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BRITISH STUDENT FACING EXTRADITION TO US OVER COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
This story has been rumbling on for some time, and centres on a website that O'Dwyer ran called TVShack, which provided links to unlicensed content available on various video sharing platforms. Several such services emerged in the latter years of the last decade as websites like YouTube became more efficient at removing unlicensed videos at the request of content owners.
Of course as content was removed from one bit of YouTube, someone else was re-uploading the same content elsewhere on the Google-owned platform, or a competing video sharing sites. In most cases, that content would then be taken down a few days or weeks later, but by that point it had been uploaded elsewhere. Link sites like TVShack - and another targeted by the UK authorities called TV-Links - became useful because it helped users looking for unlicensed TV show content to find the latest uploads without having to navigate all the pages where videos had been blocked
As such sites basically hindered the content takedown systems the video sharing sites offered rights owners, and which the music, movie and TV companies were using with increased frequency, the big content owners started to target the link providers too, accusing them of liability for contributory infringement (by helping others to infringe). And where the owners of those sites were profiting from ad sales, the copyright owners persuaded the authorities to pursue criminal investigations.
Of course those who operated such sites quickly pointed out that they didn't actually host any infringing content, which is never a watertight defence against contributory infringement claims, but has worked on occasion in this domain.
Whereas TV-Links ended up being pursued by the UK authorities, O'Dwyer's site was targeted by American state copyright enforcers, even though the service was being run from Yorkshire and was hosted on servers in Sweden. In June 2010 the US Immigration And Customs Enforcement agency seized the original TVShack domain and posted a stern copyright warning in place of O'Dwyer's website. But, in what was probably his biggest mistake, O'Dwyer set up a new domain at TVShack.cc and within a few days his website was live again. It wasn't until November that year that the new domain was seized too, and it was at that point UK police and US officials showed up at O'Dwyer's Yorkshire home.
America's efforts to extradite the student to face copyright crime charges back in the US are somewhat controversial, and pose a number of questions. First, is there actually a case for copyright infringement against the accused under UK or Swedish law (where the site was managed and hosted respectively)? Second, should this be a criminal case (usually infringement has to be commercial for criminal proceedings to be pursued rather than civil litigation)? And even if there is a case for criminal copyright charges, shouldn't O'Dwyer be prosecuted under British law?
Add the fact that O'Dwyer will be handed over to the Americans under the already controversial 2003Extradition Act, which critics say puts too low a burden of proof onto the US, and you can see why a community of angry supporters of the student have been getting increasingly vocal online. May's ruling on the matter yesterday has pushed the story up the news agenda, meaning that outrage can only grow as O'Dwyer faces his final extradition hearing. Not that that will necessarily sway the court, though it will provide more ammunition for the anti-copyright (or anti-big-copyright-owners) community.
There is actually a case against O'Dwyer under English copyright law, even though he never actually hosted infringing content, and even though the English concept of 'authorising infringement' is slightly different than the American principle of 'contributory infringement' that has been used in most of the big court cases involving the providers of file-sharing software or services Stateside. And UK courts have ruled against Newzbin and The Pirate Bay on those grounds. But then again, the legal case pursued by the British authorities against TV-Links, a very similar service to TVShack, failed in court.
Whether there'd be a criminal case against O'Dwyer under UK law would depend on whether prosecutors could show the student profited from his enterprise, and that that was a motivating factor for running the venture. Efforts in the British courts to prosecute the founder of the Oink file-sharing community failed because it couldn't be proven that set up was a deliberately commercial venture. The US authorities reckon O'Dwyer made $230,000 from ad sales via the TVShack site, and under English law that claim would be key to any criminal case.
But, as O'Dwyer's supporters, led by his angry mother, say, even if there is a criminal case, does that justify dragging the student to America to face any charges. Given the jail sentence for such crimes in the US could be five years, versus two years in the UK, O'Dwyer would certainly be better off facing the allegations against him here, before you even consider the stresses of facing a court hearing and possible custodial sentence in a foreign country. Though those arguments have not, so far, had much impact with the powers that be. O'Dwyer now has two weeks to appeal May's ruling.
MAMA GROUP SALE ENTERS SECOND STAGE
As previously reported, last December HMV announced a 'strategic review' of its live business, which it acquired in 2010, and was reportedly actively accepting bids by early January. The flagging retailer needs the $65million+ cash boost a sale of MAMA will deliver, and could profit from the company based on what it paid two years ago, though losing its venue, festivals and management business does bring to an end the more interesting elements of HMV boss Simon Fox's diversification plans.
Both existing music business players and private equity outfits were reportedly interested, and according to The Independent among the companies to actually submit first round bids were AEG Live, the Live Nation backed Academy Music Group and equity types and Time Out backers Oakley Capital. The Indy reckons AEG has been asked to submit a second refined bid, though it's not clear on the status of Academy and Oakley's proposals.
The jewel in the MAMA crown is the Hammersmith Apollo, which would be a perfect addition to AEG's UK venue portfolio, especially in the burgeoning live comedy market, the West London Apollo venue being the stepping stone a-list stand ups take before reaching the ultimate goal of selling out AEG's The O2 Arena on the east side of the capital.
Whether AEG would be interested in MAMA's other businesses, in the festivals, artist management and marketing partnership domains, isn't clear, and some reckon the company could be split up for sale, possibly with MAMA co-founder Dean James leading a consortium to buy those parts of the firm AEG doesn't want.
Any bid by the Academy Music Group could be subject to competition regulator approval, given AMG already operates three major music venues in London in addition to the operations of its key shareholder Live Nation, which seems to be more closely aligning its own venues with those in the Academy network of late. Indeed MAMA acquired the Apollo in the first place when Live Nation was forced to sell it in order to get competition regulator approval for its purchase of a slice of AMG.
Elsewhere in HMV news, investors in the entertainment retail company are watching developments over at GAME with interest. As previously reported, GAME, the main high street video game seller in the UK, is on the brink, and seeking a buyer to avoid going into administration. While video game sales on the high street are in terminal decline, if GAME was to go under then HMV, which has seen its once buoyant gaming departments struggle in the last couple of years, could get a short-term boost, as it did after the demise of its main music and DVD selling rivals Virgin/Zavvi and Woolworths.
The latest news on the GAME front is that the OpCapita, the company which last year bought the nose-diving Comet chain, might take on the faltering games retailer also, possibly with a view to moving it more into the gadget space (which would make the GAME scenario a threat for HMV, which is also busy moving in that direction). US-based GameStop is also still being mooted as another possible bidder, as is retail restructuring outfit Hilco, though both of them might bid for the games seller's non-UK operations.
MOST HORRIFIC IDEA OF ALL TIME RUMOURED
Anyway, Bieber tweeted yesterday: "Long night in the studio. Good seeing big bro Adam Levine - we got a big idea coming!" He also appended the hashtag #newSupergroup, which is where the new supergroup rumour comes from, see?
Perhaps in a moment of clarity, Bieber later added in a message direct to Levine: "I don't think the world is ready for this SUPERGROUP". It's possible this was Bieber realising how awful everything Levine goes near becomes the second he opens his mouth, and decided to pull the plug on the project. We can only hope. Don't let us down, Justin.
PHARRELL, AZEALIA BANKS GUEST ON NEW SCISSOR SISTERS LP
Billed by band's Jake Shears as "a sweet joyful mélange of beat-driven future-pop" that "style-hops all over the place unabashedly", the LP's mixed musical guest sheet includes Diplo, Azealia Banks, Pharrell Williams and Calvin Harris, who appears in a co-production capacity on the album's lead single 'Only The Horses'. Hurrah.
Shears and co will prop up the release with preview shows at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire on 16-17 May.
PIL AND ORBITAL TO PLAY RECORD STORE DAY LAUNCH
As with the recent announcement of the Sex Pistols' new deal back catalogue with Universal, John Lydon issued his statement on the matter in verse, saying: "The destruction of the music industry is because people can't buy records easily. A record is for life. A download is a lack of life. A poor substitute for a real wife!"
Orbital's Paul Hartnoll added: "We're looking forward to DJing at the Record Store Day launch event next week and showcasing some of our new album. It's a privilege to be asked to be involved and to promote local record stores up and down the country".
Record Store Day itself takes place on 12 Apr. Start saving.
EDDIE VEDDER PLOTS SOLO DATES
As previously mentioned, Pearl Jam will play the first of their arena nights on 20 Jun at Manchester's MEN Arena.
JA JA JA RETURNS THIS MONTH
It all kicks off at The Lexington in London on 29 Mar. More information available from www.jajaja.com
KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS ANNOUNCE MINI TOUR
The tour will comprise a couple of festival dates at the Camden Crawl (5 May) and Brighton's The Great Escape (11 May), plus the following:
6 May: Manchester, Islington Mill
CAFÉ OTO LAUNCHES LABEL, HOSTS EVENING WITH THURSTON MOORE
Brötzmann has designed the artwork for the album, which will arrive later this month via international distributors Honest Jon's. Find further info here, and listen to part of the LP here: soundcloud.com/cafeoto/broetzmann-edwards-noble
The Café has also just shared details of an in-house night curated by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Moore will share with the audience his "parallel interests in poetry and improvised noise", as assisted by Brighton poet Tom Raworth and improv musicians Alex Ward and Steve Noble. The event takes place on 20 Mar.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BANG FACE WEEKENDER, Trevelgue Holiday Park, Newquay, Cornwall, 14-16 Sep: Luke Vibert, Venetian Snares, Egyptian Lover, Dorian Concept, Ceephax Acid Crew, Saint Acid and Dankle are notable amidst Bang Face's latest conscriptions, joining prior mentioned beatsmiths like Aphex Twin at this rave marathon. www.bangface.com
BENICASSIM, FIB Heineken, Valencia, Spain, 12-15 Jul: Young Ed Sheeran and veteran rockers Buzzcocks bookend a stack of brand new supplements to the Benicassim bill, thus aligning with the likes of At The Drive-In, The Stone Roses, Florence And The Machine, New Order, David Guetta and so very many more. www.fiberfib.com/en
BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, South Derbyshire, 10-12 Aug: Bloodstock enriches its outdoor proceedings with still-warm additions Dio Disciples, Pythia, Crimes Of Passion and Primitai, who share roster room with Behemoth, Alice Cooper, Deicide, Sanctuary, Grand Magus, Nile, Mayhem and The Black Dahlia Murder. Organisers state they're unable to name a third and final main stage headliner due to "circumstances beyond our control" until June, but add that the mystery act is the "most prestigious and exciting headliner to date, doing something very, very special". www.bloodstockuk.com
NO DIRECTION HOME, Welbeck, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, 8-10 Jun: Peaking Lights, The Wave Pictures, Zulu Winter and The Cornshed Sisters are fresh apparitions on No Direction Home's eclectic billing, as houses co-headliners The Low Anthem, Dirty Three, Andrew Bird and Richard Hawley, not to mention Austra, Cold Specks, Gruff Rhys, Slow Club and Django Django. www.nodirectionhomefestival.com
OPTIMUS ALIVE, Lisbon, Portugal, 13-15 Jul: Katy B, LMFAO, Lostprophets, SBTRKT, The Maccabees and Warpaint make for a mixed bag of new additions to the Optimus Alive roster, joining previously announced bookings who include The Stone Roses, The Cure, Mumford & Sons, Justice and Florence And The Machine. www.optimusalive.com/en
OFF FESTIVAL, Katowice, Poland, 3-5 Aug: King Creosote & John Hopkins and 90s psych set The House Of Love are introduced to OFF's extensive existing roster, as are alt ambient outfit Forest Swords, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon & improv percussionist Ikue Mori and confrontational ex-Black Flag figurehead Henry Rollins, the latter set appearing on the Fennesz-curated Experimental Stage. The line-up so far also features the diverse likes of Iggy & The Stooges, Shabazz Palaces, Iceage, Swans, Ty Seagall, Nils Frahm and Connan Mockasin. www.off-festival.pl/en/2012/
REDFEST, Robins Cook Farm, Red Hill, Surrey, 20-22 Jul: Redfest rolls out a full and frank roster for its sixth annual edition, confirming Modestep, The King Blues, Young Guns, Clemen Marfo & The Frontline, Deaf Havana, Kids In Glass Houses and Missing Andy amidst the most varied and voluminous of its annual arrays. www.redfest.co.uk
ROCK EN SEINE, Domaine National De Saint-Cloud, Paris, France, 24-26 Aug: Placing headliners Green Day topmost of their tenth anniversary line-up, Team Rock En Seine also attract Sigur Rós, The Black Keys, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Placebo, Foster The People and Mark Lanegan to what's looking to be a princely festival hierarchy. www.rockenseine.com/en/
SECRET GARDEN PARTY, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, 19-22 Jul: Along with Eddy Temple-Morris' announcement of the line-up of his Temple Of Boom stage yesterday, the rest of Team SGP also unveiled some line up news yesterday. Joining headliners Orbital are artists including Little Dragon, Tim Minchin, Lamb, Holly Golightly, Professor Penguin, Tom Williams And The Boat, and more. www.secretgardenparty.com
STOCKTON WEEKENDER, Stockton Riverside Park, 3-5 Aug: With chief Sit Downers James occupying the festival's prestigious Sunday teatime slot, Stockton's premier live happening will also host musical guests including We Are Scientists, Ocean Colour Scene's Simon & Oscar and The Go! Team. www.stocktonweekender.co.uk
WIRELESS FESTIVAL, Hyde Park, London, 6-8 Jul: Deadmau5 is locked in as Wireless's first night headlining act, aligning with respective Saturday and Sunday supremos Drake and Rihanna on the festival's big-name bill. Maverick Sabre and Ms Dynamite are amongst those joining the Deadmau5 day running order, with Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Calvin Harris, A$AP Rocky and Cher Lloyd also playing across the line-up at large. www.wirelessfestival.com
DECCA MD PROMOTER TO TOP ROLE AT DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON
Confirming the appointment, Briegmann told CMU: "I am delighted that Mark will be taking over the leadership of Deutsche Grammophon. In addition to his expertise and his Universal Music experience, he has a strong reputation as a champion for classical music and its artists. Just like our long-standing label, he stands for quality, creativity and brilliance - and I know it's his ambition to stimulate and increase people's appetite for the music of this beautiful, diverse label. I am looking forward to working with Mark, and wish him in this new post, as well as the entire DG team, much success!"
Meanewhile Wilkinson himself added: "Deutsche Grammophon LPs from the giants of classical music recording history were a central part of my own musical upbringing, so the opportunity to work with the Yellow Label's dynamic team, its unique roster of both new and established artists, and its peerless catalogue is a genuine honour".
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MPG TO SUPPORT MUSIC AND THE DEAF
Confirming the MPG's support for the charity, Vice Chairman Richard Lightman told CMU: "Our policy is to review our choice of charity every three years and, following that review, we decided to adopt Music And The Deaf because we were very inspired by its philosophy and by the enthusiasm and dedication of its founder, Paul Whittaker. Our [previous charitable] work with the Royal National Institute For Deaf People helped raise a significant amount of money and we hope to emulate that success on behalf of Music And The Deaf, as well as using our contacts within the industry to help raise the charity's profile".
The there mentioned Whittaker welcomed the MPG's support for his organisation, adding: "We are delighted to be associated with the Music Producers Guild and we are now exploring ways in which the two organisations can work together. Fundraising is obviously an important part of any charity's work, but we are also very keen to increase public awareness of the charity and we feel confident that having music industry heavyweights such as the MPG on board will help us do this".
You'll find more about Music And The Deaf at www.matd.org.uk
TURNTABLE.FM ANNOUNCES LABEL DEALS
Founder Billy Chasen admitted to Billboard yesterday that he and his team had little knowledge of the music industry when they launched their service last year. After causing a little buzz in various parts of the world when the service first went live, users outside the US were subsequently locked out as Turntable.fm chiefs began the tricky task of licensing their service after the fact.
Deals were quickly done on the publishing rights side with the two main American collecting societies, ASCAP and then BMI, but there was still the trickier matter of getting licences from the record companies. Initial indications suggested that the company thought it would be able to licence those rights via SoundExchange, the royalties body that represents the American labels in those few areas of digital where blanket licences are available (such as Pandora's interactive radio service), but others questioned whether the blanket licence would apply.
And by September it was rumoured that talks were under way directly with the majors, possibly facilitated by two useful investors, Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter and Madonna's long term business partner Guy Oseary. Last week it emerged an EMI deal had been done and that Sony and Universal deals were nearly completed, and yesterday Chasen announced all three were now on board, as were Warner Music, often the hold outs on new digital services these days.
Chasen told Billboard: "This feels like an all-time record speed launch. When we launched we really didn't come at this from the music industry, it was all new to us. [And] our model is unique - we're not a radio service, not an on-demand service. We have interesting aspects that really require some out-of-the-box thinking. We felt that from the get-go the labels were absolutely different from what I'd been led to believe. They gave us a lot of time and attention. Compared to their user base, we're a tiny service in the broad scheme of things".
Obviously the exact details of the deals done with the majors are not known, and some are speculating whether the big rights owners have made demands that will hinder Turntable.fm's growth long term. Though word has it label execs reckon this digital model - where users play music to friends and strangers via a virtual room - has much more potential as a promotional platform for showcasing new artists than many other streaming-based set ups, and is also different enough that it doesn't directly threaten revenue from existing digital services, hence their willingness to play ball.
LAST.FM AND MUSICMETRIC ANNOUNCE ANALYTICS ALLIANCE
The deal will see some of Musicmetric's tools added to Last.fm's industry facing Music Manager platform, meaning that as well as being able to mine Last.fm's data, signed up artists and labels will have access to other stats about their online performance. A premium version of Musicmetric's stats service will be also be available to Last.fm Music Manager users in due course.
Confirming the partnership, Musicmetric's CEO Gregory Mead told CMU: "This integration is our first step into opening access for emerging artists to the kind of analytics previously only available to major companies. Having an idea of where fans are engaging with music by an artist, and where they can grow their level of visibility both online and offline is so essential to new or unsigned bands trying to cut through the noise today".
Meanwhile Tom Lisack, VP Content & Artist Relations at Last.fm owner CBS's Interactive Music Group added: "By integrating Musicmetric's analytics dashboard into Last.fm's Music Manager, we're now able to offer artists and labels access to improved data and information surrounding their fans social media presence and listening habits across the web. Last.fm's purpose is to help emerging artists and this integration gives them unprecedented access to the tools they need to succeed online".
ONE DIRECTION COULD GET THEIR OWN US TV SHOW
The 1D boys have been touring in the US with a pop outfit called Big Time Rush, who were created S Club-style for a Nickelodeon show, and it's seemingly telly execs linked to that programme who are talking up the potential of an American TV format being built around the British boyband.
The Daily Star cites an American TV industry source as saying: "We'll be having meetings with One Direction when they come back for the [upcoming Nickelodeon] awards. A series is definitely being talked about". So that's something to look forward to isn't it? No, it isn't.
Still, kudos to the British boybands (1D and The Wanted) for all their American successes. Though let's not forget, if you want the British artist who is really big business Stateside, and who is generating the serious cash through both recording and live work, then you should be talking to the super singing lady who is rolling in the deep money; you know, someone like you, who can set fire to the rain. I'm talking, of course, about... Sade. Yep, Sade was the most successful British singer in the US last year. Not Adele.
Of course Adele having to pull out of so many live dates due to her poorly throat probably helped Ms Adu claim that crown, but why not read this Guardian article on just how big Sade is in the US just now? www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/mar/13/sade-adele-2012-us-money-list
BILLY CORGAN DERIDES MUSICAL POSEURS AT SXSW
I think Corgan might have a slightly inflated sense of what his generation achieved, but then he is Billy Corgan. He went on to say that bands now "have grown up thinking that being famous is the goal. Not to be respected, not to be dangerous, you're just the fresh stripper".
He also insisted that modern rock music should not be described as "rock n roll", which it generally isn't, so that's fine. Good old Billy.