|TUESDAY 28 JULY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Another US internet company facing copyright infringement claims from the music industry has hit back accusing the major record companies of submitting takedown notices for tracks they don't control, in violation of America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act... [READ MORE]|
Another ISP accuses the record industry of submitting dodgy takedown notices
This time it is former internet service provider Bright House Networks making these claims. Like Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Grande Communications, it is accused by the record labels and music publishers of having a slack approach to dealing with copyright infringement and infringers on its network. Sufficiently slack, in fact, that it cannot rely on protection from the pesky copyright safe harbour, says the music industry.
Without safe harbour protection, these net firms can be held liable for their customers' infringement. Something that got BMG $25 million in damages when it pursued the test case on this against Cox. The majors then collectively scored a billion dollars in damages in their follow-on lawsuit, though that final damages figure could as yet be cut back by the courts. But either way, being held liable for your customers' infringement can be costly for ISPs.
The legal cases against Charter, Grande and Bright House are ongoing. In its most recent legal filing, Bright House denies most of the allegations made against it before laying into the labels over the takedown notices they submit to net firms, something also covered by the safe harbour section of the aforementioned DMCA.
It points out that, as the case against Bright House has gone through the motions, the labels have removed from their lawsuit some of the specific tracks the ISP's customers are accused of infringing. There were also some tracks listed in the earlier Cox case not mentioned in the Bright House case.
That, the internet company argues, is because the labels have realised they don't actually control the rights in those tracks, despite previously submitting takedown notices that said they did.
Those allegations are important for companies like Bright House because they provide an excuse for why ISPs might ignore takedown notices sent to them by music companies, and also potentially mean that the labels themselves are in violation of the DMCA, which also sets out some rules for those issuing takedowns.
In a recent legal filing, Bright House states: "Upon information and belief, at least in connection with the dropped works ... plaintiffs sent notices to Bright House with inaccurate information".
That allegedly inaccurate information included: "That the record company plaintiff on whose behalf the notice was sent owned or controlled the work, and that the actions alleged to have been taken by Bright House's subscribers constituted infringement of the record company plaintiffs' rights".
Based on the argument that the "dropped works" weren't actually controlled by the labels, it goes on: "Plaintiffs either had or should have had knowledge, or acted with reckless indifference in failing to acquire knowledge, of the status of their purported ownership or control of copyrights when they sent infringement notices regarding those copyrights, including those at issue in this case".
If all this sounds rather familiar, you're possibly thinking of the dodgy takedown arguments previously presented by mixtape sharing platform Spinrilla in its copyright dispute with the labels. Or maybe the similar complaints made by Charter back in March as part of its ongoing legal battle with the music industry.
The fact that Bright House has made very similar complaints to Charter shouldn't come as any surprise really. Because Bright House is now a subsidiary of Charter Communications and actually, these days, operates under Charter's Spectrum brand.
The record companies responded to Charter's claims of dodgy takedowns last month, accusing the net firm of making claims based on a "pyramid of conjecture".
They stated in a legal filing: "Charter speculates on information and belief that [the labels] do not own or control exclusive rights in 'at least some of these works'. Charter then leaps further to speculate, again on information and belief, that [the labels] did not own them years ago, but knowingly sent Charter false infringement notices about them anyway".
None of that can be proven, the labels went on, so Charter's counterclaim should be dismissed.
Given Bright House's recent complaint is pretty much a carbon copy of that previously made by its parent company, presumably a carbon copy response from the labels will follow.
Yellowcard drop Juice Wrld song-theft lawsuit
The former members of Yellowcard - the band having split in 2017 - sued Juice Wrld, real name Jarad Higgins, last October accusing him of lifting elements of their 2006 song 'Holly Wood Died' for his 2018 track 'Lucid Dreams'. The lawsuit was filed less than two months before Higgins' tragic death in December last year.
The band initially indicated that they planned to proceed with the lawsuit, though accepted that defendants would need more time to get their response together. In February, the case was stayed so that the Higgins estate could pick a representative to participate in the legal battle. A few weeks ago it was confirmed that that representative would be Higgins' mother Carmela Wallace.
That appointment may well have resulted in the band's decision to dismiss the lawsuit at this time. Their lawyer Richard Busch told reporters yesterday: "My clients really were uncomfortable about pursuing this action against Juice Wrld's grieving mother as the representative of his estate".
"As they said previously", he went on, "they also are incredibly sympathetic about his death, and were torn initially about pursuing this in light of his death. As a result of all that has happened, they simply need additional time to decide what they want to do".
However, the lawyer also stressed that the dismissal was without prejudice, allowing the action to be re-filed in the future.
The legal rep for the Higgins estate, Christine Lapera, confirmed that the Yellowcard case had been dismissed without any out-of-court settlement being agreed, adding that her side were still confident they could defeat the lawsuit if it is re-filed at any point.
She told Pitchfork: "Defendants were fully prepared to defend against the allegations - viewed as without merit - and remain so prepared should it become necessary. There was no settlement or consideration whatsoever for plaintiffs' voluntary dismissal".
If the band do decide to go legal in the future, presumably again seeking a cut of the copyright in 'Lucid Dreams' as well as damages, one complication is that a slice of that copyright has already been handed to Sting over an uncleared sample in the track.
And, according to the New York Times, he and his long-time collaborator Dominic Miller are already getting 85% of the song royalties generated by 'Lucid Dreams' because of that uncleared sample. Which doesn't leave all that much for Team Yellowcard to grab.
Warner's ADA launches new Latin division
"Global impact is a cornerstone of ADA, we're the indie that can scale", says Warner Music's Independent Music & Creator Services chief Eliah Seton. "Being a leader in Latin America is mission-critical to delivering on this promise. As we continue to expand and connect our networks, capabilities and services globally, Juan's appointment and the team and roster he is building represent a huge milestone. A manager himself, he has the creative credibility to be a true partner to artists - and his marketing acumen is unparalleled, having been an executive at some of the biggest players in the region".
Jaun, by the way, is Jaun Paz, an artist manager and music marketer who has previously worked for the Latin divisions of Sony Music and EMI and who, I've been reliably told, by secret insiders who know about these things, has the creative credibility to be a true partner to artists and a marketing acumen that is unparalleled. Oh, actually, now I come to think about it, it was Seton who said all that. In the last paragraph. I knew I'd heard it somewhere.
"As someone with an entrepreneurial background who has touched all aspects of the music business, I was drawn to ADA's unique position in the industry", adds Paz himself. "There's so much opportunity, especially in this region, and the local artistic community will benefit from having a strong advocate and partner to rely on".
Based in Miami, ADA Latin will spearhead the Warner division's operations in Latin America, Spain and Portugal, and work with Latin music-makers in the US too.
Primal Scream and New Order vocalist Denise Johnson dies
Johnson worked with numerous other artists and bands over her career, particularly in her native Manchester, including New Order, 808 State, A Certain Ratio, Ian Brown, Beth Orton and more. She appeared on Primal Scream's 'Screamadelica' album after being asked to sing on the track 'Don't Fight It, Feel It', and subsequently toured with the band for several years.
New Order paid one of many tributes to Johnson on Twitter, saying that they are "devastated to hear the sad news that Denise Johnson has passed away. She was a beautiful person with a huge talent. Her voice graced many of our albums and live shows and that of our friends. We will miss her dearly".
Johnny Marr - who worked with Johnson alongside New Order's Bernard Sumner for their Electronic project - added: "Playing alongside her was something else. It was a privilege to work with her".
Prior to her death, Johnson had been preparing for the release of her debut solo album, 'Where Does It Go', in September.
CP Lee dies
"He had a cardiac arrest; he couldn't have even known about it", she said. "He was in really good health and so happy to be meeting up with his chum John [Reed] from Cherry Red Records who has helped me today".
Lee originally gained prominence in comedy rock band Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias in the 1970s, with whom he co-wrote stage show 'Sleak' and TV programme 'Teach Yourself Gibberish', as well as three studio albums. During this time he also recorded an LP as Gerry And The Holograms with John Scott.
In a varied career, he also wrote and performed a tribute show to 1940s comedian Lord Buckley, authored books about Bob Dylan and the Manchester music scene, and lectured at the University Of Salford.
As a music and comedy historian, he also contributed to and appeared in many BBC documentaries on TV and radio, while in 2007 he published an autobiography called 'When We Were Thin'.
Little Simz, AJ Tracey and IMPALA's Helen Smith announced as AIM Awards winners
Little Simz will take away this year's Pioneer Award, while AJ Tracey will win the Innovator Award. Both will also perform at the virtual event.
"Delighted to receive the Pioneer Award this year and excited to perform", says Little Simz. Tracey adds: "Being an independent artist is incredibly important to me and winning this award is a huge honour. I'm a massive fan of those who have received this before me so it really means a lot".
Also getting an award, although - as far as we know - not planning to get up and perform a song, is Helen Smith of pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA, who will take the Indie Champion Award.
"AIM is where I started out in the independent sector, so this is a very special award to me", she says. "I feel very privileged to work in such an inspiring community which is incredibly dynamic and fast-moving. AIM is one of the key contributors to IMPALA's energy and it's an honour to receive this award".
Paul Pacifico, CEO of AIM, says of these winners: "AJ Tracey and Little Simz are two of the most ground-breaking and talented artists to have emerged in recent years from the UK's unparalleled music scene. It seems fitting for a year in which the AIM Awards have pivoted to become virtual, that these two innovators are recognised for their achievements".
"On the industry side, Helen Smith has been a stalwart advocate for the independent sector throughout her career", he continues. "In her leadership of Europe's independents at IMPALA, Helen has led several crucial lobbying campaigns, including on the recent European Copyright Directive".
"Her unrelenting dedication has ensured that the voice of our community has been heard and considered", he adds, "resulting in a better deal for independents across the continent and, in fact, a more constructive landscape for all stakeholders. The Indie Champion award is a fitting tribute".
More announcements are set to be made today via the AIM Awards mobile app, where you'll also be able to watch and interact with the ceremony when it takes place on 12 Aug.
BRANDS & MERCH
If you pop into Burger King and buy a Whopper burger, you can scan a QR code on the packaging and watch Tinie [Tempah] perform his new single, 'Whoppa', on top of your food, thanks to augmented reality. The fast food chain says this is "believed to be the smallest gig ever", which suggests it's not sure what a gig actually is. Maybe it's hoping that, thanks to COVID, everyone else has forgotten too.
The release of Katy Perry's new album 'Smile' has been pushed back two weeks to 28 Aug, due to "unavoidable production delays".
BTS have announced that they will release a new English language single on 21 Aug. "We are preparing an album for the second half of this year, but decided to first release a single because we wanted to reach our fans as soon as possible", they said in an announcement. "Due to COVID-19, people around the world have been going through tough times and we wanted to share some positive energy with our fans".
Octavian has released a new collaboration with Future, called 'Rari (Chapter 1)'. The producer's debut album is set for release later this year.
Run The Jewels have released the video for 'Just', featuring Pharrell Williams and Zach Del La Roch, from their 'RTJ4' album.
Jpegmafia has put out his latest lockdown release 'Living Single'.
Hudson Mohawke has released a "little EP of classic R&B bootlegs I've made over the years". Called 'Heart Of The Night', it features his takes on Beyonce and Sean Paul's 'Baby Boy', Christina Milian's 'Dip It Low' and more.
Austra has released the video for 'I Am Not Waiting', from her 'Hirudin' album.
The Levellers have released new single 'Our Future'. New album 'Peace' is out on 14 Aug.
Jessy Lanza has released the video for 'Over And Over' from her new album, 'All The Time', which came out on Friday through Hyperdub.
Aimee Osbourne - the daughter of Sharon and Ozzy who decided that being in a reality show might not be such a great idea - has released a new track under the name ARO. Titled 'Shared Something With The Night', she describes it as "a My Bloody Valentine lullaby for the romantically tormented that struggle to sleep at night".
GIGS & TOURS
Doves have announced their first UK tour for more than a decade, which will probably take place in March and April next year. They've also released a remix of recent single 'Carousels' by The Comet Is Coming.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Neil Young now thinking about suing Donald Trump over his use of Rockin The Free World
Young, of course, is one of a plethora of musicians who have - in the past - criticised Trump's use of their music at his political events. In Young's case, it's usually 'Rockin The Free World' that gets played.
To what extent artists and songwriters can stop Trump from using their songs on copyright grounds is debatable, as most of the venues he uses for his events have blanket licences from song right collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP (and, in the US, no licence is actually required on the recordings side).
That said, the Trump campaign has its own political events licence from BMI and ASCAP too, which songwriters can opt out of, and which bans licensees from relying on venue licences where writers have decided to specifically exclude their songs from any one politician's licence.
However, the legal technicalities of all that remain somewhat ambiguous. Some lawyers reckon there are other grounds that could be used to stop politicians from using an artist's music at their events, but those too are as yet untested.
For his part, in the past Young - although clearly not especially happy Trump uses his music - has generally seemed to accept that there's little he can do about it. Although in a post on his Neil Young Archives website last month he said that he reckoned there were, in fact, grounds to sue.
Despite that conclusion, he wouldn't go legal, he said at the time, because he didn't want to distract the President and his team from the challenge of battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, more recent events are causing Young to rethink, he has now written. In particular, Trump's employment of federal law enforcement officers in various US cities to deal with ongoing protests, despite opposition from the mayors of said cities, who argue that local law enforcement had everything under control. And, if anything, the federal officers are making matters worse.
That policy has lead to debates in Washington over the legality of the Trump administration's use of federal officers in this way, the President's excuse being that they are protecting federal buildings in each targeted city. Meanwhile, others have criticised the tactics and conduct of the officers who have been employed, and also their use of army-style uniforms.
With all that mind, Young writes in a new post: "I am changing my mind about suing President Trump ... There is a long history to consider and I originally considered it, deciding not to pursue. But then President Trump ordered thugs in uniform onto our streets. His idea. He ordered it himself. This all DJT".
Running through various criticisms - both his own and those of others - about the employment and conduct of those "thugs in uniform", he concludes: "Imagine what it feels like to hear 'Rockin In The Free World' after this President speaks, like it is his theme song. I did not write it for that".
We await to see if any legal action does, in fact, follow. And if so, what specific arguments are employed.