|MONDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The grand plan to force clubs and some other venues in England to confirm that all customers have been vaccinated against COVID has been abandoned. This despite UK ministers very recently insisting that the plan was definitely going ahead - and a vote in the Scottish Parliament last week to proceed with the same plan north of the border... [READ MORE]|
UK government scraps plans for COVID Passport requirement in English nightclubs
In fact, only a week ago the UK's vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi showed up on the BBC's 'Andrew Marr Show' to defend the decision to force clubs and other venues to check the COVID Passports of all customers, only allowing in those who have been double vaccinated.
Since clubs were able to reopen - and full capacity shows to return - in England back in July, it has been up to individual venues and events to decide whether or not to check the vaccination or COVID status of customers. However, as those COVID rules lifted in July, Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson said that clubs would be obliged to check COVID Passports from the end of September, adding that that obligation was being pushed back to the autumn to allow clubbers time to get vaccinated.
That plan was widely criticised by the night-time sector and many MPs, but on the last day of August a spokesperson for Johnson insisted that the plan was still definitely going ahead. Which was possibly the first clue that it was definitely going to be abandoned. But not before Zahawi was forced to defend the Prime Minister's position on the telly.
It was back on the 'Andrew Marr Show' yesterday that the government confirmed the change of plan. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said "we shouldn't be doing things for the sake of it" and "I'm pleased to say we will not be going ahead".
Javid expanded thus: "I've never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers or something to do what is just an everyday activity, but we were right to properly look at it. We've looked at it properly and, whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I'm pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports".
Needless to say, Javid's remarks were welcomed by the Night Time Industries Association, which has been lobbying hard against the COVID Passport requirement, and which said that the passing of such a requirement in Scotland last week meant that country's already fragile night time economy is now on a "dangerous path to devastation".
Commenting on the change of plan in England, NTIA boss Michael Kill said yesterday: "Following an intense political and public campaign by the NTIA, its members and wider industry supporters, we welcome the comments from the Health Secretary this morning regarding the government's decision to scrap the planned mandate of COVID Passports from the end of September".
"We hope that businesses will now be able to plan for the future with some degree of certainty, regain confidence from customers and the workforce, and start to rebuild a sector that has consistently been at the sharp end of this pandemic", he added. "Our focus now is to ensure that the Chancellor's October budget allows us the financial space to rebuild and for the industry to maintain its exemplary record in support of the public health strategy keeping our staff and our customers safe".
Meanwhile, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Dayvd said: "The double vaccine certification programme proposed by the government contained a number of challenges around deliverability, practicality, equality and potential discrimination. Music Venue Trust has been describing those problems to ministers and departments for the last two months, and we therefore welcome the decision to not move forward with this policy".
"It is important to reiterate that grassroots music venues want the tools to be able to create safe events", he added. "They are experts in risk mitigation, and there is ample evidence that working alongside the live community a great deal has already been achieved to reopen every venue safely. Our issue with double vaccination certification as a sole requirement of entry was that it was highly unlikely to achieve improved safety above and beyond those measures already in place, and highly likely to create a two tier night time economy which divided venues and customers".
"We await formal confirmation from the government of the scrapping of these problematic passports", he concluded. "Meanwhile we continue to encourage everyone in the live music community to please take a test before attending an event, a personal approach to risk mitigation that is highly effective and makes a real difference to the safety of gigs".
Epic v Apple ruling favours the tech giant, but forces big concession on the App Store's payment rules
Fortnite maker Epic has filed legal action against Apple in multiple countries, though the US case has got the most attention. Epic - like many app makers, including Spotify - doesn't like Apple's App Store rules, which - it argues - breach competition law. It has various grievances with said rules, and especially those rules that govern in-app payments.
Currently, in-app payments on iOS devices can only be taken via Apple's own commission-charging transactions platform. And to date there have also been restrictions on app makers sign-posting alternative payment options elsewhere on the net.
It's in the latter domain that Friday's Epic v Apple ruling definitely favoured the gaming firm. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers decided that those rules over sign-posting - aka the "anti-steering provisions" - were in breach of California's Unfair Competition Law. And to that end she ordered Apple to axe the rules that ban app-makers from promoting alternative payment options, including from directly within the app.
On one level that's a major development in the big old App Store rules debate, although things were already moving in that direction before Friday's judgement anyway. For example, Apple had previously agreed to amend its rules to clarify that app makers can email users about alternative payment options when settling another lawsuit in the US.
And, based on a settlement with Japan's Fair Trade Commission, it had also already announced a global rule change that will allow the makers of so called 'reader apps' - which includes Spotify - to include links to other payment options within their apps. However, Friday's ruling - any subsequent appeals pending - will force Apple to extend that rule change to all apps, including those made by Epic Games.
Though both Epic and Spotify would actually like to be able to take in-app payments via their own platforms from within the app, so that users don't need to click a link and open a web page. And some are optimistic that Apple will ultimately be forced to allow that to happen too, particularly following the passing of a new law in South Korea that bans both Apple and Google from obliging app-makers to use their proprietary payment systems.
In fact, some are already arguing that the injunction issued by Gonzalez Rogers on Friday could even have that effect. That's based on the injunction saying that Apple can't prohibit the inclusion of both "buttons" and "external links" that direct customers to other payment options.
By "button", does the injunction simply mean an external link jazzed up to look like a button - or a button that actually activates a payment process within the app? There are reasons why the latter interpretation might be optimistic, but there is probably enough ambiguity to justify further debate.
Whatever happens on that front, elsewhere in Friday's ruling, things tended to swing in Apple's direction. Epic hadn't proven that Apple is a monopolist that routinely breaches US-wide competition laws, Gonzalez Rogers said.
And Epic was in breach of contract when it unilaterally inserted an alternative payment option into the Fortnite iOS app last year without Apple's permission, knowing that doing so breached the App Store rules. With all that in mind, Epic has already given notice that it will now take Friday's ruling to the Ninth Circuit appeals court.
Meanwhile, Epic, Spotify and others will continue to lobby lawmakers around the world to follow South Korea's lead and formally regulate the Apple and Google app stores, so to avoid any ambiguities in court rulings and to deal with all their various grievances.
And Spotify's Chief Legal Officer Horacio Gutierrez did just that when responding to Friday's judgement. He said on Twitter: "We are pleased with Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers' finding that Apple engaged in anti-competitive conduct and has permanently prohibited their anti-steering provisions".
But more needs to be done, he added: "This and other developments around the world show that there is strong need and momentum for legislation to address these and many other unfair practices, which are designed to hurt competition and consumers. This task has never been more urgent".
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie arrested ahead of Wireless performance
In a post on his Instagram story, the US rapper said: "Sorry to everyone who came out to see me at Wireless. London police locked me up before I went on stage for something I was accused of two years ago. I'm OK and I'll try my best to make it up to you guys".
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "On Saturday, 11 Sep, a 25 year old man was arrested at the Wireless Festival in Crystal Palace Park. The arrest was made by Met Police officers at the request of Greater Manchester Police. The man was released on bail to attend a Greater Manchester police station at a later date".
It remains unclear what the rapper is accused of. Festival organisers initially said that they were working to reschedule his performance for Sunday, but he did not appear.
The festival did feature performances from Future, Skepta, AJ Tracey, Headie One, Young Thug, Megan Thee Stallion and Migos, as well as a surprise appearance from Drake.
More legal filings submitted in record industry v Cox Communications appeal
Responding to and expanding on previous submissions made as part of the appeal, both filings pretty much repeat each side's previous arguments, with Cox claiming that a lower court ruling against it will have "devastating" consequences on the wider internet, while the record labels argue that the ISP's dramatic statements are "divorced from both the record and reality".
This all relates to the allegation that Cox had a deliberately shoddy system for dealing with repeat copyright infringers among its customer base. As a result, it can't rely on safe harbour protection from liability for its users' infringement, because that protection is dependent on enforcing decent repeat infringer policies. It was originally BMG that successfully made these arguments against Cox in court. On the back of that success, the majors also sued, winning a billion dollars in damages.
It's the billion dollar damages ruling that Cox wants the Fourth Circuit to overturn. The labels "do not deny it", the ISP said in last week's filing, "if the judgment is affirmed, ISPs will be required to terminate any internet connection accused of infringement just once - exiling anyone using that connection, infringer or not - on pain of crushing damages".
Third parties "representing a host of often-divergent interests have unified here", it added, "to warn of the devastation this rule will wreak on the public. Plaintiffs don't dispute these consequences, because this is the legal regime they have been advocating for years. They want to replace the flexible, fault-based doctrines of secondary copyright liability with notice-and-terminate … or else".
"That is not the law", Cox then stated. "Plaintiffs try to justify the result here with breathless accusations that Cox was an outlier among ISPs, 'creating a safe haven for repeat infringers' and 'celebrating its contempt for copyright'. Plaintiffs launch the same broadsides against each of the multiple ISPs they have sued across the country".
"But all this rhetoric cannot obscure that the judgment is riddled with legal defects - from the district court's rash and radical summary judgment ruling, to its illogical rule of vicarious liability, to its refusal even to resolve statutory damages issues that quadrupled the judgment. This court should reverse".
But, the labels countered in their latest filing, "the story Cox tells in its brief - a beleaguered internet service provider, doing its best to police infringement on its system, targeted by copyright holders 'waging war on the internet' - is divorced from both the record and reality".
"This court has already held that Cox acted so unreasonably in addressing its subscribers' known repeated copyright infringement that it was ineligible for the accommodating 'safe harbour' provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for internet service providers accused of secondary liability for infringement", the labels added.
"The district court found it beyond reasonable dispute that Cox knew specific subscribers were using its system to repeatedly infringe plaintiffs' works. The jury heard ample evidence that Cox created a safe haven for repeat infringers, forgiving infringement after infringement after infringement, and celebrating its contempt for copyright in emails like 'F the DMCA!!!'".
And talking of the DMCA, "Congress made clear in the DMCA that internet service providers are expected to terminate repeat infringers 'in appropriate circumstances'", the record industry's filing continued. "During the time period at issue here, Cox terminated over 600,000 subscribers for not paying their bill. It terminated 32 for copyright infringement".
The labels then concluded: "Plaintiffs established that Cox’s subscribers serially violated over 10,000 of plaintiffs' copyrighted works, and the jury awarded a mid-range statutory damages award for each. This court should affirm".
As Cox noted, the labels have also sued a number of other ISPs over the same claims, and more recently a consortium of independent movie producers have followed suit. Which means many people across the music, movie and internet industries are going to be watching how this appeal now progresses very closely.
Milk & Honey launches new office in Sydney
"I've been traveling to Sydney twice a year for some time, and have been a huge fan of Australian music and the local business for a number of years", says Milk & Honey founder Lucas Keller. "It will be great to have a presence on the ground to integrate with our other offices as we make it a priority to represent more Australian [and] New Zealand talent in the coming years".
Nall adds: "I can honestly say that Milk & Honey is one of the most exciting music companies in the world. Having witnessed the growth first hand, I'm truly honoured to be setting up the office down here for the company. I'm excited to expand on Milk & Honey's roster with a focus on Australian and New Zealand music talent - be it artists, writers, mixers or producers. Our global footprint means that launching local talent into the international market will be a core focus of what we aim to achieve".
Milk & Honey already has an existing roster of artists from Australia and New Zealand, including PJ Harding, Ruel, Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy.
New documentary accuses music industry of normalising rock star relationships with teenage girls in 70s and 80s
"There are so many stories", director Sophie Cunningham tells Sky News. "So many I was just not able to tell - and that's because of money and power - success and celebrity goes a hell of a long way to keeping people quiet".
It seems like the music industry "hasn't yet had its #MeToo moment and I think [it] desperately requires it", she goes on. "I think a lot of the times the artists themselves have written about their escapades with their girlfriends, or what they got up to during this era, and you never really hear from the women".
In the case of Tyler, it was he who first brought the story of his relationship with Julia Holcomb to light, when he wrote about it in his 2011 autobiography. She says now that she met him in 1973 when she was sixteen and that, in order to be able to travel with her on tour, he convinced her mother to make him her legal guardian.
"Musicians were these godlike creatures, especially at that time", says Cunningham. "There were power structures that enabled them; as long as they were selling records and as long as they were making money for the big record companies, I think there was a general understanding [they] could pretty much get away with anything, and also it could all just be written up as an excess of the time".
"It's very, very easy to think 'it was different then, it was hedonistic, the world was a different place'", she continues. "But I think it's clear from the women who've spoken out that their experiences as [teenage] girls impacted them in the same way that they would if it happened to [teenagers] now. It's not a different era, it's just that we look at it differently".
'Look Away' will air tonight on Sky Documentaries at 9pm. It will also be available in the Now app.
MU and Ivors Academy calls for more support for music makers still shielding
While the vaccine roll out and a somewhat cavalier attitude on the part of the government has allowed many in the UK to return to something approaching normal life, a portion of the population remains effectively in lockdown. This is due to concerns about the effect a COVID-19 infection would have on their own existing health conditions or those of someone they live with.
In a survey of 340 shielding music makers, 70% said that they are facing hardship due to the continued shielding, having lost at least half of their normal income over the last twelve months. 50% of those musicians said that they had lost between 75% and 100% of normal earnings. Meanwhile, 60% of respondents said that they have received no financial support, mostly due to being ineligible for the various government schemes.
More than 80% of those surveyed said that they do not believe that the government has a clear plan for how to support people who are long-term shielding. This despite the fact that 40% say that they will have to continue shielding even after the vaccine roll out is complete and all remaining pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
Musicians' Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge says in a statement: "The pandemic has been an extremely tough time for people who have needed to shield. We know that musicians, music creators and audiences are looking forward to the music industry opening fully and are relieved to return to some sort of normality. But there are still many musicians and music creators who will not be able to return to work because of their legitimate fears about their risk from COVID-19".
"These musicians and music creators are concerned about their futures and how they will be able to cope financially", he goes on. "Musicians and music creators with a continued need to shield are being left behind, many with no support. The government must provide clearer, accessible guidance, and ensure that this group of workers can access financial support to stay safe and not be forced to choose between going to work and their health".
Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies adds: "For many, the worst of the pandemic is hopefully coming to an end. But for those that must keep shielding this is not case and we are drawing attention to their plight - they mustn't be forgotten or left behind".
"Our survey tells the story of many music makers who have lost the majority or all of their income and will be unable to repair this financial damage for some time to come", he continues. "While many return to some sense of normality, others are still locked down and shut out of the human interactions and economic recovery that post-lockdown brings. We call on the government and music industry to provide ongoing support to music creators that need to continue shielding".
The organisations are calling for the UK government's Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the furlough scheme for employees to be extended for people still shielding, and to make them automatically eligible. They also recommend that the government should provide guidance for employers on supporting this group of people.
Ed Sheeran says "no one clocked it" when he took Taylor Swift to his local pub
Obviously, after about the third time seeing Sheeran himself, his presence would likely cease to be noteworthy. But what about his celebrity mates? Well, Sheeran tells Kiss, he's been and "just sat in the pub" with Dave, and no one batted an eyelid when he took Taylor Swift in there either.
It was only Stormzy who really caused a stir. Sheeran explains: "I took Stormzy to my local pub and it was one of those ones where the locals were trying to be funny with him but it just ended up being like, 'Oh no, can you not say that please'".
What were the people of Framlington saying to Stormzy? We may never know. Also, when I said that no one batted an eyelid when Taylor Swift popped in for a pint, actually no one noticed at all.
"When I took Taylor no one really clocked [who she was]", he says. "It was like a week later that the person behind the bar was like, 'Did you bring Taylor Swift in here last week?' And I was like, 'Yeah'. No one clocked it at the time".
Though, of course, Swift is a master of disguise.