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PROSECUTORS FAIL TO HAVE MEGA CHIEF'S BAIL REVOKED
As previously reported, Schmitz was arrested in New Zealand last month at the request of the US authorities, who accuse him and six of his MegaUpload colleagues of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering. The other three Mega execs arrested at the same time as Schmitz were given bail, but initially the Mega empire's top man was kept in prison over fears he might have access to secret stashes of cash which he could use to flee to his home country Germany, where it would be much harder for America to extradite him. But last week a New Zealand judge ruled there was no credible evidence of any such secret cash funds, so Schmitz was bailed on similar terms to his colleagues.
Prosecutors returned to court this week to try and have that ruling overturned, but failed. Earlier today the judge hearing the case said he remained convinced the risk of Schmitz fleeing wasn't substantial, and that keeping him under strict bail terms outside prison was satisfactory while America goes through the motions of extradition, which could take until August to be completed.
Elsewhere in the Auckland courts, legal reps for Schmitz were requesting some of their client's assets be unfrozen so that he can cover some of his routine expenses. According to TVNZ, those routine expenses reportedly include rent, security guards, a butler, a nanny, some existing debt repayments, and a telephone line so Schmitz can talk to his lawyers. That would come to a mere NZ$220,000 (approximately £116,000) a month.
Prosecutors have objected to Schmitz being given access to those kinds of sums, arguing that the Mega man's fortune has been amassed via illegal businesses, and that the average New Zealand family lives on an income of NS$6000 (just over £3,000) a month, and therefore the Schmitz clan should adapt to live a more modest lifestyle while the defendant prepares for his court battle.
The court reportedly approved a one-off payment from Schmitz's bank accounts of NZ$100,000 (just under £53,000), to cover some debt repayments that were due, and medical expenses incurred by the Mega chief's heavily pregnant wife. But a decision on a monthly allowance was postponed, with the judge requesting that prosecution and defence reps try to reach an agreement on that matter outside of court.
ACTA PETITION DELIVERED TO EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
As previously reported, ACTA was mildly controversial from the start, but most opposition has risen in the last month, in the wake of the anti-SOPA protests in the US, even though most EU countries, and the European Union itself, signed the agreement last month, and several other countries, including America, put their signatures on the treaty last year.
But not every European country has as yet signed the document, and those which haven't are now - amidst growing opposition - having second thoughts. And some of those already signed up are also now publicly expressing reservations about the IP agreement. And at an EU level, the whole thing is still to be approved by the European Parliament, which is creating a tangible protest forum for those against ACTA, hence the petition.
Supporters of ACTA insist it is essential for ensuring the survival of copyright and trademark based industries, and that in Europe all the provisions in the agreement are already part of European law, so it won't actually result in any new intellectual property rules. But opponents criticise the way much of the agreement was negotiated in secrecy, and say that some of the treaty is worded ambiguously, and might enable nations signed up to it to introduce, via the back door, draconian new IP laws that hinder people's internet freedom rights.
The opponents do have some friends in high places within the European political community. The French MEP who reviewed the agreement for the European Parliament, Kader Arif, said "I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement", while the parliament's current President, Martin Schulz, said he didn't think ACTA was "good in its current form".
And the Scottish MEP who will oversee the treaty's passage through the European legislature, David Martin, has now also said he is concerned ambiguities in the agreement could have negative consequences. He said yesterday: "I have no interest in criminalising individual consumers. I think you have to distinguish between the consumer and the producer of illegal content. I have no interest in the teenager sitting in his room deciding to download a piece of music for free because he finds there's an internet service, that there's a site providing that music for free".
Martin recently welcomed the decision by the European Commission to have the European Courts Of Justice review the agreement to check nothing in it breaches basic EU rights. He's also said the Parliament might put its own ACTA-related questions to the European courts. The European Parliament is due to discuss the IP agreement in June, and protests are likely to continue between now and then, though there may not be any speedy resolution on any of this, as Martin reckons it could take the ECJ a year to rule on the legalities of the treaty.
Meanwhile, Eminia Mazzoni, Chairwoman of the European Parliament's Petitions Committee, welcomed the Acaaz petition, telling reporters: "Receiving a petition supported by more than two million people places an even bigger responsibility on us to listen to the European people and offer them a place to express their views to the European institutions". She did, however, add that the Parliament had also received letters from individuals and organisations in favour of ACTA.
JUSTIN BIEBER SUED OVER BEAVER GAME OBJECTIONS
As previously reported, Bieber's people said the game was trying to rip off the pop teen's name and identity, and requested that tech firm RC3 stop distributing the app, and hand over an account of any revenues generated by it so far.
But RC3 says that Joustin Beaver - an animated beaver with something approximating the classic Bieber hair cut - is allowed under the American Constitution's First Amendment, which protects parody.
Presumably keen to assure Team Bieber don't pressure iTunes to stop distributing the game, according to TMZ, Team Beaver have responded to the pop star's cease and desist by launching their own lawsuit, to get legal clarification form the courts. The Biebster is yet to respond.
YOUNG TURKS TO CURATE FREE CONVERSE NIGHT
The show, which takes place on 5 Mar, will also feature DJ sets by Bullion, The Shining and CMU approved house producer John Talabot. It's free to apply for tickets, so do that at www.converse.co.uk.
SPECTOR ANNOUNCE SPECTOUR
Spectour III dates are as here listed:
1 May: Nottingham, Bodega
NEW ORDER ADD TOUR DATES
Momentous news for New Order fans based in the North, then, since the new dates are thus:
6 May: Edinburgh, Usher Hall
TEAM ME TO TOUR
With that very LP slated for release via Propeller Recordings on 5 Mar, Team Me are also down for festival appearances at Live At Leeds (5 May), North London's Camden Crawl (5 May) and Bristol-based Simple Things (6 May).
'To The Treetops', by the way, is available to stream in its entirety via The 405, just beneath these dates:
1 May: Birmingham, Rainbow
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BLOC WEEKEND, London Pleasure Gardens, Royal Victoria Docks, London, 6-7 Jul: New York producer Nicolas Jaar is confirmed as the latest jewel in Bloc's electronic crown, lining up against newcomers Surgeon and Monolake on a billing that also co-stars Orbital, DOOM, Battles, Flying Lotus, Ricardo Villalobos, Apparat, Carl Craig, Four Tet, Scuba and Actress. www.blocweekend.com
CAMDEN CRAWL, various venues, Camden, London, 4-6 May: Brand new features of a sprawling Crawl roster-to-be include Swedish alt-pop duo Icona Pop, Dublin dark-rock clan Funeral Suits and dubstep collective Engine Earz Experiment, all of whom happen to be joining headliners Death In Vegas at the festival's opening night party at Koko. Besuited indie types Spector lead out an additional stack of acts also set to perform, as includes Charli XCX, Baxter Dury, Kwes, Rolo Tomassi, Iceage and Arrows Of Love. www.thecamdencrawl.com
DOT TO DOT, various venues, Bristol/Nottingham/Manchester, 2-4 Jun: The Drums, Pulled Apart By Horses, Willy Mason, Summer Camp and Dog Is Dead are amongst those appearing first on the bill of this triple-barrelled Midlands bash, which alternates a single line-up between assorted venues in Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol. dottodotfestival.tumblr.com
DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, 8-10 Jun: Download has added a further 22 bands to its tenth anniversary line-up, amongst them Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor, Dropkick Murphys, Cancer Bats, Rise To Remain, Saxon, The Quireboys, Seabstian Bach, Soil, and We Are The Ocean. They join headliners The Prodigy, Metallica and Black Sabbath. www.downloadfestival.co.uk
FIELD DAY, Victoria Park, London, 2 Jun: Julia Holter, Zomby, Com Truise, Laurel Halo and Peaking Lights are all newly set to play on a special stage hosted by electronic promoters BleeD, and now accompany aforementioned Field Day guests Franz Ferdinand, SBTRKT, Beirut, Rustie, Blood Orange, Blawan, Friends, Korallreven, Liars and Modeselektor on the Field Day bill as it stands thus-far. www.fielddayfestivals.com
GLADE, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 11-17 Jun: Dillinja, Daedalus and Jimmy Edgar represent recent add-ons to an all but complete Glade line-up, as also hosts lauded electronic types Bodikka, SL2, Ceephax, Koan Sound, Mosca, Alex Jones, Appleblim, Throwing Snow and Si Begg. Objects of prior line-up revelations include Sven Vath, Andy C, Rusko, Vitalic, Pretty Lights, Foreign Beggars, Dub Pistols and Avalon. www.gladefestival.com
GREEN MAN FESTIVAL, Glanusk Park, Powys, Wales, 17-19 Aug: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Tune-Yards, Of Montreal, Michael Kiwanuka, Friends, Cold Specks and Three Trapped Tigers make up part of the most recent supplement to Green Man's hallowed 2012 roster. This latest lot pitch up beside Feist, The Walkmen, Yann Tiersen, Cass McCombs, Slow Club and Ghostpoet on a bustling existing bill. www.greenman.net
LOUNGE ON THE FARM, Merton Farm, Canterbury, Kent, 6-8 Jul: The Wombats, Emeli Sande, Mystery Jets, Roots Manuva, David Rodigan, Goldie and Chic feat Nile Rodgers form LOTF organisers' first update to the festival's 2012 line-up, with extra bookings to be revealed very soon. www.loungeonthefarm.co.uk
MAGIC LOUNGEABOUT: Broughton Hall, Skipton, North Yorkshire, 27-29 Jul: An initial Loungeabout line-up missive places Chic feat Nile Rodgers atop the Yorkshire fest's Friday night programme, with Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Cashier No 9, Jenny O and Lucy Rose also getting an early billing. www.themagicloungeabout.net
OFF FESTIVAL, Katowice, Poland, 3-5 Aug: Organisers confirm spanking new names including Shabazz Palaces, Converge, Atari Teenage Riot and Charles Bradley for Poland's premier music event, with Kurt Vile & The Violators, Battles, Death In Vegas, Iceage, Nils Frahm, Swans and Ty Seagall making up a rearguard of longer-standing bill fixtures. www.off-festival.pl/en/
PLAY FEST, Eccles Hall, Quidenham, Norfolk, 1-3 Jun: Headliners Ash are to chair proceedings at Play Fest this summer, with The Pigeon Detectives, and Reverend And The Makers, The Big Pink, Spector, The Correspondents and Tellison also listed to play live. www.playfest.co.uk
SUMMER BREEZE, Warren Farm, Liddington, Wiltshire, 14-15 Jul: Overall headliners KT Tunstall and Vintage Trouble are joined by the all-performing likes of The Destroyers, Backbeat Soundsystem, Corky, Elliot Mason, Gaz Brookfield and Jake Morley at this family-focused festival happening. www.summerbreezefest.co.uk
JAPANESE POPSTARS TO SOUNDTRACK CATERHAM F1 TEAM
The Japanese Popstars told CMU: "It's great to be involved with Caterham F1. They are a young team on the grid which makes it so exciting for us to be involved with something so fresh. There are relative similarities that resonate with us and the race team. The sheer crowd pleasing power they are achieving at each race is what we try and do with every track we produce and festival we play. To be able to write music for something totally unique as this is equally a pleasure and an honour".
A portion of 'Shells Of Silver', a track taken from the 'RS27' EP, can be heard here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-ipmfPGFWM
IMPALA REAFFIRMS OPPOSITION TO SONY/ATV'S EMI DEAL
As previously reported, Sony/ATV, a joint venture between Sony and the Michael Jackson estate, is leading a consortium of investors in its EMI publishing acquisition. It's thought EMI Music Publishing would stay an autonomous company if the Sony deal goes ahead, but ultimately reporting into Sony/ATV boss, and former EMI Music Publishing chief, Marty Bandier.
IMPALA opposes both Universal's bid to buy the EMI record labels and Sony's bid for the publishing catalogues, arguing that the two deals together are the worst possible outcome for an EMI sale, making the two biggest music firms even bigger, so they both dwarf nearest rival Warner.
That would result in a duopoly controlling the mainstream music industry. Both Universal and Sony, though, are confident their bids will be approved by regulators in the US and Europe, who in theory both have the power to block the takeovers, or to insist on remedies, such as the resale of some of the EMI assets the buyers will acquire.
Reconfirming its position yesterday, IMPALA said: "The concerns raised by the European Commission the last time it looked at music publishing concentration centred around the ability of large publishers to control prices and other terms, even in negotiations with much bigger players such as iTunes. This is because they control so much repertoire, making them an indispensable trading partner. These concerns are likely to have even more relevance today".
It continued: "The independents are also concerned that the deal would give Sony too much power over collecting societies as well as vital industry negotiations, such as the Cannes Agreement, which sets operating terms for societies. They also point out that the deal would reinforce the duopoly effect with Universal, who itself is currently under regulatory scrutiny over its attempt to buy EMI on the recording side".
Meanwhile IMPALA Exec Chair Helen Smith told CMU: "However this deal is structured in terms of finance and ownership, the result is the same - Sony would increase its negotiating power to an unacceptable extent. We expect the regulators to block both Sony and Universal's bid to buy EMI".
It's thought the European Commission's consideration of both takeover deals will require full two phase investigations, making any decision unlikely before June at the earliest.
[PIAS] PR LAUNCHES NEW DIGITAL AGENCY
At launch the new company will be working with the likes of Lana Del Rey, De La Soul, Girls and The Jezabels. Info will be posted at www.houseof27.co.uk
PIES AND RECORDS TOGETHER AT LAST
The owners say via their Facebook page that the shop is "created by music and pie lovers, for music lovers, who maybe also like to do pie". They add: "You'll find the latest eclectic music releases on CD, vinyl and MP3, if we don't stock it we'll order it. Our cafe area will be serving a wide range of pies sourced from Buckwells of Osbourne Road, and Pie Minister, as well as hot and cold beverages. A highlight to our cafe will be listening pods on tables to preview new and forthcoming releases".
You can find them on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/pages/Pie-Vinyl-Southsea/255249274556092
And Twitter here: twitter.com/pieandvinyl
I really hope this doesn't turn out to be an elaborate hoax, I'm not sure I could take the disappointment.
MOG NOT FOR SALE, SAYS BOSS
David Hyman told Reuters that while he was always "engaged in conversations with our shareholders about all possible options", he was not proactively shopping the company at the moment. It's not clear exactly how well MOG is doing, though obviously no one is making money out of streaming music services yet. Certainly Hyman's previously promised global expansion, including to the UK, hasn't yet materialised, though rushed expansion isn't necessarily a sensible strategy in a tricky, loss-leading market.
Various reports reckon MOG has so far raised $24.9 million in investment, and that among its investors to date, both Universal Music and Sony Music are minority partners.
APPLE WORKING ON "ADAPTIVE STREAMING" FORMAT
And according to The Guardian, he may have already started the ball rolling prior to his death last October. The paper claims that Apple is developing an "adaptive streaming" audio format, which would vary the quality of audio delivered to iCloud users based on bandwidth available and the type of device being used, allowing better quality sound when bandwidth and device allow.
The format will, seemingly, be used as part of the iTunes Match service. Launched earlier this year, Match scans a user's music library, giving access to any track also available in the iTunes store as 256kbps AAC audio files, which can be downloaded to replace the local copy of the file, regardless of its encoding quality or source. It is thought that Apple's new format could offer users access to files in much higher quality still.
"All of a sudden, all your audio from iTunes is in HD rather than AAC. Users wouldn't have to touch a thing - their library will improve in an instant", a source told The Guardian.
Although Apple refused to comment on the matter, Ars Technica last week reported that the company is now encouraging rightholders to deliver music to iTunes as 24-bit/96KHz studio quality files - higher than that delivered by a CD.
Read The Guardian's article here: www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/28/apple-audio-file-adaptive-streaming
GREG JAMES PROMOTED IN RADIO 1 SCHEDULE REJIG
While the rest of the BBC is facing allegations of too readily favouring youth, at Radio 1 the criticism has been the opposite, that the nation's favourite is failing to engage its target youth demographic, with many longstanding programmes and DJs now appealing more to the 25+ audience.
While Radio 1 bosses might argue that its critics exaggerate the problems, and that the station's music policy and news programming is specifically geared towards the teen audience, the average age of its DJs does provide critics with ammunition, and it's been expected since former Deputy Controller Cooper took over the top job from his long entrenched predecessor Andy Partfitt that a bit more youth would be injected into the schedules, albeit by evolution rather than revolution.
Hence the 26 year old James taking the prime time slot from the 38 year old Mills. Meanwhile two other 26 year old DJs - T4 presenter Jameela Jamil and 1Xtra DJ Gemma Cairney - will both get off-peak slots in the latest rejig, and 24 year old Danny Howard, discovered via a Radio 1 talent search, will get a Saturday afternoon show. Meanwhile another 38 year old, Edith Bowman, will see her hours cut by being shifted from Weekend Breakfast to the one hour weekly review show.
Of course the elephant in the room remains the Chris Moyles breakfast show, a real dilemma for Cooper in that it has been operating outside Radio 1's core remit for years now, but is still one of the country's most popular radio shows, despite a recent wobble in listening figures.
It is widely thought Moyles is nearing the end of his Radio 1 career, though he will likely go on his own terms while Cooper is in charge, whereas had an outsider been given the top job post-Parfitt there might have been a more sudden axing of the show. Needless to say, speculation of a successor has already begun, with some interpreting James' promotion this week as a sign he might be a contender. But I'm still quietly lobbying to give Matt Edmondson the job.
PLAN B TOO BUSY FOR PUNK BANDS AND BED CLOTHES
The rapper has told the Daily Star he's so flippin busy at the moment, what with all his music and acting projects, that sometimes he finds himself sleeping in his clothes. Yes, with his acting role in the movie remake of 'The Sweeney', his own movie venture 'iLL Manors' and various other music ventures, Plan B, real name Ben Drew, simply doesn't have time to take his clothes off before going to bed. Nor, for that matter, to set up a punk band.
Admitting to the tabloid that plans to record a punk-influenced album with a new band were on hold, Drew said: "I've had to knock the band on the head. There are only so many hours in the day and to keep the quality levels up I've had to put a halt to some projects, including the band. It's sad but I have to give my all to the things I can do. So I'm working on 'The Sweeney' and making a new [solo] album".
He continued: "Life is so busy that I'm sleeping in my clothes some days. I can't stop and I don't want to. There's so much I want to achieve and I owe it to the people around me to keep going. The kids around me, like the cast you'll see in 'iLL Manors', have worked so hard to escape their problems. And they look up to me for what can be achieved with graft, so I can't slow down now".