|TUESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A not-for-profit DNS resolver called Quad9 has appealed a web-blocking injunction secured against it by Sony Music in Germany. The organisation says that, while it doesn't condone copyright infringement, it strongly believes that a DNS resolver like itself "is the wrong place to try to apply legally mandated controls"... [READ MORE]|
DNS resolver hits out at Sony Music's web-blocking injunction
Web-blocking, of course, has become an anti-piracy tactic of choice for the music and movie industries in those countries where it's an option. Courts issue injunctions forcing internet service providers to block customers from accessing copyright infringing websites. And in Germany a new organisation was recently launched to make the web-blocking process even easier for copyright owners.
Though, of course, anyone super keen on accessing piracy services can relatively easily circumvent the blockades. There are different tactics depending on how the web-blocks are set up. So called proxies of blocked sites are usually created to help with that circumvention - which can then, in turn, be blocked too, although that often results in another game of whack-a-mole for copyright owners, in which new proxies appear faster than they can be blocked.
Other ways to circumvent the blockades include using either an alternative DNS resolver or a Virtual Private Network. This basically means using a different provider for some elements of accessing the internet, including the element where the ISP has actually instigated the web-block. In the case of a DNS resolver, that's the element where the system identifies the unique IP address where a website the user has selected is actually located.
Given that DNS resolvers and VPNs can be used to circumvent web-blocking and other rights management restrictions, it was always inevitable that they would ultimately be targeted by copyright owners seeking to make their anti-piracy efforts more effective.
Sony Music got a web-blocking injunction against Quad9 in the District Court in Hamburg back in June. The major pointed out that Quad9 already blocks sites linked to malware and phishing, and even promotes that activity as a reason why people should use its DNS services. Therefore, it was argued, adding a block on copyright grounds shouldn't be too big an ask. But it is too big an ask, reckons Quad9, which has now appealed the injunction.
The organisation said last week: "Quad9 does not condone copyright infringement and supports artists and rightsholders in their ownership of content and prevention of abuse. However, we strongly believe that recursive DNS is the wrong place to try to apply legally mandated controls, and is at best incorrect, and at worst may be contradictory to the safety of end users as well as damaging the stability of and trust in the global internet".
"In this action", it added, "the site that is demanded to be blocked is not directly housing the infringing content – it is merely a collection of links that point to other sites which contain the content for download. It seems to our view that this extreme distance from the actual infringing party is highly concerning, as any precedent made with this court proceeding is broad enough to apply in a significantly large number of technical environments, not just those involving DNS".
It went on: "The objection we are filing against the injunction is extensive with many procedural and jurisdictional arguments, all of which we believe are valid reasons for dismissal or which support those reasons".
It then expanded on its various concerns with Sony's injunction, including precedents it sets regarding the liabilities of organisations like Quad9 under German law, and the potential for DNS resolvers to have to play a more proactive role in policing the internet moving forward.
Among other things, it said, "implementing DNS blocking causes an undue burden on Quad9 in legal and technical terms and threatens its business". And "private companies should not be able to obtain content blocking injunctions against intermediaries with no possibility for internet users to assert their rights to freedom of information before a court".
Ramping up the drama somewhat, it also added: "If this action is left standing, and Quad9 does not prevail, we believe this may create a particularly dangerous condition for European citizens and for companies or organisations doing business in Europe that are in any way involved in any component of security services for end users or infrastructure".
"Web browsers, anti-virus software, firewalls, spam filters, email clients, VPN providers, and many other intermediate software and infrastructure components too numerous to list are implicated as potential next targets", it said, "as their positions look extremely similar to that of recursive DNS providers in information flow diagrams".
Copyright owners would likely agree that if any of those other internet services can be utilised to circumvent anti-piracy and rights management efforts like web-blocking, then they probably will ultimately find themselves on the receiving end of injunctions to put in place some blockades of their own.
However, the copyright companies might add, such blockades are relatively simple to manage. And - when the original web-blocks were first proposed - the ISPs also raised all the same concerns about unreasonable burdens and flood gates being open and free speech being attacked. But then, ultimately, they just got on with instigating some web-blocks and the internet continued to operate pretty much unhindered, except with a few less people accessing piracy sites.
Still, it will nevertheless be interesting to see how this dispute progresses, what arguments are presented, and - ultimately - how the German courts rule. As always in the battle against piracy, the goal posts are constantly shifting. Though at any one moment, the copyright owners are generally quite good at scoring some goals.
South Africa's Gallo buys into aggregator Content Connect Africa
The Gallo Record Company itself was bought last year by the Lebashe Investment Group, which made it a division of its media business Arena Holdings. Shortly after that, South African DJ and producer Black Coffee also bought into the music company.
Announcing the new partnership, Gallo and Black Coffee say that this is all part of a plan to provide African artists with more options when it comes to monetising and distributing their music.
Gallo's Simukayi Mukuna says: "We would like to see artists far more involved in the process and not be tied to the one size fits all deal structures. We want to develop solutions that are born from Africa, for Africa, to export to the world. Our approach is underpinned by an emphasis on the use of scalable digital tools that support the creative process".
Meanwhile CCA's Antos Stella adds: "We're at the beginning of an industry revolution where African artists participate in structures to encourage new ways to monetise content. CA has a footprint across the continent as an aggregator to the continent's major telcos, as well as a pipeline of established and emerging artists that will benefit from Gallo and its shareholder Black Coffee’s experience and guidance towards an equitable transformation".
And finally, Black Coffee says of the grand plan that motivated this deal: "We've had the same ten or fifteen artists dominate the last decade - this partnership provides us the capacity to develop faster by leveraging technology and the CCA relationships".
Sony Music Korea appoints new MD
Having joined the major's South Korean business a decade ago, in his most recent role Ju headed up A&R, distribution, label relations, artist management and outbound marketing, which makes you wonder what else the MD job could involve. Plenty I am sure.
"Bobby is testament to the talent and expertise we have in our Korea team, and I'm delighted he has agreed to lead the company in the next exciting phase of our growth and expansion", says Subramaniam. "He is known for always putting the artist first, which is why he has such strong relationships with our artists, both new and established, and has already earned the trust of our strategic partners in Korea".
"Bobby is building off a robust platform that has been well established over the past few years and inherits an excellent management team", he goes on, "so I know he will do great things and I am excited to see what’s to come".
Ju himself adds: "It is an honour to be leading the business into its next phase of growth. Korea is a fast-growing market and continues to deliver global hit after hit, proving that music transcends borders and cultures and requires no passport to have global appeal. I have the privilege to work with a great leadership team who are passionate about our artists and know what it takes to deliver global success, so I can't wait to get started".
There are some other rejigs at Sony Music Korea too. Elin Her becomes General Manager Of Marketing for Korea, in addition to her role as Senior Director Of Marketing for China. Taeky Kim has been promoted to Director Of Digital Business and Hugh Kim becomes Senior Director Of Marketing For International Repertoire.
Neko Trust launches new professional development programme
Free for the participants, the trust says the programme has been created in "response to research conducted over the last eighteen months into the barriers facing those who wish to progress their career in music and live events". For the pilot Neko 18 programme, the charity has "identified eighteen early-career individuals from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of skills and experience to undertake a three-month programme of professional development".
After an induction week taking place this week, participants will have access to workshops, creative retreats, mentors, and shadowing and commissioning opportunities - including a weekend retreat curated by CMU:DIY. Across all that activity, they will learn about the wider music business, the realities of being a freelancer and running your own company, and how to better understand and manage mental health.
The Neko Trust was launched by former Muse tour director Glen Rowe in 2018, building on the work of his previous charitable organisation the Cato Trust and the Cato Academy "roadie school" he founded.
On the new programme, Rowe says: "The need for the Neko 18 programme is more important than ever following the last eighteen months of challenge and despair for the music and live events sectors. It will allow young creatives and entrepreneurs with an idea and a collaborative nature, who may have been at risk of leaving the sector, to come together to benefit from building a network with like-minded professionals as well as mentors to guide their development".
"We have attracted some of the most talented, determined and passionate individuals committed to working in music and live events", he adds, "with a view to safeguarding the future of the sector and levelling up opportunities to work within it".
The CEO and Creative Director of Neko, Mary Rose, says: "The COVID-19 pandemic represents the biggest threat to the UK’s cultural infrastructure, institutions, and workforce in a generation. It is vital that we attract and retain the talent we need to ensure the music and live events industry emerges better and more resilient. For Neko, this is about creating equality of opportunity, so that people from all backgrounds can access, learn and progress within it".
Little Boots and James Righton to play in virtual Abba's real backing band
"I had an incredible/fun/magical/surreal time helping Benny and Bjorn find the ten-piece band for the reunion", wrote Righton on Instagram. "I can safely say that the musicians chosen and the band that has been formed is the best group of musicians I've ever heard play together in a room. There is serious chemistry and vibe".
Little Boots - real name Victoria Hesketh - added in her own post: "My love for the songs of Abba runs hard and deep, there is no other songwriting I have been more inspired by throughout my career, in my opinion it is the most life-affirming, heart wrenching, joyful, liberating, powerful pop music on the planet".
"It has already been a dream to spend time in the studio with my musical heroes", she continued. "I am beyond excited for this journey to continue and to have the privilege of performing these songs with a group of the most incredible musicians I have ever played with. The sound of this band will give you goosebumps!
Singer Raya has also confirmed that she will be part of the band.
Abba, of course, announced last week that they will launch a new live show, with digital versions of themselves appearing on stage, in May next year.
Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson says criticism of his Brexit support is "disturbing"
The musician has spoken out a number of times about his support for Brexit, but received particular criticism in June when he gave an interview to Sky News about all the issues musicians now face as a result of the UK leaving the EU, in which he told the British government to "get your act together".
Many people, not least Johnny Marr, suggested that voting for something, and then complaining about the entirely predictable outcome of that something, was somewhat hypocritical. Not so, says Dickinson now. And the sooner we all stop shouting at each other, the sooner we can all get on with our lives.
"It's slightly disturbing that people cannot contemplate that other people have other views contrary to themselves", Dickinson tells Classic Rock in a new interview. "It's like a dog whistle, people start running around and jumping up in down in anger, and I think it's out of all proportion".
"If you decide to do something reasonably radical in any walk of life, there are bound to be teething problems", he adds. "If you suddenly change from Windows to a Mac, there will be things that really piss you off as you get adjusted to the new operating system. And someone might say, 'Okay, in the long run, maybe being on a Mac will leave you better off, but in the meantime, how do we figure this out?' That's a perfectly reasonable position to take".
I'm not sure Apple's going to be calling up Mitchell and Webb any time soon to reprise their 2007 Mac ad campaign that sought to personify the Windows and Apple operating systems, but nevertheless, maybe the PC versus Mac thing is a perfect metaphor for Brexit.
PCs - standing in for the EU - are made by lots of different companies all trying to reach the same result by employing certain standards and protocols that inevitably require some compromises and restrictions. Macs are produced by a single entity that doesn't give a fuck about what everyone else is doing. They're also really expensive.
The metaphor only really falls down when you remember that Macs are much better than PCs. Maybe a better metaphor would be switching from Windows to an Etch A Sketch.
Anyway, the problem with confusing metaphors - and trying to see things in black and white - is that there is little room for nuance. Actually, there's plenty of room for nuance, but people are so hellbent on taking a side that they're keen to avoid it.
"People are deliberately choosing to misunderstand the position I was taking in that interview", Dickinson goes on. "It's unfortunate that both sides are seeking to take revenge political advantage. And there's ultimately no point in that".
"Everybody has to get on", he says. "I have a German sister, I've a French partner who's half-Italian who chooses to live in England because she thinks it's great. Brexit should make absolutely zero difference to those relationships. And it doesn't. It's only at the political level where they need to lock themselves in a room, and have no food or water until they figure this shit out".
You could argue that it would have been better to have some idea about what Brexit would actually entail before the vote - or even at some point in the four and half years between the vote and the UK properly leaving the EU. Or at the very least, to have addressed all the legitimate concerns with something more substantial than a "project fear" cliche and some "take back control" bullshit.
But Dickinson does not accept that there's any hypocrisy in voting to for a deliberately undefined ambiguous concept, and then being annoyed when that concept is employed in a way you're not entirely happy about. For example, in a way that makes it much harder for British musicians to tour Europe in a commercially viable way.
"The bizarre thing is that I'm less concerned with Iron Maiden’s position because we have the resources and the demand and we're inputting a huge amount into the European economy playing to close to two million people next summer", he adds, kind of stating the obvious, but nevertheless clarifying that he was speaking up on behalf of other musicians earlier this year.
"It's not us I'm concerned about, it's the younger bands who don't have the time to go through all the paperwork and all the nonsense, and there should be a way of streamlining those things for all performers. Culturally, we're all very close, and so I think it's something that needs to be a work in progress".
"I think it's people trying to score political points at a high level, disregarding the fact that people still live next door to one another and still want to visit each other", he continues. "Yes, we will be economically different and yes, we will have a separate independent sovereign political leadership, which is what I voted for, but we still want to get along".
Anyway, let's shut up about Brexit. There's a much more important battle going on right now. Iron Maiden are currently going head to head with Drake for this week's UK number one album. And Iron Maiden are winning.
According to the Official Charts Company, there are currently just 8000 combined sales separating Iron Maiden's 'Senjutsu' and Drake's 'Certified Lover Boy'. Iron Maiden are ahead on physical and download sales, while Drake is dominating streaming.
Were all those physical sales a weekend boost that will see the band lose ground to Drake's higher streaming figures across the week? We won't know until Friday.
If Maiden win this battle, it'll be their third consecutive number one and the fifth of their career. For Drake, it would be his fourth number one in a row and overall.
Music rights tracking platform Utopia has hired Paul Gathercole, formerly Head of Analytics for Amazon Prime, as Chief Data Officer. "I am excited to get to work solving the biggest problems in the music industry together with the team at Utopia", he says. "As a musician myself, I am happy to join a company that is fully behind the idea of creator rights. Utopia Music's purpose of securing fair pay for every play aligns with my goals in the best possible way".
New music-focused NFT platform Serenade has hired Mike Walsh as UK Head Of Strategic Partnerships. "NFTs will not be an overnight revolution but it is increasingly clear that blockchain technology will have an enormous positive impact on artists, and everyone in the music ecosystem, over the coming years", says Walsh. "I am THRILLED to be working with Max [Shand, CEO], and his incredible team in Sydney, to help move forward this whole new and growing sector of opportunity in digital collectables".
Ms Banks is all set to release new mixtape 'Bank Statement' on 22 Oct. Ahead of that, she's put out new single 'Go Low'.
Another single from the upcoming new Herbert album is out. Here's 'Hypnotised'. That album - 'Musca' - is out on 22 Oct.
GIGS & TOURS
Damon Albarn has announced that he will play a one-off show at the Globe Theatre in London on 20 Sep. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Jax Jones has announced UK tour dates in March next year. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Spotify to blame for Google Clock alarms not going off
Users of the app on Android devices recently have been complaining that their alarms are going off silently. The app allows users to set the audio for their alarms from a number of sources, including various streaming services. The problem of alarms not sounding seems only to affect people trying to wake up to music from Spotify.
The issue seems to have arrived in an update to the app late last month, with one user on Spotify's support forums saying that it has caused them to "miss many appointments".
Google itself has now acknowledged the issue, with a rep for the company saying on Reddit: "We're sorry you've been experiencing this issue, and thank you for reporting it. We've identified a fix and will roll it out soon. In the meantime, you can change the alarm sound setting to a selection within device sound".
Spotify has also said that it is working on a solution.
So, it looks like everything will be working soon. But at least for a day or two, you can use this as an excuse for being late for everything.