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MEGAUPLOAD FRAMES UNIVERSAL DISPUTE IN CONTEXT OF SOPA
As previously reported, MegaUpload is suing Universal Music over allegations it misused YouTube's content takedown system last weekend in order to have an all-star promotional video, featuring a string of top American music stars bigging up the file-sharing service, removed from the video site. Operating under US copyright law, YouTube will take down videos from its servers if they have been posted without the permission of any relevant copyright owners.
But, MegaUpload says, Universal has no copyright claim over the 'Mega Song', and therefore misused the takedown process to have the video removed simply because it didn't like the song's message, ie numerous pop stars, some signed to Universal labels, bigging up a file-sharing platform which the big music and movie companies have accused of fuelling online piracy.
However, Universal says it acted on behalf of one of its artists who features in the video, who says she never gave permission for her contribution to be used in that way. There have since been reports other artists in the video issued their own takedown notices insisting they never agreed to appear in the promotional film, and we know for certain Will.i.am's lawyers requested the video be taken offline.
SOPA would introduce various new measures into US law to help copyright owners combat online piracy, most controversially a fast-track injunctions system that would force ISPs to block access to sites proven to exist primarily to host infringing content or to help others infringe. Similar measures have been considered and in some cases introduced elsewhere in the world. In the UK a currently dormant portion of the Digital Economy Act proposed a similar system, plus the precedent set in this year's Newzbin ruling suggest such injunctions are achievable under existing copyright law.
Web blocking measures have many opponents in the tech sector, the key argument against such injunctions being that big copyright owners might abuse any such web blocking system to force websites they don't like offline. This, of course, would amount to censorship, and in the US would conflict with free speech rights in the First Amendment.
Obviously some sort of judicial process would be required to ascertain whether a site was infringing copyright, in theory preventing abuse of the system, though some fear what would happen in grey area cases, usually citing the fact Google inadvertently links to many unlicensed sources of content in search result lists, so could find itself targeted by web block claims.
Any abuse of the existing content takedown system that operates under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act adds fuel to those who claim that a web blocking system would be misused by the content industries. And that's something MegaUpload CEO David Robb leapt on this week as his company accused Universal Music of misusing copyright law to force the (he would claim) legitimate promotional song off the internet.
Robb is quoted by Torrentfreak as saying: "Universal Music is currently lobbying lawmakers in Washington for legislation that would allow them to not only delete specific content from a website, but to delete entire websites from the internet. After this demonstration of the abuse of power by UMG, we are certain that such an instrument of internet censorship should not be put into the hands of corporations".
While SOPA and similar proposals circulating in US political circles are generally backed by the big record, movie and TV companies, some big web firms have been busy opposing the proposed new laws. And joining the anti party is Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who has proposed the US Wiki community take the service offline for a short time in protest at the SOPA proposals, motivated by similar action taken by the Wikipedia community in Italy.
Wales wrote earlier this week: "A few months ago, the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately. As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of Stop Online Piracy Act is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track ... My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and could be even more powerful in this case".
Another campaign against SOPA is encouraging website owners to censor their own content by covering up key words in certain articles, and forcing readers to submit an email opposing the legislation in order to reveal the redacted words. Set up by an organisation called American Censorship, you can see that campaign in action on this Boing Boing article: boingboing.net/2011/12/13/your-sit.html
As we said, SOPA will be discussed more on Capitol Hill tomorrow. And where next for the MegaUpload v Universal dispute remains to be seen.
CONRAD MURRAY WANTS PULICLY-FUNDED LAWYER FOR APPEAL
Murray is known to want to appeal both his conviction and his sentence, but has seemingly exhausted all of his funds. This is not surprising, the doctor's defence lawyer during his initial trial, Ed Chernoff, admitted shortly after Murray was found guilty that the doctor would be unable to pay anything like the legal fees his company would usually expect to charge for working on a case that time consuming.
The doctor's last court filing, at the LA Superior Court, reportedly says "the defendant is indigent and respectfully requests the appointment of counsel on appeal".
Murray, of course, was found guilty of causing the death of Michael Jackson by negligently administering the drug propofol, and for failing to properly monitor his patient. He was sentenced to the full four years allowed under Californian law for the crime of involuntary manslaughter.
EX-BOYFRIEND OF BIEBER BABY ACCUSER SPEAKS
Robert Powell is the boyfriend who has previously claimed that he is the father of Yeater's young son, and it turns out he is in jail on burglary and drug charges. RumorFix interviewed him in prison, where he said he and Yeater were broke, and his former girlfriend concocted a plan to get $50,000 out of a tabloid magazine by claiming Bieber fathered her child.
America's Star magazine broke Yeater's story, in which she claimed to have had a very brief sexual liaison with Bieber backstage at a concert in LA during which he refused to wear a condom, resulting in her pregnancy. The mag seemed convinced by Yeater's unlikely story because she had engaged a legal team and filed a paternity lawsuit. Though, despite initially claiming there was "credible evidence" to back up Yeater's claims, said legal team subsequently dropped the case, and the paternity lawsuit was withdrawn, possibly because Bieber's team said the star would gladly take a paternity test to prove Yeater was lying, and then sue her for libel.
Speaking to RumorFix, Powell claimed: "She lied. We were both homeless and living in Oceanside [California] and Mariah was trying to make some quick money. She picked [Bieber], because she thought he was famous and all, and thought she could get a lot of money by telling the magazine Justin was the father. She just saw him as an opportunity to make a lot of money".
Although initially staying quiet on the alleged scam, it was subsequently rumoured Powell had gone public with his claims he was in fact the father of Yeater's child.
In the RumorFix interview he continued: "She said she was doing it for us ... for our family and son. She made it seem like it was all for us, but she's greedy. I don't know; I still love her though. All I want is to be with my son, that's all I care about. She can take all her money, I just want my son. And man, on the real, I feel sorry for Justin Bieber. He's just a little kid, man. He don't need to be going through all this drama. He's got a career and shit to focus on. I feel sorry for the dude".
Yeater's new legal reps have since told RumorFix that Powell's claims are "all wrong". It's still not clear if and when Yeater will make her son available for a DNA test in order to confirm once and for all whether there is any truth in her claims about Bieber. Of course the delay from the Yeater side on this suggests said DNA test will confirm what always seemed most likely, that there is no truth at all.
ALLEGED SIMMONS SITE HACKER INDICTED
Simmons' website was hit by a so called DDoS attack last autumn after the Kiss man said in an interview that the US record industry should have sued every single file-sharer in a bid to tackle online piracy. The attack took Simmons's website offline for a time.
24 year old Kevin Poe is the latest in a number of hackers targeted by the authorities for alleged involvement in DDoS attacks against individuals or, more commonly, organisations who represent big copyright owners, or who were accused of trying to censor the internet.
THE CRIBS, SCREAMING FEMALES RECORD WITH STEVE ALBINI
He adds: "I usually hate recording vocals so much. I am very self-conscious, but it was actually really fun here. Most of the stuff - both tracking and vocals - were done in one or two takes, which suits me down to the ground".
Dividing studio time between Chicago, upstate New York and Abbey Road, the band have also worked with Mercury Rev bassist and producer Dave Fridman on the as-yet-unnamed LP. As previously reported, they'll push out on a trio of tour dates next year, the first of which is an NME Awards show at London's ULU on 28 Feb.
He's a busy bod, that Steve Albini, having also lent his expertise to the new record from alt-punk outfit Screaming Females. No word on when that'll be out, but you can view a set of studio photos taken for Spin.com here: www.spin.com/gallery/screaming-females-studio-exclusive-shots-steve-albini-sessions
FUCKED UP RELEASE VIDEO, PLAN NEW SINGLE
It marks a timely display of unity from the band, whose future has seemed in doubt since frontman Damian Abraham revealed last month that he'd thought about quitting. As previously reported, the band will take an indefinite hiatus once the live campaign for their latest album, 'David Comes To Life', comes to a close.
Meanwhile, watch the 'Turn The Season' video here: www.matadorrecords.com/matablog/2011/12/12/fucked-up-on-spin-cover-1-album-of-2011-video-premiere-and-much-much-more/
THE DARCYS GIVE AWAY DEBUT ALBUM
To promote the first album release, they enlisted award winning visual effects artists and director Mike Portughese to put together a video for album track 'Don't Bleed Me'. It doesn't look like it was cheap, so let's hope their plan to sell all that vinyl pays off. But whatever, they can be pleased in the knowledge that in three minutes the video manages to tell a more compelling story than most feature length sci-fi films have managed of late.
DRAKE ANNOUNCES 2012 TOUR
UK listings as follows:
THE MACCABEES, EMELI SANDÉ TO HEADLINE MTV 2012 SHOWS
Headlining at London's Koko on 24 Jan, The Maccabees are set to air new tracks from their forthcoming album 'Given To The Wild' following its 9 Jan release. Support will come from Brand New nominated alt-pop hopes Lana Del Rey and Charli XCX.
Also happening at Koko, a 25 Jan showcase will host Scottish singer-songwriter and BRITs Critics' Choice Award finalist Emeli Sandé. She'll head up a bill that also boasts Brand New-endorsed songstress Delilah.
Tickets for both performances, plus details on how to vote for an ultimate winner of the MTV Brand New For 2012 title, are available here: www.mtv.co.uk/news/brand-new-for-2012/340032-brand-new-for-2012-showcases-announced
WILL YOUNG ANNOUNCES FOREST CONCERT TOUR
The original 'Pop Idol' alumnus, who released his much-lauded fifth album 'Echoes' earlier this year, says this of his latest live outing: "The forest gigs have a great reputation for their atmosphere so I'm really looking forward to performing my songs in such unique settings".
And, for those of you requiring a reminder of how great Will Young can be, just watch the video for his recent single 'Come On'. You'll find it below these dates:
15 Jun: Nottingham, Sherwood Pines Forest
MESHUGGAH TO TOUR AHEAD OF NEW LP
The band's guitarist Fredrik Thordendal spoke about the new album back in July, telling Metal Hammer: "I'm so excited about this one. Every day that we're in the studio, we'll play whatever song we're working on, record a demo version of it to analyse at home, and then come back the next day, talk about it and try to make it better. I think because of this, it's going to be our best album yet".
SOKO ANNOUNCES TOUR
28 Feb: Bristol, Thekla
VINTAGE FESTIVAL MOVES TO NEW HOME
Vintage launched in 2010 at the Goodwood Estate near Chichester, bringing together 40s, 50s and 60s music, art, design and fashion. A second event ran this year at London's Southbank Centre, but the 2012 event will see it relocate to a new home at the Boughton Estate in Northamptonshire.
Wayne Hemingway told CMU: "Vintage has been a great success over the past two years and has become an event that the public have really connected with. We're now going into our third year and are looking to establish and grow Vintage into one of the UK's best-loved and favourite festivals. Vintage is a different type of festival - it's not about getting muddy and messed-up in a field, it's about having a glamorous, fun and celebratory civilised time in stunning surroundings. We believe that we have found that in Boughton".
MAMA CEO Dean James said of his company's new deal with the Hemingways: "Our collaboration with Vintage is about bringing together the best of both worlds in terms of creativity and festival production to truly develop this unique and fully immersive experience for years to come. The Vintage experience offers a richness of creative content and programming which is unrivalled by any other festival around and we are delighted to marry up one of the most creative festival companies in the UK with two of the most iconic designers it has ever produced. We're hoping now that we have moved to a more accessible part of the UK, that more people will come and experience a glamorous weekend of British culture and the most cutting edge content in all its forms".
More information at www.vintagefestival.com.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
ROSKILDE, Denmark, 5-8 Jul: Freshly announced headliners Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band join an existing line-up, reigned over by Björk, that also features Wiz Khalifa, Bon Iver, Royce Da 5'9 and Yelawolf. www.roskilde-festival.dk/uk/
NEW MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE RARA.COM LAUNCHES
According to Omnifone, Rara.com has been developed based on a survey of 1000 people, of which 70% had not bought a digital track in six months, and 60% had never used a digital music service at all. This market, Omnifone say, is currently not properly targeted by existing digital platforms, and Rara.com will fill that gap.
How will they manage this? Well, who knows? Although Rara.com is apparently "designed specifically for the mass market who still use CDs", it's not entirely clear why those people would be specifically interested in it. It has an overly fussy design (with one of the key selling points that you can customise the background and cover art for playlists), it has no free trial, and it doesn't aappear to offer the Pandora-style radio that all streaming services now seem to agree is core to mainstream success.
On the plus side, it does already have all four major labels as well as some unidentified "leading independents" on board, and will come pre-loaded on new HP PCs in Europe, the Middle East and Asia (although, of course, it's never easy to convince PC owners to use pre-loaded third party software - especially that which they have to pay to access). In total, it's available in sixteen countries at launch, including the UK and US, with another seven territories to go live next week. Mobile apps are also planned.
Although there is no free option, the service will be charged in the UK at 99p per month for desktop access, or £1.99 per month for web and mobile web access, for the first three months. After the trial period, the cost will rise to the industry standard of £4.99 or £9.99 per month depending on functionality. It was the trial offer Rara.com was keen to talk up yesterday though.
Tim Hadley of Omnifone and Rara.com told CMU: "Uniquely, you can experience access to all the music you want, ad-free, for less than the price of a single track. Whether you're into Gaga or Elgar, Rara.com is a new kind of streaming music service which makes accessing the music you love online easier and more delightful than ever; type Rara.com into your web browser and you have a world of music at your fingertips".
Notable by its absence from the new service are Merlin, which represents the big independents in the digital space. Merlin chief Charles Caldas was very critical of Omnifone's decision to launch without the labels he represents on board, telling Music Week: "I am truly astounded that any company could still be so absurdly arrogant and short sighted as to ask consumers to spend good money on what is an incomplete and inherently inferior product to many that are already in the market".
He continued: "Despite the fact that independents represent a third of the market and that the biggest artist in the world this year is released by an independent, we still see a service launched without a deal in place with the world's key indies as represented by Merlin - meaning the service will not feature some of the most important artists in the world. I am sure consumers won't be hoodwinked by more smoke and mirrors, not when there are comprehensive services available to them".
Omnifone insists the independents have not been ignored in its plans for Rara.com, that some indies are already on board, and talks with the others continue. Meanwhile, you can watch a brief video outlining Rara.com's functionality here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQjR4IMfh54
ITUNES ARRIVES IN LATIN AMERICA
Although the move by the market leader digital music store into the Latin American market had been expected for some time, the exact launch date had been kept under wraps. Some 20 million tracks are reportedly available via the Brazilian store, with home pages focusing in particular on the local talent included in the catalogue.
It's hoped that the arrival of the Apple download platform in Latin America will kick start a potentially lucrative market, especially in Brazil. According to Billboard, when iTunes launched in Mexico in 2009 it transformed a practically non-existent digital music market, meaning in 2010 thirteen million tracks were sold online in the country.
NEW KERRANG! RADIO BREAKFAST HOSTS GET PAGE IN KERRANG! MAG
The new breakfast show will also see a step up of the station's social media activity, and will be promoted across the other Kerrang! media operated by Bauer, most notably the magazine, which will now feature a page compiled by the duo.
Kerrang! Radio Programme Director James Walshe told Radio Today: "With listeners increasingly turning to technology and the internet for music, we need to give them reasons to listen to the radio beyond music. We think the future is in the hands of knowledgeable and charismatic presenters who are trusted to talk about whatever is relevant to the audience - be it about music or lifestyle - and in this case, through radio, TV and the world's biggest selling weekly rock magazine".
CORGAN HOPES TO WRITE FOR MUSICALS
He was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "I want to be a better songwriter before I try Broadway and I wouldn't allow one of my old songs [to be used]. If I do Broadway, I'm not coming to write three-chord rock songs".