TODAY'S TOP STORY: The European Parliament has voted down the current draft of the European Copyright Directive as passed by its legal committee last month, with 278 in favour and 318 against. It means the full Parliament will now further debate copyright reform in Europe in September... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES European Parliament votes down Copyright Directive, meaning further safe harbour debate in September
LEGAL MegaUpload founder can be extradited to the US, says NZ appeals court
Piracy level downs among younger consumers, reckons IPO stats pack
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Strongroom launch petition against proposed tower block build that could put them out of business
LIVE BUSINESS UK ticket touting bots ban comes into effect
EDUCATION & EVENTS MU launches four surveys as part of new music education research project
ARTIST NEWS J Hus apologises for shows cancelled in wake of his arrest
AND FINALLY... Lil Wayne says 'Tha Carter IV' finally being prepped for release
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The Orchard has an immediate opening for a digital sales specialist to manage key digital retail relationships in the UK. The role will involve working closely with the label management team and Orchard's marketing teams to create compelling retail campaigns for our content and labels.

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European Parliament votes down Copyright Directive, meaning further safe harbour debate in September
The European Parliament has voted down the current draft of the European Copyright Directive as passed by its legal committee last month, with 278 in favour and 318 against. It means the full Parliament will now further debate copyright reform in Europe in September.

For the wider music industry, article thirteen of the directive is the most important, it reforming the safe harbour that music rights companies reckon user-upload platforms like YouTube have been exploiting to score unfair licensing deals. This article, along with article eleven, proved the most controversial, resulting in a big campaign against the directive led by the tech lobby in recent weeks.

Responding to the vote in Parliament this morning, GESAC - which represents song right collecting societies across Europe - said it saw this outcome as "a missed opportunity to fix the current unfairness in the digital market once and for all, despite almost two years of thorough discussions and overwhelming evidence presented".

However, it said it remained optimistic that the reforms requested by the music community would ultimately go through. "Europe's creators nevertheless remain mobilised", it added, "and hope that the European Parliament will eventually reach a positive solution ... based on facts and common sense".

Hitting out at the claims made by those who oppose the directive, and especially articles eleven and thirteen, GESAC President Anders Lassen said: "This vote was never about censorship or freedom of speech. It was only about updating the copyright rules to the 21st Century and ensuring that creators get a fair remuneration when their works are used in the digital space".

He went on: "The legal services of the EU institutions and specialised agencies in the EU have given evidence to support the compliance and necessity of the rules proposed by the text, yet unfortunately manipulative campaigns orchestrated by tech giants based on scaremongering prevailed on this occasion. We are confident that the European Parliament will finally approve what is right for the future of the EU's economy, competitiveness and fundamental values against these global forces".

Helen Smith of pan-European indie labels trade group IMPALA noted that there had been just two weeks since the Parliament's JURI committee passed the current draft of the directive and today's big vote, and that that was two weeks in which the tech lobby went into overdrive with its 'this will break the internet' shouting.

Smith told reporters: "The result underlines that although many parliamentarians were satisfied, others were simply not ready to decide. Today's decision means there will be another debate. We are confident that in September the Parliament will reach a conclusion and secure a fair and sustainable internet. Platforms facilitate a unique relationship between artists and fans, and copyright reform should help rebalance the licensing framework around this".

Likewise criticising the tech sector's big lobbying push - what IMPALA has dubbed a "disinformation campaign" - Smith added: "Copyright aside, the hijacking of the process raises fundamental questions about how incumbent platforms and supposedly objective operators abuse their position. It underlines the need for greater transparency and scrutiny, especially with actors who have huge potential to influence public opinion and are not shy about using it".

From a UK perspective, Geoff Taylor of record label trade group the BPI said: "We respect the decision by MEPs to have a [full] discussion on the draft copyright directive. We will work with MEPs over the next weeks to explain how the proposed Directive will benefit not just European creativity, but also internet users and the technology sector".

Meanwhile PRS For Music CEO Robert Ashcroft added: "It is perhaps unsurprising considering the unprecedented level of lobbying and the comprehensive campaign of misinformation which has accompanied this vote that MEPs want more time to consider the proposals"

He went on: "From the outset our primary focus of this legislation has been concerned with whether or not the internet functions as a fair and efficient marketplace - and currently, for artists and authors, it doesn't. They want their creative works to be heard, they embrace technology, but they want to be paid fairly. We will continue to fight for what we believe is their freedom and a fair use of their creative works".


MegaUpload founder can be extradited to the US, says NZ appeals court
MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and three of his former colleagues can be extradited to the US to face charges of copyright crimes, according to New Zealand's Court Of Appeal. Though Dotcom and his legal team have already confirmed their intent to take the matter to the country's Supreme Court.

Prosecutors in America have been trying to extradite Dotcom et al for over six years now, ever since they shutdown the file-transfer and video sharing MegaUpload platform on copyright infringement grounds in 2012. But the former Mega men have been pursuing every possible legal option to try and stop that from happening. While also fighting various other legal battles over seized monies and content, and the conduct of law enforcement and other officials in Dotcom's adopted home of New Zealand.

Whether or not Dotcom can be extradited under New Zealand's extradition treaty with the US depends very much on what he is accused of. The courts have generally concurred with arguments put forward by Dotcom's team that extradition is not possible on allegations of copyright infringement alone. However, prosecutors argue that the conduct of MegaUpload's management in allegedly encouraging and facilitating infringement constitutes fraud, which would enable extradition.

A New Zealand court first said that the prosecution's case was sufficient to allow extradition at the end of 2015, with that ruling being upheld last year. However, Dotcom et al took the case to New Zealand's Court Of Appeal.

It issued its judgment earlier today, backing the lower court rulings. That judgment clarified that "an extradition hearing is not a trial - it is held to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to commit a person for trial on a qualifying offence". With that in mind, the appeals court added, US prosecutors had presented "a clear prima facie case that the appellants conspired to, and did, breach copyright wilfully and on a large scale, for their commercial gain". Which is sufficient to qualify for extradition.

Dotcom, of course, continues to deny the allegations made against him in the US, while also arguing that there are no grounds for extradition. He immediately hit out at the appeals court ruling this morning, while vowing to take the matter to Supreme Court.

He wrote in a statement: "My legal team are confident that the Supreme Court will hear the appeal given there are such significant legal issues at stake. Many importance cases in New Zealand are not won in the Court Of Appeal, or in the courts below, but are won when they reach the Supreme Court. My case will be one of those".

Of course, if the case against Dotcom et al ever does reach an American courtroom, they will claim that MegaUpload enjoyed safe harbour protection and therefore cannot be held liable for any unlicensed content distributed over its networks by its users. Which would make this whole hoo haa a very interesting test of the copyright safe harbour provided under American law. So yeah, yet more safe harbours! Woo!


Piracy level downs among younger consumers, reckons IPO stats pack
Turns out you can't blame piracy on the kids anymore. Well, not entirely. New stats from the UK's Intellectual Property Office reckon that while overall levels of online piracy are unchanged year-on-year, infringement among 16-24 year olds is down in 2018 compared to 2017. I mean, they still infringe the most, but less than they used to. Plus infringement levels were up for older demographics.

This is all based on an annual survey that the IPO commissions at the start of each year. They ask respondents whether they access music, TV, movies, software, e-books, video games and - as of this year's survey - sports content online and, if so, whether they are accessing that content through licensed or unlicensed channels. Across all online content users, 25% of those surveyed were accessing some illegal content somewhere.

Of the different content types, e-books are least likely to be pirated, while - as of this year - TV content is most likely to be accessed through illegal channels. Software was the most pirated category in previous years, but software piracy dropped this year while more people were nabbing telly shows from illegitimate sources. Music piracy scored one percent higher in the 2018 survey than in 2017.

Commenting on the latest round of official piracy stats, IP Minister Sam Gyimah told reporters: "The variety of legitimate services now available to consumers is extraordinary and our world-leading creative industries have made great strides in meeting the demands of viewers and fans, so there really is no excuse for the ongoing use of illegal services".

He went on: "Today's findings are a positive step forward in stamping out online copyright infringement, but we cannot afford to be complacent. We are committed to tackling piracy and helping this vibrant sector go from strength to strength through our Creative Industries Sector Deal, a major part of our modern Industrial Strategy".

Speaking for the copyright industries at large, Eddy Leviten of the Alliance For Intellectual Property said of the new round of stats: "[This research] is a valuable measure of progress in the UK in the use of legitimate content services but piracy levels remain at one quarter of the population, which is still far too high".

Referencing its involvement in that Creative Industries Sector Deal thing that Gyimah name-checked, Leviten added: "The Alliance and its members are active participants in the Sector Deal roundtables which can help to drive down piracy and counterfeiting and allow genuine content and goods to flourish. We look forward to working collaboratively to achieve concrete results".


Strongroom launch petition against proposed tower block build that could put them out of business
Shoreditch-based recording studios Strongroom have called on the music community to sign a petition against proposals to build a new six storey building alongside its complex in Curtain Road. Owners of the East London studios reckon that the eighteen months of disruption the construction of that building would cause could put them out of business, plus the new block would cast a permanent shadow over the studio complex's courtyard.

In a statement on its Facebook page yesterday, the studio outfit wrote: "Some of you may have heard the news that we received word of a planning application submitted to Hackney Council, proposing the construction of a giant six-storey block along our joining wall at 118 Curtain Road".

It went on: "The proposed demolition and construction is estimated to take eighteen months. Eighteen months of dust, debris, endless drilling and of course loud noise and low frequency vibration. This level of disturbance would almost certainly put our studios out of business, displace the many wonderful producers and companies we have based here, and the finished construction would cast our beautiful courtyard in a constant shadow".

Strongroom have had a base in Shoreditch since 1984, long before the London district became the place to be for creative, tech and entrepreneurial types. Referencing that fact, the statement goes on: "Having aided the regeneration of Shoreditch in fierce support of independent businesses, we remain strong and defiant, protective of our wonderful community and thankfully busier than ever. Does Shoreditch really need another ugly office block to benefit a Guernsey-based corporation? We ask you to stand with us and save culture over big business. Save communities and support creativity".

Management at Strongroom are hoping that their campaign can be as successful as that staged to save its sister studio complex - North London's Air Studios - which likewise saw its business threatened by proposals that would have involved extensive building works at a neighboring property. Planning applications for those proposals were withdrawn late last year.

You can sign the petition against the plans to instigate major building work next to the Strongroom complex here.


UK ticket touting bots ban comes into effect
Did you hear that creak at midnight? That was the bots ban coming into effect. The bots are now banned. All of them. Fuck off bots, you're not welcome here.

So, yes, the use of special software to hoover up large quantities of tickets from primary ticketing sites in order to sell them on for profit is now against the law. The so called bots ban is generally the least controversial of the measures proposed by anti-ticket touting campaigners. It aims to cut off one of the routes via which touts access tickets.

That said, there was initially a little push back from the UK government over a specific ban on ticket touting bots. But that was mainly on the basis that the use of such technology to circumvent maximum purchase restrictions but in place by concert promoters was possibly already illegal under existing computer misuse regulations.

But ministers ultimately backed the push for a new law that explicitly banned the use of software to acquire large numbers of tickets. It was then inserted into last year's Digital Economy Act. Since that act was passed some time was spent working out exactly how the ban would operate, which is why it only actually comes into effect today.

The government's Digital & Creative Industries Minister, Margot James, said this morning: "Fans deserve the chance to see their favourite artists at a fair price. Too often they have been priced out of the market due to unscrupulous touts buying up huge batches of tickets and selling them on at ridiculous prices. From today I am pleased to say that we have successfully banned the bots. We are giving the power back to consumers to help to make 2018 a great year for Britain's booming events scene".

The bots ban was welcomed by STAR, which represents much of the primary ticketing sector. It's boss Jonathan Brown said: "Ticket limits are set by event organisers and ticketing companies to enable fairer distribution of tickets. STAR, the industry body representing over ninety percent of UK live entertainment ticketing, therefore welcomes these new regulations which are an important step in helping ensure that more tickets get into the hands of customers at the right prices".

The anti-touting FanFair campaign played a key role in pushing for the bots ban. It's Campaign Manager Adam Webb said this morning: "Taking action against touts who bulk-harvest tickets is another important step towards cleaning up the so-called secondary market. Alongside strong and swift enforcement of consumer legislation through agencies like National Trading Standards and the Competition & Markets Authority, there is clear potential to root out the bad actors and to allow a new breed of fair, transparent, and law-abiding ticket resale services to flourish".

As alluded to there, the bots ban is just one way that anti-touting campaigners believe that the secondary ticketing market could and should be regulated. And, indeed, since the bots ban was the talking point in Westminster, the anti-touting conversation has very much moved on to introducing other restrictions and - even more so - to better enforcing existing rules against the dodgier touts and touting platforms.


MU launches four surveys as part of new music education research project
The Musicians' Union has announced more details about its latest research initiative putting the spotlight on music education in the UK.

The Union says that the new research "will seek to build on the findings of the MU's 2017 Education Report, which highlighted challenges relating to access to music education, workforce fragmentation and contradictory government policy".

At the heart of the research will be four new surveys, respectively of school teachers, instrument teachers, head teachers at primary and secondary schools, and people who manage music hubs and other music education organisations.

The MU is encouraging everyone working in music education - whether they are members of the Union or not - to complete any of the surveys that are relevant to what they do. You can access the surveys here.


Approved: Pete Spiby
A good two decades or so into his career, Pete Spiby is preparing to release his debut solo album, 'Failed Magician'. One-time frontman of Groop Dogdrill - whose 'Every Six Seconds' album remains one of the greatest from the turn of the millennium - Spiby first considered going it alone after his last band, Black Spiders, came to an end last year.

Recuperating from an operation on his left hand - a hindrance to a guitar player - the final Black Spiders performances filled him with a renewed sense of purpose. "When we did the farewell shows, it gave me such a confidence boost that I was even able to play guitar without the pain and medication that I'd had for the last three years", he says.

As a result, he decided that he should carry on doing "the only thing I've been doing since I was at school". Quickly smashing a PledgeMusic target, he got to work recording a new set of songs with a wide range of musicians, and that became 'Failed Magician'.

"If it's the last thing I ever get to do, recording wise, I'll die a very happy man", says Spiby of the solo project. "The greatest success is just even getting it done in the first place. Proud as fuck. That's me".

And rightly so. The songs maintain the innate atmosphere that has always been a part of Spiby's sound, while exploring new facets of his songwriting. There are a couple of days left on the Pledge campaign, if you want to get in on that. And here's one of the new album's songs, 'Bible Studies'.

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

J Hus apologises for shows cancelled in wake of his arrest
J Hus has returned to social media to apologise for the shows that have been cancelled in the wake of his recent arrest for allegedly carrying a knife.

The rapper was arrested in Stratford, East London on 21 Jun after police stopped a vehicle he was travelling in. A police spokesperson told reporters that "occupants of the vehicle were searched and a man was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of a knife/bladed article".

Hus - real name Momodou Jallow - was subsequently bailed and is now due to appear at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday 20 Jul. As a result of the arrest, he pulled out of Glasgow's TRNSMT festival last weekend, while organisers of this weekend's Wireless event in London have announced that Krept & Konan will replace Jallow on their bill.

Posting on Twitter yesterday, the rapper stated: "Been seeing a lot of support from fans, artists and family. I appreciate everything, trust me. Shoutout my team for the work behind the scenes. Also sorry for the cancelled live dates I've missed out on. Time to finish the album".


Lil Wayne says 'Tha Carter IV' finally being prepped for release
Could Lil Wayne's long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long awaited follow up to the 2011 'Tha Carter IV' album be finally released this year?

That record, of course, ended up in long-term limbo as a result of Wayne's falling out and subsequent legal battle with his label Cash Money Records. The dispute began in early 2015 with claims that the label had failed to hand over a $10 million advance for Wayne's long-awaited 'Tha Carter V' album. But in the intervening years it spiralled into a much more complicated case into which Universal Music was also pulled.

But then last month it was finally confirmed that the big squabble was at an end, with a legal rep for Wayne saying that, while he couldn't comment on the deal done with his client's labels, the rapper was "happy" with the outcome. Gossipers subsequently told The Blast that Universal had shelled out "well over $10 million" to bring the legal dispute to a conclusion, clearing the way for 'Tha Carter IV' to finally be released.

Now Wayne has told the audience at a show in Miami: "Just to let y'all know I had a meeting today, it wasn't a long meeting. Just so y'all know the meeting was about the release date of 'Tha Carter fucking V'".

And double hurrah for that. Because not only might we finally get to hear 'Tha Carter V' this year, it will also mean that convicted fraudster and all round jerk Martin Shkreli - who claimed to somehow have got his hands on a copy of the record - will have one less reason to be smug. Though he's possibly less smug anyway since being thrown in jail.


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.
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CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
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