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PIRATE BAY AND CO-FOUNDER RESPOND TO SUPREME COURT DECISION
As previously reported, two of The Pirate Bay's founders and a key funder were yesterday told they would not be allowed to appeal their convictions in Sweden's Supreme Court. That means that the prison sentences and damages ordered by a lower court and reaffirmed (although slightly altered) by an appeals court now stand. The third TPB founder had already been deprived a right of further appeal after failing to attend his original appeal hearing.
In response, the current operators of the Bay posted a statement which reads: "The Pirate Bay will reach an age of nine years. Experiencing raids, espionage and death threats, we're still here. We've been through hell and back and it has made us tougher than ever. The people running the site has changed during the years. No sane human being would put up with this kind of pressure for eight years in a row. An insane hobby that takes time from our families, our work (sorry boss) and our studies".
The Pirate Bay, of course, has lost a string of legal actions across the world, though continues to operate despite various court orders. Its domain is blocked by internet service providers under court orders in some countries (and the UK music industry is pushing for such blocks here), though web savvy file-sharers can easily circumvent such blockades.
The Swedish case against the TPB founders and funder was more significant, though, partly because it had a criminal component, and partly because this legal assault took place in TPB's home territory. If the jail sentences are now enforced against those members of the TPB Four still in Sweden, then that will be a victory of sorts for the content industries, and funder Carl Lundström, the only one of the four with access to cash, might be forced to pay some damages. Though none of this has so far stopped The Pirate Bay from operating (although the site did seem to be temporarily offline earlier today).
Actually disconnecting a site from the net requires seizing web domains and preferably physically accessing servers, which is what the US government did with MegaUpload last month. The Swedish authorities seem less keen to make such moves, despite the criminal convictions, and previous attempts by the authorities there to seize the Bay's servers in the early days of its operations (although some legal commentators are now predicting some more proactive action in Sweden in the coming days).
Interestingly, the current operators of The Pirate Bay, presumably in response to MegaUpload's recent enforced demise, and fearing the US authorities might use this week's Supreme Court ruling in Sweden to justify taking action against its .org domain, which is administered by the US-based Public Interest Registry, yesterday officially made a Swedish domain, thepiratebay.se, their principle URL.
Elsewhere, the most vocal of The Pirate Bay's founders, Peter Sunde, issued a statement, saying he wasn't surprised by the Supreme Court's announcement, accusing the Swedish judicial process of being corrupt. He seemed willing in the post to except his fate, even including any possible jail time, though insisted he still occupied the moral high ground.
Wrote Sunde: "Even though the outcome (which we still haven't reached) is not favourable for my personal situation, the end goal that we fight for is so much more important than some people's personal struggles. I'll live with not being rich - which is easy when you're not rich anyhow - the rest of my life. I'll live with whatever sentence I'll get in the end - I'll just finish my book. The fight goes on with or without me, I'm just a pawn. But at least I'm a pawn on the morally right side. I'm proud as hell of what I've done and I would not change my involvement in any way. I actually think I could have done much more for the fight. And I will".
Of course although Sunde has frequently portrayed The Pirate Bay legal fight in Sweden as a philosophical and possibly radical debate about copyright on the internet, in court his lawyers presented conventional legal arguments - that Sunde and his fellow Bay founders couldn't be held liable for the infringing behaviour of their site's users, and that the Pirate Bay group was never organised enough for any one person to accept liability for the whole. Neither arguments succeeded in court.
AMY WINEHOUSE CORONER RESIGNS, INQUEST VERDICT COULD BE OVERTURNED
Suzanne Greenaway qualified as a lawyer in Australia in 1999 but had not practiced in the UK for the required five years when she became a coroner, Camden Council said in a statement yesterday. According to the council, she was appointed by her husband, Andrew Reid, who is coroner for the St Pancras area of London.
Reid is now writing to 30 families - twelve of which, including Winehouse's, are based in Camden - to explain that the results of inquests into the deaths of loved ones carried out by Greenaway, while currently remaining legal, could be overturned by the High Court.
In a statement, Reid said: "I appointed my wife as an assistant deputy coroner as I believed at the time that her experience as a solicitor and barrister in Australia satisfied the requirements of the post. In November of last year it became apparent that I had made an error in the appointment process and I accepted her resignation. While I am confident that all of the inquests handled were done so correctly, I apologise if this matter causes distress to the families and friends of the deceased. I will be writing to the families affected to personally apologise and offer for their cases to reheard if requested".
The matter is being investigated by the Office For Judicial Complaints.
TINNITUS AWARENESS WEEK NEXT WEEK
David Stockdale, CEO of the British Tinnitus Association, told CMU: "Thousands of tinnitus patients are being short-changed by their GPs. They are being either completely dismissed, told to 'learn to live with' the condition and are being given inaccurate information, or are not being referred to tinnitus clinics for specialist care. Tinnitus is poorly-understood among many primary care practitioners, and we aim to readdress this problem during our Tinnitus Awareness Week campaign so that more tinnitus patients are given accurate advice and are referred to authoritative information widely available via the BTA, the NHS and other sources".
Next week, BTA ambassador Eddy Temple-Morris will discuss his own experiences of tinnitus and what he is doing to raise awareness in his CMU column. Meanwhile, further information, including video diaries by a range of DJs and musicians speaking about their own experiences with tinnitus, can be found here: www.tinnitus.org.uk/TAW2012
MEGA CHIEF TO MAKE SECOND BID FOR BAIL
As previously reported, Schmitz was arrested with three of his business associates in New Zealand last month at the request of the American authorities, who accuse the Mega execs of mass copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering. The US is now going through the motions to extradite the accused.
Some of Schmitz's colleagues were bailed pending their extradition hearings, but the judge handling the case said there was a risk the overall Mega chief might try to flee the country, most likely in a bid to return to his home nation of Germany, where it would be much harder for the US to extradite him. All of which means Schmitz remains behind bars.
But his lawyers will have another go at securing bail tomorrow. They are likely to again claim that Schmitz could not flee because his passport has been seized and bank accounts frozen. Prosecutors have expressed concerns that the Mega man might have access to other secret funds, while the judge said he suspected the defendant had criminal connections who may be able to help him leave New Zealand.
Defence attorneys are also likely to point out tomorrow that Schmitz's family remains in New Zealand, and that he is on medication for diabetes and hypertension, and that being incarcerated may exasperate those medical conditions.
It remains to be seen if any of that washes in court second time round.
SOUL TRAIN FOUNDER DIES
Cornelius was working as a DJ and journalist in Chicago in the late 1960s when he first had the idea for 'Soul Train', which first aired on the city's WCIU TV station in 1970. He soon had the programme networked across the US, partly by persuading big name black artists to appear, which appealed to even more conservative network chiefs, and crucially by persuading the advertising industry that they should be targeting the young black viewers which were the programme's core audience.
Though the show was particularly ground breaking not only for being the first programme to champion primarily music emanating from America's black community, but also for developing an audience from all parts of American life. And as some of the acts that 'Soul Train' had first exposed became the biggest pop stats in America, and the world, the show went from strength to strength, with its dancing audience and Cornelius as host proving as popular as the acts who guested.
As 'Soul Train' boomed Cornelius pursued other music business ventures, some using the 'Soul Train' brand, in particular the spin off awards shows. Cornelius himself continued to front the main 'Soul Train' TV programme until 1993, and stayed on as producer until the show's end in 2006. Although it continued to enjoy some successes, for the MTV generation, and with hip hop becoming the dominant genre in the black community, the show had lost its edge by the 1990s, though the awards shows remained big news.
After his show finally disappeared off TV screens five years ago, Cornelius became increasingly reclusive. Public attention mainly fell on problems in his personal life, in particular when in 2009 his estranged wife filed two restraining orders, and the music mogul pleaded guilty to spousal abuse. At the time he also said he had "significant" health issues. The exact circumstances surrounding his death are not yet clear, though police confirmed he died from a self-inflicted gun shot.
Paying tribute to Cornelius yesterday, producer Quincy Jones told reporters: "Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business. Before MTV there was 'Soul Train', that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched".
LOMAX FOLK ARCHIVE TO BE STREAMED ONLINE
Having since digitised much of Lomax's considerable catalogue, the organisation intends to let listeners access the archive for free via its Global Jukebox imprint: www.culturalequity.org/features/globaljukebox/ce_features_globaljukebox.php
An integral figure in the discovery of artists like Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly, Lomax's recordings are sampled famously on Moby's 1999 album 'Play', in the soundtrack to Coen Brothers movie 'O Brother Where Art Though?', and also on Bruce Springsteen's forthcoming long player 'Wrecking Ball'. The New York Times has more on Lomax's life and legacy here: www.nytimes.com/2012/01/31/arts/music/the-alan-lomax-collection-from-the-american-folklife-center.html
ORBITAL SHARE FESTIVAL DATES, NEW LP TRACKLISTING
Representing Orbital's first album in eight years, 'Wonky' is due out on 1 Apr. It's no joke.
The LP's tracklisting has just been released, and looks like this:
One Big Moment
ROLO TOMASSI CONFIRM NEW LINE-UP, SINGLE
'Old Mystics', as it's entitled, is slated to surface as a seven-inch via the Sheffield quintet's own label Destination Moon on 26 Mar. Pre-order here to receive an instant MP3 copy of the track, which is the first taken from the band's unnamed third studio album: rolotomassi.bigcartel.com/product/old-mystic-7
In terms of live activity, Rolo Tomassi are set to provide support on Architects' upcoming tour, which kicks off on 1 Apr at Brighton's Concorde 2. They'll also headline their own run later this year.
Until that happens, 'Old Mystics' is free to stream on the Rolo Tomassi Facebook page. www.facebook.com/rolotomassiofficial
THE DARKNESS GIVING AWAY NEW SONG
As well as a way of expressing the band's thanks to all those who bought tickets for their forthcoming US tour, the song also serves as a first sample of their first post-hiatus album, which is expected to emerge later in the year. As previously reported, The Darkness' British live calendar comprises slots at the Isle Of Wight Festival (24 Jun) and an outdoor Forestry Commission show in Thetford Forest on 14 Jul.
Pick up a copy of 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us' at www.theactualdarkness.com, and/or watch its illustrated accompanying video here: youtu.be/4t5aOdDIXJ4
COXON, ALBARN, SHEERAN BOOKED FOR BRITS PRE-PARTY
Sheeran, a four-time nominee in this year's BRITs stakes, will be flanked on the live line-up by Dry The River and special guests Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon, who will play an acoustic set in recognition of the fact that Blur are due an Outstanding Contribution To Music statuette at the fast-approaching BRITs bash on 21 Feb.
The charity show takes place two days earlier on 19 Feb. Says Sheeran: "War Child does amazing music events for such a great cause. To be asked to play is an absolute honour".
JACK BEATS REVOLUTIONISE TOURING
Says Jack Beats' Niall of the tour's interactive element: "This tour is going to be sick, we are going to cram some amazing visuals into these clubs and it will be the first time we will be road testing a whole bunch of new tunes from our forthcoming album! The fans also get a chance to appear on stage with us... it is great to see our show evolving and bringing the fans closer to the music".
28 Feb: Sheffield, Tuesday Club
LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY ANNOUNCES INITIAL LINE UP
Organisers have also confirmed that an annual student music awards event staged by music education body Access To Music will take place as part of this year's LSC, while a Sound City Expo will "provide access for both consumers and music/digital professionals to the people, tools and services they will need as we move ever onwards in the digital age".
Commenting on this year's initial line-up announcements, Sound City boss Dave Pichilingi told CMU: "We're thrilled to announce the first wave of bands that'll make up the line-up for Liverpool Sound City 2012 - an eclectic mix of genres that makes our festival such an interesting, innovative, must-see event. We're taking Sound City to whole new level this year by bringing in Access To Music and co-hosting the UK Music Student Awards, which shows our commitment to the new breed of musicians and those who work in the music industry, as well as being a great excuse for a party".
This year's Sound City runs from 17-19 May. More at www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk. As previously reported, the team behind Sound City are also staging an event in New York in March, more information about which is given here: www.newyorksoundcity.com
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BLOC WEEKEND, London Pleasure Gardens, Royal Victoria Docks, London, 6-7 Jul: Organisers open Bloc's 2012 bill by booking electro luminaries Orbital, Gary Numan, Flying Lotus, Battles, Apparat, Four Tet, Actress and Joy Orbison, all of whom will be amongst the first visitors to London's all new multi-arts destination, the Pleasure Gardens. www.blocweekend.com
DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, 8-10 Jun: Slash, Rise Against, Megadeth, Steel Panther, Billy Talent and Terrorvision are amongst the new additions joining a titanic raft of prior bookings as helmed by The Prodigy, Metallica, Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, Chase & Status and Biffy Clyro. www.downloadfestival.co.uk
WIRELESS FESTIVAL, Hyde Park, London, 6-8 Jul: Drake leads a list of several MCs now set to perform at this year's Wireless Festival, with Wiz Khalifa, Professor Green and Example also booked. They join Rihanna, Calvin Harris, J Cole, Rizzle Kicks, Kaskade and Flux Pavilion on the wider Wireless bill. www.wirelessfestival.co.uk
SONY CORP APPOINTS NEW CEO
As previously reported, Stringer has overseen a troubled Sony Corp since becoming CEO in 2005 (he also became President of the company in 2009, and Hirai will take over that role too). A strong yen hasn't helped, reducing the value of global and especially American revenue, and more recently natural disasters have hit key manufacturing plants.
But Sony has also suffered as the wider entertainment industry has seen its traditional revenue streams slide, and - most significantly - as three competitors started to outperform the Japanese firm in key product areas, Samsung in TVs, Nintendo in gaming consoles, and Apple in music devices.
Stringer's grand plan was to more closely align the different strands of the Sony business, utilising the corporation's entertainment assets with its technology, but the strategy had only limited success. And while most of the firm's problems were not Stringer's making, investors have become increasingly impatient for some radical idea that can turn around the company's fortunes.
Although Hirai's background at Sony is on the entertainment side, initially within Sony's music company, and later leading the PlayStation business, he has already indicated his first focus will be sorting out the company's consumer electronics division, and especially the Bravia TV brand, a supposed cash cow that has been seriously underperforming in recent years.
Stringer will stay on at the Japanese conglom as Chairman of the board, though the exact nature of his role moving forward isn't entirely clear.
FACEBOOK CONFIRMS IPO PLANS WITH SEC
Facebook's 'initial public offering' has been a long time coming, and will be smaller than many had expected in terms of the sum of money set to be raised. Of most interest to the wider world, of course, is the information included in the social network's filing with the Securities And Exchange Commission about the company's recent successes.
Among the stats are that Facebook's net income in 2011 rose by 65% to $1 billion, based on revenues of $3.71 billion. Investment types seem to be impressed with those figures, the one billion in profits more than many assumed. Though some commentators mused that the SEC filing lacked any clear information on how the company plans to expand further in the coming years, especially once the recruitment of new users starts to flatten out.
That said, many of those investors eager for a slice of the world's biggest social network probably don't need to see such strategies before taking the plunge, so it doesn't matter that Facebook founder and boss Mark Zuckerberg's personal message spoke more of abstract missions rather than profit-based business objectives.
He wrote: "Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission - to make the world more open and connected. We think it's important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us, how we make decisions and why we do the things we do".
TUNECORE TUNES TAKEN OFF AMAZON IN EUROPE
Amazon seemingly removed content provided by TuneCore from its download store on 24 Jan after talks to renew the retailer's licensing deal with the indie distributor hit problems. TuneCore claims that there had been issues receiving payments from Amazon under the old contract, and that it wants that matter addressed before entering into a new deal. Despite accusing Amazon of employing "heavy handed" negotiating tactics by pulling all TuneCore content as talks were ongoing, the distributor's high profile co-founder Jeff Price said he was confident a deal would be reached.
Writing on his company's blog, Price explained: "Amazon removed your recordings as a result of an issue regarding royalty payments by Amazon to TuneCore customers. The delay in resolving this issue resulted in the TuneCore/Amazon European Union and United Kingdom agreement expiring without being renewed".
He continued: "Although we fully intended to renew, TuneCore also had to address the fact that over the course of the agreement, Amazon had not been paying TuneCore artists to license their songs for download in a significant number of the recordings distributed. We felt this put TuneCore in a position where if we renewed with Amazon in this territory without sorting out the position regarding all the rights involved, it would be contrary to TuneCore's core business philosophy and purpose: getting artists and songwriters paid all the royalties they are owed".
TuneCore's impasse with Amazon only affects the EU. Amazon, for its part, is yet to comment on its talks with the distributor regarding its European stores.
Elsewhere in Amazon news, the online retail firm's share price dropped yesterday following the news the company's profits for the all important Christmas quarter were down 58% year on year despite net sales increasing 35%.
NEW COLDPLAY ALBUM FINALLY REACHES STREAMING PLATFORMS
Coldplay's decision to go without Spotify etc for two months came amidst increased debate over whether having your music on subscription-based all-you-can-eat platforms has a negative impact on download sales, and if so whether the per-play royalties the streaming platforms pay out are sufficient compensation, when it could take years of plays to equal the up front one-off download fee. And that debate rumbles on, despite various managers and label execs insisting Spotify style services were good news at recent industry events.
But whatever, the real good news is that if Spotify users feel like having an uplifting musical revelation/getting bored to tears (I can never remember whether or not it's still CMU policy to automatically diss Coldplay) later today, Chris Martin et al's most recent offering is now ready and waiting to ooze into your personal binary stream.
RAJAR ROUND UP
Though I bet Team Global are nevertheless touting the fact Capital regained the title of London's biggest commercial station from rival Magic once again in the latest set of RAJAR stats. Capital is only slightly ahead of Magic though, and the two stations are close enough for any difference to be accounted for by a margin of error, given the relatively small sample group of listeners on which these figures are based.
The third biggest London station depends on which set of figures you use, on weekly reach Capital's sister station Heart is in third place, but on audience share Magic's sister station Kiss is ahead. Elsewhere in London, Xfm, Smooth and BBC London all saw their listening figures slip quarter on quarter.
At the national stations, Radio 2 remains the UK's most popular station by some distance, followed by Radio 1 and Radio 4. The same is true of the respective network's breakfast shows, though Radio 4's 'Today' programme is getting close to matching Radio 1's flagging Chris Moyles breakfast show. But all three BBC networks are performing OK overall, especially when compared to the Beeb's news and sport station 5Live, which lost nearly a million listeners year on year. Ouch. Bosses there insist last year's figures were abnormally high because of some particularly big sport events.
Both the commercial analogue national stations, Absolute and Classic FM, saw slight drops in listening figures quarter on quarter, though the former was up over 16% year on year. Meanwhile Global Radio's quasi-national stations - the Capital network and Heart network - were slightly up and down respectively.
In digital land, 6music continues to enjoy the renaissance ironically initiated by the subsequently dropped plans by BBC bosses to axe it in 2010. The digital music station, close to its tenth birthday, now has nearly 1.5 million listeners. Other BBC stations Radio 4 Extra (formerly Radio 7) and 1Xtra also scored record audiences.
WILL STYLES BECOME ONE DIRECTION'S FRONTMAN?
Well, that's what's being reported this morning, with the Daily Star quoting a source as saying American label execs (though some other reports say the outfit's management) think the 'X-Factor' group should have at least an unofficial frontman as the band begin their assault on the American market.
Said sources are saying: "Columbia music execs [in the US] are rubbing their hands with glee. It looks like One Direction are going to be absolutely massive in America. They decided long ago that Harry is a natural frontman. He's funny, confident and has a great voice".
Whether there's any truth in that, we don't know, though other rumours that any such appointment of a frontman could result in intra-band tensions sound likely. The Star quotes another source as saying the group's members are already resisting the Harry-up-front proposals, telling the tab: "They are determined to carry on the way they have been - without a lead singer. Harry certainly hasn't asked for all this attention".