CMU Daily - on the inside Friday 9th February
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- EMI rumoured to be considering MP3 sales
- Warner chief stands by DRM
- Concert promoters call for more touting regulations
- Jadakiss charged with possession
- R Kelly misses court appearance
- Travis Barker not yet fixed
- More Jacko comeback plans
- Massive Attack on new album
- Album review: The Loves - Technicolour
- Nutini hands back arts grant
- The Who play Swansea
- BDB pays tribute to the boss
- Kaiser Chiefs announce exclusive gig
- goNorth goes north
- Dre makes the move into film
- Single review: IV Thieves - Take This Heart
- Jacques Campet dies
- More RIAA nonsense
- Napster revenues up and losses down
- GMG get Manchester licence
- Virgin Media launches, Sky try to steal the headlines
- Single review: Jamie Pearce - More Than Enough
- Mozza fans stage digital chart scam
- Macca divorce settlement close?
- Moss bans Doherty from Brits
- Britney denies lesbian claims
- Oasis nonsense

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TOP BIT>>
Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much news this week, and no time to report on it all. Especially after typing all those 'O's - that's really eaten into my time. It really has been a very busy week. We don't do this often, but I think we definitely need a 'stories we didn't have chance to cover' Top Bit. Firstly, Mean Fiddler's Melvin Benn said he hoped that thousands more Glasto ticket holders would travel to the festival by coach this year, to cut down on traffic congestion at the ever growing festival and to boost the event's eco credentials. Festival bosses plan to offer more coach travel options to ticket holders to help achieve that aim. Media news, and we hear lifestyle mag Front and gay mag Attitude, the futures of which seemed unclear when their January issues didn't surface, are slightly clearer now. Well, that's probably not true, but they have published February issues, which means they're not completely dead. Elsewhere in the media, shares in magazine and radio company EMAP fell more than 8% after the group admitted its financial performance for the current financial year was likely to be "toward the bottom end of market expectations". Meanwhile radio rivals Chrysalis, currently in a good mood after Heart 106.2's impressive performance in last week's RAJARS, announced revenues were up. Media conglom RTL has announced a partnership with digital aggregator folks Musicbrigade to launch Germany's largest online music store. Industry type news and reggae label VP Records has finalised an online and mobile distribution partnership with Universal Music which will see the indie and major work together on digital projects in the US, Japan and Caribbean with artists like Sean Paul, Elephant Man and TOK. On to festivals, and something I have to write about properly next week is the Bloc Weekend, which takes place in Great Yarmouth from 23-25 Mar, and features an array of great dance music. We'll go into line up specifics another time, but I hear there are less than 200 tickets left as we speak, so if you're interested you really ought to go check http://www.blocweekend.com now. Another electro event we never got round to writing about is the 070707 festival being staged by the Antiworld people on 07.07.07 (that is, to say, 7 Jul). More at http://www.antiworld070707.com. More festivals, Guns N Roses announced this week they will play Africa for the first time ever, when they play the My Coke Festival in Johannesburg in April. Axl Rose also announced that the long long long awaited new album Chinese Democracy might finally get released on 3 Mar. Now that would be a really big story, should it actually happen. Nearly as big a surprise as the new Wembley Stadium actually opening in time for those Muse gigs later this year. And that's some of the backlog covered. As for my backlog of emails - well, I will try and address that this weekend - if I owe you a reply, apologies. As I said, it's been a very busy week.

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CLASSIFIEDS>>

PACHA MAGAZINE
Pacha magazine returns to the Miami Winter Music conference for a second year. Pacha will again distribute 25,000 free copies of the magazine in the build up and duration of the various dance music conferences taking place during March (WMC, Miami Music Week), targeting the most influential and savvy electronic music consumers in the World. Pacha will be the most visible publication in south Beach's hippest hotels, bars and shops. The magazine, produced by Graphite Media, also features an exclusive free CD from CR2 Records. The advertising deadline is Friday 9th February... Advertising rates start from £396... Call Gary at Programmedia now to discuss your requirements

Programmedia.co.uk : Advertising in the best independent music magazines including Pacha, Disorder, Fact, Fusion, Stool Pigeon, Base:ad, Blowback, Beat, Swell and many music festival programmes. Check http://www.programmedia.co.uk for latest.

Programmedia Landline: +44 (0)1494 866337
Email: Gary@programmedia.co.uk

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CMU RECOMMENDS>>

KILL ALL HIPPIES FEBRUARY
This month features live sets from five great new bands - Xerox Teens, Rat:Att:Agg, Das Wanderlust, Ox Eagle Lion Man and The More Assured plus, on the decks, will be KAH resident Gavin Nugent plus guests Teens Of Thailand. It'll be a storming night, running from 9.30pm through to 3am the next morning. And Carling will be £1.80 a pint all night! Tix are £6 if you buy or guest list in advance, info at http://www.leylinepromotions.com.

BASICS: Friday 9 Feb, Carling Islington Academy, London, 9.30pm-3am, tix £6 in advance.

More recommends: http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk/cmurecommends

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CMU FRIDAY TIPS

VIGSY'S LIVE TIP: African Soul Rebels Tour at the Barbican
The third African Soul Rebels tour comes to town, and this one features the crown prince of Afro Beat, the mighty sax supremo Femi Kuti, a veritable chip off the old block (his old man being Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti). Femi's Positive Force band follow Fela's template of deep Nigerian grooves, big energy and conscious lyrics and 'The Definitive Collection' is being released to coincide with the tour. Worth going for alone. Shoring up the event will be Ba Cissoko showcasing the 'Electric Griot Land' album which, I am informed, is full of vibrant reggae-soaked music. And then there's Paris based Algerian born Akli D, who comes complete with his Berber Blues plus a giant Afro that wouldn't have looked out of place in Jimi's Experience. A triple whammy of big hitters in true pan-African music designed to hit you hard. Starting at Leicester's De Montford Hall on Valentine's Day, Barbican on 15 Feb, ending at Bristol's Colston Hall on 27 February.

Thursday 15 Oct, Barbican Hall, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS, 8pm, Tickets £12-£22.50, contact Barbican Press Office for details, or Gerry Lyseight at Mambo gerry@mambo.eclipse.co.uk, check other dates at http://www.musicbeyondmainstream.co.uk.

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EMI RUMOURED TO BE CONSIDERING MP3 SALES
More DRM chatter following Steve Jobs previously reported essay on the topic earlier this week. Much of the chatter has centered on rumours that EMI are now seriously considering releasing some of their catalogue in non-protected MP3 formats, which is something I've been hearing for a while (which either means there's some truth to the story, or people are regurgitating old rumours this week because of the Jobs story).

As previously reported until our heads exploded with the tedium of it all, the major record companies still insist that their music is only sold digitally when digital files come with DRM technology embedded, which controls how consumers can share and transfer the digital music they buy. Such technology, they argue, prevents piracy. The problem is that different technology firms use different DRMs, meaning that the kind of file format that a consumer buys music in will affect which kind of digital music players it can be played on - in particular, iTunes music will only play on the iPod, and the only DRMed music that will play on the iPod is that sold by iTunes. This makes the whole digital music space confusing and frustrating for consumers - and arguably makes those consumers rely on ripping tracks from CDs or downloading them for illegal sources instead. The solution to this either for technology firms to adopt DRM standards or open up their DRMs to rivals, or for major record companies to just stop using DRM on the basis it doesn't actually stop piracy anyway (and arguably encourages it), or, probably, both. Hey, I just explained it all again. Did your head explode? If so, we're not accepting any liability.

Anyway, most of the majors seem to continue to support the use of DRM, despite an increasing number of major label employees privately expressing the opinion that they shouldn't. But word has it EMI may break away from the other majors and start selling MP3s of its music. Various different sources are saying slightly different things to this effect. One rumour is that EMI is trying to persuade various digital retailers to make big upfront payments in order to sell their music as MP3s. Others say that EMI are talking to Snocap about being involved in the launch of the previously mentioned MP3 download platform on MySpace.

An EMI spokesman told Reuters she couldn't comment on specific rumours, but did note that the major had done some pilot projects involving the distribution of MP3s with flagship artists like Norah Jones and Lily Allen, adding: "The results have been positive... lack of operability between a proliferating range of devices and hardware and the digital platforms for delivering music is more and more becoming an issue for music consumers and EMI has been engaging with our various partners to find a solution".

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WARNER CHIEF STANDS BY DRM
Whatever is going on behind the scenes at EMI, Warner Music chief Edgar Bronfman Jr seems committed to sticking with DRM. Responding to the Jobs essay he told reporters that the Apple chief's proposals were "completely without logic or merit", adding that his company was committed to the continued use of DRM, citing the fact that film studios and software makers had similar DRM polices but generally didn't come under so much criticism for their approach. Commenting on the fact Jobs has published his polemic ahead of licence renewal negotiations between Apple and the majors, which are due to begin in the next month or so, he observed: "Frankly, manifestos in advance of those discussions are counter-productive".

Bronfman's comments followed the news that profits at Warner Music for the final quarter of 2006 were 74% down from the same period last year (down from $69 million to $18 million) mainly because, despite a considerable leap in digital sales, performance in the still crucial CD albums market did not go well, mainly because their release schedule didn't have the big hits from the likes of Madonna, James Blunt and Green Day which were still selling in large numbers at the end of 2005.

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CONCERT PROMOTERS CALL FOR MORE TOUTING REGULATIONS
It's possible I've completely misunderstood this story, but as far as I can see the government went to the live music sector saying "sort out the ticket touting problem or we'll regulate", the live music sector responded by saying "go ahead and regulate, actually we want you to", and the government replied "oh, mmm, I see, well, I'm not sure regulation is really appropriate. Except where dead ex-royals are involved".

Anyway, the Concert Promoters Association has called on the government to do more to combat ticketing touting, mainly by introducing new laws that ban certain methods of reselling tickets for profit in the live entertainment space.

As previously reported, the government has been encouraging the live music sector to do its bit to combat touting, both of the traditional 'outside the venue tout' and more modern 'online auction' kind, and yesterday the Department For Culture Media And Sport noted certain initiatives by the live sector which are helping, including the publishing of clearer resale information and the provision of legitimate face value ticket exchange services.

But whilst expressing their concern for the growth in ticket touting, and pushing the live sector to do more, the government seems generally unwilling to legislate against the resale of tickets for profit, despite lobbying by the CPA to do just that. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told reporters: "We want to address the problems faced by fans - paying through the nose for a ticket with a poor view or handing over cash for a ticket that never existed. Progress has been made but we're going to continue to work with the industry to cut off the commercial opportunities for ticket touts and stamp out unfair practices. It would be unfair if consumers were unable to sell their own tickets and get their money back - we don't want to criminalise genuine fans".

But she has accepted that some regulations may be required, especially governing the resale of tickets for high profile charity based events, such as this year's Concert For Diana.

Commenting on their latest discussions with government, a spokesman for the CPA told reporters: "We welcome the secretary of state's clear statement that the government are against anyone re-selling a ticket for commercial gain. But we are frustrated that they have still not acted to give us the necessary tools to self-police our touts".

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JADAKISS CHARGED WITH POSSESSION
Do these hip-hop types never learn? No, is the short answer to that question. The latest rap star to appear in court indicted on drugs and weapon possession is one Jason Phillips, aka controversy courting hip hopper Jadakiss. Phillips was arrested with three other men in Yonkers, NY, back on 7 Oct, after police stopped and searched the car he was travelling in.

Appearing at the Westchester County Court on Thursday, Jadakiss entered a not guilty plea, claiming that he was in the back seat of the vehicle and had no idea that there was a gun in the front console of the car. His lawyer Clement Patti telling reporters: "I have yet to see or hear of any evidence connecting my client to possessing this weapon."

If convicted, the rapper could face between 16 months and seven years in prison. Two of his companions that evening were indicted on similar charges.

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R KELLY MISSES COURT APPEARANCE
Elsewhere in court news, R Kelly has missed a scheduled court appearance on Wednesday because, according to his lawyer, he had undergone surgery for a burst appendix. The singer, as previously reported, is due to face child pornography charges, but attorney Terence Gillespie said that the singer was unable to attend the court hearing as he had had the emergency operation in Miami on Sunday, adding that Kelly was conveniently much better and ready for discharge on the day following the court date, Thursday.

The singer has pleaded not guilty to fourteen counts of child pornography. It's one of a number of 'underage' charges against the singer that never ever seem to make it to court. This charge apparently will, however, as Kelly is due back in court on 21 Feb. Gillespie says his client will attend.

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TRAVIS BARKER NOT YET FIXED
+44's Mark Hoppus has posted an update on the band's MySpace page explaining that the band's drummer Travis Barker is still suffering from that broken arm sustained during a video shoot back in October. He writes that Barker, whose bones were sufficiently brittle that they broke just from drumming, won't be exercising his sticks until the arm is fully recovered.

Hoppus: "[the doctors] have determined that his arm still has not healed completely from the injury he sustained during the video shoot. His arm is getting better, but is not all the way better yet. It is great news that his condition isn't more serious. He is going to need to start using a device called a "bone stimulator" to help regenerate the bone tissue and fill in the stress fractures. His doctor also suggested that he start doing some drumming to build up strength in his arm and bone. So he is going to start working his arm again and using the bone stimulator device every day to build his arm back up to the point where he can play and not be in pain."

So there you go. No fixed date for when he will resume drumming duty. As previously reported, temporary drummer is filling in on the band's current tour.

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MORE JACKO COMEBACK PLANS
More on Michael Jackson's plans for a comeback. And in addition to courting the producer talent of the moment to get involved in his new recordings, Jacko has revealed he is planning on employing the services of some of the music industry's most successful players, including Simon Fuller and High School Musical director Kenny Ortega.

Jackson and Ortega spoke to journalist Robin Leach in Las Vegas this week, who asked the duo about the singer's rumoured plans to take up a residency in Vegas, and on his other comeback plans. Jacko said: "I'm doing fine and am well and really enjoying myself in Vegas. It's a great place to call home". Ortega added: "We're talking business and looking at lots of different possibilities. This is a blue-sky time with a lot of different scenarios up in the air. We're working through all of them to find the best - the one that makes the most sense that's good for everybody."

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MASSIVE ATTACK ON NEW ALBUM
Massive Attack have revealed that their next album will feature a host of guest appearances from the likes of Damon Albarn and Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio). The band told The Guardian that they presently have enough material to sustain two new releases, in fact, in the next year or so. The band are playing Brixton Academy tonight.

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Loves - Technicolour (Fortuna Pop)
In this age of plasma screens and high definition, the word 'Technicolor' should conjure images of bygone days: overripe hues slapped between clean lines; concision of narrative; and, of course, the excesses of larger-than-life characters in loosely realistic worlds animated or otherwise fantastical. The Loves second album, 'Technicolour', does its moniker proud. It's evocative, fun, charmingly antiquated in terms of its textures and, by this token, imbued with a wobbly 1960's quirkiness that will ensure that it appeals to those with a musical taste for the drippy, psychedelic days of yore. It takes courage to open with a seven-minute, grinding, dirge-like opus in which the lyrics are, word for word, its title, 'Je Taime, Baby'. Within the context of the entire album, this track - which gives a clear nod to the Velvet Underground - is useful insomuch as it piques the listener's interest and establishes a contrarious, rebellious tone. However, any revolutionary cachet the Welsh six-piece acquire from their damn-the-torpedoes opener is largely pissed away by the following 11 tracks - and especially the penultimate '(Gimme Gimme) The Good Times' with its infectious, sing along chorus - which have more in common with the sunny, tinny, transistor radio pop of the early 1960s than the dark, brooding rock
that followed it. Ultimately, The Loves demonstrate their credentials as keen and able students of 60's music. It happens that this reviewer, hearing real promise, wishes they leant more towards the dark side than the drenched, dare I say, Technicolor tones that prevail. Alas, for now, that's all, folks. BH
Release Date: 12 Feb
Press Contact: Fortuna Pop [all]

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NUTINI HANDS BACK ARTS GRANT
That Paolo Nutini fella has decided not to take a three grand grant off the Scottish Arts Council to help cover the costs of a jaunt to next month's SXSW. Nutini's management, who received three grand off the arts body last year to help launch the singer songwriter's career, had applied for further funding for the SXSW trip, but the move was criticised by some, despite Arts Council chiefs approving the application. Some argued that Nutini, as a rising star, could now cover his own costs for the America trip, adding that other Scottish names like The Fratellis and The View had not applied for public cash for similar promotional exercises. With all that in mind, Nutini's people decided not to take the grant from the arts body, even though they had been awarded it. The SAC, which, in my most humble opinion, should be commended for having schemes to support new Scottish bands, will provide grants to another ten acts to help them play at the Texan music convention.

Talking of SXSW, the preliminary line up for this year's convention, which runs from 14-18 Mar, has been announced. It's a long list, so I suggest you go here to look at it: http://2007.sxsw.com/music/festival

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THE WHO PLAY SWANSEA
The Who have announced that they will be the first band to play the Liberty Stadium in Swansea as part of their European tour this summer. The group are, as previously reported, set for an appearance at Glastonbury, and will also play dates in Liverpool and Hull. Speaking on Thursday, frontman Roger Daltrey said that their set at the stadium would last two hours and feature songs spanning their career.

Andrew Davies, manager of the Liberty stadium, which opened back in 2005, said: "This is a major coup for us and Swansea. We are delighted to have such an iconic band play and it is fantastic that we have been chosen to be part of their European Tour. It was always part of the original business plan to host regular concerts in the summer months. The Who will set the bar for Liberty Stadium as a quality music venue, raising the profile of both the venue and the city to UK music fans."

Tickets go on sale soonish. Not sure when. Probably in the next ten days or so.

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BDB PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE BOSS
Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy of course, is to join a line-up of musicians set to appear at a New York concert paying tribute to Bruce Springsteen. The event, which will take place at the Carnegie Hall on 5 Apr, will also feature performances from the likes of Pete York, Jewel, Josh Ritter, Steve Earle and Chris Isaak. The gig is the latest in a series of charity gigs benefiting the city's Music For Youth organisation which have previously honoured Bob Dylan and Patti Smith.

BDB's new single, 'A Journey From A To B', is out on 26 Feb.

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KAISER CHIEFS ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE GIG
Kaiser Chiefs have announced that they will play a competition winners only gig at the Gibson Guitar Studio in London on 17 Feb. The event is to be held in association with the aforementioned Gibson Guitars and will be recorded exclusively for broadcast by Virgin Radio.

The band are expected to showcase tracks from upcoming second album, 'Yours Truly, Angry Mob', out 27 Feb, as well as playing a few songs from their rather popular debut LP 'Employment'.

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GONORTH GOES NORTH
Scottish music convention goNorth is, erm, going North this year. Which given that it started in Aberdeen, is very North. Yep, this year goNorth will take place in Inverness, preceding the second edition of the Rock Ness festival that was launched by Fatboy Slim last year, and which will this year take place over two days.

The goNorth convention, which includes seminars, workshops and showcases, will take place in the city itself on 7 and 8 Jun, while Rock Ness takes place at nearby Loch Ness on 9 and 10 Jun.

Commenting on the arrival of goNorth in Inverness, organiser Shaun Arnold told CMU: "Our aim is to recreate the incredible vibe of Aberdeen's Belmont Street, around Inverness' Church Street. It's important that people are still able to pop in and out venues and see as many bands as possible".

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DRE MAKES THE MOVE INTO FILM
Dr Dre is planning to diversify his production skills and get into film. According to Variety he's signed a deal with New Line films and hopes to produce comedies and horror films, but will get involved in the musical element. Dre says: "This is a natural switch for me, since I've directed a lot of music videos. And I eventually want to get into directing."

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SINGLE REVIEW: IV Thieves - Take This Heart (Little Indian Records)
This dirty rock track blasts off with a riff seemingly robbed from the hands of The White Stripes, an electric guitar sound that itself pays homage to the electric guitar legends of the 60s and 70s. 'Take This Heart' with its insanely addictive Noel Gallagher-esque stadium pleaser chorus is the stand out track on the band's otherwise disappointing debut album 'If We Can't Escape My Pretty'. Had I not already heard the album I would have been really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I have and 'Take This Heart' seems like the best that IV Thieves can offer, which isn't all bad considering that the durability of the single almost makes up for it. GM
Release Date: 12 Feb
Press Contact: Emms [all]

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JACQUES CAMPET DIES
Sony Music's Jacques Campet has died at the age of 64 following a battle with a cancer-related illness. He passed away at the Maison Medicale Jeanne Garnier in Paris on 31 Jan. Campet began his career in the music industry when he joined CBS Records France in 1977 as Director Of Finance And Administration, rising to the position of Director General of Sony Music France. Transferring in 2000 from Paris to London to take on the role of Senior VP, Sony Music Entertainment Europe, he was promoted to Senior VP, Continental Europe following the company's merger with BMG in 2004.

Campet's funeral will take place today in Les Landes, France

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MORE RIAA NONSENSE
I'm not saying the Recording Industry Association Of America are losing it, but, well, judge for yourself. The RIAA is suing a 23 year old man from Maine for allegedly distributing five songs online. Yes, that's right, five songs. The RIAA's anti-P2P litigation in the past has generally been limited to those who share 100s or even 1000s of tracks via P2P, the logic being that if you start suing casual file sharers you end up having to sue half the country. The man, one Scott Hinds, who says he no longer listens to any music online, said to the Associated Press this week: "Why choose me? Every single person has done this". To be fair, not *every* single person has done this - I haven't for one, and I'm pretty sure my Mum hasn't either, but still, pursuing litigation for such mild piracy seems rather foolish on PR grounds. As I said yesterday, there is a reason why the public tend to take Steve Jobs' side whenever he has a DRM or price model dispute with the majors. It's because the majors are funding a dumb ass trade body whose legal department are really out of control.

Talking of the dumb-ass RIAA, the trade body had another PR knock this week when a court in the US ordered them to pay the legal fees incurred by one Deborah Foster in her defence of a recent anti-P2P lawsuit.

Foster was targeted with a lawsuit after her 'screen name' was linked to illegal P2P file sharing on her home PC. The file sharing had, in fact, been undertaken by Foster's daughter Amanda. The RIAA initially said Deborah Foster should be held liable for the file sharing anyway, for failing to stop her daughter from sharing copyright music and for allowing her screen identity to be used. But she disputed the claim and the RIAA dropped their case, although they did subsequently win a default judgment against the daughter.

Once the case against her was dropped, Deborah Foster sued for legal fees claiming the RIAA were wrong to target her with legal action in the first place. Yesterday Judge Lee R West supported that claim, and ordered the trade body to pay Foster $55,000.

The importance of the case is of debate. The RIAA are keen to write off the Foster judgement as an isolated incident, but some lawyers who have been defending those facing P2P lawsuits reckon the decision sets an important precedent which could stop the trade body from pursuing anti-P2P lawsuits where their evidence is questionable, as well as encouraging more of those being sued to mount a defence.

Variety quote one of those attorneys, Ray Beckerman, as saying: "The decision is of great significance [because] it reinforces a number of important principles. It reinforces the holding of MGM v Grokster on secondary liability, establishing that the lack of affirmative encouragement or inducement is a complete and total defense, and it makes clear that the RIAA's driftnet strategy, of targeting innocent people in order to conduct an investigation or in order to extract a settlement, is going to have very expensive consequences for the RIAA".

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NAPSTER REVENUES UP AND LOSSES DOWN
Napster reports that revenues in the third quarter of their current financial year increased by 21% to $28.4 million, meaning net losses were down to $9.5 million, compared to $17 million in the same quarter last year. The download firm's global subscriber count was 566,000 as of 31 Dec last year. Which is all good news for the subscription based download platform - though you do wonder how long they plan to go before breaking even month on month.

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GMG GET MANCHESTER LICENCE
The Guardian Media Group have won the new FM licence for Manchester with their Rock Talk station which promises the people of Greater Manchester a rampant mix of, erm, rock and talk. GMG already have two North West based radio stations, Smooth FM and the Century FM outpost they recently acquired from GCap. But the new service will be the first Manchester specific station in the group. And they are the Manchester Guardian, after all, so I think they probably deserve it.

Commenting on the licence win, GMG Radio top dog John Myers told reporters: "At last Ofcom has decided to award something totally different. The bid led on the whole GMG ethos of offering something different. It is an opportunity to do speech at peak time with classic rock around it. It is a totally new format for Britain. We will be targeting BBC Radio Manchester. I think one of the reasons Ofcom awarded us the licence is that we have the facilities in the North West to make it work".

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VIRGIN MEDIA LAUNCHES, SKY TRY TO STEAL THE HEADLINES
As you no doubt saw, NTL formally relaunched as Virgin Media yesterday following the merger last year of the cable company with Virgin Mobile (and, just prior to that, main rival Telewest). Although it was really NTL who took over Virgin Mobile, the new company will be known as Virgin Media, and the Virgin Group has maintained a share, which means they can roll out Richard Branson to witter on about "quad play", and integrated broadcast telco solution thingimies, and about how evil Sky are.

NTL's relaunch and rebrand is very much about trying to take on their long term big boy competitors, with hopes that the Virgin brand will help them steal customers off the satellite firm. I'm not entirely convinced the Virgin brand is quite as attractive as it once was, but it might work.

Sky, for their part, tried to steal the news agenda on the day of Virgin Media's launch by announcing plans to make new Sky pay-tv channels, including premium content like flagship US imports and premiere league football, available via terrestrial digital. Sky will replace its current crappy free to air Freeview channels (Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three) with the pay-to-view premium content, though terrestrial digital viewers will have to buy a new set top box to access them. The whole plan is also subject OfCom approval.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Jamie Pearce - More Than Enough (Cent Records)
Jamie Pearce is a British singer-songwriter, who with 'More Than Enough', peddles an amenable but safe AOR power ballad of the sort that Take That have returned with to such successful effect. The guitars might be a too grungy for Magic FM and yer easy listening radio stations, but the sugary boy band vocals, copious strings and soaring chorus leave it successfully sitting somewhere between the James Blunt/David Gray axis and the more indie guitar end of the supermarket CD shopper's tastes - ie Snow Patrol. With his half-decent voice and earnest songwriting, this man could easily be clogging up the airwaves and selling millions in a year's time, particularly if he can get one of his songs used in a Jerry Bruckheimer style blockbuster. That said though, I have a funny feeling that he will sink without trace. Still, look on the bright side, Jamie - at least you're not Journey South. MS
Release date: 5 Feb
Press contact: Bang On [all]

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MOZZA FANS STAGE DIGITAL CHART SCAM
Another 'let's abuse new chart rules to get an old track in the top ten' project. This time Morrissey fans are trying to get 'Life Is A Pigsty' off his 2006 album 'Ringleader Of The Tormentors' into the singles chart. Fans are being encouraged to buy the track next week, so to chart a week on Sunday. Info is at http://www.getmozinthecharts.vze.com. Presumably the initiative is to make up for the time Morrissey missed out on the top spot in the singles chart because earlier rule changes regarding digital sales helped Gnarls Barkley sneak into pole position.

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MACCA DIVORCE SETTLEMENT CLOSE?
I'm sure we've reported this before, and it turned out to not be true, but the Mirror has said that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills are close to agreeing a £25 million divorce settlement. They quote a source saying "This is the closest we've been to an agreement". The paper also quotes a friend of Macca who says he is getting more generous in his dealings with his estranged wife because he is desperate to get closure on the whole ordeal. Said friend is quoted thus: "He is absolutely determined to keep his private life hidden from public scrutiny. The divorce has been dragging on nine months. There's war weariness creeping in."

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MOSS BANS DOHERTY FROM BRITS
Well, Lily's dad told her she must. Pete's girl says he mustn't. No, we're not talking about hardcore drugs, we merely speak of those upcoming Brit Awards. According to reports, long-suffering (does she deserve my pity? - not sure about that) supermodel Kate Moss has barred boyfriend Pete Doherty from attending the Brits because Lily Allen's going to be there, and she's alleged to be jealous of the Babyshambler's new friendship with the young singer.

The Mirror claims that Doherty and Allen have grown close recently, and that Moss recently found a gift from Lily to Pete at his home, and was a bit cross. Well, possibly a bit more than 'a bit cross'. Here's what the 'source' says: "Kate went ballistic and kept shouting about why he had kept the thing from Lily after all these months. Pete insisted that she was being paranoid, they were just mates. But Kate was having none of it and said that there was no way that Pete was going to the Brits if Lily was going - especially as she wasn't going herself. Pete was gutted as he was looking forward to it."

One's got to wonder if Doherty is really obedient enough to follow Kate's orders. After all, he's not obedient enough to do as he's told by his mum, bandmates, label, judges, the law, etc. Anyway, as I'm sure you do not need to be told, the Brits happen next Wednesday at Earl's Court.

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BRITNEY DENIES LESBIAN CLAIMS
Britney Spears has angrily denied allegations that she likes lesbian sex and pornography, and took part in threesomes during her marriage to Kevin Federline. The accusations were made by Fed-Ex's friend, rap chap Omar 'Iceman' Sharif. He told In Touch magazine that "Britney was into threesomes and girls. There was tons of porn in the house - but it was mostly Britney's."

The magazine also quoted a number of anonymous sources, one of whom says: "Sometimes it was three girls and sometimes it was more like six. I heard about her being with girls at least 20 times while they were married". Another adds that the singer would "ask Kevin to come and join them but he would always deny her, he was just into having sex with her".

Her spokeswoman says "it's not true", however, so it can't be.

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OASIS NONSENSE
Well, we often diss the Gallaghers when they go into diss mode, but sometimes Noel's little rants can be quite amusing. In the latest rant he's been dissing Bono and Thom Yorke for getting too political in their live shows. He says that the singers should stop droning on about how fucked up the world is, and get on with singing their greatest hits. On Bono, Noel said: "Play 'One' [and] shut the fuck up about Africa", while on Yorke he continued: "Thom Yorke sat at a piano singing, 'This is fucked up' for half-an-hour. We all know that Mr Yorke. Who wants to sing the news? No matter how much you sit there twiddling, going, 'We're all doomed,' at the end of the day people will always want to hear you play 'Creep'. Get over it".

Talking of amusing Oasis stories, rumours are having it that Liam Gallagher might guest in Dictionary corner on Countdown because he's such a big fan of the show. The always reliable Daily Sport quote Carol Vorderman thus: "Liam loves it and yes, we're in talks about him coming on. I told him I think it will do his cred no end of good".

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