|TUESDAY 26 MARCH 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Having scored an initial win against US internet service provider Grande last week, the American record companies have rushed to court to sue another safe harbour dwelling net provider for copyright infringement, this time Charter Communications... [READ MORE]|
American labels sue another ISP in wake of BMG v Cox safe harbour ruling
The new lawsuit filed with the courts in Colorado makes for familiar reading. Charter, the labels argue, has a policy for dealing with repeat infringers among its customer base, but it doesn't effectively apply that policy. "Rather than disconnect the internet access of blatant repeat infringers", the label filing states, "Charter knowingly continued to provide these subscribers with the internet access that enabled them to continue to illegally download or distribute plaintiffs' copyrighted works unabated".
Meanwhile, in a separate lawsuit filed in Florida against what is now a Charter subsidiary - Bright House Networks - the labels say that the ISP "condoned ... illegal activity because it was popular with subscribers and acted as a draw to attract and retain new and existing subscribers". The company "recognised that if it terminated" repeat infringers it "would enrol fewer new subscribers, lose existing subscribers, and ultimately lose revenue".
ISPs, of course, claim protection under the pesky copyright safe harbour whenever their customers use their networks to infringe copyright. The safe harbour says that internet companies cannot be held liable for their users' copyright infringement providing said companies have systems in place to deal with infringing content and infringing users when made aware of it or them by a copyright owner.
The music industry argues that some ISPs have deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with repeat infringers among their customer bases, so that they can claim safe harbour protection without ever having to actually disconnect repeatedly infringing customers.
There was much debate in the early days of mainstream internet access and online music piracy as to quite how far safe harbour dwelling companies had to go to deal with infringement and infringers on their networks to avoid liability. Though many of the bigger net providers in the US - most of them also in the cable television business, so that they had a vested interest in enforcing copyright - set up a since abandoned voluntary scheme with the music and movie industries to deal with repeat infringers.
Charter was not part of that voluntary scheme. And neither were Grande or Cox, the two other ISPs that have been sued in recent years on this point. BMG's legal action against Cox was the big test. The music rights company said that although Cox had a repeat infringer policy, staff were told to employ loopholes to avoid cutting off any infringing customers. The ISP argued its internal procedures were in fact sufficient to win it safe harbour protection from liability for copyright infringement. But the courts did not concur.
That landmark ruling, depriving Cox of safe harbour protection from a $25 million copyright infringement claim, was overturned on appeal, but on a technicality. Appeal judges pretty much backed the ruling of the lower court, which meant that Cox settled with BMG before said lower court had a chance to consider the whole thing for a second time.
Meanwhile, the Recording Industry Association Of America sued Grande Communications over its shoddy repeat infringer policies. Although that case is still ongoing, a court last week ruled that Grande couldn't rely on safe harbour because of its slack anti-infringement procedures. Citing BMG v Cox, the judge in the Grande case confirmed that "an ISP has not 'reasonably implemented' a repeat infringer policy" - so to win safe harbour protection - "if the ISP fails to enforce the terms of its policy in any meaningful fashion".
Although the precedent has pretty much been set that shoddy anti-infringer policies means safe harbour no longer applies, in this new dispute the labels will still need to prove that Charter and its subsidiaries had infringement systems that were sufficiently shit.
Charter will obviously deny the shoddiness, with a spokesperson for the net firm already telling Ars Technica: "We will defend against these baseless allegations".
Korn in legal dispute with former drummer over SoundExchange royalties
A founder member of the band, Silveria left in 2005, saying he wanted a quieter life. He was officially replaced in 2009. A dispute then occurred six years later when Silveria claimed that he had never formally relinquished his stake in the Korn company, and therefore he was due his share of royalties that had come in since leaving the band. A settlement was agreed in which the drummer was bought out of the company in return for a lump sum payment.
However, last year Silveria seemingly approached US collecting society SoundExchange wondering where his share was of any royalties it had collected in relation to Korn's pre-2005 recordings. SoundExchange, of course, collects royalties from online and satellite radio services, including some personalised radio platforms, whenever said services play recorded music. It also pays 50% of any monies it collects directly to artists, even when they don't own the copyright in any of their records.
Given SoundExchange thought it was paying all the artist royalties due on Korn's recordings to the band - but now there was an ex-member also claiming a share - the society did what societies usually do in this scenario: it froze all artist payments on the affected recordings.
That pissed off Korn, who then sued their former drummer last month, claiming that by contacting SoundExchange and interfering with the band's payments from the society he was in breach of his 2016 contract. Silveria has now counter-sued, saying that the 2016 deal didn't mention SoundExchange income, which he wasn't even aware of at the time. According to The Blast, the drummer is now demanding $750,000 in damages.
Linking to The Blast's article about the legal spat on Facebook this weekend, Silveria wrote "yes I found out I was being stolen from". Noting how The Blast had published his original band agreement with the rest of Korn, he went on: "Click on the link of our original partnership agreement - you can clearly read everything is split 20% all across the board".
Keen to play down any beef with the current members of Korn, he then wrote: "This is not about the individual band members. For all I know they may have not even known about this theft ... this is all about business. I only want what I'm rightfully owed and that's it. I have no hard feelings towards any of the guys".
Apple unveils premium news, gaming and telly services, and a credit card too
Apple TV+ was widely anticipated, with Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, JJ Abrams, Jason Momoa, M Night Shyamalan and Jon M Chu among those lined up to make programmes for the tech giant's Netflix rival.
"We're honoured that the absolute best line-up of storytellers in the world - both in front of and behind the camera - are coming to Apple TV+", said the company's Eddy Cue. "We're THRILLED to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in starting this autumn. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet".
Meanwhile, Apple News+ will aggregate premium content from an assortment of newspapers and magazines and Apple Arcade will be a subscription platform full of gaming gubbins. The premium newsy stuff kicks off in North America straight away, while the video and gaming services will roll out in the autumn.
All three new set-ups will sit alongside Apple Music, of course, meaning the tech giant is now in the subscriptions game across much of the media and entertainment spectrum.
This could mean that Spotify finds new allies elsewhere in the online entertainment business in its current beef with the tech giant. Spotify, of course, accuses Apple of exploiting its device and platform dominance to give Apple Music an unfair competitive advantage in the streaming music marketplace. And it now wants the European Commission to intervene.
Netflix already has some of the same gripes with Apple as Spotify when it comes to interacting with customers using the tech firm's devices, and those gripes will always heighten once Apple is a major head-on competitor. Though, arguably, in the online TV and film space, competing services are not necessarily in the either-or game when it comes to signing up users, in that many customers are willing to subscribe to multiple services to access each platform's original content.
BBC adds live show restart and autoplay to the BBC Sounds app
The two main new developments are the ability to restart live programmes and an autoplay feature that will line-up follow-on programmes or - where there aren't any additional editions of what the user is listening to - other recommended shows. The latter, of course, makes using the app more like the Spotify, Apple Music or Netflix experience.
The live restart functionality is already available to people listening to stations via the BBC website, but it is not a feature of the BBC iPlayer Radio app, which BBC Sounds is intended to replace. It means listeners can tune into a current live programme, but then restart or rewind it. They can also pause the live show and resume listening later.
The Head Of BBC Sounds, Dan Taylor-Watt, says of the upgrade: "We've been listening to feedback and heard that being able to pause, rewind and restart live radio was a key feature listeners wanted to see added to the BBC Sounds app, giving them more control over their live listening experience".
"Additionally", he adds, "autoplay will enable listeners to enjoy an uninterrupted on-demand listening experience, making it easier to listen to back-to-back episodes of a podcast or radio series and discover brilliant new audio without lifting a finger - something our live radio schedules have been doing for years".
There's been something of a mixed reaction to BBC Sounds, which is seen as part of the Beeb's efforts to make its radio output more attractive to a younger online audience. Plans to switch off the aforementioned iPlayer Radio app have reportedly been put on hold, given some listeners have said they much prefer the older app to the new one.
Meanwhile, from a music industry perspective, the BBC making its radio and music services ever more interactive on mobile devices has thrown up some interesting licensing questions. The record industry licenses the BBC via its collecting society PPL with artists receiving 50% of any royalties paid as Performer Equitable Remuneration.
However, as radio becomes more interactive, especially where mixes or playlists are provided rather than conventional radio programmes, some labels argue that that moves beyond the reach of the PPL licences, which would pose challenges for the BBC as it seeks to further enhance the functionality of the Sounds app. And also impact how artists get paid.
Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame has no plans to remove Michael Jackson from its museum
Some in the music and media industries have sought to distance themselves from Jackson since the airing of the HBO programme, in which Wade Robson and James Safechuck allege that the late king of pop abused them as children. Jackson's family and estate, of course, have hit out at the documentary, its subjects and its director, dismissing Robson and Safechunk's allegations and criticising HBO for airing the programme.
Some radio stations have stopped playing Jackson's music following the show's airing, and much attention has fallen onto how Sony Music - which signed a new deal with the Jackson estate in 2017 - will mark the tenth anniversary of the musician's death later this year. It's thought that, prior to the airing of 'Leaving Neverland', the anniversary would likely have been marked with some reissues or the release of some archive recordings.
The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame was another organisation questioned about its position regarding the allegations made against Jackson, which aren't new, but have been much more widely debated of late. Jackson was celebrated by the music industry institution twice during his lifetime and is therefore a feature of its Cleveland museum.
The spokesperson said: "Michael Jackson was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Jackson 5 in 1997 and as a solo artist in 2001. As with all of our inductees, Jackson was recognised for musical excellence and talent as well as having a significant impact on rock n roll, and was elected by a diverse voting body of historians, fellow musicians and music industry professionals".
They concluded: "Original artefacts and memorabilia from many artists' lives and performances are on display in our exhibits. There are no plans for this to change".
Machine Head reunite with 1990s members for Burn My Eyes anniversary tour
Frontman Robb Flynn will also be joined by Machine Head's other current member - Jared MacEachearn - on the tour, meaning three quarters of the band who appeared on 'Burn My Eyes' will be on stage. The other founder member of the outfit, Adam Duce, was fired in 2013, then suing his former band the following year. So it's perhaps not particularly surprising he's not along for the ride in this anniversary year.
Says Flynn of the tour: "Having started rehearsals with Chris and Logan several weeks ago, I'm literally giddy with excitement at the prospect of how much fun this is going to be. Both Logan and Chris are in phenomenal playing shape, the vibe between all four of us has been incredibly positive, and having run through deep cuts like 'Death Church' and 'I'm Your God Now' for the first time in over a decade, has reminded me of how fucking heavy our older songs are. This tour is going to be massive!"
A bunch of European dates, kicking off in Germany on 5 Oct, have already been announced, with US dates to be confirmed in the coming weeks. The UK and Ireland shows are as follows:
2 Nov: London, Brixton Academy
Gossip reform for Music For Men tenth anniversary tour
Although Beth Ditto only confirmed that the band had officially split in 2016, the shows will nevertheless be the outfit's first since 2012, when they toured to promote their final LP 'A Joyful Noise'.
Confirming the new tour, the band say in one of those statement type things you all love: "We can't believe it's been ten years since the release of 'Music For Men'! We are beyond excited to reunite with our Gossip family and fans. We've truly missed playing these songs and connecting with our amazing and inspiring crowds. It'll be a sweaty, outrageous time for sure. Can't wait to see y'all in Europe in July!"
Here are some UK dates for fans of UK dates. And Gossip.
19 Jul: Glasgow, Galvanizers Yard
Shut up old people, Woodstock's not for you
Since the line-up for the anniversary event - which features acts including Jay-Z, The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Chance The Rapper, The Raconteurs, and more - was announced last week, people have come up with all sorts of gripes. You know, like people always do. One gripe is that the line-up is heavy on new acts and not those who played the original event.
While pointing out that there are some older artists on the bill - like Robert Plant and Santana - Lang, who was one of the organisers of the first Woodstock, tells TMZ that they could only accommodate "some of the heritage acts out that who are still performing and are still great". Ultimately, though, they wanted the festival to be "a contemporary show for the audience that we're expecting, which is young".
"We cannot just have an oldies show", he goes on. "This is not [Coachella spin-off] Desert Trip, this is really a contemporary Woodstock for today. The reason for it really is based around the social issues that we're dealing with. That's sustainability and activism and sort of trying to re-steer where the world seems to be heading".
Lang has previously criticised other contemporary US festivals for "missing an opportunity to make a difference in the world". He says he wants to revive the spirit of protest - then against the Vietnam War - that was part of the original Woodstock. "We were a generation that felt very empowered to bring change to the world", he says.
Despite hoping that Woodstock 2019 might inspire a new generation to bring change to the world - and even though the issues facing young people today are likely to be a lot longer term than the Vietnam War - this revival of the Woodstock name is still only a one-off event.
"It's not something we're planning on doing every year", say Lang. So, let's just hope the world changing effect is quick.