|MONDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify has responded to the lawsuit filed against it by Eminem's publishing company Eight Mile Style, seeking to have the case dismissed on jurisdiction grounds. It also promises to show "at the appropriate time" why the case is "meritless"... [READ MORE]|
Spotify seeks to have Eminem mechanicals case dismissed on jurisdiction grounds
The lawsuit, filed by the Eminem company last month, accuses Spotify of copyright infringement for failing to properly license the mechanical rights in the rapper's musical works. Most of the claims in the lawsuit mirror earlier litigation by other songwriters and music publishers that correctly claim that - although there is a compulsory licence covering the mechanical rights in songs in the US - that licence only applies if the appropriate paperwork is filed with the copyright owner or the US Copyright Office.
It was the flurry of earlier lawsuits on this very issue that led to last year's Music Modernization Act. The streaming services and some within the music community argued that, while plenty of songs streamed by digital platforms in the US hadn't been properly licensed, that was in no small part because of the lack of a decent music rights database that links recordings to songs. In most other countries a collecting society takes responsibility for that matching work, reducing the obligations of the streaming companies.
The MMA sets up such a collecting society in the US, and work is now underway to get it established. The streaming companies pledged to pay for the set up and running of that society on the condition that a line would be drawn in the sand and no more lawsuits could be filed by copyright owners claiming so called 'statutory damages' for missing paperwork and unpaid mechanical royalties.
The Eight Mile Style litigation, which is claiming good old statutory damages for those precise failings, acknowledges this fact, but claims that Spotify has not met all the obligations set out in the MMA in order to avoid new litigation over past unpaid mechanicals. On top of that, it also claims that the elements of the MMA that prevent new litigation of this kind are unconstitutional. And in its legal filing last week, Spotify noted all this.
Eight Mile Style, it stated, acknowledges "that Congress recently enacted the Music Modernization Act - which on its face precludes them from pursuing claims for statutory and other damages (apart from unpaid royalties). They claim that the act's limitation on liability is unconstitutional and must be struck down. Plaintiffs also claim that the act's limitation on liability is inapplicable because Spotify allegedly did not comply with certain requirements under the statute. Spotify denies these allegations and will show at the appropriate time why plaintiffs' claims are meritless".
However, proving, supposedly, that Eight Mile Style's claims about the MMA are "meritless" is for another day. Most of last week's legal submission took issue with the Eminem publisher filing its litigation with a court in Nashville, Tennessee, when the music firm itself is based in Michigan, while Spotify's US HQ is in New York. To that end it plans to request the case be dismissed outright, or at least be moved to a court in New York State.
In the shorter term, and with all this in mind, Spotify wants the Nashville court to postpone a planned case management conference, due to take place on 21 Oct. On the basis that such a hearing would be a waste of time if the streaming firm is successful in having the case either thrown out of court or moved into the New York jurisdiction.
For their part, legal reps for Eight Mile Style confirmed that they will oppose that postponement, and to that end on Friday they requested that the court make no decisions on anything just yet. They will file their arguments as to why the 21 Oct hearing should go ahead as planned by next Monday.
So, expect plenty more back and forth on this one in the weeks ahead.
New York court allows boosted copyright case against Peloton, sought damages double to $300 million
More than a dozen independent publishers sued Peloton earlier this year accusing it of making use of their songs without licence. Peloton makes fitness machines that come with screens via which users can access workout videos. The lawsuit alleged that some of those videos contained unlicensed music controlled by the plaintiffs.
Peloton then countersued in April, mainly on competition law grounds. It alleged that it had previously had good relationships with most of the publishers involved in the legal dispute and was negotiating licensing deals with many of them. Those relationships only fell apart, it then claimed, because of interference by America's National Music Publishers Association. The publishers were disparaging of those claims.
Last week the music firms got court approval to amend their original lawsuit adding more plaintiffs and allegedly infringed songs. In doing so, the statutory damages being pursued in the litigation double to a neat $300 million.
The publishers also sought court assistance in gathering evidence from the fitness firm, in particular access to the videos that contained the allegedly unlicensed songs. Peloton has offered the plaintiffs a free subscription in order to access its video library, but also admitted that it had removed any clips that contained songs listing in the original lawsuit.
The music firms want Peloton to provide copies of the removed videos on CD, something the fitness outfit said would prove costly and time-consuming. But, according to Law360, the judge hearing the case wasn't impressed with that argument, noting that the alternative proposal of a free subscription was a pretty "empty" offer, given most of the offending videos had been taken offline.
Earlier in the proceedings Peloton took issue with how long it had taken for the publishers to amend their lawsuit, reckoning that they were "playing games" by filing their boosted claim on the eve of its IPO. But the judge said that, given the number of videos containing allegedly unlicensed songs, the delay on the publishers' side was reasonable.
She then asked how the Peloton IPO was going, the company having officially listed earlier that day. Legal reps for the firm said they didn't know. The answer was "not well". The firm's share price slipped 11.2% of its first day of trading. And while there are various reasons for that, the pending $300 million copyright infringement claim doesn't help.
The case continues.
Missing data shouldn't stop labels presenting its evidence in Cox copyright case, judge reckons
The major record companies, of course, are trying to hold Cox liable of its users' copyright infringement. Internet firms usually claim safe harbour protection from such liability, but the music industry argues that ISPs like Cox should not enjoy any such protection because they operated deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with infringement and infringers on their networks. The majors are suing various American ISPs on this issue, citing the rulings in BMG's earlier legal battle with Cox.
There has been plenty of back and forth between the labels and the ISP as both sides proceed to a full-on court hearing where this dispute will go before a jury. In among all that, last month Cox called on the judge to block the labels from presenting some of their key evidence to that jury.
To hold the ISP liable for so called contributory infringement in relation to its users' conduct, the labels first need to show that said users directly infringed their copyrights. The labels have worked with an anti-piracy outfit called MarkMonitor and audio-ID firm Audible Magic to produce evidence of that direct infringement. But, Cox said in its filing last month, the plaintiffs had not kept all of the data related to that work and, as such, the evidence was not sufficiently credible to be used in court.
However, according to Law360, at the conclusion of a discovery hearing last week, the judge overseeing the case concluded that the labels weren't under any obligation to keep all the data they and their partners had gathered for the lawsuit. And while Cox might want to highlight the missing data as part of its defence before the jury, he said that he didn't feel that the issues raised by the ISP were grounds for blocking the evidence from being presented at all.
And so the case rumbles on, with the labels' data files likely to still be part of the proceedings.
Radio 1 to take part in pan-European dance music show
On 11 Oct, Radio 1 and counterparts in Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, France and The Netherlands will each host an hour of the cross-border show, broadcast on each participating station and showcasing some of the best dance music each country has to offer.
Annie Mac - who will host the UK's hour, which will also open the show - says: "I'm looking forward to being part of such an exciting collaboration with our broadcasting partners. It's going to be like nothing we've ever done before and I can't wait for the listeners to hear what we have planned".
Radio 1's Head Of Programmes Aled Haydn-Jones adds: "This is going to be a real radio event! Having seven countries showcasing the best dance music from their country is absolutely the best way it can delivered. I'm proud BBC Radio 1 partnered with seven other radio stations and I can't wait to hear it!"
The schedule for the show is as follows:
7pm: UK - BBC Radio 1
TL;DR - Fuck Brexit
Almost three quarters of UK producers and sound engineers doing unpaid work
Almost 90% said that they'd been asked to work without payment, with major labels and recording studios themselves among those likely to ask. Of those surveyed, 88% said that they had been asked to work for free in the last three years, with 71% doing so.
Most likely to be given a freebie are self-financed artists, with 77% of producers and sound engineers who had worked for nothing saying that they had done so for artists without the financial backing of a label. However, the next biggest group was indie labels, accounting for up to 34% of unpaid work. Just under 17% of those surveyed, meanwhile, said that they had worked unpaid for a major label.
As for why people work for nothing, 50% said that it was a genuine favour for a friend, although 20% said that they felt under pressure to do unpaid work for an existing client.
Meanwhile, 42% said that they did free work 'on spec', on the understanding that they would be paid if the client liked what they had done. This doesn't always pan out however, with one producer complaining: "I produced many demos of songs for an album for an artist on a major label to then have my production parts copied by another producer. They got paid and I didn't".
The amount of time spent on free work also varied, with 41% saying it took up less than a week of their year. However, more than a third spent up to a month on it, and 5% said that it occupied most of their time. The average value of all this unpaid work was £4000 a time - with the highest payment forgone by a producer reaching £40,000.
Having a manager or being a member of the MPG can shield producers and engineers from receiving requests to work for free, the study found. Although only slightly. The study also confirmed that, as well as being asked to work for free by artists and labels, more junior sound engineers were often expected to work for free before getting paid jobs in studios.
"I knew unpaid work was a problem in our industry, but I didn't realise how endemic it was", says MPG Executive Director Olga FitzRoy. "Of course, people will do favours for friends, but it's completely unacceptable for record labels and commercial studios to exploit professionals in this way. We don't employ someone to put in a new bathroom and then decide to pay them if we feel like it".
She continues: "It was good to see that MPG full members were doing less unpaid work than other groups, but we will be analysing these results in depth and seeing what more we can do for our members, who already benefit from free legal advice. I find it shocking that assistant engineers are being expected to work for a month for free in commercial studios before having the chance of a paid position. Nobody wins if our pool of talent is reduced to those with a bank of mum and dad to rely on".
The MPG plans to launch a new member tier for assistant engineers in order to better support those at the beginning of their careers.
Billie Eilish announces 2020 UK tour dates
And you shouldn't be saying things like that about her, which are absolutely not true, because she's a good person out there doing good things.
For example, fans attending the shows will be encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottles, rather than buying disposable plastic bottles at the venues. How will that work? She's going to set up water fountains. She's also banning plastic straws and at each concert there will be a Billie Eilish Eco-Village, offering advice on how to be less of a dick to the planet.
This all ties in with her recent 'All The Good Girls Go To Hell' video, which delivered a stark message calling for action on climate change. That's the sort of thing young people are doing these days, don't you know, while all the old folks sit around worrying that the kids caring about stuff might be bad for their profits. Old people are the worst. By which I mean anyone over 35. In case you wondered.
Anyway, tickets for these shows go on general sale on 4 Oct. Here are the dates:
21 Jul: Manchester Arena
Android phone users now have a new way to ignore YouTube Music. The app will come pre-installed on new devices running the Android 10 operating system. "Music listeners on Android devices are now just a few taps away from streaming their go-to tracks and discovering new music", says YouTube Music Product Manager Brandon Bilinski. Indeed, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer et al are all also available on Android.
The latest beta version of Spotify's iOS app allows users to play music via Apple's Siri voice assistant. Earlier this year, Apple used the fact that it was opening up Siri functionality to the streaming service as one of the reasons why a competition complaint filed against it by Spotify in Europe should be ignored.
Kanye West will release a film titled 'Jesus Is King' in IMAX cinemas on 25 Oct. It'll feature songs arranged by West in a gospel style as well as music from his new album of the same name, which was supposed to be released yesterday but wasn't.
BTS member J-hope has released new track 'Chicken Noodle Soup', featuring Becky G.
Halsey has announced that she will release her new album, 'Manic', on 17 Jan. From it, this is new track 'Clementine'. She will also be touring in the new year, with dates in Glasgow, London, Dublin and Manchester in March.
Broken Bells - aka Danger Mouse and The Shins' James Mercer - are back with new single 'Good Luck'. The duo are currently working on their first album since 2014's 'After The Disco'. "Both of us are constantly working on music at any given time, yet we always drift back to one another as Broken Bells", they say. "When it happens naturally, it happens - and right now it's happened in the form of writing and recording sessions for the third Broken Bells album".
Dodie has released new single 'Boys Like You'. "I wrote 'Boys Like You' in two parts", she says. "The verses and chorus I wrote when I was enjoying exploring the game in the power play of a potentially unhealthy dynamic. The lyrics in those I feel are more understanding and light; 'can't you tell, I love a liar' - but as I came to write the bridge I wanted to bring forward some of the heaviness and question why so many people fall into these addictive roles; 'why aim to be crushed, dear?'"
The Japanese House has released new single 'Something Has To Change'. She's also announced that she will release a new EP of the same name in November, then play shows in Glasgow, London and Manchester in December.
Amon Tobin has announced that he will release new album, 'Long Stories', on 25 Oct. Here's 'One Shy Morning', the first single from it. "'One Shy Morning' is the sound of Margot Robbie riding a unicorn into the sun right before the world explodes and all that's left is a ghost of love", says Tobin. So now you know.
Tei Shi has released new single 'Even If It Hurts', featuring Blood Orange. Her new album, 'La Linda', is out on 15 Nov.
Sam Lee will release new album, 'Old Wow', on 31 Jan. From it, this is 'The Garden Of England'.
Sløtface have released new single 'Sink Or Swim'. The band will be touring the UK in November.
Here's a drum cover of Slipknot's 'Psychosocial' played on a miniature drumkit in a fridge. Because of course.
GIGS & TOURS
Pixx has announced UK tour dates in November, starting at Yes in Manchester on 17 Nov and finishing up at the Boston Music Rooms in London on 28 Nov. Tickets for all shows are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Greta Thunberg goes death metal
Anyway, Thunberg recently sailed from the UK to the US in order to attend last week's UN climate summit in New York - travelling by yacht rather than plane, of course, in order to massively reduce her carbon footprint.
It was a venture which weirdly resulted in right-wing commentators spending two weeks hoping she'd drown. Safely on dry land, she then delivered an inspiring speech, calling for world leaders to start giving a shit about climate change.
Watching the speech, drummer with metal band Suaka John Meredith noted that her words would work well in a death metal song. And in order to prove his theory, he set about recording one. "When I saw her speech, I was very impressed by her passion and outrage", he tells Rolling Stone. "The words she chose just evoked the darkness of the metal music I love".
A video he uploaded to YouTube - 'Greta Thunberg sings Swedish death metal' - quickly gained viral success. Insisting that there was no intention to mock Thunberg, he goes on: "I guess I didn't really have a specific intent other than to turn her brutal words into a metal song. My personal stance is that individuals need to do their part to strive to conserve and preserve our environment".
"Teen angst can be a powerful and important driving force in society", he adds, "for instance the Arab spring. But there is an element of satire and levity regarding the tone and the music ... I think humour and [positive mental attitude] can be at least as powerful as anger and outrage, and there is a place for both".
In that spirit, Thunberg acknowledged the video by joking on Twitter that: "I have moved on from this climate thing. From now on I will be doing death metal only".
Well, I assume that's a joke anyway. Maybe how I opened this story was, in fact, correct. Whooooa-oh-oh intrigue. Watch the video here.