TODAY'S TOP STORY: Legal reps for Kesha have filed new papers arguing that Dr Luke's defamation action against their client is weakened by the fact he continues to allegedly earn millions for his production work... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Kesha says Dr Luke's continued success hinders his libel action
LEGAL Following Yandex stand-off, Russian watchdog to launch new anti-piracy database
DEALS Downtown acquires Salli Isaak songs business
Transgressive expands alliance with Foals to publishing
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Universal signs deal with African streaming firm Boomplay
MEDIA Universal allies with LadBible on new emerging talent series
ARTIST NEWS Canadian casino denies racially profiling Drake
AND FINALLY... Guns N Roses become latest act to ask Trump to stop using their music at rallies
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Kesha says Dr Luke's continued success hinders his libel action
Legal reps for Kesha have filed new papers arguing that Dr Luke's defamation action against their client is weakened by the fact he continues to allegedly earn millions for his production work.

The long-running and multi-layered legal dispute between one time collaborators Kesha and Luke is now focused on the latter's defamation action against the former. She accused him of rape, while he accused her of making up the assault allegation to force his hand in contract negotiations.

Both sides are currently pushing for a summary judgement in their favour in the defamation action, hoping to avoid the whole matter heading into a full court hearing before a jury. Much of the back and forth between the two sides has been sealed, not least because recent documents have included discussions on what elements of the case should or should not be kept confidential, even if a jury trial does take place.

However, last week Kesha's team briefly publicly filed a document that was meant to have been sealed. And prior to its status being changed and the paperwork being removed from public view, The Hollywood Reporter grabbed a copy.

Although not offering a complete picture, the document gives an interesting insight into what is currently being discussed and the arguments on each side.

Kesha's key argument remains that she was raped by Dr Luke and if she can prove that then she cannot be held liable for defamation. In that regard, her team say that Dr Luke's lawyers are pushing for any evidence that "corroborates Kesha's rape and abuse allegation" to be sealed, when they would rather it be made public.

If Kesha's lawyers cannot prove that the assault took place, they will then try to counter Luke's central argument that her accusations have damaged his ability to make a living. On this point, both sides are currently arguing over whether or not a full list of artists Luke has worked with since 2014 should be made public or not.

The latest court submission by Kesha's side states: "Dr Luke may not want the public to know that he continues to earn millions of dollars and work with the music industry's most coveted artists - while Kesha remains trapped in a thirteen year old contract under which she earns little-to-no record royalties - but that preference alone does not warrant sealing".

Elsewhere in the dispute, Dr Luke's side recently argued that Kesha, her management team and press reps conducted a co-ordinated smear campaign against the producer in 2014, in an attempt to force his hand in those contract negotiations.

To that end, in September the judge in the case agreed that Kesha should be asked to defend press statements made by her and her representatives after she originally went legal against the producer. This followed the unsealing of emails between Kesha managers Jack Rovner and Ken Levitan, along with music industry veteran Irving Azoff, in which they said that they should "battle this guy in the press" and "take down his business".

However, Kesha's side now argue that Luke and his team have also been playing the media in order to present their case in a more sympathetic light.

Despite those few revelations, what last week's filing really shows is that the case remains in a deadlock, not getting any closer to a trial date. Whether either side can convince the judge to deliver a summary judgement in their favour before it gets that far remains to be seen.


Following Yandex stand-off, Russian watchdog to launch new anti-piracy database
Russia's internet watchdog Roskomnadzor is establishing a database of copyright infringing webpages and content. It will then encourage net companies in the country to connect to, with a view to them speedily removing links to offending sites from their search engines while also deleting any listed material from their user-upload platforms.

The database is the result of Roskomnadzor-led talks between content owners and internet companies in Russia in recent months. Those talks were seemingly stepped up following a high-profile stand-off with Russian web giant Yandex back in August.

In that stand-off, Russian broadcaster Gazprom-Media secured an injunction that ordered Yandex to remove links to pirated copies of the media company's content from its search engine. Roskomnadzor itself then ordered the web firm to likewise remove infringing content from its video upload site, threatening to instigate a web-block against if it failed to do so. For a time it looked like that web-block may indeed be instigated.

Yandex ultimately complied with the various demands. New talks then began between Russian media and internet companies resulting in a memorandum of co-operation being signed last week. Yandex is among the signatories, as is another Russian web company that has had run-ins with copyright owners in the past, social network vKontakte.

Roskomnadzor already has a database of copyright infringing websites that have been subject to a formal web-block. Internet service providers are obliged to connect to that database and ensure that they are indeed blocking any blocked sites. That obligation was then extended to search engines last year, which must delist blocked sites, something over which the internet regulator is now heading into a dispute with Google.

The new database will go further than that and should, in theory, make it easier for copyright owners to have unlicensed content removed from search engines and user-upload sites in the country. Doing so will initially be voluntarily on the tech companies' side, although there are plans to change Russian copyright law to ultimately make it a legal obligation.

Under the scheme, the obligations of participating web firms are considerable. They will have to sync with Roscomnadzor's infringing content database every five minutes and ensure newly listed material is removed from their search engines and sites within six hours.

The new scheme has parallels with the takedown systems already employed by many Western web platforms in order to enjoy safe harbour protection from copyright liabilities under US and European law. Google has not yet signed up to the new memorandum though already operates a content removal system in Russia as it does elsewhere in the world, albeit in line with what American law says about takedowns.

The Russian system goes much further than those US or European takedown systems, not least with the central database to simplify the process for rights owners. Critics will likely worry that the system could be abused to force non-infringing content off the internet. Roscomnadzor plans to mediate in first instance where disputes arise, with the option to then take said disputes to court. For as long as the whole scheme is voluntary, web firms will also have the ultimate option of withdrawing from the programme.

For Western copyright owners, defending intellectual property rights in Russia can still be tricky, although at the same time the country has evolved its copyright regime considerably in recent years, adopting and expanding measures found in Europe and elsewhere. The boss of Roskomnadzor reckons that these latest anti-piracy measures will make Russia a leader in combatting online infringement.

Roskomnadzor boss Alexander Zharov said, after the signing of the memorandum: "Following considerable work, we have arrived at a historic moment when both content producers and content distributors unite in their efforts to fight against piracy. As a result of this work, the [internet in Russia] will become the cleanest space for piracy in the world".


Downtown acquires Salli Isaak songs business
Independent music publisher Downtown last week announced it had acquired the Salli Isaak music publishing business that was set up by Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington back in 2006. Among the songwriters whose work Salli Isaak represent are Jimmy Napes, Paloma Faith, Shane Filan and Robert Stapleton

Confirming the deal, Raphael said: "We are very pleased that our writers and their incredible songs will now sit alongside the wonderful and prestigious catalogue that Downtown continues to build".

Meanwhile Roberto Neri, MD of Downtown's UK operation, added: "We are so grateful to Nick and Jo who signed these incredible songwriters, who have created worldwide evergreens that we will be listening to and singing for many decades to come. This is an incredible acquisition for our company and we are absolutely THRILLED to be working with Jimmy, Paloma and the other exciting songwriters on the roster".


Transgressive expands alliance with Foals to publishing
Transgressive Publishing has signed a new worldwide publishing deal with those Foals guys via its joint venture with Warner/Chappell. Transgressive has had a long relationship with the band, of course, via its label division. The new deal around the outfit's song rights covers both catalogue and future work.

Trangressive Publishing chiefs Toby L, Tim Dellow and Lilas Bourboulon said in a joint statement: "Foals were one of the first breakthrough Transgressive bands, signing to the label around twelve years ago not long after we first started out. Back then, they were wildly adventurous, ambitious, and uniquely dedicated to their craft. Four albums in and over a decade later, little has shifted; if anything, these qualities have merely intensified with time".

On the new deal, they went on: "This new publishing deal hopefully serves as a reflection of all of the best of the industry - friendship, loyalty and the ability to challenge each other to reach new heights. We are THRILLED that our family at Warner/Chappell has continued to demonstrate such faith and commitment to our JV together and look forward to breaking new ground for this truly important band".

Over at Warner/Chappell, MD Mike Smith added: "I was very excited when Transgressive first discussed the possibility of partnering with Foals. They're without doubt one of the most forward-thinking and constantly innovating rock bands to have emerged in the past ten years. They never fail to release thrilling music and it is a huge privilege for Warner/Chappell to be able to work with their remarkable catalogue and future recordings".

Wanna know what the band think? Well, they chipped in too, in perfect unison, to the effect that "we're really excited to be working with Transgressive across publishing - and look forward to the future with them and Warner/Chappell".


Universal signs deal with African streaming firm Boomplay
Universal Music has announced a licensing deal with Boomplay, a Nigerian streaming platform that now operates in multiple African markets.

Boomplay originally focused on local repertoire when it first launched three years ago, but has been in talks with global music rights owners too. Universal is the first major to sign a licensing deal with the company, that deal covering both local and global catalogue.

Confirming the tie-up, Universal Music's EVP Of Market Development Adam Granite said: "We're looking forward to working with Boomplay as we provide our African artists a range of creative, marketing and promotional resources to accelerate their careers within this vibrant and growing music market. This agreement will help UMG artists to reach new audiences, whilst boosting the African streaming experience to benefit both music fans, artists and songwriters".

Boomplay's CEO Joe He added that his company is "determined to continue meeting the music passion point of Africans in a legitimate way ... and teaming up with a major music company in the global music industry like Universal Music Group offers yet another significant opportunity for us to do so".

Boomplay is currently available in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia via an Android app, with an iOS version incoming.


Universal allies with LadBible on new emerging talent series
Universal Music's playlists division UMOD last week launched a new alliance with that there LadBible which will see the two companies collaborate on a series of acoustic sessions and interviews featuring emerging talent signed to the major's labels.

Last month was quite an eventful one in the world of Facebook-centric lad-orientated clickbaity publishing, with LadBible successfully but somewhat controversially taking over its rival UniLad. The acquisition was eventful and at times confusing, both brands having being ultimately set up by the same 'lad' back at the start of the Facebook boom.

With all that tricky deal making behind it, LadBible can now focus on publishing weekly 'Acoustic Room' videos featuring the likes of Mabel, The Manor, Lewis Capaldi and Ray BLK. "LadBible Presents Acoustic Room aims to recapture Friday evenings as an appointment to view the most exciting emerging artists", says the official blurb. And about time I say, too long has Friday been roaming around free flirting with only established acts.

"Increasingly youth culture, music and social media go hand in hand", says LadBible Group's Arian Kalantari. "As the most engaged social publisher in the world, we're excited to partner with Universal Music On Demand to bring exclusive new music content to audiences of millions. This social-first approach has the potential to redefine how the entire music industry markets and promotes emerging artists".

Well up for some potential redefining, Universal Music On Demand MD Simon Barnabas adds: "With so much musical choice at an audience's fingertips, launching new and emerging artists poses challenges for the music industry. This strategic partnership between UMOD and LadBible is the perfect alignment of exciting audio-visual content being shared with a massive, highly engaged and well targeted audience. By joining forces with LadBible, the phenomenal scale of their reach will not only benefit our playlist's profile, but the individual artists will receive an almighty boost from this additional exposure".


Approved: Shungudzo
You've most likely heard Shungudzo already on Rudimental single 'Toast To Our Differences', or perhaps on her track on the '50 Shades Darker' soundtrack, both of which came out in the first half of the year. With those bedded in, she's now ready for a concerted push forward with her own artist career, which she does with the video for recent single 'Paper'.

"Imagine a future world in which, instead of working your whole life just to stay afloat, you could sell your soul for a big, quick paycheck", she says. "Would you do it? Are you already doing it, in some way, in the present? This fictional scenario, but very real internal struggle, is what I wanted to bring to life in the video for 'Paper'".

She goes on: "Throughout the film, we used projection scenes to represent my soul's fight to stay intact, and its ultimate journey back to me - because, at its core, this is a video about refusing to sacrifice one's integrity for money. If we could collectively agree to do this, as people and as governments, I think the world would be a much better place for us and future generations".

The machine that appears to extract Shungudzo's soul was created by Brett Doar, who also built the Rube Goldberg machine in OK Go's 'This Too Shall Pass' video. It creates an impressive effect without actually using any special effects.

Shungudzo is currently working on her debut EP with plans to release more new music in early 2019. Now, watch the video for 'Paper' here.

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

Canadian casino denies racially profiling Drake
A casino in Vancouver has denied an accusation of racism made by Drake this weekend. The rapper says that he was racially profiled and refused access to the venue.

In an Instagram story on Saturday, Drake wrote: "Parq casino is the worst run business I have ever witnessed, profiling me and not allowing me to gamble when I had everything they originally asked me for".

In an initial statement issued shortly after that post had been made, the casino said: "Parq Vancouver is sorry to hear about this experience and takes these matters very seriously. We are required to adhere to strict regulations with respect to gaming in British Columbia. We are actively investigating this matter and have made several efforts to reach out to the customer and his team to discuss the issue. We are committed to having a productive conversation to resolve this issue".

Later in the day, it then issued a second statement saying: "We would like to apologise for the experience our customer had. We are operating in one of the most complex, highly regulated industries and are always looking to better our communication and customer service. We are constantly improving our communications process to ensure that these new regulations are better understood by all guests. We categorically stand against racism of any kind. We are committed to providing a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all".

The regulations the company refers to are seemingly related to recently introduced new rules on high stakes games played in the Canadian province, which were put in place after evidence of money laundering in such games was discovered in British Columbia.

Since January, gamblers must provide information on the source of any funds over $10,000 they wish to play with. The transaction receipt must be from the same day and display various details about where the money came from.


Guns N Roses become latest act to ask Trump to stop using their music at rallies
Guns N Roses have become the latest act to hit out at Donald Trump for playing their songs at his political rallies, ahead of tomorrow's mid-term elections in the US. This follows recent threats of legal action from Pharrell Williams and now Rihanna.

Axl Rose tweeted yesterday: "Just so ya know, GNR - like a lot of artists opposed to the unauthorised use of their music at political events - has formally requested [our] music not [be] used at Trump rallies or Trump associated events".

He went on: "Unfortunately, the Trump campaign is using loopholes in the various venues' blanket performance licenses which were not intended for such craven political purposes, without the songwriters' consent. Can [you] say 'shitbags'?!"

The "loopholes" Rose refers to are really just the basic functioning of those blanket licences issued by collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP to cover the public performance of their members' songs. Venues have such licences precisely so that they do not need to acquire specific permission for every song they use.

Though there is an argument that organisers of political events still have a moral obligation to find out if an artist minds their songs being played, even if a venue has all the required public performance licences. However, there is no clear legal obligation under copyright law. And if the Trump regime only used music by artists who supported the president it would be quite a short playlist. Even Kanye West's music might now be off the table.

The use of music at political rallies is all the more annoying for artists, of course, when said events are televised and therefore seen further afield, something Rose referenced as he went on: "Personally, I kinda liked the irony of Trump supporters listening to a bunch of anti-Trump music at his rallies, but I don't imagine a lot of em really get that or care. And when [your] phone's blowin up cuz peeps [are] seein/hearin 'Sweet Child' on the news at a rally, as a band we felt we should clarify [our] position".

Last week, Pharrell Williams sent a cease-and-desist letter to Trump after he played his song 'Happy' at an event just hours after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

"Pharrell has not, and will not, grant you permission to publicly perform or otherwise broadcast or disseminate any of his music", wrote lawyer Howard King in the letter. "On the day of the mass murder of eleven human beings at the hands of a deranged 'nationalist', you played his song 'Happy' to a crowd at a political event in Indiana. There was nothing 'happy' about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose".

Trump has not commented on any of the latest threats from pop stars, which have become a common feature of his brief stint at a politician. Although during the 2015 election campaign, he did agree to stop playing Aerosmith's 'Dream On' following a legal threat from Steven Tyler. Trump said that, while he had "the legal right to use Steven Tyler's song", he had found a "better one to take its place" anyway.

Some lawyers have argued that there may be other legal routes that could be used to try to block politicians from using music without specific permission, even where a venue has its BMI and ASCAP licences. This might involve employing trademark law and personality rights as well as, or instead of, copyright law.

It was perhaps with that in mind that Rihanna - the latest artist annoyed to learn that one of her songs had been used at a Trump rally - tweeted yesterday that she planned to take legal action.


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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