|THURSDAY 29 AUGUST 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The major record companies have sued American internet service provider RCN over its copyright infringing customers. The net firm, says the labels, failed to properly implement its own takedown and repeat infringer policies and therefore should not be allowed to rely on safe harbour protection to avoid liability for its users' infringement. And if that sounds very familiar, that's because this is pretty much a carbon copy of three existing lawsuits filed by the labels against three other American ISPs: Cox, Charter and Grande... [READ MORE]|
Major labels sue yet another American ISP over its infringing customers
"Defendants operated RCN as a haven for infringement", the new lawsuit claims, adding that the net firm heavily promoted the high internet speeds it offers, something that would appeal to those looking to download lots of unlicensed content. "Defendants' material contribution to RCN's subscribers' infringement was both wilful and extensive, and it renders defendants liable for contributory copyright infringement", it then states.
Knowing RCN will immediately argue that the safe harbour in US copyright law specifically protects it from liability for contributory copyright infringement, the lawsuit goes on: "Although RCN purported to adopt a policy to address repeat infringers, RCN in reality never adopted or reasonably implemented a policy that provided for the termination of repeat infringers - despite receiving over five million infringement notices".
As a result, the lawsuit declares, that purported repeat infringer policy was a "sham" and "RCN's conduct renders it ineligible for safe harbour immunity from copyright liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act".
All of these arguments featured in the aforementioned cases against Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Grande Communications.
The legal team at RCN will likely be most familiar with the latter of those previous cases, given RCN and Grande have been in common ownership since 2016. And the labels' new lawsuit repeatedly cites a summary judgement in that particular case from earlier this year, which deprived Grande of safe harbour protection because it had a shoddy system for dealing with repeat infringers.
This all began with BMG successfully suing Cox over its shoddy systems for tackling infringing customers back in 2015. Before that case American law was somewhat ambiguous as to how effective a tech firm's takedown and repeat infringer systems needed to be for said tech firm to rely on the copyright safe harbour to avoid being held liable for the infringement of its users. Despite some complications in that case, BMG v Cox arguably raised the bar, hence the resulting lawsuits pursued by the majors.
It remains to be seen how RCN responds to this carbon copy litigation. Probably with a carbon copy defence. Though, given the way the other cases have gone - or seem to be going at the moment - that probably won't be enough to avoid liability.
Cox wants access to reports on the label-approved Copyright Alert System it declined to participate in
In the latest court filing in the case, Cox is demanding that the Recording Industry Association Of America hand over internal reports relating to the Copyright Alert System that the big music and movie companies set up with a number of other ISPs to deal with online piracy.
First, a quick recap. The major music companies, co-ordinated by the RIAA, sued Cox after BMG's earlier successful action against the ISP. The arguments are the same as in all the other lawsuits on this issue: ie Cox had a deliberately shoddy system for dealing with repeat infringers on its network, therefore should not be able to rely on the copyright safe harbour, and should therefore be held liable for its users' infringement.
The whole matter is due to get to court later this year, but in the meantime both sides have been busy filing complaints about the other. Cox most recently requested that data the labels intend to present as key evidence be excluded because it isn't complete. Meanwhile the labels accused the ISP of "a consistent pattern of obstruction, delay and gamesmanship".
The aforementioned Copyright Alert System saw a number of ISPs - mainly ones that were also cable TV companies and therefore had a vested interest in cracking down on the illegal distribution of content - voluntarily send warning letters to suspected infringers among their respective customer bases. It was a voluntary version of the graduated response system that was introduced by law in some other countries, and it ran for a number of years before being wound down.
Crucially, Cox - and the other ISPs that have been sued by the major labels in recent years - did not participate in the CAS programme. But, Cox argues, it nevertheless introduced its own system for dealing with repeat infringers. And while the labels allege that that system was shoddy - hence the "no safe harbour" argument - Cox claims that its own anti-piracy set-up actually went further than the CAS in dealing with infringers.
Says the new lawsuit: "Cox was not a signatory to the CAS, and instead had already implemented its own multistep, or 'graduated', response for responding to copyright infringement notices sent to Cox by rightsholders years before CAS was implemented by the other ISPs. In fact, Cox's graduated response was a more stringent response to combating alleged infringements than CAS in several respects, including the fact that, unlike CAS, Cox's graduated response process resulted in the termination of service for certain 'repeat infringers'".
Cox wants access to internal reports that were compiled about the CAS scheme because, it believes, they could help in its defence. But the RIAA, it says, has so far refused to hand over said reports on the basis that they are "irrelevant" to the case.
However, Cox then states in its legal filing: "The effectiveness of CAS - which was endorsed by the RIAA and many of the [label] plaintiffs - at combating online copyright infringement is undeniably relevant to the underlying litigation in light of the ... plaintiffs' claims that Cox's more stringent graduated response was an insufficient response to the infringement notices at issue".
To that end, Cox wants the judge to force the RIAA to hand over those documents. It remains to be seen how the labels - and the judge - respond.
Fitness firm admits music licensing challenges are a risk in its pre-IPO filing
Peloton makes fitness machines that come with screens via which users can access workout videos. There has already been a lawsuit involving more than a dozen music publishers which alleges that those videos contain unlicensed songs. Peloton countersued in April, mainly citing competition law arguments.
The company is now heading for IPO, which is why it is publishing documents containing frank admissions of its own weaknesses. And that includes the fact that the major record companies could hold the firm pretty much to ransom in future licensing deals given how many top hits they control. Plus, on the songs side, licensing music is famously tricky, meaning there is always a risk of using unlicensed works and being liable for copyright infringement.
Peloton's pre-IPO filing states: "Given the high level of content concentration in the music industry, the market power of a few licensors, and the lack of transparent ownership information for compositions, we may be unable to license a large amount of music or the music of certain popular artists, and our business, financial condition, and operating results could be materially harmed".
It then adds that, despite "expending significant resources" on music licensing, the complexities of music rights ownership and song licensing meant that it could never be absolutely certain it wasn't "infringing or violating any third-party intellectual property rights" with the music already featuring in videos on its platform.
Still, despite that and various other risks, plus the $196 million in losses the company made in the last year, you should definitely all invest! Pre-IPO filings are always fun reading.
Campaign group proposes £25 'tent tax' to reduce dumping at festivals
Earlier this year, Glastonbury reported that less than 1% of tents at the festival had been left behind this time. However, despite on-site efforts to convince music fans at Reading and Leeds earlier this month to leave their campsites clean - boosted by support from Billie Eilish and Twenty One Pilots - hundreds of people still left their tents behind.
Now campaign group Clean Up Britain is calling for a refundable £25 deposit on camping tickets, in the hope that hitting people's wallets will change their behaviour.
"It's very sad to see so many tents abandoned", Clean Up Britain founder John Read tells The Telegraph. "It almost seems like a visual metaphor for Britain's disposable society - why do they need to be left there and dumped?"
Speaking to the BBC, he said that any money raised from the proposed "tent tax" should be used to fund the clean-up and disposal of dumped tents.
The proposal has been supported by Keep Britain Tidy, whose CEO Allison Ogden-Newton tells the Evening Standard: "Research indicates festivals annually contribute about 23,500 tonnes of rubbish to landfill - mainly tents and other camping equipment. We need to harness that and really get people thinking about their waste footprint at festivals. Secondly it might make the manufacturers think about producing such cheap and nasty, single use tents and then selling them at low prices".
Reading and Leeds organisers have not yet responded to the idea. Although there are potential logistical issues with the plan. Processing thousands of festival-goers as they leave the site would likely cause large queues. It may also be difficult to work out who had dumped their tent and who didn't have one because they'd been sharing with someone else.
Plus, more affluent festival-goers might feel that the £25 fee clears their conscience as they discard their shitty supermarket tent before heading home - ie viewing it more as a disposal fee than an eco-tax.
Still, it is clear that something needs to be done about this issue, so the idea's probably worth considering, even if it is a non-starter.
Global Radio's Gold reprimanded over racist lyrics
The song in question, 'Melting Pot' by Blue Mink, was a number three hit in the UK in 1970, and ultimately promotes a message of racial harmony. However, it does so while referring to "yellow Chinkies", "red Indians" and "curly Latin kinkies". See, things were just a little bit different back then.
Ofcom received a complaint about the song after it was played without introduction or any contextualising by a presenter. The regulator agreed that several of the terms used in the song were now generally understood to be pejorative and therefore likely to offend.
Responding, Global acknowledged that the language used in the song would not be acceptable on many radio stations today. However, it said that Gold's position as a "station well known and loved for its playlist of hits from the 60s and 70s" meant that the track was unlikely to cause offence to its audience.
That does make it sound a bit like it's saying that the station's audience is old and racist so will therefore be fine with old racial slurs. Though I think it means that they'd recognise that what language is and is not deemed acceptable has changed over time. But also that they wouldn't mind hearing said unacceptable language now, so maybe 'old and racist' stands.
Whether or not the average Gold listener likes hearing racist lyrics on the radio as they go about their day or not, those listeners are going to have to search a bit harder to find them in the future, because Global has banned 'Melting Pot' from its Gold playlist.
Another of Ofcom's concerns was that, although the song had been a hit, it wasn't well known enough now for people to understand the context in which it was written. Although people may have come across it in other forms since.
Steve Coogan sang it in an episode of 'I'm Alan Partridge' in 1997. Various other acts have covered it too, including Culture Club and Boyzone, the latter of whom included it on their 1996 album 'A Different Beat'. Recognising the potential for offence with some of the lyrics, Ronan Keating and co changed 'yellow Chinkies' to 'Oriental sexy'. Oh well.
Global to launch five new stations, starting with Heart 90s
All five new outlets will be spin-offs of existing Global brands. The first just launched this morning and is called Heart 90s. It will be playing "non-stop 90s feel good classics". I bet you're feeling good already, just knowing this new radio station exists. Admit it!
"We're incredibly excited to reveal the latest addition to the Heart brand", says the Heart network's Managing Editor James Rea. "The playlist is pure 90s feel good nostalgia and Heart 90s will celebrate the greatest hits from this iconic decade, which produced some of biggest feel-good records of all time".
Those of you feeling nostalgic for the 90s rise of indie and the Britpop revolution, or those years when grunge made it into the charts, or 1990s rave culture and the dance genres it helped bring to the mainstream, really need to remember that this is Heart 90s. Take That, Spice Girls, George Michael, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears all get namechecked in the station's definition of the decade's "feel good classics".
Details of the other four new stations are to be announced over the next few days, though Rea has very much implied there'll be another Heart spin-off among them.
After being given a 24 hour deadline to withdraw from the class action lawsuit over the 2008 Universal archive fire, Soundgarden have refused. Their attorney, Howard King, tells Rolling Stone: "Arbitrary deadlines [from Universal's lawyers] have zero force or effect. Until UMG reveals what it collected for their litigation claims to extensive damage to master recordings, we cannot accept their belated claim that no damages were actually suffered".
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Diplo has announced the launch of a new house label, Higher Ground. Its first release will be 'Rave Grave' by Walker & Royce on 25 Sep. "House is where it all came from", says the producer. "Everything we know and love as dance music today started with the masters in Chicago and Detroit almost forty years ago. The genre has always been incredibly important to me, and Higher Ground is our homage to the legends and opportunity to champion new sounds and artists from around the world pushing the genre forward".
In the run up to National Album Day look out for album-themed exhibitions in the following UK railway stations: Glasgow Central, Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street and London Bridge. Why? What do you mean "why"? How the fuck should I know?
Sentric Music has promoted Simon Pursehouse to Global Director Of Music Services and Sabine Douglas to Head Of Business Operations. Meanwhile, the company has also hired Ashley Smith as Finance Manager and Luke Montague as Royalty Manager. "These latest staff promotions and additions will bolster our growth and ensure our clients continue to receive excellent creative and business support across the board", says CEO Chris Meehan.
AG Cook has released 'Lifeline', his first solo single since 2016. It features backing vocals from Caroline Polachek, trivia fans.
Liz has released new Kim Petras collaboration 'Btr 2gthr'. It was written, she says, during "a two-day tequila dance party at the studio" and was inspired by German happy hardcore outfit Scooter.
Cigarettes After Sex will release their second album, 'Cry', on 25 Oct. Out now, first single 'Heavenly' is "inspired by the overwhelming beauty I felt watching an endless sunset on a secluded beach in Latvia one summer night", according to frontman Greg Gonzalez.
Sunn o))) have announced that they will release their second album of the year, titled 'Pyroclasts', on 25 Oct. Its four tracks are taken from the same sessions as 'Life Metal', which was released in April. Here's a preview.
Jenny Hval has released new single 'High Alice'. The track is taken from her new album, 'The Practice Of Love', which is out on 13 Sep.
Mr Ben And The Bens have announced that they will release their debut album, 'Who Knows Jenny Jones?', on 25 Oct. Here's first single 'Transmissions'. The band will also be on tour in the UK in October and November.
GIGS & TOURS
Blanck Mass will tour the UK in November and December, including a date at The Scala in London 26 Nov. His new album, 'Animated Violence Mild', is out this Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
BBC Radio 2 announces Beatles-only pop-up station
How will they ever fill four days with nothing but stuff relating to the band The Beatles though? Well, by finding some famous fans of the band The Beatles to present a show.
And it turns out there's plenty of them. Gary Barlow will interview Paul McCartney about his memories of being in the band The Beatles. Dave Grohl, Jack Savoretti and Tom Odell will discuss how the band The Beatles influenced them. And the likes of Guy Garvey, Cerys Matthews, Katie Melua and Level 42's Mark King will perform songs by the band The Beatles with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
There will also be special editions of existing Radio 2 shows focussed entirely on the band The Beatles. Plus Lauren Laverne will present a show called 'Desert Island Beatles', rounding up all the times guests on Radio 4's 'Desert Island Discs' have chosen songs by the band The Beatles. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Basically, it's as much as I could be bothered to list. But rest assured, there'll be plenty more nonsense related to the band The Beatles airing over those four days.
"The Beatles are woven into the fabric of UK culture", screams Head Of Radio 2 Lewis Carnie. "They inspired and continue to inspire artists of all generations and created some of the world's most loved music. As their seminal album 'Abbey Road' is 50 years old, I am delighted that Radio 2 is celebrating the Fab Four with a four day pop up DAB radio station".
Being both famous and the person who got to speak to an actual member of the band The Beatles, Gary Barlow also gets to provide a quote. He says this: "It was an absolute honour that Paul McCartney, one of my true heroes and a legendary songwriting genius, agreed to talk in depth about his work for my Radio 2 series 'We Write The Songs'".
Oh yeah, Gary Barlow is also doing a series of 'Gary Barlow interviews other songwriters about songwriting and stuff' shows for Radio 2. That's the other reason he got a quote. But we're here to talk about the band The Beatles! Stop trying to muscle other plugs in, Barlow! Now say something about the band The Beatles.
"I am THRILLED", adds he, "to launch my first series on the network as part of Radio 2 Beatles, which sounds like it is going to be four days of unmissable radio".
But when will you be able to try your best to miss this whole venture? Well, Radio 2 Beatles will air from 26-29 Sep somewhere on the DAB dial. Some stuff will also be simulcast on actual Radio 2 and the BBC Sounds app as well.