Business News Week In Five

The music business week in five – 10 Feb 2012

By | Published on Friday 10 February 2012

Chris Cooke

Well, what a chilly week that was, wasn’t it? But a busy one in the world of music, and here at CMU. And the busy-ness is set to continue, round here anyway, as our ever popular CMU Training courses loop round once again, meaning it’s our course on music promotions next Wednesday – everything you need to know about the music media, how to use newspapers, magazines, radio and TV to promote your artists, releases and events, and how to use social media too. We have a small number of places still available, so why not join us? Meanwhile, here’s your week in five.

01: BTjunkie shut down. The operators of the BitTorrent search service said they feared being targeted by the sort of criminal action aimed at MegaUpload and The Pirate Bay. The bosses of the Mega companies are awaiting extradition to the US to face criminal charges that could result in up to 20 years in jail (five of them for copyright crimes), while the Swedish Supreme Court recently refused to hear an appeal from the founders of The Pirate Bay, who now face eight to twelve months in prison. Torrentfreak reported that other file-sharing sites were also considering altering how they work or shutting down completely now that they faced possible criminal charges rather than just civil litigation, though some others – including Gary Fung from the infamous isoHunt – remain resolved to stay online. CMU report | TorrentFreak report

02: The US courts refused a summary judgement on EMI v ReDigi, the MP3 resale site that says its technology is protected by the First Sale Doctrine (allowing the resale of CDs) under US copyright law. EMI argues that ReDigi just enables copyright infringement. The major label wanted a summary judgement ordering ReDigi to remove any EMI content from its platform, but the US judge hearing the case said the issues surrounding this dispute are complicated and the relevant law untested, and so EMI’s claim should be fully considered in court. ReDigi spun that ruling as a victory, though it does mean a long and expensive legal battle is now looming for the digital start up. CMU report | C-Net report

03: The RIAA hit out at the anti-SOPA protests. The chief of the US record industry’s trade body, Cary Sherman, said in an op-ed piece for the New York Times that Wikipedia and Google misled the public in their campaign against new anti-piracy laws in America. Said legislative proposals, SOPA and PIPA, are now on hold. Sherman said the tech companies were wrong to say measures to block access to copyright infringing websites amounted to dangerous censorship of the internet, and that claims that, under SOPA/PIPA, the onus would be on user-generated content sites to police all content uploaded just wasn’t true. While “no legislation is perfect”, he said, most of the arguments that won public and then political support for the anti-SOPA movement were misleading. Elsewhere in anti-piracy news, opposition to the global intellectual property agreement ACTA started to grow, especially in Europe. CMU report | New York Times piece

04: Amazon was declared a bigger entertainment retailer than HMV. The declaring was done by WPP-owned research company Kantor, which claimed the web seller had a 22.3% share of the UK’s CD, DVD and gaming market in the run up to Christmas, putting it ahead of HMV – with a 17.5% share – for the first time. HMV argued that that headline stat was misleading because it was still ahead when it came to CD and DVD sales, though as the retailer has been trying to tell us for years that it is now about all kinds of entertainment and not just music, it seems disingenuous to then suggest gaming should be taken out of the picture in order to help the flagging firm retain its market leader status. CMU report | NME report

05: Digital royalty disputes continued. First Sister Sledge sued Warner Music claiming the major was underpaying them on digital sales of their records by treating downloads as record sales rather than licensing income. This brings Warner into the legal debate over whether download revenue should be classified as record sales or licensing income with pre-internet record contracts that pay a bigger royalty to artists for the latter. Universal is already fighting a number of lawsuits in this domain after losing one case on this issue with early career Eminem collaborators FBT Productions. Elsewhere, US indie publisher Songs Music Publishing accused VEVO of not paying independent publishers the royalties they are due, by licensing all rights via the major record companies, which then use pre-YouTube no-royalty-on-promo clauses in the contracts of artists who write their own songs to avoid paying the publisher their share. A licensing issue that only affects US publishers, Songs Music said this was unfair, and VEVO and their major label partners (and owners) should do something about it. Sister Sledge story | VEVO story

And that, people, is your lot for now. Though for more chatter on BTjunkie and ReDigi, plus some musings on Black Sabbath and Madonna, do check out the CMU Weekly podcast later today at

Chris Cooke
Business Editor, CMU