TODAY'S TOP STORY: This just in. "The music industry is waging war on the internet". Or at least that's what US internet service provider Cox Communications reckons. And that's how it opens its formal appeal of the 2019 court ruling that said the net firm was liable for its users' copyright infringement, and as such should pay the major labels a neat billion dollars in damages... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Cox Communications files appeal against billion dollar copyright ruling
LEGAL Canadian appeals court upholds the country's first web-block
DEALS Nas's Mass Appeal Records partners with The Orchard
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES NetEase spinning off its music business for Hong Kong IPO
ARTIST NEWS Sacked Megadeth bassist David Ellefson issues statement
RELEASES Koreless to release long-awaited debut album in July
ONE LINERS Ikky, Jack Savoretti, Cheat Codes, more
AND FINALLY... J Cole's basketball career seemingly comes to an end after two weeks
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Cox Communications files appeal against billion dollar copyright ruling
This just in. "The music industry is waging war on the internet". Or at least that's what US internet service provider Cox Communications reckons. And that's how it opens its formal appeal of the 2019 court ruling that said the net firm was liable for its users' copyright infringement, and as such should pay the major labels a neat billion dollars in damages.

Cox spent much of last year trying to get that jury ruling overturned - or at least the damages bill slashed - in the court where the labels originally sued it. However, none of that worked, and now the internet firm is having another go in the Fourth Circuit appeals court.

In a lengthy filing, Cox pretty much runs through the entire history of the music industry's long-running battle to combat online piracy, through the lawsuits against file-sharing platforms and individual file-sharers, the calls from record labels for ISPs to play a role, the programme run with various US internet providers (though not Cox) to send out warning letters to suspected file-sharers, BMG's initial lawsuit against Cox Communications, and the subsequent billion dollar judgement in favour of the majors.

Along the way, Cox says that the labels suing the peer-to-peer file-sharing services and individuals who used them was "sensible", but notes how - even as the record industry won copyright infringement lawsuits against an assortment of piracy services, beginning with Napster in 2001 - "other peer-to-peer networks emerged and grew more elusive". Meanwhile, "the industry found that targeting ordinary consumers was expensive and unpopular".

"So, fifteen years after Napster", it goes on, "the music industry launched an aggressive new strategy: attack the internet itself, suing the internet service providers - the cable and phone companies, like defendant Cox Communications, that deliver the internet".

"The record companies launch automated bots to crawl peer-to-peer networks for signs of infringement", it explains. "Whenever they get a hit, they send a notice to the ISP declaring that someone using a specified internet connection - could be the subscriber, but also could be a teenager, a houseguest, a coffee shop patron, or a hospital patient - used the ISP’s wires to infringe. They claim the ISP is just as responsible as Napster, merely because it provided an internet connection".

"But, unlike the offerings of Napster and its ilk, [the ISP's] internet service is neither designed nor advertised to promote piracy", it argues. "And on this record, 99% of Cox's internet users never put it to that use. Your cable company also cannot monitor your internet usage or block specific online activities, at least for now. So not only does Cox not encourage infringement, it cannot prevent infringement over its cables, any more than your phone company can prevent users from perpetrating frauds over telephone lines".

Of course, it's because of arguments like this that the copyright safe harbour exists. That being the bit of copyright law that says an ISP like Cox can't be held liable for the copyright infringement of its users, providing it has a system in place via which copyright owners can get infringing content removed and a policy to deal with repeat infringers among its customer base.

Both the BMG and subsequent major label litigation against Cox was based on the allegation that - although the ISP operated a takedown system and repeat infringer policy - it had a deliberately shoddy system for dealing with those repeat infringers. So much so - the music companies argued - that it did not qualify for safe harbour protection. And in both cases the court concurred with that argument.

However, says Cox in its appeal filing, "losing safe harbour protection does not ... establish that an ISP is liable for its subscribers' infringement". But in both the BMG and major label cases, Cox was nevertheless held liable for that infringement, specifically for contributory infringement and, in the latter litigation, vicarious infringement too.

But, Cox argues, the lower courts were wrong in reaching that conclusion. The ISP then sets out an assortment of arguments as to why - despite the judgements to the contrary - the music industry has not actually proven it is liable for either contributory or vicarious infringement.

A lot of that is based on various issues the ISP has with the infringement notices that it's routinely sent by the Recording Industry Association Of America and its anti-piracy agent MarkMonitor, something Cox also talked about a lot during the original court case involving the majors.

The lower court was wrong to ignore those issues and side with the record companies, Cox concludes. Those errors "resulted in an award of historic proportions. The $1 billion judgment is entirely untethered from both the harm it caused and Cox's culpability. Cox, after all, did not directly infringe any of plaintiffs' works, encourage anyone to infringe, or create or supply the peer-to-peer protocols and platforms that enabled that infringement".

"Instead, Cox's liability rests on the theory that it should have been a more active bystander by cutting off infringing subscribers' internet connections sooner - a delicate calculus based on competing duties to copyright holders and customers", it argues.

Requesting that the Fourth Circuit reverse or at least vacate the billion dollar judgement against it, Cox concludes: "If sustained, this judgment would elevate the interests of the music industry over those of ordinary, and often blameless, people who depend on the internet. The consequences will be devastating".


Canadian appeals court upholds the country's first web-block
The Federal Court Of Appeal in Canada has ruled that the first anti-piracy web-block instigated in the country can stay in place, dismissing an appeal by internet service provider TekSavvy. The appeals court concluded that having net firms block websites on copyright grounds does not violate any Canadian laws covering copyright, free speech or net neutrality.

Web-blocking, of course, is where courts or government agencies issue orders that force internet service providers to block their customers from accessing websites that prolifically infringe other people's copyrights. Such blockades aren't yet available in every country but, where they are, they have become a preferred anti-piracy tactic of the music and movie industries.

Web-blocks weren't available in Canada, and when various groups lobbied the country's tel-co regulator – the CRTC – to set up a web-blocking agency in 2018, it ultimately decided it didn't have the power to do so. However, in 2019 the Canadian Federal Court issued a web-blocking order against GoldTV, an unlicensed video service.

Whenever web-blocking is first proposed in a country there are usually plenty of opponents to the principle, especially among internet companies, which generally don't like being forced to police the net. That said, those internet companies that are also cable TV companies – and who therefore have a vested interest in stopping movie piracy in particular – can be among the biggest supporters of the web-blocking approach.

That was the case in Canada, where some of the big cable companies were among those calling on the CRTC to instigate some web-blocks. When that didn't work, it was also those companies that went to court to get a web-block injunction against GoldTV. But there are still some ISPs in Canada opposed to web-blocking, they mainly relying on the classic arguments against the anti-piracy tactic: ie that it's open to abuse and doesn't really work.

TekSavvy was one of those ISPs, and it appealed the Federal Court ruling in relation to GoldTV. Given that this was a test case setting a precedent regarding web-blocks in Canada, both the International Confederation Of Music Publishers and the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry made submissions to the court supporting the original ruling. Meanwhile, the Canadian domain registry CIRA and the University Of Ottawa's Internet Policy And Public Interest Clinic made submissions opposing web-blocking.

The cable companies that originally sought the web-block, and good old TekSavvy, all presented their respective arguments in the appeals court back in March. TekSavvy had various arguments as to why the lower court should not have issued the web-blocking injunction, including that such injunctions are not specifically mentioned in Canadian copyright law, that they violate laws to protect free speech and net neutrality, and that web-blocking - and the resulting work that ISPs must undertake to enforce any blockades - isn't "just and equitable".

However, the appeals court rejected all of those arguments yesterday. Judge George R Locke, with the agreement of his fellow appeal judges, wrote: "Having found no error in the judge's conclusion that the Federal Court has the power to grant a site-blocking order, and having likewise found no error in his analysis of the applicable legal test, I conclude that this court should not interfere with the judge’s decision".

The boss of the aforementioned CIRA was unsurprisingly critical of the ruling.

Byron Holland said in a statement: "While it is important to underline that the court did not open the door for ISPs to block of their own volition, we believe fundamentally that there are more proportionate responses to copyright infringement than the GoldTV precedent prescribes. Instead of ordering site-blocking at the tel-co level, with all of the risk that could carry for net neutrality, there are control points closer and more relevant to the act of infringement that should first be looked to".

Although, Holland added, while this ruling arguably sets a precedent that web-blocking is now possible in Canada, he is hopeful that the ongoing debate among law-makers in the country regarding how best to regulate the internet could change things.

"The debate over what test should be applied before ISP-blocking can ever be appropriate is not over", he went on. "The government is consulting widely on the future of the internet in Canada, with more legislation expected soon. These court decisions have changed the status quo: now, it is a question of whether Canadians are satisfied with where the courts have reset it, or whether to legislate in favour of stronger protections for net neutrality that make ISP-blocking only available as a true last resort".


Nas's Mass Appeal Records partners with The Orchard
Nas's Mass Appeal Records has entered into a new partnership with Sony's The Orchard division, which will provide various label services to the rapper's company. The deal is being heralded as a return to Sony for Nas, who began his career at the major's Columbia label.

"This is a full circle moment for me", says Nas. "To come back to Sony Music with my own label is a major milestone. We see this multi-phase initiative as an opportunity to continue to push the culture forward, educate, and inspire. It's what we do it for, I couldn't be more excited".

Mass Appeal CEO Peter Bittenbender says of the deal: "We are THRILLED to be reunited with the team at The Orchard. What Brad [Navin] and his staff [at The Orchard] have built over the past few years is beyond impressive, and we can't wait to help supercharge their place in hip hop with all the incredible talent and projects we have lined up".

You'll note talk of a reunion going on there. It's not actually Mass Appeal's first partnership with Sony. When it first launched in 2014, the label's releases were distributed by Sony's old RED Distribution business, which subsequently merged with The Orchard. However, Mass Appeal then switched its distribution over to Universal in 2018.

Still, during Mass Appeal's last pairing with Sony, Nas didn't actually release any new music. He is now planning to put out a follow-up to last year's 'King's Disease' album, which will be handled by The Orchard. So that's how it's a long-awaited homecoming for him.


NetEase spinning off its music business for Hong Kong IPO
Chinese web giant NetEase is spinning off its music streaming business and will list it on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The firm formally submitted the paperwork for an IPO yesterday.

NetEase Cloud Music is the main competitor in China to the various music services operated by Tencent Music Entertainment. As well as the core on-demand music streaming set-up, the wider Cloud Village unit being spun off also runs livestreaming, karaoke and other related services.

According to Bloomberg, a preliminary prospectus for the IPO states that Cloud Village grew its monthly music user-base to 181 million last year, of which 9% are paying subscribers.

Revenues surged 111% to 4.9 billion yuan in 2020, with "social entertainment services" in particular contributing to that surge. Meanwhile, the unit's net losses also increased, to three billion yuan last year, versus two billion yuan in 2019.

On the IPO, NetEase said in a statement: "Cloud Village's business is expected to undergo relatively rapid business expansion and would be appealing to an investor base that focuses on high growth opportunities in the music streaming business, different from the relatively more diverse business model of NetEase's operations".

One source told Bloomberg that the IPO could raise about $1 billion. Cloud Village will continue to operate as a subsidiary of NetEase following the listing, with the parent company still controlling at least 50% of voting rights.


Approved: Reb Fountain
Reb Fountain has four albums to her name, and it seems like a definite failure on someone's part that she's not a household name in the UK already. Or at least a solid fixture on the 6 Music playlist. However, there does seem to be movement towards her finally achieving the success she very clearly deserves.

Her 2020 album 'Reb Fountain' does seem to mark a turning point in her career. Her first release through legendary New Zealand record label Flying Nun, the record saw her songwriting take a somewhat darker turn. The obvious comparison would be Nick Cave - particularly on the song 'Don't You Know Who I Am?' - and while that's maybe a reference thrown around too often, in this case there is a valid reason for bringing it up.

In 2017, Fountain performed a 90 minute tribute show to mark Cave's 60th birthday - which she reprised last month, thanks to New Zealand's lack of any sort of lockdown - and this does seem to have had some influence in the development of her songwriting style. Still, she has not simply become a Cave copyist, firmly stamping her own trademarks above any influence of his.

Now comes new single 'Heart', which maintains her high level of quality control, coming on like a pop song slowed down and transported to the back of a smoky club.

"I wanted to share a tune for all the unrequited love and longing; the great exodus of connection and the echoes of yearning left behind, reverberating through space, time and our hearts, as we fell together and apart", she says of the new single. "They say as long as Orpheus sings he breathes life into death; that, in the most challenging of times, we too have the opportunity for rebirth. Orpheus would play his u-shaped lyre; it's two arms reaching away from one another to hold the tension of strings vibrating across the bridge between".

"'Heart' is a love song", she continues. "Not a happily ever after kind of love, more the type of love that makes beautiful music precisely because it is forever connected and apart. Held by heart strings it is the kind of love that begged Orpheus to turn and share it with Eurydice only to lose her forever - the sort of love that’s human; where great suffering and great joy exist as one".

Watch the video for 'Heart' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

Sacked Megadeth bassist David Ellefson issues statement
Former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, who was fired from the band earlier this week, has said that he wishes his former bandmates "the best". He adds that he is working on legal action against the person who leaked video footage of him engaged in sexual activity, which led to his departure from the band.

Sexually explicit text messages and video clips featuring Ellefson and an unnamed woman, whom some claimed to be underage, emerged online earlier this month. The musician admitted that they were real, but denied that the woman had been underage and insisted that everything that happened was consensual.

On Monday, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine released a statement saying that "David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth", adding that "with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward".

In a statement to Rolling Stone yesterday, Ellefson said: "Recently, a very private video was illegally posted on the internet and false allegations were made against me. The actions in the video were between two consenting adults and were recorded without my knowledge".

"I am working with Scottsdale Police Department in their investigation into charges regarding revenge pornography to be filed against the person who posted this video. Also, my lawyers are preparing a defamation lawsuit to be filed against this person. This person will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law".

"I am taking this time to be with my family", he continued. "I wish my bandmates the best with their upcoming tour".

Megadeth are set to head off on a co-headline tour of the US with Lamb Of God in August. They are also working on a new album.


Koreless to release long-awaited debut album in July
Koreless has announced that he will release his debut album, 'Agor', in July. Out now is new single 'Joy Squad', a track he describes as an attempt to "build a club rollercoaster that swallows you up and spits you out".

The album has been a long time coming - it's a decade since his first single release - and 'Agor' itself was created over the course of five years.

"I work very quickly actually", he insists. "But I'm also very thorough, and find it hard to leave stones unturned. Some of the tracks on this album have been through hundreds of iterations. Getting from the start to the end of the track is such a twisted journey for me. I'm talking about spending fifteen hours a day, seven days a week over a period of years".

That focus on leaving no stone unturned eventually became a problem. Running the same plug-in on a sound 500 times to see what would happen next is not conducive to finishing a project.

"I realised the depth of what I was doing was fractal", he says. "There was no actual end to the record in sight. I was obsessed with structure and song as well as texture - they had to be right, of course - but once I had the song, that was when the real trouble began".

"I would focus on one tiny detail for a day. I would bounce that one element out into a new session and process it a thousand different ways - sometimes literally - having to then judge which the best iteration of that sliver of sound was. Then I would reintroduce that one detail back in and judge how that would then affect everything else. It was quite recursive. The piece would feed back on itself in quite a cybernetic way. But it could have gone on forever".

The eventual catalyst for finishing the album came during a break from recording, he explains: "I found a Quora post written by a metalhead describing the best way to structure an album. So I tried his suggestion and I was like, 'Yeah, it feels really good'. The record didn't feel finished until I did that".

'Agor' will finally make its way out into the world through Young on 9 Jul. Listen to 'Joy Squad' here.



Warner Music Canada, Warner Music India and Coalition Music have partnered with Canadian producer Ikwinder Singh - aka Ikky - to launch new label 4N Records. "Throughout my career, I have felt as though I am an outsider because I wear a turban in a musical community where that is uncommon", says Ikky. "It's funny, in Canada I'm the producer with a turban, in the UK I'm the Indian guy, in India I'm the Canadian kid. There is always a little part of me that feels as though I am a constant foreigner. I kept on returning to this term in my head and when I told my partners that I wanted to call this company 4N, they immediately understood".

AMLOR Music Publishing has signed Jack Savoretti to a new publishing deal - its first new signing since entering into a global sub-publishing partnership with Universal Music Publishing UK. "I am excited to be joining AMLOR/UMPG and begin this new chapter", says Savoretti. "Though AMLOR's company might be young, Blair [McDonald] and the team have an incredible track record and I look forward to building our futures and growing together".

Transgressive Publishing and Warner Chappell have jointly signed The Joy to a worldwide publishing deal. "Their sheer musicality and immediately distinctive and uplifting vocal range combine to form the most intoxicating band we've heard in years", says Transgressive's Toby L. "We couldn't be more honoured to welcome them to Transgressive Publishing alongside our partners at Warner Chappell".

Warner Chappell has signed rapper 42 Dugg. "The whole Warner Chappell crew are connected to some of the best artists and producers in the game and I have a lot of respect for their work", he says. "I look forward to collaborating with their team and taking my music to the next level".

Bucks Music Group has signed Gold Spectacles to a worldwide publishing deal. "We are so very excited to have signed our first publishing deal with Bucks and to find ourselves aligned with a publisher rich with global expertise, vision and a talented roster of artists and songwriters", say the duo. "The team at Bucks have been so welcoming and we can't wait to get started".

Sony Music Publishing has extended its deal with country songwriter Jon Nite. "I'm so thankful to be a part of the Sony Music Publishing family", he says. "I've been lucky enough to have these friends for the last decade help me take these songs and turn them into a living, breathing American dream".

Reservoir has extended its global publishing deal with songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman. "The team at Reservoir is a huge part of my career and part of my music family", he says. "It feels like we've grown up together and continuing to work with them is just natural to me. The longer I am in the business of music, the more I realise that sharing successes and the highs and lows of the creative process with people you genuinely have a relationship with and care about, means everything".



Music and entertainment marketing agency WMA has hired Deanne Baker as Account Director in its Partnerships team. "I'm super THRILLED to have joined the WMA team, taking the lead on some really exciting partnerships projects", she says. "I look forward to developing the client relationships further, striving for growth, and in-turn working collaboratively to elevate the division through continued first class account management".



Cheat Codes have released the video for 'Lean On Me', featuring Tinashe. Their album 'Hellraisers Part 1' is out now.

Sleater-Kinney have released new single 'High In The Grass'. Their new album, 'Path Of Wellness', is out on 11 Jun.

Greta Svabo Bech has released new single 'Poison'. "I wanted to write something visceral, from the inner depths of my body", she says. "It felt instinctive - like an exercise in letting go. It is vulnerable as much as it is powerful, and hopeless as much as it is hopeful. There is a beauty in the breakdown. And there is a thin line between poison and medicine: too much of anything can be poisonous. Ironically, writing 'Poison' felt like medicine".

Chelsea Wolfe has released new track 'Diana', taken from the soundtrack of DC Comics series 'Dark Nights: Death Metal'.

Feral has released the video for new single 'God's Country'. HIs debut album, 'The End', is out on 4 Jun.

Audrey Mika has released new single 'Alive'. "This song is a huge reminder to me to be thankful that I am even here and alive in this world and appreciating the ups and downs of life", she says. "It's a reminder and affirmation that it's okay to not always be okay and to surround yourself with people that look out for you".

Cold Cave have released new single 'Psalm 23'. Their new EP 'Fate In Seven Lessons' is out on 11 Jun.

Half Waif has released new single 'Sodium & Cigarettes'. "The chorus, 'OK, give it another day', is something I say to myself when I've had a really awful day and everything feels like a wash", she says. "It's a deep breath and a stab at courage - I can face tomorrow, and who knows what possibilities for joy and growth that will bring".

Soccer96 have announced that they will release new album 'Dopamine' on 10 Sep. "The record is inspired by the idea of humanity's ever-increasing entanglement with technology and artificial intelligence, balancing fears and moral concerns with the possibilities of evolution's next phase", they say. The title track, featuring Nuha Ruby Ra, is out now.

Oh Baby have released new single 'I Need Somebody To Love Tonight'. They explain that it's "a cover of an obscure track by Patrick Cowley, who was a composer and electronic musician/producer in 70s San Francisco and whose music formed part of the New York underground post-disco scene of the early 80s. When we discovered his early instrumentals and demos had been re-released we devoured all that homemade analogue charm. Finding out that the original track was part of music commissioned for gay porn films gave the sound even more beautiful late-night sleaze".



Greentea Peng has announced UK tour dates in March and April next year, including a show at the Alexandra Palace Theatre on 31 Mar. Tickets go on general sale tomorrow.

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


J Cole's basketball career seemingly comes to an end after two weeks
Well, that didn't last long. A little under two weeks after making his debut as a member of the Rwanda Patriots basketball team, J Cole has now seemingly left said team and returned to the US.

According to ESPN, Cole has left the Patriots due to a "family obligation". His departure also comes after he completed what is believed to have been his contracted minimum of three games.

The rapper joined the Rwanda Patriots earlier this month, at the launch of the NBA-backed Basketball Africa League. He competed in his first game on 16 May, drawing mixed reviews for his playing.

Meanwhile, another American brought in to play in the league, Terrell Stoglin, who is part of Morroccan team AS Salé, recently criticised Cole for taking up a place that could have been filled by a proper professional player.

"The negative part of it is, I think he took someone's job that deserves it", he recently told ESPN. "I live in a basketball world. I don't live in a fan world. I know a lot of guys that had their careers stopped by COVID, and they're still home working out and training for an opportunity like this".

"For a guy who has so much money, and has another career, to just come here and average, like, one point a game, and still get glorified, is very disrespectful to the game", he went on. "It's disrespectful to the ones who sacrificed their whole lives for this".

However, he did concede that Cole's presence had brought a lot of attention to the new Basketball Africa League. The rapper's debut as a pro basketball player also coincided with the release of his new album, 'The Off-Season'. Now that his sporting career is seemingly over, he can get on with properly promoting that.

The Rwanda Patriots first game without Cole is due to take place against Mozambique's Ferroviario de Maputo today.


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. (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. (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. 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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