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Top Stories
Virgin Media cautiously welcome Mandelson's three-strike plans
Chuck Biscuits almost certainly not dead
Elvis drops off top of dead rich list, Jacko comes in third
Gately will still to be located
In The Pop Hospital
Los Campesinos! claim swine flu
Colin Burn dies
Awards & Contests
APRS to celebrate Gabriel and Horn at awards lunc
Reunions & Splits
Guitarist gig absence sparks xx split rumours
Gigs N Tours News
Acoustic Ladyland to tour
Whizz-kidz charity announces fundraising gig
Justice added to Ministry NYE bash
Festival News
Final Dubai bands list announced
Talks, Debates N Trade Fairs
Great Escape early bird discount - expires today
Album review: Daniel Johnston - Is And Always Was (Feraltone)
The Music Business
German industry optimistic about new government's commitment to combating piracy
Live Nation relaunch US website
The Digital Business
Tiscali to offer eMusic service
Believe in Google's OneBox via Lala
Qtrax announce global expansion
Grooveshark relaunches
EFF showcase most blatant false copyright claims
The Media Business
BBC announce exec cuts and pay freezes
Sponsor Marsha
And finally...
Robbie wants to get back to LA
Swift responds to swastika fan photo
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU Credits + Contacts

British rock band Skunk Anansie first got together in 1994, drawing some influence from the likes of the Sex Pistols and Blondie, as well as dub music, reggae, electronica and hip hop. The band split in 2001, of course, with lead singer Skin and guitarist Ace both going on to pursue solo projects, whilst drummer Mark Richardson went on to play for Feeder. After reforming in 2009 and following a couple of secret gigs in London, the band have begun touring again and are set to release their greatest hits album 'Smashes And Trashes' on the 2 Nov. Their first new single following the reformation, 'Because Of You', was released earlier this year. We spoke to Richardson to ask our Same Six Questions.
Q1 How did you start out making music?
I have loved music from a very early age, playing drums from three. Got my first kit at six and formed my first band at twelve, which is when I started writing. My first paid gig was at fourteen and I started playing professionally at 21. So, this is something that I have always done. At 24, I joined Skunk Anansie, which was the first time I'd been involved with four people writing together as a real band.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
Musically, 'Because Of You' came from the four of us getting back together. Cass started playing the riff, which became the intro and the verse, then we played with that for a bit and the melody formed, closely followed by the lyrics from Skin.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
The writing process is as above, then when we record generally drums go down first, followed by bass and guitar, and finally the vocal and any overdubs which we feel are going to enhance the track.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Drumming wise, I grew up listening to John Bonham and Stuart Copeland, but more recently electronic music is having a big effect on my writing process, and actually I get way more inspiration from that than anything else at the moment.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Come see it live, as well. You only get the full picture when you see it live.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your greatest hits album, and for the future?
We are going to tour then we want to do the festivals, and then we will carry on with Skunk Anansie with a new album.

MORE>> and

Fabric's been going strong for ten whole years now, and it is still on the mark. Friday's Fabric Live is always a favourite of mine, but today I'm going for their Saturday night bash - don't know if they'll be any tricks, but there's plenty of treats. In Room 1 resident Terry Francis will be joined by D'Julz, the 20:20 Soundsystem (live) and Arnaud Le Texier, while Room 2 is headlined by Detroit techno superstar and UR commander Robert Hood (pictured), with Ben Sims and a personal fave, back in the day techno mega guru Colin Dale. Ulsterman Phil Kieran will also be bringing his 'Shhh' album to the masses, live, And finally, Room 3 is hosted by Cecille Records with Nick Curly, Anthea, Alex Celler and Lemos. Brilliant.

Saturday 31 Oct, Fabric, 77a Charterhouse Street, EC1M, 10pm - 8am, £18 (£14 NUS or £5 after 5am), more info from


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While the internet service provider community have generally been critical of Peter Mandelson's announcement earlier this week that he will plough ahead with plans to get three-strikes on the statute book, Virgin Media have cautiously welcomed the new anti-piracy measures.

The responses of both Virgin Media and BSkyB - in their guises as internet service providers - to any new anti-piracy legislation are particularly interesting. As major media providers and content owners themselves, they have more to lose if file-sharing is allowed to continue uncurtailed, especially once it is TV shows and movies that are being primarily shared. Both, therefore, are more likely to be early converts to anti-piracy programmes, and are often the main focus of the record companies' and film studios' efforts in persuading the net sector to play ball.

Virgin boss Neil Berkett, who was announcing his company's better than expected financial performance yesterday, told reporters he was "broadly supportive" of Mandelson's previously reported proposals to introduce a so called graduated response system to fight piracy, which could lead to file-sharers having their net connections suspended in 2011. He told reporters: "We are broadly supportive. We are the most progressive internet service provider in terms of protecting intellectual property".

Though he added: "I firmly believe you can't just do it [reduce illegal file sharing] with a stick. We now have guidelines in place so we can concentrate on the carrot, hence our deal with Universal Music".

Virgin, of course, were the first ISP to voluntarily send warning letters to suspected file-sharers. They have also agreed to eventually voluntarily suspend those file-sharers who fail to heed warnings, as part of that there mentioned deal with Universal Music. The carrot is the launch of an all-you-can-eat MP3 download service, which would be pretty ground breaking if and when it goes live.

While Universal are partners in that venture, the other majors have so far been cautious of signing up to a system that, in theory, gives punters access to unlimited MP3 downloads for a set monthly subscription. That cautiousness seems to have delayed Virgin's launch plans. If said majors ultimately refuse to play ball, it will be interesting to see if Virgin remain the most supportive voice for content owners in the ISP sector.

In other Virgin Media news, Berkett has also revealed that the number of people using Virgin Media's video-on-demand platform has risen to an all time high. The Virgin media chief says 55% of his company's 3.71 million TV customers used the firm's on-demand platform at some point in the third quarter of 2009, while the average number of on-demand views per month was up to 66 million, the highest figure yet. Berkett also noted: "Our customers who use use it more than they watch Channel 4 or Channel Five".

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One might have thought that in the uber-communication age, where nowhere on earth is more than a few seconds away in terms of contact, Mark Twain's famous "rumours of my death" quote may have no need for being quoted, confirmation or denial of any new false death rumours being surely on tap. And yet the communication network that should provide such immediate clarification seems to spend more time starting the death rumours in the first place, meaning Twain's "are much exaggerated" line can be used by new people on a more or less on a weekly basis.

Anyway, there has been much confusion online overnight regarding Chuck Biscuits, the original drummer with metallers Danzig, a former member of DOA, and one time Black Flag collaborator. Reports of his death circulated yesterday afternoon, with claims he had died on 24 Oct after losing a long battle with throat cancer. It now seems certain the reports are untrue.

The story began, it seems, with a blogger called James Greene Jr. He has been corresponding with a man who he believed to be Chuck, real name Charles Montgomery, for some months. He had been trying to track down the drummer, who stopped performing in 1999, for sometime, before a man claiming to be the musician got in touch. It's thought the hoaxer also occasionally pretended to be Montgomery's wife, and it was an email from the supposed wife that alerted Greene to the drummer's supposed demise.

As fans started to flood Greene's blog asking for evidence of his claims regarding Montgomery's death, he eventually admitted he had been the victim of an elaborate prank.

Green wrote: "How do you 'check hard facts' or 'verify' anything about a guy who went off grid ten years ago and the people who allegedly knew him best won't return your e-mails? I tried, you guys, I really fuckin tried. I spent a good chunk of 08 searching for Chuck and info on Chuck. All I got was Bill Goddamn Stevenson. No one was talking. I wrote a thing about Biscuits anyway and then, out the blue, some fucker calling himself by that name who looks like the guy on the record sleeves starts corresponding with me. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Call shenanigans? Whatever happened to trust? Who would lie about being Chuck Biscuits? Especially to a piece of 'vermin' like me on the lowest rung of the totem pole?"

He continues: "Has anyone ever lied to you for six months about being a terminally ill hero of your musical youth? It's fucking weird. You think I wasn't devastated when I read the e-mail the other day that announced his 'death'? That's why I wrote this blog in the first place. I wanted to give CB the obit I knew he deserved. I knew there'd be source questions, but what was I supposed to do, e-mail his 'wife' back and be like, 'Hey, can you send me pics of the body?' I had no suspicions. I thought I had this shit on lock down. Who would lie to a NOBODY blogger about this kind of thing for so long?"

He concluded: "It's easy to attack me in hindsight, but again - this had been going on since May. Who the fuck lies about being a dying Chuck Biscuits for half a year? Are my friends/enemies smart enough to hack enough related e-mail accounts to perpetrate something like this? I just want to know how it happened. I'd also like some more conclusive proof that Chuck isn't dead aside from e-mails from people whose existence I can't further verify".

Said proof hasn't so far been forthcoming - with Biscuits out of the music business for over a decade he presumably doesn't have reps to keep an eye on such things, and the former drummer himself is yet to come forward to deliver the Twain line. However, a US website based in DOA's home city of Vancouver,, says it has spoken to that band's frontman Joey 'Shithead' Keithley and he has confirmed that Montgomery is very much alive. Given Keithley is a former bandmate of both Biscuits and his brother Ken 'Dimwit' Montgomery, presumably he is a reliable source.

But who knows. Meanwhile, let's start the sweepstake for which celebrity will be subject to the next bout of fake death reports. I'm going with Kerry Katona. Long term CMU readers who suggest a member of ACDC will have their internet connection suspended for two weeks.

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Talking of the dead, which we weren't, but could have been, Forbes have released their annual survey of the highest earning dead celebrities, that is to say the celebrity estates that are generating the most cash.

Many expected Michael Jackson to top the poll, though he'd only been dead for a third of the year that the survey considers, and while the deals have been coming in thick and fast since his untimely demise, alongside a huge boost in record sales, he was beaten in the poll by two other dead celebs whose estates had one-off mega-buck transactions in the last twelve months.

Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who died in 2008, came top, thanks to the $443 million generated by an auction of many of his possessions, which included expensive art, antiques and furniture, the profits of which went to charitable organisations. In second place were Broadway legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, thanks to that previously reported deal with publishing firm Imagem, who bought the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organisation and its catalogue of music. Forbes say that one deal accounted for much of the $235 million they reckon the Rodgers and Hammerstein estates generated between them.

Jackson is third in the list, followed by the frequent list leader Elvis Presley, who generated about $55 million in the last year. Fifth in the poll is JRR Tolkien, whose estate's income for the year was boosted by the settlement of a profit-share dispute with the studios behind the 'Lord Of The Rings' films, the result of which was one big cheque from the movie franchise for monies that might otherwise have come in over several years.

So, well done one and all, you dead people.

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And talking of the fortunes of the dead, Stephen Gately's will is reportedly missing. According to the Irish edition of the Daily Mirror, the late Boyzoner's other half, Andrew Cowles, has been told that Gately's will was held by a London legal firm, but he doesn't know which one and, strangely, no legal type has yet come forward with the crucial piece of paper. It's thought the Boyzone and musicals star, who died in Majorca earlier this month of course, left a £7.2 million fortune.

The Mirror quotes one of those sources thus: "It really is panic stations. They can't locate Stephen's will anywhere. Nobody from the firm has got in touch with him to say they have it. Everything is up in the air now".

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It seems Los Campesinos! all have swine flu. Well, they Tweeted ahead of gig in Leeds this week: "ALL OUR BAND IS BEING DIAGNOSED WITH SWINE FLU ... AND WE HAVE TO GO ONSTAGE IN TWENTY MINUTES!! THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!" To be honest, if they really had swine flu I'm not sure they'd be able to get up on stage and perform. But who am I to knock their "get on with it" spirit?

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The former General Manager of EMI's pop division, Colin Burn, has died, aged 76.

In a 25 year career with the London-based major, Burn worked with a string of major artists who signed to the label during the sixties and seventies, including Lita Roza, Tony Brent, Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, The Beatles, The Supremes, Gene Pitney and the Beach Boys. He worked his way up to the top of the company's pop division in the seventies, and then later led its snappily titled Licensed Repertoire Division, before being eased out in some political shenanigans at the top of the company in the early eighties. He subsequently worked for one of EMI's biggest acts, the Rolling Stones, before leaving the music business at the end of that decade.

Confirming the news and paying tribute to Burn, one of his former EMI colleagues, Trapeze Music & Entertainment's Paul Watts, told Music Week: "Sadly, I have to report the death on Oct 19 of Colin Burn at the age of 76. Colin, who spent about 25 years with EMI Records through their most successful post-war years, was one of that generation of record company professionals that shepherded the business from the days of the Fifties era crooners, through the birth of rock 'n' roll to the successive revolutions provided by the Beatles, Motown, psychedelia, bubblegum, glam rock and punk. They all came alike to a hardened veteran like Colin, at heart a natural promotion man, who took on the mantle of general management, without ever being entirely comfortable with the corporate manoeuvring that went with it".

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Peter Gabriel and producers Trevor Horn and Steve Lillywhite will be among the record industry people celebrated at the Sound Fellowship Lunch of the Association Of Professional Recording Services next month, so that's nice. There's more details about this event at this URL:

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Tongues are wagging about the future of The xx after the band performed without guitarist Baria Quereshi at a gig in London on Wednesday night and cancelled upcoming gigs in Europe.

The Quietus reported that, taking to the stage at the Village Underground venue, vocalist and bassist Oliver Sim told the audience: "Obviously this has been a really tough few days for us. This is the first time we've played as a three piece. It's devastating not having Baria here with us but you all being here has made us feel better. Thank you very much". He also apparently said that they would be discussing their future after the weekend, which I think led to the speculation Baria's departure was permanent.

But a statement was issued yesterday in an attempt to clarify matters. It reads: "Baria didn't perform last night after feeling exhausted from The xx's recent touring commitments. As a result, the band performed as a three piece in London last night and have postponed some European shows which they are hoping to reschedule. They are next due to play in Frankfurt on 3 Nov".

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Acoustic Ladyland will tour in December, which will coincide nicely with the release of their new single, 'The Mighty Q', on 7 Dec. It's almost like they planned it.

Tour dates:

4 Dec: Guildford, Boiler Room
5 Dec: Bournemouth, The Winchester
6 Dec: Brighton, Audio
9 Dec: London, Borderline
10 Dec: Leeds, The Wardrobe
11 Dec: Coventry, Taylor John's House
12 Dec: Hastings, Layla
13 Dec: Southampton, Joiner's Arms


UK wheelchair mobility charity Whizz-Kidz has announced a fundraising gig, which will take place in London next month. Currently on the bill for Whizz-Fest are Strangefruit, featuring former Babyshambles members (and sons of Only Ones frontman Peter Perrett) Jamie and Peter Perrett, former Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things drummer Gary Powell's new project, The Invasion Of..., and newish band The Guilty Ones.

Whizz-Kidz's Regional Fundraising Manager Ashley Westpfel told CMU: "This will be a top night. This is a first for us, but given the talent involved - from the artists and our supporters who have donated their time and dedication to bringing this together - there is no reason we can't put more on. All funds raised will go to supporting young people throughout the UK to get their independence and mobility".

Tickets cost £10 in advance, or £12 on the door, and it all takes place at The Arches in Southwark on 12 Nov. Click here for the flyer:


How did it get to be the time of the year where we start talking about New Years Eve parties? What happened to June, that's what I want to know. Anyway, Justice have just been added to the bill for Ministry Of Sound's New Year bash which will take place at the O2 Arena. Ministry, of course, have a long history of staging New Year parties at the Dome, from long before it became a conventional entertainment complex. The French dynamic duo join a line up that already boasts Deadmau5, Plump DJs, Eric Prydz, Example, Dave Spoon and a certain Calvin Harris. The party will run from 9pm to 6am, with plans for Radio 1 to broadcast the proceedings from midnight to 5am.

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The final bands line up has been announced for next week's Dubai Sound City convention. As previously reported, the big music convention in the desert features a string of band showcases in various venues around Dubai in the evenings.

Bands large and small will appear, with the Happy Mondays, Human League, Echo & The Bunnymen, Super Furry Animals, Nitin Sawhney and The Wombats at one end of the equation, and newer (or newish) bands like Post War Years, Foreign Beggars, We Have Band, Evergreen, Sound Of Guns at the other, plus DJ sets from Mark Evans, David Craig and Will Sergeant.

There's a nice table listing all the bands at this URL:

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Our brains are focused on Dubai Sound City just at the moment, but music convention fans ought to start getting their minds in Great Escape mode too, especially if they are looking to keep costs to the minimum. The MAMA Group's music business convention and new bands fest will take over Brighton once again next May. Delegate tickets are already on sale, and if you buy it TODAY you will get it at a special early bird discount price of just £80. So, if you're tight / broke / very organised, and are planning on doing the TGE thing next May, then get you to this URL:

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ALBUM REVIEW: Daniel Johnston - Is And Always Was (Feraltone)
Daniel Johnston is 48. This should not be the record of a 48-year-old. It should be the record of a 24-year-old wanting to be 48, or even a 68-year-old trying to reel back the years. But not a 48-year-old. No.

It seems that, after influencing Flaming Lips, TV On The Radio and Wilco with his lo-fi folk blues, this particular demi-legend is in turn trying to ape his successors, enthusing his latest record with an infectious rock and roll sound complete with polished production, a cacophony that somewhat drowns out Johnston's still raw voice.

Don't worry though - its power shines through occasionally, most effectively giving the Pixies-style rock of 'I Had Lost My Mind' some suitable Frank Black fear. And that's Frank Black when he was 20. Years of age, not stone. For Johnston isn't just letting songs of youth fit naturally into a more elderly setting, he's making a new record that wouldn't feel out of place coming from any number of much younger American alt-rock sorts.

All this youthfulness in its sound works, and as a result this becomes the singer's most accessible and immediate record yet. And like Benjamin Button before him, Johnston sounds only younger as the years go by. Fortunately, unlike Benjamin Button, 'Is And Always Was' doesn't want to make you switch off after five minutes. TM

Physical release: 2 Nov
Press contact: Hermana PR [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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The German music industry has welcomed a commitment in the country's new coalition government's policy proposal document to protecting copyrights and other intellectual property.

The statement from the new government, which was sworn in at the German parliament in Berlin on Wednesday, follows months of lobbying from music types, who have been calling on German politicians to follow their counterparts in France who, of course, have been most draconian in their plans to crack down on internet piracy. Both the French and German music markets have been on the skids for years now - much more so that in the UK - and both blame rampant piracy for their bad fortunes. The future of the German music market is particularly important for global music players, it traditionally being one of the big revenue generators for record companies.

All that said, German political types do not seem too keen on France's three-strikes system for combating online piracy and say so in their policy document. But the boss of German record labels trade body BVMI remains optimistic. According to Billboard, Dieter Gorny said: "The fact that the new government will not take initiatives for legal possibilities to block internet access does not mean that other possibilities will not be checked and realised to fight in an effective way the illegal use of music".

As previously reported, The Pirate Party - the political organisation that advocates a major relaxation of copyright restrictions in the digital age - is active in Germany, and is sure to speak out against any moves by German ministers to crack down on online copyright infringement.

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Live music conglom Live Nation is revamping its website in the US - - to incorporate social networking flim flam, some wiki functionality, and Twitter and Facebook integration. All very modern. In a bid to become a hub for live music, all bands will be able to have their own pages MySpace style where they will be encouraged to post tour dates. These will sit alongside listings for Live Nation's tours and festivals.

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Tiscali - now owned by Talk Talk of course - are launching a new digital music service via their online portal, which is basically independent download service eMusic rebadged for more mainstream music fans.

Subscribers will be able to download a set number of MP3s each month from eMusic's 6.5 million strong catalogue of tunes in return for a monthly subscription. New subscribers will also get 50 free downloads. Presumably the new service will be based around eMusic's existing catalogue of tunes, which is mainly indie label focused, but with Sony Music owned archive content.

As with eMusic, the Tiscali service will also offer editorial content about artists, as well as YouTube and Wikipedia links.

Confirming the new service, Talk Talk's Senior Director Of Online Neal McCleave said this: "We are always looking for ways to enhance our portal and offer the best services to our 6m users. The Music For life service will be a great boost to our entertainment content and offers a huge range of tracks at very competitive prices".

Talk Talk, of course, are the most vocal ISP when it comes to dissing the government's proposals for a three-strike system to combat piracy. They don't think the system will work, and have said they won't participate in file-sharer suspensions unless forced to do so by the courts. They've not called ministers and record label chiefs "delusional idiots" for thinking three-strikes will rescue the record industry, but you can tell it's what they're thinking.

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Indie label digital distribution agency Believe Digital this week announced a deal with US digital music service, which is more significant that it would previously have been given the announcement is one of the two streaming music providers for the new Google OneBox music search service. It means music represented by Believe will play through the Google preview player should users search for relevant artists.

Look, here's something Believe chief Denis Ladegaillerie said: "Google and Facebook are beginning to understand the benefit of bringing music to their users. [Google OneBox is] definitely good news for the increasing adoption of legal music services and for a company as innovative as Believe, it's important that our artists are represented fully through such mediums at the launch of these initiatives".

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More digital music services, and Qtrax, the ad-funded sort of licensed P2P network ("sort of" P2P, it's definitely licensed) which caused a flurry of interest for about 19 hours when it was first announced, has confirmed it will roll out across the Asia Pacific region between 5 Nov and 24 Dec. So far Qtrax has only been available in the US. Further global expansion is expected in the New Year.

Qtrax CTO Chris Roe says this: "We think our product has evolved very well over time. As the only global free and legal download service, we have been committed to creating a great consumer interface to allow very efficient search, download and play. We will also be introducing a series of unique upsell features".

A press conference announcing other Qtrax news is due to take place on Monday. As previously reported, Qtrax's main weakness is that it provides downloads in files with very limiting digital rights management embedded. As with Nokia's Comes With Music, this DRM-heavy service launched just as the a-la-carte download market was going DRM-free, with MP3 downloads the norm. Given Qtrax's DRM requires users to be online to play tracks it really puts the service - although download rather than streaming based - more in Spotify territory, rather than competing with iTunes style download platforms or, for that matter, illegal P2P file-sharing services.

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Sometimes controversial music search and share service Grooveshark has relaunched its website, part of its bid to move into a second stage of its history, as a licensed hybrid music search and streaming service.

As previously reported, Grooveshark's original service, which, among other things, allowed users to stream and play music from across the net through one player, and which often played music from unlicensed sources, led to copyright litigation from EMI. Similar litigation against a similar service - Seeqpod - led to that company going under. But Grooveshark reached a deal with the major and now hopes to make a go of it as a legit music service - a service which has parallels with that announced by Google earlier this week.

The new look Grooveshark, which offers a range of streaming, search and recommendation services, apparently has an iTunes player feel to it - a strategy employed, of course, by Spotify.

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America's Electronic Frontier Foundation has published its 'Takedown Hall Of Fame', listing what it thinks have been the most blatant abuses of US copyright law by content owners who have demanded allegedly infringing online content be taken down. Said "infringing" content, the EFF argues (and in some cases courts have concurred), was legitimate use of content under US copyright law, and in particular its 'fair use' provisions.

Three music cases are included in the Hall Of Fame - Warner's excessive use of YouTube's automatic take-down system to cause fair-use user-generated content to be blocked (during the period when Warner and YouTube didn't have a live licensing deal); Universal Music Publishing's attempts to ban a video showing a baby dancing to a Prince song they owned; and music publisher Ludlow Music's attempts to block a rework of the Woody Guthrie song 'This Land Is Your Land', where it transpired that because Guthrie had used an existing melody for the song, Ludlow didn't even own the copyright to the tune.

You can read about these and the non-music take-down notices of which the EFF does not approve at

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Despite management frequently defending the salaries of top earners - on and off screen - at the BBC, the Corporation's regulatory Trust has announced that the broadcaster plans to cut more than 100 senior managers and will freeze the pay of its most senior execs in a bid to cut the organisation's £79 million exec wages budget.

Confirming the move, the BBC Trust's chair Michael Lyons told reporters: "The Trust challenged the BBC Executive to review senior pay at the BBC. Mark Thompson and his team have responded with a comprehensive set of proposals that strike the right balance between ensuring the BBC can attract the best people to do the job, while ensuring maximum value for the licence fee payer".

Thompson himself added: "A few months ago we announced our determination to reduce the amount we pay top on-air talent. The recommendations we have announced today seek to achieve similar reductions within our senior management community. Senior managers will see their total remuneration fall over the period, with the biggest reductions felt by those in the most senior positions".

As previously reported, the BBC has been much criticised in the last year for the fees it pays top talent and senior management, with political types and key players in the commercial media arguing that the Beeb - because of its licence fee funding - is still operating as if the economy was booming, while all commercial broadcasters are having to slash budgets left right and centre.

BBC management hopes that cutting talent fees when contracts come up for renewal, and slim lining the more senior executive levels of the Corporation, will placate those critics. It's unlikely to work. Tory culture man Jeremy Hunt responded to yesterday's cuts announcement negatively, arguing top execs should take pay cuts. He told reporters: "The BBC has missed an opportunity to prove it is in tune with the public mood over high salaries. Public anger was focused not just on the management itself but on the salaries paid to senior executives. The BBC needs to be careful that it doesn't lose the public's trust by being out of step on such an important issue".

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Xfm DJ and friend of CMU Marsha Shandur is running the New York Marathon this Sunday, for reasons best known to herself. Actually, at least one reason I do know, she is raising money for Help The Aged.

Says Marsha: "The last organised run I did was Sports Aid in 1986. I came last out of everyone in the Blackheath and Greenwich area. As I puffed my little unfit child self across the finish line, they were dismantling the barriers. I am, as you can imagine, pretty terrified. But I picked New York because I thought I'd run better if I felt like I was in Desperately Seeking Susan".

If you'd like to sponsor Marsha, go here: Hopefully she'll provide some Twitter updates of the endeavour at

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Robbie Williams is eager to return to LA, according to The Sun. Williams returned to the UK earlier this year, of course, mainly for the promotion of new album 'Reality Killed The Video Star'.

But the tab says that as soon as said promotion is done he plans to return to the US with partner Ayda Field, not least because of the costs associated with the £18.5 million Wiltshire mansion where he is currently living. They quote Williams himself as saying: "I can't really afford to keep it. Maintenance is a lot. I've done a few impulse buys and it leaves you no money".

And while there are arguably more earning opportunities in Europe that the US, one of those sources told The Sun: "Robbie is desperate to get things moving quickly rather than hang around just to get a bit more money. Being settled back in the States quickly with Ayda is more important to him. He's already got a few people interested in the mansion".

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Taylor Swift is back in the news, despite apparently not having as good a video as Beyonce. The country star has come under some criticism for posing for a photo with a guy wearing one of those oh so fashionable swastika t-shirts. The photo - which is seemingly of her with a fan at or outside Katy Perry's recent Hollywood birthday party - has been circulating on the net. Responding to criticism for being snapped with someone wearing a nazi symbol, a spokesman for the singer told TMZ: "Taylor took pictures with about 100 people that night... She doesn't know who this guy is and she didn't realise what was on his shirt".

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