|MONDAY 24 OCTOBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Cardi B scored another win in court last week when a jury ruled that she did not infringe the publicity rights of Kevin Brophy, the man whose distinctive tattoo design appeared without permission on the cover of her 2016 mixtape 'Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1'... [READ MORE]|
Cardi B wins publicity rights legal battle over mixtape artwork
Brophy sued the rapper - real name Belcalis Almánzar - in 2017. A photo of his distinctive tattoo was Photoshopped onto the cover of the 2016 mixtape, so that it appeared on the back of a man who was positioned to look like he was performing oral sex on the rapper.
He argued that the unauthorised use of the tattoo image meant people assumed it was him in the photo, and - given the explicit nature of the artwork - that had resulted in him facing frequent "uncomfortable comments, questions, and ridicule from community members and family".
The long running dispute finally got to trial last week. A lot of the proceedings - including an eventful testimony from Almánzar herself - focused on whether the rapper had been actively involved in creating the artwork, and also whether people had really connected Brophy to the image before he started talking about it.
Almánzar and her lawyer played down the rapper's active involvement in creating the artwork and releasing the mixtape, and also honed in on the fact that Brophy had failed to bring any third parties to court who confirmed that they had assumed it was him on the cover.
Though the key legal argument in the case really was whether Almánzar's use of Brophy's tattoo design was 'fair and transformative use' and therefore allowed under US free speech laws. She argued it was, on the basis that the designer of the 'Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1' cover had only used part of Brophy's tattoo design and had altered it as he Photoshopped it into the artwork.
That designer, Timm Gooden, testified on Thursday. He confirmed that neither Almánzar nor her team were aware that he had used a chunk of Brophy's tattoo design from a photo he'd found online. He added that he had assumed his use of the photo and tattoo design was fine, and that Almánzar's label and management didn't need to know about it, because it qualified as fair use under his understanding of that concept.
Gooden was more likely thinking about the fair use concept in copyright terms. Brophy wasn't suing for copyright infringement because the tattooist would arguably be the owner of the copyright in the design.
Almánzar's lawyer noted on Friday that said tattooist hadn't sued for copyright infringement, possibly because he accepted that the fair use principle did indeed apply. And, the rapper's team insisted, the same principle, designed to protect freedom of expression, should also be applied in Brophy's publicity rights case.
As well as hammering home the fair and transformative use defence on Friday, Almánzar's lawyer also again stressed that the Brophy side hadn't presented anyone in court that had independently connected him to the image on the mixtape cover.
Had Brophy never spoken about it, the Almánzar side argued, no one would have ever known part of his tattoo appeared as part of the explicit artwork.
Meanwhile, in his closing arguments, Brophy's lawyer argued that neither Gooden nor Almánzar's team had altered the tattoo design enough for the transformative use defence to apply. That would require giving the image "new expression or meaning", and that hadn't happened. However, the jury quickly sided with Almánzar.
According to Law360, the rapper welcomed the ruling by telling the crowd that had gathered outside the courthouse: "I'm just grateful. I'm beyond grateful, I even shed a tear ... for some people it was probably a little lawsuit but to me, it means a lot to me. It means a lot to my legal team and I want to wish everybody the best of luck. Everybody were really great lawyers, from my lawyers to the plaintiff's team, it was a very interesting case".
That final remark demonstrated that - despite Almánzar and Brophy's lawyer A Barry Cappello sparring in a pretty major way during the rapper's testimony last week - the mood in court following the jury's verdict was quite amicable.
Brophy reportedly shook Almánzar's hand and confirmed he respected her as an artist. Meanwhile, Cappello also shook the rapper's hand, and - referencing last week's sparring - she declared, seemingly light-heartedly: "You was mean!"
That contrasts with the events that followed Cardi B's other court win earlier this year in her defamation legal battle with the YouTuber Latasha Kebe. After the rapper won nearly $4 million in damages, Kebe posted a long and rambling YouTube video declaring she was battling the sinister Hollywood machine and would continue to fight.
UK-based hacker who sold unreleased Ed Sheeran tracks jailed
Adrian Kwiatkowski from Ipswich pleaded guilty back in August to fourteen counts of criminal copyright infringement plus three counts of computer misuse and three offences under the Proceeds Of Crime Act.
It followed an investigation that began at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in the US in 2019 when the management companies of several artists reported that someone going by the name of Spirdark had hacked into a number of cloud-storage accounts and downloaded unreleased music files. He was then seeking to sell those files for bitcoin.
Investigators in New York connected the email address used to set up Spirdark's cryptocurrency wallet to Kwiatkowski and identified that the IP address of the device he'd used to hack one of the artist cloud storage accounts was in the UK. At that point the case was referred to the City Of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit, aka PIPCU.
Officers from PIPCU then arrested Kwiatkowski and seized his hard drive, finding 1263 unreleased songs by 89 artists. He also had Bitcoin then worth £64,000, plus officers discovered he had deposited £67,275 into his bank account during 2018 and 2019, £61,855 of which was from his cryptocurrency accounts.
When interviewed by police, Kwiatkowski quickly admitted to hacking the accounts of musicians and selling their songs online under the alias Spirdark. He then pleaded guilty to copyright crimes at Ipswich Magistrates Court in August, before being sentenced on Friday.
Welcoming the sentencing, Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt from PIPCU said: "Kwiatkowski was a highly skilled individual who unfortunately saw potential in using his abilities unlawfully. Not only did he cause several artists and their production companies significant financial harm, he deprived them of the ability to release their own work".
"This investigation is an excellent example of the way PIPCU and its partner agencies work across international borders to identify those involved in criminal activity", he went on. "Kwiatkowski will now face the consequences of his actions, and I hope this result will also make his customers refrain from purchasing illegal content again".
Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L Bragg Jr added: "Cybercrime knows no borders, and this individual executed a complex scheme to steal unreleased music in order to line his own pockets".
"New York and London are cultural capitals of the world", he continued, "and through our enduring partnership with PIPCU and law enforcement organisations around the world, we have sent a clear message that we have the ability and tools to stop this type of criminal activity and protect victims".
Empire buys Dirty Bird label
Both companies hark from San Francisco. Which is worth knowing before I quote the official statement that says: "This acquisition brings together two of San Francisco's most prominent and independent music companies and is inclusive of the formidable Dirtybird catalogue of music, including artists such as Claude VonStroke, Nikki Nair and Walker & Royce, as well as the label's clothing, publishing and web3 assets".
Claude VonStroke - real name Barclay Crenshaw - is also the founder of Dirtybird, and he will continue to lead A&R and other creative projects at the label. Meanwhile, the Dirtybird live and festivals business is outside the deal, and will continue to be owned and run by Crenshaw.
Says he: "I'm so excited to join another incredible independent Bay Area music company. I will continue to A&R the Dirtybird label and direct the creative for the music and clothing, while Empire has the capacity and resources to grow the brand globally. This is a dream come true".
Meanwhile, Empire CEO Ghazi adds: "Growing up in San Francisco and the Bay Area at large, dance music has always been a huge part of our music scene. Empire at its core is a company that is for the culture. Dirtybird embodies the independent ethos and understands the cultural nuance of everything San Francisco and dance music".
FEAT planning international consumer awareness campaign against ticket touting
As the live sector has got back to business following the COVID-caused shutdowns, attention has returned to the unofficial resale of tickets at marked up prices by touts on websites like StubHub and Viagogo.
The rules regarding touting vary greatly from country to country. In some places, the resale of tickets without the permission of a show's promoter, especially for profit, is basically against the law. In other countries, touts and the resale platforms need to follow certain rules, such as making it clear that a tout is not an official seller and that touted tickets could be cancelled by a promoter. And in other countries the rules are much more relaxed.
FEAT has been lobbying for the tighter regulation of for-profit ticket touting across Europe. That includes at an EU level where the recent Digital Services Act puts stronger obligations on online marketplaces to verify sellers and ensure better transparency for consumers.
The FEAT organisation had its first in-person general meeting since the start of the pandemic in Barcelona last week. It was agreed that the campaign for a Europe-wide ban of for-profit ticket touting would continue, alongside the consumer awareness initiative.
That is currently being developed by a FEAT-facilitated working group that also involves pan-European organisations like Pearle* Live Performance Europe, the European Arenas Association and the European Music Managers Alliance, as well as groups like BDKV in Germany and the FanFair Alliance in the UK.
Noting the EU's DSA - plus the recent ruling in Germany in favour of Rammstein over Viagogo - FEAT director Neo Sala, also founder and CEO of Doctor Music, said last week: "It's great to finally meet again in person ... there's a renewed energy to tackle touting, and we have been invigorated by positive changes in national and EU legislation over the last year - demonstrated not least in MCT-Agentur and Rammstein's recent injunction against Viagogo in Germany".
Live music booking app rolls out in London
The app company's co-Founder and CEO Jussi Aronen says: "In the fully connected, digital age it seemed insane to us that connecting amazing musicians with booking opportunities was so difficult, in many cases nearly impossible. Gixon removes all of these barriers for both music consumers and artists".
The ambitions of the company have evolved during its beta phase in Finland. Co-founder and CCO Mikko Haapala explains: "Whilst Gixon was originally designed to allow anyone to book music for their home or party we received far greater outreach from across the business".
That included "promoters looking for acts for their venues; restaurants and bars seeking to book entertainment for their establishments; hotel chains looking to book high quality local acts across their properties; record labels looking at promising new artists to sign; and agents looking for new acts to add to their roster".
"In Finland, we have also had unexpected but highly welcomed approaches from large-scale live events looking for up-and-coming artists to feature as part of stadium events and tours, [and] festivals", he adds. "We have [also] had direct outreach from booking agencies looking to partner as a solution for private and corporate events bookings for established acts".
Greatest Hits Radio counts down 300 most streamed tracks from the 70s, 80s and 90s
The radio firm has worked with the Official Charts Company to work out which 300 songs that originally charted in the UK in those three decades has been streamed the most.
Apparently we can expect "a host of interesting revelations about the cultural moments that have propelled some of these artists and songs into our very special official chart". Although it won't be that much of a revelation to learn why Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill' is presumably in this Top 300.
Says Goodier: "I cannot wait to kick off the UK's Official Top 300 Most Streamed Songs of the 70s, 80s and 90s - there are some absolute classics in this chart as well as a few more unexpected tunes".
"I've spent many hours of my career hosting countdowns but this one even threw up a few surprises for me!", he adds. "What's wonderful is that so many of these iconic hits are the soundtrack of our lives yet feel just as current now as they're reinvented for films, TV shows and social media".
"It's a fascinating insight into not only what were the greatest hits then", he reckons of the chart, "but what are the greatest hits now".
Rated Awards handed out in London
Dave was the big winner of the night, taking home four trophies for Male Artist Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Track Of The Year and Video Of The Year.
The latter two were both for his Stormzy collaboration 'Clash', of which he said: "Back in 2019, I'd just finished my tour. My friend Cal who produced this song had just brought Jordan 1s and Jordan 4s, so I freestyled 'Clash'. I played Stormzy the song in 2020 and then a year after that I got his verse! Four years of a journey to bring you guys this song".
Accepting the Album Of The Year prize, he said: "Appreciate the love. Big up GRM, big up everyone who made this year possible. It's been a big year for a lot of musicians and everyone's done a lot to really push the scene forward".
The show was closed by GRM Daily CEO Posty and Link Up TV founder Rashid Kasirye paying tribute to the late SBTV founder Jamal Edwards, after which his mother Brenda and sister Tanisha took to the stage to accept a posthumous Legacy Award on his behalf.
The full show will be broadcast on E4 tomorrow night at 9pm. Here's the full list of winners:
Female Artist Of The Year: Little Simz Male
Album Of The Year: Dave - We're All Alone In This Together
Personality Of The Year: KSI
Legacy Award: Jamal Edwards
Bono apologises for putting that free U2 album on your iPhone
For anyone who doesn't remember this little episode, eight long years ago Apple held a press conference to announce the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6. And, as a fun bonus, it also announced that all iTunes customers would be getting the new U2 album, 'Songs Of Innocence', added to their music libraries completely free of charge.
This move proved controversial. Lots of people, it turned out, didn't actually want a U2 album in their music libraries - free or otherwise. Actually, a lot of iTunes users were pretty miffed that these songs suddenly started playing without warning when they shuffled their music.
Other musicians criticised the move too. Oh, and the retailers weren't happy either. Ultimately, the backlash was so strong that Apple had to launch a new app that would permanently delete the album from people's libraries.
At the time, Bono did make a fairly sarcastic apology in a Facebook Q&A with fans, but over time he seems to have become aware of just how big a misstep that whole thing was.
In an excerpt from his new memoir, 'Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story', published by the Guardian, he writes: "I take full responsibility ... I'd thought if we could just put our music within reach of people, they might choose to reach out toward it. Not quite".
"As one social media wisecracker put it", he notes, "'Woke up this morning to find Bono in my kitchen, drinking my coffee, wearing my dressing gown, reading my paper'. Or, less kind, 'The free U2 album is overpriced'. Mea culpa".
"At first I thought this was just an internet squall", he goes on. "We were Santa Claus and we'd knocked a few bricks out as we went down the chimney with our bag of songs. But quite quickly we realised we'd bumped into a serious discussion about the access of big tech to our lives".
"The part of me that will always be punk rock thought this was exactly what the Clash would do", he muses. "Subversive. But subversive is hard to claim when you're working with a company that's about to be the biggest on Earth".
Apple CEO Tim Cook, he says, had actually expressed reservations about the plan when Bono brought it to him, but was quite nice about it all when it went wrong.
"For all the custard pies it brought Apple - who swiftly provided a way to delete the album - Tim Cook never blinked", says Bono. "'You talked us into an experiment', he said. 'We ran with it. It may not have worked, but we have to experiment, because the music business in its present form is not working for everyone'".
"We'd learned a lesson", confirms Bono, "but we'd have to be careful where we would tread for some time. It was not just a banana skin. It was a landmine".