|MONDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Cox Communications went to the district court in Virginia on Friday to formally begin the process of appealing last year's billion dollar ruling in which the record companies successfully argued that the US internet service provider should be held liable for its users' copyright infringement. In legal papers filed with the court that oversaw the original case, the ISP argues that liability wasn't proven, that statutory damages were miscalculated and that the total damages figure is "shockingly excessive and unlawfully punitive"... [READ MORE]|
Cox Communications begins process of appealing "shockingly excessive and unlawfully punitive" billion dollar damages bill
The major labels sued Cox after BMG successfully argued in court that the ISP had deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with infringement and infringers on its networks, and therefore shouldn't enjoy protection under the copyright safe harbour. Which means that the net firm can be held liable for the infringement of its customers.
The majors also prevailed in their Cox lawsuit by presenting more or less the same arguments as BMG had in the earlier case.
In December, a jury ruled that Cox should not get safe harbour protection, and should therefore be held liable for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. The jury then awarded the major labels statutory damages of $99,830.29 for each of the 10,017 copyright works listed in the lawsuit, which comes to a billion dollars.
In its new legal papers last week, Cox urged the judge to intervene in various ways in relation to last year's ruling. Among other things, it argues that the labels failed to present enough evidence to prove liability for either vicarious or contributory infringement, urging the judge to make a judgement as a matter of law on that point. Though that's a request the ISP also made during the court hearing in December, and the judge declined.
Elsewhere it takes issue with the way statutory damages were calculated. Under US law, a court can pick a damages figure anywhere up to $150,000 - oblivious of the actual financial harm caused by the infringement - and then multiply that by the number of works infringed. But that rule was incorrectly implemented by the jury in this case, Cox argues, in part because, it reckons, albums should be treated as a single work, rather than each track on the album being counted separately.
Even if the judge doesn't want to intervene on those specific points, he should nevertheless slash the total damages bill, Cox claims. The judge has the power to do that via a process called 'remittitur', and judges have exercised that power before in copyright cases where juries have got carried away in how many zeroes they place on the total damages bill. And, Cox adds, never before has a copyright case jury been quite so excessive in its use of zeroes.
Having done some maths, Cox writes: "The award of $1 billion appears to be the largest award of statutory copyright damages in history. This is not by a matter of degree. It is the largest such award by a factor of eight. It is the largest such award for secondary copyright infringement by a factor of 40. It is the largest jury verdict in the history of this district by a factor of more than 30. It is by any measure a shocking verdict, wholly divorced from any possible injury to plaintiffs, any benefit to Cox, or any conceivable deterrent purpose".
Allowing the billion dollar figure to stand would be a "shocking miscarriage of justice", Cox then argues, adding that the jury didn't properly follow the judge's instructions when calculating damages. Cox's legal filing states: "Because the extraordinary $1 billion verdict cannot be supported by the factors the jury was instructed to consider or the evidence informing those factors, Cox is entitled to a substantial remittitur".
If the judge doesn't wish to meddle with either the jury's conclusions or their damages sums, then - Cox finally states - he should instigate a retrial.
It remains to be seen how the judge responds. If he knocks back all of the requests Cox made last week, the ISP could then take the matter to the appeals court. Meanwhile, the majors are also pursuing similar lawsuits against three other American ISPs, all of whom will be hoping that Cox has some success as it navigates the various routes of appeal. The labels' legal battle with Grande Communications is due in court later this month.
Universal hires former Global exec for new global classical role
The major says that the creation of the new globally focused classical role "reflects the ongoing evolution of the genre, focusing on innovation in listening and a greater awareness of audience and consumption habits to drive global growth for UMG artists".
And as for what Jackson will be doing, well, he will "bring his knowledge of audience access, touchpoints and discovery to international marketing, content creation, brand expansion, digital innovation and strategic communication". Which sounds like a whole load of fun, doesn't it? It's all about touchpoints and brand expansion in the classical world these days.
Confirming the hire, Dickon Stainer, who is CEO of Universal Global Classics And Jazz, told reporters: "I'm delighted that such an experienced and forward-thinking executive has joined the Global Classics And Jazz division at this pivotal moment in the era of fan engagement. Sam has a broad and pioneering track record of success in attracting diverse audience sectors to different types of music and his experience will help us provide expertise and insight for our world-renowned and developing artists".
Jackson himself added: "Over the last fifteen years, I have been extremely fortunate to work closely with the team at Universal Music - a fantastic group of people who are so clearly committed to serving audiences with the finest recordings. In this digital age, there has never been a better opportunity for classics and jazz to be enjoyed by an even broader audience, and I cannot wait to work with the team and their outstanding artists".
MMF unveils participants in second year of its Accelerator Programme
The professional development initiative, also supported by Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Music Industry Association, provides early-career artist managers with financial support, training, mentoring and networking opportunities. The aim is to help participants to grow their individual management businesses so that they can start to make a sustainable full-time living as a manager.
Welcoming the new round of managers set to benefit from the programme, MMF's Accelerator Programme Manager Paul Bonham says: "I am delighted to welcome another 20 managers onto the Accelerator Programme".
He goes on: "The quality of applications was, yet again, ridiculously strong, but after a tough and competitive selection process we have another seriously high calibre group onboard. It's especially pleasing to have more female managers involved, more managers from BAME backgrounds and more managers from outside of London".
"These people are already playing a linchpin role in British music", Bonham then adds. "They're supporting 66 of our most impressive and progressive music makers, and going forward we want them to add to these rosters and empower their clients to the greatest possible success".
The 2020 Accelerator participants - and the artists they manage - are as follows:
Ameena Badley, The Ko-Lab (Birmingham) - Smuggzy Ace, Mowgli, A Class
BBC's James Purnell discusses classical output in the streaming age
Along the way, he bigged up the BBC's primary classical music service, Radio 3, and its current boss Alan Davey, who was, he said, "raising the ambition of the station even higher, and redefining what Radio 3 can mean in a world with so much music, so much art, so much culture fighting for our attention. That means working even harder to get audiences to choose Radio 3, by creating a place away from the frenzy of everyday life, to revel in classical and cultural content".
However, he added, in the digital world individual channels and stations are becoming less important, and therefore the BBC needed to think how else it can deliver and champion classical music content, including via that there BBC Sounds app.
"The critical shift for everyone in BBC radio", he said, "has been to stop thinking of ourselves as a series of isolated stations and instead as part of a wider portfolio: A place where a listener can find audio that suits their tastes, regardless of the moment, whether it's live or on demand, something on air or something only on Sounds".
"We're looking at ways we can provide more specialist radio options on BBC Sounds for classical music", he then confirmed, "whether adding classical streams or further complementing Radio 3 and the Proms on the app. These plans are all being developed, but I can say that we are looking at how we can bring the best of classical music to all our audiences, however and whenever they like to listen. We want to help new audiences develop a lifelong love of classical music".
Alongside all that new-fangled digital, online and app-based listening, Purnell also unveiled two specific new classical music projects from the Beeb. The first is part of the Corporation's programme of activity marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. It's a tie-up with Sport Relief that will see people try to run five kilometres in the time it takes to listen to Beethoven's 'Fifth Symphony'. The second is a seven composer commission for International Women's Day 2020 titled 'Seven Ages Of Woman'.
Gang Of Four's Andy Gill dies
"Andy's final tour ... was the only way he was ever really going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row", said the band's current line-up in a statement. "His uncompromising artistic vision and commitment to the cause meant that he was still listening to mixes for the upcoming record, whilst planning the next tour from his hospital bed".
Formed in the late 70s, Gang Of Four became highly influential in the post-punk scene - particularly due to Gill's distinctive guitar playing style - and well beyond too, although they never reached the levels of commercial success of some of their contemporaries.
Following the successful independent release of their debut single 'Damaged Goods' in 1978, the band signed to EMI. Their first single for the label, 'At Home He's A Tourist', scored them an invitation to perform on 'Top Of The Pops'. However, they walked out when asked to censor the word 'rubbers', a reference to condoms. The song was then banned across the BBC, due to the word being considered too risqué.
Dropped by EMI after one album, they then signed to Warner Bros, where they put out three more album releases. The band split in 1984, but reformed a number of times, most recently with Gill as the only original member.
As well as many of Gang Of Four's own albums, Gill also produced records for a number of other artists during his career. That included, in 1984, the debut Red Hot Chili Peppers album. That famously became an antagonistic collaboration, as the band fell out with Gill over the sound of the record - relations not helped by them noticing in his notes about their songs that he'd just written "shit" next to one of them.
Nevertheless, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers was among the artists paying tribute to Gill this weekend. Revealing that "after not being in touch for many years, Andy and I had spoken recently, and communicated a lot of over the last several months", Flea wrote on Instagram that Gill "was one of my heroes" who "inspired the shit out of [his band]". He added: "May his beautiful soul be in bliss with the divine, I love you Andy."
Other acts Gill produced over his career included The Jesus Lizard, The Stranglers, Killing Joke, Bis, The Young Knives and The Futureheads.
MIA to release exclusive content through Patreon
"I'm doing a Patreon, because I make so much stuff and record so many things that aren't music and don't fit on other platforms", she explains. "I've tried all the other platforms and it's like: this one is too mean and hateful, this one is too fake and self-obsessed, and this one just sells all your data to Cambridge Analytica. Hopefully, this one is going to be just right".
She adds that those who hand over $10 a month for her top tier will receive much more content, saying: "It might be a song, a recipe, a manifesto, maybe I could help you with your homework, you guys could be my manager for a day, tell me what to do with my career, therapy sessions, dating advice, we'll see what happens".
Patreon's Kerri Pollard says: "We're proud to provide MIA a platform to engage freely and independently with the community she's been building for decades. When artists invite their fans to become active participants in their creative process, they're able to create more meaningful connections and place creativity over everything".
"For an artist like MIA to be able to leverage technology to foster unique experiences with her community, that's what Patreon is all about", Pollard adds.
MIA will also be releasing her sixth album later this year through more traditional channels. But if you want more than that, you can check out her Patreon page here.
Madonna cancels two more London shows
The star has now cancelled a total of eleven dates on her current Madame X tour as she deals with a number of injuries. Official statements have not gone into any detail as to what those injuries are, but on stage she told fans they included a "torn ligament" and "bad knee".
The first night of her run of shows at London's Palladium theatre was called off last week. Performances that were due to take place on 4 and 11 Feb will now also not happen. That means that, with the existing off-days already in the schedule, she can take every third day of the London run off to recover. Doctors had apparently told her she should, in fact, only perform every other day while she is still contending with the injuries.
In a statement to fans, Madonna said on Friday: "As you all know I have multiple injuries and have had to cancel shows to give me time to recover. So, as not to surprise you, I want to let you know ahead of time that I will be cancelling two shows - on 4 Feb and 11 Feb".
"Doing three shows in a row is too much on my body", she confirmed, adding, "in fact my doctors insist I take a day off after every show but I believe [I] can manage if I do two shows then I rest".
Discussing how she is coping with the injuries while on tour, she went on: "It's a miracle I have gotten this far, but a lot has to do with the fact that I do six hours of rehab every day. Three hours before show and three after with multiple therapies. I have also switched to flat shoes and modified difficult parts of the show. This has helped enormously but I still need to be careful and, of course, rest is the best medicine".
Fans with tickets to the cancelled shows will be automatically refunded. She concluded: "I appreciate your understanding and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience".
After a few drinks, Louis Tomlinson likes to listen to One Direction
"I probably have two or three moments a year, and it'll just happen - normally after being drunk", he tells Billboard. "We'll get back to the house and have bit of a One Direction marathon. I have to be a bit drunk, because otherwise I think it's a bit naff. But if I've had a few drinks, I love reminiscing on the songs, thinking about when they were written and stuff like that".
He adds that a particular favourite is 'Clouds' from the band's 'Four' album, saying: "We opened the tour with it and - I've got goosebumps now - every time I hear that song, it takes me back to that stadium tour".
Tomlinson released his debut solo album 'Walls' last week. Maybe one day he'll listen to that drunk too.