|MONDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Eight members of Congress in the US last week sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai requesting that the web giant participate in a roundtable discussion all about YouTube's Content ID technology. Although the lawmakers ask an assortment of questions, a key concern seems to be why the rights management platform is not available to a wider range of copyright owners... [READ MORE]|
US Congress asks why YouTube Content ID is not more widely available to copyright owners
Content ID, of course, is the platform YouTube has developed to help copyright owners more easily spot when videos are uploaded to the site that contain their content. Employing clever content recognition technology, it automates much of the monitoring process, and then allows the copyright owner to either block any video that contains their content without permission, or to take any advertising income said video generates.
YouTube is obliged to offer some kind of takedown system for copyright owners via which they can demand the removal of content they own when it is uploaded without licence. Without such a system YouTube would lose safe harbour protection under copyright law and could be held liable for copyright infringing materials on its servers.
The music industry in particular doesn't like the fact that YouTube claims such safe harbour protection. Though at the same time, it would probably acknowledge that Content ID is a pretty good takedown system, especially when it comes to spotting sound recordings contained in uploaded videos.
Plus royalties from user-generated content platforms are set to become a key growth revenue stream for the music industry in the years ahead and Content ID - and platforms like it - play a crucial role in enabling all of that.
The eight Congress members who wrote to Pachai last week acknowledged the benefits of Content ID, writing in their letter that "we appreciate Google's efforts to combat the illegal distribution of content on YouTube". However, they then said: "We are concerned that copyright holders with smaller catalogues of works cannot utilise" the copyright tools.
As a content creator and copyright owner there are different levels at which you can interact with YouTube, and the Google site has set criteria for who qualifies for what.
Anyone can set up a YouTube channel, but you have to have a certain number of subscribers and views before you can become a full-on content partner and monetise your videos. Access to Content ID is then further restricted, so that in music most artists and smaller labels would need to work with a distributor to utilise the rights management system.
Expanding on this point, the Congress members' letter goes on: "It has come to our attention that access to the Content ID system is only granted to companies that 'own exclusive rights to a substantial body of original material that is frequently uploaded to the YouTube user community'. We are concerned that copyright holders with smaller catalogues of works cannot utilise Content ID, making it more difficult or impossible for them to effectively protect their copyright works from infringement and, ultimately, impacting their livelihoods".
"We have heard from copyright holders who have been denied access to Content ID tools", it goes on, "and [who] as a result are at a significant disadvantage to prevent the repeated uploading of content that they have previously identified as infringing. They are left with the choice of spending hours each week seeking out and sending notices about the same copyrighted works, or allowing their intellectual property to be misappropriated".
The letter then suggests a range of topics that the Congress members would like to discuss with Google and YouTube reps. That includes some inquiries about how Content ID works but also, more importantly, about the criteria YouTube uses in deciding who should enjoy access to it. And also if it plans to expand access to a wider range of copyright owners. And if not, why not.
The letter then asks: "Other than YouTube, on what Google platforms is Content ID used to identify and block infringing material? For example, do you use it to block the distribution of infringing material on Blogger, Google Photos and Google Drive, among others? If not, do you plan to implement Content ID or similar safeguards on these platforms?".
Which is an interesting question because, while the music industry's Google feuding has been very YouTube centric in recent years, when it comes to takedown, Content ID is a pretty good system. Whereas music companies have long argued that the takedown process on Google search could and should be much more effective, especially when it comes to the concept of takedown and stay down, which is what Content ID seeks to achieve on YouTube.
It remains to be seen how Google responds to the Congress members' questions and their request for a roundtable to discuss these matters further.
Appeals court upholds fair use ruling in "party and bullshit" copyright case
The notable line, taken from Oyewole's poem 'When The Revolution Comes', appeared in the Notorious BIG's 1993 track actually called 'Party And Bullshit'. But Oyewole didn't go legal until 2016, after Ora had in turn sampled the Biggie Smalls track on her debut single in 2012, that being 'How We Do (Party)'.
In his legal filing, the spoken word artist said that he had decided not to take legal action in the 1990s because he did not want to cause "hassle" for the family of the Notorious BIG after the rapper was murdered in 1997. However, he chose to pursue litigation in 2016 after Ora's record had brought the sample back into the spotlight.
In March last year a New York court rejected the case after concluding that the inclusion of the snippet of Oyewole's poem in both the Biggie and Ora tracks was protected by the US copyright principle of fair use.
The newer works, the court said, had transformed the line into something entirely new. In the original poem "party and bullshit" had a negative connotation, whereas in the subsequent tracks it was used positively. All of which meant that fair use applied.
Oyewole appealed that judgement hoping that a higher court would overturn the fair use conclusion and instead rule that both Biggie and Ora had infringed his copyright. But last week the Second Circuit appeals court declined to do any of that, stating that the lower court had reached a "thorough and well-reasoned opinion".
According to Law360, the Second Circuit added: "We have considered Oyewole's remaining arguments on fair use and conclude, also for the reasons ably stated by the district court, that they are without merit".
For more on the US copyright principle of fair use, check out this week's Setlist, a special edition discussing the long-running dancing baby case.
South African ISPs criticise web-blocking proposals
With web-blocking, copyright owners can demand that ISPs block their users from accessing piracy websites. Quite how the blocks are instigated varies from country to country, but in the UK copyright owners must first get an injunction from the courts.
ISPs often hit out at web-blocking whenever it is first proposed, arguing that the system could be open to abuse - raising free speech concerns - and, anyway, web-blocks are easy to circumvent for anyone who is just a little bit web-savvy.
Copyright owners usually counter that, assuming some sort of judicial process is employed, there are protectors against any abuse of the system. Judges can ensure that only websites that primarily exist to facilitate widespread copyright infringement are targeted. And while it is true that the blockades can be easily by-passed, anything that makes accessing illegal sites more of a hassle makes using licensed content platforms more attractive.
In South Africa, the government is currently working on a new Cybercrimes Bill. And while that legislation doesn't currently include a web-blocking system, some copyright owners reckon that it should. Which is why the country's ISPA was last week talking to website MyBroadband about the possibility of web-blocking being introduced in South Africa.
A spokesperson said: "Blocking is technically complicated and subject to false positives, yet it is relatively trivial for consumers and content providers to bypass the blocks, bringing its effectiveness into question. There are also complex freedom of expression concerns which are not for ISPs or copyright associations to resolve and which need to be properly ventilated through the courts".
While conceding that web-blocks might have a limited positive impact in the fight against online piracy, the ISPA said the tactic was a "blunt and limited" solution.
The spokesperson added: "It is not clear that there will be any significant benefit to copyright holder associations and their members from this approach and certainly no indication that any positive impact will outweigh the risks to freedom of expression and access to information ... as well as the cost of implementation".
It's not entirely apparent how much appetite there is among South African lawmakers to include web-blocking in their new legislation. Although, in most countries, once web-blocking has been allowed, ISPs have generally stopped grumbling about it all and got on with implementing any blocks ordered by the courts.
Mike Walsh to depart Radio X
Walsh had a stint in radio promotions at EMI before moving into the radio business itself in the early 2000s. He also worked for Century FM during his early years at what was then the Capital Radio Group, but is best known in the industry as Head Of Music at Radio X and its predecessor Xfm. He also played a key role in keeping the music industry on side when there was an initial backlash to the way Global relaunched Xfm under its current brand.
Most recently both Head Of Music and Deputy Programme Director at Radio X, Walsh wrote in his note: "I will be leaving Radio X, and Global, in a couple of weeks - my last day will be Fri 20 Sep. It has been a pleasure and a privilege working with some of the best people I know but, after eighteen years, it is definitely time for a break and something new".
He went on: "Xfm and Radio X have been the most amount of fun and I am so proud to say that I'll be leaving it in great shape with some record numbers and an excellent team in place. Thank you to all the artists, industry and friends for always being an inspiration, and see you soon for the next chapter".
UK Music calls on government to ensure that music benefits from new education funding
UK Music's CEO Michael Dugher says that there is a "deepening crisis" in music education, which in turn threatens the future of the UK's music industry. "News of increased funding for state schools from the Chancellor is very welcome", he said in a statement. "Music contributes £4.5 billion to the economy. If we want to produce the stars of tomorrow, we've got to invest in talent for the future. That's why the government should halt the decline of music in education to boost funding and support the industry's talent pipeline".
Noting that an increasing number of music makers were educated in private schools, with children at these institutions far more likely to receive sustained music tuition than those at state schools, he goes on: "We look forward to working with the government to ensure we have a broad and balanced curriculum in education and that we have universal access to music in state schools for all children, regardless of their background".
In addition to Javid's commitment on education spending, Dugher also welcomed the government's plans to launch a fund to invest in youth centres. Ministers should also continue to support other initiatives that benefit musicians at different stages in their careers, he added, including the BPI-managed Music Export Growth Scheme, which allows artists who have gained momentum in the UK to explore new opportunities in new markets.
"Supporting music in education must be part of the government's plan to strengthen Britain's economy", he concluded. "Supporting Britain's world-leading music in the global market is essential, which is why the government should [also] continue to support things like the BPI's Music Export Growth Scheme with its record of success delivering impressive returns from relatively small amounts of government investment".
Whether these calls for increased music education spending will be heard remains to be seen. Following successive cuts to the education budget - £2.8 billion since 2015 alone - the National Education Union says that at least £12.6 billion is needed by 2022 to reverse these cuts and ensure proper funding for schools. With the union saying that many schools and areas of learning will remain dramatically underfunded despite Javid's new commitments, things possibly don't bode well for any imminent new investment in music education.
Auntie Flo wins Scottish Album Of The Year Award
At a ceremony at Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms last week, d'Souza was handed his trophy and £20,000 in prize money. The other nine shortlisted artists also received £1000 each.
"'Radio Highlife' is absolute proof that Scotland's music travels a two-way street with the rest of the world", says Alan Morrison, Head Of Music at Creative Scotland. "Brian d'Souza has brought the sunshine of Africa into The SAY Award and gives us a worthy winner. Congratulations to him and to all of the shortlisted nominees".
Robert Kilpatrick, General Manager of the Scottish Music Industry Association, adds: "This year's campaign saw 293 eligible albums submitted, the highest number of any SAY Award campaign to date. Not only does this highlight the fact that Scotland's recorded output is in great health, but it also shows that in spite of being in the age of algorithm-driven playlists, the album as a format still deeply matters to both artists and music fans".
Previous winners of the prize include Youth Fathers, Anna Meredith, Kathryn Joseph and RM Hubbert.
Björk last week released all the VR gubbins she created for 2015 album 'Vulnicura' via the Steam and Vive Port platforms. She says: "The VR videos have been touring museums around the world as part of the Björk Digital exhibition, but now that it is possible to put them all out on an accessible gaming platform available to everyone, I am THRILLED for people to be able to download them in their own home".
Tove Lo has released new Kylie Minogue collaboration 'Don't Really Like U'.
Steve Aoki and the Backstreet Boys have released new collaboration 'Let It Be Me'. "Being able to work with these guys was so organic and effortless", says Aoki. "Our collaboration with Steve came about in a very organic way", add the Backstreet Boys. No pesticides here.
Korn have released new single 'Can You Hear Me'. They've also announced a new six-part drama podcast titled 'The Nothing' to promote their new album of the same name.
Prophets Of Rage have released new single 'Pop Goes The Weapon'. "Guns are both the subject of religious worship AND huge profits in the United States", says guitarist Tom Morello. "Combined with emboldened white nationalism, the recent epidemic of massacres is little surprise. 'Pop Goes The Weapon' channels our 'thoughts and prayers' through Marshall stacks and microphones".
Tegan & Sara have released new single 'Hey, I'm Just Like You'. "Tegan and I were dirtbags in high school", says Sara. "Stoned on acid, sneaking out, skipping school, lying to our parents. But we were also having the time of our lives. On acid, Tegan seemed like the funniest, coolest person in the universe. All the animosity and fighting melted away, and we were returned to the original joy of our friendship and delivered back into the wonder of our childhood. This is the origin of this song".
The Avett Brothers have released new single 'Bang Bang'. Their new album, 'Closer Than Together', is out on 4 Oct.
Daedelus will release new album 'The Bittereinders' on 20 Sep. Listen to new single 'Veldt' here.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Supergrass reunite for Glastonbury's Pilton Party
The band had been rumoured to be playing the show - organised each year as a thank you to festival workers and people living nearby the event - since July. Confirming it to be true shortly before taking to the stage on Friday, the band also announced plans to tour and to release a retrospective boxset next year.
The band split in 2009 amid recording sessions for their never-released 'Release The Drones' album.
Saying that getting back together now "was something we all instinctively agreed would be a cool thing to do", frontman Gaz Coombes tells the NME: "I think there was an irreverence and a joy to our band, and a lack of earnest pretence. We didn't take things too seriously and that would come across in a lot of different ways. But we had the tunes to back it up too".
"I don't know what's different these days", he adds of the music industry ten years on from their split. "I find the music industry quite exciting at the moment because it's so new and embryonic in so many ways. It's quite mad. Where the fuck is it going to go?"
"I'm quite interested to be on that journey and see where it goes", he then admits. "I'm fascinated to see where Supergrass fits in with all that next year. We're going to have a laugh and bring that Supergrass energy and joy into a slightly disturbed world".
The next dose of that will come tonight when Supergrass play Oslo in Hackney. Although that show is very much sold out already. Sorry. You'll have to wait until next year for the anniversary tour proper to see them again.
Here are the UK and Ireland dates they've booked in:
14 Feb: Dublin, Olympia Theatre