TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK government has announced more details about its grand plan to "get big crowds back this summer", with a series of mainly sporting events due to take place over the next six weeks that will test the best ways to get full capacity shows up and running again in a way that doesn't result in any new COVID surges... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES UK government reveals more about its Events Research Programme to "get big crowds back this summer"
LEGAL Universal asks court to make Jane Petty and her lawyers pay their legal fees in relation to warehouse fire litigation
Fair use case over 'Grease' parody can proceed, court rules

Migos' Takeoff will not face criminal charges following sexual assault accusation

DEALS BTS and Bieber among the artists welcoming the big HYBE Ithaca merger
Sony Music Publishing in India announces deal with Kannada music label
ARTIST NEWS DMX in "critical condition" following heart attack
AND FINALLY... Satan Shoes maker responds to Nike lawsuit - it's all just "conceptual art"
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UK government reveals more about its Events Research Programme to "get big crowds back this summer"
The UK government has announced more details about its grand plan to "get big crowds back this summer", with a series of mainly sporting events due to take place over the next six weeks that will test the best ways to get full capacity shows up and running again in a way that doesn't result in any new COVID surges.

Ministers had already confirmed some of the sporting events set to take place as part of the government's "science-led" Events Research Programme. Nine pilot events have now been confirmed in total, with the aim being to test different set-ups and capacities across the programme.

The government said this weekend that: "Researchers at the events will gather evidence associated with different settings and approaches to managing and mitigating transmission risk. The pilots will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation".

"The evidence will then be shared widely so that venues can prepare to accommodate fuller audiences", it added. "This review will be crucial to how venues - from major sport stadiums to comedy clubs, theatres to live music spaces, wedding venues, conference centres and nightclubs - could operate this summer".

Events in the pilot include a semi-final and the final of the FA Cup at Wembley, with a 4000 and 21,000 capacity respectively. The Snooker World Championships at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre will test indoor theatre-style shows with audiences of up to 1000. Outside of sport, there will be comedy, film, corporate and clubbing events as part of the pilot programme, all in Liverpool, the latter at the Circus night club with a capacity of around 3000.

Announcing all this on Sunday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Our sports stars and great performers need us to find ways to get bums back on seats safely. This science-led pilot programme will be the springboard in getting the buzz back of live performance. We've supported the sports and arts with unprecedented sums, but it's now time to make that Great British Summer of live events a reality".

The music and night-time sectors will obviously welcome any initiatives which - alongside the COVID vaccine roll out - can speed up the return of full capacity shows. Although music gigs are notably absent from the current list of pilot events, and some have expressed concern that there is not a sufficient variety of events being tested to generate truly useful data and information for the wider sector.

Night Time Industries Association CEO Michael Kill said on Sunday: "Really pleased to finally hear the announcement of the Events Research Programme pilots, starting mid-April, in particular the Circus nightclub pilot in Liverpool with Yousef and his team, who have been advocates of this sector for many years and will work hard to ensure we are represented".

However, he added, "With limited pilots taking place in night-time economy businesses through April, we are concerned that this will only give an acute view of the challenges faced within such unique environments where one size does not fit all. We would welcome further engagement by government to consider further pilots across a wider scope of [night-time] businesses".

The new information on the government's Events Research Programme followed an announcement about the latest round of Culture Recovery Fund grants being distributed by Arts Council England to creative businesses. It's hoped that those grants will help the venues and businesses that receive them weather the ongoing COVID storm until shows and events can properly resume later this year.

Though, industry reps continue to argue, for major music events and festivals to return this summer as COVID restrictions lift, government-backed insurance is still required, so that the promoters of those events can continue to invest in 2021 editions that could be cancelled if the current schedule for lifting those restrictions gets pushed back.


Universal asks court to make Jane Petty and her lawyers pay their legal fees in relation to warehouse fire litigation
Universal Music last week urged a court in California to sanction Tom Petty's ex-wife and her legal team in relation to their unsuccessful legal action over a fire at the major's LA storage facility all the way back in 2008.

Various artists were initially involved in that legal action, which was instigated after a 2019 New York Times article accused Universal of covering up the scale of the 2008 fire, and of failing to inform artists whose master recordings were destroyed in the blaze. The impact of the fire was played down at the time, the NYT article added, but that didn't stop the music company from securing damages and an insurance payout for itself.

Hole, Soundgarden, Steve Earle and the estate of Tupac Shakur all joined Jane Petty as plaintiffs in the initial class action lawsuit, seeking a cut of the damages and insurance payout Universal had received a decade earlier. However, the other claimants subsequently dropped out, mainly after it became clear Universal had back-ups of any recordings by those artists that had been lost in the fire.

That meant that in court it was Tom Petty's 1984 record deal - from which Jane Petty was a beneficiary - that fell under the spotlight. The key question was whether Petty's royalty rights as defined in that deal also gave him a right to share in any damages or insurance payments resulting from the destruction of the master tapes created under the deal.

In April last year, a judge ruled that Petty's lawyers had not presented a sufficiently strong case that that deal provided any right to share in the damages and insurance money. However, she was told that she could resubmit an amended lawsuit. Which she then did.

Although it was originally widely reported that it was the Petty estate that was involved in this lawsuit, Jane Petty was actually suing in her own right because she was directly due a cut of 50% of the royalties generated by that 1984 record deal. That was as a result of a separate agreement between the couple signed in 1988, which still applied even though they subsequently divorced in 1996.

After Petty re-filed her litigation, attention shifted from the 1984 record deal to that 1988 agreement between Tom and Jane Petty. Having gained access to said agreement, Universal discovered a clause which said that - while Jane Petty got 50% of the royalties stemming from her ex-husband's record deal - only Tom Petty himself could pursue legal action in relation to the record contract.

Jane Petty argued that it was "implied" that she had been granted the rights to pursue legal action on her late ex-husband's behalf. But last month the judge overseeing the case rejected that argument and dismissed the newer lawsuit with prejudice.

Now Universal is arguing that Petty and her lawyers should have been aware of this limitation from the very start and should therefore have never filed either lawsuit. And, as a result, they should now cover the major's legal costs associated with fighting the litigation.

The paperwork regarding the specifics of the 1988 agreement "was in plaintiff's counsel Laurie Soriano's own files all along", Universal says in a new legal filing submitted last week, "which plaintiff's litigation counsel were required to search as part of their pre-filing diligence, but [which] was not disclosed to UMG for more than eleven months, during which time plaintiff falsely maintained her right to sue and UMG incurred substantial attorneys' fees refuting the same".

"Unquestionably, the [King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano LLP] law firm, of which Ms Soriano is a partner, had reason to know that Tom Petty had not assigned Ms Petty the right to 'prosecute, defend and settle' claims relating to the Petty contract. By failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into their own files, let alone with relevant third parties and representatives, plaintiff's counsel has baselessly and unnecessarily pursued and extended this litigation by relying upon factually groundless allegations about plaintiff's assignment".

Universal adds: "Counsel has now signed and filed three iterations of the complaint containing false allegations of assignment and standing. Counsel made those allegations without ever meeting with, speaking to, or discussing the claims with Ms Petty, and without seeking to obtain and review her divorce files. And, had Plaintiff's counsel bothered to look in their own files, the falsity of Plaintiff's assignment allegations would have been apparent before they signed the original complaint on 21 Jun 2019".

With all that in mind, Universal asks the court to direct "plaintiff and her counsel (and their respective law firms) to pay all of UMG's reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred in defending itself in this action as a result of plaintiff's claims and assignment allegations", and to also impose "any other sanctions sufficient to deter repetition of plaintiff's and her counsel's improper conduct".

We await to see how Petty and her legal team respond.


Fair use case over 'Grease' parody can proceed, court rules
A court in New York last week declined to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks clarification on whether a 'Grease' mocking comedy show called 'Vape: The Musical' is covered by the fair use principle, or whether it actually infringes the copyright in the musical it is spoofing. The owners of the 'Grease' copyright wanted the case dismissed on the basis there wasn't sufficient controversy for the court to intervene.

The company behind 'Vape: The Musical' - comedy group Sketchworks - say that their show "uses millennial slang, popular culture, a modern lens, and exaggeration to comment upon the plot, structure, issues and themes of 'Grease' and to criticise its misogynistic and sexist elements".

According to a lawsuit filed by Sketchworks in 2019, when it announced some New York performances of 'Vape: The Musical', it received a cease-and-desist letter from the theatrical division of music publisher Concord, which reps the rights in 'Grease' on behalf of its creators Jim Jacobs and the late Warren Casey. The letter was also sent to the theatre due to host the show, which seemingly cancelled the performances as a result.

Sketchworks argues that its show, as a parody of the original, is protected by the fair use principle under US copyright law. Which would mean it could perform its show without getting permission from Concord, Jacobs or the Casey estate, and would not be liable for any copyright infringement.

However, the comedy group adds, when it presented those arguments to a legal rep for Jacobs and Casey they were rebuffed. To that end, the 2019 legal filing sought "a declaratory judgment of fair use so that [Sketchworks] may perform and otherwise exploit 'Vape' without further delay".

After that legal filing had been made, Concord officially withdrew its cease-and-desist letter. Lawyers for Jacobs and Casey then requested that the Sketchworks lawsuit be dismissed, because - with no active cease and desist letter in play - there was no actual controversy here, which meant the court did not have "subject matter jurisdiction".

However, last week the court knocked back that request for dismissal. Although the cease-and-desist letter has been withdrawn - and, it's alleged, was sent by Concord without the knowledge of the lawyer who advises Jacobs and the Casey estate on copyright matters - the 'Grease' creators and publisher have neverthelesss declined to provide Sketchworks with any formal confirmation that they would not sue if performances of 'Vape: The Musical' went ahead.

And in an earlier hearing on this case, the 'Grease' side said they were "uncertain" whether any subsequent infringement action might be taken if the Sketchworks did indeed present its show.

With all that in mind, the court stated last week: "Plaintiff has carried its burden of demonstrating that there is an actual controversy in light of plaintiff's reasonable apprehension of litigation (and threat by defendants), defendant's refusal to sign a covenant not to sue, and plaintiff's injuries from the cease-and-desist letter (regardless of whether it was unauthorised and subsequently withdrawn)".

Welcoming that decision, a legal rep for Sketchworks told Law360 that his client was "pleased that the court agreed that there is subject matter jurisdiction, and is hopeful that the court will promptly declare that 'Vape' constitutes fair use so that Sketchworks can resume performances of its parody of 'Grease'".


Migos' Takeoff will not face criminal charges following sexual assault accusation
Migos rapper Takeoff will not face criminal charges in relation to an accusation of rape made last year. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has said that there is insufficient evidence to proceed with the case. Civil action in relation to the alleged assault will proceed, however.

The accusation first came to light in August last year, when an unidentified woman sued Takeoff - real name Kirshnik Khari Ball - saying that he had attacked her at a house party they had both attended in June. The civil legal action was only filed, the woman's attorney Neama Rahmani said at the time, due to inaction from police and the DA's office.

"I've never seen a case like this", Rahmani told The Guardian when the lawsuit was filed. "We had to take matters in our own hands and file a civil lawsuit and not wait for the District Attorney's office. We hope this motivates LAPD to move more aggressively with a criminal case".

The lawsuit states that at some point during the house party, Takeoff followed the woman to a bedroom, where he assaulted her after she said that she did not want to have sex with him. Hours later, she went to a hospital where she was examined and observed to have "physical evidence of forceful rape", and the following day went to the police.

In a statement to TMZ last August, Takeoff's attorney Drew Findling strongly denied the accusation of rape, saying the accusations were "patently and provably false" and that the rapper is "renowned for his artistic talent as well as his quiet, reserved and peaceful personality".

"In this instance, those known personality traits have made him a target of an obvious exploitative money grab", said Findling. "As his counsel, we are well aware and well versed on the importance of civil and criminal prosecution of true sexual assaults. This is not one of those situations".

In a new statement to Pitchfork yesterday, following the confirmation that the criminal case would not be taken further, Rahami said: "Our client is disappointed in the decision of the Los Angeles County District Attorney, who has once again shown he is soft on crime and cares more about the rights of criminal defendants than victims of sexual assault. She looks forward to receiving the justice she deserves in her civil case".


BTS and Bieber among the artists welcoming the big HYBE Ithaca merger
BTS, Seventeen, Justin Bieber, J Balvin and Demi Lovato have all taken to the YouTubes to confirm just how jolly well excited they are that the two music groups they are respectively linked to - South Korea's HYBE and US-based Ithaca - are merging. And why wouldn't they be? We all love billion dollar deals that combine pop machines from two different continents, right?

Home-of-BTS HYBE - until recently known as Big Hit Entertainment - announced that it was acquiring the Scooter Braun-led Ithaca Holdings late last week. HYBE's US subsidiary is buying Ithaca outright, giving it ownership of an assortment of entertainment industry assets, including Braun's management business and the Big Machine Label Group. Braun will join the HYBE board, while the Big Machine division will continue to be run by its founder Scott Borchetta.

Confirming the deal, HYBE boss Bang Si-Hyuk said that the "joining of HYBE and Ithaca Holdings marks the start of a new adventure no one could have possibly imagined. The two companies will work closely together leveraging our proven track records of success, know-how, and expertise to create synergy, transcend borders and break down cultural barriers. Please look forward to the endless possibilities of HYBE and Ithaca Holdings, and the new paradigm the partnership will establish in the music industry".

Meanwhile, Braun added: "Global opportunities for artists become exponential with this partnership. This is an opportunity for us to make history and further innovate the music industry and revolutionise the game itself. Its implications for the business will be monumentous for a long time to come. I am incredibly grateful for Chairman Bang's friendship and his willingness to support the creative journey of an artist".

According to a regulatory filing regarding the deal, the HYBE parent company is pumping $950 million into its US unit, which in turn will pay a total of $1.05 billion to shareholders and bondholders as part of the Ithaca acquisition. Good times.

Meanwhile, to see Si-Hyuk, Braun and Borchetta all chatting about the big new alliance, along with some cameos from HYBE acts BTS and Seventeen, plus Ithaca clients Bieber, Balvin and Lavato, check this YouTube video here.


Sony Music Publishing in India announces deal with Kannada music label
Sony Music Publishing in India has announced a deal with Bangalore-based Anand Audio, one of the largest record companies working with Kannada music. Under the deal, Sony's newish publishing unit in India will provide admin and sync services to the Indian label's songs catalogue, in doing so - say the two companies - delivering "new, global opportunities to Anand Audio's community of songwriters".

Confirming the deal, Anand Audio owner Anand Chabria says: "With the support of Kannada music lovers, we are excited to partner with Sony Music Publishing to find greater monetisation opportunities for our musical stakeholders".

Meanwhile, Sony Music Publishing's President of International, Guy Henderson, adds: "We are THRILLED that Anand Audio has decided to join the Sony Music Publishing team. We look forward to taking Anand's songwriters and extensive catalogue with us on our journey as we continue to grow and develop Indian repertoire across the globe".

And Sony Music Publishing India Director Dinraj Shetty says: "We are pleased to welcome Anand Audio to Sony Music Publishing, and we look forward to supporting its rich catalogue of songs with this creative partnership".


Music Copyright Explained Panel: Music Copyright In 2021
This week CMU is presenting three online panel discussions to mark the recent launch of the 'Music Copyright Explained' guide with the UK's Intellectual Property Office. The first is today at 5pm.

What are the key challenges and opportunities for music-makers and music copyright owners in 2021? Music rights experts identify and explain the big talking points around music copyright, discussing how music-makers and music industry practitioners can inform the debate.

Joining the conversation will be music-maker and FAC board member Roxanne de Bastion; the Music Publishers Association's General Manager and Chief Policy Officer, Lucie Caswell; Musicians' Union Deputy General Secretary, Naomi Pohl; and Sentric Music's Global Director Of Music Services, Simon Pursehouse.

Sign up for a free place here

DMX in "critical condition" following heart attack
DMX was hospitalised following a heart attack - reportedly as a result of a drugs overdose - on Friday. In a statement over the weekend, his family confirmed that he was in a "critical condition", although initially there was some confusion about his status.

News of the heart attack was first reported by TMZ on Saturday, which revealed that the rapper had been admitted to an intensive care unit in New York on Friday night. Speaking to PIX11 News later on Saturday, DMX's attorney Murray Richman confirmed that his client was in hospital as a result of a heart attack, although refused to comment on reports that it had been triggered by an overdose.

In that interview, Richman said that "it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that I am not a worried man". However, he also said that the rapper had "been taken off [a] life support system" and was now "breathing on his own". But he later retracted that statement, telling Rolling Stone that he had been "given wrong information" and that, in fact, the rapper remained on life support.

A statement from a rep for DMX that was then issued later on Saturday evening reads: "Last night Earl 'DMX' Simmons was rushed to the hospital after collapsing at home. At this time he remains in ICU in critical condition. Earl has been a warrior his entire life. This situation represents yet another road he must conquer".

"The Simmons family appreciates the overwhelming outpouring of heartfelt love, encouragement, support and prayers for Earl", it continues. "Earl is someone whose life and music have been a source of inspiration and strength to so many people around the world. It is reassuring to see his fans return that same passion and energy to him during his time of need".

Preparing for a vigil outside the hospital where he is being treated on Sunday, DMX's family added: "We ask that you please keep Earl/DMX and us in your thoughts, wishes, and prayers, as well as respect our privacy as we face these challenges".

DMX has a long history of drug issues, and has spent a number of periods in rehab in recent years. Most recently, in 2019, he cancelled a number of live shows, with a rep saying: "In his ongoing commitment to putting family and sobriety first, DMX has checked himself into a rehab facility".

Recently he has spoken about a new album he has been working on as a follow-up to 2012's 'Undisputed', featuring a range of guests, including Bono, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, and Usher.


Satan Shoes maker responds to Nike lawsuit - it's all just "conceptual art"
The company that partnered with Lil Nas X on his Satan Shoes has said that it is surprised that Nike is seeking to block the sale of the trainers, insisting that they are a work of conceptual art.

The limited edition shoes are modified Nike Air Max 97s, with the air sole filled with red ink and - creator MSCHF claims - one drop of human blood. Lil Nas X unveiled the trainers late last month, alongside his new single 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' and its accompanying video, which sees him giving Satan a lapdance.

Both the video and the shoes have garnered some useful controversy for Lil Nas X and his marketing team. Though the controversy around the Satan Shoes also resulted in legal action from Nike, which said that "MSCHF and its unauthorised Satan Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF's products and Nike".

Nike's lawyers noted that, as a result of the Satan Shoes, their client had been accused of promoting Satanism, resulting in calls for a boycott of the brand at large.

The sportswear company asked the court for an injunction banning any sale or distribution of the Satan Shoes. The judge overseeing the case last week indicated he is likely to issue such an injunction, although that might not affect the 666 shoes that have already been sold.

Responding to the legal action, MSCHF issued a statement on its website on Thursday. "MSCHF is a conceptual art collective known for interventions that engage fashion, art, tech, and capitalism in various, often unexpected, mediums", it writes. "We believe it is better to make art that participates directly in its subject matter; it is stronger to do a thing, than to talk about a thing. MSCHF makes artworks that live directly in the systems they critique, instead of hiding inside white-walled galleries".

"There is no better way to start a conversation about consumer culture than by participating in consumer culture", it reckons. "We choose a specific medium to engage with a specific subject matter: we will make shoes, stream video, publish books, make paintings and sculpture, build apps or web services – everything is in service to the concept. MSCHF is fully context chameleonic".

Yeah, whatever you say. It then notes that the Satan Shoes are actually a sequel to some Jesus Shoes that MSCHF previously put on sale in 2019. "As a manifested speculative artwork Jesus Shoes conflates celebrity collab culture and brand worship with religious worship into a limited edition line of art objects".

"Last week's release of the Satan Shoes, in collaboration with Lil Nas X, was no different", the statement goes on. "Satan Shoes started a conversation, while also living natively in its space. It is art created for people to observe, speculate on, purchase, and own".

"Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other? Satan is as much part of the art historical canon as Jesus, from Renaissance Hellmouths to Milton. Satan exists as the challenger to the ultimate authority. We were delighted to work with Lil Nas X on Satan Shoes and continue this dialogue".

Again stressing that the company is not affiliated with Nike in any way, MSCHF's statement continues: "We were honestly surprised by the action Nike has taken, and immediately after Nike's counsel sent us notice we reached out but received no response".

"MSCHF strongly believes in the freedom of expression, and nothing is more important than our ability, and the ability of other artists like us, to continue with our work over the coming years. We look forward to working with Nike and the court to resolve this case in the most expeditious manner".

The legal action - while possibly not affecting the 666 Satan Shoes already sold - has resulted in plans by Lil Nas X to giveaway a pair via Twitter being put on hold. Meanwhile, creators everywhere who like messing with Nike shoes in their pursuit of art will watch with interest the outcome of these legal arguments.


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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