TODAY'S TOP STORY: The major labels are seeking a neat $83 million in damages from the Russian operator of stream-ripping set-ups FLVTO and 2conv after securing a default judgement in their favour in an ongoing copyright dispute in the US courts. They'll probably never see any of that cash - even if the court awards them the mega-bucks damages - which is possibly why the record companies also want to seize the stream-ripper's domains... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Major labels seek $83 million in damages from Russian stream-ripper
LEGAL Chris Brown and Drake accused of song-theft on No Guidance
DEALS BBC signs new licensing deal with PRS For Music
Bucks signs Lenny Fontana

LABELS & PUBLISHERS IMPALA and Julie's Bicycle to launch indie label carbon calculator
BRANDS & MERCH Spice Girls sign merch deal with Bravado
ONE LINERS Ed Sheeran & Elton John, Kylie Minogue & Years & Years, Tears For Fears, more
AND FINALLY... Friendly Fires hit out after their track is used at start of 'Boris' Johnson speech
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Major labels seek $83 million in damages from Russian stream-ripper
The major labels are seeking a neat $83 million in damages from the Russian operator of stream-ripping set-ups FLVTO and 2conv after securing a default judgement in their favour in an ongoing copyright dispute in the US courts. They'll probably never see any of that cash - even if the court awards them the mega-bucks damages - which is possibly why the record companies also want to seize the stream-ripper's domains.

The music industry has filed - or threatened to file - litigation against various stream-ripping services in recent years, of course, those being services that turn temporary streams, often YouTube streams, into permanent downloads. Most targeted services either ignore the legal threats or quickly shutdown their operations, but FLVTO and 2conv owner Tofig Kurbanov decided to fight the labels in court.

He began by trying to get the case dismissed on jurisdiction grounds, because he was a Russian citizen running a Russian internet business from Russia, meaning - he argued - the US courts had no jurisdiction. That tactic actually worked initially and the case was dismissed.

But it was reinstated on appeal and the US Supreme Court declined to consider Kurbanov's jurisdiction arguments, so then things moved onto the labels' copyright arguments, and whether or not the provider of a stream-ripping service is liable for any copyright infringement that service might enable.

Things then progressed as you might expect, until the labels asked the court to force Kurbanov to hand over his server logs so that they could see what content his users were ripping and where those users were based. Kurbanov said that he didn't have any such data. The majors countered that he should do.

Of course, Kurbanov could gather that data if he wanted to, but he argued that doing so would be a major hassle, and also pose all sorts of privacy and data protection concerns. However, the court did not agree and ordered him to start storing the data the labels wanted - and to then share it with the music companies.

At that point Kurbanov decided to bail on the case entirely, with his American lawyers telling the judge in July: "Mr Kurbanov has made clear that he does not intend to cooperate further with the present litigation". That meant a default judgement in the labels' favour was assured, though Kurbanov presumably reckons that, living 5000 miles away from the court in Virginia that is hearing the case, he can live with that.

That default judgement in the labels' favour was confirmed last week. Which means that Kurbanov is liable for the copyright infringement his service facilitated - and also for violating rules in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act that prohibit the circumvention of copyright protection measures, like those put in place by YouTube to stop stream-ripping.

There is now the all important matter of what damages Kurbanov should pay and whether any other sanctions should be ordered against his stream-ripping business. The labels filed new papers with the court earlier this week outlining their wish list in this domain.

The labels are seeking $50,000 in damages for the wilful infringement of 1618 specific recordings that were ripped via FLVTO and 2conv. They also want $1,250 for every time the stream-ripping sites circumvented YouTube's copyright protection technology. And that - fans of maths will be interested to know - comes out at $82,922,500.

Even if the court awards the labels damages in that ballpark, the chances of Russia-based Kurbanov ever handing over any monies seem slim. The music companies have also asked for an injunction ordering Kurbanov to stop engaging in any copyright infringing activity, which - based on the default judgement - would include running FLVTO and 2conv. Although that injunction would only be enforceable within the US, and Kurbanov has already officially blocked his service from being accessed within that country.

So perhaps the most important sanction requested by the labels is an order that allows them to seize the domains used by FLVTO and 2conv. Kurbanov could just get new domains, of course, but at least the labels could put stern notices on the domains he currently uses explaining why stream-ripping is evil and how people should just get themselves a premium streaming subscription that allows offline listening. Which would be something, I guess.


Chris Brown and Drake accused of song-theft on No Guidance
Chris Brown and Drake ripped off an earlier track when they wrote their 2019 collaborative song 'No Guidance', according to singer Braindon Cooper and producer Timothy Valentine. Not only that, but 'No Guidance' includes a sneaky lyric alluding to the audacious song-theft, it's alleged.

Cooper and Valentine reckon that 'No Guidance' lifts from their 2016 track 'I Love Your Dress'. In fact, according to their new lawsuit, "by every method of analysis, 'No Guidance' is a forgery - copied from plaintiffs, who wrote, recorded, and published their original song 'I Love Your Dress' approximately three years earlier".

What has been "forged" specifically? Well, says Cooper and Valentine's lawsuit, "in addition to containing similar beat patterns, the melody and lyrics used in the chorus/hook of 'No Guidance' - "you got it, girl; you got it" - are so strikingly similar to those used in the chorus of 'I Love Your Dress' that they cannot be purely coincidental".

It goes on: "Expert musicologists have compared the two works and found, inter alia, a high degree of combined similar features, including the hook lyrics and the primary scale degrees. Without limitation, the expert musicologists have also noted that both works also use the distinctive sound effect of a pitch metronome-like click and a vocal effect through which portions of the primary vocal part appear to have been sped up to a high register and added to double/echo the primary vocal part".

Beyond the musical similarities between 'No Guidance' and 'I Love Your Dress', Cooper and Valentine say they also have evidence that Brown and Drake could have accessed their track - which was posted to SoundCloud in 2016 and then distributed to all the streaming services in early 2019 - before starting work on their collaboration.

Cooper says that in March 2019 he was approached by an A&R representative associated with Drake's then label Cash Money Records who wanted to know if the musician had any unreleased music he could get access to.

Although Cooper didn't send any unreleased tracks, he did direct him to his then new album 'My Life In Black & White', which includes 'I Love Your Dress'. All of which possibly suggests that people linked to Drake - and by association Brown - were aware of Cooper's music, including the supposedly ripped off track.

As for this sneaky 'No Guidance' lyric that allegedly alludes to Brown and Drake knowingly ripping off Cooper's work, that goes "flew the coop at seventeen, no guidance". Because Cooper is often known as 'Coop', see? Which seems a bit of a stretch, but, reckons the lawsuit, that lyric is "a disguised reference to Cooper, which defendants used mockingly after stealing substantial portions of the work created by Cooper".

It remains to be seen how Brown and Drake respond to the song-theft claims, though Cooper and Valentine say they want 50% of the rights and royalties in the duo's 2019 hit.


BBC signs new licensing deal with PRS For Music
UK song right collecting society PRS For Music has announced that it has signed a new five year music licence with the BBC. So, if worries that the broadcaster was suddenly going to be unable to play music were keeping you awake at night, you can now sleep soundly again. For now.

The blanket licence covers the BBC's full range of services, including television, radio, iPlayer and Sounds in the UK, as well as the BBC World Service and BBC Studios internationally. Both sides have talked up how the deal will allow the Beeb to develop and expand its range of digital services - something that has come under regulator scrutiny recently.

"The BBC are delighted to have signed a new five-year agreement with PRS For Music, giving long-term certainty to both parties in an ever-changing digital landscape", says Nicky Bignell, Head Of Music Licensing at the BBC. "A blanket music licence gives the BBC the flexibility required to offer our audiences the very best music from members of PRS For Music. The deal also enables the BBC to continue delivering outstanding value to every household for their licence fee, whether providing live music coverage from Glastonbury or the Proms, or featuring burgeoning talent on 1Xtra or 6 Music".

"As the BBC continues to innovate with BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer, we look forward to continuing our relationship with PRS For Music whilst working in partnership with the wider music industry, which is also crucial to our success", she continues. "This agreement will take us through to the next phase of the BBC's evolution, as we continue to entertain the nation whilst ensuring the highest-quality output on screen, on air and online".

Dan Gopal, Chief Commercial Officer at PRS, adds: "We are very proud to have signed this new agreement with the BBC and to see our long-standing partnership continue to evolve in an ever-changing market. It is paramount to PRS members that their music is valued wherever and whenever it is consumed, and our relationship with the BBC ensures that we can deliver on that commitment to our members across the entire proposition of BBC services".

"The partnership between PRS and the BBC remains one of our most important", he goes on, "with our members playing an instrumental role in bringing BBC content to life through their music, and the BBC's reputation as one of the world’s most respected and innovative broadcast corporations contributing significant value for the music creators we represent".

Who wants some stats, though? I know I do. Highlighting the importance of the BBC to the music industry, PRS says that in 2020, BBC TV programmes featured eight million minutes of music, and the BBC as a whole generated 100 billion lines of music data. Over 40,000 songwriters and composers received royalties from the BBC last year, with just under 2000 emerging music makers receiving their first ever royalty thanks to a BBC play.


Bucks signs Lenny Fontana
Bucks Music has signed house producer Lenny Fontana to a worldwide songwriting agreement.

"It feels so good to be loved for the music that I been involved in over the years, and Bucks is the right home for me", says Fontana. "Here's to the next part of my musical career".

Bucks Music Group MD Simon Platz adds: "Lenny is a legend in his genre with a long, hit-laden history in the business. It's a pleasure to be able to bring someone of his calibre to Bucks".

Fontana began DJing in New York in the mid-1980s, moving into production in the early 90s, scoring hits like 'What You Need' under the name Powerhouse. Last year, he also launched the podcast True House Stories, which sees him delve into the musical histories of other artists.


IMPALA and Julie's Bicycle to launch indie label carbon calculator
IMPALA and Julie's Bicycle have announced that they are building the first bespoke carbon calculator for the independent label sector. The aim is to help independent music companies highlight where they can make changes in order to become carbon neutral and, eventually, carbon positive.

"A commitment to net zero carbon means taking full responsibility for our own environmental impacts, but collective action, at scale and speed, is what will really make the difference", says Alison Tickell, CEO of sustainability charity Julie's Bicycle. "This is the journey that the IMPALA membership has committed to, and we’re delighted to be supporting them".

Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA, adds: "This is only the first step of a wider industry process. We thank our core group of supporting members who stepped up to help us get this off the ground. We invite others in the music sector to reach out if they would like to help us expand the project and collaborate on future ventures".

IMPALA - the pan-European trade body for the independent sector - launched its climate charter earlier this year, setting out fifteen commitments that it is making to help the organisation itself, and its membership, become more environmentally sustainable. It aims for its membership to be carbon neutral by 2026.

The ultimate goal is to have a fully climate positive membership by 2030, that being where companies not only aim to become carbon neutral themselves, but also work to reduce the greenhouse emissions of other stakeholders in their supply chain.


Spice Girls sign merch deal with Bravado
The Spice Girls have signed a deal with Universal Music's merch business Bravado to hawk all sorts of stuff around the 25th anniversary of the group's debut album 'Spice'.

The multi-year deal will see Bravado rep the band's brand for merchandising, direct-to-consumer products and campaigns, and lots of super fun brand and retail licensing nonsense.

"We are so excited to be working with Bravado again, especially in this our 25th anniversary year, and are looking forward to collaborating with the team", say the Spice Girls in perfect unison.

Bravado's VP A&R & Brand Management, Rachel Redfearn, adds: "The Spice Girls' impact on popular culture cannot be over-estimated. They stand for positivity, inclusion, bravery and diversity. All delivered in a bold, fun and energetic package. This message is as relevant today as it was in 1996 - maybe more so".

"Bravado's alliance with this most iconic of bands will allow both existing and new fans the long-awaited opportunity to be a part of the legacy", she goes on. "The breadth of rights granted for the first time in two decades gives us the vehicle to truly celebrate their legendary status".

The 25th anniversary edition of 'Spice' is set for release on 29 Oct. It'll include various alternate mixes, demoes and unreleased songs. But if it's the merch you're after, then the first load of that is available here.


Approved: Los Bitchos
Taking traditional Latin cumbia and whipping it up with a bit of surf-rock and synth-pop, Los Bitchos are the joyous band you need in 2021. Newly signed to City Slang, and with an album produced by Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos on the way, they've just put out new single 'Las Panteras'.

Their first new release since 2019's brilliant 'The Link Is About To Die', the 'Las Panteras' is led by Serra Petale's lyrical guitar, with the rhythm section of drummer Nic Crawshaw and Josefine Jonnson keeping you on your dancing toes, while keyboard player Agustina Ruiz provides additional textures that push the track in new directions.

"I wanted to sound like Van Halen and Cocteau Twins - but from Turkey", says Petale.

Los Bitchos’s debut album, 'Let The Festivities Begin', is set for release on 4 Feb 2022. The band also have a whole load of UK tour dates lined up in February too, plus a headline show at The Scala in London on 2 Mar. You are a fool if you don't go to one of those shows.

Watch the video for 'Las Panteras' here.

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


The parent company of French high-quality music platform Qobuz - Xandrie SA - has acquired Japanese hi-res download service e-onkyo from electronics manufacturer Onkyo Corporation. "Thanks to the acquisition of e-onkyo music, Qobuz has taken a new step in its international development and is successfully pursuing its growth ambitions on the Asian market", says Qobuz Deputy CEO Georges Fornay. "This union will allow Qobuz to offer a high value-added and eclectic music offer as well as the most complete high-resolution download offer on the market. In the long term, Qobuz also aims to rapidly launch a streaming offer in Japan".

Universal Music Publishing Germany and Electric Feel Europe have signed producer-songwriter Sonus030 to a worldwide publishing agreement. "I am very happy about this step and have found the right partner in EF and UMPG to be able to operate globally and take my skills to the next level", he says. "It feels like my career is just beginning. Thank you for the trust and here's to a great collaboration".

Legendary hardcore band Botch have signed a new deal with Sargent House to release their entire catalogue on digital music services. Vinyl reissues are coming next year too. "We're continuously humbled by the ongoing interest in our band despite the fact that we've been broken up for nearly two decades", they say. "With the folding of Hydra Head Records in 2020, we were presented with the dilemma of figuring out how to keep the catalogue available to both newly initiated and longtime fans. We were lucky to have the support of Sargent House, who are helping keep Botch's legacy alive by administering the digital catalogue".



UK song rights collecting society PRS has announced that Fabienne Leys will lead its North American member and industry relations. "I am THRILLED to work with the PRS For Music team on their North American strategy, and connecting with members at important stages in their careers", she says. "It's crucial for organisations and individuals to stay ahead of the game in our ever-evolving industry, and I look forward to expanding and strengthening the relationships between PRS For Music and its members in the region".

Universal Music's Capitol Music Group in the US has appointed Mike Sherwood as EVP Global Commercial Marketing & Strategy. "I'm THRILLED to join the Capitol Records team during this transformative time for both the label and music business at large", he says. "As our industry has been reinvigorated in recent years, it has created tremendous opportunities for artists on a global scale. I'm excited to bring my vast experience and expertise in helping artists take advantage of those opportunities as we develop the next generation of global superstars for this iconic company".

Sony Music Publishing has promoted Michael Abitbol to Head Of US Digital. "It is an honour to represent the best songwriters, composers and catalogues in the world and to help ensure that their work receives the value it deserves in our evolving digital market", he says. "I am confident that our revamped US digital team, together with our incredible leadership, can create exciting new opportunities for Sony Music Publishing's songwriters in the digital space".



Ed Sheeran and Elton John have recorded a Christmas single together. Sheeran confirmed in an interview with NPO Radio 2 in the Netherlands that the new track will be out later this year. "Elton rang me on Christmas Day [last year] to say 'merry Christmas'", Sheeran said. "Elton rings me almost every single day. He said, ''Step Into Christmas' is number six in the charts! I want to do another Christmas song - will you do it with me?' It's just me and him. It's great".



Before she boards the plane back to Australia, Kylie Minogue has released new Years & Years collaboration 'A Second To Midnight'. The track is lifted from the upcoming special edition of her 'Disco' album.

Tears For Fears will release their first album for seventeen years, 'The Tipping Point', on 25 Feb 2022. "Before everything went so right with this album, everything first had to go wrong, it took years, but something happens when we put our heads together", says the band's Roland Orzabal. "We've got this balance, this push-me-pull-you thing - and it works really well". Here's the title track.

K-pop group Aespa have released new single 'Savage'.

Moonchild Sanelly and Sad Night Dynamite have teamed up for new track 'Demon', which features on the new 'FIFA 22' video game soundtrack. "It was amazing to work with the guys on this track", says Sanelly. "I love their sound and when I heard their twisted instrumental, I knew I needed to write about this 'Demon' that was in my life at the time - a very real and dark experience I was going through. It's great how the guys developed the story and sound, especially as this was a deep one for me".

Eartheater is back with new single 'Scripture'.

Bitch is back with new single 'Hello, Meadow'. "The song is a wild romp about capitalism/industry v Mother Nature", she says. It's taken from her new album, 'Bitchcraft', which is out on Kill Rock Stars on 4 Feb 2022.

Scandal have released the video for their new single 'One More Time'.

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


Friendly Fires hit out after their track is used at start of 'Boris' Johnson speech
It's party conference season in the UK at the moment, with members of the Conservative Party gathering in Manchester this week for some delusional back-slapping. As is customary, this led to another music-maker having to take to the socials in order to post their variation of the oft spoken line: "Some Tory cunt used my music and I'm really fucked off about it". This year it was Friendly Fires.

It's usually the headline act at these party conferences that earns the ire of at least one musician, it being the only aspect of the proceedings that the wider world actually tunes into. And, in these particularly crazy times in which we live, the headline act at the Conservative Party Conference is, of course, one 'Boris' Johnson.

By the way, for all you British readers out there, here's a quick observation that will help you understand 'Boris' Johnson's speeches. Never forget that, in order to gain power, Johnson created an entirely fictional version of the United Kingdom to sell to the voters. And since gaining power, it's that fictional version of the United Kingdom that he's been running. Remember that and his speeches make far more sense. I'm not sure who's running the actual UK just now. A team of hamsters, maybe.

Anyway, while Johnson's speech was all about and entirely aimed at the fictional country that only exists in the heads of him and the mediocre minds that make up his shit show of a cabinet, one thing that happened in the real world was that the Bullshitter In Chief walked on stage to Friendly Fires' 2011 track 'Blue Cassette'. Not sure why. 'Blue' is the colour of the Conservative Party I suppose. And like cassettes, I guess they are basically obsolete and never really worked.

As those paying attention will know, when music is played at political conferences, and when those political conferences are broadcast on the telly, that music is generally covered by the blanket licences issued to event organisers, venues and broadcasters via the collective licensing system. This means that there's not much artists can do about having their music played out as some odious bullshitter walks to a podium to bullshit out some of his odious bullshit. Nothing except complain about it on social media, of course.

"We do not endorse the Conservative Party's use of our track 'Blue Cassette'. Our permission was not sought and we have asked our management to make sure it isn't used again", the band declared in an Instagram story. "If we’d have intended them to use it, we'd have named the track 'Blue Bunch Of Corrupt Wankers'".

They then added that if Johnson "needed something uplifting to walk on to" then he could have used "the sound of a busy food bank", also posting a 2017 report of Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg remarking how uplifting it was that so many British people now rely on food banks for survival.

And that brings to an end the 2021 edition of 'Some Tory Cunt Used My Music And I'm Really Fucked Off About It'.


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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