TODAY'S TOP STORY: American judge Liam O'Grady has just ruled that it's definitely OK for BMG to refer to copyright infringement as "stealing" in the upcoming re-run of its legal battle with US internet service provider Cox Communications... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Copyright infringement is definitely "stealing", reckons judge in BMG v Cox case
LEGAL New lawsuit renews hostilities between Cash Money and Lil Wayne
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify launches first branded podcast, as it tries to convince investors there's money in advertising
EDUCATION & EVENTS Part Two of CMU Trends Guide To Music Rights now live
ARTIST NEWS Lana Del Rey defends decision to play Israeli festival
Eagles' greatest hits overtakes Michael Jackson's Thriller as most successful US album of all time
ONE LINERS Cardi B, Disclosure, Migos, more
AND FINALLY... Madonna accused of leaving Aretha out of VMA Franklin tribute
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Copyright infringement is definitely "stealing", reckons judge in BMG v Cox case
As we all know, "you wouldn't steal a car". Or a handbag. Or a television. So will you all stop nicking movies off the internet please! Why? Because "downloading pirated films is stealing" of course!

That infamous and much mocked anti-piracy ad may have done little to stop the rampant illegal downloading of movies, but maybe it did subtly infiltrate the mind of American judge Liam O'Grady. Because he's just ruled that it's definitely OK for BMG to refer to copyright infringement as "stealing" in the upcoming re-run of its legal battle with US internet service provider Cox Communications.

BMG sued Cox in 2014 over the copyright infringement of the ISP's customers. Like any tech company on the receiving end of a copyright complaint, Cox pleaded safe harbour, arguing that it couldn't be liable for the infringement of its customers under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act. BMG said that Cox had a deliberately shoddy policy for dealing with repeat infringers among its customer base and therefore should be denied safe harbour protection. First time around a jury sided with the music firm.

That $25 million copyright infringement judgement against Cox was overturned on appeal, of course. Though that was based mainly on a technicality relating to instructions given to the jury in the original case by the judge. Other comments made in the appeals court ruling seemed to back up BMG's arguments about Cox having lost safe harbour protection as a result of its lacklustre approach to dealing with infringement on its networks. However, the case is now heading back to court for a repeat run of the whole legal battle.

Both sides have been making various requests of the judge ahead of that repeat run. One standout request came from Team Cox, which asked that the BMG side be banned from using words like 'stealing' and 'theft' when talking about the infringement of its copyrights. Such talk is clearly "inflammatory", Cox argued. After all, "stealing" is for cars, handbags and televisions, not digital files containing some musical notes.

Referencing the BMG team's past use of emotive words like "stealing" and "theft" when talking before a jury, Cox requested - according to Torrentfreak - that the judge make a ruling that "requires BMG's counsel to refer to the alleged conduct as an 'alleged violation of the copyright laws', [an] 'alleged infringement of BMG's copyright rights', or something similar - not 'stealing', 'theft' or any other related term".

Judge O'Grady responded last week with what is generally known in legal circles as a 'judicial fuck off'. The judge said in his ruling: "The court does not find it appropriate to bar BMG from referring to copyright infringement as stealing, theft, or some other related term, as such language is not unduly prejudicial to Cox ... If a party has good cause to object to a specific comment made by the opposing counsel, the party may do so at that time".

Given that ruling also provides the all clear for BMG to use any "related terms", maybe its lawyers could try to find a way to include in its opening remarks all of the following: robbing, nicking, swiping, filching, thieving, looting, pinching, pillaging, purloining, abducting, embezzling, pilfering, plundering, misappropriating, peculating, burglarising and allowing the transfer of protected data from one server to another without first acquiring the prerequisite licence from the rightful intellectual property owner or owners under law or their appointed agent or representative or agents or representatives. You know, for fun.


New lawsuit renews hostilities between Cash Money and Lil Wayne
Gossip site The Blast reckons that the recent truce between Lil Wayne and his record company, Birdman's Universal Music-allied label Cash Money, might come to an end because of a new lawsuit that has just been filed.

Wayne was embroiled in a long-running and multi-layered legal battle with Birdman, Cash Money and Universal Music, which, among other things, delayed the release of the rapper's long-awaited 'Tha Carter V' album. But then earlier this year that dispute was settled.

In June, Wayne's legal rep Ron Sweeney told Billboard: "Per our settlement agreement, the matter has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. In terms of the particulars, we're prohibited legally from saying anything further. I can say that my client is happy. He is his own man, a man that owns his assets, his music and himself. At some point, Wayne will let his fans know what's going to happen next".

Now Cash Money has filed new litigation in relation to a separate dispute with a company called Aspire Music Group. The new lawsuit is in response to action taken by Aspire last year in a row over Drake royalties. Aspire Music Group signed Drake to both management and recording agreements in 2008 and then did a deal for him with Wayne's Young Money Entertainment, which is an imprint of Cash Money Records.

In its lawsuit, Aspire - which was co-founded by Wayne's manager Cortez Bryant - claimed that it was owed millions in royalty payments relating to its deal with Young Money and Cash Money. It also accused the latter of failing to properly report monies generated by Drake's records and of incorrectly applying deductions when it did report.

Last week Cash Money countersued Aspire. And, according to The Blast, in the new lawsuit Birdman accuses Wayne and Bryant of conspiring with the aforementioned lawyer Ron Sweeney to gain a larger share of Drake's profits.

The Cash Money lawsuit states: "Aspire was simply a shell company. There was no business purpose to forming Aspire, other than to siphon profits out of the joint venture and to divert those profits to Sweeney, Bryant and [Wayne]/Young Money. Aspire never conducted any business other than getting Drake signed to a record label. Aspire has never signed, nor sought to sign, a single additional artist".

Cash Money wants Aspire's lawsuit dismissed and unspecified damages for fraud, aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty, and interference with contractual relations.


Spotify launches first branded podcast, as it tries to convince investors there's money in advertising
Having promised investors that it would start making decent money from the advertising side of its business - you know, one day, somehow - Spotify has made a move into branded podcasts. New Amsterdam Vodka is involved in a new show on the streaming platform called 'Ebb & Flow', via which - it reckons - rising hip hop and R&B acts will "get real with their fans and share stories about their hustle and grind, tears and doubts, and the good, bad and ugly of their come up in the music industry".

The show is presented by Jasmine Solano, who says: "'Ebb & Flow' is not your typical interview series. In some of the episodes, artists started tearing up. We got into some really emotional talks. It really just felt like I was talking to some of my best friends. I think that just comes from artists talking to artists, entrepreneurs talking to entrepreneurs; there's a sense of understanding and camaraderie".

The new podcast launches with five episodes, featuring Skinny Mars, JID, Saweetie, Bryce Vine and Gashi. Whether or not this proves to be a big money-spinner for Spotify remains to be seen. But having a specific original thing to point at is something brands like. And podcasts are so hot right now. I mean, just look at our own Setlist podcast. Sizzling.

Agreeing, I think, Spotify says in a statement: "At Spotify, we are focused on fuelling the discovery of stories, culture and communities through audio-driven experiences. Podcasts are an integral part of this discovery. And as the number two podcast provider in the world, podcasts help us to bring fans closer to the creators and subject matters they love".

Speaking of speech-based content on the streaming platforms, over on Apple Music today is the day that Nicki Minaj promised to lay down some truths on her Beats 1 show about how she was cheated out of her rightful number one position in the US album chart. Although she did then say she was joking about all that, so maybe she won't. I guess you could tune in to find out. Imagine that, someone tuning in to Beats 1!

Prior to declaring that a Twitter rant about her chart position was just "sarcasm/dry humour", she claimed that one reason she'd missed out on the number one spot was that she'd be penalised by Spotify. All because she played tracks from her new album 'Queen' on that Beats 1 show, before said music was live on Apple's rival streaming platform. 'Queen' was held back by Spotify for twelve hours as a result, she said.

Spotify has now responded to this, unsurprisingly denying it. "Spotify supported Nicki Minaj with a Times Square billboard, a host of the largest playlists, New Music Friday and the new music release shelf", a spokesperson for the company told Variety. "Her song 'Bed' actually saw an increase based on the promotions put behind the campaign. The company continues to be big fans of Nicki".


Part Two of CMU Trends Guide To Music Rights now live
Part Two of the new 'CMU Trends Guide To Music Rights' has now been published. The three-part guide provides a concise beginner's guide to music copyright, music licensing and the music rights industry.

Part Two explains how copyright makes money and then talks through the ins and outs of music licensing. In particular it explains when and why collective licensing applies and how that works in the UK. Read it here.

CMU Trends is available to premium subscribers of CMU, who also get access to the weekly CMU Digest, which summarises everything you need to know about the previous week in the music business in just five paragraphs. A premium subscription is just five pounds a month.

The 'CMU Trends Guide To Music Rights' is based on and accompanies the CMU Insights seminar programme 'Making Money From Music Copyright', which returns next month at the London HQ of Lewis Silkin. Tickets are on sale now at £49.99 per seminar or £125 for the full series, including VAT and booking fees.


Approved: SK Shlomo
Reknowned as beatboxer Shlomo, Simon Khan decided to take a step back from his career a couple of years ago, to assess where he wanted it to take him next. Having resisted becoming a recording artist up to that point, he decided to challenge himself to record the songs that would eventually make up his debut album, 'Surrender'. Reinventing himself as SK Shlomo, his new music takes a very different turn to his beatboxing work.

Shortly after he began recording, he was diagnosed with PTSD and began to confront a childhood trauma, both in therapy and then his songs. "Talking about a major trauma from my childhood was a huge turning point", he says. "That's when I realised what this album was about. It's called 'Surrender' because that's all the traumatised me could ever do - let go and trust. It's empowering, stopping trying to control everything around you".

First single 'Invisible' sets out the dark pop sound of the album. It also tackles the subject of mental health and recovery which is the album's theme. "'Invisible' is about feeling something creeping in whilst you're looking away and quietly destroying everything you have", he explains. "It's an empowering song that builds and builds and finally lets rip. It's me taking my pain and making it my power".

'Surrender' is due out next year. Listen to 'Invisible' now.

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

Lana Del Rey defends decision to play Israeli festival
Lana Del Rey has defended her decision to go ahead with a show in Israel next month. She said that her scheduled appearance at the Meteor Festival in Galilee is "not a political statement or a commitment to the politics" of the country.

Acknowledging that many of her fans were "upset" by the booking, the musician said in a statement on Twitter: "I believe music is universal and should be used to bring us together. We signed on to the show with the intention that it would be performed for the kids there and my plan was for it to be done with a loving energy with a thematic emphasis on peace. If you don't agree, I get it. I see both sides".

"I would like to remind you that performing in [Israel] is not a political statement or a commitment to the politics there", she continues. "Just as singing here in California doesn't mean my views are in alignment with my current government's opinions or sometimes inhuman actions".

She concludes: "I'm a simple singer, I'm doing my best to navigate the waters of the constant tumultuous hardships in the war-torn countries all over the world that I travel through monthly. For the record, I'm doing the best I can and my intentions are better than most people's that I know".

Del Rey's statement follows calls on international acts to pull out of the Meteor Festival from the Palestinian Campaign For The Academic And Cultural Boycott Of Israel. As well as Del Rey, those other international artists include Pusha T, Nina Kraviz, Soulwax, Flying Lotus and Ariel Pink.

Responding to Del Rey's statement yesterday, the group said: "We urge you to reconsider. We doubt that you would have played in apartheid South Africa; likewise, artists refuse to play in apartheid Israel".

Musicians performing in Israel has grown in controversy in recent years, of course. Radiohead went ahead with a show in Tel Aviv last year, Thom Yorke saying that the band "don't endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America".

Nick Cave performed in the city last year saying that he was doing so in order to "make a stand against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians, and to silence musicians".

Lorde, meanwhile, did pull out of a show earlier this year following criticism.


Eagles' greatest hits overtakes Michael Jackson's Thriller as most successful US album of all time
Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' is no longer the all time most successful album in the USA. Not according to the Recording Industry Association Of America anyway, which is in charge of totting up the numbers. The top spot is now occupied by The Eagles' classic album 'Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)'.

The compilation was until yesterday officially logged as having sold 29 million copies, making it 29 times platinum. But the numbers hadn't been crunched since 2006, during which time the rules for the RIAA's platinum and gold awards have changed considerably.

So, at the request of Warner Music, the tally was updated, and it was calculated that 'Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)' is actually now 38 times platinum - considerably more than the measly 33 platinum discs attached to 'Thriller', which last had its total updated last year.

Last time The Eagles' figures were counted, the platinum awards were based on sales alone. However, since 2016, streaming data has also been included. Under the current rules, the RIAA deems 1500 on-demand streams to be equivalent to ten download track sales, which in turn is equal to one album sale.

This change to the way the awards are calculated has also benefitted The Eagles' 1977 album 'Hotel California', which is third in the most-successful albums list, and newly named 26 times platinum - up from sixteen times last time the numbers were counted.

"Congratulations to the Eagles, who now claim the jaw-dropping feat of writing and recording two of the top three albums in music history", says RIAA CEO Cary Sherman, which I guess is technically true, even if one of those albums is a greatest hits compilation.

"Both of these transcendent albums have impressively stood the test of time", Sherman continues. "Only gaining more currency and popularity as the years have passed, much like the Eagles themselves. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the RIAA's Gold & Platinum Program this year, it is only fitting that we can recognise the Eagles for their singular contribution to the history of American music".

The RIAA has not released figures showing only full album sales for each release, so we have to go with the slightly confusing measure that includes streaming data and single track downloads.

The trade body did confirm to Rolling Stone that digital data had been added to the album's stats retrospectively for the recount. This would mean that if the album had one particularly popular track on it - say the band's most famous song 'Hotel California' - every ten download sales or 1500 streams of that one track would count as an album sale.

Not that I'm saying no one listens to the rest of that album, but the title track does have 320 million plays on Spotify alone, compared to 61 million for the next most popular track on it. And in Spotify's Eagles Top Ten, of the other two tracks related to that album, one is a live version of 'Hotel California'.

Although, of course, Jackson's 'Thriller' is likely also carried by a couple of stand-out tracks - mainly 'Beat It' and its title track - when it comes to this new age of complicated record sale maths, so maybe we shouldn't think about these things too much.

Anyway, speaking for the band, Don Henley said: "We are grateful for our families, our management, our crew, the people at radio and, most of all, the loyal fans who have stuck with us through the ups and downs of 46 years. It's been quite a ride".


Cardi B, Disclosure, Migos, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Cardi B has released the video for 'Ring', featuring Kehlani, from her 'Invasion Of Privacy' album.

• Disclosure have released new track 'Moonlight'. It "was written and arranged at Guy's house, sampling Swedish acapella group The Real Group's cover of the classic 'When I Fall In Love'", say the duo. "We wanted to bring some Disclosure deep house chords and basslines to the forefront".

• Migos have released new track 'Is You Ready', which features on the soundtrack to new movie 'Mile 22'.

• Villagers have released new single 'Fool'. Their new album, 'The Art Of Pretending To Swim', is out on 21 Sep.

• Four Tet has announced a four night residency at Brixton Academy in October. There will be two live shows to kick it off, followed by two all-nighter DJ extravaganzas. The shows will run from 10-13 Oct and you can register to access tickets here.

• Josh T Pearson has announced that he will play St John On Bethnal Green in London on 4 Dec. He's also recorded a cover of Depeche Mode's 'Cover Me', a track he remixed last year. "I just wanted to do a JTP-style country version, strip it down to show that, at its essence, it's a classic song", he says.

• Lovebites have announced that they will play a UK show as part of a wider European tour later this year. They are set to play the Islington Academy on 21 Nov. Here's recent single, 'The Crusade'.

• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Madonna accused of leaving Aretha out of VMA Franklin tribute
Madonna has been criticised for her tribute to Aretha Franklin at last night's MTV VMAs in New York, after using her ten minute slot on stage to mainly talk about herself.

Franklin, of course, died last week, making the tribute a late addition to the VMA schedule. Still, many felt that Madonna's speech was somewhat lacking. Coming at the end of the ceremony, Madonna recalled an early audition, in which she sang Franklin's '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman'.

Franklin "changed the course of my life", she told the audience. She then went on to explain that she'd once gone up for a singing job in Paris and decided to sing the Franklin classic because she had nothing prepared and she knew that "by heart". The two men auditioning her didn't believe that "some skinny-ass white girl" would be able to "belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived". Oh how wrong they were.

She aced the audition, got the gig, and then blew it all off for some guitar lessons, which in turn led to her becoming one of the biggest pop stars of all time.

Like you now, the audience both in the room and on TV were seemingly left wondering what all this had to do with Aretha Franklin. Madonna explained: "None of this would have happened without our lady of soul. She led me to where I am today and I know she influenced so many people in this room tonight. I want to thank you Aretha for empowering all of us. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Long live the queen".

I hope that's all clear now. Back at the other end of the evening, Cardi B opened the show by pretending to breastfeed one of the trophies. So, it was all pretty standard VMA fare.


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 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.
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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.
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