|WEDNESDAY 29 JANUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: R Kelly has been hit with another legal setback, this time in relation to a civil lawsuit he is fighting alongside his three pending criminal trials. All three of the attorneys who were representing him in that case have now withdrawn... [READ MORE]|
Lawyers in R Kelly sexual abuse lawsuit quit the case
The judge overseeing the litigation has allowed said attorneys - Zaid Abdallah, Shady Yassin and Raed Shalabi - to cease representing Kelly, following a motion they filed last week.
The lawsuit they were working on was filed against Kelly by Heather Williams, who accuses the star of sexual abuse. She says that she met the singer in 1998 when she was sixteen and initially agreed to spend time with him at his studio because he promised to put her in a music video. Instead, she says, they then began a sexual relationship which she now views as abusive.
In April last year, the judge made a default judgement in Williams' favour after Kelly failed to respond to her complaint. However, his attorneys then successfully argued that the case should be reopened. The reason Kelly had not responded, they said, was that his illiteracy meant that he could not read the summons he had been sent, so he did not there was a civil case against him.
The lawyers then attempted to get the case dismissed on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired. The judge denied this, saying that it was reasonable for Williams to argue that, as a minor at the time, she had not realised that the relationship was abusive until years later.
With the lawsuit now heading for court, in November his attorneys said that Kelly had decided to employ his fifth amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. He would therefore enter no testimony, fearful that doing so in the civil case might later influence the criminal proceedings.
Those attorneys have now joined him in not speaking, taking the decision to step down from the case entirely. In their motion to withdraw, they said that they felt "that circumstances have evolved that prevent the counsels from zealously advocating on behalf of the defendant". Kelly now has 21 days to find new representation.
Meanwhile, the musician himself reportedly missed a court appearance last week after being taken to hospital for emergency hernia surgery. One of his now ex-attorneys, Shady Yassin, told the Chicago Sun-Times: "He was limping when I visited him at the MCC [Metropolitan Correctional Facility] and he showed me the result of his surgery - three major stomach incisions - and I don't think he'd had much time to recover".
US appeals court says no private copy levy due on in-car recording devices
AARC is an often forgotten organisation that collects and distributes royalties due in the US under a thing called the Audio Home Recording Act. That bit of legislation from 1992 introduced some private copy levies into US copyright law.
Such levies are found in many countries and were traditionally charged on devices or products that were mainly used by people to make private copies of sound recordings, so usually cassette recorders and/or blank cassettes. The shift to digital posed the question what digital devices, if any, should also be subject to such levies?
In the US, the reach of the levy was somewhat limited in a late 1990s case which said MP3 players - specifically the Rio MP3 player - did not fall under the Audio Home Recording Act because it could store files other than sound recordings, and the 1992 act excluded general-use hard drives.
As a result, when the AARC went after Ford and Chrysler in 2014 over their in-car CD ripping devices, it seemed certain the car makers would argue that - if the Rio MP3 Player did not fall under the Audio Home Recording Act - neither did their gadgets. Which, of course, they subsequently did.
The cases have been working their way through the courts ever since, with a bunch of initial judgments in 2018. Now an appeals court in Washington DC has sided with the car firms, ruling that while the AARC might feel the hard disk limitation on the US private copy levy is unfair, it nevertheless applies in this case.
Noting the compromise reached in 1992 excluding general hard disks from the reach of the US private copy levy, the court's judgement concedes that "some commenters have observed that the increased role of computers in digital audio recording has made the AHRA's role more marginal than its proponents envisioned".
The debates in Congress that led to the Audio Home Recording Act, it adds, "would have been conducted on different terms in 2002 than they were in 1992, given the rise of computer-based audio recording technologies during that ten year stretch".
"Still", the judgement goes on, "we cannot enforce the law that AARC thinks Congress should have written rather than the carefully negotiated text that Congress adopted. Ultimately, if AARC and its supporters have persuasive arguments in support of the change of law they advocate, it is Congress they should persuade".
So, it's another example of old copyright law struggling to keep up with technological advances. And, of course, those technological advances are ongoing, so much so that - in 2020 - ripping CDs onto an in-car hard disk seems somewhat antiquated too.
Alan Parsons sues former business partner over Project shows
Also known for his studio work with The Beatles and Pink Floyd, Parsons used the Project moniker for his partnership with the late Eric Woolfson. They released records together throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
In more recent times Parsons worked on a solo basis with the American company World Entertainment Associates Of America, and its boss John Regna, on various projects between 2009 and 2018. But Parsons ultimately ended that partnership, in part, he now says, because of "Regna's erratic and intolerable behaviour".
In a lawsuit filed in Florida last week, Parsons says that - after they stopped working together - Regna put together a live show featuring session musicians who worked with the Alan Parsons Project back in the day and then started promoting that show using his name. There has only been one performance to date, but - Parsons says - dozens more are planned.
On the WEAA website the offending show is currently billed as "The Project, the original voice, original musicians of The Alan Parsons Project & Friends".
In his lawsuit, Parsons says that Regna has variously promoted the venture as "The Original Alan Parsons Project Band", "The Alan Parsons Project Band", "Alan Parsons Project Original Musicians", "Alan Parsons Project Musicians", "The Voice Of The Alan Parsons Project" and "The Original Members Of The Alan Parsons Project".
All of these variations are misleading, Parsons argues, because the only "members" of the Alan Parsons Project were him and Woolfson, neither of whom are involved - Woolfson having died in 2009.
Of the musicians who Regna has recruited for his Project project, says Parsons, "some ... never appeared on any of the ten The Alan Parsons Project albums, [while others] appeared on only one or a few, or appeared on only a few tracks on various albums". Also, "none of them appeared on the first album" so "they are manifestly not the 'original' musicians of or with The Alan Parsons Project or 'the men who made the records'".
For good measure, the lawsuit goes on: "Nor have any of these work-for-hire musicians ever performed in concert as 'members' of The Alan Parsons Project, or been named in any recording or concert contracts to which the Alan Parsons Project was a party".
Parsons argues that by pursuing this project Regna is infringing his trademarks, breaching past contracts and participating in unfair competition in a way that has "caused and is causing Parsons many millions of dollars in actual damages". And to that end he'd like his former business partner to bloody well stop. And to pay some lovely damages. Lots of lovely damages.
So Recordings signs Placebo
Confirming the deal, the band's manager Alex Weston says: "After many years of searching for our soulmates we found them in So Recordings. A surprise perhaps, but we couldn't be happier to start the next phase in Placebo's career with this team led by Adam Greenup and Reynold D'Silva. Good, honest, creative and inspiring people who we know are 100% committed to the band and this new album. It feels like home".
The there mentioned Greenup has just been promoted to the role of MD at So Recordings' parent company Silva Screen Music Group, reporting into CEO D'Silva.
Confirming that promotion, D'Silva says: "In the ten years Adam has been with the company, he has made a substantial contribution and, in many instances, has been a catalyst for positive change within Silva Screen. His new appointment recognises the role he has played and will see him work alongside myself to oversee all aspects of the group's labels, including So Recordings and his existing legal and business affairs functions".
Meanwhile, on his So Recordings label signing good old Placebo, D'Silva adds: "The band and their management could have signed with at least ten other labels and indeed they were pursued aggressively by all of them. To say we are over the moon is an understatement. Having heard the new tracks, this eighth album sees the band at their creative peak and cement their standing as a seminal band in the rock world".
Ghostpoet announces new album, I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep
Alongside the announcement comes first single 'Concrete Pony', of which he says: "It's a snapshot of where we're at as a society, I feel, we seem to have everything and nothing at all. Infinite possibilities and choices galore but we seem set in stone, frozen in place, oblivious to the storm clouds in the distance".
The rest of the album - out on 1 May - features collaborations with Art School Girlfriend, Skinny Girl Diet's Delilah Holiday, SaraSara and Katie Dove Dixon. Ghostpoet will debut more new songs at Dingwall's in London on 8 Mar as part of the BBC 6 Music Festival.
Little Dragon return the same but different
"This album has been the most collaborative for us yet, which might sound weird considering we've been making music together for all these years, but we worked hard at being honest, finding the courage to let go of our egos and be pieces of something bigger", say the band. "We are all on our own personal journeys, full of change, yet still we stand united with stories we believe in, that make us who we are".
The first indication of how that all sounds comes in the form of new single 'Hold On'. "It started out as a slick house track, but transformed once Fred [Wallin, bassist] played the bass through it and we all worked it together", they explain. "It became something raw and soulful. It's a simple groove that makes us dance. We can't wait to play it live because once we play it live it most certainly will change again".
That London show will take place on 26 Mar. Now, here's 'Hold On'.
The Times newspaper is launching a radio station. Its publisher News UK already has a radio division that operates Virgin Radio, TalkSport and Talk Radio. There had been speculation it might rebrand the latter under the Times brand, but it has now confirmed that Times Radio will be a separate news and current affairs station available on DAB and online. It won't have any ads - being partly a marketing channel for the newspaper - though it will seek sponsors for some of its programmes.
EDUCATION & EVENTS
More speakers and sessions have been announced for this year's International Live Music Conference which takes place in London from 3-6 Mar. Topics to be covered include greener touring, how the live sector can better safeguard the mental health of its workforce, and what key consumer trends we might see in the live space in the next decade. Info here.
AJ Tracey and his manager Andy Musgrave have been announced as keynote speakers for next week's AIM Connected event in London. They will discuss Tracey's career as a proudly independent artist. AIM Connected takes place at Kings Place in London on 4 Feb. More info here.
Caribou has released new single 'Never Come Back'. "As soon as I landed on the main synthesizer chords and the repeated refrain the rest came together very quickly and naturally", he says. "I felt like it was my job to get out of the way and not over complicate or over think it. Sometimes the best pleasures are the simple ones".
Sparks have announced that they will release a new album, titled 'A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip', on 15 May. They will also tour the UK in October, including a show at the Roundhouse in London on 21 Oct.
Rachel Aggs' Shopping have released new single 'For Your Pleasure', from their new album 'All Or Nothing', which is out next month. "'For Your Pleasure' is a song about frustration, the feeling of always wanting more, needing material things to distract or gratify us", say the band. They also have a number of live dates in April and May, including a performance at The Lexington in London on 5 May.
Half Waif has announced new album 'The Caretaker'. "I kind of created a character", she says in reference to the album's title. "She's someone who has been entrusted with taking care of this estate, taking care of the land, and she's not doing a very good job. The weeds are growing everywhere, and she's not taking care of herself". Here's first single 'Ordinary Talk'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
No chance of Lindsey Buckingham rejoining Fleetwood Mac, says Mick Fleetwood
"We're very, very committed to Neil and Mike, and [the possibility of playing with Buckingham again] passed away a time ago, when Lindsey left", says the drummer. "It's not a point of conversation, so I have to say no. It's a full drama of Fleetwood Mac, no doubt".
"[Buckingham's] legacy is alive and well, and as it should be", adds Fleetwood. "A major, major part that will never be taken away, and never be down-spoken by any of us. Neil and Mike have tremendous respect for Lindsey. The situation was no secret. We were not happy. It was not working, and we parted company. And that really is the all of it".
The split was certainly not very good natured. Buckingham originally joined that band in 1975 alongside his then girlfriend Stevie Nicks. After he was fired, he claimed that his sacking had been caused by Nicks mistakenly thinking that he had smirked at her while making an awards acceptance speech. He said that he received a call from the band's manager Irving Azoff, who told him: "Stevie never wants to be on a stage with you again". Initially he assumed that this meant she was leaving the band, not realising that he was being fired.
Having subsequently grasped that he was out, he then sued his former bandmates over the money he would miss out on as a result of not being part of their then upcoming tour. That case was settled out of court before the tour began.
So, there's no love lost at the moment. But, as Fleetwood says, drama has always been part of the band's story, so maybe let's not rule out Buckingham's dramatic return just yet.