|TUESDAY 28 JANUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Organisations representing labels, musicians and artist managers have all responded to last week's confirmation by the UK government that it has no plans to implement the European Copyright Directive, including its music-related reforms... [READ MORE]|
Music industry responds to government's copyright (no) directive announcement
Responding to a query by MP Jo Stevens, minister Chris Skidmore last week said that - because his government currently aims to be cut free from European Union rules by the start of 2021, and the deadline for implementing last year's copyright directive isn't until June 2021 - the UK is not obliged to implement the European copyright reforms.
Skidmore added that the government has no plans to do so voluntarily, saying that "any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process".
The UK music industry, of course, lobbied hard alongside its counterparts across Europe for the copyright directive, which includes various music-specific articles.
In particular, the industry at large rallied behind the safe harbour reforms contained in article seventeen, which increases the copyright liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube. Artists and songwriters also pushed for other directive articles that should allow creators to get for more transparency and fairer deals from record labels and music publishers.
Although the UK government does not plan to implement the EU copyright reforms, culture minister Nigel Adams did say last week that it supported the aims of the directive. Meaning the UK music industry will now have to start lobbying anew, seeking to persuade UK lawmakers to adopt similar reforms to those being implemented across Europe.
Kickstarting that process, Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Association Of Independent Music, stated yesterday: "Whilst it is clear that the government will not implement new European legislation on copyright, they must uphold their pre-election promises to support UK creators and creative businesses".
"The British music industry generates and invests in some of the world's most exciting and diverse content", he continued. "The value it generates comes back to the UK economy, a lot of which is driven by the self-employed and small businesses. For British music to survive and thrive in a post-Brexit landscape it needs a modern copyright framework that fits the digital era".
Concluding, Pacifico said: "There is an opportunity to make Britain the best place on earth for the creative economy, to build on our proud heritage and to look forward to a future in which people all over the world continue to dance to the beat of British music".
The boss of the Incorporated Society Of Musicians, Deborah Annetts, likewise called on the UK government to reform British copyright in line with the rest of Europe. Either by pursuing similar UK-specific reforms or, even better, by reversing its decision on the directive.
She said yesterday: "The ISM is disappointed by the government's decision to not implement the EU Copyright Directive. This directive is a crucial update to copyright legislation which would give artists their rightful payment and protect their work. As outlined in the ISM Manifesto For Musicians, the government must either enshrine and implement the directive or introduce comparable legislation".
"Artists are vital contributors to culture and deserve clear and fair remuneration for their work and to benefit from the same protections afforded to artists in Europe", she added. "We urge the government to rethink their decision".
Meanwhile the CEO of the UK's Music Managers Forum, Annabella Coldrick, noted that - although safe harbour reform got the most press when the EU directive was being negotiated, thanks to the wider music industry's high profile 'value gap' campaign - the other music-related reforms within it are just as important to artists and songwriters.
Therefore, if that directive is not to be implemented, any subsequent UK-centric reforms should not just focus on increasing the liabilities of user-upload websites.
"For advocates of Brexit, the UK's departure from the EU was supposed to provide clarity and certainty", she said. But, just days before the Brexit process begins on 31 Jan, "the UK's artists, songwriters, musicians and producers now find themselves faced with the reverse".
"The copyright directive is about much more than 'the value gap'", she added. "It has potential to recalibrate [copyright] legislation for the benefit of those who contribute most to the success of British music. It is vital that the entire package is enacted".
To that end, Coldrick concluded, the MMF "will now look to pick up discussions with government" alongside "our friends and colleagues in the Council Of Music Makers and UK Music".
RCN seeks to have the music industry's Cox-style infringement lawsuit dismissed
The labels sued RCN last August, having already launched lawsuits against other American ISPs Cox, Grande and Charter. The major record companies have sought to capitalise on the precedent set in the earlier legal battle between BMG and Cox, in which the music firm successfully argued that the ISP should lose safe harbour protection and be held liable for its users' copyright infringement. That was on the basis that Cox had deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with infringement and infringers on its networks.
Late last year the majors also scored a win against Cox, in a ruling that awarded the record companies a neat billion dollars in damages. So you can see why RCN - like Grande and Charter before them - are keen to have the copyright cases against them dismissed without the matter going before a generous jury.
Like the other ISPs, in its motion to dismiss, RCN - among other things - argues that the labels have failed to prove any actual specific infringement occurred on its networks. This is important because, if you can't prove RCN users directly infringed the labels' recordings, then you can't hold the ISP liable for any secondary or contributory infringement. That said, in the main, this argument hasn't really worked for ISPs in past cases.
RCN also takes issue with the suggestion that it could be also liable for so called vicarious infringement. Again, the other ISPs have tried to have this particular allegation quickly removed from their respective lawsuits, mainly because if found liable for vicarious as well as secondary infringement, the total damages due could go up. The ISPs argue that the labels fail to meet the extra demands to prove vicarious infringement, mainly that the defendant directly profited from any infringing activity.
However, a big part of RCN's motion centres on Rightscorp, the agency that issued copyright infringement notices on behalf of the labels. The music industry wants RCN held liable for copyright infringement on the basis it failed to respond to those notices. But, the ISP argues, said notices are not credible because of Rightscorp's business model.
RCN says in its lawsuit: "The thrust of plaintiffs' case is that RCN is secondarily liable because it did not terminate the internet access of subscribers accused of copyright infringement. These accusations came from a third party, Rightscorp Inc, which is in the business of sending emails alleging copyright infringement and using threats of litigation to extract small settlements from the alleged infringers".
"This means", the legal filing goes on, "that Rightscorp is incentivised to send huge volumes of infringement accusations, without regard to the amount or frequency of any actual copyright infringement".
Therefore, RCN argues, "no reasonable ISP would accept Rightscorp's copyright infringement allegations as credible, much less actionable. Rightscorp does not provide any evidence whatsoever demonstrating that a given internet user possessed or shared the copyrighted content in question. Instead ... Rightscorp's emails contain only conclusory, unverifiable allegations".
That might sound convincing, but arguments of this kind have been presented unsuccessfully in earlier cases, including arguments specifically targeting Rightscorp. It remains to be seen if any of this stuff works this time round.
Voluntary anti-piracy initiative in Russia extended for another year
After various disputes between Russian media owners and the country's ISPs, search engines and user-upload platforms, a memorandum of co-operation involving various parties was signed in November 2019. Among the tech companies involved were Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube.
The deal was facilitated by Russia's internet watchdog Roskomnadzor, which maintains a database of copyright infringing webpages and content. Participating internet companies are obliged to connect with that database and ensure infringing sites or content are blocked.
It means that, while - from a Western perspective - there are still plenty of issues with the Russian copyright system, when it comes to content takedown and web-blocking, the country's processes are much more efficient. In theory at least.
Although the more efficient removal and blocking of content on copyright grounds always raises concerns about anti-piracy systems being abused.
It was always the plan that at least aspects of the voluntary memorandum of co-operation would be quickly incorporated into Russian law. But when that didn't happen last year, the voluntary agreement had to be extended. That has now happened several times, with the latest extension running up to 2021.
Aside from the challenge of getting reforms of this kind onto the agenda of Russian lawmakers, local media report that the voluntary scheme has raised a bunch of issues that ideally need to be addressed before any new laws are passed.
According to Torrentfreak, that includes issues over how disputes between content owners and tech firms are resolved, a debate over whether content owners should be able to have websites blocked and delisted on a permanent basis, and whether the current system is skewed in favour of bigger media firms and video content.
The 1975 announce super eco-friendly Finsbury Park show
Having last year released a track featuring spoken word vocals from climate change activist Greta Thunberg, the band are seemingly keen to practice what they preach.
Organisers of the show, Live Nation's Festival Republic, say that "sustainably sourced and traceable hydrotreated vegetable oil fuel" will power the entire event as part of a bid to "reduce the onsite carbon footprint by 90%". On top of that, "the event will also deploy hybrid powered generators with solar arrays and reduce generator sizes from the results of extensive monitoring carried out at the 2019 Festival Republic Finsbury Park events".
Elsewhere, a traffic light system will be used to communicate to punters the carbon footprint of the food they buy on site. There will also be a lot of tree planting linked to the mini-festival, with 1975 trees due to be planted in the boroughs around Finsbury Park, while an additional tree will be planted for every ticket sold in places like Indonesia, Peru, Brazil, the Philippines and India. That's quite a lot of trees.
Finally, the band's previously announced scheme repurposing old unsold merchandise rather than manufacturing new stock will also be employed. Fans can also bring in old band t-shirts and get them reprinted with the latest The 1975 gubbins.
Tickets for the show go on sale on Friday.
BBC criticised for cutting red button services
The BBC announced last year that it would start to phase out its red button content services in 2020. Those services first launched in 1999 to replace the Beeb's old fashioned teletext platform Ceefax. They allowed people to access news headlines, sport updates, weather and travel via their telly's remote control.
Use of the red button has slumped as more and more viewers sit in front of their television with a smartphone in hand, able to access all the same content through the BBC's portfolio of apps. That makes the not inconsiderable cost of also providing that content via the red button harder to justify, given the ongoing need for the broadcaster to save money. To that end, red button services are set to start winding down this week.
When announcing those plans last year, the BBC said: "From early 2020, viewers will no longer be able to access text-based BBC News and BBC Sport content by pressing red. It's always a difficult decision to reduce services, and we don't take decisions like this lightly, but we have taken it because we have to balance the resources needed to maintain and develop this service with the need to update our systems to give people even better internet-based services. Viewers can still access this information on the BBC website, BBC News and Sport mobile apps - as well as 24 hour news on the BBC News Channel".
However, the National Federation Of The Blind has called for the red button services to be saved, arguing that it is "vital for visually impaired, deaf, disabled and older people, as well as many other people who want to find out information independently in an easy, convenient and accessible format, who are not online". Removing the service, it says, "will leave many people, who are already vulnerable, further isolated and marginalised from society".
The NFBUK also questions the procedures the BBC went through before deciding to cut the red button services. To that end, in a petition delivered to 10 Downing Street yesterday, it also calls for public scrutiny of the broadcaster's decision making processes and - if it turns out assessments that the BBC should have carried out under its royal charter were skipped - that those assessments are now done.
For those of you who mainly remember the red button service as the place where you could jump around different stages during the BBC's Glastonbury coverage, well, don't worry, that particular element of the red button is not being cut. Even though you all surely now use the iPlayer for such things anyway.
Justin Bieber announces new album, Changes
To promote the new record, Bieber has released a new YouTube Originals series called 'Seasons'. Turns out YouTube Originals is still a thing. It means that, if you want to watch the full series, you'll have to sign up to YouTube Premium. Turns out YouTube Premium is still a thing. The first episode is available for free though, so let's see what we can learn from that.
"What's been challenging over the years is a lot of the time I'd make music and it would be for me", he says in the video. "When the focus and the goal is about yourself, you tend to lose your purpose in that. The older that I get, the more I realise I'm not utilising my gift for the right reasons. It's not about me. It's about helping someone who's going through whatever they're going through".
I'm not sure if that means 'Changes' is all music he doesn't like but which he thinks his fans might. Is that a better system? I don't know. I mean, I don't write this stuff for your benefit even slightly, and that seems fine.
Anyway, Bieber. The other innovative way in which he's promoting this album is with something called 'music'. For example, he's just released a new track from 'Changes', featuring Kehlani, called 'Get Me'. How about we all just stop this nonsense now and listen to that, yeah?
Kobalt's neighbouring rights division - the snappily named Kobalt Neighbouring Rights - has signed a deal with that there Lewis Capaldi. His manager Ryan Walter says that it's "an absolute honour" to partner with Kobalt on "this incredibly important area of the modern business". And who are we to say otherwise?
Kobalt founder Willard Ahdritz is standing down as the music firm's CEO, taking on the role of Chairman instead. Laurent Hubert, who joined Kobalt from BMG in 2016, will become CEO. Ahdritz will remain Chief Investment Officer of the group's Kobalt Capital investment arm. The Kobalt founder told Music Business Worldwide that the rejig will ensure he isn't over-stretched, adding, "I know Kobalt and our clients will be better for it".
Caroline Simionescu-Marin has joined the UK music division of booking and talent agency WME. She was previously XL's A&R Manager. "I have admired the company for a long time and it's exciting that as well as music, WME has such a major reach across many other areas in global entertainment too", she says. "I can't think of a better place to learn and grow".
The 100 Club on Oxford Street in London has announced that it will be holding a press conference at 10am tomorrow to give news about its future.
Anna Calvi has announced that she will release a new album called 'Hunted', which sees her rework her 2018 album 'Hunter' with various collaborators, including Courtney Barnett, Idles' Joe Talbot, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Julia Holter. Here's the new version of 'Don't Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy' with Barnett.
Kate Tempest has released a new version of her song 'Holy Elixir', titled 'Unholy Elixir'. "After a year of touring, we discovered new things about the song and wanted to make a version that reflected those discoveries", she says.
XL founder Richard Russell's Everything Is Recorded project returns with a new album this year, seeing him work with a range of artists on new music. Here's the first single, '10:51/The Night', featuring Berwyn and Maria Somerville.
Clem Snide has announced that he will release his first album for five years, titled 'Forever Just Beyond', on 27 Mar. "The last ten years have been a rollercoaster of deep despair and amazing opportunities that somehow present themselves at the last possible second", he says. "That this record even exists, as far as I'm concerned, is a genuine miracle". Listen to first single, 'Roger Ebert', here.
Eliza Shaddad has released new single 'Same As You', from her upcoming EP 'Sept ~ Dec'. She's currently supporting Keane on their European tour, and will be returning to the UK for headline dates in March, including a show at The Scala in London on 19 Mar.
GIGS & TOURS
More than 100 acts have been added to the bill for this year's Great Escape festival which takes place in Brighton from 13-16 May alongside the CMU curated industry conference. Among the long list of new additions are Dorian Electra, Arlo Parks, Nayana Iz, Kokoko!, Bessie Turner, Ghostpoet and The Jezabels' Hayley Mary.
Organisers of the BRIT Awards have announced that Fred Again will be presented with its Producer Of The Year prize next month. Given that, according to the maths experts at the BRITs, his productions were at number one in the UK singles charts for just under 30% of last year, that's probably a good call. Recent hits he worked on came from the likes of Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, Mist and Fredo, and Stormzy.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
ITV apologises for reminding people that Natalie Cole is dead
"This was a genuine mistake by the panel", the broadcaster said in a statement. "We apologise if this caused any upset to viewers".
While it's already clearly very shameful indeed that Ross didn't memorise the mortality status of all singers before filming the show, apparently no one else involved in the ITV programme knew that Cole was dead either. Hence the very much incorrect guess remained in the final edit that was broadcast. Either that, or they did know, but they assumed that an incorrect guess was all part of the entertainment, even if the guess was so definitely wrong due to deadness.
The show - which originates in South Korea and has had versions broadcast in numerous countries - is currently airing its first UK series. The format sees twelve celebrities sing while dressed in costumes which also cover their faces. They're masked, you see. Some of the celebrities are actual singers, while others are just shit chancers. They compete against each other in a singing competition, with one masked singer being voted off by the studio audience each week. At that point they are unmasked and everyone goes "oh" and then gets on with their life.
It doesn't sound very entertaining, but apparently there's fun to be had guessing who each of the singers is. Obviously the non-singer celebs behind some of the masks are harder to guess, what with their singing voices less likely to have been heard before. Those eliminated so far include politician Alan Johnson, footballer Teddy Sheringham and 'Eastenders' actor Patsy Palmer.
You'd think the professional singers would be fairly easy to guess though, but apparently it's not always that simple when they're not performing their own songs and you can't see their faces. And that would be why Jonathan Ross thought that one of the performers was Natalie Cole - who would be about to turn 70 if she were still alive - when it was actually, it turned out, Kelis.
Asked why she agreed to hide in a daisy costume for five weeks (I'm assuming they all stay in costume 24 hours a day until they're eliminated), Kelis said: "People have just been telling me my voice was distinct my whole career, so I thought, well let's see just how distinct it is".
Natalie Cole was unavailable for comment.