|MONDAY 19 AUGUST 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: YouTube last week announced a policy change regarding the manual claims tool that it provides copyright owners. It will affect music companies seeking to claim royalties where their songs or recordings are used in user-generated content. The web giant says that the new policy will "improve fairness in the creator ecosystem, while still respecting copyright owners' rights to prevent unlicensed use of their [music]"... [READ MORE]|
YouTube cuts royalty claiming option for short snippets of music in UGC videos
The new policy only relates to YouTube's manual claims tool for copyright owners - not the automated Content ID system that most music rights owners now use most of the time to identify and manage third party videos that use their music. It also only relates to where music used in a user-uploaded video is, in YouTube's words, "very short or unintentional".
The update follows recent technical changes that also seek to deal with a frustration among the YouTube creator community. That being that a music rights owner can currently claim all the ad income generated by a video that contains their music, even if said video only contains a snippet of that music which is, well, "very short or unintentional".
Expanding on that, in a blog post last week YouTube said that these policy and technical changes are in response to "a concerning trend we've seen - [which is the] aggressive manual claiming of very short music clips used in monetised videos. These claims can feel particularly unfair, as they transfer all revenue from the creator to the claimant, regardless of the amount of music claimed".
Explaining the recent technical changes, YouTube said that copyright owners using its manual claims tool now need to provide timestamps identifying where in a video their music appears. "We also made updates to our editing tools in Creator Studio", the YouTube blog aimed at its creators added, "that allow you to use those timestamps to remove manually claimed content from your videos, automatically releasing the claim and restoring monetisation".
The new policy change means that, with these "very short or unintentional" uses of music, the music copyright owner will not now be able to claim any ad income from the video through the manual claims system. They will, however, still be able to block the video, or veto the video makers from monetising their content.
Although the policy change may actually result in more music companies who use the manual claims tool blocking videos, it's hoped that ultimately it will mean fewer YouTube creators losing all their ad income simply because of a tiny snippet of music appearing in any one upload.
Though, YouTube then adds in its blog post, if creators want to ensure there are no music licensing issues whatsoever - they should ensure that they don't use any uncleared third party songs or recordings in their videos. Which basically means licensing tunes from one-stop-licence library music companies like Epidemic Sound.
YouTube also suggests creators make sure that there is no music playing in the background when a video is shot. Even though, in many countries, that would be covered by a copyright exception anyway, meaning no licence should be required. But, of course, rights management tools on user-generated content platforms are still struggling with the ins and outs of copyright exceptions and, in the US, the always ambiguous concept of fair use.
YouTube goes on: "Our enforcement of these new policies will apply to all new manual claims beginning in mid-September, providing adequate time for copyright owners to adapt. Once we start enforcement, copyright owners who repeatedly fail to adhere to these policies will have their access to manual claiming suspended".
"We strive to make YouTube a fair ecosystem for everyone", it concludes, "including songwriters, artists, and YouTube creators. Our goal is to unlock new value for everyone by powering creative reuse and content mashups, while fairly compensating all rightsholders".
It remains to be seen how big an impact these developments have on music companies, especially those who proactively chase every penny they can whenever their songs or recordings appear in user-generated content.
Of course, while YouTube has been evolving these systems and the accompanying technology for years now, the challenge of managing music rights in the user-generated content domain is becoming an ever bigger talking point. Because deals are being done with an increasing number of UGC platforms and this particular kind of digital income is set to become a key growth revenue stream for the music industry in the years ahead.
Cloudflare goes public, warns of threats posed by copyright infringing users
Cloudflare provides various services to website operators. And that includes some website operators who are seen by some copyright owners as being prolific infringers, aka piracy outfits. Copyright owners of that kind - which includes the music industry - have long called on Cloudflare to do more to crack down on infringers among its customer base. They have even gone so far as to accuse the firm of being liable for contributory copyright infringement for its failure to do so.
For its part, Cloudflare has always insisted that it can't be tasked with policing the internet, and that it can't disconnect customers simply because of accusations of infringement from any one copyright owner. To that end its position has generally been that it can only take action against an allegedly infringing customer when a court orders it to do so.
To test that position, some copyright owners have sought court orders, which generally Cloudflare has responded to by withdrawing services. In a small number of cases Cloudflare has also withdrawn services from clients on its own volition, though not usually because of allegations of copyright infringement.
Cloudflare services over nineteen million websites and says in its IPO filing that at least 100 of these are considered pirate sites by copyright owners. Noting that is has already faced several lawsuits as a result of this, it says: "There can be no assurance that we will not face similar litigation in the future or that we will prevail in any litigation we may face. An adverse decision in one or more of these lawsuits could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition".
While in the past it has claimed safe harbour protection whenever it is actually accused of liability for its customers' infringement, Cloudflare warns that this option may not always be available. It also notes that the reach and technicalities of the copyright safe harbour are "highly unsettled and in flux" in the US and elsewhere. It makes specific reference to the recently passed Copyright Directive in the EU, which could affect its liabilities, it says.
The filing then warns: "If we are found not to be protected by the safe harbour provisions of [America's] DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act], CDA [Communications Decency Act] or other similar laws, or if we are deemed subject to laws in other countries that may not have the same protections or that may impose more onerous obligations on us, we may face claims for substantial damages and our brand, reputation, and financial results may be harmed. Such claims may result in liability that exceeds our ability to pay or our insurance coverage".
Of course, frank warnings about worst case scenario threats are a requirement of formal filings before floating on a stock market, and as such documents of this kind are often filled with doom and gloom. And it sits alongside all the other bumf explaining why this is a company you should definitely want to invest in.
Still, while Cloudflare may not be expecting things to ever get as bad as laid out in its filing, it does show that the internet business does have concerns and is facing something of a juggling act to ensure it stays on top of it all.
Apple, Google and Pandora sued for music playback patent infringement
Three identical lawsuits filed in the US last week claim that each of the companies' respective music platforms infringe four patents registered by software developer Alan Bartholomew between 2006 and 2015. Each relates to the transfer of digital media across a network.
The lawsuits have actually filed by a company called Post Media. The filings explain that Bartholomew himself is reaching retirement and "concerned about maintaining his software business in the volatile economy". Not wanting to risk his family taking a financial hit on the legal action, he turned to Post Media "whose purpose in part is to conduct the work necessary to reward and provide compensation to Bartholomew".
Apple, Google and Pandora would all have been aware of the patents and therefore created their services without compensating Bartholomew with either "specific intent to cause infringement or with wilful blindness to the resulting infringement", it is then alleged.
Apple and Google have been subject to similar lawsuits over their music technology before. Post Media also sued Spotify and iHeartMedia in 2016 and Slacker in 2017.
None of the parties involved has as yet commented on the new litigation.
Superstruct partners with International Concert Service
The deal will see Superstruct invest in ICS to help grow the company further. As well as Wacken Open Air, ICS also promotes events including Hamburg Metal Dayz, Wacken Winter Nights and the Werner Race.
ICS co-founders Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen say in a statement: "Joining the Superstruct network is terrific news for our team and our fans. We will continue providing world-class experiences through our portfolio of live events and now we are able to additionally benefit from a partner with a global network and experience".
"This will help us grow further and make what we do even better", they add. "We very much look forward to working with the Superstruct team to continue pushing the envelope. Our goal is always to inspire and enthuse heavy metal fans around the world and to make people happy with our live activities".
Superstruct CEO James Barton adds: "We are very excited to join forces with ICS, the global leaders in metal. Led by Holger and Thomas, and supported by an experienced team overseeing a portfolio of quality events, we are confident that together we can continue to expand ICS and take the company and its events to the next level".
The agreement is still subject to regulator approval.
Brighton's The Haunt announces capacity-boosting relocation
With a 350 capacity in its current location, the new venue will hold up to 825 people. Retracting walls will also mean it can host 350, 600 and 825 capacity events without looking embarrassingly empty. A smaller 150 capacity second room will also be available for smaller shows.
The old venue will close on 1 Sep, with the new one opening its doors on 19 Sep. There are already 50 shows on sale between the opening and Christmas, with performances from acts including Fat White Family and Swim Deep. The venue has also confirmed that club nights such as Fat Poppadaddys and Secret Discotheque will continue to run, while it will also be working on new nights to take advantage of the larger space.
CD Baby's HostBaby website building service to close
The company told users that it wants to "put all our energy into what we do best, namely distributing music, creating tools for independent artists, and helping them collect their royalties worldwide". It also seemingly admitted that HostBaby's website building offering has lagged behind others in the industry, saying that Bandzoogle offers "better, more modern technology and themes".
Artists who have used HostBaby to date will continue to be able to build websites using pre-made templates, and, once the transition is complete, will also be able to add crowdfunding and subscription options.
"Bandzoogle shares our focus on artists, with tools that help them wherever they are in their career", says CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux. "They have built the best hosting product for indie musicians, and they back it up with amazing customer service. Like us, they keep ahead of a fast-changing business and think hard about what tools will best support artists' dreams and goals. I can't think of a better partner in web hosting, and I'm glad we finally get to work more closely together to promote indie music as a whole".
CD Baby says it aims to make the migration for existing users as seamless as possible. As it prepares for the transition, HostBaby has stopped accepting new sign ups, and - in the future - CD Baby will promote Bandzoogle to its distribution clients.
The 1975 use old t-shirts to make new album merch
Frontman Matt Healy announced on Instagram that merch sold at upcoming live shows would be "old shirts (first album, early tours etc) that we had kept and have reprinted as your 'NOACF' shirts".
"You will also be able to bring any old 1975 shirt or ANY bands you love shirts to Reading [and Leeds] festival and have the same print done over the top there", he added.
Of course, Kendall and Kyle Jenner previously ran into legal trouble when they printed over the top of other band's old t-shirts. Although The 1975 will just be defacing them rather than selling them online, which is where the Jenners slipped up.
The 1975 are promoting more sustainable merch after teaming up with environmental activist Greta Thunberg for the first track released from the new album. The band have already committed to donate all proceeds from the track to environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
In an interview for a new BBC Introducing podcast launching next month, the band's manager Jamie Oborne says that The 1975 were not the first band Thunberg attempted to team up with.
"[She is] the most important person in the world to give a platform to", he says. "Other artists didn't want to do it - it's madness. Bigger artists than The 1975. We weren't even going to release [the track] until the album came out, that was never the plan. [But] after we met her in Stockholm and recorded it, we agreed it just wasn't a statement that could wait six months to come out. It felt like that would've made it a vanity exercise".
Of course, for this to really work, people should be trying to consume The 1975's music in the most environmentally friendly way too. They are headlining the Reading and Leeds festivals this weekend, and - on top of that t-shirt re-printing malarkey - those events have an assortment of initiatives to reduce their environmental impact. Given theirs is an industry that isn't always super friendly to the planet, maybe that's a good place to start.
And what about listening to 1975 records? Because, you know, just listening to music can be a pretty negative thing environmentally speaking as well. Maybe, running with their t-shirt idea, The 1975 could help here too by using the old Sellotape trick and only making 'Notes On A Conditional Form' available on second hand cassettes bought at car boot sales.
Elvis to turn secret agent in kids' animated TV series
Created by Elvis's wife Priscilla Presley and singer-songwriter John Eddie, the show is set to air on Netflix at an as yet undisclosed date - the announcement of the project being timed to coincide with the 42nd anniversary of the musician's death. The show sees Elvis drafted into a secret government spy programme, so that he is saving the world (or America, at least) while concurrently being the world's greatest rock n roll star.
"From the time Elvis was a young boy he always dreamed of being the superhero fighting crime and saving the world", says Priscilla Presley. "'Agent King' lets him do just that".
She continues: "My co-creator John Eddie and I are so excited to be working with Netflix and Sony Animation on this amazing project and getting the chance to show the world an Elvis they haven't seen before".
The announcement comes three years after Netflix first unveiled plans to launch 'Beat Bugs' - an animated series aimed at five to seven year olds that uses Beatles songs to teach important life lessons about coming together, only needing love and being in the sky with diamonds.
In 'Beat Bugs', the classic tunes are all given a modern pop twist, with vocal performances from artists such as Sia and Pink. It's not clear how Elvis songs will be tweaked to appeal to 21st century children's ears, but 'Beat Bugs' is about start its fourth series, which suggests the idea isn't totally stupid.