|WEDNESDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The big 'Stairway To Heaven' copyright dispute was back in court on Monday, and one copyright technicality in particular was in the spotlight: the rule that only the specific version of a song as logged with the US Copyright Office enjoys copyright protection. In the back and forth on that one issue, the judges gave the plaintiffs in the case quite a bit of grief... [READ MORE]|
Tough questions for the plaintiffs in latest Stairway To Heaven song-theft court hearing
Led Zeppelin, as you may remember, were sued by the estate of songwriter Randy Wolfe, aka Randy California. Its lawsuit alleged that 'Stairway To Heaven' ripped off Wolfe's song 'Taurus'. But the band successfully defeated the litigation in 2016 when a jury concluded that the two songs were not sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement.
The Wolfe estate then appealed that ruling in early 2017, arguing that the jury had been badly briefed by the judge, in particular regarding some of the complexities of American copyright law that were relevant to the case. The Ninth Circuit appeals court ultimately concurred with the estate, overturning the original judgement and ordering a retrial.
Though, before that retrial could happen in the court that originally heard the case, the Ninth Circuit announced it would consider the matter anew. This time en banc, so that more judges would be involved in the court's deliberations. And that new consideration, en banc, began on Monday, with lawyers for both sides being questioned by judges.
There are various technicalities at play in this case, but it was the 'only-protected-as-filed' principle of American copyright law that seemed to get the most attention at this week's hearing. This rule is most limiting on pre-1978 songs, like 'Taurus', because in that era when songs were registered only the sheet music could be filed.
Therefore, technically, only the song as represented in the sheet music enjoys copyright protection. Any elements that appear in the most famous recording of the work, but not contained in the sheet music, are therefore not protected by the song copyright.
Which is annoying if you think your pre-1978 song has been ripped off by another song, but the ripped off elements are mainly those that appeared in your original recording, not the sheet music that accompanied that recording. Which is basically what happened in this case (and also the 'Blurred Lines' song theft case - as we discuss in this Setlist special here).
The lawyer for the Wolfe estate, Francis Malofiy, has been busy arguing that this is a stupid principle, not least because many famous musicians - Led Zep's Jimmy Page among them - can't read or write music, and therefore their songwriting is more directly captured in the studio. A third party would then document the resulting song in sheet music form.
According to the Associated Press, in court on Monday he said of this reliance on the registered sheet music: "Why are we looking at this artificial analysis that never happened in the real world? It's wrong, it's artificial, it's imaginary".
However, in a recent amicus brief filed with the court, both the US Copyright Office and the US Department Of Justice stated that the only-protected-as-filed principle definitely is part of the country's copyright regime and should therefore be applied in this case. And on Monday, it felt like the Ninth Circuit judges were inclined to agree.
Another technicality in the case - which was where the initial Ninth Circuit hearing decided that the judge in the original case had badly advised jurors - relates to when the common elements between two songs are frequently used musical units.
Those musical units in themselves cannot be protected by copyright, but the way they are selected and arranged might be. And this is another copyright complexity that needs to be navigated to decide whether 'Stairway' infringes 'Taurus'.
Although, one of the judges hearing the case on Monday - Andrew D Hurwitz - was pretty adamant that, unless the most famous recordings of 'Stairway' and 'Taurus' can also be considered, there simply isn't enough similarity between the sheet music representations of the two songs to bother debating the 'selection and arrangement' point.
"You've got to get your sound recording in to win, don't you?" he asked Malofiy. "You lose the case unless you do. A hundred times out of a hundred".
We now await to see how this take two Ninth Circuit hearing rules. But you sense this larger panel of judges is more likely to uphold the lower court ruling.
Monokrome launches new rights hub for managing catalogue assets
The new set-up allows music people and companies to store all the assets associated with their releases in one place. That includes the actual content, relevant contracts, meta data and accompanying publishing and performing rights information.
Building and expanding on the company's past data management services, Monokrome says the new Rights Hub is designed to make it easier to selectively and securely share assets in a consistent way with both new and existing business partners, "eliminating the need for double data entry". Access to the platform is via a monthly subscription which depends on catalogue size, but starts at £15 for catalogues of up to 50 tracks.
Launching the new service, Monokrome Music CEO Lee Morrison says: "In this increasingly data-driven music industry it's imperative that labels and others stay on top of their contractual obligations. We're proud to launch Rights Hub as an affordable, one-stop solution for music rightsholders to manage all of their data and assets in a clear, easy and concise way"
"All too often both artists and labels lose out because rightsholders are unable to maintain full and accurate records of rights and the relevant contractual terms", he goes on. "Many labels are acting outside of the rights granted to them - exposing them to potential litigation - while many artists and producers are seeing the continued exploitation of their rights after the contractual term with a partner has expired, losing them money and reducing the control they have over their creative output".
Believe acquires Indian events company
"Our vision is to inspire audiences through extraordinary live music experiences and this new step is the perfect opportunity for us to scale up and expand our offering", says De Sylva. "Believe will amplify what we're able to provide through the power of one of the true global leaders bringing together technology and services to connect audiences with music".
Discussing his company's move into live music in the Indian market, Believe CEO Denis Ladegaillerie adds: "Subramanian and Warren have uniquely brought live music experiences that bring artists, brands and consumers together. We have been growing quickly to a leadership position in the Indian market and with Entco's expertise, Believe will have unparalleled ability to help creators in India build audiences, careers and revenue opportunities".
Dice launches in Italy
The company's Chief Revenue Officer, Russ Tannen, says: "We're on a mission to get people out more, and that means making ticketing fairer and helping fans discover amazing shows. Dice was founded to fix a broken ticketing system. We decided to offer an alternative: building a tout-beating platform with only fans in mind. Dice is already working in Italy - since we went on sale exclusively with FKA Twigs in Milan, not one single ticket has ended up on a secondary ticketing site".
Italy passed a Secondary Ticketing Act last year to crack down on ticket touting in the country, which may also have helped with that. Although earlier this year Italian primary ticketing company TicketOne said that the authorities were not doing enough to enforce the new rules and that unofficial reselling remains a problem.
Also commenting on the partnership that got Dice into Italy, Radar Concerti's Giorgio Riccitelli says: "By working only with Dice, we're protecting our fans with secure, mobile tickets that don't end up on secondary ticketing sites. However, it isn't just a ticketing platform - Dice helps fans discover new events and music, helping us propel our events to a new, wider, and engaged audience. We're THRILLED to be working with a company that places fans at the heart of everything it does".
Based in the UK, Dice also has offices in the US, France and Australia.
Ed Sheeran designs Blue Peter music badge
BBC Music Day is tomorrow, by the way, and the new music themed badge will be officially unveiled on a special edition of 'Blue Peter', at 5.30pm. As well as Sheeran himself, Paul McCartney will also appear on the show.
"I've always loved 'Blue Peter' and even got the chance to present the show a while back, so I'm made up that I got to design their first ever badge for BBC Music Day", says Sheeran. "Music was really important to me growing up and I hope this badge will inspire more kids to get into it".
Kids who want to get their hands on the Sheeran-designed badge need to write in to the programme and explain how they enjoy making music. Is it really that easy to get a 'Blue Peter' badge? I always thought there was more to it than that. You can download an application form for this and all the various other 'Blue Peter' badges here.
After you've watched 'Blue Peter' on CBBC tomorrow, you can watch Mark Ronson reading a bedtime story on CBeebies at 6.50pm. There's other BBC Music Day stuff going on too, but you can look that up for yourself.
Ben Watt announces new solo album, Storm Damage
"I needed a fresh approach", says Watt of his fourth solo LP. "The album came out of an intense period of personal anguish and political anger. Sometimes repeating yourself musically feels disrespectful to the sharpness of your feelings. You have to search for a new way to capture the energy".
"My closest half-brother died unexpectedly in 2016, only four years after my half-sister", he continues. "I got stuck for a year, angry inside and angry at the political world casually detonating around me. I felt half powerless, half driven. When the songs finally came, some were dark, yes, but there is always room for light. Always. I just tried to put that across".
The first single from the album is 'Sunlight Follows The Night'. Watch the video here.
The album will be released on 31 Jan. Tour dates will follow. Here they are:
27 Feb: Leeds, Belgrave Music Hall
The xx have extended their publishing deal with Universal. "It's a huge privilege and compliment that after ten years they continue to trust all of us at Universal Music Publishing with their songs", says Universal Music Publishing's Director Of A&R Mark Gale.
Now United - the new pop group brought together by veteran artist manager and 'Idol' creator Simon Fuller - have announced a label services deal with Kobalt's AWAL, covering global distribution, marketing strategy, playlist pitching and more. "With Now United I am exploring a whole new approach to launching a music act and am loving the freedom to experiment", says Fuller.
Sony/ATV has signed a new publishing deal with producer/songwriter Jonas Blue. "We are over the moon", says Sony/ATV's David Ventura. "We couldn't be happier", says Jonas Blue's manager Aaron Ross. "I am THRILLED", says Jonas Blue.
Glastonbury Festival has received approval to increase its capacity by 7000 to 210,000 in 2020. According to reports, the additional spaces will be reserved for people who travel to the event via public transport.
Creamfields has announced that it is investing £2 million to fund improvements at the site of its UK festival in Daresbury, Cheshire. Next year will mark the festival's fifteenth anniversary at the venue. It will take place on 27-30 Aug.
DIGITAL & DIRECT TO FAN
Spotify has launched the latest version of its Spotify For Artists smartphone app. Among other things, it allows you to see exactly how many people are listening to your music across the planet at any given time. So that's fun, if nothing else.
Sticking with Spotify, the streaming firm has launched two new personalised playlists, On Repeat and Repeat Rewind. The first collects all the tracks you've played more than twice in the last month, the second all the stuff you previously had on heavy rotation that maybe you forgot about. Because it's not all about discovery, is it?
Renée Zellweger and Sam Smith have released 'Get Happy', taken from the soundtrack of new Judy Garland biopic 'Judy'. "Nobody could have played Judy as well as Renée, and it is a career highlight for me to be singing with her, and in some small way, with Judy", says Smith.
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds will release the first part of a two part album, titled 'Ghosteen', on 4 Oct. "The songs on the first album are the children", says Cave. "The songs on the second album are their parents. 'Ghosteen' is a migrating spirit". The album will be previewed on UK at 10pm UK time on 3 Oct. More info here.
Jimmy Eat World will release their tenth studio album, 'Surviving', on 18 Oct. They've also announced a handful of release week shows in the UK. Here's new single, 'All The Way (Stay)'.
David Hasselhoff has released a cover of The Jesus & Mary Chain's 'Head On' featuring The Cars' Elliot Easton. Because, well, of course he has. The track is taken from new album 'Open Your Eyes', which is out on Friday.
Cate Le Bon and Bradford Cox have teamed up for a new EP as part of Mexican Summer's 'Myths' series, out 1 Nov. From it, this is 'Secretary'.
Wiki has released new Madlib collaboration, 'Eggs'.
Drillminister has released new track, 'Choke', tackling London's air pollution.
Oh Sees have released the video for 'Gholü' from their new album, 'Face Stabber'.
GIGS & TOURS
Blink 182 will play an acoustic set at Pryzm in Kingston-Upon-Thames on 18 Oct.
Sam Fender will be heading out on a tour of the UK in March and April next year, including a performance at Alexandra Palace in London on 27 Mar. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Razorlight have announced UK tour dates in December, finishing up at Electric Brixton on 14 Dec. Tickets on sale Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Lewis Capaldi hoping to increase Tinder matches with plane tickets
Capaldi is offering to fly two people over to New York in order to hook up with him. He'll be playing a gig the same night, so he's throwing in some tickets for that too.
"I'm very excited to have teamed up with the people at Tinder to give two lucky people the chance to fly out to New York to meet your favourite big lovely handsome celebrity (me)", he says. "I'm yet to find love and Tinder Gold is the only lifeline I have left before I'm resigned to a lifetime living at home with my mother".
Yeah, he's doing this to push Tinder's top level premium option. You don't have to be paying to be in with a chance to bag the date though. Just find his profile and swipe right like you would anyone else. Well, not anyone. But anyone offering to fly you to New York. I haven't read the full terms and conditions, but I don't think you're expected to sleep with Capaldi.