|MONDAY 4 NOVEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The High Court in London last week ruled mainly in favour of Sony Music and Warner Music in their legal battle with radio app TuneIn. The judge rejected the app's defence that it was simply a sophisticated search engine for radio, reckoning that the tech firm itself was communicating the music contained in each radio station's stream. With no licences covering much of that communication, TuneIn has infringed the copyrights of the two major record companies... [READ MORE]|
UK court says TuneIn needs music licences for non-UK stations
The lengthy judgement - which considers principles in both UK and European law - potentially sets some interesting precedents regarding the application of copyright rules to innovative digital set-ups that deliver previously territorial services to a global audience. It also means that TuneIn - which has both advertising and premium subscription revenues - will need to get licences from the music industry if it wants to continue making non-UK radio stations available to its UK subscriber base.
In copyright terms, the case centred on whether - by aggregating radio station streams - TuneIn was directly involved in communicating said radio streams to the public. Sony and Warner argued that it was and therefore it needed music licences. TuneIn argued that, because it simply connected users to each radio station's existing stream, albeit within its own app, it wasn't itself involved in any communication to the public. Therefore it was the individual stations that were exploiting the songs and recordings and which needed the licences.
The judge considered the copyright liabilities of TuneIn for four separate categories of radio stations. First UK-based stations already licensed by British record industry collecting society PPL whose online webcasts are available via TuneIn. Second non-UK stations that are licensed by the record industry in their home country, but not for the UK. Third, non-UK stations that aren't even licensed in their home country. And finally a series of US-based stations created bespoke for the TuneIn platform.
After a lengthy discussion about the ins and outs of the so called 'communication to the public' element of the sound recording copyright, the judge concluded that TuneIn was liable for both direct and authorising infringement in connection to all but the UK-based stations contained in its app. As were the non-UK stations themselves, if they knowingly allowed TuneIn to target their online broadcasts to a UK audience.
However, there was no infringement in relation to the UK-based stations, as their PPL licences covered those webcasts, even when delivered via the TuneIn app.
That said, the lawsuit also considered a feature of the TuneIn Pro premium product - no longer available in the UK - that allows users to record a radio station's stream for later listening.
The judge concluded that, because offering that functionality was not covered by any PPL licences, TuneIn was liable for infringement in regards that function on all the stations considered, including the UK ones. Individual TuneIn users may be able to rely on the so called 'time-shifting exception' when making such copies and therefore avoid liability. But only if they met the criteria of that exception, which TuneIn could not ensure.
Elsewhere in the ruling the judge explained in some detail why he rejected TuneIn's argument that it was just a sophisticated search engine. The radio app pointed out that a user could find all the stations it aggregates through a Google search. But the judge said that the way TuneIn curates stations, allows users to browse by genre and artist, and enables seamless listening within the app, meant it was more than just a search service. He also rejected other arguments to the effect that TuneIn should be protected from liability by the pesky copyright safe harbour.
All in all, it's a bold judgement that could have a big impact on TuneIn's entire business model, within the UK at least. Although the TuneIn company itself has played down the significance of the ruling on the basis that it confirmed its argument that no additional music licence is required for connecting people to PPL-licensed UK stations.
The firm's CEO Juliette Morris told reporters: "The UK Court found in favour of TuneIn on the most important claim, confirming that music radio stations licensed in the UK can be made available through the TuneIn service to TuneIn's UK users".
She went on: "While we continue to evaluate the ruling and consider all options, including appeal, we believe the judgment will have very little impact on the company's revenue and ongoing growth strategies. We won on the most important element of the case, which was the right to provide UK users with access to UK-authorised radio stations".
"TuneIn is committed to complying with all applicable laws in the countries we serve", she continued, "and will continue to defend the right to operate a directory service providing listeners access to content freely available on the internet".
Whether Morris is right to play down the significance of the ruling depends on the extent to which accessing radio stations from around the world attracts users, versus it being an easy way to find domestic stations in one place on a net-connected device. Even with the latter, TuneIn's service in the UK has been restricted of late after the BBC chose to pull its stations from many iterations of the app for British users in a dispute over listener data.
Of course, the new music licensing obligations regarding the provision of global stations only apply in the UK as a result of this judgement (and even here, TuneIn may still appeal). Though the record industry may well use the precedent set by the High Court in London to seek to extend TuneIn's copyright liabilities in other markets too.
Welcoming the judgement on Friday, a spokesperson for Sony Music said: "The UK court's ruling is a critical move in the right direction, and we appreciate its work in reaching a decision in this case. Today's judgement confirms what we have long known to be true: that TuneIn is unlawfully redistributing and commercialising links to unlicensed music on a widespread scale"
"While this decision marks an important victory against TuneIn's blatant copyright infringement in the UK", they added, "the company continues to unlawfully profit from massive global commercialisation of unlicensed copyrighted sound recordings by turning a blind eye to basic licensing requirements and hiding behind safe harbour claims to avoid paying music creators".
"This deprives music creators of compensation for their work, and gives TuneIn an unfair competitive advantage in relation to licensed webcasters that honour their legal obligations and respect the need for artists to receive a fair return on the essential value they provide".
We will provide a concise summary of this legal battle and the precedents it sets at this week's 'Key Developments In Music Rights' masterclass on Wednesday afternoon. Click here for info.
US government investigating TikTok's two year old acquisition of Musical.ly
It follows recent calls by political types in Washington for a formal investigation into the operations of the stupidly popular TikTok app, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance. Various concerns have been raised about how user data is stored by the TikTok platform and as to whether the Chinese company has been censoring content on that platform that would be politically sensitive in its home country.
For its part, ByteDance insists that TikTok is run separately to the equivalent service that operates within China, which goes by the name Douyin, and therefore content shared on the platform is not within the jurisdiction of Chinese law. Perhaps in a bid to reinforce that point, the boss of TikTok - Musical.ly founder Alex Zhu - recently started reporting directly into ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming rather than Douyin boss Zhang Nan.
Musical.ly was also a Chinese company but, after becoming particularly popular in the US, also set up a base in California. While it continued to run as a standalone service for a short while after the Bytedance acquisition, Musical.ly was then merged in with the TikTok app last year. This allowed Bytedance's own app to quickly become a global phenomenon with a significant user base among young consumers in key markets like the US.
Sources have confirmed to Reuters that the American government's Committee On Foreign Investment is now reviewing the two-year old Musical.ly acquisition, which it is able to do because Bytedance did not seek the committee's clearance at the time of the deal.
It's thought that TikTok may voluntarily agree to introduce a number of new measures to allay the concerns of the committee in order to avoid any suggestion that the 2017 deal should be reversed. These measures may in turn satisfy TikTok's other critics in Washington.
A spokesperson for the app told the newswire: "While we cannot comment on ongoing regulatory processes, TikTok has made clear that we have no higher priority than earning the trust of users and regulators in the US. Part of that effort includes working with Congress and we are committed to doing so".
Prophets Of Rage split as Rage Against The Machine reunite
So, yeah, Rage Against The Machine have reunited, as I think I explained perfectly clearly in the previous paragraph. Maybe that's the big news here. The band have announced five US shows for next year, including two performances at the classic reunion festival that is Coachella. It's not yet clear if there are plans for more shows or new music, but presumably you don't split up a whole other band just because you've got a week's worth of other work in six month's time.
"I want to say thank you to the fans that supported Prophets Of Rage for the time we've been rocking together", wrote B-Real on Instagram. "It's been an honour to rock stages and people of all ages with these guys. It's been a great time, [many] great memories in a short time".
"Rockin along side of Chuck and Tom has been amazing to say the least", he went on. "It was fun while it lasted and I hope we left a big impression and that the music has been a source of inspiration for those that needed it. That was the purpose we got together. So I say to y'all stay informed, stay engaged and fight the good fight".
Chuck D added on Twitter: "[Prophets Of Rage] was about doing something greater than self. Keeping [Zach De La Rocha's] spot warm for Rage Against The Machine and powering a statement for 1000 days was a honourable truth mission in the hours of chaos from the jump".
As for Rage Against The Machine, next year's shows will be the first time the outfit has performed together since 2011. During that time the band's members have remained busy.
In addition to performing in Prophets Of Rage, Morello has released a solo album and collaborated with various other artists; Commerford has released music with his bands Futureuser and Wakrat; and Wilk has worked with Black Sabbath and Smashing Pumpkins. De La Rocha was said to be recording a solo album and announced plans to release it in 2017. However, although he did release an EP, that album has never emerged.
Prophets Of Rage released an EP in 2016, followed by their debut album in 2017. Since then they have released three more singles, two of which - 'Made With Hate' and 'Pop Goes The Weapon' - came out earlier this year. As recently as September, Morello was discussing the band's plans for a second album.
"This will be our third studio record and really the one where I think we have to define who we are in 2019 and beyond, rather than just [being a] sort of a coming together of groups with notable catalogues, to really find our own sound and to continue to grow", he told BBC Radio 6 Music. But that all seems to have gone out of the window now.
The project may return, of course. Morello, Wilk and Commerford's previous project with another vocalist - that being Audioslave, their collaboration with Soundgarden's Chris Cornell - filled another hiatus in RATM's career. That band reunited for a one-off show to protest Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017. Cornell confirmed afterwards that there had been discussions about further shows. But, of course, later that year he took his own life while on tour with his main band.
As already noted, currently the four members of Rage Against The Machine are staying pretty quiet about their plans - beyond announcing the dates of the five shows they have already scheduled. But now that Chuck D and B-Real have had space to bid farewell to their Rage-linked project, the information chasm left will likely be filled soon enough.
Coldplay use album to promote Jordan tourism
"We're really excited to launch our new album in Jordan", say the band. "It has always felt like the perfect place for these two special shows".
How does Jordan feel about it though? Jordan appears to be pretty chuffed. So much so that the Jordan Tourism Board is throwing money at the venture.
"I am excited this launch will showcase Jordan to the world in the light that it deserves, hand in hand with international music icons who carry similar values and messages as the people of my country", says Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, MD of that there Jordan Tourism Board. "Jordan has always been an exporter of peace, a beacon of hope and harmony in line with the cover of the album promoting peace and love".
"Having been picked by Coldplay to represent the spirituality and harmonious togetherness their music encompasses, wasn't that far-fetched, as Jordan is a true advocate of peace", he continues. "I am certain this collaboration will have an economic impact on Jordan when we welcome media and Jordanians to attend Coldplay's album reveal, and we hope the global audience for the concerts will encourage more people to visit Jordan".
Yeah, so Coldplay are travel agents now. Ask Chris Martin if he can upgrade your flight. I'm not sure where you should do that. Maybe in the comments when these shows are livestreamed on YouTube on 22 Nov.
Haiku Hands release first single for Mad Decent
Of the new track, produced by Mad Zach, the band's Claire Nakazawa says: "'Onset' is the kind of track that you can listen to while walking down the street and feel like you own it. To me it's a power track, about owning your power, sharing and enjoying it. Classic rap braggadocios with a conscious tip. Feeling the good vibes and not sweating the small stuff".
"The beat references classic genres", she continues. "Mad Zach's musical knowledge shines through as he incorporates sounds and elements from old school 80s and 90s hip hop, rave and electro and combines them with contemporary, new school electronic production. The result being a fresh, nostalgic, head banging track that you've never heard before. 'Onset' is colourful, wild and rude. Get into it".
Well then, get into it here.
Westlife announce UK stadium tour
"We're looking forward to next summer when we'll be playing so many fantastic outdoor venues across the UK", say the band. "The stadiums in the summer tour will see us reach more fans than ever before. The shows will be incredible and will include all of our hits and some surprises. We cannot wait to get back out on the road".
Tickets for the shows go on general sale this Friday at 9am. Here are the dates:
19 Jun: Norwich, Carrow Road
German live music firm CTS Eventim last week completed its previously announced acquisition of a 48% stake in French ticketing company France Billet. "Now we will work together on ensuring that France Billet can profit from our technology and our pan-European network as best as possible", says CTS Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg. "We want to offer our customers in France attractive services, a powerful platform and a wide range of offerings".
Music publishing outfit Bluewater Music has appointed Liam McMellon to the role of Creative Director. He joined the company as a consultant in 2017. "We're THRILLED to continue our work with Liam", says the firm's Peter Roselli. "His extensive experience and deep knowledge of the UK music industry aligns with Bluewater's vision to further develop its international growth".
A-ha are releasing a new documentary about the making of their classic 'Take On Me' video in three parts on their YouTube channel. The first episode is available now.
Dua Lipa has released the video for new single 'Don't Start Now'.
Sigrid has released new song 'Home To You', taken from the soundtrack of new movie 'The Aeronauts'. She also has a run of sold out UK shows coming up later this month.
Mura Masa has released new single 'No Hope Generation'. His second album, 'RYC', is out on 17 Jan.
Noah Cyrus has released new single 'Fuckyounoah', featuring London On Da Track.
I Am Karate have released the video for new single 'Original'. "We had so much fun making this video", they say, "Running around in Stockholm with a camera just enjoying life and making some noise. We hope that this one can spread some joy and love now that winter is coming".
GIGS & TOURS
Whitesnake and Foreigner have announced a co-headline UK tour next summer. What could make this better? How about if Europe were supporting? Yeah, throw that in too. It'll all kick off at The O2 in London on 31 May. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Envy have announced UK shows in December, hitting Bristol's Thekla on 11 Dec, Manchester's Gorilla on 12 Dec and London's Oval Space on 13 Dec. The band's new album, 'The Fallen Crimson', is out on 7 Feb. Here's a trailer.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Smash Hits returns (as an advertising pamphlet, just like you always wanted)
"What the fucking fuck has Smash fucking Hits got to fucking do with the fucking West fucking End", you're probably thinking, because you're famously uncouth. There really is no need for that sort of language, even in the privacy of your own head. And, you see, this musical - which asks what might have happened if Juliet hadn't died at the end of 'Romeo & Juliet', for some reason - features songs from the catalogue of pop super-producer Max Martin. That's what.
The one-off magazine will mainly dig into the Smash Hits archives for its content, because who can be bothered to write about pop music anymore? Inside are interviews with *Nsync, Adam Lambert and Jessie J, features on Britney Spears and Martin himself, a quiz, a wordsearch, song lyrics for Katy Perry's 'I Kissed A Girl' and Backstreet Boys' 'Backstreet's Back, and best of all - really, this is the best bit - best best best - I can't stress this enough - best of all - are you ready? - best of all, a full-page advert for '& Juliet'.
"Magazines have the power to deliver high quality attention at exceptional value for advertisers", claims Bauer Media's Abby Carvosso, admirably making no effort to suggest this anything but a glorified ad campaign. "What better way to capture attention than bringing the iconic Smash Hits back for a one-off special? This unique partnership has seen us connect with pop fanatics through the pioneering voice in pop culture to drive audiences to '& Juliet'".
A whole 50,000 copies of the Smash Hits special will be thrust into the hands of blank-faced Londoners today. Maybe you already have one. Maybe you already dumped it in the bin. Maybe you dropped it in your in-tray for future dumping in the bin. Maybe you even thought about putting it in the recycling bag like a good citizen of planet pop. Hey, maybe you've framed it and hung it on your office wall for all to see. If you've framed it, you're weird. That's what we're all thinking. We all think you're weird.