|FRIDAY 31 JULY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The operator of stream-ripping services FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com is hoping to take his ongoing dispute over the jurisdiction of the American courts in relation to foreign websites to the US Supreme Court. That plan follows the refusal of an appeals court to consider the matter en banc... [READ MORE]|
Russian stream-ripping sites plan to take jurisdiction debate to US Supreme Court
Stream-ripping sites - which allow people to turn temporary streams into permanent downloads - have been a top piracy gripe of the music industry for some time, of course. For a few years now the record companies have been suing or threatening to sue various popular stream-ripping set-ups, resulting in a number of services actually going offline.
However, Tofig Kurbanov – operator of Russia-based FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com – fought back when his websites were sued for copyright infringement by the American record industry. And at first instance he successfully got the labels' lawsuit dismissed on jurisdiction grounds.
He argued that - because his websites were Russian operations with no direct business dealings in the US - the American courts did not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute, even though Americans used his services. And a district court in Virginia concurred.
The labels then took their case to the Fourth Circuit appeals court back in May, where judges concluded that the district court judge was wrong to quickly dismiss the lawsuit on those jurisdiction grounds. The appeal judges listed various reasons why it could be deemed that FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com were actively trading in the US - and specifically Virginia - even though the websites are formally based in Russia and don't require any sign-up from users.
The technical interaction that occurred between Kurbanov's servers and the computers of his site's American users constituted a "commercial relationship"; he'd had business dealings with US-based advertisers and server companies and registered a 'DMCA agent' with the US Copyright Office; plus he could but didn't seek to geo-block Americans from using FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com.
With all that in mind, appeal judges sent the case back to the district court ordering that a full hearing on the jurisdiction issue now take place. If, following that full hearing, the Virginia court decided it did, in fact, have jurisdiction, then the labels could present their arguments for why FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com should be held liable for the copyright infringement they facilitated.
But before any of that could happen, Kurbanov's lawyers went back to the Fourth Circuit to request that their case be reconsidered by the appeals court 'en banc', meaning more judges take part. Such hearings are usually reserved for cases that involve significant issues of law.
However, said Kurbanov's attorneys, there were sufficiently significant issues of law involved in this lawsuit, in particular whether or not a failure to geo-block the US - and/or allowing advertisers to geo-target US users - were, in fact, sufficient factors to rule that a foreign website was actively operating in the States. But the Fourth Circuit nevertheless declined to consider the matter again.
Speaking to Torrentfreak, one of those lawyers, Evan Fray-Witzer, said the Fourth Circuit's ruling set a dangerous precedent that could have a big impact on all foreign website operators. This makes it important enough for Supreme Court consideration, he added.
"The Supreme Court has not yet decided a case concerning personal jurisdiction based on internet contacts and we think this case would be a good opportunity for the court to address the issue head-on", he continued.
So we now await to see what the Supreme Court has to say, further dragging out this whole legal battle. The copyright arguments, remember, haven't even begun yet.
Triller sues TikTok for patent infringement
Although it's been around for a while now, music-centric video sharing app Triller has become much more buzzy within the music community in the last year or so, as all its various music licensing deals have started to fall into place, further investment has been raised, and the product itself has been honed somewhat.
Often talked about in tandem with good old TikTok, cynics might note that Triller is particularly well placed to cash in if any European or North American governments follow India's lead in banning its China-owned rival. Although Team Triller might argue that it's planning on winning the day by simply having a better product. If only bloody TikTok would stop ripping off its innovations.
Which brings us to the patent lawsuit filed with the courts in Texas. It's US Patent Number 9,691,429 that TikTok is accused of infringing. Which, and I'm sure I don't need to tell any of you this, covers "systems and methods for creating music videos synchronised with an audio track". According to TechCrunch, Triller reckons that TikTok is infringing on this patent by allowing its users to "stitch together multiple videos while using the same audio track".
Yeah, whatever. In patent law, when someone accuses you of infringing one of their patents, you usually respond by claiming they have infringed one of yours. So that's something to look forward to.
Meanwhile, don't be thinking that Triller's plan for taking on TikTok is all about patent squabbles and praying that Donald Trump, still bitter about that TikTokker-led rally ticket booking ruse, goes ahead and bans its big rival Stateside.
No, Triller is also busy signing up big time TikTok creators by inviting them to become advisors to and shareholders in the company. A move that also allows said creators to issue patriotic statements expressing concerns about their former content-platform-of-choice's Chinese owner and what it does with all that user data. Good times.
And talking of good times, if all that chatter about patent law is boring you silly and you're desperate to return to good old copyright battles, worry not. Responding to an MBW report about Triller raising a load more investment earlier this week, the boss of the US National Music Publishers Association David Israelite said on Instagram yesterday that the story's headline "should have read, 'Watch Out Triller. Have you licensed your music properly?' Just sayin... Stay tuned".
Of course, as noted, Triller already has plenty of licensing deals from and solid partnerships with the music industry. Though given how many tech start-ups still sort out their label deals way before agreeing terms with the music publishers and songwriter collecting societies - not to mention the huge complexities on the song licensing side - licensing gaps are almost inevitable.
Given Israelite's post, presumably Triller's buzz becoming ever more buzzy - and all that new finance it's securing - is making those licensing gaps all the more annoying.
And so we look forward to the NMPA's possible copyright lawsuit. Because, while variety may indeed be the spice of life, at CMU, we'd take a messy copyright bust-up over a stupid patent spat any day of the week. Bring it on!
Solo 45 given 29 year sentence following rape conviction
The former member of grime collective Boy Better Know admitted during his trial at Bristol Crown Court that he liked to "terrorise" women during sex, but said that all four of his accusers had consented to be part of a "rape game".
The court disagreed and he was found guilty of 30 charges - covering rape, assault and false imprisonment - back in March this year.
According to BBC News, on confirming the sentence, Judge William Hart told Anokye: "I'm entirely satisfied that your career as a music artist was flourishing at the time of this offending and that you would have gone to great heights. Your convictions have deprived you of that career but the fault is yours alone".
Anokye was sentenced to 24 years in prison, with a further five years on licence.
StubHub to close offices in Asia Pacific and Latin America
The secondary ticketing companies have been facing all the same challenges as the primary ticketing firms as the COVID-19 shutdown of live entertainment has taken hold across the world. Though, if anything, the challenges have been more significant for the resale sites, because they often have to issue refunds for cancelled shows and then recoup that money from touts who need to recoup it from the primary seller.
Sites like StubHub have also always made a much bigger deal about their money back guarantees, because of the risks associated with buying tickets from touts. As a result, in those countries where consumer rights law doesn't force an automatic cash refund on a cancelled show, if and when StubHub declines to issue such a refund the reputation damage is particularly acute. Plus, in North America, refusing cash refunds has led to litigation.
On top of all of that, there is the UK regulator caused delay to the merger of StubHub with its rival Viagogo. After Viagogo completed its deal to buy StubHub from its former owner eBay back in February, integration of the two firms should have begun, resulting in various cost savings. But with that deal yet to get regulator approval in the UK, the two companies are still operating autonomously.
Nevertheless, StubHub boss Sukhinder Singh Cassidy has already departed. Announcing she was standing down in May - because once it becomes a Viagogo subsidiary, StubHub won't need a president - she insisted that the firm was now in a position to successfully navigate the COVID-19 shutdown.
Since then, of course, it's become clear that shutdown is going to last for some time yet in many countries. And the UK's Competition & Markets Authority launched a more in-depth investigation into the Viagogo/StubHub merger, meaning it will be at least six months until the deal is cleared, even if the investigation ultimately goes in the two companies' favour.
According to the emails seen by The Guardian, StubHub has told staff that its offices in Asia Pacific and Latin America will now close. Explaining that swift action needed to be taken because of the challenges caused by COVID, the email stated: "This decision has not been made lightly, nor easily, and unfortunately it means that we have to bid farewell to our colleagues in Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea".
StubHub's operations in those regions will now be run out of its bases in Europe. Although even there, some staff are facing redundancy, while others will be furloughed, in particular at the company's offices in Madrid.
Despite all that, a spokesperson for StubHub insisted that the company remained optimistic about the future, telling The Guardian: "While events will be among the last to return to normal following this pandemic, we're confident in the industry's ability to rebound. For now, we continue to support our customers and partners and look forward to a time when we are able to return to the joy of live events and the special connections that come with them".
Emmy The Great says her nationality was queried by "a major music award"
The query regarding Emmy The Great - real name Emma-Lee Moss - seemingly occurred because she was born in Hong Kong. But when she was born, Hong Kong was still a British colony, and she moved to the UK as a British citizen while still a child.
In a series of tweets, she said: "In 2011, after LP2, my manager told me she'd been contacted by a major music award committee to check if I was British. I was in shock for maybe three years and then settled into the mild cynicism and slight mistrust that fuels me now".
"I'd put this award on a pedestal and then discovered it had a similar attitude towards me to kids in school who weren't sure where HK was (fair enough, they were just kids)", she continued.
"The UK music industry is so creative and vast, and yet some people feel that they perpetually operate outside of it, even when they are contributing directly to it for their entire professional lives", she went on. "Solidarity to Rina Sawayama, it's a lonely feeling to be asserting your right to be you, instead of freely celebrating the joy of an album release".
In a subsequent tweet, she added: "I think the fear for me was that, while I was using music to explore a profoundly-felt identity, others might wonder if I had the right to do so. Scary implications for my career if this included gatekeepers within the industry I was trying to make it in".
Earlier this week - after much uproar that she was not included in this year's Mercury Prize shortlist - Sawayama revealed that she had not been allowed to enter. Born in Japan, she has lived in the UK since she was a toddler and has indefinite leave to remain status. However, she does not hold the British passport necessary to be considered for a Mercury.
Avi Buffalo and Ian Svenonius labels withdraw music over abuse claims
The allegations against Avi Buffalo - real name Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg - were made by Rebecca Coleman of the duo Pageants. In a statement on the Pageants Instagram profile earlier this week, she said that both assaults took place while she was a member of Zahner-Isenberg's band.
She concludes her statement by saying: "Upon my exit from the band [in 2010] I signed a contract not to talk negatively about Avi/Avi Buffalo etc. I do not know if this contract still stands, but honestly, I do not give a fuck. Time's Up".
In a statement to Pitchfork, Sub Pop - which released Avi Buffalo's first two albums, 2010's 'Avi Buffalo' and 2014's 'At Best Cockold' - said that it was "unaware" of any contract between Zahner-Isenberg and Coleman, adding: "After hearing about a rape accusation that was shared yesterday, Sub Pop is in the process of removing all Avi Buffalo music from our stores and digital services".
"We do not accept sexual abuse and assault towards anybody and we commend anyone who is able to muster up the strength to speak out and share their experiences; that's not easy", it went on. "We believe and support Rebecca and hope that she is able to cope and heal".
Meanwhile, Merge Records has also announced that it is withdrawing its releases by Ian Svenonius's Escape-ism project, after he published and then deleted a statement on social media admitting to being "completely inappropriate with women".
Svenonius wrote: "I want to use this forum to say that I support people speaking out for the eradication of abusive predatory modes and also that I am absolutely one of the guilty parties. That, through my narcissism, egotism, and thoughtlessness, I have acted the creep. That I have made people I cared about and respected feel terrible, have been completely inappropriate to women".
"To anyone I have made feel bad or uncomfortable, I sincerely apologise and throw myself at your mercy", he went on." I always believed that I was a revolutionary and now my revolutionary act is self-immolation".
Following this, Merge - which released 2017's 'Introduction To Escape-ism' and 2018's 'The Lost Record' - said in a statement: "Merge Records has severed ties with Ian Svenonius moving forward, and we are pulling his catalogue from our webstore, physical distributors, and streaming/download services".
It went on: "The information and allegations surrounding Ian's post last Friday have been illuminating and disheartening. We see and stand with all those who have come forward and all those who haven't, and we will continue working and listening to do our part in making the music community one that is safer and more inclusive for everyone".
Neither Zahner-Isenberg nor Svenonius have commented publicly following the statements from their respective record labels. Avi Buffalo's social media accounts have been deleted.
Billie Eilish has shared brand new single 'My Future'. "It's a song that's really really personal and special to me", she says. "When we wrote this song, it was exactly where my head was at – hopeful, excited and a craaaazy amount of self-reflection and self-growth. But recently it has also taken on a lot of new meaning in the context of what's happening in the world now. I hope you can all find meaning in it for yourselves".
Beyonce has released the video for 'Already', featuring Shatta Wale and Major Lazer, taken from her 'Black Is King' visual album, which is out on Disney+ today.
Sam Smith has released new single 'My Oasis', featuring Burna Boy. "This track has been a beautiful release of emotions for me during this time", he says. "I've been a fan of Burna Boy for years now and am so happy to have a tune with him".
A$AP Ferg has released new single 'Move Ya Hips', featuring Nicki Minaj and MadeinTYO.
Bastille have released new single 'What You Gonna Do???', featuring Blur's Graham Coxon. "We finished the song and it felt urgent", says the band's Dan Smith. "We didn't want to sit on it. We want to put it out now and not wait for the whole album to be done before anyone starts to hear it. This is about where we are now and hearing us in real-time".
AG Cook has announced the release of a perhaps excessive 49 track new album called '7G'. Split across seven discs - titled 'Drums', 'Guitar', 'Supersaw', 'Piano', 'Nord', 'Spoken Word' and 'Extreme Vocals' - the record mixes original tracks with covers of artists including Blur, The Smashing Pumpkins, Taylor Swift and Sia. Here is a seven minute megamix by way of introduction. The album is out on 12 Aug.
Jorja Smith has released new single 'By Any Means'. "The inspiration behind 'By Any Means' really came from going to the Black Lives Matter protest and leaving thinking, what can I do to keep this conversation going? It's not just a post on social media, it's life", she says.
Mastodon have put out the opening track of an upcoming rarities compilation, 'Fallen Torches'. It was, they say, "recorded in Atlanta in 2019, originally planned to be released in support of a European tour". But that release didn't happen, hence they get to call it a 'rarity' now. The compilation, titled 'Medium Rarities', will be out on 11 Sep.
Ava Max has announced that she will release her debut album, 'Heaven & Hell', on 18 Sep. Here's new single, 'Who's Laughing Now'.
Griff has released new track 'Say It Again'. "When I wrote 'Say It Again', a lot of my girlfriends were going through mental health issues, and I felt so helpless", she says. "So this song is basically my helpless self-trying to reassure a friend who's going through a really difficult time".
Mariah The Scientist has put out new track 'Always N Forever', featuring Lil Baby.
Greg Puciato has released new track 'Roach Hiss', featuring Converge's Ben Koller on drums.
Iliketrains have released new single 'A Steady Hand'. Their new album, 'Kompromat', is out on 21 Aug.
Oklou has announced that she will release her debut mixtape, 'Galore', on 24 Sep. From it, this is 'Unearth Me'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Post Malone "can't tell you" how many UFOs he's seen
"I've seen one", he began coyly, while appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast this week. "I was probably sixteen. I was in upstate New York and it would just stay there. Let me precursor this, my aunt and uncle were very strict, and we had to go to bed at a very strict deadline, probably 10pm. And I was looking out the window with my cousin and it's just a light that just stays there and then just fuckin goes off. I mean, you can't explain it".
"In Utah, that shit happens all the time... even here in LA, I can't tell you how many times [I've seen UFOs]. I used to live in [LA neighbourhood] Tarzana. There was a balcony and [this UFO] looked kind of like, it sounds corny, but like a classic forcefield. Whenever you think of a forcefield, and it's kind of like a dome in a circular shape, and it just goes like this [moves hands apart] and goes back in. In Tarzana. Looking down at the fuckin city. And I'm like, how did no one else see this?"
How indeed. Although, he adds, "I was there with four other people, and they saw it too".