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SONY PROPOSES SALE OF VIRGIN PUBLISHING CATALOGUES TO SWEETEN EMI TAKEOVER, SAYS REUTERS
As previously reported, the European Commission revealed last week that Sony/ATV had proposed concessions to its competition regulators to try and allay fears attached to the music giant's takeover of the EMI publishing business, which will create by far the biggest music publishing company in the world. As a result, the EC will not announce whether the Sony/ATV bid requires a second phase three month investigation until 19 Apr.
The EC didn't reveal the specifics of Sony/ATV's proposed concessions, but Reuters cites two sources as saying a sale of the entire Virgin-branded publishing catalogue in the UK, US and mainland Europe has been proposed, in addition to the strategic sale of some particularly profitable songs owned by both EMI and the existing Sony/ATV company. The newswire reckons the copyrights the bidders are proposing to offload generated fifteen million euros in royalties last year.
Whether that would be enough to satisfy EC and US regulators that EMI Music Publishing being controlled by Sony/ATV doesn't pose competition issues, not least by giving one group huge power within the collecting society system, remains to be seen. Those who oppose the Sony/ATV/EMI deal are unlikely to be placated even with that proposal.
MPAA FILES COURT PAPERS ABOUT MEGA SERVERS
As previously reported, when the US authorities swooped on the Mega empire back in January, securing the arrests of four of the company's bosses in New Zealand, they also took servers hosting the various Mega websites offline. Since then those servers, actually owned by two hosting companies, and in particular Carpathia Hosting, have sat idle and unusable.
Prosecutors say they have taken all the evidence they need off the servers for the criminal case against the Mega executives, but Carpathia has so far not deleted any of the data, aware that lawyers for both the Mega defendants and the MPAA are still keen to have access, as are the former customers of MegaUpload who lost access to any legitimate content they had stored in a cloud-locker rented from the company when the authorities swooped.
Holding on to all that data is an expensive matter for Carpathia though, and with Mega's assets frozen, the rogue file-storage company can no longer pay. Needless to say, the server firm would like to either wipe the servers previously used by Mega and put them to other use, or for some of Mega's funds to be unfrozen so rental fees can be paid, or to sell the servers to another party, so they can buy new hardware and redeploy the floor-space currently occupied by Mega's server farm (actually, Carpathia is due to give up one storage facility anyway, and is facing the prospect of having to move all of Mega's redundant servers to a new site).
Seemingly one proposal that has been floated is that the Mega enterprise buys the servers, allows former customers to access any legitimate data, pulls some of that content off in order to prove in court that MegaUpload had legitimate uses, and then oversees the wiping of the machines. It's not clear whether the Mega company's funds would need to be unfrozen to enable that to happen, though it's thought that the digital business's lawyers would take responsibility for the process.
However, in its filing yesterday, the MPAA said it strongly opposed that suggestion, fearing that if anyone linked to the Mega empire gets physical access to the servers, they could move them outside the US and reconnect them to the internet, allowing the company to restart its business distributing unlicensed music, movie and TV content. Such an audacious move on the Mega company's part seems unlikely, especially while the firm's executives face criminal proceedings in the US, but theoretically it would be possible.
In its court filing this week, the MPAA wrote: "A sale or transfer of the servers to MegaUpload (or any of the defendants) would raise a significant risk that MegaUpload will simply ship the servers, hard drives or other equipment - and all of the infringing content they contain - to a foreign jurisdiction and relaunch the infringing MegaUpload service, which would result in untold further infringements of the MPAA members' copyrighted works. If so, the renewed criminal enterprise might be beyond any effective legal remedy".
The film industry organisation, which doesn't really want the Mega servers to be wiped either, said it would support ownership of the servers being transferred to the federal government, and then a managed process to give former Mega customers access to their files, but only once any unlicensed content - ie that belonging to its members - had been removed. Given the federal government has so far shown no interest in getting involved in the tricky matter of what to do with the old Mega data, expecting it to now take on such a task (which would prove incredibly expensive and time consuming, if not impossible), especially when Carpathia will want compensating for the hardware, seems optimistic.
Elsewhere in Mega news, back in New Zealand, as expected, a judge has relaxed the bail conditions of the four men facing extradition to the US to face charges relating to their role in running the company. In particular all four, including founder Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz, will be allowed to access the internet for the first time since their arrests in January. Schmitz will also be allowed to use a swimming pool on the estate where he is living and to travel to Auckland to finish off his debut album at Neil Finn's studios. Prosecutors only actually objected to the latter, fearing that having Schmitz moving around too much could make any attempt by him to flee the country easier.
THE MOTELS FILE LATEST DIGITAL ROYALTIES LAWSUIT IN THE US
As much previously reported, where recording contracts make no mention of downloads, the major record companies treat revenue from services like iTunes as if it was record sales money, which allows them to pay a lower cut to their acts. But an increasing number of heritage artists say that download money should be treated as licensing income, where they would normally get 25-35% more of the loot.
Universal Music is facing the most lawsuits on this issue at the moment, after losing in the one case that went properly to court, pursued by early Eminem collaborators FBT Productions. Using the ruling in that case as precedent, Rob Zombie, Chuck D, the estate of Rick James and others are now suing the major for a bigger cut of the download revenue their recordings generate. But the other majors are affected too. Toto and 'Weird Al' Yankovic have sued Sony, Sister Sledge and Tower Of Power Warner, and now The Motels join Kenny Rogers in suing EMI.
EMI is yet to comment on the digital royalty lawsuits filed against it. As previously reported, Universal insists the FBT case does not set a general precedent, while Sony is hoping to placate its heritage artists with an offer of a 3% increase in the cut they receive of download revenue. Meanwhile behind the scenes talks between labels and key heritage acts are ongoing.
RAY CHARLES FOUNDATION SUES SOUL STAR'S CHILDREN OVER COPYRIGHT CLAIMS
As previously reported, a bit of copyright legislation passed in the late 1970s in the US gives American songwriters the option to reclaim copyrights in works they previously assigned to a third party, usually a publisher, after 35 years (for works written after the law was passed, longer for works that already existed). The impact of that act is only now really kicking in.
Seemingly seven of Charles's children are trying to exercise that right over some of their late father's works. But, the Foundation says, prior to his death, all of the soul singer's children agreed to forego any future claims to their father's estate in return for becoming beneficiaries of a $500,000 trust. The rest of Charles's fortune, including future income from his copyrights, was left to the Foundation, which supports research and education programmes for the hearing impaired, as well as youth education initiatives. Therefore, the children have no right to try and reclaim control of the copyrights in their father's songs.
Moreover, the Foundation's lawsuit claims, Charles entered into a new deal with his publisher in 1980 regards a bunch of his songs, which used up his 'one time claim back' option anyway, And other works the Charles's children are trying to reclaim ownership of were written on a 'work for hire' basis for his publisher, therefore the publishing company not the songwriter is legally the author, and thus the claim back right does not apply (this is how the record companies are planning to argue that the 35 year claim back rule is not relevant when it comes to sound recordings).
In its lawsuit, which seeks to block the Charles children's copyright claims as well as demanding damages, the Foundation says: "[We] depend upon the income received from the said intellectual property and contract rights to continue the wishes of Ray Charles. Without the royalties from the music, we cannot fund our programmes".
They continued: "The self-serving attempts on the part of the defendants to deprive the Foundation of its said intellectual property and contract rights not only is contrary to the express wishes of their father and in breach of the agreement they signed and promises that they made, but is contrary to the best interests of those innocent parties who would be benefited by the grants made by the Foundation".
Legal reps for Charles' children are yet to respond.
FRED DURST TO FIRE LIMP BIZKIT BANDMATES?
Former House Of Pain member DJ Lethal apparently told TMZ: "We've worked together the last four years to bring Limp Bizkit back to where it is today ... and to just be thrown out on the street after the band gets a new deal and a new chance at life isn't cool. You can't push away the people who helped you get there. The fans should know that if two fifths of the original band are not playing at the concerts, it won't be truthful to them".
VIVA BROTHER SPLIT
The band formed in 2010, having previously been through a number of other incarnations, and quickly signed to Geffen. They made the cover of the NME in January 2011 as a number of bands tipped for success that year. Dubbing their sound 'gritpop', they quickly became known for frontman Lee Newell's oft overblown statements - most famously "Anyone who doesn't want to see the future of rock n roll should leave now" at a poorly attended gig in North London.
Their popularity was way off their bravado though, and a year after gracing the cover of the NME, they found themselves nominated for Worst Band at the magazine's awards (something they referenced when they announced their split).
In a brief statement issued on Sunday via Twitter (initially taken as an April Fools gag by some but later confirmed), the band bowed out, saying: "Thank you to everyone that has ever supported us or believed. It has been an unbelievable journey. This is us signing off. Goodbye. We'll leave you with this last song. We recorded it a couple of months ago. And as for NME. Shame on you".
That final song, should you wish to hear it, is here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=n56-g8mCJ8k
PINK RENEWS EMI PUBLISHING DEAL
Pink told CMU: "I'm happy to have re-signed with EMI because they've been with me since the beginning and I look forward to the future with them".
DANGER MOUSE DOES PUBLISHING DEAL WITH UNIVERSAL
Lining up to welcome Danger Mouse to their fold, two Universal Publishing execs said things this morning, including President Of Europe/UK Paul Connolly: "I'm really excited about this signing. Brian is immensely talented - we're very proud to be working with him."
MEL B SIGNS NEW DEAL WITH EMI
The singer, who is currently recording new material for release later this year, told CMU: "I'm overly excited to finally announce this amazing global partnership deal back home with EMI Music. I know I have mentioned doing music in the past but for legal reasons I was not in a position to release any new music. For my fans, I am happy and proud to say my music WILL be heard this year and that is for sure a promise I'm over the moon to say the least. Love me or hate me, Scary Spice is back, hahahaha!"
FLORENCE TO RELEASE MTV UNPLUGGED SESSION IMMEDIATELY AFTER BROADCAST
While Florence Welch said that "it seemed like a kind of natural thing to do", MTV's EVP of Music and Talent Strategy Amy Doyle told The Hollywood Reporter: "I think that we are just more coordinated than we have ever been. That technology obviously now supports 'Unplugged' being on more platforms than it's ever been before".
The performance was recorded last December at former synagogue Angel Orensanz in New York, the performance features eight songs from Welch's two albums, plus covers of Otis Redding's 'Try a Little Tenderness' and Johnny Cash's 'Jackson'. Taking up the other half of the classic Cash/Carter duet will be Josh Homme. Obviously.
DIRTY PROJECTORS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM
And look, here's the full tracklist:
Offspring Are Blank
JUSTIN BROADRICK ANNOUNCES NEW JK FLESH ALBUM
For a taste of just how heavy it will be, check out this video for 'Idle Hands': www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y23s8JXOz0A
LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY MAKES CONVENTION ANNOUNCEMENTS
The convention programme this year will also include a Liverpool offshoot of the 'Kicking & Screening' festival, which "brings together soccer and film enthusiasts to celebrate the beautiful game" providing "a forum for filmmakers, artists, and writers to showcase their work, uniting the millions of fans that make football the international phenomenon that it is".
The Liverpool Sound City convention sits alongside the city-wide festival, which runs from 17-19 May. More info at www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk
PRS REVENUES RISE ONCE AGAIN IN 2011
But increases in the monies collected from international licensees, the live sector and digital services all helped ensure that overall PRS income was up. International income was up 10.6%, aided by some big hits for British songwriters and the continued increases in efficiency in collecting royalties due to PRS members from outside the UK. Income from licenced digital services was up a massive 45.3% so that it now accounts for 6% of PRS's total income, while live royalties were up 8.2%.
Commenting on the 2011 figures, released by PRS yesterday, the collecting society's top man Robert Ashcroft told CMU: "The continuing popularity of our music in other countries demonstrates the global success of the UK music industry. Our efforts to support copyright at home and abroad, combined with the energy we continue to put into the licensing of new digital services, enabled us to pay additional royalties to our members last year".
He continued: "The licensed digital market is now delivering a significant income stream for our members. This goes some way to replacing revenues lost from the declining CD market, although online piracy continues to be a problem. The way we consume music is changing, but PRS For Music is adapting to ensure those that create it can continue to earn a living".
The not-for-profit society also revealed that its costs rose £10.2 million in 2011. This rise, PRS says, was as a result of a one-off payment relating to an historic pension-related issue, and because of investment in initiatives that should deliver savings long term. The latest PRS revenues and costs statement follows a recent announcement that the society's commissions were rising slightly, details of which are given here.
LIVE NATION RECRUITS FORMER MAJOR LABEL EXECS TO ADVISE MANAGEMENT DIVISION
Producer and A&R man Ron Fair previously held exec roles at Universal Music, most recently overseeing its Geffen division, while Palmese was a promotions VP for Sony's RCA Music Group.
Confirming Front Line's new partnerships with Fair and Palmese, Live Nation boss and the management agency's founder Irving Azoff told reporters: "When proven industry superstars such as Richard and Ron are available, I know I need to have them join the Front Line team. Our artists and managers have just hit the lottery".
It's 'hit the jackpot' or 'won the lottery', Irving. You need to choose one.
Safely avoiding such clichés, Fair added: "Teaming up with Irving Azoff is a spectacular new beginning for me. I look forward to working closely with Irving, Richard Palmese and Front Line's incomparable roster of managers and artists. We will also focus on discovering, nurturing and developing a new generation of superstars and hit music-intensive branded entertainment".
Meanwhile Palmese opted for more cliché, but at least used it correctly, saying: "I am thrilled to be working with Irving and the Front Line team, and we're ready to blaze new trails with Front Line's talented artists and managers. Working with Ron Fair is an added bonus, and I am confident that together we will create winning strategies across all musical platforms".
VMS ANNOUNCES NEW VENTURES IN MANCHESTER AND PORTSMOUTH
Although Forster has pursued various venue management and consulting projects via VMS since its formation in 2007, last year things were stepped up when he was joined by former AMG Operations Director Richard Maides, and the company took over running the former Academy-branded venue in Birmingham, now operating as The Ballroom, and helped Omni Assets reinvent Brixton club The Fridge as Electric Brixton. The new deals will see the independent venue operator gain bases in two further cities.
The company has three year deals with both Southsea Community Leisure with regard to its Pyramids venue, and with the Manchester students' union, where VMS will manage the organisation's Manchester Academy complex, which boasts four spaces.
Confirming the new deals, Forster told CMU: "Following on from the opening of the Ballroom Complex in Birmingham and Electric Brixton in 2011, we are absolutely delighted to be involved with the Manchester Academy and Pyramids venue. In Manchester, what we have presented is a 'bespoke solution' that fits the needs of the venue and the students' union both now and in the future. I believe they had other options on the table that involved other organisations effectively taking over their operation; I think we presented a different option whereby we will work with the Union to develop their venues both commercially and operationally".
He continued: "In Southsea, I think to an extent people have almost forgotten about this venue - it's fallen off the map so to speak. One of our first challenges will be to change this perception and remind people of what a potentially great venue the Pyramids is. Portsmouth as a town has a very diverse population with a growing number of students and excellent transport infrastructure. What it has missed is a mid-sized venue. We hope the Pyramids will become that venue".
PETER BLAKE REWORKS SGT PEPPER'S COVER FOR 80TH BIRTHDAY
For the new version of the piece, Blake recreated the Beatles cover with an updated array of cultural icons, including David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Vivienne Westwood, Ian Curtis, Noel Gallagher, Mick Jagger and, er, Delia Smith.
Says Blake: "I've chosen people I admire, great people and some who are dear friends. I had a very long list of people who I wanted to include but couldn't fit everyone in - I think that shows how strong British culture and its legacy of the last six decades is".
You can see the new artwork here: www.vintagefestival.com/news/42
DAVE MUSTAINE OUTS HIMSELF AS A BIRTHER
The Birthers, should you be unaware of them, believe that Obama wasn't actually born in the United States (therefore making him ineligible for the US presidency) and has some secret past that's being hidden from us all. This despite the fact that Obama released his Hawaiian birth certificate last year and had its authenticity confirmed by authorities on the island, which is very much a US state. That Obama should even have to do such a thing shows how absolutely mental US politics is.
Now Mustaine joins Donald Trump on the list of people in the public eye who subscribe to what seems like a rather elaborate attempt to hide racist views. The guitarist (Mustaine, not Trump) told
Showing how firm his understanding of politics and deep his research into it is, Mustaine added: "How come [Obama] was invisible until he became, uh, whatever he was in Illinois? They don't have any record of him".
The "whatever" Mustaine refers to is Obama's role as State Senator of Illinois, a job he was elected to in 1996. I'm not sure who "they" are, but they should probably update their records, because there's quite a lot of information on what Obama did prior to holding that position, him being a major public figure and all.
You can watch the full interview here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpZzFYYWFj8