Business News Week In Five

The music business week in five – 24 Feb 2012

By | Published on Friday 24 February 2012

Chris Cooke

Hello there everybody. The next series of CMU Training courses kick off next week, with our ever popular music rights course. If you work in music, you’re in the copyright trade one way or another, so why not come along and find out exactly how it all works, and where the music rights industry is heading? Everything you need to know in one day. And once you’ve booked your place on that, why not tell us what other training courses might interest you with our incredibly quick training survey here? And then I’ll let you read this week’s week in five.

01: Universal filed its EMI bid with the European Commission. The mega-major wants regulator approval for its plan to buy the EMI record companies. Rival Warner Music and the indie sector will seek to block the sale, arguing it will give Universal too much market share, making it difficult for other music firms to compete, and giving the major too much power when negotiating with digital services. Opponents will also cite concerns already expressed about the size of Universal Music by the EC in 2007, though Universal bosses will argue a lot has changed in the music domain since then. Phase one of the EC investigation into the takeover bid will last about a month, though it’s assumed a second phase will be needed before any decision can be made. Meanwhile, the US regulator’s investigation is ongoing, and Sony/ATV is expected to file its papers regarding its bid to buy EMI Music Publishing any day now. CMU reports | Guardian report

02: ‘Dispatches’ focused on secondary ticketing. The Channel 4 documentary show sent undercover reporters into secondary ticketing companies to show to the wider world that many tickets sold at hiked up prices on the resale platforms actually come from the show’s original promoter, rather than other fans. The promoters argue that they are using the secondary sale sites as ‘premium price primary ticketing platforms’, though opponents are likely to point out that that’s not how said websites promote themselves. Whether the exposé will provide new momentum for those MPs and live music types who’d like new laws that limit the mark-up of resold gig tickets remains to be seen. One secondary ticketing company featured in the programme, Viagogo, tried to block the airing of the Channel 4 show through the courts, but failed. CMU report | Dispatches on 4OD

03: The European Commission asked the European Courts Of Justice to review ACTA, the global intellectual property agreement that is causing new controversy, despite most countries involved in negotiating it having already signed up, including the UK. The EU is a separate signatory, in addition to its member states, though some in Europe, at a national and Union-wide level, are now calling for ACTA to be reviewed. The EC wants the ECJ to check whether anything in ACTA contravenes fundamental EU rights. Commissions expect ECJ judges to say it does not, countering to an extent the treaty’s ever growing number of critics. CMU report | BBC report

04: The UK courts ruled that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright, in part one of a two part legal assault against the rogue file-sharing service by record labels trade body the BPI. Having won that stage, the BPI will now return to court in June to try to get an injunction ordering British internet service providers to block access to the Bay, utilising the precedent set in the movie industry’s legal action against the Newzbin file-sharing community last year. Elsewhere, Labour’s culture lady Harriet Harman called on the government to kick start the anti-piracy three-strikes system set out on the Digital Economy Act her party passed while in power, and then to consider simpler measures to help rights owners block the likes of The Pirate Bay. TPB report | Harman report

05: The Danish courts ordered Grooveshark to be blocked. In a similar case to the BPI’s Pirate Bay assault in the UK, Danish anti-piracy body RettighedsAlliancen this week got an injunction ordering an ISP in Denmark to block access to the Grooveshark streaming service. This is arguably more controversial because the legality of the Grooveshark platform, or not, is more debatable. Though the defence Grooveshark usually uses when accused of infringement for letting users upload unlicensed tracks to its site – that it operates a takedown system for such content – only technically protects it from liability in the US. CMU report | Register report

And that is your lot for now!

Chris Cooke
Business Editor, CMU