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WARNER PULLED INTO DIGITAL ROYALTIES DISPUTE VIA SISTER SLEDGE LAWSUIT
As previously reported, the distinction is important because under many pre-internet record contracts the artist receives a much bigger cut of any royalties if the revenue stems from a licensing deal rather than record sales.
The record companies have always treated iTunes-style downloads as the digital equivalent of selling CD singles or albums, and therefore paid the lower royalty. But some heritage acts claim that, as there are no direct production costs associated with an iTunes download, and as Apple sells their music on the back of one single licensing deal, iTunes revenue should be classified as licensing revenue and that artists should receive the larger cut of the loot.
This isn't a new dispute, though the US courts which heard earlier digital royalty claims from heritage acts generally sided with the labels. But that changed when FBT Productions, the production outfit that worked on Eminem's early output and still have an interest in those recordings, sued Universal's Interscope in a bid to get the higher licensing royalty paid out on iTunes sales. FBT won.
Universal insists the ruling in the FBT case is only relevant to the wording of that exact contract, and does not set a more general precedent, but that hasn't stopped Rob Zombie, Chuck D and the estate of Rick James suing the uber-major on the issue. And now Warner is being pulled into the digital royalty squabble by a lawsuit filed by the Sledge sisters and American singer/actor Ronee Blakely.
According to reports, the lawsuit claims: "Rather than paying its recording artists and producers the percentage of net receipts it received - and continues to receive - from digital content providers for 'licenses', Warner wrongfully treats each digital download as a 'sale' of a physical phonorecord ... which are governed by much lower royalty provisions than 'licenses' in Warner's standard recording agreements".
The new lawsuit is a class action, in much the same way as the Zombie/Spring estate lawsuit against Universal. That major failed to have the class action status overturned, meaning any artists operating under similar agreements with the record company could be due the higher pay out if the plaintiffs are ultimately successful.
Lawyers for both Universal and Warner - and any other record company with similar contracts with veteran artists - will be hoping the former's assessment of the FBT ruling is accurate. If the majors are suddenly forced to start paying out a significantly larger share of their digital revenues to all their pre-internet artists it could have a devastating effect on companies for whom download sales are fast becoming their primary income stream.
GOOGLE'S MOTOROLA WINS PATENT INJUNCTIONS AGAINST APPLE IN GERMANY
Not that tech companies ever need many motivating factors to engage the services of patent lawyers. There were actually two separate Apple/Motorola patent disputes in the spotlight in Germany last week, with the latter winning in both. The first related to aspects of Apple's iPhone and iPad, the latter to the "email push" element of the IT company's iCloud digital locker service, and its predecessor MobileMe, with pushes emails to a user's device without it having to first call the mail server.
It's a confusing case, though Apple seems to accept it is using some of Motorola's patented technology on its mobile and tablet devices (though on the "email push" point they claimed their rival's patent was "invalid), but the firm argues that these are industry standard technologies so its rival has a duty to provide patent licences at a fair and reasonable rate, which, Apple's lawyers argue, it has failed to do. For its part Motorola said Apple had refused to "negotiate in good faith" regarding the use of its patented technology.
For a brief time the impact of the first of last week's court rulings in Motorola's favour was tangibly seen when certain Apple devices disappeared from the IT giant's online store in Germany, though they subsequently reappeared. It seems that Apple successfully halted the injunction awarded to its rival pending an appeal of the German judge's ruling, though Motorola could well now return to court in the next few weeks and request the injunction be actioned with immediate affect. Or something like that.
The second ruling may mean that Apple will have to alter the email delivery element of its iCloud service in Germany, having the device request messages every few minutes rather than pushing new content as and when it appears. Though the iPhone maker won't have to act until Motorola actually enforces that particular injunction, which would apparently require the mobile maker to first post a bond of 100 million euros for complicated patent law reasons.
So, fun times in the patent lobby. Makes copyright law seem frankly straight forward by comparison, doesn't it?
SCHMITZ TO TRY AND RECLAIM SOME OF HIS MEGA FORTUNE
As previously reported, Schmitz, one of four men arrested in New Zealand at the request of the US authorities last month in connection to their executive roles in the controversial Mega business empire, was refused bail for a second time on Friday. Prosecutors say Schmitz might try to return to his home country of Germany where it would be much harder for the US to extradite him.
According to the Herald Sun, this week the Mega chief's lawyers will turn their attention to the mutli-million dollar fortune he amassed running the Mega companies. All of Schmitz's assets were seized as part of the raid on his $30 million rented mansion in New Zealand, but papers filed with the Auckland High Court argue that the freezing orders went too far, and some of the Mega founder's fortune should be returned while he awaits extradition.
Schmitz's aids have also criticised the New Zealand authorities for the way they raided the Mega team's rented home last month, with his former security chief describing the raid as a "home invasion by New Zealand police at the urging of the US government". In particular they have criticised officers for failing to act quickly enough when Schmitz's pregnant wife became ill during the raid, but the country's police say they are happy with the tactics they employed to ensure the four Mega execs were taken into custody.
DRAKE EX SUES OVER MARVINS ROOM MONOLOGUE
Ericka Lee says she is the rapper's ex-girlfriend, and that during their romantic relationship they also shared poems and song lyrics, and discussed other possible creative projects. One of those creative collaborations, she claims, was 'Marvins Room', for which she provided backing vocals and the all-important opening monologue, credited under the pseudonym Syren Lyric Muse. But, Lee's lawsuit says, she has not been paid for her contribution.
The litigation cites text messages from Drake that seemingly confirm her involvement in the track, and his opinion that it was her contributions that made it special. One text reads "U basically made that song", while another apparently admits that "it's shit without you". Lee seemingly registered a claim over the track with the US Copyright Office shortly after its release, though another application by Drake's label described Lee as an "employee for hire", rather than a creator with a direct claim to co-ownership of the song.
Things went legal after the couple's relationship ended - Lee claims Drake offered her a 2% cut of the publishing royalties in the song, but turned nasty after she knocked back the proposal. Lee's lawsuit claims Drake subsequently increased his offer to 4-5%, but she wants the courts to name her co-writer of the song and give her access to accounts relating to the track's revenue, so she can claim both damages and unpaid royalties.
A rep for Drake called Lee's legal claim a "frivolous lawsuit" that was "entirely without merit". The spokeswoman added: "Ericka Lee consented to the use of her voice in the song 'Marvins Room' prior to its release. Lee asked only for the credit she received as Syren Lyric Muse, and she did not ask for any compensation. It was only after she retained a lawyer that there was a demand for payment. Drake tried for months to resolve the matter amicably, and he now looks forward to being vindicated in court".
ROBIN GIBB SAYS HIS CANCER IS "ALMOST GONE"
But Gibb's cancer treatment seems to have gone well, and he told the Mail On Sunday last month: "For more than eighteen months, I had lived with an inflammation of the colon; then I was diagnosed with colon cancer, which spread to the liver. I have undergone chemotherapy, however, and the results - to quote my doctor - have been 'spectacular'. It's taken a toll, naturally, but the strange thing is that I've never felt seriously ill. I've mostly felt great. There have been many false claims around, which I'd like to dispel. I am not and have never been 'at death's door'".
Last week Gibb gave an update on his treatment to Radio 2's Steve Wright, saying: "The prognosis is that it's almost gone and I feel fantastic and really, from now on, it's just what they could describe as a 'mopping-up' operation. I am very active and my sense of well-being is good. I've been treated by brilliant doctors, and in their own words, 'the results have been spectacular'. And they said: 'What are you doing that we don't know about?', and I said: 'I'm not doing anything and in fact I haven't taken a single tablet'. I feel better than I did ten years ago. I'm active, my appetite's fantastic, the plumbing is all in perfect working order".
Gibb previously indicated that once he had recovered from his illness he might reunite with brother Barry on stage for a Bee Gees reunion.
LIVINGSTONE SUPPORTS MINISTRY AS BORIS RECONSIDERS PLANNING APPLICATION
As previously reported, Ministry last October succeeded in blocking a residential development opposite its South London HQ, fearing that the proposed apartment development would cause licensing issues for the superclub down the line. But, while the local Southwark Council planning committee accepted the clubbing firm's concerns and refused developers Oakmayne Properties planning permission, Johnson, as Mayor of London, could still step in and overturn that decision. Johnson's office is believed to be currently considering Oakmayne's case.
But last week both Livingstone and his party's leader Ed Miliband gave their backing to Ministry, declaring that Southwark Council had made the right decision, and Johnson should frankly keep his nose out of the South London district's affairs.
Welcoming the backing from Team Labour, Ministry boss Lohan Presencer said on Thursday: "We are delighted that Ken Livingstone has today come out for Londoners and we thank him very much. Ministry works with politicians of all parties. This has never been about party politics - it's about London. Boris is a mayor who for many has always been known to do the right thing. He needs to stand by his earlier pronouncements about London being one of the most exciting and unique destinations in the world and protect the future of one of the city's most famous assets".
Quoted by Digital Spy, the Ministry chief continued: "Every time Boris has called in an application to date, he has overturned the original decision and granted permission, flying in the face of the choice of locally elected Londoners. If he does so again, he condemns Ministry Of Sound to death. We want to know why the Mayor chose to get involved in this one case, out of the many thousands that are determined by local authorities without his intervention every year. It's no good saying you want to kick start the regeneration of Elephant And Castle if you're kicking the most successful local business and employer in the teeth".
BRITISH ARTISTS ACCOUNT FOR OVER HALF OF UK ALBUM SALES IN 2011
Of course Adele contributed rather more than her fair share to that achievement, but albums from Coldplay, Jessie J, Ed Sheeran, Amy Winehouse and Olly Murs also helped. The 52.7% share compared to 48.9% in 2010, and put album sales from native talent someway ahead of long players from American acts, which accounted for 32.7% of sales overall.
The Yanks, though, were still ahead when it came to singles, accounting for 43.8% of that market, with Brit singles accounting for 42.6%. Barbados came in third place because of Rihanna, and France fourth thanks to David Guetta.
Here's a quote from Geoff Taylor, boss of the BPI, who provided us with these lovely stats after number crunching some Official Chart Company data: "A string of great albums by British artists has delivered the strongest performance in the domestic albums market since the days of Britpop and the Spice Girls in 1997. 44 of the top 100 singles in 2011 were from British acts, including a string of eleven consecutive number one singles. Despite a challenging market, independent and major labels in the UK have kept the faith and continued to invest hundreds of millions in British talent. This success at home should provide a springboard for continued international success".
BON IVER RECORDS WITH ALICIA KEYS, PANS GRAMMYS COLLABORATION
Speaking to USA today, the singer-songwriter says: "I have a big idea to do an American songbook of the greatest women singers. There are so many: Casey [Dienel] from White Hinterland, Bonnie Raitt, Alicia". He also adds that he'd like to release an all-star "one-off charity album", since such a project would offer "an excuse to work with a bunch of people that I'd [like] to work with, all at once".
Though partial to the odd well-chosen studio partnership (Vernon shares various co-credits with St Vincent, Lia Ices, James Blake, Kanye West and, most recently, the Flaming Lips), it seems he and his Bon Iver bandmates didn't take to the idea of performing with a fellow artiste at this year's Grammy Awards ceremony, at which they are nominated in four categories.
He tells Billboard: "We wanted to play our music, but we were told that we couldn't play. We had to do a collaboration with someone else. And we just felt like it was such a large stage. We're getting nominated for this record that we made, me and Brian [Joseph] and a bunch of our fucking friends, and we were given accolades for it. And all of a sudden we were being asked to play music that had nothing to do with that. We kind of said 'fuck you' a little bit and they sort of acted like they wanted us to play, but I don't think they wanted us to play".
Vernon, who in the past has been very vocal (and not to mention, less than complimentary) about his personal attitude towards all-things Grammy, also passed comment on an advert, as soundtracked by Bon Iver's 'Holocene', that's set to air during a commercial break in the TV transmission of the awards show.
He says: "There's a big misunderstanding - I don't want to sell music. But if people are going to be selling music, and they want to sell our music without disturbing the medium of what it actually is, we want to fucking do that. I want people to hear the music that we make. I don't want to do it in any shitty way".
You'll find these, and many more baffling remarks, in this here Billboard interview: www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/branding/bon-iver-s-justin-vernon-on-not-playing-1006086352.story
MADONNA UNVEILS NEW VIDEO, AS DOES MIA
Below you will find that there pop promo, which provides such spectacular sights as golden raindrops, a botched assassination attempt, and Madge's obligatory and ever-present fishnet tights. She'd be nothing without those tights. You can watch that while you wonder what musical delights these words might title. I think they read like an absolute dream. 'Gang Bang' especially. Guaranteed to fill floors, that one.
Girls Gone Wild
Let's now move on to MIA, Madge's cheerleading hip hop prop (along with Minaj, of course) in both that video and during the Super Bowl half time show (though it was MIA who managed to raise her middle finger at the camera, assuring she got more column inches than Madonna's other guests). Anyway, MIA has a video of her own, the Romain Gavras-directed promo for new single 'Bad Girls', in which she appears doing all sorts of mad things, like filing her nails while perched on the side-tilted pillion of a dusty estate. It's dangerous, it's ridiculous, it's a real visual thrill.
OOOOO ANNOOOOOUNCE EP
A successor of sorts to his eponymous set first released in 2010, it's called 'Our Love Is Hurting Us', and is due out via Tri-Angle Records on 9 Apr.
You can download a free copy of 'NoWayBack', one of two tracks on the EP to feature Parisian artist Butterclock, here via Stereogum: stereogum.com/938582/ooooo-nowayback-feat-butterclock-stereogum-premiere/mp3s/
TENACIOUS D ANNOUNCE LP
Styled as a rebith from the ashes of the duo's critically-panned 2006 album 'The Pick Of Destiny' (see sample lyric: "When the pick of destiny was released it was a bomb/And all the critics said that the D was done/The sun had set and the chapter had closed/But one thing no one thought about was the D would rise again"), you can listen to a snatch of the long player's title track here: www.rizeofthefenix.com
SUNN O))) TO TOUR
UK dates as listed:
11 Jun: Manchester, The Ritz
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BLOODSTOCK, Catton Hall, Derby, 9-12 Aug: Recent add-ons Sepultura and US metallers Iced Earth serve to further swell this year's sizeable Bloodstock roster, which thus far consists of acts including Behemoth, Alice Cooper, Hatebreed, Mayhem, The Black Dahlia Murder, Warain and Anvil. www.bloodstock.uk.com
CAMP BESTIVAL, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, 26-29 Jul: Rolf Harris, Lianne Le Havas, Ren Harvieu and King Creosote & John Hopkins make for a varied array of acts just added to the Camp Bestival line-up, joining Hot Chip, Kool & The Gang and Chic feat Nile Rodgers on the familial festival's ever-expanding musical billing. Freshly crowned as Bestival's comedy headliner, Jimmy Carr will also appear at the 'Silly Olympic'-themed fest. www.campbestival.net
DOUNE THE RABBIT HOLE, Duncarron Fort, Scotland, 24-26 Aug: Organisers of this medieval-themed happening confirm The Phantom Band, Aiden Moffat & Bill Wells, Sparrow And The Workshop and Three Blind Wolves amongst a barrage of initial bookings, with many more yet to be unveiled. www.dounetherabbithole.co.uk
FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL, various venues, Australia, 3-12 Mar: A horde of British types have been quick to crowd the Future Music roster, with Tinie Tempah, New Order, Fatboy Slim, The Wombats, Jessie J and Chase & Status all featuring amongst recent line-up additions. The festival itself is stationed in one-day stints across venues in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, with the international likes of Frank Ocean, Skrillex, Gym Class Heroes and Die Antwoord also primed to perform at each of the five dates. www.futureentertainment.com.au
RADIO 1′S HACKNEY WEEKEND, Hackney Marshes, East London, 23-24 Jun: Acts including Jack White, Lana Del Rey, The Maccabees, Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and Bombay Bicycle Club are confirmed as company for Leona Lewis and Plan B on the bill of this rather unnecessary Radio 1-hosted Olympics bash, free tickets for which are available through a lottery. www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/events/hackneyweekend2012/
EMI PLUGGING EXECS PROMOTED
Anyway, two of them have been promoted - actually as EMI further integrates its publicity efforts into one multi-label serving hub. Vic Gratton is becoming Senior Director Of TV Promotions and Tina Skinner Senior Director Of Radio Promotions, overseeing their respective areas for the whole of the major, and both reporting to EMI Music's Promotions & Publicity chief Kevin McCabe.
He told CMU: "After the success of bringing all of our publicity people together into one integrated, focused and award winning team, replicating this structure with our promotions teams was an obvious next move. The new team will ensure we will always provide our artists with the best possible service and support, and with their dedication and loyalty to EMI over many years, Vic and Tina are the ideal people to lead the TV and radio functions. I'm delighted to be able to announce these two very well deserved promotions".
[PIAS] ANNOUNCE NEW LABEL DEALS
Confirming the new deals, [PIAS] Head Of Label Management Craig Caukill told CMU: "After several months of conversations with Tri Angle and Digital Soundboy we are thrilled to see these two exciting labels join the [PIAS] portfolio. Digital Soundboy has a proven record of supporting and developing emerging talent from a variety of genres and Tri Angle have established themselves as a serious proposition within a short period of time. Both labels have fantastic A&R instincts and vision which we look forward to projecting further across the UK and Europe".
NOEL GALLAGHER: THINGS WERE BETTER UNDER THATCHER
These were sentiments, more or less, presented by Noel Gallagher in an interview with The Mail On Sunday at the weekend, which caused his interviewer Simon Lewis to write: "The things he's angry about are the same things The Mail On Sunday's readers are angry about. And the things he cares about, we do too. Older, wiser and rid of his brother, it's starting to look like Noel Gallagher's one of us".
Lewis isn't wrong. Gallagher echoed many a Mail article and rabid website comment when he said: "We were brought up under Thatcher. There was a work ethic - if you were unemployed, the obsession was to find work. Now, these kids brought up under the Labour Party and whatever this Coalition thing is, it's like: 'Forget that, I'm not interested. I wanna be on TV'. It was a different mindset back then".
He added: "Kids now watch 'America's Hardest Prisons' and want to be in a gang. They've no imagination. When I was sixteen I'd watch 'The Godfather', but I didn't think: 'Right, I'm going to go down the barber's and get some protection money off him'. Our generation was more likely to go: 'I wonder where the nearest acting school is? Who wrote that soundtrack? Who's Francis Ford Coppola?' It's the de-education of the masses".
Yes, those fabulous, non-violent, employment-filled 80s. Just in case you have a niggling feeling that Gallagher might be slightly wrong about some of this, the excellent No Rock N Roll Fun blog has been through and deconstructed the interview point by point.