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CMU Digest – 3 May 2013

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Michael Jackson

The five biggest stories in the music business this week…

01: The Jacksons v AEG Live court case kicked off. The Jackson family reckons AEG should be liable for the death of Michael Jackson, because it hired the doctor whose negligence caused the late king of pop’s death in 2009. But AEG says that while it may have paid Dr Conrad Murray’s bills, it didn’t hire or manager the medic. Although there have so far been few big revelations in the case – with most of the testimonies so far being repeat runs from Murray’s earlier criminal trial – it is clear both sides in this dispute are willing to be brutal to win their argument.

The Jacksons are trying hard to portray AEG’s bosses as ruthless businessmen who deliberately turned a blind eye to Jackson’s ailing health and drug issues, and Murray’s acute financial problems, to plough ahead with the ambitious ‘This Is It’ live show project. AEG, meanwhile, is prepared to discuss in detail Jackson’s longtime prescription drug use, and the lengths he went to in order to hide his drug dependencies from his friends, associates and even his doctors. The case could run for up to three months, with an all-star witness list promised down the line. CMU report |  CNN report

02: The Pirate Bay moved its domain twice. Aware that its Swedish domain was in danger of being seized by the courts, and having had its attempts to use the Greenland top level domain blocked, the controversial file-sharing site announced that it would make an Icelandic address its primary URL. And Iceland’s domain authority assured TorrentFreak it wouldn’t block thepiratebay.is unless told to do so by the Icelandic courts, which would at least take some time to occur even if the content industries pursued such a court order.

But then the Swedish music industry included the Icelandic domain in its URL seizing injunction application, arguing that because thepiratebay.is is registered to a Swedish citizen, Sweden’s courts should have jurisdiction. That argument is not in anyway assured to work, but just in case it does, the Bay immediately announced it was switching domains again, to the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. And so far that hasn’t blocked. CMU report | TorrentFreak report

03: AOL Music was wound down. Although the AOL Radio service will seemingly remain, most of the web firm’s US-based music websites and services have been axed, including the long-time running Spinner website. It was via a subsequently deleted tweet from the Spinner team that the world found out about the shutdown – “Hey guys. Just found out from AOL that we’re shutting down. Today is our last day. Seriously”. AOL’s UK-based music services had already gone offline in 2011. CMU report | The Verge report

04: Jessie J settled with her former manager Raymond Stevenson, in a deal The Sun reckoned was worth £1 million. Stevenson ‘discovered’ J while she was still at the BRIT School, and secured the singer her first albeit unsuccessful record deal. Crucially, said Stevenson, it was during this time that J developed her style and personality that then proved so profitable once he had been pushed out of the picture and she had signed to Universal. The two sides in the dispute confirmed a settlement had been reached, but said no more. Though Stevenson’s company added: “141a is very proud of Jessie’s achievements – she is a very talented artist”. CMU reportThe Sun report

05: There were further developments in Universal’s digital royalties dispute. Rob Zombie, the estate of Rick James and others are suing the mega-major for a higher cut of digital royalties, citing a precedent set in the FBT v Universal court case. They want to make their lawsuit a class action, so any Universal artist with a pre-iTunes contract could claim a higher digital pay out if the litigation prevailed. The major argues that the case doesn’t qualify for class action status. In a bid to bolster their claim the plaintiffs want access to accounts relating to Universal artists’ digital earnings, a data share that would violate all kinds of confidentially agreements said the major. But only the lawyers involved in the case would see the data, responded the plaintiffs. But there are 50 of them, and they all work in the music business, Universal countered. Some poor judge will now have to rule on all this. CMU report | Billboard report

At CMU this week we published the full schedule for this year’s CMU Insights-programmed Great Escape convention, which was rather exciting, plus our blog covering all things TGE went live. Tunde Adebimpe from TV On The Radio chatted, Sam Amidon playlisted, and we approved of Lune, Lorde, Petit Fantome and Nicholas Jaar’s Boiler Room NYC Mix.

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