TODAY'S TOP STORY: The 'Blurred Lines' song-theft saga is finally at an end after the deadline passed for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke to take the case to US Supreme Court. With that deadline passed a judge has finalised the damages that must now be paid to the Marvin Gaye estate, while confirming that it will also receive 50% of any future royalties generated by the song... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Blurred Lines song-theft ruling stands as Supreme Court deadline passes
LEGAL Uncleared samples are copyright infringement however short, reckons EU's Advocate General
Appeals court upholds copyright infringement ruling against MP3 resale site
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Alison Wenham to depart WIN, as UK's MPA announces new chief
LIVE BUSINESS Neil Young's Hyde Park show won't be marketed under Barclaycard BST banner
Attitude Is Everything launches new initiative to make the voices of deaf and disabled musicians heard
MEDIA Killer Mike to present new Netflix show
AND FINALLY... Ronnie Wood says Keith Richards quitting drinking has got The Rolling Stones "rocking like we're 40 year olds"
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Two left of centre record labels seek an assistant to co-ordinate all aspects of the record release cycle across five sub labels. Training will be provided but twelve months' prior experience in a music company necessary.

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Blurred Lines song-theft ruling stands as Supreme Court deadline passes
The 'Blurred Lines' song-theft saga is finally at an end after the deadline passed for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke to take the case to US Supreme Court. With that deadline passed a judge has finalised the damages that must now be paid to the Marvin Gaye estate, while confirming that it will also receive 50% of any future royalties generated by the song.

Williams and Thicke were accused, of course, of ripping off Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up' on their already controversial 2013 hit 'Blurred Lines'. It was actually them who sued the Gaye estate, seeking judicial confirmation that the alleged rip off didn't constitute copyright infringement. It was a move that backfired big time when, in 2015, a jury decided that they had, in fact, infringed Marvin Gaye's song copyright.

The judgement was controversial within much of the songwriting community because many felt it set a dangerous precedent that could result in a flood of copyright infringement lawsuits against songs that had been influenced by earlier works. This was based on support for the argument put forward by Williams and Thicke that 'Blurred Lines' shared a 'vibe' with 'Got To Give It Up' but wasn't a straight rip-off.

The terrible twosome appealed the judgement, but in March this year the Ninth Circuit appeals court pretty much endorsed the jury's original decision and rejected arguments put forward as to why that judgement had been flawed. However, there was one dissenting judge in the appeals court who shared the concerns expressed by many in the songwriting community. She concluded that the ruling "establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere".

Williams and Thicke asked the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its ruling 'en banc', which would mean all of the judges of that court would hear both side's arguments. But the appeals court declined to reconsider its earlier decision, meaning that the next route of appeal for the 'Blurred Lines' makers was to go to the American Supreme Court.

However, the deadline for requesting that the Supreme Court hear the case has now passed without any request being made. To that end the judge who oversaw the original court hearing confirmed on Monday the nearly $5 million in damages that must now be handed over. The damages will paid by Williams and Thicke themselves and the former's publishing entity More Water From Nazareth.

At one point the Gaye family also requested an injunction to stop the future distribution of 'Blurred Lines', but judge John Kronstadt declined to grant such a thing, instead saying he would award the estate 50% of future royalties. That royalty arrangement was also reconfirmed this week.


Uncleared samples are copyright infringement however short, reckons EU's Advocate General
Ah, the good old "can a two second sample possibly constitute copyright infringement" debate, that never gets old does it? Now the Advocate General of the European Union's Court Of Justice has pondered on this very topic as the incredibly long running legal battle between Kraftwerk and rapper Moses Pelham somehow still continues to go through the motions. He basically concludes that using a two second sample of a sound recording without permission does constitute copyright infringement.

Kraftwerk's Ralf Hutter sued Pelham way back in the early 2000s over a 1990s track that the latter had made with the rapper Sabrina Setlur called 'Nur Mir'. It used a tiny sample from Kraftwerk's track 'Metal On Metal' on a loop.

The case bounced around the German courts for years. It was accepted that Pelham had indeed sampled 'Metal On Metal' without permission, but the question was then posed as to whether such a short uncleared sample could constitute copyright infringement under German law. In 2012, Germany's Federal Court Of Justice found in favour of Kraftwerk, in part on the basis that Pelham could have easily recreated the sound he sampled, so clipping the snippet out of 'Metal On Metal' was just laziness.

Four years later the German Constitutional Court overturned that judgement, reckoning that the lower court hadn't properly considered Pelham's "artistic freedom". The higher court reckoned that the negative impact on Kraftwerk caused by the uncleared sample probably wasn't sufficient to outweigh the sampler's artistic rights.

After the Constitutional Court basically bounced the matter back to the Federal Court Of Justice, a bunch of questions were subsequently sent to the EU court requesting clarification on what European law says about sampling. Which is why Advocate General Maciej Szpunar has been musing on the issue. His conclusion isn't binding, but tends to be very influential when the EU Court Of Justice makes any rulings.

While there has been plenty of debate over the years about the copyright implications of sampling, actually there are really two debates, because the arguments may be different for recording rights versus song rights.

Basically, when you sample a two second clip of a track, you are sampling both the recording and the song contained within it. But it might be hard to argue that the two second snippet of the song can be protected by copyright in isolation. However, at the same time you could argue that the two second snippet of the recording is.

The 'Metal On Metal' case centres on the recording rights. In essence, in the 2012 court hearing, when one argument on the Kraftwerk side was that Pelham could have recreated the sounds he sampled, they were basically saying that there was no song copyright to infringe here, but that the separate recording copyright had been infringed by the uncleared sample.

Therefore, Szpunar's remarks relate to the recording rights, though he does consider the distinction between the song and the track. In his response to the questions posed by the German courts, he starts by saying that "it goes without saying" that sampling a recording exploits the 'reproduction' control that comes with the copyright.

"Sampling (generally) involves the direct and permanent reproduction, by digital means and in digital form, of a portion or sample of a phonogram", he goes on. "It therefore seems to be quite clear that that act amounts to an infringement of the right of the producers of the phonogram in question to authorise or prohibit such a reproduction made without their permission".

He then considers the argument that a two second sample is just too short to enjoy copyright protection, noting that when it comes to the songs side, a few notes or words may not enjoy protection in isolation.

However, he says, this principle cannot be "applied to phonograms". He writes: "A phonogram is not an intellectual creation consisting of a composition of elements such as words, sounds, colours etc. A phonogram is a fixation of sounds which is protected, not by virtue of the arrangement of those sounds, but rather on account of the fixation itself".

"Consequently", he continues, "although, in the case of [other creative works], it is possible to distinguish the elements which may not be protected, such as words, sounds, colours etc, from the subject-matter which may be protected in the form of the original arrangement of those elements, such a distinction is not, however, possible in the case of a phonogram".

All of which means that even a tiny snippet of a sound recording enjoys copyright protection and therefore can't be sampled without permission, although the chances are that "anyone may reproduce the same sound himself" without infringing any other copyrights.

Which kind of makes sense, although many of the big sample-based copyright cases have taken place in the American courts, and judges there haven't always applied that rule consistently, ie that however tiny, an uncleared sample infringes the recording copyright. Aware of this, Szpunar stresses that US and European copyright rules are different.

American sampling cases, he says, were argued in "a radically different legal environment to that of continental Europe and EU law". He then added that, mainly because continental European copyright systems (though not the UK system) treat sound recordings differently to things like the song copyright, "I take the view that the reasoning of the US courts cannot therefore be applied to EU law".

Beyond the classic question about whether super short samples can be protected by copyright, Szpunar also considers a number of other matters too, including whether any copyright exceptions could apply in this case, and also the issue of "artistic freedom" that was raised by the German Constitutional Court.

On the latter point, Szpunar writes: "Artists must be particularly aware of the limits and restrictions that life imposes on creative freedom where they concern the rights and fundamental freedoms of others, in particular their right to property, including intellectual property. In such cases, the balancing of different rights and interests is a particularly complex exercise and there is rarely a 'one size fits all' solution".

"That balancing exercise", he adds, "must, in a democratic society, be undertaken first of all by the legislature, which embodies the general interest".

But when it comes to rights under European law, he goes on, "the requirement of obtaining a licence for [sampling] does not restrict, in my opinion, the freedom of the arts to a degree that extends beyond normal market constraints, especially since those new works often generate significant revenue for their authors and producers".

Concluding, Szpunar states that "taking an extract of a phonogram for the purpose of using it in another phonogram (sampling) infringes the exclusive right of the producer of the first phonogram", and that "the exclusive right of phonogram producers ... to authorise or prohibit reproduction, in part, of their phonogram in the event of its use for sampling purposes is not contrary to the freedom of the arts as enshrined in article thirteen of the Charter Of Fundamental Rights Of The European Union".

We now await to see how the EU court itself responds to its German counterpart, and what impact these clarifications have on the 'Metal On Metal' case back in Germany.


Appeals court upholds copyright infringement ruling against MP3 resale site
The unapproved resale of MP3s online constitutes copyright infringement, the Second Circuit appeals court in the US has confirmed. No one is the slightest bit interested in reselling MP3s online any more of course, but they were in 2012 when EMI sued a company called ReDigi, which had set up a second-hand MP3 marketplace.

ReDigi argued that fans selling on their old MP3s was no different than them selling on their old CDs. The latter is allowed because copyright law generally limits a copyright owner's 'distribution' control to the first sale of a physical copy. In the US this is referred to as the 'first sale doctrine'. The tech start-up also argued that its software could verify that the MP3 being sold was legit and ensure that the file was deleted off the seller's PC after the sale.

The music industry argued that transferring an MP3 from one PC to another caused a reproduction to occur, whereas when a customer sells on a CD no copying is required. There is no 'first sale' limitation on the reproduction element of the copyright, so ReDigi was encouraging and facilitating copyright infringement with its MP3 marketplace.

The courts sided with EMI in its copyright infringement action back in 2013. Though that ruling didn't deal with what damages the start-up should pay the record company. A few years of back and forth went on in that regard, with an agreement being reached between both parties in 2016. Throughout that process ReDigi also vowed to appeal the 2013 ruling, reckoning its first sale doctrine and other fair use arguments should stand.

However, appeals judges in the Second Circuit weren't any more impressed with those arguments than the lower court. According to Law360, the appeals court stated this week: "None of [ReDigi's] arguments negates the crucial fact that each transfer of a digital music file to ReDigi's server and each new purchaser's download of a digital music file to his device creates new phonorecords".

ReDigi suspended its operations in the midst of all these legal wranglings, with the company behind it seeking chapter eleven bankruptcy protection at one point. The firm's home page has been counting down to the appeals court ruling of late, and continues to do so despite said ruling now having been issued. It's not clear what steps the company plans to take next.


Alison Wenham to depart WIN, as UK's MPA announces new chief
Alison Wenham is standing down as CEO of the Worldwide Independent Network, the global grouping that brings together trade organisations representing the indie music community around the world.

Wenham founded WIN - initially as an informal network - back in 2006 while still heading up the UK's Association Of Independent Music. She then became WIN's full-time CEO after standing down as AIM boss in 2016.

Among other things, WIN was behind the Fair Digital Deals Declaration in 2014 which saw countless indies make commitments to their artists about how they would report and share digital income. It also launched the WINTEL report that measures record industry market share based on copyright ownership rather than distribution.

Having originally launched AIM in 1999, Wenham has been campaigning for indies for pretty much two decades. Confirming her departure from WIN, she said this morning: "It has been a pleasure and a privilege to devote two decades of my life and career to helping ensure the stability and continued growth of the independent music sector".

She added: "Since launching AIM in 1999 I have stood shoulder to shoulder with amazing friends and colleagues as, together, we set out and then delivered a new era of respect for the role and importance of the sector. We changed attitudes towards the sector across the world, and ensured that independent music copyrights are now recognised and valued".

The current Chair of WIN, Beggars Group chief Martin Mills, also paid tribute to the organisation's departing chief, stating: "Alison has been a force of nature for all of us, and a central factor in indies being able to compete worldwide with companies many times their size. As she moves on, she leaves us strong and thriving, and looking forward to many fruitful seasons. For that we are eternally grateful to her".

Elsewhere in music industry trade organisation news, the UK's Music Publishers Association has confirmed that long-time PRS exec Paul Clements has been appointed as its new CEO. He takes over from Jane Dyball, who confirmed she was departing the trade body back in July.

Like Dyball, Clements will head up the MPA group of companies which, as well as the trade body itself, includes mechanical rights collecting society MCPS and sheet music licensing body PMLL.

Confirming the appointment, the MPA's Chair - Jackie Alway of Universal Music Publishing - said: "We are delighted that Paul is joining us as CEO of our group. His ability to engage on issues with intellectual focus, as well as communicate with clarity and passion, makes us excited about his future advocacy on behalf of our community. In addition, he brings a keen business brain which will help expand the reach of our PMLL business".


Neil Young's Hyde Park show won't be marketed under Barclaycard BST banner
AEG has confirmed that Neil Young's show in London's Hyde Park next summer will not sit under the banner of British Summer Time. This follows the musician's public griping about the planned concert, with Young complaining online that he hadn't been told the show was being announced, that he wasn't able to offer his signed-up fans a pre-sale opportunity, and that he had a major problem with Barclaycard sponsoring the gig.

These moans appeared on the Neil Young Archives website shortly after AEG announced that Young would be co-headlining a day of its Barclaycard-backed British Summer Time series alongside Bob Dylan. Young's management firm subsequently admitted it had screwed up by not keeping its client fully informed about the show being made public.

Young took umbrage at the BST shows being sponsored by Barclaycard because of the wider Barclay group's investments in the fossil fuels sector. He wrote: "I learned that the show had a sponsor, Barclays Bank, a fossil fuel funding entity. That doesn't work for me ... At the moment, we are trying to rectify the situation ... we have been talking about requiring a different sponsor as one option".

The NYA website then announced that it had been agreed that the show would go ahead without Barclaycard sponsorship, although at that time it was still being promoting on the British Summer Time website complete with the credit card company's branding. But later yesterday the Neil Young/Bob Dylan concert was taken off the BST site.

Meanwhile AEG said in a statement: "Neil Young has made the decision to move away from the Barclaycard presents British Summer Time concert series. Neil Young and Bob Dylan will play a stand-alone concert in Hyde Park on the same date, 12 Jul. All tickets will remain valid. The Barclaycard presents British Summer Time concert series remains unaffected and will continue as normal with more headliners to be announced in early 2019".

So, there you go. Simple. They just need to remember, on the morning of 12 Jul, to go round the Hyde Park compound AEG builds each summer and remove any Barclaycard branding. It does mean that the live music giant's big brand partner can't be associated with one of the key bookings for the annual series of central London gigs, but that's probably better than having one of your headliners openly slagging off the sponsor at every opportunity.

Maybe AEG and Barclaycard should have realised from the off that an environmentalist like Neil Young would never ever agree to perform at an event sponsored by a fossil fuel investing bank. Except, of course, for that one time he played London's Barclaycard British Summer Time festival in 2014.


Attitude Is Everything launches new initiative to make the voices of deaf and disabled musicians heard
Accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything has announced a new initiative, called Next Stage, aiming to empower deaf and disabled artists in the music industry.

The charity says that there is currently a lack of knowledge and information about the work and lives of deaf and disabled artists. It aims to bridge that gap with this survey, and is calling for input from all self-identified deaf and disabled musicians, as well as any music makers who have a health condition or impairment that impacts their daily lives.

From there, it is hoped that the findings of this survey can help to improve access to the live music industry for deaf and disabled artists, giving them more opportunity to develop their talents.

"Next Stage is an ambitious departure for Attitude Is Everything", the charity's CEO Suzanne Bull explains. "We have spent almost 20 years working for disabled audiences and now, with support from Arts Council England, we want to improve accessibility for disabled artists".

"This process will not be easy", she admits. "The challenges facing deaf and disabled people are often hidden, and rarely discussed publicly. There are a range of stigmas and sensibilities. So our first goal is to collect information through a comprehensive and wide-reaching survey. By paying attention to artists' voices, I believe we can build a thriving network of talent that will enhance British music and benefit all in the wider music community".

AIE patron and Mystery Jets frontman Blane Harrison adds: "Since we started out playing shows there has been a huge shift in the music industry's attitude towards deaf and disabled audiences. It's been so inspiring to see live-signing catching on at gigs and festivals, not to mention how popular viewing platforms have become. And when you're up there it's not hard to see why. The atmosphere is one of shared joy; reminding us that the live music experience is one we can all participate in".

However, he goes on, "backstage, it's often another story. Dressing rooms can be tucked away up steep flights of stairs in the eaves of the building; if there are lifts they are often made for hauling heavy equipment and not safe to ride in unattended. For artists requiring some alone time to mentally prepare for the pressures of a performance, the back of the van in the car park can sometimes be the closest thing to a safe space".

"In much the same way that the conversation around mental health has opened up, hearing the experiences and voices of disabled artists will hugely diversify and enrich the music industry of tomorrow", he concludes. "Now is the time for the Paralympians of the arts to be given the platform they deserve".

You can fill out the survey here.

The initial findings of the research will be presented during the TGE Conference at next year's Great Escape as part of the Partner Panels programme that sits alongside the three CMU+TGE conferences that take place in Brighton each May. The AIE research launch is one of a number of additions to the TGE 2019 programme announced today, alongside the news that Lewis Capaldi will return to play a Spotlight Show at the Brighton Dome and confirmation that the Association Of Independent Music will again run AIM House at the Queens Hotel.

There is more information about the CMU+TGE conferences planned for 2019 here.


Killer Mike to present new Netflix show
Run The Jewels' Killer Mike is to present a new series for Netflix, called 'Trigger Warning', set to be made available in the new year.

"'Trigger Warning' is about examining cultural taboos and giving viewers the space to examine the 'what ifs' and 'why nots' that limit how some people move and operate in the world", the rapper explains. "In six episodes, we explore the human condition using non-traditional approaches".

He adds: "Not everyone will agree with my methods - and some of what we're putting out is fucking crazy - but this show is about embracing your freedom to challenge societal expectations and conformity. This show is if an anarchist determined the status quo".

The show will go live on 18 Jan. Watch a trailer here.


Approved: Whipped Cream
Whipped Cream has been on my mental list of artists to write about here for most of the year, but things have never quite lined up. So I'm happy to have her fill the final one of these columns for 2018.

The last twelve months has seen the Canadian producer release a steady stream of bass-heavy tracks featuring a range of influences, from hip hop to dubstep. The newly released 'Luv' switches things up yet again, masterfully mashing up breakbeats, hip hop, dark electro and more in under two minutes (although a longer mix also exists if you need more - which you will).

"I combined sounds and grooves from stuff I listened to when I first got into electronic music and put it all together into one piece of work", she says. "You think you know my sound? Think again. This piece is to leave my listener with questions and wanting more".

Watch the video for 'Luv' here.

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

Ronnie Wood says Keith Richards quitting drinking has got The Rolling Stones "rocking like we're 40 year olds"
Keith Richards revealed earlier this year that he'd stopped taking drugs, mainly because the ones they have now are "very institutionalised and bland". Now it turns out he's also quit drinking, having realised it was time to start living a little healthier.

"It's been about a year now", he tells Rolling Stone about his more sober existence. "I pulled the plug on it. I got fed up with it. It was time to quit. Just like all the other stuff".

He's not completely stopped, he says, still enjoying "a glass of wine occasionally and a beer". However, for the most part he doesn't miss the booze, saying: "I don't notice any difference really - except for I don't drink. I wasn't feeling [right]. I've done it. I didn't want that anymore".

Other Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, who quit drinking almost a decade ago, has noticed some big differences though. He says: "He's a pleasure to work with. Much more mellow. He's open to more ideas, whereas before I'd kind of grit my teeth and go, 'He's gonna give me some shit for saying this'. Now, he'll say, 'That's cool, man'".

Wood adds that it's improved their live shows too, saying of their first shows with both guitarists sober earlier this year: "We're weaving [guitar parts] a lot more conscientiously now. We're much more aware of the gaps and the spaces between. We're in our 70s, but we're still rocking like we're 40 year olds, you know?"

Richards admits he enjoyed the sober performing too, saying of the end of that tour "everyone looked at each other saying, 'No, we're just getting going!' That's when the idea came to play the States".

The Rolling Stones are set to tour the US next year, starting in April.


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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