|FRIDAY 22 MAY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US Copyright Office has finally published the report based on its review of the safe harbour that sits in America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It doesn't recommend radical changes to that safe harbour but says that Congress might want to do some fine-tuning to better balance the interests of technology companies and copyright owners. The music industry, meanwhile, has used the report's publication as a good reason to put out its 2020 copyright gripe list... [READ MORE]|
US Copyright Office finally publishes its safe harbour report, music industry sets out its copyright gripes
The copyright safe harbour, of course, is the principle that says that internet companies whose customers use their networks and servers to infringe copyright cannot be held liable for that infringement, providing they remove any infringing content as soon as they are made aware of it. The principle is found in many copyright systems. In the US it originates in that DMCA, while in the European Union it came from an e-commerce directive.
The music industry has two big grievances with the safe harbour. First, it argues that many safe harbour dwelling websites don't have efficient enough systems via which copyright owners can request infringing content be removed. Yes, copyright owners can have any one specific piece of infringing content taken down, but it invariably pops back up again on the same website pretty quickly. The copyright owners would prefer a system where, once that specific piece of content has been taken down, it stays down.
The second big grievance is the range of internet operations that can claim safe harbour protection. In particular, the music industry has argued that safe harbour should not apply to user-upload platforms that not only allow users to upload audio or video, but which then reaggregate that content through search tools, home pages and playlists, basically become online radio or TV networks in the process. The lawmakers that came up with the safe harbour in the 1990s can't possibly have intended for that kind of internet company to have safe harbour protection, the argument goes.
The music industry's beef with safe harbour is often presented as a battle specifically with YouTube. Actually, when it comes to takedown-and-stay-down, YouTube's Content ID - for those that have access to it - is a pretty good takedown system. In that domain music companies are much more like to moan about Google's search engine than its video site. But when it comes to the "this site shouldn't even have safe harbour protection" argument, the music industry has often been talking about YouTube. Though not only YouTube.
In Europe, of course, an attempt has been made to reform the safe harbour, specifically to increase the liabilities of user-upload sites that seek safe harbour protection. That reform is in article seventeen of last year's European Copyright Directive. Said article is still being implemented, so it's too soon to say what impact it will have. But - while the final edit of article seventeen was very much a compromise - many in the music industry are confident it will overcome some of the issues, in particular the fact that safe harbour weakens the negotiating hand of music rights owners when discussing licensing deals with websites like YouTube.
In the US, the Copyright Office instigated a review of the safe harbour right at the end of 2015. Submissions were invited from copyright owners and technology companies. Twice, with a second call for submissions in late 2016. It resulted in a short-lived "safe harbour is the problem, YouTube is evil" type campaign within the American music industry, but then most attention turned to copyright reforms in Europe while everyone waited for the US Copyright Office to process its submissions and publish a report. Now, finally, it has.
With the safe harbour - what is sometimes referred to as "section 512 of title 17 of the United States Code" - Congress sought to balance the needs of "online service providers with those of creators", the Copyright Office says in its new report. From its call for submissions in 2015 and 2016, "the Office received dramatically varied opinions on whether section 512's intended balance has been achieved", it adds.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, many internet companies "spoke of section 512 as being a success, enabling them to grow exponentially and serve the public without facing debilitating lawsuits". Whereas "rightsholders reported a markedly different perspective, noting grave concerns with the ability of individual creators to meaningfully use the section 512 system to address copyright infringement and the 'whack-a-mole' problem of infringing content reappearing after being taken down".
But what does the Copyright Office itself think? "Based upon its own analysis of the present effectiveness of section 512, the Office has concluded that Congress's original intended balance has been tilted askew". However, "the Office is not recommending any wholesale changes to section 512, instead electing to point out where Congress may wish to fine-tune section 512's current operation".
The report then runs through an assortment of ways that Congress might want to consider fine-tuning the safe harbour, most of which would address copyright owner concerns. That includes clarity on what kinds of online services are eligible for safe harbour protection; on what a safe harbour dwelling company's repeat infringer policy should say; on what constitutes knowledge of infringement on a safe harbour dweller's part; on what information a copyright owner should provide in a takedown notice; and on what happens if a takedown system is abused.
Along the way it also considers the approach different courts in the US have taken when dealing with safe harbour cases, especially where courts have struggled to interpret the law, or have been somewhat inconsistent in that interpretation.
In particular it talks about the 'Dancing Baby' case involving Universal Music Publishing and a Prince track, which considered whether a copyright owner must consider the principle of 'fair use' before issuing a takedown. The Copyright Office expresses some concern over the ruling in that case and says Congress should monitor the impact of said ruling and "consider any clarifying statutory language that may be necessary".
Whether Congress listens to any of this remains to be seen, though there have already been discussions on possible safe harbour reform this year instigated by the Subcommittee On IP in the Senate. The music industry will be hoping that this report finally being published might provide an impetus to get safe harbour reform properly onto the agenda in Washington. And if and when it's on that agenda, the music industry's lobbyists will likely use the opportunity to call for reforms beyond those proposed by the Copyright Office in the new report.
To what extent those calls will replicate what was lobbied for and achieved in Europe remains to be seen. It may partly depend on what happens once article seventeen is actually implemented in EU countries and whether it is deemed to have dealt with any of the issues.
Though at the same time, many user-upload platforms are evolving their businesses in a way that means they can no longer rely on safe harbour anyway, by offering in-built music libraries and editing tools. Which means the next phase of safe harbour campaigning may focus more on forcing social media and search engines to get better at takedown-and-stay-down, or it could be live streaming rather than user-upload platforms that are taking most of the heat.
We will see. But for now an assortment of music industry organisations in the US have together published a neat list of their top three gripes, all of which are linked - albeit loosely in some cases - to the copyright safe harbour. Basically, they want take-down-and-stay-down, an end to stream ripping, plus more and wider access to Content ID-style monitoring tools.
"Platform accountability is achievable and mutually beneficial for fans, music creators and digital distribution partners alike", those industry groups said yesterday. "As this report makes clear, the current system is broken - especially when it comes to so-called 'user-upload platforms'. To succeed, platforms must be made accountable participants in the music ecosystem. But the good news is that many of these issues can be addressed by the big technology platforms who exploit music, including by applying already widely available technologies".
Going on to its top three gripes/wishes/demands, they said that 'takedown' should mean 'stay down'. "User-upload platforms should put an end to the 'whack-a-mole' era by implementing meaningful, robust processes to ensure that once infringing content is taken down, the same infringing content does not immediately re-appear on the same service. To be an effective remedy, 'takedown' must mean 'stay down'".
Next, technology firms should set out to "thwart stream-ripping services", ie the tools that allow people to turn temporary streams into permanent downloads.
The industry groups say: "On-demand video streaming services can prevent stream-ripping services from circumventing their protective systems by ensuring that their technological protection measures stay ahead of the stream-ripping services, and by aggressively monitoring when and how their technical protections are being breached. Furthermore, search engines should make every effort not to link to such services".
And finally, "social media platforms should provide tools that allow copyright owners - regardless of their size - to monitor infringement of their own works and establish automated and scalable notice and takedown systems like many other user-upload platforms already have".
With COVID-19 still a major distraction and a Presidential election on the horizon in the US, a lot of this could get kicked into the long grass. And, of course, if safe harbour reform does formally appear on the Congressional agenda, the tech sector's lobbying machine will be ramped up to the max.
They'll probably start by saying that the Copyright Office is prone to side with copyright owners, that there has - in fact - been no "tilting" and, therefore, there's no need for even some moderate fine-tuning. The music industry, meanwhile, will hope that - by unifying like it did in Europe - maybe this time it can successfully take on the tech lobby's machine.
In the meantime, you can read the full safe harbour report, if you so wish, here.
Everyone comments on the US Copyright Office's safe harbour report
Mitch Glazier, CEO of the Recording Industry Association Of America: "Technology companies have shown they can solve some of the world's most difficult technical problems - legal, financial, or otherwise. Improved anti-piracy work is in everyone's best interest and the RIAA and our members stand ready to work with the platforms to get it done. We expect that Congress will closely review both the Copyright Office report and the steps taken by the platforms to fix the issues it has identified. The RIAA stands ready to support that process".
Richard Burgess, CEO of the American Association Of Independent Music: "Recorded music industry revenues are still artificially suppressed, 20 years after the digital disruption. There is no lack of demand. Music listeners and listening are at an all-time high while revenues hover around 50% of what they were in the year 2000 (by adjusted dollars). Common sense fixes would narrow the gap, especially for independent artists and labels that lack the means to adequately protect their intellectual property when they are up against internet platform behemoths that are literally the richest companies on earth. A2IM is eager to engage in the important steps that should follow the release of this report".
Irving Azoff, board member of the Music Artists Coalition: "The Copyright Office's report validates what every working musician knows: the music copyright system is broken and must be fixed. The interpretation of the DMCA by big tech strips music creators of the rights granted to them by the Constitution. Technology companies fight vigorously to protect their intellectual property but trample on copyright. The time has come for big tech to pay attention, read this report, and work with us to fix the system, rather than hiding behind an antiquated law that harms our working musicians, songwriters, producers and recording artists".
David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers Association: "The changes necessary to prevent large-scale, systematic piracy are simple and achievable. This report outlines where the system is failing, and we hope that it underscores the need for tech companies to do more about the theft they know they are enabling. Music has value, and as long as it is wilfully not protected, songwriters, artists and musicians will suffer. This study supports the fact that social media platforms and search engines can and should do better".
Michelle Lewis, Executive Director of the Songwriters Of North America: "The DMCA takedown system is the opposite of the way copyright is supposed to work, which is to get permission first. It is particularly unfair to songwriters and other individual creators, who lack the resources to track infringements in the ocean of the internet. Even when a takedown notice is sent, the material can pop right back up again on the very same platform. If we have to live with the DMCA system, it needs to be takedown, stay down. If there are better tools available to filter out re-postings, all creators should have the opportunity to use those tools, not just bigger players. Songwriters should be spending their time writing songs, not sending takedown notices".
Michael Huppe, CEO of record industry collecting society SoundExchange: "It comes as no surprise to music creators that the 22 year old DMCA provisions meant to protect their work online have not aged well. The realities of today's digital economy bear little resemblance to the technology anticipated when the DMCA became law. As this study shows, today's creators are forced to spend immense - and sometimes impossible - efforts trying to protect their rights. This is fixable, but it requires the cooperation of big tech companies that allow their platforms to trample the rights of creators while hiding behind the DMCA. The system can work better, and we all deserve a higher standard".
The Artist Rights Alliance: "When you cut through the bureaucratic caution and legalese, this report describes a simple, brutal truth: The tech monopolies are failing artists, songwriters, and music fans. And they couldn't care less ... The bottom line: tech platforms hold the keys to their own networks and could massively reduce the amount of online piracy and the crushing burden it imposes on working songwriters and musicians today if they wanted to. But they don't ... if we could get some common decency from the Silicon Valley giants, we could work out solutions to many of these issues without changes to the law. The Judiciary Committees asked for this report and must now push tech companies to find these solutions and insist that independent creators have a seat at the table. If that fails, Congress must act".
John Phelan, Director General of the International Confederation Of Music Publishers: "Today's report is significant in our worldwide fight for the full and fair valuation of music online. Its core conclusion is: 'safe harbour' laws for online services are 'unbalanced and out of sync with Congress's original intent'. We in the music industry agree. 'Safe harbours' have been the subject of notorious misuse by 'big tech' platforms for almost two decades, around the world. Such deliberate avoidance of full and fair licences denies everybody in music fair value of their work. The EU made historic strides towards a solution in Europe with last year's 'article seventeen' law. This report crystallises the need for change in the US".
Duran Duran sign with Warner Chappell
Confirming the deal, the Warner publishing firm's co-Chairs Carianne Marshall and Guy Moot sang out in perfect harmony, to the tune of 'Rio': "Duran Duran redefined the modern pop landscape in the 1980s and, over the past four decades, they've remained endlessly creative, continuing to evolve and reinvent themselves".
Following a sneaky key change, they sang on: "As brilliant songwriters and visual pioneers, the band's distinctive, original approach has continued to influence successive generations of artists, even as they have continued to raise the bar. All of us at Warner Chappell are immensely pleased that Duran Duran has chosen Warner Chappell as their new publishing home, and we welcome Roger, Simon, Nick, and John into the family".
They're talking about Roger Taylor, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor there, of course. Nice of them not to go with the frontman first in the list, isn't it? There'll be letting the bassist do the quote next.
No, not really! "We worked with both Carianne and Guy before they joined Warner Chappell", says Le Bon, "and we have long admired the kind of creative approach they bring to publishing. We are very much looking forward to this new partnership and to a successful future together for our catalogue".
Before Warner/Chappell, Moot was at Sony/ATV, which still controls the band's pre-1986 catalogue, including in the US. That latter point is somewhat controversial, of course, because Duran Duran reckon they should be able to employ the termination right under US copyright law and get the American rights in those songs back.
Moot's former employer argues that the termination right doesn't apply to British publishing contracts. That argument prevailed in a court battle in London, but the band quickly began appeal proceedings in what has become something of a test case on this point.
Lana Del Rey criticised for swipe at Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and more
She begins her statement: "Now that Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyonce have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, fucking, cheating, etc - can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money - or whatever I want - without being crucified or saying that I'm glamorising abuse?"
"I'm fed up with female writers and alt singers saying that I glamorise abuse, when in reality I'm just a glamorous person singing about the realities of what we are all are now seeing are very prevalent emotionally abusive relationships all over the world", she goes on.
"I'm not not a feminist", she adds. "But there has to be a place in feminism for women who look and act like me - the kind of woman who says no but men hear yes - the kind of women who are slated mercilessly for being their authentic, delicate selves, the kind of women who get their own stories and voices taken away from them by stronger women or by men who hate women".
"Anyways", she concludes, "none of this has anything to do about much but I'll be detailing some of my feelings in my next two books of poetry ... and I'm sure there will be tinges of what I've been pondering in my new album that comes out 5 Sep".
So, that was all actually an album announcement? Female musicians often rightly complain of being pitted against each other by the media, as if there's only room for one of them. Here Lana Del Rey is apparently doing it herself.
What, exactly is prompting this now is unclear, other than that she's apparently working on new material that has put this on her mind. Perhaps we will understand more when she releases the follow-up to last year's critically lauded 'Norman Fucking Rockwell' in, as she says, September.
Disclosure announce energetic new album
The duo have also released the album's title track. It features samples of hip hop preacher Eric Thomas, whose voice they previously used on 2013's 'When A Fire Starts To Burn'.
"When we found Eric many years ago, he was like a goldmine of inspirational quotes and motivational speeches", they say. "Even if he was speaking to a room of five it was like he was addressing a stadium. He has an immense presence and energy about him that translates so well into music - especially house music".
"This time we cut up various speeches to make something that makes sense", they add. "What he says is basically the whole concept for the record, that's why it became the title track".
Expanding on the album, they go on: "The thing that decided which songs made it and which songs didn't was that one word: energy. Every track was written really quickly. That's why we had to write so many songs because those ones don't come up every day. Or every week. Or every month".
The album will be released on 28 Aug and the duo have tried to make the physical versions of the release as environmentally-friendly as possible - from forgoing any plastic in the CD cases to using regranulated PVC in the vinyl and using sugarcane-derived shrink wrap.
Devildriver announce first part of new album project
"I've been social distancing since I was born", says frontman Dez Farara, explaining the lyrical content of the new track. "I've learned to try and embrace my agoraphobia all my life. This is what the lyrics are about as we are all sheltered in place. They seem very clear".
As for the album as a whole, he goes on: "I said to the guys, 'if we'd just met today, what kind of music would we make? How would we stand the test of time, stand apart from others and stand above the competition? Let's not focus on the past sound. Instead let's kick into the future together'".
"It's time to lay it all out, on two records", he adds, getting back into his lyrics. "I'm never gonna revisit these subjects again. I've been writing about this sort of human nature, disloyalty and dishonesty, love and loss, since the beginning of my career. I am going in a more lyrically woke direction in the future".
"A lot of people say my music gives them strength", he continues. "But what they don't realise is that these topics haunt me. Over the course of these last few years we fled from wildfires, my wife battled cancer and now we are going through a pandemic. So it is what it is. Let's dump it all on the table and purge. I want to go through different topics in the future, so here we are now. I've laid it all out on a double record for all of you to hear".
'Dealing With Demons I' will be released through Napalm Records on 9 Oct. Here's the video for 'Keep Away From Me'.
Soccer Mommy announces lockdown covers project
Each release in the series, arriving every two weeks, will see the musician and a friend - including MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden, Beabadoobee and Beach Bunny - covering one another's songs. The first release, out now, sees Soccer Mommy cover Jay Som's 'I Think You're Alright', while she takes on her song 'Lucy'.
"I'm super excited to kick things off with this Jay Som collab because [she] really made such an awesome new version of 'Lucy'", says Soccer Mommy. "I have also always loved her song 'I Think You're Alright', so it was great to get a chance to cover it. It has such a sweet tenderness to it that just makes you feel warm inside".
Jay Som adds: "I had an extremely fun time recording the 'Lucy' cover. [Soccer Mommy] has such a special way of entwining catchy melodies and sometimes dark chord progressions. I feel very lucky to be a part of this comp".
All net profits from the sale of the singles on Bandcamp will be donated to Oxfam's COVID-19 relief fund, which is working to prevent the spread of the virus in vulnerable communities. There is also an anonymous donor who will match all money raised up to $5000.
Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande have released a new track together, 'Rain On Me'. It will feature on Lady Gaga's new album, 'Chromatica', which is out next week.
That band that people like The 1975 release their new album - 'Notes On A Conditional Form' - today, 7000 years after it was first announced. To celebrate, they've done digital deals all around town. On Amazon Music there's a "Mindshower digital detox" and on Spotify the album comes with an "enhanced experience" around it. All of which should distract you from the quality of the music.
Ellie Goulding has slipped out a new song called 'Power', the first to be taken from her upcoming new album. "'Power' is about relationships in the 21st century, how they can now be dictated by social media, superficiality and material things", she says. "Dating can sometimes start out with lies or embellishments. The girl in the song is disillusioned by love and the cruel, good looking, self-obsessed people she keeps ending up with".
Out of nowhere (well, almost - there was talk), Carly Rae Jepson has gone and dropped new album 'Dedicated Side B'. "I couldn't be more THRILLED to share these tunes", she says. "I hope it makes yah dance your pants off". Yah. Here's the lyric video for album track 'This Love Isn't Crazy'.
Haim have released new single 'Don't Wanna'. "This song rolled off the tongue", say the band, all rolling their tongues together. "It's sexy, flirty and hopeful".
We Are Scientists have released new single 'I Cut My Own Hair'. "I've been cutting my own hair for years now", says frontman Keith Murray. "So one silver lining of this cloudy life in quarantine is that this behaviour, which others used to consider a sign of some flaw in my character, has now become an enviable skill. When I wrote the song last year, I was self-identifying as an outsider. Now, I guess, it's become more an anthem of unification".
Will Joseph Cook has released new single 'Driverless Cars'. It is, he says, "a very dumb, literal way of trying to express a lack of control and clear direction in my life. Surrendering to the fact that a lot of what happens to us is out of our control. For me at least, that was a really uncomfortable and difficult thing to process".
Seasick Steve has released new single 'Carni Days'. "I love that time early in the mornings when you're at summer festivals, and you can just walk around when everything's really quiet and still", he says. "That's where the line about morning dew on the grass comes from". Oh, by the way, there's a line about morning dew on the grass. His new album, 'Love & Peace', will be out on 24 Jul.
Inhaler have released new single 'Falling In'. It is, says frontman Elijah Hewson, "a song about the battles that we all have with our own ego". He is Bono's son though, so "we all" might actually be a fairly small group.
Knight$ has released a new lockdown-made video for his single 'Dollars & Cents', using footage from a show in London last year.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Wu-Tang Clan selling hand sanitiser to benefit charity projects in Ottawa
A collaboration between the group's lifestyle brand 36 Chambers and skincare company Jusu, the hand sanitiser is one of a number of products that the hip hop group is selling in aid of charity projects in Ottawa, Canada. For each bottle sold, another will be donated to a homeless shelter, as will a share of the profits - the main beneficiary being the Ottawa Mission Foundation.
The $20 hand cleaner is "all-natural, plant-based, vegan hand sanitiser with a spicy citrus scent" and its bottle has a bamboo top. Don't know if that swings it for you, if the charity stuff didn't.
"On 2 Apr 2020, a simple donation and tweet from Wu-Tang Clan was sent out in support of a campaign for the Ottawa Food Bank", reads a statement from the hip hop outfit and their 36 Chambers company. "Within 48 hours, that action helped spur an additional $280,000 in contributions. In turn, the thousands of people who donated have inspired us to further lend a hand during this unprecedented crisis".
"Whether it's through our music, or our actions, the purpose of 36 Chambers is to always see a better tomorrow", it goes on. "In collaboration with Mayor Jim Watson and the city of Ottawa, 36 Chambers is releasing the A Better Tomorrow Collection: three products that collectively will benefit the Ottawa Food Bank, The Ottawa Mission Foundation and Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario".
Why Ottawa though? 36 Chambers President Mustafa Shaikh explains to Canada's CTV: "We have a buddy in Ottawa, Adam Miron, and when the whole food drive thing was happening he reached out to see if we could get [Canadian TV presenter] George Stroumboulopoulos to retweet the food drive because he knows we have a good relationship [with him]".
"Instead", he goes on, "we just hopped on an internal Wu call and decided to make a donation ourselves and share the message. We didn't think it was going to become as big of a deal as it became. It was inspiring to us just how many people from Ottawa responded to it. That inspired us to work with the city of Ottawa to raise more funds and release the Better Tomorrow collection. It was great for RZA to give his blessing".
So that's why Ottawa. Stop asking.