|WEDNESDAY 6 APRIL 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: An appeals court in New York has upheld a lower court ruling in the dispute between Bob Dylan and the estate of one of his former collaborators, which reckons it should get a cut of the money Dylan received from the mega-bucks deal he did with Universal Music around his songs catalogue. The judge in the lower court disagreed with that claim, however, and now the appeals court has concurred on that point... [READ MORE]|
Appeals court upholds decision in dispute over Bob Dylan's mega-bucks song catalogue sale
The lawsuit was pursued by the estate of Jacques Levy, who collaborated with Dylan back in the 1970s, ultimately co-writing seven of the nine songs that appear on the 1976 album ‘Desire'. Levy's estate went legal after Dylan did his big rights deal with Universal Music Publishing, in which he sold his songs catalogue to the major for a reported $300 million.
The estate claimed that it was a co-owner of the 'Desire' songs and should therefore get a cut of the Universal money in relation to those works. However, in the 1970s Levy had a work-for-hire agreement with Dylan, meaning that the latter owned the copyright in their co-written works entirely, albeit with a commitment to pay his co-writer a royalty.
But in its lawsuit the estate argued that although Levy's agreement with Dylan was technically a work-for-hire arrangement - making Dylan the default owner of the copyright in the duo's songs under US copyright rules - that arrangement didn't actually work like an industry standard work-for-hire deal. Which, it then added, meant the estate actually had a co-ownership claim to the works, in addition to its royalty rights. Which in turn meant the estate should profit from the catalogue sale.
Dylan and Universal strongly disagreed, pointing out that - by acquiring the former's songs catalogue - the latter had also taken on his royalty commitments to his former collaborators, meaning the Levy estate will continue to receive the royalties it is due from the songs he co-wrote under the 1970s agreement.
The judge hearing the original case agreed with Dylan and Universal, concluding that 1970s agreement was "clear and unambiguous". As a result he dismissed the lawsuit. But the Levy estate appealed, insisting that the lower court judge had cited inappropriate cases and ignored critical information in his judgement.
But the appeals court is having none of that. It ruled yesterday: "The parties' agreement is unambiguous, and does not entitle plaintiffs to proceeds from the sale of the copyrights of the compositions co-written with Dylan".
"Nothing submitted by plaintiffs concerning music industry custom and practice supports a reading otherwise, or even suggests an ambiguity in the relevant contractual language", the appeal judges added, meaning the lower court had been correct to dismiss the lawsuit.
IFPI submission to EU Piracy Watch List calls out Twitter
The Counterfeit And Piracy Watch List is basically the European version of the Notorious Markets list that the US government produces each year that runs through all the websites that are currently annoying copyright owners - either because they are overt piracy operations or because they facilitate piracy in some way.
With both lists, copyright owners can make submissions suggesting what websites and platforms should be featured. The IFPI made its latest submission to the EC in February, and that submission was posted by Torrentfreak yesterday.
That submission begins, unsurprisingly, with stream-ripping sites, which have been a top piracy gripe for the music industry for some time. And there are sections covering other kinds of piracy operations too, plus the cyber-lockers that have legitimate uses but can also be used for sharing unlicensed music and movies.
But there are also sections hitting out at social media and messaging platforms which, the IFPI reckons, are not doing enough to stop their platforms from being used to facilite the unlicensed distribution of music.
Of the big social media platforms, Twitter remains that one that hasn't yet placated the music industry by entering into licensing deals to legitimise all the music that appears in videos uploaded by its users. As a result, it has become the big social media platform that music industry reps are most likely to diss in public.
And aside from not entering into the sorts of licensing deals secured by YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, the IFPI adds, Twitter has also failed to put in place decent systems to allow copyright owners to effectively police the unlicensed use of their music on the platform.
So, while the record labels constantly alert Twitter to unlicensed music on its platform, it "still does not take steps to prevent future infringements of content that has been notified. Consequently, IFPI and its member companies spend a significant amount of time and resources identifying and notifying reappearances of the same content".
"What is more, unlike any other platform, Twitter charges right-holders large amounts of money for the ability to search for tweets on its API that include or link to infringing content, at scale and without a time limitation. In other words, Twitter is not only outsourcing to right-holders the task of trying to remove [copyright] infringements from its platform but is also generating revenue thanks to the presence and large volume of repeat infringements on its platform".
Twitter is aware of these issues, it goes on, but "has not taken steps expected from a diligent operator to prevent or at least minimise the use of their platform for copyright infringement". To that end, the trade group says, "Twitter should be listed on the EU Counterfeit And Piracy Watchlist, which would incentivise them to do more to prevent infringements occurring and recurring on its platform".
Other social media and messaging platforms that could and should be doing more to stop infringement on their networks, the IFPI submissions also says, include Discord, Reddit, Vimeo and Telegram, while internet services company Cloudflare also gets a mention. You can download the full submission via Torrentfreak here.
Positive Subversion launches new catalogue migration service
It's no secret that, in the streaming age, a label's catalogue is becoming ever more valuable, with older music accounting for a much bigger slice of consumption and revenue as compared to discs and even downloads.
Meanwhile, with shorter term record deals having been available in the indie sector for a while - and becoming more common, even with major label deals - an increasing number of artists are finding themselves back in control of their recordings after a period of time.
There are, of course, various ways for artists and labels to manage and distribute their catalogues, although sometimes weighing up the pros and cons of each option can be tricky, while the logistics involved in changing music distributor can be a challenge. Which means that artists and labels that could be moving to new suppliers that better meet their requirements don't always do so.
The new service from Positive Subversion - which is a sister company to digital marketing agency Motive Unknown - aims to help artists and labels meet that challenge.
The company's founder Siofra McComb explains: "For most artists and labels, the majority of their revenue is being driven by their catalogue - for some as much as 80%. And artists might see the rights to their creative works reverting back to them from across different label deals".
"Finding a better distribution solution for your catalogue is a good way to increase revenue - sometimes by up to 20%", she adds. "But we found a lot of labels and artists either leaving this extra money on the table, or selling their rights, simply due to the sheer amount of work and headache involved in mapping and migrating a catalogue".
"We believe artists and labels should be able to retain control over their creative output, while making more money in the process", she goes on. "By taking the pain out of catalogue migration, we believe we're offering an invaluable service to the industry".
Positive Subversion says that, via its new flat-fee service, it can "manage all aspects of a catalogue transfer - from finding the best distribution solution for your catalogue to organising all assets and metadata - making it possible for artists and labels to increase revenue without having to handle the time-consuming work involved in a transfer which some labels simply don't the time or resources available for".
FUGA launches new Berlin office
Curt Keplin - appointed as the company's Business Development & Marketing Manager for the GSA region last year - has been promoted to Head Of Business Development GSA. Meanwhile there are plans to recruit a Berlin team in the months ahead, with Bernd Harbauer already on board as the firm's GSA Digital Accounts & Marketing Strategy Manager.
Commenting on his new job, Harbauer says: "FUGA's expansion across the GSA region has been exciting to watch and I look forward to joining the global marketing team and Curt in the new Berlin office. It's clear that FUGA has become an important player in the region, and the expanded suite of marketing services that it now offers will be very beneficial to music companies across GSA".
ITV likely to bid for Channel 4
This follows the announcement earlier this week that the UK government is going through with the controversial plan to sell Channel 4 which, although funded by advertising and sponsorship, is currently publicly owned.
The government argues that, like all broadcasters, Channel 4 is facing some big challenges as traditional national TV channels increasingly compete with global online video services, and that it will be better positioned to meet those challenges in the private sector.
But there has been much criticism of the decision to sell off Channel 4, especially from within the independent TV production community. Currently Channel 4 doesn't make any of its own programmes in-house, so provides lots of opportunities for independent producers to secure commissions.
Plus, of course, the channel has a long history of airing more alternative and controversial shows - something that many argue is down to its unique status as a commercially funded stated-owned media company - meaning it doesn't have to answer to either share holders or licence fee payers, allowing more adventurous programming.
But if it's going to be sold off - and ministers are keen to get the sale done before the next general election to stop any future government changing course - then a merger with ITV does sort of make some sense.
The Telegraph quotes one media industry source as saying: "The best bet for the UK is that ITV and Channel 4 combine so the nation has one strong commercial public service broadcaster".
"A merger of ITV and Channel 4's streaming services would create a much more substantial player in the digital space", they added. "It would double in size and be classed as a proper contender to the Americans. Ultimately, it would ensure that there is another large party other than the BBC that would continue to make British programming".
University Of Manchester announces British Pop Archive and launch exhibition
The remit of the collection will include British artists and bands, UK television, youth culture and counter culture movements, from the mid-Twentieth Century to the modern day.
It will all formally launch in May with an exhibition celebrating pop culture that originated in Manchester and the North West, with various documents and items relating to - among other things - Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Haçienda, Factory Records and Granada Television.
Specific items within the collection with a Manchester skew include the original written vision for Joy Division as penned by their manager Rob Gretton; Ian Curtis' handwritten lyrics to classic Joy Division songs; original posters from Sex Pistols gigs at the city's Lesser Free Trade Hall; and important works by designer Peter Saville.
One of the people working on the archive is author and music journalist Jon Savage, who was recently appointed as Professor Of Popular Culture at the University Of Manchester.
He says: "Britain's pop and youth culture has been transmitted worldwide for nearly sixty years now. As the most fertile and expressive product of post war democratic consumerism, it has a long and inspiring history that is in danger of being under-represented in museums and libraries".
"The intention of the British Pop Archive", he adds, "is to be a purpose-built, pop and youth culture archive that reflects the riches of the post war period running to the present day. We are launching with Manchester-centric collections but the intention is for the BPA to be a national resource encompassing the whole UK: it is, after all, the British Pop Archive".
The launch exhibition - titled simply 'Collection' - will be open from 19 May to 15 Jan next year.
Utopia Music has appointed Bastien Vidal to the role of Acting Chief Finance Officer and VP Operational Finance. The acquisitive company says it has further acquisitions planned and that, in his role, Vidal will be "responsible for supporting Utopia's considerable growth trajectory".
Michael Franti & Spearhead have announced that their new album 'Follow Your Heart' will be released on 3 Jun. New track 'Brighter Day' accompanies said announcement.
The Weekend has posted the video for 'Out Of Time' from his 'Dawn FM' album. It's directed by Cliqua and features Jim Carrey and South Korean model/actress HoYeon Jung.
GIGS & TOURS
Toro y Moi has announced his first headline tour of Europe in over five years which will take place in October, with UK dates including Chalk in Brighton on 11 Oct, St John at Hackney Church on 12 Oct and New Century Hall in Manchester on 13 Oct.
Radio firm Global has announced the shortlists for its annual music and podcasting awards event, which goes by the name The Global Awards 2022. The actual winners will be announced on the company's radio stations on 14 Apr. The nominations are listed here.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Musicians offered chance to write music in Paul McCartney's childhood home
McCartney and the National Trust - the latter owning the former's childhood home in Liverpool - have announced The Forthlin Sessions, which will allow a number of musicians to do some music-making in that very property at 20 Forthlin Road.
The project is also being supported by McCartney's brother Mike who has spoken to Sky News about his memories of growing up on Forthlin Road. Interviewed in the parlour of his childhood home, he said: "I would be in the other room learning photography, but whilst I'm doing all that I could hear guitar noises coming from this room".
Those guitar noises were being made by "what turned out to be two of the world's greatest songwriters, McCartney and Lennon. They were rehearsing from a school book on the floor, that's why this house is so unique".
On the scheme to allow other musicians to make music in the property, he added: "I think it's a brilliant idea. Inviting young people to this house and giving them the opportunity of doing the same as us, coming from nothing and seeing where it takes them ... this house to me, is a house of hope. And I hope it will be for the young people that come through the doors".