|MONDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A musician and YouTuber who posted a video explaining why last year's song-theft ruling against Katy Perry was bullshit last week found himself fighting a copyright claim from, erm, Katy Perry's publisher Warner/Chappell. Why? Because his video included the short musical segment at the heart of that legal dispute. Which is to say the short musical segment that Perry and her publisher claimed in court couldn't be protected by copyright. And which the court decided actually belonged to the Christian rapper who sued her. Good times... [READ MORE]|
Warner claims ad income on Dark Horse commentary video over musical segment it said wasn't protected by copyright
Adam Neely posted his video commentary on the 'Dark Horse' song-theft case last August, shortly after an American jury ruled that the Perry track ripped off an earlier work from the rapper Flame called 'Joyful Noise'. The same jury subsequently ruled that Perry and her team should to pay $2.7 million in damages to Flame and his collaborators. Perry and her publishers are already appealing those rulings.
With the title 'Why the Katy Perry/Flame lawsuit makes no sense', Neely's video puts the spotlight on the short musical segment that both 'Dark Horse' and 'Joyful Noise' utilise. In among his informative commentary he played said segment, also illustrating how slight variations of it appear on other works that predate both Perry and Flame's tracks.
The video is wholly supportive of Perry's side in the legal battle. It explains why many in the songwriter community is concerned about the copyright law precedents being set in cases like this. And Neely is particularly critical of the musicologist upon whose evidence Flame relied. The posting went viral last summer, resulting in Neely being approached by other media for commentary on the case, and even being invited to participate in an amicus brief that would be filed with the court in support of Perry's appeal.
In a new video posted last week, Neely revealed that Warner/Chappell recently sought to claim all the ad income generated by his 'Dark Horse' commentary via YouTube's Content ID platform. The claim, which was seemingly manually made and not instigated by YouTube's automated systems, reckoned that the publisher should get that money because the video includes the melody from Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse'. Except last August's video only includes the disputed musical segment, in various forms, played on a keyboard.
Given the context of the video, Neely's use of that musical segment would almost certainly constitute fair use under American copyright law. It would probably also be covered by a critical analysis copyright exception in other countries where copyright law doesn't have quite as wide-ranging and ambiguous a get out as fair use. But, as Neely notes, Warner/Chappell's copyright claim in this even odder in this case.
"Katy Perry lost that suit", he said in last week's video, "so where does that leave the copyright for Warner/Chappell? 'Dark Horse' was found to be infringing upon 'Joyful Noise', so why is Warner/Chappell still able to claim my video and take the advertising revenue?".
More than that, he went on, Warner/Chappell's Content ID claim said his video uses the "melody" from 'Dark Horse'. But it only uses the disputed musical segment in the case. In court, Perry et al were keen to stress that wasn't the melody of 'Dark Horse', but rather a simple segment in the background. The publisher then identified a specific moment in Neely's video where the alleged copyright violation is found. But that moment is actually the bit where he plays the disputed musical segment as it appears in 'Joyful Noise'.
So, a pretty flawed Content ID claim on multiple levels. We should note that, shortly after Neely posted his video about it all, Warner/Chappell dropped its claim.
Maybe the company backed down because it had made the claim in error. Or it realised, with the benefit of hindsight, how stupid the claim was. Or maybe it was a classic example of one side of a big company (ie the Content ID team) not talking to another side of a big company (ie the lawyers involved in the 'Dark Horse' case).
Either way, kudos to Warner, I suppose, for responding quickly to Neely's complaint. But somewhat embarrassing that it made the claim to start with.
Tekashi 6ix9ine sued over Stoopid opening
Another rapper called Seth Gordon, who performs as Yung Gordon, alleges that most versions of 'Stoopid' open with a snippet of him performing. And that neither Tekashi 6ix9ine nor his business partners got permission to include that snippet.
In a lawsuit filed last week, Gordon says that the sampled segment was a 'radio drop' he recorded at the request of a company called Take Money Promotions, who approached him via Instagram in 2016. A radio drop, the lawsuit clarifies, "is a short clip of music that is played on the radio". It adds: "Often artists record drops for radio shows to promote their affiliation with a radio station or promoter".
However, they don't expect them to pop up in other artist's records. The lawsuit goes on: "On or about 5 Oct 2018 defendants released the song 'Stoopid'. [It] appeared as a single on all major streaming platforms and was sold as a part of the album 'Dummy Boy'. 'Stoopid' opens with a recording of the drop written and performed by the plaintiff".
The disputed snippet is the bit that goes: "Y'all already know, it be the boy Yung Gordon / You rockin with Take Money Promotions / Ay Take Money Promotions / Give em that new shit, no fool shit / Oh Yeah, let's go". It doesn't appear on all versions of the track - in particular it's not on the version currently streaming on Spotify - but, the lawsuit says, it does feature on other versions still available to stream or buy.
"Plaintiff was never contacted by any of the defendants prior to the release of the song 'Stoopid' and all of the uses of plaintiff's work are and continue to be unauthorised and
Gordon wants an injunction stopping the future infringement of his work and lots of lovely damages. Tekashi 6ix9ine's reps are yet to respond.
Global vinyl production in doubt following master disc company fire
A statement on the company's website reads: "It is with great sadness we report the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility had a devastating fire and suffered catastrophic damage. The best news is all of our employees are safe. We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time".
According to the Palms Springs Desert Sun, it took 82 firefighters almost three hours to bring the fire under control. "There were multiple reports of explosions when the fire started", California Fire Captain Fernando Herrera told the newspaper. "There wasn't any one spot you could say wasn't on fire".
What this actually means for the manufacturing of vinyl worldwide isn't yet clear, but record labels and pressing plants are preparing for a reduction in production.
"From my understanding, this fire will present a problem for the vinyl industry worldwide", Third Man Records' Ben Blackwell tells Pitchfork. "There are only two companies that make lacquers in the world, and the other, MDC in Japan, already had trouble keeping up with demand before this development".
He adds that, in addition to providing lacquered discs, Apollo is also the "primary or possibly only supplier of the styli" that are used in the vinyl pressing process. "I imagine this will affect everyone", he says. "But to what extent remains to be seen".
Blackwell says that there had already been rumours of another company planning to enter this market, but when, or even if, this might happen remains unclear.
MU welcomes PPL revenue growth, but again calls for ER on streams
PPL collects money on behalf of British record labels and recording artists whenever the so called performing rights of a sound recording are exploited - so mainly radio, TV and pubs, clubs, bars and other public spaces that play recorded music.
Under most copyright systems, not only is the copyright owner due payment when music is used in these ways, so are any of the performers who appear on a recording. Even if and especially when the performer is not the copyright owner, and/or does not have an ongoing contractual relationship with the copyright owner. So session musicians receive payments as well as the frontline artists who have a direct deal with whoever released the record.
The performer payments are usually referred to as performer equitable remuneration. Exactly how monies are shared out and distributed is usually decided by the local record industry rather than copyright law. In the UK it is all handled by PPL, which collects for and distributes to both copyright owners (often labels) and performers.
PPL directly licenses UK radio stations, TV channels and businesses that play recorded music in public. Beyond the UK it has relationships with other collecting societies around the world. Labels and performers who don't want the hassle of directly dealing with those foreign collecting societies can let PPL handle their international income. And it's that side of PPL's operations that announced its 2019 figures last week. Total international collections were £86.7 million, a 22% increase on 2018.
Welcoming this news, the MU's Assistant General Secretary Phil Kear said last week: "On behalf of the MU, I would like to congratulate CEO Peter Leathem, and the entire PPL team, on an amazing set of international results for 2019. This additional income has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of our session musician members".
However, Kear also noted that, while Performer ER is paid on broadcast income, including online radio, it is not generally paid on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. This is based on an argument from the labels that a stream exploits related but different elements of the copyright to a broadcast, and Performer ER is not legally due when a recording is exploited in that way. Frontline artists therefore get paid a cut of streaming income subject to their deal with their label or distributor. Session musicians get nothing.
The MU argues this is unfair and unsustainable. Commenting on last week's PPL figures, Kear went on: "The last few years have seen an astounding increase in the use of [streaming services] to the detriment of audience figures for traditional radio and television broadcasts, especially in the fifteen to 24 age group".
The MU is concerned that this will eventually result in the music industry's traditional broadcast revenues peaking and then going into decline. And that would jeopardise the future of the revenue stream in which session musicians share and which, the MU argues, upon which those musicians rely, given the relatively modest upfront fees they receive from frontline artists and labels.
"The MU is working hard, alongside PPL and other industry bodies, to try to negotiate a share of streaming income for session musicians", Kear added, "but it is a potentially long and difficult road ahead. In the meantime, we wholeheartedly applaud PPL's hard work and sincerely hope they can continue to maintain such impressive results in future. Our members' careers depend on it".
NME Editor stands down
Confirming her departure on Friday, Gunn said: "I've decided to resign from my position as Editor of NME to seek a new challenge. I am incredibly proud of the work we've done in my time at the NME. What an incredible four years it's been!".
Noting that the title's annual awards will return this week after taking a year off in 2019, Gunn goes on: "With the new team having done incredible work putting together the upcoming awards - likely the brand's best ever show - it's clear there is an unbelievable commitment to the future of the brand, making it as good a time as any for me to step aside. I couldn't have done any of it without the support of the amazing team I've had the chance to work with and I will miss everyone very much".
The CEO of BandLab, Meng Kuok, added: "Before the announcement of the NME's acquisition last year, wanting to leave and seek a new professional challenge was a reality that Charlotte had respectfully brought up with the new management team. She was a great team player through the transition process and we know she'll be a great success at whatever she turns to next. We wish her all the best".
UK government announces new National Plan For Music Education in England
The last National Plan For Music Education of this kind was published in 2011. The government says that the new plan now being developed will be a "refresh" of the 2011 document, and that it hopes to have it ready to launch by autumn this year. The consultation that will precede that publication will, in particular, reflect on "advances in technology in the way music is created, recorded and produced", and "reassess the music education young people benefit from at school".
Confirming all this, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: "All children, regardless of their background, should get the opportunity to play musical instruments, learn to sing and learn how to read and write music in the classroom. I want to continue to level up opportunities so all young people can get the best out of their music education. We can only achieve this if we reflect on the latest advances in music and work together with experts in the music industry, specialist teachers, as well as reflecting on young people's experiences".
Although billed as a simple "refresh" of the 2011 plan, many in the music education community and music industry will be hoping that the consultation being undertaken to inform the refresh will still put the spotlight on various issues that it's felt have hindered music education in England over the last decade.
Certainly cross-sector trade body UK Music does. Its CEO, Tom Kiehl, responded to the news about the new plan by saying: "We have consistently warned of a growing crisis in our talent pipeline as a result of a decline in music in state education - a new National Plan For Music Education presents a once in a decade opportunity to fix music in schools".
"Over the past five years, the number of people studying A-level music has declined by an alarming 30%, while the total number of people studying A-levels dropped by only 4% over the same period", he went on. "We need to take advantage of a new plan to invest in our future. The UK music industry is worth £5.2 billion to the economy and employs over 190,000, but to sustain growth there are a number of steps the government should take with a new National Plan".
Listing UK Music's priorities, he added: "Universal access to music within state education should be prioritised, alongside a broad-based music education within curriculum learning. Music in schools should be incentivised through the Ofsted inspections framework. Greater provision for rehearsal spaces, such as the UK Music network, should be taken forward. And the new plan should also be informed by an independent analysis of the music education hubs".
Dagny releases first single from forthcoming debut album
"I am beyond excited to finally introduce 'Come Over', the first single from my upcoming debut album", she says. "The song is a pretty self-explanatory, cheeky little thing that celebrates the 'meet and greet' phase of a (potential) relationship. Let me put it like this: if you meet someone you're intrigued by, then 'Come Over' is your fearless, ballsy and excited invitation to get to know em... particularly if they are a fireman who likes puppies".
I think that last bit might have been mostly specific to her. Still, she says of her new music generally: "Now - more than ever - I am able to be personal in my music. I want to tell stories that mean something to me, but also stories that others can relate to".
Eminem turns up for Oscars seventeen years late
The rapper was named the winner of the Academy Award in 2003 for the song from his film 'Eight Mile'. However, given that no rapper had ever taken the prize before, Eminem did not attend the ceremony, assuming he had no chance of winning. This meant that not only was he not there to accept the award in person, but it was also the first time in fourteen years that the winner had not performed their song at the show.
With Eminem coincidentally in promotional mode for his latest album 'Music To Be Murdered By', Oscars organisers clearly saw an opportunity to set things right. So, after a montage of memorable film music moments had been crowbarred into the proceedings, Eminem appeared on stage to deliver 'Lose Yourself' with a backing band.
The response seems to have been positive, although there are reports that some attendees and viewers were somewhat perplexed by the sudden and unexpected rendition of a song nearly two decades old. Martin Scorsese was shown apparently falling asleep, while a photo of 'Frozen' star Idina Menzel with her face screwed up in apparent confusion has been widely circulated. Although video footage shows her dancing in her seat, so it seems likely she was just rapping along. And who wouldn't want to hear Elsa rapping?
Anyway, following the show, Eminem tweeted a video of Barbara Streisand announcing him as the winner in 2003, writing: "Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity... Thanks for having me [The Academy]. Sorry it took me [seventeen] years to get here".
This year's Best Original Song prize, in case anywhere cares, went to Eminem's mate Elton John for '(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again' from 'Rocketman'.