|WEDNESDAY 14 AUGUST 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The major record companies have accused US internet service provider Cox Communications of "a consistent pattern of obstruction, delay and gamesmanship" in the ongoing legal battle over the net firm's failure to deal with its copyright infringing customers. The labels have specifically hit out at Cox after it called off a planned settlement conference at the very last minute last week... [READ MORE]|
Labels hit out at Cox after last minute cancellation of settlement talks
Cox is one of the ISPs that the American music industry has argued should be held liable for the copyright infringement of its customers.
Internet companies always claim to be protected from such liability by the pesky copyright safe harbour. But, the labels argue, net firms like Cox have failed to put in place systems for dealing with infringing content and repeat infringers on their networks, as the law requires of safe harbour dwelling companies. Or, actually, they put those systems in place, but then deliberately don't employ them, to avoid having to shout at or disconnect infringing customers.
Cox, of course, was the defendant in the big test case on all this, in which music firm BMG argued that, by failing to properly implement takedown and repeat infringer policies, the ISP shouldn't have safe harbour protection. And in that case the internet company basically lost, resulting in legal action by the record industry at large against ISPs Grande, Charter and Cox.
The latter is due to reach court later this year, but in June both sides agreed to participate in a settlement conference last week. Those discussions were due to take place before the judge in the court where the lawsuit has been filed, which is in Virginia. But then, two days before that conference was meant to start, Cox called it off, saying that the two side's positions were so far removed that nothing productive could come out any discussions.
The labels were not impressed by this last minute cancellation, arguing that nothing had changed regarding each side's position in the six weeks since the settlement conference had been agreed upon. And in those weeks the record companies had spent a lot of time prepping for the settlement discussions, time that could have been spent working on other aspects of the case. The labels had also booked all their travel to Virginia.
In a new moan-filled submission to the court, the labels say that Cox's excuse for the last minute cancellation is "specious". They write: "If Cox held the view that the parties are too far apart in terms of valuing the case, it should not have represented to the court and plaintiffs that it was interested in a settlement conference; it should not have scheduled the settlement conference; and if it was going to cancel the settlement conference, it should have done so weeks earlier".
Listing various other moans about the way Cox has behaved as this case has gone through the motions, the labels then say that the net firm has "demonstrated a consistent pattern of obstruction, delay and gamesmanship" And, with that in mind, "plaintiffs thus have concern that Cox's approach to the settlement conference was just a ruse to distract plaintiffs at a critical time".
They add: "The instances of Cox's strategic gamesmanship go on and on and it is no stretch to believe that Cox's unilateral, eleventh-hour cancelation of the long-scheduled settlement conference is simply more of the same". Plus, they say, "regardless of the motive, there can be no dispute that plaintiffs' suffered unnecessary distractions and costs as a result of Cox's conduct".
As for the purpose of the labels' formal moan, the legal filing concludes: "The court has broad discretion to enter sanctions pursuant to its inherent authority, including without the formality of a motion. This situation clearly calls for it. Plaintiffs are prepared to file a formal motion should the court deem it necessary, though that would only further distract plaintiffs at this critical juncture and increase the amount that Cox should have to compensate plaintiffs".
And so the legal battle rumbles on.
Government should compensate touring musicians in event of no-deal Brexit, says ISM
The professional body states: "The lack of transitional arrangements in a no-deal scenario will result in chaos for many of those who have to travel to the EU for work - and freelance, touring musicians, often on low earnings, will be amongst the hardest hit. The ISM has calculated that musicians who travel to [other EU countries] and carry an instrument will incur additional costs of up to £1,000 - or more in certain cases - in a no-deal Brexit".
Those extra costs will include buying any carnets required post-Brexit for transporting instruments and sound equipment around Europe, health insurance that will be needed if EU protections are suddenly removed from British citizens, and other potential bureaucracy that might be added should the UK crash out of the European Union with no deal in place.
ISM's President, Jeremy Huw Williams, expands on the potential impact, saying: "In the event of a no-deal Brexit, there will be significant uncertainty over the terms under which musicians would be subject to when travelling to the EU for work. This uncertainty threatens the livelihoods of thousands of UK-based musicians who rely on touring in EU countries for work, which is terribly concerning for our membership of almost 10,000 professional musicians".
The organisation's CEO Deborah Annetts adds: "As we know from our professional musician members, the majority of musicians do not have the capacity to absorb additional costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit. These costs would be impossible for most freelance musicians, who earn on average around £20,000 per year. They would simply be unable to allocate up to 5% of their earnings to additional costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit".
Williams' then concludes: "We call on the government to fully cover these costs in advance of 31 October, or at the very least provide a full compensation scheme to support musicians in the first three years following Brexit".
Mabel becomes ambassador for speaker maker JBL
Here's Mabel with a quote. Maybe she'll tell us what being an ambassador for JBL actually involves. "For me, people feeling good about themselves when they hear my music is what it's all about", says she. "Whether I'm performing at a headline show, festival or if someone's listening to me on their way to work or in the gym, it is important to me that they feel strong and connected and that is why JBL is the perfect fit for me. I'm excited to be an ambassador for a brand that shares my passion for music, sound quality and style".
Yeah, that doesn't really provide any more info does it? Maybe Simona Bara, Head Of UK Marketing at JBL owner Harman can help. "We are THRILLED that Mabel is joining our team as JBL brand ambassador. Her music and personality truly captures the spirit and identity of the JBL brand and will help further connect with our core audience".
Yeah. Still none the wiser. Bara goes on: "Working with an artist that spans multiple genres is important to JBL as it represents the eclectic tastes of our audience and Mabel fits this perfectly by producing knock-out vocals across R'n'B and pop tracks. This exciting announcement underlines our passion and continuous involvement with the UK music scene".
I'm starting to think being a global ambassador for JBL mainly involves providing a quote for a press release about you being appointed a global ambassador for JBL. Although the speaker brand does have its own festival in Las Vegas and both Khalid and Mabel are playing it this year. So maybe that's it.
Spotify takes podcaster analytics platform out of beta
"It was built to empower you, the podcast-creating community, to continue innovating and sharing your work with the world", said Spotify yesterday. To the podcast-creating community, obviously. Any of you artists still tuning in, this isn't for you. Unless you make a podcast. Go on, do it, get with the moment, make a podcast! And then get ready for the stats to roll on in.
Because with Spotify For Podcasters, you can "dive deep into engagement and demographic data for your podcast, tracking things like average listening times, episode streams, and total listeners". Why bother? Well, says Spotify, "with so many podcasts out there, it's more important than ever that you have the data you need to help you understand and grow your audience. That's exactly what your dashboard is designed to provide".
So that's all fun isn't it? And hey, all you artists out there still not sure whether to make the leap into podcasting... well, here's a thing - you know how you never get paid enough for your music? Turns out, you don't get paid at all for your podcasting. It's so much simpler.
MTV owner Viacom to remerge with CBS
Despite that demerger, which created the separate Viacom and CBS entities still operating today, Sumner Redstone's National Amusements still had controlling stakes in both businesses.
His daughter Shari Redstone, who is President of the parent company and Vice-Chair of both Viacom and CBS, has been pushing for the two media outfits to be brought back together for some time. Consolidation elsewhere in the American broadcasting sector and the increasing challenge of competing with the likes of Netflix and Amazon gave further weight to her arguments for such an approach.
Confirming that a merger would now occur, she said: "I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realise the incredible power of their combined assets. My father once said 'content is king' - and never has that been more true than today".
LA Opera and IFPI to investigate sexual harassment claims made against Plácido Domingo
According to the Associated Press, eight singers and a dancer have said that they were sexually harassed by Domingo, with the alleged incidents dating back to the 1980s. Only one of the accusers, mezzo-soprano Patricia Wulf, has so far been named.
One of the women who spoke to the AP said: "A business lunch is not strange. Somebody trying to hold your hand during a business lunch is strange, or putting their hand on your knee is a little strange. He was always touching you in some way, and always kissing you".
For his part, Domingo has denied the allegations being made against him. He said in a statement: "The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling and, as presented, inaccurate. Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable - no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions".
He added: "I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone".
"However", he concluded, "I recognise that the rules and standards by which we are - and should be - measured against today are very different than they were in the past. I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards".
It remains to be seen what investigations by the likes of the LA Opera and the IFPI conclude. In the meantime two concerts at which Domingo was due to perform in the US have already been cancelled in the wake of the allegations. Although the Salzburg Festival in Austria says the singer will still appear at its event later this month.
Museum Of London to mark 40th anniversary of London Calling
The museum says that its Clash exhibition, due to open on 15 Nov, will feature draft lyrics, stage clothes, photos and films, with the aim of providing a "new insight into their recording process and the making of 'London Calling'".
Sony Music will also release a special edition of the album to coincide with the exhibition, which will come with a 120 page book full of hand-written lyrics, notes, photos and previously unseen material from the period when the legendary record was made.
Confirming all this, the museum's Beatrice Behlen says: "'London Calling' is The Clash's defining album, a rallying call for Londoners and people around the world. The album's lyrics reflected contemporary concerns, many of which are still relevant today, as it moved away from traditional punk by adopting and reworking much wider musical influences".
"At the Museum of London, we tell the stories of our capital through the objects and memories of the people who have lived here", she goes on. "This display will provide a brand new, exciting and vibrant take on this, showcasing rarely seen personal objects and telling the incredible story of how 'London Calling' was, and for many still is, the sound of a generation".
Ozzy Osbourne a "genetic mutant", says new book on DNA
And how would Bill Sullivan, a professor at the Indiana University School Of Medicine, know this? Well, because in 2010 a Massachusetts-based research company called Knome apparently analysed a blood sample from Osbourne, in a bid to map his genetic code and work out how he'd been able to survive so many years of drug and alcohol abuse.
In his book 'Pleased To Meet Me: Genes, Germs And The Curious Forces That Make Us Who We Are', Sullivan writes "Ozzy is indeed a genetic mutant". Knome's researchers apparently confirmed that the Black Sabbath frontman was genetically predisposed towards addiction, but also that a unique mutation allowed him to drink in much larger-than-normal quantities.
"After all these years of thinking we were free agents", Sullivan notes elsewhere in his book, "we've come to realise that most, if not all, of our behaviour is not of our own volition ... However magical they may feel to you, your emotions are purely biological in origin".
Of course all the drinking and drug taking didn't leave Osbourne entirely unscathed, and ill-health has resulted in dates on his farewell tour being rescheduled, despite him having now kicked the booze and the drugs. But still, that he is still with us and able to grandly tour a big farewell is probably pretty impressive.
And as Blabbermouth notes, the man himself has previously said the same. In column he once co-wrote for The Times he stated: "By all accounts, I'm a medical miracle. When I die, I should donate my body to the Natural History Museum".