TODAY'S TOP STORY: With America's Music Modernization Act signed into law by President Donald Trump last week, you might think that the music industry's lobbyists Stateside could take a little time off from endlessly chattering about copyright issues. But no. Trade bodies for US record companies and music publishers have written to the American Law Institute to raise all sorts of issues with a copyright report which that organisation's Council is due to discuss today... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Music industry hits out at American Law Institute's 'restatement' of copyright law
LEGAL Record labels fail to get ISP safe harbour case beefed back up
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify partners with DistroKid on direct upload, takes stake in the company
EDUCATION & EVENTS Half of new guitar players in the UK and US are women
ARTIST NEWS Aylesbury's David Bowie statue vandalised again
RELEASES Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert announce Christmas album
ONE LINERS Back To Mine, Merlin, Q Awards, more
AND FINALLY... Pharrell, Bono and more contribute to compilation in memory of dead cat
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Music industry hits out at American Law Institute's 'restatement' of copyright law
With America's Music Modernization Act signed into law by President Donald Trump last week, you might think that the music industry's lobbyists Stateside could take a little time off from endlessly chattering about copyright issues. But no. Trade bodies for US record companies and music publishers have written to the American Law Institute to raise all sorts of issues with a copyright report which that organisation's Council is due to discuss today.

The ALI describes itself as the "leading independent organisation in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernise and improve the law". One of its key areas of activity is compiling and publishing what are called 'Restatements Of The Law'.

These are documents that seek to compile and summarise key judgements in a specific area of the law, putting together all the key precedents that have been set in the courtroom in one place. In common law jurisdictions like the US - and the UK - precedents set by landmark rulings clarify and arguably expand the law beyond the basic rules and principles set out in statue by Congress, in the case of the US, or in Parliament in the UK.

The ALI's restatements don't in themselves have any legal authority, but they are persuasive, and are often relied on by those without specialist knowledge of any one branch of the law. The assumption is that, because they are compiled by specialist lawyers, academics and judges, they are decent summaries of what the US law currently says about whatever area each restatement is focused on.

One restatement currently being compiled is on good old copyright. A draft of that report was shared back in August and is due to be discussed by the ALI's Council at a meeting in New York later today. It is fair to say that the music industry has some major issues with that draft. And also with the people who have been selected to do the drafting.

In fact, the music industry has also questioned whether now is the right time to be restating copyright law at all, given that some key issues are currently in a state of flux.

For starters, the aforementioned Music Modernization Act makes a number of changes to the way music licensing will work in the US. While the Act may have been passed, those changes still need to be implemented. And when it comes to the reforms it will instigate regarding the payment of mechanical royalties to music publishers and songwriters, there's still quite a lot to work out.

Then there is the US Copyright Office's review of the copyright safe harbour, which is still yet to report, despite being launched at the end of 2015. Plus there are some big copyright cases considering tricky issues still to be resolved, including those on the liabilities of internet service providers to deal with infringers among their customer bases, and the various song-theft cases that have been filed in the wake of the 'Blurred Lines' litigation.

In a joint letter to the ALI, the Recording Industry Association Of America and the National Music Publishers Association note that "in recent years copyright law for music has faced repeated tests and challenges, including for those who legislate and interpret the law, in large part due to the transformation of the music industry from physical to digital".

This trend is ongoing they say. "Important copyright law issues for music are before Congress, the courts and agencies", they add. "Under these circumstances, attempting to 'restate' copyright law for music now is a difficult, if not an odd, exercise".

With regards the people compiling the ALI's copyright document, music industry reps argue that the team working on the restatement are primarily lawyers and academics who have long pushed for the rights of copyright owners to be restricted, ie members of what is sometimes called the copy-left movement.

The RIAA/NMPA letter alludes to these concerns, though NMPA boss David Israelite was more forthright on this issue in a statement yesterday. "The American Law Institute's so-called 'Restatement Of Copyright Law'", he said, "was written by extremist anti-copyright lawyers in an attempt to redefine copyright law".

Meanwhile, in a recent op-ed for Billboard, music lawyer Dina LaPolt - a key campaigner for the MMA - wrote: "The ALI's projects are trusted and admired for playing it straight and have always been known for their neutrality, clarity and precision. But not this time".

"The copyright project", she argued, "is being led by some of the most notoriously anti-creator copyleft irritators, many with financial ties to big tech companies - with a goal of tilting the playing field and producing a very biased Copyright Restatement that short-changes songwriters, artists, and the copyright holders".

Much of the RIAA/NMPA letter deals with specific concerns about each section of the current draft of the Copyright Restatement. This includes the authors' selective restating of actual copyright statute which, the trade bodies suggest, is being deliberately misrepresented.

Concluding, the two trade groups write: "[We] believe that copyright law is ill suited for restatement by ALI at this time, especially as envisioned by the [authors]. We therefore request that the Council postpone voting on [the current draft] or vote no ... and reconsider the project in its entirety".

In his statement yesterday, Israelite added that it isn't just the music industry itself which is concerned about the Copyright Restatement. "The restatement has been slammed by the US Copyright Office, the American Bar Association, the US Patent & Trademark Office, and most importantly, the creators themselves", he said.

Referencing the RIAA/NMPA letter, he went on: "We have written the ALI Council to implore them to vote 'no' on approving the restatement draft as we hope they will reject this sham attempt to undermine hard fought principles of understood law. This thinly-veiled attempt to subvert the law and undermine creators and must be stopped".


Record labels fail to get ISP safe harbour case beefed back up
The American courts have knocked back efforts by the US record industry to beef up legal action against internet service provider Grande Communications. The record labels had hoped to restore some elements of their lawsuit that were previously dismissed by the courts, but a judge has declined to consider an amended complaint.

The Recording Industry Association Of America sued Grande Communications last year over its failure to deal with repeat copyright infringers among its customer base. The labels argued that the net firm should be deprived safe harbour protection and be held liable for its users' infringement. The case very much mirrored BMG's action against another American ISP, Cox Communications, the appeal of which was ongoing when this lawsuit was launched last year, but which has since been settled out of court.

Grande tried to have the entire case dismissed, but failed. However, in April this year the courts did cut down the RIAA's lawsuit somewhat, by removing Grande's parent company as a defendant and ruling that the record industry could only sue for contributory infringement and not vicarious infringement. Which might sound like mere semantics, but would likely impact on any potential damages.

Whether Grande could be deemed liable for both contributory and vicarious infringement depends on whether you believe the ISP commercially benefited from failing to deal with repeat infringers. When cutting the lawsuit back, the court ruled that that commercial benefit couldn't be proven. But in May this year the RIAA said it now had new evidence that it thought strengthened the case for the vicarious infringement claim.

Those new claims were initially considered by a magistrate judge, who recommended that the RIAA's bid to have elements of its original lawsuit restored be knocked back. In a formal recommendation, that judge stated: "The new allegations still fail to say anything about the motivations of Grande's subscribers when they sign up with Grande. That is, plaintiffs still fail to plead facts showing Grande gained or lost customers because of its failure to terminate infringers".

The RIAA then submitted new papers countering the magistrate judge's conclusion, but earlier this week a district judge nevertheless followed his junior colleague's recommendation. Writing that he had reviewed the case from start to finish before reaching this conclusion, the district judge said: "Having considered the motions, responses, replies, objections, the case file, and the applicable law, the court will accept and adopt the report and recommendation".

Although this is a setback for the record industry, it doesn't stop it from proceeding with its contributory infringement case against Grande. The RIAA is also pursuing its own litigation against Cox on the same issue.


Spotify partners with DistroKid on direct upload, takes stake in the company
Spotify has announced that it will use DIY digital distribution service DistroKid to enhance its new direct upload feature for artists. The streaming firm has also taken a minority stake in the distribution company, which it has been pushing much more proactively than other DIY distributors on the Spotify For Artists website for sometime already.

"For the past five years, DistroKid has served as a go-to service for hundreds of thousands independent artists, helping them deliver their tracks to digital music services around the world, and reaching fans however they choose to consume music", says Spotify in a statement. "The service has been a trusted and reliable partner to Spotify, which is why they're a natural choice to enhance the experience for artists using our beta upload feature. As part of this partnership, Spotify has made a passive minority investment in DistroKid".

Spotify announced the new direct upload feature within its Spotify For Artists platform last month. It will mean that artists can upload their music into the Spotify system directly for the first time, without the need for a label or distributor. Which means DIY artists can earn royalties from Spotify without paying fees or a commission to a distribution firm.

The streaming platform has already been testing the new feature with a very small number of acts and is now inviting other artists to apply to participate in further beta testing.

The partnership with DistroKid overcomes a significant issue with the direct uploading tool - ie that artists need their music to be on all digital services and don't want to have to be uploading tracks separately to each platform. DistroKid integration means music can still appear everywhere else without any extra work.

Spotify's formal alliance with the DistroKid company follows the news that the distributor had secured "significant" new investment from Silversmith Capital Partners.


Half of new guitar players in the UK and US are women
Fender has released new research which reckons that 50% of new guitar players in both the US and the UK are women. This matches a trend which first appeared in research conducted in the US in 2015 which caused the guitar maker to re-evaluate its advertising.

"The fact that 50% of new guitar buyers in the UK were women was a surprise to the UK team, but it's identical to what's happening in the US", Fender CEO Andy Mooney tells Rolling Stone.

He added that when the trend was originally discovered a few years back, some people (grumpy men) reckoned it was just a fad. Mooney explains that there had been a "belief about what people referred to as the 'Taylor Swift factor' maybe making the 50% number short-term and aberrational".

"In fact, it's not. Taylor has moved on, I think playing less guitar on stage than she has in the past", he notes. "But young women are still driving 50% of new guitar sales. So the phenomenon seems like it's got legs, and it's happening worldwide".

The trend actually seems to go back further than Fender's research suggests. Female-focussed guitar magazine She Shreds launched five years ago, and is yet to give Taylor Swift the cover.

In recent years, there have been numerous reports that guitar playing in general is on the wane. Last year, the Washington Post reported that sales of guitars in the US had fallen by a third over the last decade. Then earlier this year, Fender's main rival Gibson filed for bankruptcy - although it blamed this on a failed attempt to get into consumer electronics.

The picture is more complex than presented by the Washington Post - with some countries seeing growth - but it does seem that, in order to survive, guitar manufacturers will need to market their products to people they've traditionally ignored. Women making up a large part of that. Though the challenge isn't just about persuading people to take up guitar playing for the first time, but also persuading them to stick with it.

"In 2015, we found more than 90% of first-time players abandoned guitar in twelve months - if not the first 90 days - but the 10% that didn't, tended to commit to the instrument for life and own multiple guitars and amps", says Mooney in a statement. "It's our central mission at Fender to accompany players at every stage of their musical journey - and more importantly keep new players playing".

Read the full study here.


Approved: Memoryhook
Following the release of their debut EP 'I Whisper It', and the single 'My Heart', earlier this year, Memoryhook return with new EP 'Nothing To Do'.

Fronted by guest vocalist Emism, rather than the duo's guitarist Maya, the new EP sees a rapid development in their sound through a slickening of production. It's darker and fuller sounding, and at times nudges things towards the dancefloor, while still keeping one foot in lo-fi pop.

Another double A-side single is scheduled for release later this year. Right now, you can watch the video for EP title track 'Nothing To Do' here.

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

Aylesbury's David Bowie statue vandalised again
A man has been arrested in Aylesbury after a statue of David Bowie was vandalised for the second time since it was unveiled in March.

The statue was erected earlier this year to commemorate Bowie and his links with the town. It was vandalised within 48 hours of being unveiled. Parts of the statue were painted over with spray paint, while "feed the homeless first" was written on the floor in front of it. "RIP DB" was also sprayed on the wall.

Funding for the artwork was raised privately through crowdfunding, although public money was then spent on the clean up.

The latest attack came on Wednesday, just hours after the statue had been professionally cleaned and waxed. This time there was no message, just a load of blue paint spread over it.

Promoter and manager David Stubbs, who launched the campaign to raise money for the statue, told the BBC that the vandalism was "so upsetting".

"Bowie fans are coming from all over the world to see the statue and this really doesn't do justice to the thousands of local people that supported this project", he said, adding that it will be "restored to its former glory as soon as possible".


Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert announce Christmas album
Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert have announced that they will release a Christmas album, titled 'Ghost Stories From Christmas', on 7 Dec. It's their second album together, following last year's 'Here Lies The Body'.

The idea for the album came after they wrote a selection of Christmas songs in the middle of summer, thinking they'd put out an EP later in the year. "Then, on a nice, sunny, summer morning, I phoned Hubby and suggested we just do a whole album", says Moffat. "We were really enjoying it - there's something pleasantly perverse about recording Christmas songs in summer clothes - so we just kept going".

As well as wholly original songs, the album also sees them adapt a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale and an essay by Charles Dickens. Then there are covers of Mud's 1974 hit 'Lonely This Christmas' and Yazoo's 'Only You' - a Christmas number one for The Flying Pickets in 1983 - which is the album's first single.

Following tour dates this month and next, the duo will head out on a short run of festive shows in December. Here are the dates:

11 Dec: Newcastle, Cluny
12 Dec: London, Oslo
13 Dec: Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
14 Dec: Manchester, Soup Kitchen


Back To Mine, Merlin, Q Awards, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• DMC is reviving Stress Records and the Back To Mine compilation series via a new partnership with Material Music. "It fills us with so much pride to see the
return of two of the most loved brands in dance music history", says DMC's Daniel Prince.

• Indie label digital rights agency Merlin has appointed Emma Robinson as Member Services Manager and Leeza Panayiotou as Manager of Legal & Business Affairs at its London HQ. Poppy Waring, meanwhile, has been promoted from General Assistant to become Member Services Assistant. In its New York office, Bela Zecker will join as Member Services & Operations Manager for the Americas later this month.

• US collecting society SESAC has promoted Kelli Turner to the dual roles of President and COO. CEO John Josephson said in a statement that the promotion was "well-deserved recognition of the role that she's been playing at the company for the past few years".

• The Arts Council Of Wales and BBC Wales are calling for Welsh acts to apply for their Launchpad fund, which offers grants of up to £2000. "Mae derbyn y grant wedi rhoi anogaeth aruthrol i mi", says one of the fund's previous recipients, Beth Celyn.

• Apparently Olly Murs' recent single 'Moves' is in the new Johnny English film, so in a piece of shrewd cross promotion, Rowan Atkinson features in the video. Snoop Dogg doesn't appear for his guest spot, so that's an opportunity totally wasted.

• Chloe Howl has released the video for new single 'Work'.

• Yann Tiersen has released 'Tempelhof', the first single from new album 'All', out on 15 Feb. He's also set to play two nights at the Royal Festival Hall in February.

• Julia Holter has released 'Words I Heard', taken from her new album 'Aviary', which is out next week. She'll be touring in the UK in December, finishing up at Hackney Arts Centre on 12 Dec.

• Billie Eilish has released new single 'When The Party's Over'.

• Soak has released the video for new single 'Everybody Loves You'.

• Gazelle Twin has released the video for new single 'Glory'. Of the video, in which she appears without her usual red face paint, she says: "I wrote 'Glory', thinking a lot about the plundered and violent heritage of Britain's religious institutions, and how our wrung-out national traditions [and] celebrations still attempt to glorify it. The accompanying film, beautifully conceptualised and directed by Tash Tung, is kind of the 'straight story' of Gazelle Twin; no hidden faces. No Red Imp. No mad FX. History in mourning. History repeating".

• Rapper Griz-O has released new single 'Ninja', coming ahead of his new 'Out Of Bounds' mixtape that's out next week. "The theme 'ninja' initially came from the sounds used in the instrumental, there's like a Chinese harp or something I can hear in there", he says. "Also my last project being called 'The Dojo' ... the track just made sense. I decided to make it the intro to 'Out Of Bounds' so it kinda acts as glue between the two projects".

• The Q Awards happened and people won awards. People like Noel Gallagher, who got two - Best Solo Artist and Outstanding Contribution. Idles and Goat Girl jointly won Best Breakthrough Artist, due to a misundertanding of the word 'best'. "There was so little between Goat Girl and Idles that it would've been churlish to separate them", insists Q editor Ted Kessler.

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


Pharrell, Bono and more contribute to compilation in memory of dead cat
Pharrell Williams, Bono, Laurie Anderson, Michael Stipe, The National and Jarvis Cocker are among the artists who appear on a new 37 track tribute album to a dead cat.

Although the album is new, the cat in question, Souris, has been dead since 2014. The release of the compilation completes a project by French artist Sophie Calle - the cat's former owner - which started with her pretending to be pregnant with the late feline last year.

An exploration of death and grief, the project comes together in a new exhibition which opened at the Perrotin gallery in Paris last week, and which is set to run until 22 Dec. The album, titled 'Souris Calle', forms the heart of the exhibition, and features a variety of tracks paying tribute to the cat across numerous genres.

The album is available to buy on vinyl as a three LP set or you can listen to it on Spotify here. Against all the odds, it's actually really good.


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
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.
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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 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.
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