|MONDAY 21 MARCH 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Lizzo has settled her legal battle with former collaborators Justin Raisen, Jeremiah Raisen and Justin 'Yves' Rothman over their claim that they contributed to the creation of her hit 'Truth Hurts' and should therefore share in the royalties generated by that track. Legal reps for both sides in the dispute informed the court that an agreement had been reached last week... [READ MORE]|
Lizzo settles Truth Hurts copyright battle with former collaborators
The Raisens and Rothman all collaborated with Lizzo, real name Melissa Jefferson, back in April 2017 and - out of that collaboration - came an unreleased song called 'Healthy'. Although never put out, that song contained the notable line "I did a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch", which also appeared in 'Truth Hurts' when it was released later that same year.
'Truth Hurts' didn't become a hit until 2019, which is when the dispute between Jefferson and her former collaborators took off. The Raisens initially claimed that they had basically co-written 'Truth Hurts' - because it lifted the key lyric from 'Healthy - via social media.
That prompted Jefferson to go legal seeking court confirmation that the Raisens and Rothman had no copyright claim over her late-in-the-day hit. And that in turn prompted the Raisens and Rothman to sue seeking a cut of the 'Truth Hurts' copyright.
As the legal battle went through the motions there was some discussion as to whether 'Truth Hurts' was a derivation of 'Healthy' - or whether, in fact, the 'Healthy' songwriting sessions were ultimately part of the 'Truth Hurts' songwriting sessions. That technicality had an impact on what specific copyright claims the Raisens and Rothman were making.
Although there was also a dispute over whether the three men had had any involvement in the decision to turn the "I’m 100% that bitch" line - which was an Instagram meme - into a lyric within 'Healthy'. Jefferson’s argument being that - whatever the connection between 'Healthy' and 'Truth Hurts' - her former collaborators had no involvement in the lyrics they were fighting over.
In court things mainly went in Jefferson's favour. In August 2020, the judge overseeing the case dismissed a key claim made in the first lawsuit filed by the Raisens and Rothman, although allowed them to submit an amended complaint. Much of the amended complaint was then also dismissed in April 2021.
However, that didn't kill the litigation entirely, so the whole dispute was still quietly going through the motions. Until last week. On Friday, the judge confirmed that legal reps for the two sides had requested "dismissal of the entire action without prejudice". Terms of the settlement are not known, although each side will cover their own legal costs.
Phoebe Bridgers calls deposition request in defamation case "thinly veiled harassment"
In his lawsuit last year, Nelson claimed that, in October 2020, Bridgers made a number of allegations of abuse and misconduct against him on Instagram, while also directing her followers to his ex-girlfriend’s account on the platform where further allegations had been made.
He denies all the claims made against him, and the lawsuit argues that Bridgers "intentionally used her high-profile public platform on Instagram to publish false and defamatory statements regarding [Nelson] in order to destroy his reputation".
In response, Bridgers filed a sworn declaration last month, in which she stated: "I believe that the statements I made in my Instagram story are true. My statements were made based on my personal knowledge, including statements I personally heard Mr Nelson make, as well as my own observations. I continue to believe the statements that I made were true".
As part of the ongoing ‘discovery process’ in relation to the case, Nelson subsequently requested that Bridgers be ordered to sit for a deposition - so that she would be answering question under oath - saying it was the only way to prove that she defamed him.
Objecting to that request last week, her lawyer Alan A Greenberg said: "Mr Nelson’s amorphous request for discovery based on his attorney’s circular statement that it is necessary is nothing more than thinly veiled harassment".
In a filing, Bridger’s legal team added that allowing Nelson’s deposition request would undermine California’s anti-SLAPP laws, rules that are designed to stop people limiting the free speech of others through unwarranted litigation.
The filing stated: "If plaintiffs could justify lifting the discovery stay based solely on their lack of available evidence to oppose an anti-SLAPP motion, that would enable those with the weakest claims to inflict the expense and delay of discovery on the defendants the legislature most intended to protect by providing a procedure for courts to dismiss at an early stage non-meritorious litigation meant to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights".
The next hearing in the case is due to take place later this month.
In January this year, an LA court judge dismissed a separate defamation case brought by Nelson against another singer-songwriter, Noël Wells. In that case, Nelson claimed that Wells had defamed him in a message she sent to a band about her experiences working with him.
US music industry welcomes proposed SMART Copyright Act
The proposals are contained in the SMART Copyright Act - or the Strengthening Measures To Advance Rights Technologies Copyright Act if you prefer - which has been put together by senators Thom Tillis and Patrick Leahy, both members of the Senate IP Subcommittee.
The two Congress members state in a document outlining their proposals: "Online service providers struck a deal with Congress 20 years ago - they wouldn’t have to pay for copyright theft facilitated by their systems if they worked with copyright owners to create effective standardised technical measures to identify and protect against distribution of stolen content".
"In enacting this grand bargain", they go on, "Congress clearly envisioned this safe harbour immunity would act as an incentive for platforms and rights-holders to collaborate on developing effective measures available to all on reasonable terms to combat piracy, lower transaction costs, accelerate information sharing, and create a healthy internet for everyone".
But that didn't work, they reckon. "Rather than incentivising collaboration on technologies to protect copyrighted works, the law actually inhibits it because service providers cannot risk losing their valuable safe harbours if an STM is created ... The SMART Copyright Act of 2022 takes a measured approach to addressing these barriers to collaboration and adoption".
Launching the proposals last week, Tillis said: "In the fight to combat copyright theft, there is currently no consensus-based standard technical measures and that needs to be addressed. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will provide widely available piracy-fighting measures and create a trusted and workable internet for our creative communities".
Meanwhile, Leahy added: "Nearly 25 years ago we enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a landmark update to the copyright laws for the internet age. Since then, the internet has significantly changed and with it so has the world of copyright. I’m excited to work, alongside Senator Tillis, with filmmakers, musicians, authors and artists of all stripes, enlisting the help of online platforms, to address online copyright theft that robs these artists of the fruits of their creativity and hard work".
"The technology exists to protect against this theft; we just need online platforms to use the technology", he went on. "I’m working hard to make sure our artists get paid, and we can enjoy legal access to their wonderful creations. I look forward to working with all realms of the copyright community to address the problem of copyright theft".
The music industry, of course, has long been a critic of the copyright safe harbour and how it is employed by many digital platforms, calling for legal reforms in various countries, most notably as part of the 2019 EU Copyright Directive. So, unsurprisingly, reps for the music community welcomed last week's proposals from Tillis and Leahy.
The CEO of the Recording Industry Association Of America, Mitch Glazier, said: "By encouraging cooperation between platforms and rights-holders, the SMART Copyright Act will incentivise the development and adoption of effective tools to address online piracy while giving platforms clarity".
"This thoughtful proposal builds off nearly a quarter century of real-world experience under the DMCA and promises a big step toward balancing the interests of creators and tech companies in today’s integrated commercial marketplace", he continued. "Congress intended that creators and platforms work together to protect copyright and consumers and this proposal achieves that goal".
Meanwhile, David Israelite, CEO of the US National Music Publishers Association, added: "The DMCA for years has left songwriters and music publishers with few avenues to protect their work online. We applaud Senators Tillis and Leahy for their leadership to strengthen technical measures to hold giant tech platforms more accountable. This is a great first step towards fighting online piracy which continues to be a major threat to the livelihood of our creative community".
But, needless to say, reps for the tech sector are less impressed with the proposals, with lobbying group the Re:Create Coalition dubbing Tillis and Leahy's bill "very dangerous".
The group's Executive Director Joshua Lamel claimed that the SMART Copyright Act "will give the government the power to decide how Americans’ everyday digital products and services work, creating harmful consequences far beyond the realm of copyright law. From apps and the cloud to social media, blogging and video games, technical mandates will destroy online creativity, censor free expression online, hurt consumer choice and hold back new startups".
"This bill will lead to filtering mandates", he then added, "undermining the very purpose of copyright to promote creativity and progress. It should not move forward".
Belgian performer society welcomes proposed new digital remuneration right
When that directive was being negotiated there was a campaign for European law to be amended so to introduce a full-on performer equitable remuneration right linked to streaming, which would mean that at least some of the money paid into the music industry by the streaming services would flow to artists via the collective licensing system.
Currently, frontline artists receive streaming royalties via their labels or distributors, subject to whatever deal they negotiated with that label or distributor, while session musicians are not cut into streaming income at all.
Quite how ER on streams would work has been much debated, but the wider principle of ER is well established of course - artists already receive royalties direct via their collecting societies when recordings on which they appear are broadcast or played in public.
That principle has not been employed with streaming in most countries, with a few exceptions. ER is paid on personalised radio services like Pandora and iHeartRadio in the US, and some streaming royalties already flow through the collective licensing system to artists in Spain and Hungary.
In the end the copyright directive did not introduce ER on streams across Europe, although article eighteen of said directive does say that "member states shall ensure that where authors and performers license or transfer their exclusive rights for the exploitation of their works or other subject matter, they are entitled to receive appropriate and proportionate remuneration".
Most EU countries that have already implemented the directive have just cut and paste the core parts of that article directly into their copyright laws, not actually changing anything, and therefore basically assuming that performers must already be getting "appropriate and proportionate remuneration" under the current system.
Although with that commitment in law, performers could now starting lobbying lawmakers at a national level to the effect that "appropriate and proportionate remuneration" is not being achieved and that an ER system is the best way to ensure that it is.
However, two countries - Germany and Croatia - have actually introduced a new more specific performer right into law as they have implemented the directive.
In the case of Germany, that takes the form of a new remuneration right for performers specifically linked to user-generated content platforms - the obligations of such platforms already being amended as part of article seventeen of the directive. That means an extra revenue stream for those performers administered by the collective licensing system.
And now Belgium can probably be added to the list of countries introducing a new performer right as they implement the directive, based on proposals agreed last week by the country's Council Of Ministers, which will now go to the Belgian parliament. Those proposals also include a new remuneration right for performers. The specifics of that are still to be confirmed, though some sources say the new right will be similar to that added into German law.
However it works, if passed by the country's Parliament the new right will be managed by collecting society PlayRight. It said on Friday: "In the preliminary draft of the law that was approved today by the Council Of Ministers, a right to remuneration in collective management has been introduced. The text will now be submitted to the Economy Committee of the Federal Parliament".
The society then confirmed that it "welcomes this positive development", adding: "We will also take a closer look at the mechanisms that [are needed] to ensure that performers will be paid for the use of their performances online". It also noted "the battle is not yet won, as now Parliament must be convinced".
Although the EU copyright directive is not relevant to the UK post-Brexit, extending the ER principle to streams has been a big part of the economics of streaming debate here too, of course, with Parliament's culture select committee supporting such a system.
However, it's a divisive issue within the music community, given that if artists get a cut of streaming money directly through their collecting societies, obviously some other stakeholders in the music streaming ecosystem would see their cut of digital income drop.
With the way ER currently works in the UK, it would be the labels and distributors that take the hit, while in much of Continental Europe it could potentially also affect the share of the money allocated to the streaming services or even the song rights.
Though, whatever approach is taken, not all artists necessarily benefit from a shift to ER, especially once you factor in the costs of administrating the system and session musicians getting a cut of the money. So the debate is more complicated than just artists versus labels.
With that in mind, the UK's Intellectual Property Office has commissioned research into what the impact of different manifestations of ER on streams might be.
Anti-piracy firm concerned reporting on labels v ISP legal battle could help pirates
Bright House is one of various American ISPs sued by the record companies over allegations it failed to meet its obligations under the copyright safe harbour in US law. As a result, the argument goes, it cannot rely on the safe harbour to avoid liability for the copyright infringement that occurred on its networks, meaning the music firms can sue it for damages.
All those cases in part rely on the labels proving that each ISP's customers were indeed downloading and distributing copyright protected music without licence. That's where companies like MarkMonitor come in. They track the sharing of content over different networks and then show up in court with various documents and files that, as far as the labels are concerned, prove lots of infringement occurred, which - with the safe harbour removed - the ISP can then be held liable for.
MarkMonitor has gathered a bunch of evidence on behalf of its label clients for the Bight House case. And last week it asked the court that some of that evidence be kept confidential. Partly because it doesn't want its competitors knowing how its anti-piracy systems work, but partly because it doesn't want reporting of the dispute to help pirates circumvent its monitoring activities.
In terms of the latter concern, MarkMonitor's legal filing specifically references possible coverage on Torrentfreak, the website that covers online copyright, piracy and file-sharing news and developments.
The legal filing says that if the court keeps its evidence sealed it will help "avoid unrestricted publication of the confidential information by Torrentfreak (and others) that serve to provide news and information to the public who may be involved in cyber-piracy, hacking, and illegal or infringing file-sharing of copyrighted material".
Later it adds that it has gathered together the documents required in the case with the expectation that they would be kept confidential so that "MarkMonitor’s information would not be made available or accessible to competitors, or any interested sector of the pro-piracy publications or general public".
Companies like MarkMonitor asking for some of the evidence they submit to court to be sealed and therefore not available to the public is not unusual. However, for its part Torrentfreak is perplexed that it was singled out for a specific mention in the legal filing and also somewhat pissed off at the implication it is a "pro-piracy publication".
Reporting on the filing, Torrentfreak states: "Needless to say, we are perplexed after reading this filing. While it is totally understandable that MarkMonitor and the record labels don’t want to share proprietary or confidential information in public, singling out Torrentfreak is completely unnecessary".
"Even worse", it goes on, "using the 'pro-piracy' term is wholly inaccurate. Judging from the responses we get, our readership is rather diverse. In fact, copyright holders often approach us with news and regularly cite our independent reporting, even MarkMonitor did so in the past. While it’s certainly true that we report on these types of lawsuits in detail, we cover the good and the bad for all sides".
Parliamentary committee backs proposal to extend licences of national UK digital radio multiplexes
Those national digital radio networks - or DAB ‘multiplexes’ if you prefer - are currently run by Digital One Ltd and Sound Digital Ltd, both of which operate under licences issued by the government. Any national station available in the UK via the digital audio broadcasting system is utilising one of those multiplexes.
However, the licence currently being used by Digital One is due to expire in November 2023 and, under the current rules, that means that media regulator OfCom should put that licence up for tender, so that Digital One would have to compete with any other companies interested in running the multiplex.
Last year the government’s Department Of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport noted that "there have been calls by some commercial operators for the government to consider allowing OfCom automatically to renew the national multiplex licences as this would provide the sector with certainty and support". With that in mind, DCMS opened up a consultation allowing interested parties to input on that proposal.
Following that consultation, DCMS said that the "majority of respondents supported legislating to allow for an automatic renewal of licences, arguing that this would provide commercial radio broadcasters with certainty and stability for their businesses and the confidence to invest in digital services". To that end, the government department is proposing to amend the UK's Broadcasting Act to allow OfCom to automatically renew the Digital One licence.
Since last year, the BEIS Committee in Parliament has been responsible for scrutinising so called "regulatory and legislative reform orders", which includes the proposal regarding the DAB multiplex licences. And so the committee recently did just that, considering all the pros and cons of the government seeking to amend the Broadcasting Act in this way. It then published a lengthy summary of those considerations on Friday.
The committee's conclusion was that "a satisfactory case has been made in favour of the proposal" and therefore it recommends that "the draft order be approved using the affirmative resolution procedure". Which is a formal way of shouting, "hey OfCom, get that Digital One licence extended!" Well, let's get the law amended in order to allow that to be shouted, I guess.
Kanye West barred from performing at Grammys due to "concerning online behaviour"
West has repeatedly harassed ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her new boyfriend, comedian Pete Davidson, on Instagram in recent weeks.
He was also banned from the social media platform for 24 hours last week for breaching its hate speech, bullying and harassment rules. The ban came after West reacted angrily to comments Trevor Noah made about his treatment of Kardashian on ‘The Daily Show’.
There was speculation that West had been specifically barred from performing at the Grammys due to the fact that Noah is also hosting the awards show.
However, a source "close to Noah" told CNN: "Trevor never asked the Grammys to ban Kanye from performing. He was not offended by Kanye's Instagram post and Trevor responded on Instagram. The notion that Trevor or his team asked the Grammys to ban Kanye is ridiculous".
Noah himself tweeted in response to the news: "I said counsel Kanye not cancel Kanye".
Acts who will be performing at the Grammys this year include BTS, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X. The ceremony, delayed because of COVID, will take place on 3 Apr.
Universal buys NFT manager for NFT band
It was first announced in November that 10:22PM was teaming up with NFT collector and entrepreneur Jimmy McNeils to create Kingship, a group made up of four characters created as part of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT project.
Bored Ape is one of the most successful NFT ventures to date, with 10,000 individual characters - each connected to an NFT on the blockchain - originally sold, followed by 20,000 ‘mutant’ versions. Kingship, on the off chance you care, is made up of three originals and one mutant.
10:22PM’s plan is seemingly to create a virtual group that will have their own ongoing story, which will conveniently fit around the release of music and staging of virtual live performances. And there will, of course, be plenty of new NFTs related to the band put on sale as part of the whole endeavour.
A narrative requires characters, which is where this new Bored Ape NFT comes in. Called Manager Noët All, she will act as the band’s manager in their story. The label paid $360,817 worth of Ethereum to buy the NFT that gives them control over the Noët character, who has a number of rare Bored Ape traits, including a blue dress, pilot helmet, white fur and sad eyes. Coincidentally the four traits any band looks for in a manager.
"We have been incredibly busy developing Kingship since our initial announcement and I’m so excited to introduce Manager Noët All, one of many new characters that will be joining the Kingship universe", says 10:22PM founder Celine Joshua. "As the manager of the group, Manager Noët All will help drive the storyline and allow us to communicate with the community".
"We hope to make the Kingship universe as entertaining and immersive as possible, while simultaneously building value for holders", she goes on. "Stay tuned, there’s so much to come".
Virtual band’s are nothing new, of course. Gorillaz have been around since the late 1990s, and one of Japan’s biggest pop stars, Hatsune Miku, is an animated representation of a piece of vocal generation software that anyone can use. These projects do tend to have music at their core though, while it’s currently not clear what Kingship will even sound like.
However, I guess, the difference between an NFT band and any other band is that if it’s all a flop, then the label can sell off the band members in an effort to make some of its money back. So that’s something.