an experiment", TLOBF founder Rich Thane told CMU. "With Best Fit as an entity approaching ten years now, we try and constantly find ways to evolve, yet at the same time never veer away from why we do what we do. Which is champion new music. We've always done a lot of shows; whether it be our own, or indeed partnering with festivals such as The Great Escape, Field Day, End Of The Road or Iceland Airwaves. The Forecast originally was quite a selfish idea, in that I really, really hate January and wanted to organise something fun and have something to look forward to!"
Driving home just how rubbish January usually is, he went on: "It's cold, dark and everyone is broke after Christmas, but at the same time inundated with lists and articles on who you should be listening to or who is going to be the next big thing. So I just took that mentality of people wanting to discover something new, and having something to look forward to, and coupled it with a really low ticket price. What better way to spend a dismal week in January that in the best small venue in London watching fifteen amazing new bands? For a new music fan, I don't think you can really beat it".
"The inaugural 2015 run of shows really took me by surprise with how busy they all were", he added. "The majority of the acts playing were all relatively unknown at the time and it was touching to see people take a punt on something new and exciting. So much so that all five nights sold out in advance! With the 2016 edition, I really wanted it to be a cross-section of everything that we've supported over the past twelve months and, indeed, what we intend to champion in the coming months and years. Looking at the bill, with the likes of Pumarosa, Inheaven, Haelos, Natali Felicia, Diet Cig... They're all responsible for some of my favourite songs of the year and it's so exciting to have them all under one roof".
Tickets for each of Monday to Thursday's shows will cost £6, with Friday's charged at £9. Or you can buy a pass for all five for £25. Full details here.
Jack Garrett wins BRITs Critics' Choice
Handed the first of those Pam Hogg trophies, Garratt said: "I am so humbled to have received this year's BRITs Critics' Choice Award. To have been nominated alongside Frances and Izzy Bizu was already a huge honour and a testament to the calibre of new UK music. To have been given this award is truly mind-blowing, considering I am one name in a hugely exciting time for music in this country. Thank you to everyone who voted, it means so much to me".
Once he'd said all that and had a photo taken with his prize, it was wrestled back off him, so it can be handed to him all over again during the BRIT Awards nominations show on ITV on 14 Jan. So that's something for all of us to look forward to.
Imagem, Mach Music, Coldplay, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Imagem has announced a global publishing deal with French duo Basic Tape. "Good", said Imagem A&R Manager Tom Coulson Smith. "Great", added Basic Tape manager Jesse McNamara of Mother City.
• South American company Mariposa is now offering its 7digital-powered Mach Music service through mobile providers in Brazil, Algar Telecom and Oi. "Robust", said Mariposa CEO David Fondots.
• Believe Digital UK's General Manager Lee Morrison has raised £3222.95 for War Child UK, via the Last Night A DJ Saved My Life Foundation, by being sponsored to cycle a neat 244 miles as part of various cycling events this summer. The money will go towards War Child's ongoing work in Jordan, supporting refugee children and their families.
• Coldplay have release the video for new single 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' on Facebook. And nowhere else. (Yet.)
• Elle Exxe has released the video for new single 'Home With You'. You can watch it here.
• MMOTHS, aka Jack Colleran, has announced his debut album, 'Luneworks'. It'll be out on 11 Mar. Here's the video for 'Deu'.
CMU Beef Of The Week #281: Taylor Swift v New Zealand
When last we saw her, Taylor Swift was drawing accusations of racism with her "glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa" in the 'Wildest Dreams' video. Prior to that, she was accused of racism via cultural appropriation of African-American culture in the 'Shake It Off' video.
She's learned her lesson though, and is now instead drawing fire for endangering rare birds on her latest video shoot.
Swift was in New Zealand to film the video for her next single on Bethells Beach in Auckland, stopping off there briefly before heading to Australia to begin the next leg of her '1989' tour this Saturday.
The area is a nesting site for native bird the dottrel, and so requires special permission for any such activity. It's fine though, the video production company got the correct permit in advance from Auckland Tourism, Events And Economic Development (Ateed, to its mates).
"Taylor Swift filming at Bethells this week", confirmed Waitakere Ranges local board chairwoman Sandra Coney on Facebook. However, she continued: "Permission was given for I think two vehicles, instead there were about a dozen. Parks not happy at all".
Oh dear. But how bad could it really be?
"We are trying to minimise vehicles on beaches for good reasons but at Bethells there are baby dotterels. We have developed a dotterel management plan as there is a heap of filming out there, and we welcome it as economic activity that should leave no footprint, but Taylor's lot did not respect the environment or the conditions of their consent".
Birds though, eh? You see loads of them flapping about all over the place. How rare are these ones? I bet there's loads.
"The numbers aren't large by any means", Waitakere Ranges' Neil Henderson told the New Zealand Herald. "People needed to stick to the rules. Once we lose the birds they don't come back in a hurry. If one person gets away with that, then others think, 'Why can't we?'"
Swift herself was seemingly on the beach for the filming on Monday, though the production company making the video, Cherokee Films (let's just let that one pass for now), insists that she and her team had nothing to do with any rule breaking.
"Taylor Swift and her management team were in no way at fault and did not do anything that violated permits or ordinances", said the company.
"We had permission from the landowners and paid a fee for use of the land", it continued. "At no time were the film crew close to that habitat. No dotterel were harmed. Cherokee Films has a long history of responsible film shoots across Auckland, including Bethells Beach, where we have filmed many times. Our shoots have always been with the guidance and support of the relevant local authority - most recently Screen Auckland And Parks - and landowners".
Alright! What's that saying about "protesting too much"? Though still refusing to accept any specific wrongdoing, the company nonetheless added: "In acknowledgement of the concern this has added to those in charge of protecting local dotterel population, Cherokee Films will make a donation to the breeding programme as we support your concerns. Cherokee Films is working with Screen Auckland to resolve this issue".
But Screen Auckland's Michael Brook confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that pictures of the shoot did show that more vehicles than permitted had been on the beach.
"It's very rare that Screen Auckland receives complaints about a major breach of a permit", he added, saying that filming in the area contributes NZ$130 million a year to the local economy.
Baby dottrels are described as looking like bumblebees with long legs. And I think we can all agree that that is a collection of words better than any amount of money. In fact, why is Taylor Swift's music video not just a video of these birds, given she was getting so close to them anyway? I've seen popstars wandering along beaches before. Bumblebees with long legs, not so much.
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