|MONDAY 30 JANUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: London's Metropolitan Police are conducting a “vast and complex” investigation into the crowd crush that resulted in two deaths at the Brixton Academy last month, the outcome of which could be criminal charges. That's according to a senior officer who spoke at the opening of the inquest into the two deaths at a London court on Friday... [READ MORE]|
"Strong possibility" Brixton Academy crowd crush investigation will result in criminal charges, police say
The crowd crush occurred during the third of three sell out shows at the London venue by Asake on 15 Dec and resulted in the deaths of concert goer Rebecca Ikumelo and security contractor Gaby Hutchinson.
The venue's licence was suspended for one month shortly after the incident. That licence suspension was then extended earlier this month to 16 Apr. Venue operator the Academy Music Group had already announced that the building would remain closed until mid-April even before Lambeth Council formally extended the suspension of its licence.
Inquests into the deaths of Ikumelo and Hutchinson opened at the London Inner South Coroner's Court on Friday. According to The Guardian, Nigel Penney, the Metropolitan Police's Senior Investigating Officer on the case, spoke at that hearing.
Echoing what police said when speaking to Lambeth Council's licensing committee earlier in the month, Penney told the court that the investigation into what happened on 15 Dec is "a vast and complicated process", with many witnesses to question and hundreds of hours of CCTV footage to analyse. "There are a lot of lines of inquiry to establish the facts and get to the truth," he added.
Asked by Senior Coroner Andrew Harris whether the investigation could result in homicide or other charges, Penney said there was a "strong possibility" that that could be the outcome.
The police requested that the inquests into the deaths of Ikumelo and Hutchinson be suspended while their investigation is carried out. After granting that request, and presumably to manage the expectations of the families of the two victims, Harris added: "It seems to me that if this is a complex criminal investigation, this matter is going to take some years".
Although at the time of the crowd crush it was reported that problems began when people without tickets for the sell-out show tried to force their way into the venue, since then there have been allegations that other factors likely contributed to the incident.
In a BBC report earlier this month, it was alleged that the Asake show was understaffed and that some security personnel at the Brixton Academy were known to be involved in the sale of fake tickets to shows at the venue. Those allegations are also presumably being looked into as part of the Metropolitan Police's investigation.
Termination right case against Universal Music denied class action status
Under US copyright law, when a creator assigns their copyrights to business partner, they can terminate that assignment and reclaim the rights after 35 years. The current termination right was added to US law in the 1970s and only really started to kick in during the early 2010s.
On the songs side of the music industry, songwriters going through the required process to terminate past assignments and reclaim copyrights is now pretty standard. However, on the recordings side there remains a dispute as to whether the termination right even applies.
That's based on the argument that record contracts are work for hire agreements, which means - under US law - the label not the artist is the default owner of any sound recording copyrights. Which in turn means, with each individual artist's past record deals, no assignment of rights ever took place and therefore there is nothing to terminate.
Despite that ambiguity, plenty of artists have been able to renegotiate old record deals in the US with the threat of seeking to terminate those deals. However, some artists are pursuing legal action in a bid to prove in court that record contracts are not work for hire agreements and old record deals can be terminated, and therefore those labels which don't recognise any one artist's termination notice are in breach of copyright law.
One of the test cases in this domain is against Universal Music. After the major failed to get the case dismissed, the lawyers leading on the lawsuit last year filed papers seeking class action status for the litigation. That would mean, if the artists actively involved in the lawsuit were successful, any heritage artists with similar old deals with Universal would benefit from the ruling.
However, according to Law360, judge Lewis Kaplan last week stated that - while "plaintiffs' claims raise issues of fairness in copyright law that undoubtedly extend beyond their own grievances", the lawsuit is still not appropriate for class action status.
That's because "individualised evidence and case-by-case evaluations" are necessary to reach a conclusion on each individual artist's claim against the major, making "this case unsuitable for adjudication on an aggregate basis".
Responding to that judgement, one of the lawyers working for the artists in this dispute told Law360: "Plaintiffs believe they presented a compelling record showing that the defendants' uniform characterisations of the sound recordings as 'works made for hire' was unsupported and a sham. Plaintiffs' counsel is evaluating the ruling and will determine whether to seek interlocutory appellate review".
Comedy rights agency seeks court sanctions against Pandora in ongoing copyright dispute
Various comedians have sued Pandora through the US courts over allegations it has been streaming their comedy material without all the correct licences in place.
While Pandora has licensing deals with the labels and distributors that provide it with comedy recordings, it has never sought separate licences covering the comedy material contained in those recordings. Obviously with music streaming, services get two sets of licences, one covering recordings and the other covering the songs contained in the recordings.
Each of the comedians that have gone legal on this are working with one of two agencies that have been set up to represent the rights in comedy and other spoken word material, those being Word Collections and Spoken Giants.
In its responses to the lawsuits, Pandora has accused the two rights agencies of anti-competitive conduct, despite there being two competing companies in this space, both of which currently represent a relatively small catalogue of rights.
Neither Word Collections nor Spoken Giants are "benign licensing agents or advocates for comedians' intellectual property rights", Pandora's legal papers stated, instead the two agencies are basically "cartels".
In October, the judge overseeing the cases involving Word Collections formally rejected those 'cartel' claims, although gave Pandora the option to file amended complaints about the rights agencies. Which it then did in November, including against Spoken Giants.
In its new legal filing, Spoken Giants says that Pandora and its legal reps at Mayer Brown filed the amended complaint "based on fundamental misrepresentations of the record, allegations that lack any evidentiary basis, and frivolous legal contentions. This includes several instances where Pandora and Mayer Brown misleadingly quote or paraphrase evidence, while intentionally omitting critical portions of the same evidence that would prove fatal to Pandora's claims".
"Such misconduct would warrant sanction in any circumstances", it goes on, "but sanctions are doubly justified in this case because Pandora and Mayer Brown filed the [amended complaint] after the court dismissed near-identical counterclaims; warned Pandora about the flimsy support for those original counterclaims; and cautioned Pandora that it need not rush to re-plead before developing a factual record".
"Pandora's and Mayer Brown's disregard of the court's warnings, together with their baseless and misleading allegations, demonstrate the true purpose of the [amended complaint]: to harass and intimidate Spoken Giants and its members, and to needlessly increase the cost of litigation".
With all that in mind, the filing concludes, "Spoken Giants requests that the court enter an order sanctioning Pandora and Mayer Brown".
Bauer might be fined for switching off Absolute Radio on AM while OfCom licence still active
Absolute Radio began life in 1993 as the original incarnation of Virgin Radio, broadcasting across the UK on the good old AM band, medium wave to be precise. It was one of three national commercial radio stations launched in the first half of the 1990s, all the UK-based nationwide stations prior to that having been run by the BBC.
Even in 1993, broadcasting a music station on AM seemed less than ideal, given the inferior sound quality compared to FM. And, indeed, from 1995 to 2021, Virgin Radio - later Absolute Radio - also broadcast on FM in London. In more recent years Absolute has shifted its focus onto the DAB digital radio network and online channels.
All of which made Bauer's decision to switch off the AM transmissions somewhat unsurprising. Confirming that decision at the start of the month the media firm said: "We think we sound better on digital, as it offers a much stronger signal and cuts out background noise. Lots of you agree, which is why nearly all our audience listen to us digitally".
"Broadcasting on AM requires running an additional transmitter which is environmentally unfriendly and not cost-efficient given the small numbers of those listening here", it then added.
The AM transmissions of Absolute Radio stopped on 23 Jan. And now OfCom has to decide what to do with the fact Bauer has a licence to broadcast a nationwide AM service which it is not actually using.
"Ofcom has today written to Bauer Radio setting out our preliminary view that it has ceased to provide the national AM service Absolute Radio before the end of its licence period", it stated on Friday, "and that it is appropriate to serve on Bauer Radio a notice revoking the licence for this service".
"The licence was most recently renewed for a period of ten years from May 2021", it noted. "On 26 Jan 2023 Bauer Radio confirmed that it has ceased to provide the Absolute Radio AM service. It has told us that Absolute Radio will continue to broadcast nationally on DAB".
OfCom then added that, under the Broadcasting Act 1990, if a broadcaster stops using an active licence and "it is appropriate to do so", then it "must revoke the licence". And not only that, but "where OfCom revokes a national licence, it must require the licence holder to pay it a financial penalty".
So, although Bauer is saving money by switching off Absolute AM, it may have to pass at least some of those savings over to the regulator for abandoning a licence early. "Depending on our decision, we may undertake a further process to determine any financial penalty that may apply", Friday's statement concluded.
Television's Tom Verlaine dies
Born Thomas Miller in 1949, he took the stage name Verlaine in reference to French poet Paul Verlaine. As a child he learned piano and then saxophone, primarily playing jazz. He was inspired to take up the guitar after hearing The Rolling Stones' 'Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown' as a teenager.
In 1972, Verlaine and school friend Richard Meyers - who took the name Richard Hell - formed their first band, The Neon Boys. The following year they became Television and began regularly playing shows at the legendary New York venue CBGB. Tensions between Verlaine and Hell led to the latter leaving the group in 1975, with Verlaine becoming the band's main songwriter.
The band released their debut album, 'Marquee Moon', in 1977. Critically acclaimed at the time, it sold moderated well, but has gone on to become widely revered and influential. Their second LP, 'Adventure', followed a year later, but the band split shortly after its release.
Verlaine released his eponymous debut solo album in 1979, the first of several released through the 80s and early 90s. He then reformed Television in 1992, with the band releasing a third album that year. He and the band continued to perform together sporadically up to the present day.
Pantera show in Vienna pulled after German festival appearances canned over racism claims
The surviving members of Pantera - Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown - announced last year that they were reforming to play a number of shows in the US and Europe this year, marking the 40th anniversary of their debut album 'Metal Magic'. Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante are taking the places of the band's late founders, the Abbott brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul.
The reunion was set to include performances at the Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park festivals in Germany in June. However, the organiser of those festivals came under pressure to remove Pantera from the line-up because of the racism claims.
Those claims are at least in part based on a controversy that occurred at a Dimebash show in the US - held in honour of Dimebag Darrell - back in 2016. At that event Anselmo gave a Nazi salute and shouted "white power".
He subsequently apologised and insisted it had been a joke, but the "white power" outburst was widely criticised within the metal community at the time. Anselmo later said of the incident in an interview with Kerrang: "I feel like it's ridiculous. I made an off-colour joke and 'boom!' - it's like I'm literally Hitler! I'm not".
Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park, the latter of which is held in Nuremberg, came under political pressure to remove Pantera from their 2023 line-ups, with critics citing the 2016 incident.
Confirming last week that the band were being axed from the two events' line-ups, organisers said: "In the last few weeks, we have had many intensive conversations with artists, our partners and you, the festival fans, we have continued to deal with the criticism together and decided to remove the band from the programme".
The promoter of the Vienna show simply said: "The Pantera concert on the 31 May 2023 at the Vienna Gasometer will be cancelled. All tickets can be returned where they were purchased. Thank you for your understanding".
Jane's Addiction announces that Josh Klinghoffer will stand in for Dave Navarro at upcoming shows
Navarro previously revealed last September that he was still feeling "very fatigued" after contracting COVID-19 in late 2021. As a result he didn't take part in Jane's Addiction's co-headline tour with The Smashing Pumpkins last autumn, with Queens Of The Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen standing in for those shows.
In a new post to social media, the band confirm that Navarro is still not in a position to return to the stage. The post reads: "We'd like to address the questions surrounding Dave and the upcoming Jane's shows. As a band we are in a great place, writing new music, and the bond is tighter than ever. We all hope Dave can be out playing with us; when he feels healthy and ready".
"For the near future, our brother Josh Klinghoffer will jump in for the upcoming shows on the west coast, South America and some additional international shows to be announced soon", it adds. "We want to thank you for being there with us over these 30 some odd years. You know, we're going to keep throwing down for you".
Mick Jagger launches range of harmonicas
"I started to learn the harmonica after hearing the greats of the blues such as Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson", adds Jagger. "Since then I've played harmonica on so many tracks and at countless gigs over the years. To now have my name on a range of Lee Oskar harmonicas is fantastic news".
Oskar himself - best known as a member of the band War - chips in: "We are THRILLED to collaborate with Mick Jagger and WhyNow Music on this unique project. Why? Because of Mick, an artist I respect enormously".
"When I started Lee Oskar Harmonicas in 1983, it was my dream to create harmonicas that would not only exceed my standards but also be embraced by other music professionals", he goes on. "It is a dream come true that someone with Mick Jagger's success and level of artistry chooses our harmonica system. I am honoured to be a part of this very special collaboration".
A total of 2500 of the instruments will be available in ten different keys from next month, exclusively through the aforementioned WhyNow Music. Each will set you back £49.99.