TODAY'S TOP STORY: Another pre-1972 copyright case for the files now, though this one tests a different argument in a different state, and doesn't involve anyone called Flo or Eddie. Instead, iHeart has defeated a copyright claim made by Arthur and Barbara Sheridan in the state of Georgia over it streaming pre-1972 recordings they control without licence... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: In the 1980s, amid the political unrest of Apartheid-era South Africa, a new musical genre began to develop. Called 'bubblegum music', its most influential act was Umoja, who came to define the escapist electronic pop sound. "Bubblegum music was about escape", says the band's leader Alec Khaoli. "If you had grown up in South Africa at the time, there was nothing more in your life than oppression. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including US customs officials' refusal to allow a number of international acts into the country to perform at SXSW, the launch of Pandora's premium on-demand streaming service and Deadmau5 being sued over the name of his cat. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU TRENDS: UK music creatives and their managers have called on the government to assist in their bid to secure more transparency in the digital music market. What do music creatives want to know, why do they need to know it, and can government really help? We review the transparency debate. CMU Trends articles are available to premium subscribers. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Georgia Supreme Court rules in favour of iHeart in yet another pre-1972 lawsuit
LEGAL Jury badly advised says appeal in Stairway To Heaven song-theft case
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner launches streaming-only label
Sentric receives £3 million investment for international expansion
LIVE BUSINESS Now Aussie lawmakers are also considering a bots ban
ARTIST NEWS "Problematic" Morrissey t-shirt disappears from sale
RELEASES Chuck Berry family confirm new album
Frances releases video for domestic violence charity Refuge
ONE LINERS Deckstar, Drake, Ed Sheeran, more
AND FINALLY... Take That like to keep Jason Orange abreast of what's going on
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Georgia Supreme Court rules in favour of iHeart in yet another pre-1972 lawsuit
Another pre-1972 copyright case for the files now, though this one tests a different argument in a different state, and doesn't involve anyone called Flo or Eddie. Instead, iHeart has defeated a copyright claim made by Arthur and Barbara Sheridan in the state of Georgia over it streaming pre-1972 recordings they control without licence.

As much previously reported, US-wide federal copyright law only protects sound recordings released since 1972. Older tracks that are still in copyright are instead protected by state law, and therefore rules vary around the country.

Under federal copyright law, traditional broadcasters are not obliged to get a licence from or pay royalties to artists and labels for the recordings they play, but online and satellite broadcasters are. That means services like Pandora and iHeartRadio need licences for post-1972 tracks, but what about older recordings?

AM/FM stations have never paid royalties when playing golden oldies either, and state-level copyright laws generally make no specific mention of online or satellite services, so the Pandoras of the world decided they didn't need licences for pre-1972 recordings. But some of the artists and labels who control those recordings have argued otherwise.

The most high profile cases to date on this issue have involved one-time Turtles Flo & Eddie. They have argued in California, New York and Florida that state law there actually provides a general performing right for sound recordings - like copyright law in most other countries - which would mean AM/FM stations as well as online and satellite broadcasters would technically need a licence from artists and labels.

They initially enjoyed some success with that argument in both California and New York, though on appeal judges in the latter said it would be silly to rule that there had been a general performing right for sound recordings under the state's copyright law all these years, when no artists or labels had ever enforced those rights over pre-1972 recordings by demanding royalties from AM/FM radio stations. Meanwhile in California, the matter is now heading to the state's Supreme Court.

In Georgia, Arthur and Barbara Sheridan presented a different argument in their class action against media giant iHeart over its streaming service iHeartRadio. Rather than dwelling on whether or not there are performing rights for sound recordings in the state, they argued that the iHeart streaming platform was in the business of 'transferring' sound recordings, an act that is protected by copyright in the state.

More specifically, they said that iHeartRadio was in breach of a state law that "prohibits the transfer of sound recordings without permission". The Sheridans' lawsuit said that "iHeartMedia needed their consent to transfer their master sound recordings to iHeartRadio listeners" and that therefore the broadcaster "engaged in racketeering activity by making unauthorised transfers".

However, the law being cited by the Sheridans provides an exception for broadcasters. It says permission is not needed for transferring a sound recording if a person "transfers or causes to be transferred any such sounds ... intended for or in connection with radio or television broadcast transmission or related uses".

Which meant that when the matter was passed over to the state's Supreme Court, judges there had to assess whether iHeartRadio - which provides simulcasts of the broadcaster's AM/FM services as well as a personalised radio set-up - fell under the category of "broadcast transmission or related uses". And the court yesterday ruled that it did.

It reached this conclusion on the basis that the listener experience even with iHeart's personalised radio service was similar to the conventional radio experience. The court wrote in its judgement that although iHeartRadio "allows users to 'build' their own station around a particular song, band, genre, etc" which "provides for more user input", this "is not an on-demand service, and ultimately resembles someone selecting a terrestrial AM/FM station based on the station's advertised genre of music".

Quite what elements of a copyright a stream exploits remains of debate. Though at a federal level in the US, it has generally been agreed that personalised radio services only exploit the (digital) performing right elements of the copyright even though technically a stream also constitutes a copy of a track. That conclusion also implies that those services are considered more like radio than anything else.

The Sheridans have also filed lawsuits against iHeart, Pandora and Sirius in four other states. It remains to be seen how they turn out. Though, with an ever higher stack of cases now navigating the technicalities of state-level copyright laws to assess the liabilities of US-wide music services, there is an ever stronger argument that federal copyright protection should just be extended to all sound recordings still in copyright.


Jury badly advised says appeal in Stairway To Heaven song-theft case
Lawyers for the estate of the late Randy Wolfe, aka Randy California, last week filed a 90 page brief as part of their appeal in the high profile 'Stairway To Heaven' plagiarism case.

As previously reported, the trust that benefits from Wolfe's estate accused Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of plagiarising 'Taurus', a song Wolfe wrote for his band Spirit, when they wrote 'Stairway To Heaven'. After a lively court hearing in which both Plant and Page gave testimony, a jury decided last June that the two songs were not sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement.

The main lawyer for Wolfe Trust rep Michael Skidmore - Francis Malofiy - almost immediately announced that his client would appeal. Last week's lengthy submission to the Ninth Circuit appeals court outlined the Trust's arguments, in particular arguing that a series of "erroneous" jury instructions resulting in Led Zepp winning the case.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Malofiy wrote in his submission: "The most important of these errors was that the trial court refused to let the jury hear the full and complete composition of 'Taurus' embodied in the sound recordings that Jimmy Page possessed, instead limiting the comparison to an outline of the 'Taurus' composition in the deposit copy lead sheet".

That relates to an issue that was important in the 'Blurred Lines' song-theft case too, ie that in the era before the US Copyright Office started accepting sound recordings as submissions, technically only the core composition of a song as represented in the sheet music submitted as part of a work's copyright registration is protected. This becomes an issue in plagiarism cases where one side is arguing that the other side copied elements of a song that appear in the most famous recording of it, but not the original sheet music.

In the 'Blurred Lines' case, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams argue that the judge didn't do enough to enforce this limitation, hence the win for the Marvin Gaye estate. Meanwhile, in the 'Stairway' case, the plaintiffs are arguing that this limitation was enforced too heavily, resulting in a win for Page and Plant.


Warner launches streaming-only label
Warner Music UK has launched a new streaming-only record label, Artists To Watch Records. Despite the slightly clunky name, the new venture is an interesting idea. It will seek to identify songs that have the potential to become hits on the streaming platforms and will then work with the artists behind those tracks to try to make that happen.

The new company will be led by Kieron Donoghue, who has been working on streaming and playlist-related stuff for the major ever since it bought his Playlists.net company in 2014. So far, the new imprint has already led Swedish producer Marc to twelve million plays for his single 'Show You Light'.

Donoghue will report in to Warner Bros UK president Phil Christie in relation to the new label, who says: "Kieron has a great perspective on the streaming marketplace and the fact that hit tracks can now come from almost anywhere. Artists To Watch Records will find fresh talent, react quickly and harness the power of streaming to help create big hits".

Donoghue himself adds: "Phil has been instrumental in helping this innovative imprint take shape and I'm looking forward to delivering some smash hits".


Sentric receives £3 million investment for international expansion
Music publishing firm Sentric Music has raised £3 million of new investment from private equity firm BGF to fund its international expansion plans, as well as further development of the company's products and technology.

"With the support of our early investors and the songwriters we work with, Sentric has enjoyed exceptional growth during the past decade", says the company's CEO Chris Meehan. "We want to continue growing, developing and exploring new opportunities. Now is the right time to bring BGF on board. Their long-term investment and minority partnership means that we can continue to implement our plans without giving up control of the business".

BGF investor Neil Inskip adds: "Chris and his team have developed a smart and sophisticated technology-based solution for some complex and deeply engrained inefficiencies in the music industry. They have successfully expanded their international footprint and there is opportunity to continue doing so at pace".

With a roster of more than 90,000 songwriters, Sentric celebrated its tenth anniversary last year. As well as direct investment in the company, BGF and Sentric have formed a strategic partnership to fund future acquisitions by the publisher.


Now Aussie lawmakers are also considering a bots ban
As the spotlight falls once again on ticket touting in the UK Parliament today, lawmakers in Australia are also considering a ban on the software used by touts to buy up large quantities of tickets for in-demand events from primary ticketing sites.

As previously reported, last year US Congress passed a law banning the use of so called ticket tout bots, while the UK government has now said it supports inserting a similar specific bots ban into the in-development Digital Economy Bill.

Meanwhile in Australia, the Senate has approved a motion introduced by independent senator Nick Xenophon calling on the country's government to likewise ban the bots. As in the US, ticket touting regulations usually sit at a state-level in Australia, though - noting moves in the US and the UK - Xenophon says that there should be a country-wide law on the software used by the touts, aka ticket scalpers.

He is quoted by MusicFeeds as saying: "Genuine Australian fans are being unfairly deprived of tickets because ticket scalpers are using automated systems to buy a bulk of tickets when they are released. They're then on-selling them for massive amounts to those that missed out. It's a clear cornering of a market that hurts consumers".

Xenophon's motion was not backed by the Australian government, but still passed the Senate. The senator is now reportedly drafting possible legislation that will be similar to America's Better Online Ticket Sales Act.


Approved: Umoja
In the 1980s, amid the political unrest of Apartheid-era South Africa, a new musical genre began to develop. Called 'bubblegum music', its most influential act was Umoja, who came to define the escapist electronic pop sound.

"Bubblegum music was about escape", says the band's leader Alec Khaoli. "If you had grown up in South Africa at the time, there was nothing more in your life than oppression. It was even in your dreams. Anything that was a way out was welcome. When this music was playing everyone just wanted to dance, just have a good time".

The group's popularity grew, peaking with the release of their 1988 album '707', from which every song went to number one in the South African singles chart. The record is now set to be re-issued by Awesome Tapes From Africa on 5 May. Listen to 'Take Me Higher' from the record here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

"Problematic" Morrissey t-shirt disappears from sale
A new Morrissey t-shirt, which was at best questionable, appears to have been withdrawn from sale.

The shirt, unveiled on Morrissey website True To You earlier this month, featured the lyrics "I wear black on the outside cause black is how I feel on the inside" from the Smiths song 'Unloveable' over a picture of civil rights activist James Baldwin.

Reactions to the t-shirt ranged from confused to angry. Morrissey praised Baldwin in his autobiography - 'Autobiography' - but that doesn't really answer any questions about the intent of the t-shirt design. Is Morrissey saying that he feels like a black man? Is he saying that Baldwin was depressed? And what does it say about you if you actually bought one of these and wore it?

Publisher Melville House, which published a collection of interviews with Baldwin in 2014, described the t-shirt as "a regrettable misfire of internet mash-up culture, in which the curated mingling of disparate words and images devalue one another, rather than enrich one another".

The t-shirt had been on sale on Morrissey's Mporium online store, but has now disappeared. It had also been announced that it would be on sale at his upcoming shows in the US and Mexico. It's not clear if that will still happen. No statement on the matter is yet forthcoming.


Chuck Berry family confirm new album
Chuck Berry's family have confirmed plans to release the musician's final album, 'Chuck', following his death at the weekend.

As previously reported, Berry announced the album on his 90th birthday, though no further details have been released in the subsequent five months. The record is Berry's first new album since 1979's 'Rock It'.

Announcing the LP last year, Berry dedicated it to his wife of 68 years, Themetta. "This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy", he said. "My darling, I'm growing old! I've worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!"

In a statement yesterday, the Berry family said: "Since Chuck's passing on Saturday, the Berry family has received many inquiries from friends, fans and media about the status of his forthcoming album 'Chuck', which was originally announced on his 90th birthday, 18 Oct 2016".

"Working to prepare the release of this record in recent months and in fact over the last several years brought Chuck a great sense of joy and satisfaction", they continued. "While our hearts are very heavy at this time, we know that Chuck had no greater wish than to see this album released to the world, and we know of no better way to celebrate and remember his 90 years of life than through his music".

They concluded: "For months now plans have been in place, and preparations have been made with our friends at Dualtone Records, to reveal further details and music from the album this week. As a tribute to Chuck Berry, and with gratitude to his fans around the world, we will be following through on those plans in the coming days".


Frances releases video for domestic violence charity Refuge
Singer-songwriter Frances has released a new music video in partnership with domestic violence charity Refuge. The animated video aims to encourage women experiencing abuse to seek help.

"I feel so honoured to be a part of this campaign for Refuge", says the musician. "I want nothing more than to give something back with my music, and I hope that this incredibly important video which features my song, 'Grow', will resonate with people all over the world, and especially to women who are experiencing domestic violence and needing help as we speak. Refuge is here for them - we want people to realise they are not alone".

Refuge chief exec Sandra Horley adds: "Music is a powerful and effective way to reach people, especially younger people, with important messages. Thanks to Frances' legions of fans, more young women will be made aware of the support Refuge can provide. It is shocking that one in two young women has experienced controlling behaviours from a partner - and this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, with a third of young people saying they find it difficult to define the line between a caring action and a controlling one. Clearly, more awareness is needed".

"Refuge is determined to use whatever creative means possible to reach young women", she continues. "I am grateful to Frances and [creative agency] BBH for helping Refuge to bring this appalling crime out of the shadows, and I hope the 'Grow' video is watched and shared far and wide".

Watch the video here.


Deckstar, Drake, Ed Sheeran, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• LA-based artist management firm Deckstar has merged with the London-based James Grant Group, which currently reps music clients via its James Grant Music and Hall Or Nothing divisions, as well as providing legal, finance and marketing services to sport and entertainment types on both sides of the Atlantic.

• Well, that didn't last long. Drake has already beaten Ed Sheeran's new first day streaming records on Spotify. His 'More Life' album scored 61.3 million plays on its first day (Ed got just 56.7 million), while his catalogue as a whole got 76.4 million plays on the same day (beating Ed's pitiful 68.7 million). On Apple Music, meanwhile, 'More Life' got 89.9 million first day plays, which you may have noticed is more than on Spotify.

• Ed Sheeran is releasing his comedy Irish rap 'Galway Girl' as his next single. I mean, what does it matter now that every track on his new album has already charted? He can just put out any old nonsense. And, indeed, he is. Here's the lyric video.

• James Blake has released a video for 'My Willing Heart', taken from his 'The Colour In Anything' album. It's got Natalie Portman in it.

• Having recently signed to Play It Again Sam, Public Service Broadcasting seemingly reckon now is a good time to announce a new album. I guess it is. They'll release 'Every Valley' on 7 Jul.

• Many Voices Speak has released the video for her song, 'Video Child', which we approved last October.

• London Grammar are claiming that they're playing a few shows next month. They say the dates will be at Oran Mor in Glasgow on 3 Apr, Birmingham's Town Hall on 4 Apr, and then the Hackney Round Chapel in London on 6 Apr. Tickets will be sold this Friday to people who have pre-registered via their website.

• Johnny Flynn will play The Roundhouse in London on 17 Oct. His new album, 'Sillion', is out this Friday.


Take That like to keep Jason Orange abreast of what's going on
Take That still keep Jason Orange up to date with what they're doing, in the hope that they might coax him back into the group. Although they're still not really sure why he left in the first place, so it's not clear they will ever identify the kind of information that might facilitate a reunion.

"I don't think there [was a specific] reason", Mark Owen tells The Sun. "It's quite simple: he doesn't want to do it. It's not like he has a bad ankle, that would be easier. It's his choice and we've got to respect that. We tried our best to convince him. We're still in contact. We always try to keep him involved in everything that we do to some extent, so he knows what our plans are. Every now and again we drop into conversation: 'Hey, do you fancy coming back next year?'"

The group have previously said that they'd like to get both Orange and Robbie Williams back for a 25th anniversary show later this year, but it seems as if that's unlikely to happen.

"The most important thing is that he's happy", continues Owen of their continued relationship with Orange. "He's not going: 'I wish I could come back', because he knows he could. He's happy doing what he's doing.

Gary Barlow adds that retaining friendship is more important to him than reuniting the full group. Noting past tensions, he said: "We've had that before [when Williams originally left the group] and we'll do anything not to go there again. It has been left on a good note and it's an open door for Jay and Rob. This band is for us all to come and go as we please".

Oh, so there's now a revolving door policy? It needs to be one-in-one-out though, because Mark Owen reckons the band look their best as a trio. "I don't mean this disrespectfully, but when I see pictures of the three of us, it looks right", he says, disrespectfully. "It took time and at first I was like: 'I don't recognise that band. It looks odd'. Now it's stranger to see a picture of four of us".

Maybe it'll be Jason Orange's famous love of photobombing that will eventually entice him back then.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
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