|WEDNESDAY 27 APRIL 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The European Union's Court Of Justice has ruled that the safe harbour reforming article seventeen of the 2019 European Copyright Directive effectively balances intellectual property and free speech rights in Europe, so any critics of those reforms can just fuck off. Especially the government of Poland. Fuck off, Poland... [READ MORE]|
EU court rejects Poland's opposition to safe harbour reforming article seventeen
For the wider music industry, article seventeen was the most important element of the 2019 directive that amended European Union copyright law.
It specifically increased the obligations of user-upload platforms like YouTube which - the music industry had long argued - routinely abused a copyright safe harbour originally intended for internet service providers and server hosting companies in order to get away with having loads of unlicensed music on their platforms, and/or to force record labels, music publishers and collecting societies into accepting less favourable terms in licensing deals.
Article seventeen proved very controversial when the directive was being negotiated, with critics arguing that - by increasing the obligations of user-upload platforms to filter out copyright infringing content - the new rule was an attack on freedom of expression on the internet. Along the way article seventeen was amended to address those concerns, though few critics were placated.
This meant that even after the directive had been passed, lobbying by the tech sector continued in a bid to water down the new obligations in article seventeen as it was implemented at a national level across the EU. Meanwhile, the government of Poland took the matter to the EU courts seeking to have the the safe harbour reforming element of the directive removed entirely.
Outlining the specific complaint made by the Polish government in that action, the EU courts explained last year: "The Republic Of Poland brought an action before the Court Of Justice for annulment of article seventeen of Directive 2019/790. According to the applicant, that article infringes the freedom of expression and information guaranteed in article eleven of the Charter Of Fundamental Rights Of The European Union".
That claim was initially considered by the Advocate General of the EU Court Of Justice who last year concluded that the final version of article seventeen had sufficiently dealt with the free speech concerns raised in relation to the new obligations on user-upload platforms. And the EU judges formally considering the case reached that same conclusion yesterday.
In a statement accompanying that judgement, the judges run through various ways in which article seventeen already deals with the concerns raised by the Polish government. For example, the directive specifically states that exceptions to copyright - such as parody - must be respected by any filtering processes, and that rightsholders seeking to ensure their content is not used without licence have to provide the information a platform needs to make that happen.
The court's statement says: "Article seventeen ... provides that users of [user-upload platforms] will be authorised, by national law, to upload content generated by themselves for the purposes, for example, of parody or pastiche and that they will be informed, by the [platforms], that they can use works and other protected subject matter under the exceptions or limitations to copyright and related rights, provided for in EU law".
Plus, "the liability of [user-upload platforms] for ensuring that certain content is unavailable can be incurred only on condition that the rightholders concerned provide them with the relevant and necessary information with regard to that content".
And also, "the directive introduces several procedural safeguards, which protect the right to freedom of expression and information of users of the [user-upload platforms] in cases where, nonetheless, the providers of the services erroneously or unjustifiably block lawful content".
With all that in mind, the court is happy that "the obligation, on [user-upload platforms], to review, prior to its dissemination to the public, the content that users wish to upload to their platforms, resulting from the specific liability regime established in the directive, has been accompanied by appropriate safeguards by the EU legislature in order to ensure respect for the right to freedom of expression and information of the users of those services, and a fair balance between that right, on the one hand, and the right to intellectual property, on the other".
Although, it did add, "member states must, when transposing article seventeen of the directive into their national law, take care to act on the basis of an interpretation of that provision which allows a fair balance to be struck between the various fundamental rights protected by the charter of fundamental rights".
Needless to say, the judgement from the EU court has been welcomed by the music industry. And here are some music industry organisations doing just that...
Helen Smith, Executive Chair of the pan-European organisation for the indie music community IMPALA: "We welcome the court's conclusion that article seventeen is compatible with fundamental rights. The ruling confirms that article seventeen has all the necessary safeguards. This means that the best approach for member states who have not yet implemented article seventeen is to stick to the text of the directive. IMPALA's view has always been that article seventeen is a balanced outcome and the court's confirmation of this is welcome. Correctly implemented, article seventeen will rebalance relations between rightholders and platforms, give a recovery boost to the sector at no costs for governments and ensure citizens' fundamental rights are respected, as well as those of creators".
Frances Moore, CEO of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry: "We welcome today's judgment by the [EU court] which dismisses the action brought by Poland against article seventeen of the Directive On Copyright And Related Rights In The Digital Single Market. The judgment confirms that the measures in the directive strike a fair balance between the protection of copyright and freedom of expression and information guaranteed by the Charter Of Fundamental Rights Of The European Union. Furthermore, it sends a clear signal to member states yet to transpose the directive into law that they should now implement it faithfully in order to help create a fair and well-functioning online environment for the creative industries in Europe".
GESAC, the pan-European grouping of song right collecting societies: "This ruling clearly approves the intention of the European legislator ... to ensure a more just and fairer legal framework, despite the intimidation and disinformation campaigns led by the very platforms subject to the article seventeen. The legislative victory won with the adoption of article seventeen by the EU institutions against these US-based tech giants was a major step towards creating a more reliable and trustworthy online environment, which has paved the way for more horizontal rules for the intermediaries in the EU with the current Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act regulations".
ECSA, the pan-European organisation for composers and songwriters: "ECSA welcomes this judgement which demonstrates that improving the remuneration of creators and fostering freedom of expression are two fundamental objectives that actually support each other, to the benefit of the society as whole. The highest EU court also sends a signal to all EU member states who have not yet implemented the directive: there is no excuse nor time to lose to implement the 2019 Copyright Directive and ensure that music creators can finally be fairly remunerated for their work".
Drake dismissed from song-theft lawsuit over his Chris Brown collab
Singer Braindon Cooper and producer Timothy Valentine sued Brown and Drake last year, claiming that 'No Guidance' rips off their 2016 track 'I Love Your Dress'. In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs said that "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".
Brown and Drake were pretty scathing in their response to that lawsuit, saying in a legal filing in January that Cooper and Valentine's litigation was entirely premised upon "the alleged similarity between the wholly generic lyrical phrase 'you got it' and the alleged similar (and unoriginal) theme of a hard-working, attractive woman".
They added: "No one, including plaintiffs, can own or monopolise the non-copyrightable phrase 'you got it', and it should come as no surprise that this phrase appears in countless other works. Also, lyrical themes are simply unprotectable as a matter of law".
Cooper and Valentine then hit back at those claims, arguing that Brown and Drake had ignored their expert musicologist's conclusion that "the two works share a 'high degree of combined similar features'". And that while each of those features in isolation may be common in plenty of previous songs, the way those features are combined in both 'I Love Your Dress' and 'No Guidance' are not.
As the dispute continues to go through the motions, Cooper and Valentine's legal reps made a new filing with the court on Monday stating that "all claims asserted against Aubrey Drake Graham aka Drake ... shall be, and hereby are, dismissed with prejudice and without costs or attorneys' fees as against any party".
It's not clear if that dismissal was the result of some kind of deal being done with Drake, or whether Cooper and Valentine have simply decided that their case against Brown is stronger.
Although the plaintiffs' theory for how the defendants might have had access to 'I Love Your Dress' before creating 'No Guidance' was based on Cooper sending music to an A&R rep linked to Drake's then label Cash Money Records, so you'd think Drake's involvement in writing 'No Guidance' is kind of key to their claim.
Whatever. Brown's legal reps continue to try and get the judge to dismiss this lawsuit outright. If that bid fails, it will be interesting to see how this particular song-theft legal battle now progresses.
Wasserman Music buys Paradigm UK
"Wasn't Wasserman interested in Paradigm's UK music business too?", you may also have mused. Well, if you did, the answer to that musing is, "yes, Wasserman was interested in Paradigm's UK music business too". And just to confirm that, Wasserman yesterday announced the acquisition of Paradigm's UK music business.
It means that that London-based team will now be working with their former Paradigm US colleagues once again. Plus Alex Hardee, Dave Hallybone, James Whitting and Tom Schroeder from the UK business will all join the Wasserman Music management team.
"I am incredibly proud to reunite Alex, Dave, James, Tom and their team with the full force of our Wasserman Music group", says the boss of the wider Wasserman company, Casey Wasserman.
"They not only persevered through a once in a lifetime pandemic", he continues, "but prioritised their clients and partnerships in a way that is consistent with our values and commitment to talent. With this group now under one banner, we now have a truly scalable and serviceable global music practice and look forward to strengthening our platform together".
Speaking for the UK team, Schroeder adds: "The pandemic was incredibly testing for the industry. It really made us all look at everything we have achieved and where we were going. What we saw in Wasserman was a company very different from others - dynamic, fast-moving, open, and honest".
"The commitment from our staff was incredible, and I couldn't be more proud and determined to continue our journey", he goes on. "Casey and his team are the most ambitious we have ever met, and their reach and vision is inspiring. We have always seen ourselves as the alternative, and that fits better today than ever before".
Warner Music launches new podcasting division
Warner Music has announced a new podcast division called Interval Presents which will, well, produce "multi-format, culture-forward audio content at the intersection of music, pop culture, and social impact". What a time to be alive!
Not only that, but Warner's new podcasting venture will "create a platform for artists and cultural movers to unpack trending conversations, amplify underrepresented voices, and explore the impact of music artistry from diverse perspectives". Which is exactly what I'd expect from my multi-format, culture-forward audio content at the intersection of music, pop culture, and social impact.
"Interval Presents allows us to develop and share podcast content that propels fresh, engaging conversations around trending topics and issues that matter to diverse communities - all through a culture-forward lens", says Warner Music's SVP Of Digital Strategy & Business Development Allan Coye, who will also be General Manager of the new podcasting unit. "This is just the beginning and as we grow, we hope to stay true to our roots in music while also using audio artistry as a vehicle to explore new terrains of storytelling, and ultimately, connect deeply with our audience".
"Interval Presents is a natural progression of Warner Music Group's long history of producing generation-defining music, supporting creatives and driving culture", adds the major's Chief Digital Officer & EVP Of Business Development Oana Ruxandra. "There's a hunger for more inclusive and authentic podcast content and, with Allan leading the charge, we're THRILLED to launch an audio platform that will connect with this growing audience and spotlight a breadth of voices and perspectives".
Ticketmaster launches in South Africa
"As a popular stop for the world's biggest artists and major international sporting events, South Africa is a natural choice for us", says Mark Yovich, President of Ticketmaster. "Our unparalleled technology and continued investment in innovation will enable our South African team to provide the best ticketing experience to event organisers, venues and fans across the country".
Managing Director of Ticketmaster South Africa, Justin Van Wyk, adds: "Our local team of experts have been living and breathing live events for 20+ years and are ready to bring their industry-wide knowledge coupled with the world's largest ticket marketplace to clients and fans here. As a country rapidly adopting digital technology, South African fans are sure to embrace Ticketmaster's industry-leading digital ticketing innovations".
The first events to sell tickets through the new Ticketmaster South Africa are Justin Bieber's Justice Tour and the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022.
Tim Westwood accused of sexual misconduct in new BBC documentary
Westwood - who denies the allegations - is accused of abusing his position in the music industry, with three of the women saying that he agreed to meet them on the premise of discussing their careers in music before pressuring them into sex.
Four other women accuse Westwood of groping them as they posed with him for photographs at events.
In a statement, a rep for Westwood said: "Tim Westwood strongly denies all allegations of inappropriate behaviour. In a career that has spanned 40 years, there have never been any complaints made against him officially or unofficially. Tim Westwood strongly rejects all allegations of wrongdoing".
However, this is not the first time allegations against Westwood have arisen. In 2020 he issued a statement to MailOnline denying accusations made via an anonymous Twitter account. It is reportedly those allegations that prompted the women featured in the documentary to come forward.
Westwood joined Radio 1 in 1994 to host the station's first rap show, after making a name for himself on pirate and then commercial radio. He has been a prominent figure in hip hop in the UK ever since, although he left the BBC in 2013.
Death metal supergroup Bloodbath - featuring current and former members of Paradise Lost, Opeth, Katatonia and Lik - have signed to Napalm Records. "Just as we're about to enter our next exciting chapter of Bloodbath, we're pleased to say that the band is in the good hands of a new label", they confirm. "By joining forces with the mighty Napalm Records, Bloodbath will proudly make sure our old school death metal continues to pummel onwards and upwards".
Music software maker BandLab - now part of Caldecott Music Group, of course - has announced $65 million of new funding, bringing on board new investor Prosus Ventures as part of the round. "Prosus Ventures has a record of highly successful investments in some of the world's most groundbreaking companies, and we're THRILLED they see the merits of our vision", says BandLab CEO Meng Ru Kuok. "We're proud to be a leading company in the music creation category and couldn't be happier to have them join us in empowering the future of music".
Martin Garrix has released 'Aurora', featuring Blinders. His new album, 'Sentio', is out on Friday.
Mogwai have released new track 'Boltfor', an outtake from their 'As The Love Continues' album.
Sampa The Great has released new single 'Lane', featuring Denzel Curry.
Ibeyi have released a cover of Black Flag's 'Rise Above', featuring Berwyn. "We read the lyrics and we immediately felt their relevance to how we felt about the world in its current state", says Ibeyi's Lisa-Kaindé. "We got to work on the melody and had the full song done in five minutes. Jorja Smith heard the track and told us we had to get Berwyn on the song".
After a decade of silence, The Big Pink are back with new single 'No Angels'. "It's a track reflecting that moment when you understand that all you've set your sights on has led to a place far away from where you should be and everything you truly love", says the band's Robbie Furze.
Kelly Lee Owens has released new single 'One'. Her new album, 'LP.8', is out on Friday.
070 Shake will release new album 'You Can't Kill Me' later this year. From it, this is new single 'Skin And Bones'.
Matmos have released new single 'Flashcube Fog Wares/Głucha Affera Słow'. The duo will play King's Place in London on 1 Jun.
GWAR have released new single 'Mother Fucking Liar'. Their new album, 'The New Dark Ages', is out on 3 Jun.
Naomi Banks has released the video for new single 'I Don't Know'.
Blacklab are back with new single 'Abyss', ahead of their appearance at Desertfest in London on 29 Apr.
GIGS & TOURS
Little Mix have announced that they will livestream the final show on their farewell tour at the O2 Arena on 14 May. "We wanted to live stream the last show of the tour so that all of our fans around the world have a chance to watch live and be a part of the show with us", says Jade Thirlwall. "It's so important to us that everyone can share this moment". Tickets are on sale here.
Alter Bridge will be on tour in the UK and Ireland in December, concluding with a show at the O2 Arena in London on 12 Dec. Support will come from Halestorm and Mammoth WVH. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Justin Bieber releases 75 second new single, 'I Feel Funny'
Now, some or all of that previous paragraph may indeed be true. Although with this speedy new Bieber track - called 'I Feel Funny' - really the focus is the video which also acts as a teaser for his actual next single, 'Honest', featuring Don Toliver.
Teaser videos, as we all know, are generally pointless pieces of shit that should be banned. However, in this case, when the video is it's own standalone piece of utter nonsense, maybe it should be allowed to pass.
"Justin randomly texted me this song one day and said, 'Should we do a visual to this? Song straight to number one'", explains the video's director Cole Bennett. "We joked around about doing a video for it but never did".
Until, that is, Bieber and Bennett were working on some final bits and pieces for the video for that aforementioned new single 'Honest'. "We had a bit of time switching over from scene to scene", the director explains. "So, I went into his trailer and said, 'Remember that song you sent me? Let's shoot a video for it on my phone in between takes of the actual video'. The rest was history".
History indeed. The song itself is also available - sans phone-filmed visuals - on all your favourite streaming services, so we'll see if it does indeed make it to number one. It would be quite funny if it did better than 'Honest', but we'll see.
Best bet is to start by watching the 'I Feel Funny' video here.