CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 18th July
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Warner confirm they won't counter-bid against Terra Firma for EMI
- Foster case closes with RIAA writing a seventy grand cheque
- Jackson ordered to pay unpaid legal fees
- The hands are what kill us: Spector trial update
- Mr and Mrs Sting to pay chef £25k
- White Stripes strike a note in Canada
- Go! get new Japanese deal through Cruel Music
- Dexys re-release
- New Kano album
- Bright Eyes tour dates
- New Young Pony Club tour
- Irish promoters announce enquiry after Streisand fan complaints
- IFPI win partial victory in anti-p2p case
- Yahoo! not pleased with copyright tribunal ruling
- Virgin Megastore launch revamped website
- Former East West France chief takes film job
- Loaded founder to edit V Festival programme
- Prince delivers Mail On Sunday second best selling edition ever
- Stones paid 2.7m for single private gig
- Loius Walsh on X-Factor drop
- Doherty fined for non drug related offence shocker
- Spears criticised over puppy purchase


So, Warner Music have said they won't be bidding for EMI after all, though with the proviso that they might change their minds if Jim bids. We report on it all in a minute, but how about some idle speculation on it here in the Top Bit, just for fun?

You see, I'm wondering whether Warner's latest announcement lends credibility to the theory that is doing the rounds that Warner chief Edgar Bronfman Jnr et al have decided to sit this round of EMI bidding out because they figure that it will be much easier to go to main bidders Terra Firma in a year's time and do one deal to get the EMI Warner mega-major they have long aspired to own, rather than having to go to a plethora of shareholders large and small, and persuading them all individually that the risk of European regulators not allowing the merger to go ahead isn't really that big a risk at all. And, of course, by that time the European Commission should have ruled on the disputed SonyBMG merger and, assuming they find in SonyBMG's favour (which they might not of course, but if they did), then approval for an EMI Warner merger would probably be all but assured, especially given Bronfman's much previously reported arrangement with pan-European indies body and merger haters IMPALA.

The reason I'm thinking that theory has more credibility today is the bit of Warner's statement yesterday that said that, while it won't bid against Terra Firma for EMI, it might bid if anyone else bids, and in particular former EMI chief Jim Fifield, who is rumoured to be still trying to get together a consortium of investors to make a bid. Other rumours suggest that if Fifield were to make a bid, and to be successful, he'd split up EMI by selling off the major's music publishing business. Which isn't something Warner would want to see happening, if its eventual aim is to acquire EMI as a whole.

Of course perhaps Bronfman and co have given up on a Warner acquisition altogether, though I'm not convinced that's true. The major is known to be hungry to grow through acquisition, and an EMI merger would certainly be the most investor friendly, given the 'economies of scale' savings that a merger could almost immediately enable. That said, given that we all know the record companies need to diversify, perhaps Bronfman and his investor pals realise that actually, the sensible thing to do would be to acquire companies operating in other music or media sectors, though the obvious purchase, of course, is all but gone - given that Universal is busy buying out Sanctuary. All of which brings me back to this point - don't assume Warner's interest in EMI is really over.



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For reasons I can't quite put my finger on London band Device are on my mind this morning, which is sometimes all it needs to be elevated to the esteemed position of MySpace Of The Day. That and the promise of a go in Richard O'Brien's Crystal Dome. Though that's one of those horrid in-jokes, so I must remember to edit that out. Anyway, Device are a fine indie band who have been building a profile for themselves through a fair bit of gigging in the last year. There are four tracks for you to preview here on their MySpace, or if you'd prefer to see one of those there gigs, well various are listed here, including a Clapham Common bandstand gig that sounds like fun this weekend, and an invite only gig next week at The Fly in London, which started all the Crystal Maze nonsense I'm not going to mention as it will only make sense to eighteen people. If you're not one of those eighteen people, get on over to the MySpace to do some previewing now. If you are, well I'm assuming I'll see you at The Fly next Thursday?


Ah, this is no fun, I wanted a vicious bidding war. But it's not to be. Well, probably not. Warner Music yesterday confirmed that it will not be bidding for EMI at this time, although it did say it maintained the right to review that decision should a bidder other than current suitor Terra Firma make an offer.

As previously reported, there has been much speculation as to whether Warner Music, who have long held ambitions to merge with rival EMI to create a major record company of similar size to its two other competitors, Universal Music and SonyBMG, would make a counter-bid for the London based record company, against the EMI board approved offer from private equity firm Terra Firma.

The private equity outfit is still struggling to win over EMI's larger institutional shareholders with their 265p per share offer, and have now extended their deadline for securing control of the record company twice. Insiders say many of those shareholders are hanging on for a counterbid to be made, on the basis that any bidding war would force up the asking price.

In a bid to speed things up, the UK's Takeover Panel, an independent authority that administrates the City Of London's merger and acquisition codes, called on other potential EMI bidders to clarify their intentions by Thursday this week. The call was aimed in particular at Warner Music and also former EMI chief Jim Fifield, who has been rumoured for some time to be putting together a consortium of investors to make another rival bid.

Responding to the Takeover Panel's call, Warner Music yesterday said they would not be making a counterbid to Terra Firma's offer, although they added that they reserved the right to change their mind should a party other than Terra Firma, and specifically Jim Fifield, make a bid. It remains to be seen if, given that Warner Music was the most likely counter-bidder, their announcement persuades those EMI shareholders who have so far resisted the private equity offer to now sell.


It's looking pretty damn likely that the Recording Industry Association Of America are going to have to write a cheque for just under $70,000 to bring to an end their long running dispute with Deborah Foster over alleged P2P copyright violation.

As much previously reported, Foster was one of the more controversial targets of the RIAA's somewhat out of control legal team. They accused her of illegally sharing music via P2P network Kazaa, but she denied the allegations, pointing out she was pretty IT illiterate and wouldn't know how to share music via Kazaa even if she wanted to. The RIAA promptly sued Foster, beginning a long running legal dispute, despite the RIAA's somewhat questionable case against the accused.

The trade body continued with their litigation even after it became apparent it had been Deborah's daughter Amanda who had actually done the file sharing, and even after they had won a separate lawsuit against the daughter by default (by default because Amanda Foster failed to respond to the litigation). The industry association claimed that Deborah Foster should still be held liable for copyright violation because it was her computer the daughter had used to illegally share the music.

It was something of a test case for the RIAA, who were keen to find away of overcoming the problem of how to take action for file sharing that was conducted on a computer with multiple users - if you could make the owner of the computer liable, even if they hadn't actually done or known about the file sharing, then there'd be less work and cost involved in litigating against those filesharers. Unfortunately, for the RIAA, the test case went against them, with the court ruling that it would be unfair to hold "an internet-illiterate parent, who does not know Kazaa from a kazoo" liable for copyright violation they didn't know about, just because it was conducted on their PC.

The RIAA's case was ultimately dismissed, and the trade body was ordered to pay Foster's not insignificant legal costs. The trade body appealed the legal costs decision, and then later disputed the figure the successful defendant was demanding. But this week the courts ordered the RIAA to pay Foster $68,685.23, less than she had originally requested, but still a significant cheque for the trade body to have to write.

Those who oppose the RIAA's excessive use of litigation against individuals who share music online have welcomed the court's continued insistence that the trade body cover Foster's legal costs, because they hope it will encourage other innocent parties - who may in the past have opted to pay a $5000 out of court settlement rather than risk the costs of fighting accusations made against them - to instead defend themselves through the courts. In reality the number of people falsely accused by the RIAA isn't that high, so the significance of the Foster ruling probably isn't as big as some might suggest, though it should make the trade body wary of pursuing action where their case against a defendant is not so clear cut, and should certainly bring to an end efforts to make people liable for copyright violation committed by others on their computer.


More on courts ordering people to pay legal fees, though this time the person doing the paying is covering their own costs, not someone else's. If that makes sense. The person is Michael Jackson, who has been ordered to pay $256,000 to a law firm that represented him in some periphery matters relating to the singer's high profile child abuse court case back in 2005. Jacko had counter-sued after Ayscough & Marar launched legal proceedings for the fees it said it was owed, but the counter-suit was thrown out of court. Jacko's current attorney, Marshall Brubacher, has reportedly said that his client now intends to pay the disputed sum rather than continuing to fight the claim against him because any further legal wrangling would be costly, and the Jackson legal camp are to "stop the haemorrhaging" of money.


'Punkin' Irene Elizabeth Laughlin returned to the witness box yesterday as the long running Phil Spector murder trial continued. You'll remember that Laughlin, a friend of Lana Clarkson, the actress killed at Spector's home back in 2003, had told the court how her friend had been bitterly depressed in the weeks before her death, and how she'd talking about "ending it". All of which helps the defence in their bid to prove Clarkson committed suicide. The prosecution, of course, claim Spector shot her.

Keen to cast some doubt on Laughlin's testimony, the prosecution had already asked why she hadn't reported on Clarkson's depression when first interviewed by police, and then accused her of being biased because she promoted a Beverly Hills club partly owned by a good friend of Spector. Continuing with that theme, prosecutor Alan Jackson said yesterday that an acquaintance of Laughlin had said she'd once heard her say that Spector should "fry" for Clarkson's death, another bid to show that the witness had had a change of heart regarding Clarkson's death since she'd been talking to defence lawyers. But when asked if she'd ever said that, Laughlin responded: "Not that I remember. I don't think I would have ever said that".

After Laughlin, the defence called Alhambra police officer James Hammond to the stand to question him about how they arrested Spector on the night of the shooting. I'm not entirely sure what the defence's aims were in calling the cop, except that perhaps they think their client's behaviour in the hours after Clarkson's death actually suggest he had been witness to a suicide rather than someone who had just put a bullet through someone's head. Hammond did admit that while they tried to taser gun the legendary producer, and when that didn't work had to push him to the ground with a riot shield, Spector never actually resisted arrest. Rather, the producer was in something of a daze and didn't seem to comprehend the officers' orders for him to put his hands up. Instead Spector had his hands in his pocket. "The hands are what kill us," Hammond explained. "If we can see the hands, we can control what's going on".

Next up were two toxicologists who discussed the drugs and alcohol that were found in Clarkson and Spector's bodies after the shooting. Both had been drinking. Clarkson was found to have taken Vicodin, a painkiller, while Spector had three drugs in his system: the antidepressant Prozac and the anti-seizure medications Topamax and Neurontin. Toxicologist Robert Alan Middleberg said the drugs Spector was taking are known to cause "tremors" or "what a lay person would call the shakes". That presumably explains why Spector has been a bit shaky at times during the trial itself, but what it tells the court about the shooting isn't clear. It could be argued that a drunk, shaky Spector, who was prone to point guns at women guests in his home, might have lost control of his weapon and shot Clarkson by mistake. Or, as the defence are keen to argue, it might mean that Spector, who was arguably not actually that drunk (certainly a urine test taken 13 hours later didn't show high quantities of alcohol in the producer's system), would, in fact, have been too shaky to even pick up the gun.

The case, of course, continues. Though probably without the promised testimony from former madame Jody 'Babydol' Gibson who, as previously reported, was expected to be called by the defence to testify that Clarkson had once worked with her as a prostitute. Gibson's link to the Spector case began after she wrote in her book 'Secrets Of A Hollywood Super Madam' about an anonymous "tall, blonde hooker" that she called 'Alana' and of whom she said: "Unfortunately, this gal would make headlines... years later after being found murdered in the home of a wealthy record producer". The defence had hoped to call Gibson, presumably to further their bid to throw doubt on Clarkson's character. But Judge Larry Fidler said yesterday that Gibson would not be allowed to testify, because her account was "inadmissible and irrelevant" as well as "highly" prejudicial to the prosecution and Clarkson's family. However he made a clever addition that, despite what he'd just said, Gibson's testimony "may become relevant" depending on what other evidence was presented in the case and therefore, although he was stopping Gibson from testifying, he maintained the right to change his mind. That get out clause was possibly because while there is still a chance Gibson could be called to testify she is subject to a court order to not speak to the press. Word had it that Gibson, who saw Fidler's refusal to let her testify coming, had already been discussing selling her story to various news organisations.


Sting and Trudie Styler have been ordered to pay former chef Jane Martin £24,944 in that previously reported unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination case. As you'll remember, Martin claimed to have been sacked from her position at the couple's Wiltshire estate because she had fallen pregnant, and won her case back on 8 Jun.

James Simpson, the chairman of the industrial tribunal, said his panel was surprised by the low level of the claim for compensation set by legal representative Michael Norman. The Stings, or rather the Lake House Estate - which is the party named in the case - has won the right to appeal against both the ruling and damages.


The White Stripes indulged in a bit of quirkiness in North America this week as they finished off their Canadian tour with a one-note set. The tour has already been pretty interesting, with gigs taking place on boats, bridges, buses and in classrooms, but for this final event the pair took to the stage in St Johns, Newfoundland, and played a single note, then announced that they have "now officially played in every province and territory in Canada". They then left the stage.

Don't worry too much about the disappointed fans, however - they did play a full set later at the city's Mile One Stadium.


Cruel Music, a London based company that has been set up to represent UK artists' interests in Japan, has announced its first significant deal. The company is representing the interests of UK indie Memphis Industries in the Japanese market, and has just announced a deal that will see the second album from the rather fine MI signed The Go! Team released there via large Japanese indie Avex.

Confirming the deal, Cruel Director Mitsuya Fujimoto told CMU: "Japan is the second biggest music market in the world and it contains a lot of people who are mad for UK music. But getting it right can be pretty well impossible without the right knowledge - that's why Cruel Music exists. We're aiming to give day to day support and as well as setting up deals like this one we'll be making sure our bands get maximum exposure on TV, radio and in magazines and work with agents to get them touring in Japan, so that their releases do the best they possibly can".


Dexys Midnight Runners' 1982 album 'Too Rye Ay' is to be re-released on 3 Sep via Universal/Mercury. It's a two CD package featuring a re-mastered version of the band's second LP, plus single B sides, a live set from June of 1982 and a BBC session from July in the same year. You may be aware that the band played live together as recently as 2003. You may or may not be aware that the group's Kevin Rowland is currently in the studio working on new Dexys material.

Here's the tracklisting for the re-release.

The Celtic Soul Brothers
Let's make This Precious
All In All
Jackie Wilson Said
Plan B
I'll Show You
Liars A To E
Until I Believe In My Soul
Come On Eileen

Love (Part 2)
Let's Get This Straight From The Start
Old (Live - from Shaftsbury Ave)
Respect (Live - from Shaftsbury Ave)
Let's Make This Precious (original version)

CD 2
Burn It Down
Let's Make This Precious
Jackie Wilson Said
Come On Eileen
Plan B
The Celtic Soul Brothers
There There My Dear
Show Me
I'll Show You

Let's Make This Precious
Jackie Wilson Said
All In All


More album news, and this time it's a new one. Kano is set to release his new long player, 'London Town', on 3 Sep via 679. The MOBO winning Brit nominee's second record will feature guest performances from the likes of Damon Albarn, Kate Nash, Craig David and Vybz Cartel, all of which makes it sound rather enticing, even if Kano's second album weren't rather enticing all by itself. Of title track 'London Town', the grime star says: "I just wanted to tell people about the London I know rather than all these people like Fergie [Black Eyed Peas] talking about it". Press info from Toast Press.


Bright Eyes - aka Conor Oberst - has announced three UK headline dates alongside his summer festival appearances. Here they are, tickets on sale now:

15 Aug: Bristol Academy
16 Aug: Liverpool Academy
17 Aug: Nottingham Royal Centre


The Mercury nominated New Young Pony Club have announced a series of tour dates. Hurrah! Here they are, press info from Toast again.

19 Sep: Norwich UEA
20 Sep: Oxford Academy
21 Sep: Bournemouth Old Fire Station
22 Sep: Bristol Academy
24 Sep: Brighton Corn Exchange
25 Sep: London Astoria
26 Sep: Glasgow Qmu
27 Sep: Manchester Ritz
29 Sep: Newcastle Northumbria Stage 2
30 Sep: Nottingham Rock City
1 Oct: Leeds Metropolitan University
2 Oct: Wrexham Central Station


Irish live music promoters MCD have announced they will stage an independent enquiry after a barrage of bad press in the Irish media following a disorganised Barbara Streisand concert in County Kildare on Saturday. They have even appointed a former police commissioner to lead the investigation, to give the post-concert postmortem credibility.

Scores of concert goers took their grievances to the media after Saturday night's gig, at which ticket holders, some of whom had spent up to £330 on tickets, reported waterlogged car parks, a severe lack of stewards and huge delays getting into the Castledown House venue. Despite the fact the concert went up 45 minutes late some ticket holders said they still missed a chunk of the event because of difficulties getting on site, while others, including holders of the most expensive tickets, reported that they found their seats already occupied when they finally got into the main performance area. Others complained about the fact there was a single road entrance to the concert site, even though a majority of the 17,000 ticket holders were arriving by car.

MCD confirmed they had received 127 formal complaints and that as a result they had asked retired police commissioner Pat Byrne to look into the problems at the event. A health and safety officer plus representatives from MCD, including its chief Denis Desmond, will also be on the team who conduct the enquiry.

In a statement designed to placate angry ticket holders and to bring to an end all the bad press, the promoters said yesterday: "MCD again wishes to apologise to all fans affected by Saturday night's events and ensures the issues will be dealt with effectively and efficiently by the specialist committee". Earlier MCD blamed the problems on a combination of bad weather, traffic congestion on a nearby motorway and opportunistic fans jumping into reserved seats after rain washed off seat numbers.


The German music industry which, as previously reported, has recently got extra hardline in its fight against illegal file sharing, scored a partial victory in its legal battle with the operator of an eDonkey P2P server last week, when a court in Hamburg ordered said operator to "take his computer off-line for as long as the range of music files offered for download via the server contains illegal files". Some German media report that that ruling is actually a lot less severe than the German Chapter of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry had hoped, and almost amounted to a defeat. But IFPI Germany have been publicly upbeat about the ruling, saying the Hamburg decision, and similar rulings in district courts in Frankfurt-on-the-Main and Düsseldorf, shows that the record industry has the law on their side in their fight against individuals and companies who operate servers used in P2P file sharing, with IFPI Germany Director Peter Zombik telling reporters: "We shall in future take legal action against any operator of a P2P network server who makes tracks available illegally".


Web firm Yahoo! has responded negatively to that ruling by the Copyright Tribunal regarding the royalties internet firms should pay songwriters and publishers whose work appears on their streaming music services.

As previously reported, the Tribunal, which ultimately rules on royalty disputes in the UK, earlier this week endorsed the agreement that the publishing royalty society MCPS-PRS reached with various web companies last Autumn after a long running dispute about what songwriters and publishers should be paid. What's more, the copyright body said that those out of court agreements should form the standard framework for online royalties moving forward.

However, three of the biggest web companies - AOL, Real and Yahoo! - never signed up to last Autumn's out of court settlement, claiming that for operations of their size the rates and 'per-stream charge' system being proposed by MCPS-PRS, despite the collecting society having made some concessions, were still unviable. But the Tribunal ruling means, in theory, they will now have to either agree to pay royalties at that rate, or withdraw their music streaming services.

Music Week yesterday quoted a Yahoo! spokesman as saying the Tribunal's decision "undermines a growing and legal industry that provides radio and video services free to UK users", adding: "Consumers may well end up with fewer ways to access digital music legally. Artists and composers stand to lose out on a valuable revenue stream and powerful promotional tool. That's because the costs imposed by these high per-stream minima payments will limit the growth and sustainability of existing music streaming services and create a barrier to entry for new players. We are digesting the Copyright Tribunal's decision and thinking about our next steps".


Virgin Retail yesterday launched its all singing, all dancing, all new Virgin Megastore website. Actually it doesn't sing. And I've been looking at it for four minutes and it's yet to dance. But it is all new, that I can confirm. Virgin announced they were revamping their etail operation earlier this year as part of what they call their "multi-channel retail strategy", whatever that is. Now it's up and running the retailer says they now plan to dedicate a larger part of their overall marketing spend to the online bit of their operation.

Among the new features on the redesigned site are staff recommendations, a preview audio clips facility (so, arguably, it does in fact sing, though still no dancing) and an "intelligent and intuitive search tool". There'll also be competitions and customer polls, plus plans are afoot to post recordings of instore events online.

Giving his take on the new though still not dancing website, Virgin Retail Marketing & E-commence Director, Steve Kincaid told reporters: "We have developed a site which is truly reflective of the brand and the passion of the people that work for Virgin, giving us the capability to be a serious player in the multi-channel entertainment world. Online is an increasing part of the mix and it is imperative that our reputation grows in this area as competition is fierce. We now have a website that replicates the best of the Virgin Megastores offline experience - which is all about entertainment and customer service. Elements such as staff and customer reviews, video trailers and clips from our in-store gigs follow the high street model by providing expert advice, interaction and entertainment. Online represents an increased important part of Virgin Retail's multi-channel strategy".


Former Warner Music France chief Michael Wijnen, who headed up the French division of East West for twelve years, and who more recently worked with French independent Recall, has been recruited by Luc Besson's film company EuropaCorp as Music Supervisor, coordinating the music side of the leading European film independent.


The programme for this year's V Festival will be edited by Loaded founder James Brown and is promising "editorial quality unseen in this kind of event publication", including an interview with headliner Iggy Pop done by Irvine Welsh. I know this because I've just had word that the deadline for anyone wanting to advertise in it is this Friday, 20 Jul. Advertising is being handled by Programmedia, and the contact is Gary on 07966 555 857.

Programmedia are also selling advertising in the Bestival programme which will, once again, be put together by the people behind FACT magazine.


The Mail On Sunday MD Stephen Miron has declared last weekend's Prince CD giveaway as "the biggest media promotion ever" following confirmation that the freebie CD boosted sales of the Sunday paper by around 600,000 copies. It was the second highest selling edition of the paper ever, selling just 40,000 less than their overall best seller, which was published in late August 1997, and which enjoyed its sales boost because of a dead princess rather than a musical prince.

Music Week quote Miron thus on the Prince freebie thing: "It was the biggest promotion in the history of The Mail On Sunday. And probably the biggest media promotion ever. No-one will have got this level of uplift in purchases".

All of which will be great news to those label and music retail chiefs who have been highly critical of Prince's decision to launch his new album via the Mail rather than a conventional retail release. Though not as good news as this Miron comment: "The level of interest globally is incredible; the interest in doing things with us has never been more buoyant. It has been call to call. Rest assured we will be back for more".


Well, just a moment ago I was feeling quite rich. Now I feel like a pauper and all because I am not capable of commanding a disgusting £2.7million for eighty minutes work, which is what The Rolling Stones reportedly did recently when they performed at a private show for the benefit of a five hundred strong crowd at a Deutsche Bank party in Barcelona. Bloody city types, honestly.


Louis Walsh has told the world how he felt when he got dropped as a judge from The X-Factor. He has, of course, since been reinstated.

Calling it "the worst thing that's happened in my entire life", Walsh told Piers Morgan on some TV programme called You Can't Fire Me I'm Famous: "I felt like I'd been hit by a train. I was absolutely shellshocked. I had no idea it was coming. Simon [Cowell] had said, 'As long as I'm doing this show, you're doing it with me, I promise'. I was absolutely numb. I called him every fucking thing in the world. I said, 'Why the fuck didn't you tell me? You're supposed to be a friend.' He didn't realise how devastated I was".

Ah well, all's well that ends well, and all that.


Pete Doherty's been in trouble with the police again, and this time, it's not drug related - the Babyshambler was fined for littering after being seen dropping rubbish from a minicab window on Monday. The car was pulled over by officers in Harrogate, who asked the miscreant to prove his identity. An 'eyewitness' is quoted as saying: "He looked pretty sheepish, like he was embarrassed to get done for such yobbish antics. He scrabbled around in his pockets to find papers that could prove who he was. The policeman gave him a stern ticking-off, then issued him with the fine. It looked like he got a severe warning".

A police spokesperson confirmed that Doherty had been fined £100. And what was he doing in Harrogate, you ask? Well, he was apparently leaving a rehab clinic, less than twenty four hours after checking in. No surprises there then. According to some sources, he'll begin a new course of detox next week. He has to get it right this time, of course, or face the possibility of prison. Let's hope, for his sake, that he does. Get it right, not face prison.


Britney Spears has been criticised by animal rights types for setting a bad example by buying a puppy from a pet shop - a Yorkshire terrier called London, apparently, who has reportedly already been out clubbing with the singer in Hollywood.

Stephanie Shain of the Humane Society Of The United States says: "Ms Spears is setting a damaging example to the public. Most dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills - factory-like facilities, churning out purebred and 'designer' puppies in large numbers. Every time someone purchases a dog from a pet store, they risk perpetuating the horrendous business of puppy mills".

So, yeah, Britney. What Stephanie said.

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