|MONDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Megan Thee Stallion's label has formally responded to her most recent lawsuit against the company. As expected, 1501 Certified Entertainment reaffirms its position that last year's compilation 'Something For Thee Hotties' does not qualify as one of the albums she is obliged to deliver to the label. It also rejects her claim that she is owed more than a million dollars in unpaid royalties, insisting she actually owes 1501 millions from other elements of its wide-ranging deal with the rapper... [READ MORE]|
1501 submits forthright response to Megan Thee Stallion's latest lawsuit
The legal back and forth between 1501 and Megan Thee Stallion, real name Megan Pete, has been rumbling on for some time. She originally claimed that her deal with the label did not follow music industry conventions and was unfairly skewed in 1501's favour. After she went legal on the matter, 1501 agreed to amend elements of that deal, resulting in Pete's lawsuit being dismissed.
But then the new dispute began over the three albums Pete is obliged to deliver to 1501 and whether last year's 'Something For Thee Hotties' counts as one of them.
The label insists that it does not, which means - following 2020's 'Good News' and last month's 'Traumazine' - one more record is still owed. Shortly after the release of 'Traumazine', Pete filed new legal papers requesting court confirmation that 'Something For Thee Hotties' definitely does count towards her album obligations, and therefore she is now free to walk away from the label.
It was that latest legal filing that also demanded more than a million dollars in damages in relation to allegedly unpaid royalties, while also accusing 1501 of being behind a leak of 'Traumazine' that resulted in the rapper having to fast track its release.
1501's formal response is very forthright in its criticism of Pete. "Megan Pete has repeatedly made false and baseless accusations in the press against 1501 and its founder and CEO, Carl Crawford", it states, before adding that "none of it has been under oath". Implying, of course, that Pete knows many of her allegations are baseless.
"1501 is the record company that discovered MTS and signed her in 2018, back before she was the success she is now, and when no other record labels were interested in signing her", it goes on. "1501 made a distribution deal with 300 Entertainment, which helped to make MTS a star. And, as soon as she became a star, MTS decided that she no longer needed 1501 or Carl Crawford, so she has pursued baseless legal actions in an attempt to get out of her valid contractual obligations".
1501 then runs through the past legal wrangling and the renegotiation of Pete's deal, and again sets out why it believes 'Something For Thee Hotties' does not qualify as an album under that revised contract. And then it moves onto who owes who money.
"Any argument that 1501 has wrongfully withheld money from MTS is baseless because MTS owes 1501 substantially more than her share of any royalty payments", it insists. That's because the label is due a cut of many of the rapper's revenue streams beyond her recordings, what it refers to as 'entertainment income'.
"MTS has never fully accounted to 1501 for her entertainment income", it claims. "Nor has she paid 1501 any part whatsoever of its due portion of her entertainment income. Entertainment income includes income from endorsements, sponsorships, special marketing arrangements, strategic partnerships, or other business relationships as well as exploitation of name, image, and likeness, merchandise, live performances, and performances in all media, among other things. 1501 is contractually entitled to a certain percentage of MTS's entertainment income".
Returning to its more general beef with Pete, 1501 continues: "Over the course of her two lawsuits, and when she is not under oath, MTS has made false and baseless accusations in the press against 1501 and Carl Crawford. For example, MTS has claimed in the press that she has 'never been paid from 1501'. But in fact, MTS received an advance from 1501".
"MTS has refused to meet with 1501 to discuss any of the aforementioned issues", it goes on. "She has never given 1501 notice of her claims or any opportunity to cure before filing her lawsuits as required by her contracts. When 1501 has provided MTS with notice of 1501's grievances, she has ignored 1501. When 1501 has requested evidence to support MTS's claims, she has refused to produce it".
And as for the recent allegation that 1501 leaked the new album, it notes: "MTS and [her management at] Roc Nation have wrongfully accused 1501 of leaking 'Traumazine' before its release date and have claimed to have 'evidence' that 1501 did so in the trade press. But, despite demand, MTS has not produced that evidence in this lawsuit".
With all that in mind, 1501 wants court confirmation that Pete still owes it one album, that the rapper's allegations against 1501 are without merit, and that it is the label not the rapper that is due damages for unpaid royalties.
Defence call initial witnesses in latest R Kelly trial
Kelly, of course, is facing a new round of charges, this time in his hometown of Chicago, in relation to the allegations of sexual abuse that have followed him around for decades. McDavid and another co-defendant, Milton 'June' Brown, are accused of helping Kelly cover up that abuse during an earlier criminal investigation back in the 2000s.
The musician was not expected to testify, he having not provided any testimony at his previous two trials, ie the 2008 trial, also in Chicago, where he was acquitted, and last year's trial in New York where he was found guilty of running a criminal enterprise to access and abuse women and teenagers. And on Thursday, when asked if he would testify this time, he told the judge, simply, "No - I'm not going to testify".
Brown also confirmed that he will not testify, while McDavid on the other hand confirmed that he will. His lawyers had already said their client planned to speak during the court proceedings, and he is now likely to take to the witness stand tomorrow.
Another expected confirmation that came on Thursday was judge Harry Leinenweber rejecting a motion from the defendants to acquit them of all charges without any jury deliberations. That motion was filed as the prosecution rested their case earlier last week. Such motions are routine in trials of this kind and very rarely have a positive outcome for the defendants, as was the case here.
As the respective defence attorneys for Kelly, McDavid and Brown started calling witnesses last week, it became even clearer what line of argument each team is mainly pursing.
Kelly's lawyer Jennifer Bonjean seems most keen to question the timelines presented by anyone called to the witness stand by the prosecution, mainly to throw doubt on the claims by various accusers that they were underage when they first had sex with the musician. Where timelines seem confused, she suggests, maybe those accusers were actually seventeen when any sexual interactions began, that being the age of consent in the Kelly's home state of Illinois.
According to the Chicago Tribune, that strategy involved questioning Merry Green, a witness who had worked on an event called Expo For Today's Black Woman in the late 1990s and 2000s. One of Kelly's accusers, Tracy, earlier told jurors that that is where she had met Kelly in 1999 when she was just sixteen. But, Green said, it was the 2000 expo where Kelly made a promotional appearance, by which time Tracy would have been seventeen.
Green conceded that Kelly could have also attended the 1999 expo in an unofficial capacity. However, she reckoned, if a pop star of his stature was at the event even in an unofficial capacity it is likely she would have been notified, and she has no recollection of receiving any such notification.
McDavid's team are keen to prove that their client did not attend various meetings in the 2000s where the cover up of Kelly's crimes was discussed, contrary to claims made by prosecution witnesses. They also argue that McDavid was legitimately under the impression that Kelly was keen to recover various sex tapes that had leaked because they were embarrassing to him and his wife, not because they showed the star sexually abusing minors.
Lawyers for McDavid questioned a former Chicago police officer and old friend of McDavid's - Christopher G Wilson - who recalled once accompanying a private investigator to Kansas City, at the request of Kelly's one time business manager, in order to interview someone suspected of being involved in an attempt to blackmail the musician over the sex tapes.
Those meetings in Kansas City were previously mentioned by prosecution witness Charles Freeman, who claims he was hired by Kelly and McDavid to retrieve videos showing the musician having sex with underage girls. But Freeman claimed McDavid was at those meetings himself, whereas Wilson denied that was the case.
The McDavid team also called Ronald Winters, who was personal assistant to the late lawyer who represented Kelly in his 2008 trial. Winters had seen some of the sex tapes filmed by Kelly that were circulating in the 2000s.
He told the court that the women in those tapes did not appear to be underage and that at least one featured a threesome seemingly involving Kelly's wife. The musician was particularly keen to retrieve that tape, it's argued, because his wife was embarrassed that it was doing the rounds.
Brown's team are mainly keen to present their client as being a low level member of Kelly's team with little knowledge of what was going on, and who therefore was unlikely to have knowingly got involved in any attempt to cover up his employer's crimes in the 2000s.
They called another former Kelly employee called Tom Arnold who basically confirmed what it was like to be a low level member of the Kelly team, adding that he routinely handed over large amounts of cash on behalf of his boss without knowing what it was for.
The Kelly trial will resume tomorrow following today's Labor Day holiday on the US.
Google delists web-blocked stream-ripping sites in the UK
Stream-ripping - services that allow people to turn temporary streams into permanent downloads - has been a top piracy gripe of the music industry for sometime. Various lawsuits and threats of lawsuits have been thrown at the operators of such services, meanwhile last year the BPI managed to get some web-blocking injunctions against some stream-ripping set-ups.
Web-blocking, of course, is where copyright owners secure injunctions ordering internet companies - usually internet service providers - to block their customers from accessing certain sites which are accused of facilitating copyright infringement.
One of the limitations of web-blocking is that, even once a piracy service is blocked, it can be quite easy for people to find alternative ways of accessing such services with a simple Google search. To that end, copyright owners have often called on Google to do more to help ensure web-blocking orders can be enforced.
Google has traditionally been even more resistant than the ISPs to the idea that it should be more proactive in limiting access to piracy sites, although it has, on a few previous occasions, voluntarily delisted from its search engine sites that are subject to web-blocks in various countries.
According to Torrentfreak, the BPI and collecting society PPL recently asked Google to delist from its search engine the web-blocking sites that were included in the web-blocking injunction it secured last year. And Google has seemingly voluntarily complied with that request, albeit only within the UK.
Judge dismisses Nevermind baby artwork lawsuit for the final time
Spencer Elden sued Nirvana, their label and other people involved in creating the 'Nevermind' artwork in August 2021. Claiming that Elden's guardians did not know how the nude baby photo would be used when it was originally taken, the lawsuit said that the defendants "knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so".
Nirvana and the other defendants quickly got busy trying to have the lawsuit dismissed. They argued that the case was without merit, in particular citing past interviews with Elden in which he had talked positively about appearing in the artwork, and also noting the various times the plaintiff has recreated the image as a teenager and adult, albeit wearing shorts. Those things, the band argued, suggested that his appearance in the photo on the cover of 'Nevermind' had not damaged Elden in the way his lawsuit claimed.
That said, core to the motion for dismissal were timings. With the specific laws Nirvana et al were accused of violating, there is a ten year statute of limitations. That doesn't mean Elden would have had to sue within ten years of the photograph being taken, but - technically speaking - he should have gone legal within ten years of his eighteenth birthday. So the deadline for filing the lawsuit was 2019.
The Elden side initially missed a deadline for responding to the motion for dismissal, so it was granted. However, the judge hearing the case said Elden could resubmit his lawsuit addressing the statute of limitation issues that the defendants had raised, which he then did.
Elden's lawyers said that Nirvana and their label continued to exploit the 'Nevermind' image, including on a 30th anniversary reissue of the album last year. Therefore Elden had continued to suffer from the distribution of the artwork over the last ten years, within the statute of limitations.
But the judge has now rejected those arguments, concluding that the Elden team's position would allow him to sue Nirvana indefinitely, thus rendering the statute of limitations redundant. And this time Elden isn't given the option to re-file.
Responding to that decision, a legal rep for the defendants, Bert Deixler, told Reuters: "We are pleased that this meritless case has been brought to a speedy final conclusion".
Now an app consultancy sues Triller over allegedly unpaid bills
According to Billboard, in a lawsuit filed in the LA courts last week, Phiture says that it was hired by the Triller company in March last year to provide 'store optimisation services', including "an audit of Trillers 'presence' on both Apple's App Store and Google Play, as well as ongoing management to improve its placement on those stores".
In a contract attached to the lawsuit, Triller agreed to pay $14,000 a month for those services. But, says Phiture, Triller then started defaulting on that agreement a year ago and now $132,000 in unpaid fees is owing.
Last week's litigation follows two other recently filed lawsuits that accuse Triller of not meeting agreed payment terms.
Timbaland and Swizz Beatz say they are owed money stemming from Triller's acquisition of Verzuz, the livestreamed DJ Battle brand that they created in 2020 and sold to the digital firm last year. Meanwhile Sony Music says Triller has failed to meet the payment terms of its licensing deal.
Reps for Triller have hit back at both those earlier lawsuits. They said that the additional payments to Timbaland and Swizz Beats were dependent on certain obligations being met by the producers, which had not yet been met. Meanwhile, the Sony lawsuit "grossly mischaracterises our relationship with them and leans into the bully persona large music labels are often criticised for".
It remains to be seen how Triller responds to the Phiture lawsuit.
BBC adds local content section to Sounds app
The Beeb said in a statement last week that it is "constantly working to improve the experience people get from BBC Sounds - and this week we're introducing something new to help make it even more personal and relevant for all our listeners. From today, some of our listeners will see a new section appear on the home screen when they open BBC Sounds, showing programmes and podcasts people can listen to which are about and from their local area".
The local content section will obviously pull heavily from the BBC's network of local radio stations in England, and the nation stations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As well as highlighting local news and sport content, it will also put the spotlight on the local BBC Music Introducing shows that champion new music talent in different regions.
The BBC added in its statement: "Over time, the section will become more relevant to listeners with a wider range of content for them to listen to. Initially, only some of our listeners will see this new section, but we will be bringing it to everyone in the near future".
Atlantic's Damian Christian takes over as Chair of BRIT Committee
The first big decision announced for 2023 is that the ceremony will move to a Saturday night, with hopes of attracting a larger audience to the event's TV broadcast. It'll also mean that UK record company staff might be in a fit state to do their jobs when the next working day rolls around.
"The BRITs is the biggest night of the year for the UK music industry, and we want as many eyes on it as possible as we showcase the best and most diverse British talent", says Christian. "Moving the show to a Saturday will breathe new life into the iconic ceremony, while also introducing a new and more engaged audience".
The event is set to take place on 11 Feb. It will again take place at the O2 Arena and will be broadcast live by ITV.
The Osbournes to return in new series for the BBC
"I'm delighted that the Osbournes will be sharing this next chapter in their lives with BBC viewers in what promises to be a funny, moving and honest insight into their new life in the UK", says the BBC's Head Of Commissioning for documentaries, Clare Sillery.
The show will follow Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne as they return to the family home in Buckinghamshire they left more than 20 years ago. Remaining in the US, their children Jack and Kelly will also feature.
It's also now more than 20 years since the original version of 'The Osbournes' first aired on MTV, launching in March 2002 and quickly becoming the most popular show on the channel. It ran for four series and 52 episodes until 2005.
This new iteration of the programme comes after Ozzy's 2019 diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, and will also cover the birth of Kelly's first child, as well as the move back to the UK.
Creative directors of the production company behind the show, Expectation, Ben Wicks and Colin Barr, say: "Rejoining the Osbournes as they return to the UK is a once in a lifetime opportunity. 20 years ago, they shaped television for all of us - now they're coming home at a different stage in their lives but with the promise of the same laughter, love and tears. We can't wait to work with them and to share it with BBC One viewers in 2023".
As with the MTV series, Sharon and Ozzy's eldest child, Aimee, will not take part in the programme. She was publicly critical of her family's involvement in the original version. It remains to be seen whether she feels any better about this new series.
No exact broadcast date for the programme has yet been announced.