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FINAL ARGUMENTS: MURRAY TRIAL UPDATE
Both sides closed their arguments with some emotive words yesterday. According to the Daily Telegraph, David Walgren for the prosecution told the jury: "The evidence in this case is overwhelming. It is absolutely clear that Conrad Murray acted with criminal negligence, that Conrad Murray caused the death of Michael Jackson, that Conrad Murray left Prince and Paris and Blanket without a father. For them this case does not end today, tomorrow or the next day. For Michael Jackson's children this case will go on forever because they do not have a father".
Recognising that Murray was, in many ways, simply responding to Jackson's demands in giving him the surgical anaesthetic propofol as a sleep aid, and possibly conceding that the jury may be sympathetic to the defence's theory that the singer self-administered the actual fatal shot of the drug, Walgren stressed that to be found guilty Murray's negligence only needed to be a "substantial factor" in the late king of pop's demise. By which he meant, whatever actually happened on the day Jackson died, Murray should never have agreed to give his patient propofol in a domestic environment, or left him with such easy access to the dangerous surgical drug he so clearly craved.
Reminding jurors of all the other medical practitioners who appeared during the trial, some presented by the defence, who all said they'd never have given Jackson propofol as a cure for insomnia, Walgren continued: "A doctor has a solemn obligation first to do no harm to their patient. Conrad Murray violated that sacred duty each and every day. Conrad Murray sought payment for services rendered, the services being supplying propofol to Michael Jackson in his bedroom nightly for two months".
He added that while Jackson was - as the defence has claimed - anxious about his planned 50 night residency at The O2 in London, he was in good health, giving energetic performances at rehearsals. And while he may have suffered from insomnia, that didn't mean Murray had to treat him in such a dangerous way.
Noting that Murray left the room after administering the surgical anaesthetic despite there being no monitoring equipment in use, Walgren continued: "Michael Jackson trusted Conrad Murray, trusted him with his life, trusted him with the future lives of his children, trusted that as he slept Conrad Murray would watch over him so that when he awoke he could share a meal with his children. Conrad Murray corrupted that relationship and Michael Jackson paid with his life".
For the defence, Ed Chernoff told the jury that the prosecution were asking them to convict his client for Michael Jackson's actions. He added that the fact Murray was facing these charges was in itself unfair, and that if his patient hadn't been the king of pop this whole matter would have been handled by a state medical board not a criminal court. He also again referenced other doctors working for Jackson prior to his death, who may or may not have been giving him other prescription medications, implying Murray found himself in an impossible situation created by other medics. Or, in Chernoff's words, Murray was "just a little fish in a big, dirty pond".
Rebutting Chernoff's closing remarks, Walgren said the defence were just trying to blame everyone but Murray for their client's actions. If this trial had gone on long enough, he joked, "I am sure they would have found a way to blame Michael's son, Prince".
Jury deliberations will begin later today.
CLARIFICATION IN EMI V MP3TUNES CASE MIGHT IMPACT ON UNIVERSAL'S GROOVESHARK LITIGATION
As previously reported, MP3tunes.com was one of the original music-focused digital locker services, and was quickly sued by EMI because it operated without any licences from music companies. We initially thought the case might throw some light onto whether or not online MP3 storage services - such as those subsequently launched by Google and Amazon, again without record company backing - need licences to operate.
The copying bit of a digital locker service, where users upload their MP3s to a remote service, is covered in most territories by the user's private copy right, but some have argued that if the digital locker company then provides a player through which stored MP3s can be streamed back to net-connected devices, then a copyright licence is required. Robertson and, subsequently, Google and Amazon, do not concur.
But, actually, in the end the MP3tunes.com litigation focused less on that debate, and more on the rights and wrongs of a spin off service run by the defendants which allows users to store and share links to other online sources of music, many of which are also unlicensed. EMI contended that Robertson's link share service constituted contributory infringement, while the tech man argued back that he was covered by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbour provisions, providing MP3tunes.com operated a takedown system, blocking uses from sharing links to unlicensed content whenever a copyright owner complained.
While Judge William Pauley was critical about the way MP3tunes.com's takedown system operated, and of the fact Robertson himself had posted links to clearly unlicensed content, he basically agreed with the defendant's interpretation of copyright law regarding the links service.
EMI responded by asking the judge to reconsider a couple of points, where the company argued he had got it wrong, and also to consider more fully what the deal was with pre-1972 recordings which - because of the whims of American copyright law - are covered by state laws rather than federal law, and therefore arguably not subject to the DMCA and its safe harbours.
That's a very interesting point, because Universal Music is suing (partly) unlicensed streaming service Grooveshark with regards its pre-1972 catalogue, mainly so the digital firm can't, as it usually does, simply claim it is protected by the DMCA safe harbour clauses (Grooveshark, whose users upload tracks to its catalogue, argues it gets DMCA protection because it takes down Universal tracks from its servers if and when it is made aware of it).
Pauley's response, issued this week, to EMI's queries regarding his original ruling basically rejected all of the major's criticisms. And on the pre-1972 issue, he says the safe harbour principles of the DMCA apply to all copyright works in America, oblivious of age, and even when the copyright protection comes from state and not federal law.
According to Techdirt the judge wrote: "Limiting the DMCA to recordings after 1972, while excluding recordings before 1972, would spawn legal uncertainty and subject otherwise innocent internet service providers to liability for the acts of third parties. After all, it is not always evident (let alone discernible) whether a song was recorded before or after 1972. The plain meaning of the DMCA's safe harbours, read in light of their purpose, covers both state and federal copyright claims. Thus, the DMCA applies to sound recordings fixed prior to 15 Feb 1972".
Taken in their entirety, Pauley's clarifications on his earlier ruling arguably make it much harder for EMI to appeal, should they wish to. But, perhaps more importantly, they also throw into doubt Universal's strategy for combating Grooveshark through the courts.
If this technicality can't be used, content owners who believe services like Grooveshark are abusing the DMCA's safe harbour provisions may instead have to push for clarity on what level of takedown system is required for DMCA protection to apply. Though given the ruling in Viacom v YouTube, which basically approved the rather slack takedown system operated by the video sharing site in its early days, that might need to be legislative rather than judicial clarification.
INSANE CLOWN POSSE SUED FOR MULTIPLE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENTS
The music company says it first contacted the Insane Clown Posse and their Psychopathic Records label in 2009, after discovering Midnight Syndicate's music had been used in a number of tracks on two albums by the hip hop duo's side projects Dark Lotus and Twiztid, as well as on 2004 ICP album 'Hell's Pit', but that it never received a response.
Entity is seeking $2.1 million in damages. Insane Clown Posse are yet to comment on the matter.
JUDAS PRIEST FRONTMAN SUED BY FORMER MANAGER
John Baxter managed Halford from 1982 until August this year, when he was fired. According to Rolling Stone, lawyers representing the band claimed Baxter - whose relationship with his long term client was seemingly getting fractious - posted inappropriate comments on Halford's official website and then withdrew his sponsorship of the metal star's US visa in order to prevent him entering into America.
But Baxter's lawyers claim that there was actually no basis for firing their client, and that excuses given in the termination letter were to cover up other motives for having the manager out of the picture. They told Rolling Stone: "Baxter has been managing [Halford] for decades. Judas Priest was coming to an end and the Judas Priest people wanted to engage Halford in his solo endeavour and to continue to have a relationship with him which was not possible with Baxter in the middle. There's a whole reason why this all of the sudden abruptly came to an end".
Neither Halford nor Judas Priest have responded to the lawsuit.
GWAR GUITARIST DIES
The thrash metal outfit, known for their elaborate sci-fi-esque costumes, obscene lyrics and obvious sense of humour, have been operational with an ever-changing line-up since the mid 1980s. Smoot joined in 2002, taking over the 'character' of Flattus Maximus which had been played by various guitarists over the year. As well has having a relatively long stint in the band, he also played an active role in their albums, producing both 2006's 'Beyond Hell' and its follow up 'Lust In Space'.
Smoot, on tour with his band, was found dead yesterday morning. The cause of his death is as yet unknown, but his passing was confirmed by GWAR frontman Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, who released a short statement to the Metal Sucks website that reads: "It is with a sense of profound loss and tragedy that the members of GWAR must announce the passing of their longtime guitarist and beloved friend Cory Smoot, also known to thousands of metal fans worldwide as Flattus Maximus".
He added that a more detailed statement regards the circumstances around Smoot's death and its impact on the band's touring plans would be released in due course, but "at this point we are just dealing with the loss of our dear friend and brother, one of the most talented guitar players in metal today".
CHRIS PENNIE QUITS COHEED AND CAMBRIA
"I am very thankful for the years that I shared the stage with the guys and want to thank the amazing, supportive fans that I've met while on tour", he said. "But there are a lot of exciting projects on the horizon, in addition to Return To Earth and Fight Mannequins, that I feel require my absolute 100% commitment and attention. I feel that this is the right time to make that happen".
Earlier this year the band announced the departure of bassist Michael Todd after he was arrested for the armed robbery of a pharmacy shortly before the band were due to play a show in Massachusetts.
EMI RENEWS AND EXTENDS DEAL WITH PETER GABRIEL
Says Gabriel: "I've always believed that there is a role for record companies in the future. The model I like, however, is record company as a service industry, in which the artists own and control their work and have a menu of services to choose from. I am delighted that EMI have been forward-thinking enough to create such a model with their label services division and am happy we will be able to continue our long relationship through this channel".
EMI top man Roger Faxon added: "Peter Gabriel has consistently been one of the boldest and most creative musicians of any generation. It's been a privilege to have travelled so far with Peter on his innovative career path and I'm delighted that we've been able to broaden our partnership so we can continue to support his work right into the future".
Interestingly, Gabriel's deal, with both the label services division of EMI's record label business and the EMI publishing company is exactly the sort of joined up integrated thinking Faxon has been trying to foster at the music firm of late. It's just a shame EMI Music and EMI Music Publishing look likely to be split up sometime soon as current owner Citigroup tries to maximise the profits of its sale of the British music major.
BLUR DOING STUFF, MAY DO MORE STUFF
Albarn explained: "If they'd have cancelled the carnival - and thank God they didn't - maybe we'd have put it out. It had its moment: it was a perfect plea to reinstate the carnival. So it wasn't relevant - it was relevant for about twelve hours".
Earlier this year, guitarist Graham Coxon told the NME: "Every now and then we like to meet up and record a few things. Maybe turning the tape recorder on and jamming around a few ideas. I suppose it might turn into an LP in six years or something. We just do stuff when we feel like it".
Albarn also apparently mooted the possibility that Blur may tour outside the UK at some point in the future, as Coxon has said they might a few times. So the conclusion of all this is, er, I don't know. Nothing, pretty much. Cutting edge news.
THE XX WORKING ON NEW ALBUM
That'll be this blog: xx-xx.co.uk
NEW MIXPIXIE PARTNERSHIP LETS FANS PERSONALISE FINAL WESTLIFE LP
Says MixPixie MD, Buffie du Pon: "We decided to offer RCA this exclusive partnership in advance of our official launch, as their grasp of the MixPixie concept alongside a detailed understanding of the Westlife fans, made it the perfect match. For a Westlife fan to be able to have their name on the front-cover of the Westlife 'Greatest Hits' album is a pretty compelling offer".
JAMES BLAKE ANNOUNCES NEW EP
PORCELAIN RAFT ANNOUNCES DEBUT ALBUM
You'll also be able to catch Porcelain Raft supporting M83 all over the UK in January and February next year.
Here's the album's tracklist:
Drifting In And Out
MONKEES MUSICAL TO OPEN IN MANCHESTER
The show is debuting in Manchester as part of a scheme called Manchester Gets It First, an initiative to encourage theatre producers to launch shows in the city. The 'Ghost' musical opened there first as part of that programme, and everyone I know from Manchester is still getting over the excitement.
Howard Panter of the Ambassador Theatre Group told the Manchester Evening News: "Following the incredible success of the world premiere of 'Ghost The Musical' at the Manchester Opera House earlier in the year, we're delighted to be premiering yet another landmark new musical, 'Monkee Business', as part of our Manchester Gets It First campaign. Manchester is the ideal place for the original creative process necessary for developing large-scale new musicals like 'Monkee Business', as it is a city with a great foundation in music with knowledgeable and sophisticated audiences who love and understand fantastic musical theatre".
WIDOWSPEAK ANNOUNCE TOUR
ALEX JAMES' CHEESE FESTIVAL GOES BUST
The two events, which took place in September, described themselves as "a celebration of food and music for friends and for families". The Alex James weekend attracted such luminaries as David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson to watch performances by The Kooks and KT Tunstall, while eating cheese.
But it was last month the company behind the events, Big Wheel Promotions, ceased trading. Since then, its website has completely disappeared from the internet, while links to its ticketing platform from the Harvest websites no longer connect to anything. Having gone into administration, it leaves a number of creditors unpaid, including a primary school near Alex James' farm who had booked some local talent for the event.
Kingham Primary School in Chipping Norton already ran its own annual music festival and was asked for help booking local talent, providing the event with seven acts for a fee of £14,000, half of which it is still owed.
The school's headteacher Ed Read told The Cotswold Journal: "There are 200 children at this state school who rely on that money. It's going to have a huge impact. With the national austerity measures, budgets in schools have been reduced. Our music teacher is paid largely by the music festival we do ourselves. We are either going to have to lose the music teacher or take it from other budgets which will reduce other parts of the curriculum".
eFestivals says it's under the impression the planned 2012 Harvest festivals (for which early bird tickets had already gone on sale) will still go ahead, though neither Alex James, Jimmy Doherty nor Big Wheel Promotions have as yet made any comment on the matter. James has been enthusing about how well his new range of cheeses for Asda is doing though.
LIVE NATION REVENUES DOWN BUT PROFITS UP
As previously reported, after years of rising ticket prices and related fees, the economic downturn hit Live Nation hard. It responded by trying to cap ticket prices and by offering for free some of the add-on services it had become accustomed to charging extra for. Although things are still tighter than they have been for years in live music, and revenues are not as high as some analysts had hoped, Live Nation certainly seems to be in a better place now than twelve months ago.
The company's CEO Michael Rapino told investors: "Live events are a strong ... consumer proposition, despite the tough economic times. We believe the stabilisation of consumer demand for live events will continue into 2012".
THE RIFLES DESIGN A BEER
'The General', as it's called, has been created with the band by a new company called Signature Brew, which says on its website: "We love beer and music, we are tired of bland lagers, corporate brands, and thoughtless marketing, we put these two together and this is what happened". The Rifles beer will be available in 330ml bottles from the band's webstore: therifles.sandbag.uk.com
EMI AND ECHO NEST ANNOUNCE AMBITIOUS APP DEVELOPER NETWORK
Under the new partnership, Echo Nest will operate a network for developers called OpenEMI giving them access to some of the major's content to play with when creating possible music apps. Signed-up developers will be able to access content from new artists which EMI are actively looking to create apps for, plus some catalogue content, including almost all of the Blue Note label's archives. The major will take proposals for apps via the network and, if approved, will handle the licensing side of things and provide marketing support
Assuming apps have a fruitful future as a revenue generator as well as a give-away marketing tool, and assuming this partnership can survive any change of ownership of EMI, it is potentially significant - making it much easier for developers to consider making music-based apps without facing impossible licensing hurdles, and benefiting EMI in that innovative app makers will be focusing their creative energy on products involving their recordings.
Says EMI VP Strategy & Insight Jim Brady: "We're very excited about the potential of working together with The Echo Nest and their network to develop great applications for our artists. We've looked at how best we can improve the process of creating new music applications and the OpenEMI sandbox we have built together as a result is a fantastic resource for tapping the passion and innovation of the best developers in the world".
Echo Nest boss Jim Lucchese added: "Application developers are the future of the music business - they are the creative architects reshaping the role music plays in our lives. We surveyed our community of 10,000 application developers to understand their biggest challenges in building commercial music applications. Music licensing difficulties were the number one problem developers faced, with assistance in marketing applications coming in at number two. By taking on responsibilities around licensing and putting EMI's marketing muscle behind these applications, OpenEMI is directly addressing these pain points and fostering a more collaborative environment between the established music industry and its future".
The new developer network will be unveiled this weekend.
7DIGITAL LAUNCH ANDROID TABLET APP
Says 7Digital boss Ben Drury: "This is a major addition to our mobile device offering, bringing high quality digital music to Android tablet owners. The Android 3.0 OS has allowed us to create a highly interactive, visually rich application for tablet users".
He added: "We're aiming to provide our customers with the choice to access their music however, whenever and through whatever platform they choose. As well as previewing and purchasing tracks through the app, customers will be able to sync their music across multiple devices, including Android and BlackBerry smartphones and with their own personal 7Digital Locker storage space on 7digital.com".
SHAUN RYDER TO HUNT UFOS IN NEW TV SHOW
According to The Sun, Ryder saw a UFO when he was fifteen and now believes that there is a wormhole somewhere in his home town of Manchester, which he says acts as a "short-cut through space and time". He also adds: "Once they see you they keep an eye on you". Though it's not actually clear who he's talking about.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE STILL INTERESTED IN MUSIC, APPARENTLY
Timberlake does seem to have been more inspired by other people's music of late though, having set up a little record label called Tennman Records and signed progressive hip hop fusion band FreeSol. But that did result in this little collaboration.
BEEF OF THE WEEK: METALLICA FANS V LOU REED V METALLICA FANS
Speaking to USA Today, Reed said: "[They] are threatening to shoot me, and that's only because I showed up. They haven't even heard the record yet, and they're recommending various forms of torture and death".
Of course, over the last couple of weeks, with previews available, they have been able to hear the album, and for the most part it doesn't seem to have calmed them down. Reed's not fussed though, he's used to alienating people. Of his own fanbase he says: "I don't have any fans left. After [1975 electronic noise album] 'Metal Machine Music', they all fled. Who cares? I'm essentially in this for the fun of it".
He admits that "no one wants a 'Lulu Part Two'", but he says that Metallica are his "metal blood brothers" and "on Radio Lou, in my head where I hear these songs, I want more of it".
Whether Metallica are ready to commit to another record is less clear. Although drummer Lars Ulrich says they and Reed are "a new collective", he also describes it as a "one-off project".
However, he speaks with enthusiasm of how the band became involved with Reed, saying of the initial demos they received: "[There were] no drums, no guitars, no recognisable rhythms or keys, just these soundscapes, incredibly beautiful. And Lou reciting these potent words. It was so deep. I called Lou and said: 'I don't know where this is going, but we're in'".
He adds that Metallica fans are prone to complain about any changes to the band's sound, saying: "In 1984, when hardcore Metallica fans heard acoustic guitars on 'Fade To Black', there was a nuclear meltdown in the heavy metal community. There have been many more since then. This is something they've never heard. Nobody hears rhythms or delivers poetry the way Lou does. It's not for everyone, but I think it's a fantastic record".
And to be fair, there is a certain admirable quality in both Reed and Metallica forging on with something they believed in, even though they probably knew all along it would receive a negative response from many people. As Reed put it in another interview, published this week in Vanity Fair (one more typical of his relationship with the press, involving him mostly refusing to speak before hanging up the phone mid-sentence): "I could do anything I want. They could do anything they want. We chose to do this as a project we wanted to do. Something beautiful. Period. It's not complicated".