|FRIDAY 17 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The rapper who accused Katy Perry of ripping off his song 'Joyful Noise' on her hit 'Dark Horse' has formally filed appeal proceedings with the US's Ninth Circuit court of appeal... [READ MORE]|
Joyful Noise rapper takes Katy Perry song-theft case to the Ninth Circuit appeals court
It could have been Perry taking the matter to the Ninth Circuit, given that last year a jury sided with rapper Marcus Grey, who performs as Flame, in round one of the big 'Dark Horse' song-theft case. They then awarded Grey and his collaborators $2.8 million in damages.
However, Perry's lawyers successfully persuaded the judge in the Californian district court where the case was heard to overturn the jury's ruling. Despite the jury buying the argument that 'Dark Horse' had lifted elements of 'Joyful Noise' without permission, judge Christina Snyder concluded that the Grey team's arguments failed as a matter of law.
In a lengthy judgement last month she said that "the uncontroverted evidence points to only one conclusion", ie that none of the individual elements that the two songs have in common are substantial enough - nor is the way those elements are arranged original enough - to be protected by copyright. Therefore Perry et al were not liable for copyright infringement.
As is the norm, the Grey side's first filing with the Ninth Circuit earlier this week was administrative and doesn't include any legal arguments. Those will follow, and will presumably include the same copyright arguments presented before, with some extra stuff on why judges shouldn't overrule juries in circumstances like this.
The music industry at large will follow the appeals process with interest. Synder's judgement last month was one of a number of recent rulings in the American courts that seem to be restricting the reach of copyright when it comes to songs that contain the same common musical elements or share a certain vibe, so that such similarities do not constitute copyright infringement.
These rulings contrast with the precedent many thought had been set when the Marvin Gaye estate won the big 'Blurred Lines' copyright case.
One of the other recent rulings in this domain was another headline-grabbing case before the Ninth Circuit, ie the 'Stairway To Heaven' litigation.
Perry's team will be hoping that the fact the Ninth Circuit - sitting en banc (so with more judges) - decided that Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway To Heaven' did not infringe earlier work 'Taurus' by Spirit, despite some similarities, is a good sign.
Though in that case, by ruling that way, the appeals court was upholding the original jury decision. So maybe the Grey side are hoping that the precedent recently set in the Ninth Circuit is actually that jury decisions in copyright cases should be respected.
R Kelly again requests release from prison, as New York trial delayed due to COVID-19
The musician's attorneys made the new request for his release just ten days after a previous motion was rejected. The lawyers argue that the medical situation in the US prison system is growing worse, putting Kelly under "tremendous stress and anxiety" that he will become unwell. They also again argued that with the Chicago prison where Kelly is being held on lockdown, it is impossible to effectively prepare for his upcoming trials.
"Inmates are reportedly banging on doors, walls, and windows begging for help", says Kelly's attorney Michael Leonard in the new motion, filed in New York, according to Billboard. "The only thing the [Chicago prison] has done is lock things down, making conditions feel more like solitary confinement: and possibly, because of the nature of this virus, locking in healthy inmates with those who already have the virus but who may not yet be symptomatic".
"Additionally, and possibly more importantly", he adds, "Mr Kelly's entire professional life depends on his exoneration from the current charges pending against him. Mr Kelly's present confinement, when coupled with the dramatically changed circumstance at the [prison], make it virtually impossible for he and his counsel to prepare for trial in any meaningful way. Not only is he on virtual lockdown, Mr Kelly now gets one phone call per week. His attorneys cannot visit him".
The request also argues that Kelly is not a flight risk or a danger to the public, and stresses that he is willing to wear an electronic tag and live "virtually within the sight line of the federal courthouse in Chicago".
Earlier this month another request for Kelly to be released on COVID-19 grounds was knocked back, with the judge noting that he was being held in custody pending trial precisely because he was considered a flight risk and a danger to the public. US District Judge Ann Donnelly noted evidence of witness tampering in Kelly's previous child abuse trial in 2008.
Donnelly also pointed out that, aged 53 and in good health, Kelly is not considered at high risk of experiencing severe symptoms if he does contract COVID-19. She conceded that Kelly has had surgery since being incarcerated last year, but said his attorneys had failed to show that this increased his risk of severe illness.
At a hearing yesterday, Donnelly declined to consider the new motion, mainly because Kelly is facing criminal charges in multiple states. She is overseeing the New York case, but his motion for prison release would also require input from the judge overseeing the separate charges back in Chicago itself.
However, Donnelly did postpone the date of the musician's New York trial from 7 Jul to 27 Sep. She had previously said that such a delay was likely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, reckoning that this weakened Kelly's argument that not being able to see his lawyers face to face during lockdown was making it difficult to prepare for court. There'd be plenty of time for further meetings once lockdown was over, she said.
That postponement brings the date of the New York trial closer to that in Chicago, which is set for October. A third trial in Minnesota is also pending.
Kelly is accused of various sexual abuse charges, with many of his accusers being underage at the time of the alleged crimes. He denies all charges against him.
YouTuber fails in lawsuit over YouTube's handling of copyright notices
DJ Short-E, real name Erik Mishiyev, sued YouTube last summer. His beef with the video site actually began over concerns that YouTube wasn't alerting subscribers to his two channels when he posted new content. That, he reckoned, was affecting his overall viewing figures and therefore the ad income he was earning from his YouTube presence.
Mishiyev said that he first became aware of the apparent subscriber alert issue when one of his subscribers contacted him to say that they'd opted to receive notifications of his new content, but that no such alerts were coming through. He says he then contacted YouTube several times about the possible issue, but never got back a satisfactory reply.
Pissed off about all that, Mishiyev threatened to go legal. Shortly after that, he alleged, a flurry of copyright claims were logged against his videos. And whereas when that had happened in the past he'd successfully dealt with the copyright notices by filing counterclaims, this time that didn't work and his channels were ultimately blocked.
Once that had happened, Mishiyev did go legal, although mainly over the copyright claims not the alert issue. His lawsuit, seeking $720,000 in damages, said that while YouTube said it had blocked his channels over copyright issues, it actually appeared to be acting "in retaliation for his placing them on notice that he would be filing a lawsuit" over the missing alerts.
It always seemed like a bit of an optimistic lawsuit, though had it gone the distance it could have sparked an interesting debate about the ethical obligations user-upload sites have to content creators, both in terms of distributing their videos and dealing with copyright complaints.
Though, of course, a court of law is more interested in the legal rather than ethical obligations. And it's on those grounds that a judge has dismissed Mishiyev's lawsuit. In a ruling published last month and spotted by Torrentfreak this week, judge William Alsup said that YouTube's little read terms of service meant that Mishiyev didn't have a case.
Yes, those terms of service said YouTubers could dispute copyright claims made against their channels, but, Alsup noted, "once a user submitted a counter-notice, the agreement reserved to YouTube's sole discretion the decision to take any further action, including whether to restore the videos or even to send the counternotice to the purported copyright owner".
"Thus", he added, "YouTube did not agree to act as a neutral processor of notices and counter-notices. YouTube retained control to evaluate counter-notices and infringement on its own".
YouTube therefore complied with its contractual commitments and Mishiyev didn't have a case.
SGAE ousts another president
According to El Pais, Spain's culture ministry was alerted earlier this week by the society's board of directors that a motion for Jurado's removal had been submitted and would now be voted on. That vote occurred on Wednesday afternoon, ending Jurado's term leading the embattled rights organisation.
SGAE, of course, has been accused of corruption and flawed management for years now. After increasingly vocal criticism from various global music publishers - which relied on SGAE to represent their rights in the Spanish market - global collecting society grouping CISAC expelled its Spanish member last May.
Meanwhile, SGAE's management has come under increased pressure from the Spanish government to instigate a series of reforms to ensure it is in line with Spanish and European Union rules on collective rights management.
As President, Jurado had been attempting to push through some of those reforms, although she didn't get sufficient support at the society's General Assembly last June, and some SGAE critics argued that what she had proposed was a good start but did not go far enough. Meanwhile, the board members who pushed her out of the top job earlier this week criticised her leadership approach and complained about a lack of transparency.
SGAE rules say that when a President is pushed out, the oldest person in the room (well, the oldest Vice-President) gets the gig for a month while a new person is formally appointed. Which means playwright Fermín Cabal will become interim President.
Confirming that Jurado was out and Cabal in, the society's board said yesterday that it now wants to "unite and collaborate in this new stage with the Ministry Of Culture and CISAC to find solutions to all the issues affecting the organisation". Yeah, good luck with that.
As the SGAE saga continues to unfold there is now another option for songwriters and publishers in Spain, with new society Unison busy establishing itself in the market.
Warner Music promotes Andy Ma to CEO of Greater China division
"East meets West is a mega global music trend that nobody can ignore", says Ma. "It's such an exciting time in Greater China with new scenes exploding in genres from hip hop to dance. I'm excited to have the chance to help our incredibly talented roster of artists connect with fans not only in Greater China, but also around the world".
Warner Music Asia President Simon Robson adds: "Andy is a great innovative and commercial leader. He's been instrumental in helping forge the modern Chinese music business. Now this new role will allow him to combine the firepower of our operations in Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei to amplify our artists in Greater China, Asia and internationally".
Ma has worked for Warner Music since 2011, prior to which he held various business development roles in the fashion, consumer electronics and software industries. He was named CEO of Warner Music China and EVP, Commercial And Business Development, Greater China in 2018.
Dice launches livestream ticketing platform
"Our mission has always been to get people out more, but we can't go out", says Dice CEO Phil Hutcheon. "However, artists have shown how important music and culture is to us all and they inspired us to adapt Dice to this new world. Dice is now truly global and can be accessed anywhere in the world".
"This is a crucial moment for the live industry to develop a sustainable ecosystem that helps creators and artists thrive", he adds. "This is just the start - we have a dedicated team on DICE TV and this will grow to be a long-term solution for the industry".
Dice TV is currently offering tickets for Beatport's ReConnect II this weekend and The Nations' Room Service 2020 Festival next weekend. Both are free events, although you can donate money through Dice, which will be distributed to the events' chosen charities.
COVID-19 SUPPORT INTIATIVES
The UK divisions of all three major labels, plus independents Cherry Red and Demon Music Group, The BRIT Awards, Amazon Music and collecting society PPL - via record industry trade group BPI - have donated £1.25 million to Help Musicians' Coronavirus Financial Hardship Fund. A further £250,000 is being donated to other initiatives that are supporting artists during the COVID-19 crisis. "The music community always comes together when called upon, and we hope this further contribution drawn from all parts of the industry will help to sustain artists in need through this very difficult time", says BPI boss Geoff Taylor.
The Musicians' Union has launched an online auction to raise money for its COVID-19 hardship fund, with contributions from the likes of Garbage, Jay Rayner and the author Philip Pullman.
Celebrities cutting together clips of themselves singing a song while on lockdown hasn't proven very popular so far. Maybe this new version of Bill Withers' 'Lean On Me' in aid of the NHS, fronted by Beverley Knight, can turn things around though.
Also raising money for NHS charities is this new home-recorded version of McFly's 'Its All About You'. The "you" being frontline health workers see - it's all about them now, say McFly. And quite right too.
Sam Smith and Demi Lovato have released new collaboration 'I'm Ready'.
Florence And The Machine have released new track 'Light Of Love', an outtake from their last album. Florence Welch has said that her royalties from the song will be donated to the Intensive Care Society.
Bob Dylan has released new single 'I Contain Multitudes'. The track follows his first new release for eight years, 'Murder Most Foul', which, despite being seventeen minutes long, became his first ever US number one single earlier this month.
Kelly Rowland has released new single 'Coffee'.
Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck have released a cover of John Lennon's 'Isolation'. "We weren't expecting to release it so soon but given all the hard days and true 'isolation' that people are going through in these challenging times, we decided now might be the right time to let you all hear it", says Beck. "You'll be hearing more from Johnny and me in a little while but until then we hope you find some comfort and solidarity in our take on this Lennon classic".
Kelly Clarkson has released new single 'I Dare You'. "We hope everyone out there connects with this message and chooses love instead of fear", she says. "I dare you".
Hayley Williams has released new single 'Why We Ever'. "I was at the lowest point I'd been in some time", she says of writing the song. "My sadness shows. Now I look back and credit this night as being the beginning of a new season of my life, where I hold myself accountable for learning to love better".
Trivium have released new single 'Amongst The Shadows And The Stones'. "The inspiration for the song started when a war history website that I follow posted a story of a soldier visiting the graves of his fallen comrades and he described it as walking 'amongst the shadows and the stones'", says guitarist Corey Beaulieu.
Playboi Carti has released new single '@ Meh'.
Austra has released new single 'Mountain Baby', featuring Cecile Believe. Her new album, 'Hirudin', is out on 1 May.
Car Seat Headrest have released new single 'Hollywood'. New album 'Making A Door Less Open' is out on 1 May.
Erland Cooper has released new track 'Peedie Breeks'. It's taken from new album 'Hether Blether', out on 29 May.
Minais B has released new single 'Ceremony'. New album 'Quiet Bloom' is out next week.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kanye West says he still plans to vote for Donald Trump
"I'm definitely voting this time", he says. "And we know who I'm voting on. And I'm not going to be told by the people around me and the people that have their agenda that my career is going to be over. Because guess what: I'm still here! 'Jesus Is King' was number one! I was told my career would end if I [didn't support Hillary Clinton]. What kind of campaign is that, anyway? That's like if Obama's campaign was 'I'm with black'. What's the point of being a celebrity if you can't have an opinion? Everybody make their own opinion! You know?"
Sure. Whatever you reckon. But what is it that's so great about Donald Trump? "I buy real estate", says West. "It's better now than when Obama was in office. They don't teach you in school about buying property. They teach you how to become somebody's property".
You could argue that property procurement lessons aren't going to be that valuable for the majority of people. But I'm not sure arguing with Kanye West is that valuable either. I mean, you could try arguing that Donald Trump is racist, but West won't be drawn on that one.
"I am the founder of a $4 billion organisation, one of the most Google-searched brands on the planet, and I will not be told who I'm gonna vote on because of my colour", he says. "Now, if that speaks to you, cool. But I'm speaking for myself".
Of course, if things carry on as they are, Donald Trump's increasing raving paranoia might have caused him to implode into a big pile of dust before West gets a chance to vote for him. But anyway, hey, who remembers when Kanye said we wasn't going to talk about politics anymore?