|TUESDAY 21 DECEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The live entertainment and night-time sectors continue to demand more clarity and support from the UK government as the latest COVID surge continues. This follows a statement from Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson to the effect that no new COVID measures are being introduced right now, but nothing is being "ruled out" as data about the omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to be analysed. Meanwhile, a new survey suggests half of all night-time businesses may have to cut around half of their workforce unless new financial support is made available... [READ MORE]|
Lack of government support amid latest COVID surge creating a "cataclysmic Christmas" for night-time sector
Speculation continues that the UK government will introduce a full-on lockdown in England shortly after Christmas, even though Johnson has so far resisted more extreme measures to restrict the spread of the omicron variant, insisting that more data is required first. While it seems unlikely any new restrictions will now be put in place before Christmas Day itself, that doesn't help clubs, venues and promoters planning events between Christmas and New Year, or into early January, who face very difficult decisions about if and when to cancel.
And, of course, even if no new restrictions are introduced post-Christmas, there remain plenty of other challenges. With government messaging continuing to suggest people should stop socialising in large groups, even if New Year festivities are allowed to go ahead, it's not clear how many customers will actually show up. Plus, with COVID cases surging, plenty of clubs, venues and other hospitality businesses may be forced to close due to staff shortages.
With all that in mind, reps for the live entertainment and night-time sectors insist financial support is urgently required, whatever decisions Johnson et al make about new COVID restrictions next week. So far the UK government has given a vague commitment to support businesses affected by the latest COVID surge, but no specifics of what that support might be.
And many argue that ministers are using the fact they are not actually instigated a formal lockdown to avoid having to make firm commitments of financial support, even though they have created a quasi or pseudo-lockdown across the country.
Greg Parmley, CEO of live music trade group LIVE, said yesterday: "Today's government announcement, that they will keep data under review while telling the public to "be cautious', is merely an excuse to withhold desperately needed financial support as sectors like live music and entertainment buckle under the weight of the latest COVID wave".
"In addition", he added, "there are businesses in the live music industry that are faced with huge decisions in the next 48 hours about whether to mount expensive shows for just after Christmas and New Year's Eve, caught in a catch-22 of losing money if they pull them now or risking even more by going ahead - only to find the government closes all activity later".
"We need guidance and clarity now so that businesses can make the best decisions possible without putting at risk their tentative recovery", he concluded.
The Night Time Industries Association, meanwhile, has published results of its latest survey of its membership of night-time businesses. According to that survey, on average night time businesses "have lost £46,000 per unit in lost sales and cancellations during the festive period" as a result of the latest COVID surge. And those clubs and venues now obliged to check COVID Passports at the door have witnessed "over a 40% drop in footfall".
All of this, NTIA said yesterday, has taken the entire sector back to the brink. "Half of all businesses in the night time economy will have to cut over half of jobs in their workforce if the government does not provide commensurate financial support", the trade body added.
NITA CEO, Michael Kill, also stated: "It really is a chilling prospect to see so many venues in our sector left to bleed, with a lockdown in everything but name and absolutely no recognition of this from the government. These venues have faced over 20 months of financial hardship and the Christmas trade period was integral to keeping those surviving businesses afloat in the upcoming year".
"If further restrictions are to be implemented, the Chancellor must step in and recognise the huge damage that waves of cancellations, driven by mixed government messaging, resource intensive COVID protocols and costly restrictions actually have", he went on.
"The government have had 20 months to learn how our sector operates; it is beggars belief we stand here again, as if back in March 2020, imploring the government to listen to us, to understand how businesses work and to realise that inaction is a death sentence for our industry. It really is a cataclysmic Christmas".
US judge recommends that the majors should get $83 million in damages from stream-ripper
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 when they sued in the US.
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.
However, 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 and, indeed, it duly followed.
Having got their default judgement, the labels then returned to court seeking damages, both for the actual copyright infringement that Kurbanov's services had facilitated, and also because his sites violated 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.
That latter point is actually under dispute in another legal battle between the record industry and a stream-ripping operation, in that case Yout. It argues that YouTube doesn't really have any substantial copyright protection measures for sites like Yout, FLVTO and 2conv to circumvent when they facilitate the ripping of a stream.
But in this litigation, with Kurbanov having bailed on the case, the stream ripper is deemed liable for circumventing copyright protection measures, as well as having contributed to actual copyright infringement. Although, in financial terms, it's the contributory copyright infringement that is most costly.
In their lawsuit, the labels identified 1618 specific copyrights violated by FLVTO and 2conv, and - after winning the default judgement in their favour - they requested $1250 in damages per work in relation to the stream ripping sites circumventing copyright protection measures. But they asked for $50,000 per work for the contributory infringement.
Reps for Kurbanov did respond to the labels' damages claim, arguing that the court should award only $200 per work, which is the lowest amount allowed under the statutory damages system in US copyright law. A court is actually only allowed to set damages that low if a defendant unknowingly infringed copyright material.
But, having considered all the arguments, magistrate judge Theresa Buchanan has recommended that the labels be awarded the damages they requested. A total of $51,250 per work is appropriate, she wrote in a report last week, "given plaintiffs' lost profits and defendant's advertising revenue, history of infringement, knowledge of copyright laws, and overfall wilfulness".
The judge conceded that the court doesn't actually know what kind of profits Kurbanov made from his stream-ripping operation, because he declined to share financial documents, however, she wrote: "It is reasonable to infer that defendant's financial documents would have reflected that defendant has generated significant profit from his highly popular stream-ripping websites".
Kurbanov and his team now have two weeks to respond to Buchanan's recommendation before a final judgement on damages is made. It seems unlikely they'll radically alter the final decision at this stage. Although, it also seems pretty unlikely that Kurbanov, being based in Russia, will ever pay the damages any way.
Coachella owner gets restraining order against Live Nation over rival Coachella-branded festival
Goldenvoice went legal over the Coachella Day One 22 festival earlier this month, arguing that the name of the event implied an official connection with its much more famous Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival. And therefore, the AEG subsidiary argued, the New Year's Eve show infringed its festival's trademark.
Coachella Day One 22 is actually being promoted by the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians at an entertainment complex it operates called Coachella Crossroads, which is adjacent to its Spotlight 29 Casino. However, the leadership of the Native American tribe is arguably shielded from legal action due to sovereign immunity.
So, Goldenvoice went after Live Nation instead, which is publicising and selling tickets to the New Years event via its Ticketmaster platform. That meant, Goldenvoice argued, that the live music giant was liable for contributory trademark infringement.
The actual lawsuit is still going through the motions, but judge R Gary Klausner has issued a temporary restraining order banning Live Nation and Ticketmaster from publicising and selling tickets to the Coachella branded New Year event.
For its part, Live Nation basically argued that the main Coachella festival is so famous, it was unlikely to suffer any real harm from a similar sounding but much smaller music event taking place at a venue a few miles from where Goldenvoice stages its annual festival each spring. Therefore there was no need for any restraining order in the short term.
But judge Klausner wasn't impressed with that argument. He stated: "Live Nation advances only one, uncompelling argument [that] Coachella's incredible success demonstrates that its reputation will not suffer material harm from [a] 'one-night New Year's celebration'. This argument is simply unpersuasive".
The actual impact of the restraining order is likely nominal. Although the websites of Coachella Crossroads and the Spotlight 29 Casino are currently still promoting the festival as Coachella Day One 22, Ticketmaster had already changed the event's listing to Day One 22.
However, Klausner's comments do suggest that Goldenvoice may well win the actual lawsuit against Live Nation down the line.
Jamie Spears requests Britney continues to pay his legal fees
Throughout his time as Britney's conservator, Jamie had all of his legal fees paid by his daughter's estate. This essentially meant that, for a time, she was concurrently paying for lawyers to argue both that she should be released from the legal arrangement and kept in it.
Last month a judge ruled that the conservatorship that had run Britney's affairs for thirteen years should be brought to an end. However, such an operation cannot be turned off overnight, and there is still work to be done in order to wind it up. Plus Jamie has also been accused of mishandling his daughter's conservatorship in order to personally profit from it, both in court and in the media. Although he denies that he ever did anything but act in Britney's best interests.
"Prompt payment on account of Jamie's attorneys' fees is necessary to ensure the conservatorship can be wound up quickly and efficiently to allow Britney to take control of her life as she and Jamie desire", says a new legal filing on behalf of Jamie, published by Variety.
"It would be contrary to public policy if Jamie's years of dedication to protect his daughter ... could subject him to personal bankruptcy and ruin defending baseless claims", the filing then reads. "No person would ever want to step into the role as conservator if a conservatee could force a conservator to personally pay substantial legal fees defending unfounded allegations".
In a responding statement, Britney's attorney, Mathew Rosengart, told Variety: "Mr Spears reaped many millions of dollars from Britney as a conservator, while paying his lawyers millions more, all from Britney's work and hard earned money".
"The conservatorship has been terminated and Mr Spears was suspended ignominiously", he went on. "Under the circumstances, his petition is not only legally meritless, it is an abomination. Britney poignantly testified about the pain her father caused her and this only adds to it. This is not what a father who loves his daughter does".
A court is yet to consider Jamie's request.
Rod Stewart and son plead guilty to battery
"No one was injured in the incident and a jury did not find Sir Rod Stewart guilty of the accusation", the musician's attorney Guy Fronstin tells CNN. "Instead, Sir Rod Stewart decided to enter a plea to avoid the inconvenience and unnecessary burden on the court and the public that a high profile proceeding would cause".
The incident occurred on 31 Dec 2019, when Stewart and various members of his family were refused entry to a children's party at the Palm Beach Hotel in Florida.
Video footage showed Sean Stewart push security guard Jesse Dixon before Rod punched him in the chest. Although they initially pleaded not guilty, Stewarts junior and senior reached a plea deal earlier this year in order to avoid going to trial. Neither were in court to submit their guilty plea in person on Friday.
"In resolving the case, Sir Rod Stewart was not convicted, nor sentenced to jail, or placed on probation", says Fronstin.
Rod Stewart was in the UK this weekend to perform at the annual Royal Variety Performance.
Global acquires podcast hosting platform Captivate
"We're delighted to be acquiring Captivate, a best in class self-serve platform for podcast creators, with access to market leading analytics and monetisation", says Global CEO Stephen Miron.
"This acquisition will enable us to support all talent in the podcast community from the very largest to emerging new talent", he adds. "We believe that this platform, combined with the massive scale and reach of Global Player and DAX, will give all our podcast partners an unrivalled advantage".
Captivate was founded in 2019 by Mark Asquith and Kieran McKeefery, who will both stay with the company. Asquith says of the deal: "Our vision for Captivate has always been clear: to proactively help independent podcast creators build their audio brand and to deliver a diverse range of monetisation options for them".
"Joining Global allows us to continue to fulfil that vision by bringing DAX and Global Player to Captivate podcasters", he goes on, "while also providing more opportunities for the platform to positively contribute to future of the industry".
This deal follows Global's recent acquisition of audio technology app Remixd, which converts text into audio files.
Drakeo The Ruler's mother says she plans to sue over rapper's death
"This happened backstage at an event", she tells Rolling Stone. "Someone has to be held accountable".
The rapper, real name Darrell Caldwell, was attacked as he waited to go on stage at the festival on Saturday night. Corniel says that she understands that Caldwell was with a small entourage, including his brother Devonte - aka fellow rapper Ralfy The Plug - when a group of up to 60 people came and "swamped" them and "started trying to jump them".
"He was hit in his neck", she says. "I saw him when I went to the hospital. They said it's a homicide, so I wasn't able to hug him or kiss him or anything like that. I had to look at him through a window. I need this to be out there. I need people to know. And I do want justice for my son. And I do believe that justice will be served. I will not rest until justice is served".
With no arrests yet made, Corniel says that her next course of action will be to sue the show's promoters, which includes Live Nation.
"They let all these people in, and you're not supposed to have all these people backstage", she says. "And your security is supposed to be in place. The whole programme should have been orchestrated a lot better than what it was. And there should have been more protection".
"Even if you have metal detectors, even if you pat them down, you let those people come in there", she adds. "You had more people come in than you were supposed to. And you allowed them to jump my son. You didn't protect my son".
Live Nation has not yet commented on Corniel's comments. Following Drakeo The Ruler's death on Saturday night, the company issued a statement acknowledging that there had been "an altercation in the roadway backstage" at the event and that "out of respect for those involved" the remainder of the show had been cancelled.
Cardi B scraps dolls due to delays and quality concerns
The rapper teamed up with fashion doll brand Real Women Are earlier this year announcing the launch of a limited edition doll based on her. Pre-orders for the $35 doll were taken, but shipping dates slipped a number of times. Currently, the Real Women Are website still says that the dolls will begin shipping in October 2021.
With customer complaints about the lack of dolls rising, the whole project has now been called off, according to TMZ. The website says that manufacturing of the dolls was delayed by COVID-19 and because Cardi B herself wasn't happy with the quality of the finished product.
On the plus side, if you shelled out for one of these things, you've now got a $35 refund coming your way to spend on something nice. How about this Noel from Hear'Say doll on eBay?