|MONDAY 2 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The three songwriters who claim that they helped create Lizzo hit 'Truth Hurts' have hit back at her copyright lawsuit against them. In a new legal filing last week, they said that the dispute centred on Lizzo's "bad faith" and "unprincipled attempt to deny songwriting and producer credits and royalties" to her former collaborators... [READ MORE]|
Lizzo collaborators hit back in Truth Hurts copyright dispute
Lizzo, real name Melissa Jefferson, went legal last October after some online chatter about the copyright status of 'Truth Hurts'. Producers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen had said in an Instagram post that they were uncredited co-writers on that record, because a key lyric in it originated in an earlier unreleased song called 'Healthy' which was written in their studio. The shared lyric was "I just took a DNA test, turns out I'm 100% that bitch".
The Raisen brothers added that they had been seeking a credit and copyright share in 'Truth Hurts' - on the basis it was an evolution of 'Healthy' - for two years, but that whenever they approached Jefferson and her people they "were shut down every time".
In her lawsuit, Jefferson insisted that - while 'Healthy' was written in the producers' studio, and did include the "100% that bitch" lyric - the Raisens themselves "did not write any part of the material in question; they did not come up with the idea of including the lyric in 'Healthy'; they did not help Lizzo decide how to sing the lyric in the unreleased demo; and they do not co-own that work".
She also claimed that - far from her shutting down any conversations with the producers over the ownership of the 'Truth Hurts' copyright - there had been plenty of conversations about that issue, with the Raisens agreeing that they did not have a claim.
Citing a phone call between Jefferson and Justin Raisen in early 2019, the lawsuit claimed that: "During that call Justin Raisen acknowledged that neither he nor his brother had anything to do with the material through which they had claimed their purported share. That same day, after Justin Raisen made his concession, the Raisens' manager contacted Lizzo's lawyer and told her that the Raisens were no longer making any claim to 'Truth Hurts'".
The third songwriter involved in the dispute is Justin 'Yves' Rothman, who was also present during the recording sessions that resulted in 'Healthy'. But, Lizzo's lawsuit stated: "For more than two years, from the September 2017 commercial release of 'Truth Hurts' until [this month], Rothman never once contended that he was entitled to any share of 'Truth Hurts', that he had any rights in and to the unreleased demo, or that 'Truth Hurts' supposedly 'infringed' any of his purported rights".
But in a lengthy legal filing lodged with the court last week, the Raisens and Rothman dispute many of the claims in Jefferson's lawsuit, before presenting their own version of events regarding the April 2017 recording session that resulted in the track 'Healthy'.
They insist that they had done much more prep before that session than Jefferson herself, or another collaborator that also participated called Jesse Saint John, who does have a co-write credit on 'Truth Hurts'.
They then state: "While the group were collaborating on the lyrics and searching the internet for inspiration, Saint John showed the group an internet meme that read, 'I did a DNA test and found out I'm 100% that bitch'. Jeremiah enthusiastically suggested they add this line to the song". The Raisens and Rothman then, they claim, evolved the instrumental they had already prepared so that it would work with the evolving lyrics.
At the end of the recording session, the countersuit alleges, Lizzo told Justin of 'Healthy' that she and producer Ricky Reed "have been trying to do something like this for a while". Moreover, the lawsuit reckons, "at the end of the five-hour session, Justin, Jeremiah, [Rothman], Saint John and Lizzo had each contributed inseparable and interdependent non-trivial amounts of creative, original, and intellectual expression to create 'Healthy' and a second song 'Gorgeous', with the intent that their creative contributions be combined".
A second recording session then apparently took place to further evolve 'Healthy' based on feedback from the aforementioned Reed. Just Jefferson and the Raisens attended the second session, after which the reworked track was sent to Jefferson and Saint John.
Some email correspondence then followed, but ultimately Jefferson's people stop replying to the producers whenever they asked if and when 'Healthy' might be released.
Then "on 19 Sep 2017, Lizzo released 'Truth Hurts' crediting herself, Reed, [producer Steven Cheung aka] Tele and Saint John as writers, and Reed and Tele as producers, but not crediting counterclaimants at all. On information and belief, Saint John's only participation in the creation of 'Truth Hurts' was at the 11 Apr 2017 songwriting and recording session during which he collaborated with counterclaimants and Lizzo".
"After the 19 Sep 2017 release of 'Truth Hurts'", the lawsuit goes on, "Justin Raisen received congratulations from people who had heard 'Healthy' and thought that 'Truth Hurts' was the final product from that song. Justin listened to 'Truth Hurts' and was struck by the substantial similarities between it and 'Healthy'".
"He sent his co-manager Ross [Donadio] an email listing some of the similarities and evidence that 'Truth Hurts' was derived and copied from 'Healthy'", the legal papers continue. "On 28 Sep 2017, Ross reached out to Lizzo's management and label about the Raisens' lack of credit on 'Truth Hurts'".
The lawsuit then documents the back and forth between the Raisens and Jefferson, including a very different retelling of the phone call between her and Justin Raisen.
It claims that during that phone call "Lizzo admitted to Justin that elements of 'Truth Hurts' never would have been created without 'Healthy', and admitted that Reed suggested to her that they take elements from 'Healthy' for 'Truth Hurts', including the "100%" lyric and melody. However, Lizzo also told Justin that she did not want to share any percentage of 'Truth Hurts' with the Raisens".
"In fact", they then allege, "Lizzo used the call as an opportunity to intimidate Justin into stalling his efforts to pursue the Raisens' claims. Lizzo warned Justin to be wary of continuing to seek a percentage of 'Truth Hurts', because, 'you know, I'm not trying to have problems with you if you know what I'm saying, like, I could be in a room with someone tomorrow that knows you, you know what I'm saying?"
Far from the matter being resolved, the Raisens argue, the back and forth with Jefferson's people continued. And when 'Truth Hurt's became a late-in-the-day hit thanks to some TikTok and Netflix love, Reed texted Justin to let him know that the track had reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 because "he did not want Justin to hear this first from someone else". Reed then said that Justin should continue to work with him to find a solution over the 'Truth Hurts' copyright dispute.
With all that in mind, the Raisens and Rothman want Jefferson's lawsuit dismissed, and for the court to confirm that they are co-writers on and co-owners of 'Truth Hurts'.
Team Lizzo are yet to respond.
Warner streaming royalties dispute denied class action status
Williams, who fronted R&B group Tower Of Power, sued Warner in 2018 accusing the music firm of various violations in relation to a dispute over how it calculates and pays streaming royalties to artists. Since then Warner has managed to have some of the case dismissed, though the core allegation remains.
The case centres on what happens when streams generate income in markets other than the US. Monies often pass through local subsidiaries of the major before being passed back to Warner Bros in America, which then has to share that money with its artists.
Williams claims that the local subsidiaries make deductions as money passes through their bank accounts, and that Warner Bros then calculates his royalty based on what it receives in the US. But, the musician argues, his percentage share of the money should be calculated based on the at source payment from the streaming service.
It's one of various common gripes artists have about the way streaming royalties are paid by labels, especially on old record contracts that don't have any specific provisions regarding digital income. Different record companies have different policies regarding how artist royalties are calculated when monies pass through international subsidiaries.
Williams wants to make his lawsuit a class action, meaning that - if he was successful - other artists signed to Warner Bros in the US could likewise benefit from the precedent that would be set, demanding that international royalties be calculated based on at-source income.
The question is, what artists would qualify to be part of that class? In Williams' lawsuit he identifies three groups of artists based on the kind of record contract they have with the major. The first group would have more modern contracts that mention streaming. The second group would have pre-digital contracts that don't mention streaming, but which do talk about 'licensing income' (which, artists would argue, should apply to streams). And the third group are artists with record contracts that don't mention streams or licensing.
Williams himself falls into the latter group, which makes his claim more complicated. Because, as the judge noted in his decision last week, Williams needs to prove three things. Not only that his royalty should be calculated based on at-source income, but also what his streaming royalty rate should be. And that he is even due a share of digital income to start with, given his record contract only talks about royalties in relation to physical copies.
The judge wrote: "The court shares Warner Bros Records' concern that plaintiffs will have to spend considerable time litigating an issue not shared by the proposed class as a whole - whether contracts falling within this third category even require WBR to pay royalties for digital streaming".
He went on: "Although plaintiffs may not be the only class members to grapple with this defence, there is a danger that the majority of the proposed class members will suffer because plaintiffs will be engrossed with disputing WBR's arguments regarding plaintiff's individual case".
The dispute between Williams and Warner itself continues of course, but any conclusion in that case - if it went in the former's favour - would not now have an impact on the major across its entire catalogue. Though, of course, an artist who is in one of the first two groups identified in Williams' case could try to pursue their own class action.
Changes to Swiss copyright laws should end US criticism, says Swiss government
Each year the office of the United States Trade Representative publishes lists of countries and specific websites which, it reckons, are hindering the interests of American copyright owners. US copyright industries - including the music industry - make submissions before the lists are compiled. The aim is that the annual document informs intellectual property conversations between the US and other governments around the world. Switzerland has been on the country watch list in past reports.
But the Swiss government reckons that the changes about to be introduced deal with all the issues raised about its copyright system in the past. In particular, it is bigging up a new obligation regarding the takedown systems tech companies must operate in order to avoid being held liable for copyright infringing content uploaded to their servers by users.
In a letter to the USTR, published by Torrentfreak, the Swiss government writes: "Such hosting providers will have to ensure that infringing content, once removed, remains off their servers. It also contains a provision that clarifies that data can be processed for the purposes of prosecuting copyright infringement. This provision also extends to civil claims insofar as the path to civil proceedings is open following a criminal complaint or by joining the civil claims to the criminal proceeding".
By making takedown-and-stay-down an obligation of websites hosted in Switzerland, the country's copyright law arguably goes further than the equivalent measures in the US. Although some copyright owners argue that - while the stay down obligation is to be welcomed - the new copyright reforms do not go far enough.
In particular, Swiss law-makers have opted against introducing a web-blocking system in the country, whereby copyright owners can force internet service providers to block access to copyright infringing websites. Although, web-blocking - while a popular anti-piracy tactic in multiple countries - isn't currently generally available in the US either.
Some copyright owners also take issue with the private copy exception under Swiss copyright law, and how it applies to the digital delivery of content. It's argued that the private copy exception is too wide, meaning that - while copyright owners can go after file-sharers who prolifically upload unlicensed content - they can't go after the downloaders.
Nevertheless, the Swiss government argues that its copyright law reforms successfully balance the interests of copyright owners and web users, and should bring to an end the issues previously highlighted by the moaning Americans.
It's letter states: "With the conclusion of the revision to its Copyright Act, Switzerland further demonstrates its commitment to copyright protection and enforcement. The revised law constitutes an important step in effectively addressing the challenges posed by the internet and includes effective remedies against copyright piracy on the internet".
"It should thus", the letter then concludes, "put an end to criticism directed against Switzerland as a host country for infringing sites. With the upcoming enactment of the revised Copyright Act as of 1 Apr 2020, Switzerland considers a further inclusion on the watch list to be unjustified and inappropriate".
Oak View Group announces plans for UK's largest arena
Plans have not yet been submitted to the local council, but it is proposed that the £350 million building project will sit next to Manchester's Etihad Stadium. OVG says that it would host around 120 events per year, with a particular focus on music.
"I've always been a huge fan of Manchester and we have been trying to figure this out for many, many years", Leiweke told the Manchester Evening News. "We're grateful we finally have a site, we have a vision, and we have a partnership with the community to pull off building what we hope will the best arena ever built in Europe and the UK".
"Building the best and most expensive arena to date in the UK or Europe is a fantastic testament to Manchester and the vibrancy of Manchester", he added. "I believe the marketplace deserves it, I believe the marketplace has earned it".
He also dismissed concerns that the new venue could have a negative effect on the existing Manchester Arena, which is owned by rival venue company ASM Global. "Most of the big markets have two, three or four arenas", he said.
"If you look at London, when The O2 was built many people predicted the demise of Wembley Arena, but they've just had the best year they've ever had. There's one new proposed arena in addition to that one and probably a second one coming. So that's potentially four in London. Birmingham have two next door to each other that do well".
"Manchester is not only the second biggest market in the UK, it's a capital market for around fifteen million people in the north", he went on. "This is a cultural capital, this is where people go for music, for entertainment, for sports. We believe two arenas will do just fine".
In fact, he claimed, at 25 years old, the Manchester Arena lacks some modern features of newer large venues, meaning that the city is currently missing out on some large scale events.
"The UK has seen a huge uplift in terms of live entertainment but Manchester has been a bit of a downturn", he reckoned. "Some of the tours are simply going elsewhere. Manchester has competition form arenas built in the last ten years, such as Leeds and Liverpool ... This will mean big tours and every big event will be open to Manchester now".
Among the plans for the venue, OVG says that it will incorporate various low carbon technologies and waste reduction measures to ensure environmental sustainability.
Trivium announce new album What The Dead Men Say
"'What The Dead Men Say' is everything that is Trivium", says frontman Matt Heafy. "On this album, one can hear the proper ingredients of past, present, and future Trivium. The Trivium sound is having everything the band does - on one album".
Bassist Paolo Beaulieu adds: "We wanted to build on the foundation that we established with the last album. The record has all the elements that are Trivium - along with all of us wanting to keep pushing ourselves creatively. This led to a highly-inspired and fast-paced writing and recording process that really captures the energy of the band".
The band will be out on tour in the US for much of this year with Megadeth and Lamb Of God. No word yet on UK dates. But, hey, you can watch the video for 'Catastrophist' here.
Katie Von Schleicher announces second album Consummation
The album, she says, was inspired by an alternate reading of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Vertigo', exploring the subtext of abuse throughout the film that many critics have raised in the 62 years since it was originally released.
Alongside the album announcement is first single 'Caged Sleep', which was actually a last minute addition to the LP.
She explains: "While the rest of the songs were being mixed, I had a vivid dream with a snake the colour of lapis lazuli. That became 'Caged Sleep', an ode to a dream that ended a period of my life. Some people hate dream stories, so for those humans I have included saxophones, synthesisers and claps to court your attention".
Whatever your view, there's got to be something to interest you in that list. Check out the video for 'Caged Sleep' here.
'Consummation' is set for release on 22 May.
Music Producers Guild Awards handed out
Another big winner was Stormzy, who took the MPG Inspiration Award. The rapper was unable to attend, but sent a video message saying that he was "very proud", and also acknowledged his producer Chris Andoh, who was in attendance to collect the UK Single Song Release Of The Year award for 'Vossi Bop', which he also co-wrote with Stormzy.
Among the newer names on the winners list, Marta Salogni took home Breakthrough Producer Of The Year, while Finneas O'Connell was named International Producer Of The Year.
Here's the full list of prize winners:
UK Producer Of The Year: Dan Carey
UK Album Of The Year: The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
A&R Award: Ed Horrox
Inspiration Award: Stormzy
Liam Gallagher says "greedy" Noel will agree to Oasis reunion "very fucking soon"
Last month, Liam tweeted that the group had been offered £100 million to get back together, but Noel was holding out for more. Noel responded by tweeting: "To whoever might be arsed: I am not aware of any offer from anybody for any amount of money to reform the legendary Mancunian rock n roll group Oasis".
When John Squire put out a similarly worded statement in 2011 saying that he had "no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses", it was six months before his band announced their reunion. So maybe the countdown is on to an Oasis reunion too. Liam certainly thinks it is.
Insisting that the 100 million figure "has been offered and he knows about it", Liam claims in a new interview with the NME that the reason Noel is denying it is because "he'd like to be the person to break the news to people, because he's the fucking oracle".
Whether or not Liam lets Noel announce any reunion, he insists that "it is gonna happen, believe you me - it's gonna happen very fucking soon because he's greedy and he loves money and he knows that it's got to happen soon or it won't happen".
Now, OK, Liam did seem to introduce a bit of doubt there, but I'm sure that's nothing to worry about. Not least because, he claims, Noel's solo career is faltering, making the cash more attractive. "That cunt can't even fucking sell out Apollo in Manchester", he says. "3000 capacity in his own fucking town, the fucking embarrassing fucking donut".
At least we know the classic sibling rivalry between the Gallagher brothers will still be there if and when this reunion happens. If it's when, and if the pay-out for the band's members really is £100 million+, then none of them would ever need to work again once that reunion inevitably fell apart. What might they all get up to after that?
"I can see myself retiring in a wigwam", says Liam.
Perhaps not what you were expecting, but actually it turns out he's got prior experience with tent life. "I bought one years ago when I lived in Henley", he says. "But it's fucked because a deer got in it and couldn't get out. I've come back to the house one day and there was this fucking commotion going on. There's fucking holes in the fucking tent and I'm like 'What the fuck's going on here?' And a deer from the fucking field next door had gone in for a snoop and couldn't get out and lost its fucking mind".
So, yeah, sounds ideal. Let's get this reunion up and running.