TODAY'S TOP STORY: A coalition of American tech giants, start-ups, libraries, educational organisations and digital rights campaigners has sent a copyright wish list to members of US Congress. Among other things, it calls for some safe harbour reform. Although not the kind safe harbour reform you're thinking of. According to the Re:Create Coalition, if law-makers want to meddle with American safe harbour rules, they should focus on strengthening the penalties for copyright owners who issue "abusive and fraudulent" takedown notices against safe harbour dwelling platforms... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES America's Re:Create Coalition calls for safe harbour reform that affects copyright owners not platforms
DEALS Jason Derulo signs to Atlantic
Zara Larsson signs to Sony Music Publishing

Big Machine signs sub-publishing deal with Peermusic

LIVE BUSINESS AEG Presents and Japanese major label Avex launch new live company AEGX
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski dies
GIGS & FESTIVALS Download Festival cancelled
ONE LINERS Holly Humberstones, Desire Marea, Jeff Buckley, more
AND FINALLY... Cyprus's Eurovision entry draws protests from religious groups
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America's Re:Create Coalition calls for safe harbour reform that affects copyright owners not platforms
A coalition of American tech giants, start-ups, libraries, educational organisations and digital rights campaigners has sent a copyright wish list to members of US Congress. Among other things, it calls for some safe harbour reform. Although not the kind safe harbour reform you're thinking of. According to the Re:Create Coalition, if law-makers want to meddle with American safe harbour rules, they should focus on strengthening the penalties for copyright owners who issue "abusive and fraudulent" takedown notices against safe harbour dwelling platforms.

The Coalition's letter to Congress members states: "There has been no better time for creativity in history. Thanks to technological innovation, today there are more artists and authors creating more works on more platforms than ever before. The internet is the largest of these platforms, enabling billions to be earned by creators. These online platforms and the creators that use them rely on the exclusive rights granted by copyright law, but also on the law's flexibility such as fair use and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbours".

Of course, many of those artists and authors have actually become very critical of the copyright safe harbour over the years. The safe harbour means that an internet platform cannot be held liable for any copyright infringement undertaken by its users, providing it has a takedown system in place via which copyright owners can request that infringing content be removed. Many creators and copyright owners argue that, while the basic principle of safe harbour may be sound, its implementation since the DMCA was passed in 1998 has proven problematic.

Various issues have been raised, though a big one is that as soon as a safe harbour platform has removed some infringing content because of a takedown notice it received, the same bit of content is re-uploaded by another user. That requires the copyright owner to issue another takedown, beginning an endless game of Whac-A-Mole.

The other major gripe is that platforms like YouTube unfairly exploit safe harbour protection to strengthen their negotiating hands when seeking licensing deals from music and media companies.

That latter gripe, of course, led to article seventeen of the 2019 EU Copyright Directive, which is currently being implemented across Europe and seeks to amend the European version of the safe harbour in a way that increases the specific obligations of safe harbour dwelling user-upload platforms.

Meanwhile, lobbying continues in both Europe and the US to further reform safe harbour rules so that platforms don't just have to operate takedown systems, but must instead have takedown-and-stay-down systems. Which would mean that, if a piece of content was removed once, the platform would then need to make sure it didn't pop back up.

The latter idea has been embraced in Washington by Thom Tillis, Chair of the IP Sub-Committee in the US Senate. His committee led a series of discussions reviewing the copyright safe harbour last year, hearing from copyright owners who were adamant that reform was now necessary, and tech companies who strongly argued that the current system works just fine.

More persuaded by the former camp, he is now proposing reform of the American safe harbour, with a takedown-and-stay-down obligation at the heart of his proposals.

"Attempts to increase the protections provided by US copyright law may serve an important purpose", writes Re:Create in its letter to Congress members, "but in doing so we must remain mindful that a heavy-handed approach will only stifle free speech, creativity and the economy writ large. The US government should seek the appropriate balance in copyright law to unlock the full potential of all people's innovative and creative spirit".

"The DMCA's balance is largely working", it then argues, even though "ever since the DMCA passed in 1998, the entertainment industries have been trying to get rid of its balancing provisions". Therefore, it says, "we recommend that the DMCA's notice and takedown regime largely be left alone".

That said, there is actually room for improvement, Re:Create reckons. But not in increasing the obligations of the platforms that operate takedown systems, rather Congress should focus on better regulating the copyright owners that issue takedowns and further empowering the online creators who reckon takedowns issued against their content are unwarranted.

"There is a need to strengthen the penalties for abusive and fraudulent notices", Re:Create goes on "and to make it easier to file counter-notices on non-infringing content".

The letter also notes that some safe harbour dwelling platforms, such as YouTube, have voluntarily made their takedown systems more sophisticated, with an element of takedown-and-stay-down, as well as monetisation tools for copyright owners.

Despite the music industry's rocky relationship with YouTube, generally the music community likes its Content ID rights management technology, and would like YouTube to make it better, and more accessible to the wider creative community. And for all other safe harbour dwelling services to build something similar.

But Re:Create raises concerns about those voluntary improvements too. "Some platforms have gone beyond the requirements of notice and takedown, implementing their own systems that allow copyright holders the option to request infringing content is taken down or to make money off of the content", it continues.

"This system largely works well for traditional rights-holders, but can hurt the new generation of digital creators who sometimes have their content de-monetised or blocked for non-infringing uses, such as fair use".

The letter covers plenty of other copyright issues other than safe harbour, including the there mentioned fair use principle. That's the rather large and somewhat ambiguous copyright exception that exists in US law, providing scenarios where people can legally make use of copyright material without licence. All copyright systems provide some such exceptions, though fair use under the US system is generally much wider.

"Fair use is an essential part of our copyright system", reckons Re:Create. "It is the yin to copyright enforcement's yang, coexisting with each other, incentivising creativity and innovation. The Supreme Court has found that copyright is a government-granted monopoly on speech, and it is the fair use doctrine that ensures this monopoly does not violate the First Amendment".

"Our recommendations around fair use", it goes on, "are to ensure it is serving its purpose and allow it to flourish. As the US embarks on exporting our copyright policy through trade agreements, we need to make sure that balancing provisions like fair use and [safe harbour] are also included, as otherwise we are exporting the yin without the yang".

As noted, although copyright exceptions exist everywhere, exporting fair use to other countries would greatly expand the scenarios where such exceptions apply.

One last noteworthy moan in the Re:Create letter relates to the recently passed CASE Act which sets up a small claims court for copyright infringement complaints in the US.

Popular with the music community - and other creative sectors - needless to say, Re:Create isn't keen on those reforms either. "A small claims copyright court is a good idea", it concedes, "[but] the CASE Act is unconstitutional, unworkable and needs to be fixed".

You can read the full Re:Create wish list here.


Jason Derulo signs to Atlantic
Jason Derulo has signed a new record deal with Warner Music's Atlantic Records in the US. It brings the musician back into the Warner fold, albeit with a much more favourable deal.

Derulo was previously signed to what was then known as Warner Bros Records. More recently, he has collaborated with Atlantic itself on some single releases, but via the Warner division's alliance with Mike Caran's Artist Partner Group. The new deal sees his sign with Atlantic directly.

"For this next phase of my career finding a 50/50 partner and owning my masters was important to me, and the fact that Atlantic understood my vision from a creative and business perspective makes this a perfect match", says Derulo. "I want to thank Julie, Craig, and the entire Atlantic team and all the fans who continue to support me".

"I couldn't be more excited to have found a home", he adds. "I'm gearing up for the most exciting era of my career. I can't stress enough how great it feels to be with an incredible label that believes in my vision as much as I believe in their abilities to move mountains in the music industry globally".

The aforementioned Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald, CEO and COO of Atlantic respectively, add in a joint statement: "Jason's relationship with WMG began with a string of multi-platinum successes at Warner Records. Over this past year, we've been fortunate to work successfully alongside him through our partnership with Mike Caren's APG, which led naturally to bringing Jason fully into the Atlantic family with this new long-term deal".

"He's an amazing singer and songwriter, an incredible dancer, and a phenomenal performer", they go on, "and we're THRILLED to welcome him to the label".


Zara Larsson signs to Sony Music Publishing
Ahead of the release of her new album 'Poster Girl' this week, Sony Music Publishing has announced that it has signed Zara Larsson to a new global deal.

"I'm so excited to start working with everyone at Sony Music Publishing", she says. "They have such an incredible team and roster and I can't wait to be a part of it".

Sony Music Publishing's SVP A&R for Europe, Johnny Tennander, adds: "We're incredibly proud to be working with Zara and to welcome her to Sony Music Publishing. Zara is a real artist and she also stands for something - she has something to say".

Name checking the Swedish label that first signed Larsson - and the Sony label that has also worked on her recent releases - Tennander goes on: "Ola Håkansson and the Ten team, together with the Epic team, have done an amazing job building her career into becoming a global superstar, and we very much look forward to being a part of the team and taking Zara to new heights".

SVP Creative Katie Welle chips in: "Zara has already achieved an incredible global legacy yet has so much future ahead of her. We are THRILLED to partner with Zara and the rest of her incredible team".

On Monday next week, following the release of that new album and coinciding with International Women's Day, Larsson will broadcast a live performance on her YouTube channel.


Big Machine signs sub-publishing deal with Peermusic
Independent music firm Big Machine has announced a new deal with Peermusic which will see the latter sub-publish the former's song rights catalogue outside the US. In the States, Big Machine Music - as the Nashville-based company's publishing division is known - will continue to administer its own catalogue.

"We see in Peermusic a reflection of our own independent spirit and dedication to delivering personalised service to our songwriters", says Mike Molinar, General Manager of Big Machine Music. "The international team ... shares our business and creative values and we look forward to working with [them]".

Nigel Elderton, President of Peermusic Europe, adds: "The Big Machine Music team put their service to their clients first and foremost - we share that ethos. What the Big Machine Music team have built in the past eight years is phenomenal. They are exceptional music publishers that have developed a rich catalogue, overflowing with hits. We are THRILLED to partner with them for global sub-publishing".

The wider Big Machine Label Group, of course, was sold by founder Scott Borchetta to Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings in 2019. Much to the horror, you'll recall, of the label's biggest artist Taylor Swift - who had by then moved on to a new deal with Universal Music, but was very unhappy that Braun now basically owned the master rights in most of her albums.

However, Big Machine no longer has any stake in Swift's music at all, as her recordings catalogue was subsequently sold to private equity outfit Shamrock Holdings last year.

Swift's songs were not published by Big Machine anyway, so would not have been covered by this new deal even if the label still owned her master rights. Songs that are in Big Machine's publishing catalogue, in case you're interested, include recent country hit 'Better Together' by Luke McCombs.


AEG Presents and Japanese major label Avex launch new live company AEGX
Japan's fourth major label Avex has announced a new partnership with live music giant AEG Presents to form new joint venture called AEGX. Yeah, really.

Although it has been largely domestically focused since its launch in 1988, Avex has been increasingly looking at international opportunities for its artists in recent years. Working with AEG is an extension of this, with plans to use the live firm's international network to build the profile of its artists and brands worldwide. AEG, meanwhile, sees it as an opportunity to grow its presence in Japan.

AEGX's initial focus will be on promoting AEG Presents artists in the Japanese market, and developing new festivals and venues in the country. As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift around the world, it will also promote global tours for Japanese artists, including acts not signed to Avex.

"This is really a perfect example of synergies being scaled for the benefit of global artist development, which is at the core of what we do", says AEG Presents CEO Jay Marciano. "Partnering with Avex to launch AEGX gives both Avex and AEG Presents a path to create real opportunities for musicians who increasingly see the world as a borderless global community. I can't wait to see what we all do together".

Avex CEO Katsumi Kuroima adds: "We are very excited to announce the launch of AEGX with AEG Presents. Our companies both share the same goal with this new partnership: AEGX will serve music fans around the world by contributing to the global development of western artists, while also expanding the reach of Japanese artists beyond its borders. The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the positive power and limitless potential of music and entertainment. We are THRILLED to take this stride forward together and look forward to the future".

As well as being part of Avex's increasingly global focus, this partnership also expands the firm's recent shift into the live side of the music industry, partly a response to its slipping dominance in recorded music. Once Japan's biggest record label, it has seen its market share in the country halve in recent years, and in 2019 was behind Universal Music and Sony Music.

In part, this is down to some of the label's most successful artists passing their career peak or fully retiring. Also, Avex has been slower to move to digital than most other labels, and a heavier reliance on physical media sales means it was hit harder financially as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

In November, the company put its Tokyo HQ up for sale and offered early retirement to nearly a third of its 1500 employees.


Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski dies
The founder of Australian music company the Mushroom Group, Michael Gudinski, has died. He was 68. In a statement, the music firm said that he died at his home in Melbourne earlier today.

"It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Michael Gudinski overnight", the statement confirmed. "The much-loved Australian music legend died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Melbourne, Australia".

"Michael was renowned for his loyalty and dedication", it went on. "His ability to achieve the unachievable against unsurmountable odds was proven time and again and spoke to his absolute passion for his career and life ... Michael's legacy will live on through his family and the enormously successful Mushroom Group - an enduring embodiment of decades of passion and determination from an incredible man".

Gudinski began his career in music booking dances in and around Melbourne, aged fifteen, and then moved on to booking and managing bands. In 1970, he dropped out of school to launch his first company, booking agency Consolidated Rock.

In 1972, when Gudinski was 20 years old, he founded independent label Mushroom Records, followed by a sister publishing company the next year. He quickly began aligning with other existing companies, and in 1979 launched live music division Frontier Touring. Mushroom Group has grown to become Australia's most successful independent music business, covering touring, record labels, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies, film and television production, and creative services.

In the 90s, he launched a UK division of the company, and partnered with Korda Marshall on the launch of Infectious Records, along the way signing acts including Ash, Muse, Peter Andre and Garbage. In 1993, he also sold a stake in Mushroom Records to Rupert Murdoch's News Limited Group. He sold his remaining stake in the label to Murdoch five years later, but retained the Mushroom Group name and continued to grow the remaining company.

Among the many people paying tribute this morning was Kylie Minogue, who worked with Mushroom both early on and later in her career. She wrote on social media that Gudinski was "a titan of the music industry", adding: "My heart is broken and I can't believe he's gone. Irreplaceable and unforgettable, I'll always love you 'The Big G'".


Download Festival cancelled
Numerous UK festivals have announced that they are planning to go ahead this summer following last week's unveiling of a road map for COVID restrictions being lifted in England. However, that proposed schedule will also inevitably result in some cancellations being confirmed too. And one of the festivals now definitely not taking place this year is Live Nation's Download.

The event had been set to go ahead over the first weekend in June, had COVID-19 restrictions allowed such a thing. However, with those dates sitting before the moment when the UK government reckons large-scale events might just possibly be able to return - 21 Jun - promoters know that a 2021 edition will now not be possible.

"Following the announcement of the government's roadmap and despite the extraordinary efforts the NHS have put in to roll out the vaccine, we can sadly now confirm that Download Festival will no longer be taking place this year", say organisers in a statement.

"We never gave up hope of bringing the festival back to Donington this June and had been working so hard behind the scenes to make that happen, but sadly, we now know it's not possible", they go on. "We're heartbroken for everyone in the Download family, from artists to suppliers and of course our passionate Download fans".

However, plans for 2022 have already been announced, with two of this year's headliners - Kiss and Biffy Clyro - rolling their sets over to next year. Iron Maiden will also step in to replace System Of A Down. The event is set to take place on 10-12 Jun 2022. Tickets purchased for this year can be rolled over.



Universal Music Publishing has signed singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone to a global deal. "I'm really excited to join the UMPG family", she says. "They've been so supportive since the beginning of my journey and I couldn't ask for a better team".

Mute has signed Desire Marea to a new record deal. "I am enormously excited to be working with Desire and to be part of their remarkable career", says label founder Daniel Miller. Marea adds: "This is probably the highlight of my career thus far, to be supported by such an amazing label and such an exceptional team. I am very excited about the future".



Universal Music in the US has promoted Ethiopia Habtemariam to the role of CEO at its Motown label. Moving forward the label will also "have greater creative and commercial independence to advance its groundbreaking mission of artistic, social and entrepreneurial empowerment".

Music distributor FUGA has announced the appointment of Liz Northeast and Alison Lamb at its London office. Northeast joins from The Orchard and becomes Client Relations Director EMEA. Lamb joins from Prolifica Management and becomes Digital Accounts/Marketing Strategy Manager.

The International Confederation Of Music Publishers has expanded its board to eighteen members - which means two new directors have been appointed: Matthew Capper, Managing Director of Warner Chappell Australia, and Antal Boronkay, Artistic Director at Editio Musica Budapest.

Universal's Island Records UK has announced Nicola Spokes as its new Managing Director. She was previously with Universal's labels services division, what was until very recently known as Caroline International.



Danny Jones from McFly and Binky Felstead off of 'Made In Chelsea' are both investors in new talent management firm Matchstick Group, which is led by Max Parker. The company will represent musicians, actors, models, influencers and other creators, with Martine McCutcheon and Max George among its launch roster. Parker says that his company will promote diversity and accessibility in the entertainment industry, and prioritise the mental wellbeing of its clients and team. The company will donate 2% of all profits to mental health charity Joe's Buddy Line.



The long in production Jeff Buckley biopic 'Everybody Here Wants You' is set to begin filming later this year, Variety reports. It will star Reeve Carney and be directed by Orian Williams. "This will be the only official dramatisation of Jeff's story which I can promise his fans will be true to him and to his legacy", says the musician's mother Mary Guibert. "Thankfully, my determination to assemble all the right participants, no matter how long it took, is about to culminate in the best way possible".



Justin Bieber has announced that he will release new album 'Justice' on 19 Mar. "In creating this album my goal is to make music that will provide comfort, to make songs that people can relate to and connect to, so they feel less alone", he says. "Suffering, injustice and pain can leave people feeling helpless. Music is a great way of reminding each other that we aren't alone". New single, 'Hold On', will be out this Friday.

J Balvin has released new single 'Ma G', the first track from his next album.

James will release new album 'All The Colours Of You' on 4 Jun. "With all the shit that went down in 2020 this was a miraculous conception and another big jump forward for us on the back of the last three albums", says vocalist Tim Booth. "I hope it reflects the colours of these crazy times". Listen to the title track here.

Martin Gore has released an Anna remix of his track 'Howler'. "It was such a beautiful surprise to have received an invitation to remix Martin Gore, such a huge icon from our generation, probably one of the most important figures of electronic music since its inception and a constant source of inspiration in my personal journey also", says Anna.

Pale Waves have released the video for 'You Don't Own Me', from their new album 'Who Am I?'

Lady Leshurr has released the video for 'Brenda', from her 2020 EP 'Astronaut'.



Hans Zimmer has added an extra London date to his 2022 UK tour. He will play The O2 in London on 22 Mar. Previously announced (and postponed by a year) were another O2 show on 23 and one at the AO Arena in Manchester on 24 Mar. That's 2022, remember. Tickets for all dates are on sale now.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Cyprus's Eurovision entry draws protests from religious groups
The Eurovision Song Contest will go ahead this year no matter what, organisers have insisted. And while that will mean some fundamental changes to the usual structure of the show, there are some things that the big event cannot do without. For instance, it's not Eurovision without a big old lyrical controversy. So everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, as Cyprus's entry has drawn protests from religious groups in the country.

Performed by Elena Tsagkrinou, this year's Cypriot Eurovision entry is titled 'El Diablo' - Spanish for 'The Devil' - and features lyrics such as, "I gave my heart to El Diablo / Because he tells me I'm his angel" and "Tonight we're gonna burn in the party / It's heaven and hell with you".

The song was selected as the country's entry last week and has since drawn criticism, with a petition against the selection being signed nearly 15,000 times in just a few days. "The participation of Cyprus in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song 'El Diablo' is scandalous for us Christians", say organisers of the petition.

Greek broadcaster CyBC, which chose the song, issued a statement insisting that those protesting against 'El Diablo' should not take its lyrics at face value. That statement followed claims from a group representing religious high school teachers that the song "pledges lifelong devotion [to and] love for Satan".

The broadcaster explained: "The song which will represent Cyprus to the 65th Eurovision Song Contest tells the tale of this girl that has found herself entangled in a relationship with someone as bad as 'El Diablo'".

"It regards the eternal struggle between good and evil", it goes on. "Through this problematic relationship with signs of Stockholm syndrome, and despite the paranoia she is experiencing, she is seeking help towards freedom. In the end, as they say, the truth always shines. Especially these days, we hope the song and its proper interpretation will inspire not only women but also everyone who faces similar situations".

The statement followed reports that the broadcaster had been receiving threatening phone calls over the song, including threats that its offices would be "burned down" if it was not withdrawn.

Meanwhile, on Saturday a man was arrested outside the CyBC news department after being seen shouting abuse at staff. He was later charged with several offences, including threatening behaviour and causing a disturbance.

The song has been written by Jimmy Joker, Cleiton Sia, Laurell Barker and Thomas Stengaard. Barker and Stengaard have both worked on a number of recent Eurovision entries for various countries. Barker's credits include 2019 UK entry 'Bigger Than Us'. She and Stengaard both also worked together on Germany's 2019 song 'Sister'.

Last month, Eurovision organisers ruled out a full-scale show this year, but insisted that the competition will take place, after last year's COVID-caused cancellation. Plans are now in place for a socially-distanced show in host city Rotterdam, featuring pre-recorded performances from acts unable to travel to The Netherlands. The grand final is set to take place on 22 May, providing the Devil doesn't intervene in the proceedings, presumably.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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