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COULD TECHNICALITIES DE-RAIL MEGAUPLOAD CASE?
According to the New Zealand Herald, Judge Liam O'Grady asked why the FBI hadn't served the Mega company with any criminal papers during a discussion on what to do with the legitimate (ie non-copyright infringing) data stored on the former Mega servers, which were rented from an American company, and which were taken offline by US authorities back in January.
It was because the bulk of the content made available via the various Mega websites was stored on servers housed in the US that the American authorities were able to swoop in such a dramatic fashion, taking the Mega enterprise offline without warning.
But the Mega company had no official base in America, making it hard to actually hand a representative of the business any formal criminal proceedings. And the failure to hand over any such papers to an official representative could, O'Grady said last week, prevent any criminal case against the company from going ahead.
So why doesn't the FBI just find a Mega office somewhere else in the world - company is incorporated in Hong Kong - fly out there and hand over the required paperwork? Well, according to Mega's attorney, Ira Rothken, that wouldn't work either, because the US authorities can't pursue corporate criminal proceedings outside the jurisdiction of the United States. Civil proceedings could be filed anywhere in the world, and individuals can be charged in any country where extradition agreements allow, but a company cannot be charged under the American criminal law abroad.
Or so reckons Rothken. There does seem to be some confusion as to exactly how things should work here, but Mega's attorney seems to think this is a big enough technicality to de-rail the American authorities' entire case. Which would, O'Grady noted, make the whole debate over the Mega data irrelevant, because the feds might be forced to had back the server keys (as it were) to the rogue file-transfer firm.
Of course the seven Mega executives can still be charged individually for their part in running the allegedly criminal enterprise, though Rothken has another technicality to throw into the mix there too. He says that without the criminal case against the company, the only charges the US can fire at the Mega directors individually is copyright infringement, which has a maximum four year jail term in the States. And under the US's extradition agreement with New Zealand only people accused of crimes that carry a five year jail term or more can be extradited.
American authorities are expected to say the Mega bosses, including founder Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz, should be extradited as a member of an organised criminal group, a crime which carries the all important five year jail term. But it remains to be seen if that washes.
The legal wrangling continues.
GEMA SCORES COURT WIN IN LONG RUNNING YOUTUBE DISPUTE
YouTube and GEMA have been in dispute for some time over both the rates the Google-owned service offered the collecting society to licence the songs it represents for play on the video site, and the fact YouTube relies on rights owners to proactively remove their content from its platform if and when it's uploaded by private users, rather than blocking all content until a rights owner has given express permission for it to appear.
YouTube basically operates a system worldwide based on US copyright law. Under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a technology firm is not liable for infringing content posted by its users providing it has a system in place via which rights owners can demand content they own be removed, if uploaded by others without permission. That this principle applied to services like YouTube under US law was confirmed in the Viacom v YouTube case (and even though elements of that case are heading for an appeal hearing, that basic point is not part of the appeal).
But outside the US, the principle that protects YouTube from infringement claims at home frequently doesn't exist under other copyright systems - though in most territories collecting societies and big rights owners have generally chosen to licence YouTube anyway, and to tolerate to an extent those unlicensed services that would enjoy protection under American law.
But not GEMA. And when its long running battle with Google reached the Hamburg State Court on Friday, the judge mainly sided with the collecting society, ruling that YouTube had an obligation to install filters that would stop its users from uploading recordings of songs owned by GEMA members.
Of course YouTube already has some pretty sophisticated filters in place for stopping the upload of content already logged on its system as 'not cleared by owner', and that filtering goes someway beyond the requirements of the DMCA regarding takedown systems.
Though in theory, under last week's ruling, rather than each GEMA member logging the songs they don't want to see uploaded to YouTube, Google would have to automatically block all GEMA represented songs unless told otherwise. And that's a significant, if subtle, difference, especially if a precedent is set and then expanded to any other content not covered by an existing YouTube content licence.
Of course if that rule is set, it would be much easier for YouTube to just agree licensing terms with GEMA, so nothing needed to be blocked or filtered, which would certainly strengthen the collecting society's hand at the negotiating table (it's always pushed for more in royalties from YouTube than other societies). Which, some might say, was the main aim of this entire legal squabble anyway.
YouTube is yet to respond to the ruling or comment on whether it plans to appeal, but GEMA Chairman Harald Heker told reporters: "We reached our primary goal one hundred percent, to have the court confirm that YouTube is fundamentally responsible for videos posted by users. YouTube must implement appropriate measures to protect our repertoire and cannot simply pass on this obligation to the copyright holders. This is an important victory for us".
ROBIN GIBB OUT OF COMA
As previously reported, the Bee Gee has been fighting liver cancer in recent months but has remained positive throughout and denied claims in the media that he was "at death's door". However, following surgery for peritonitis, Gibb contacted pneumonia and fell into a coma.
Confirming that Gibb was again awake, Dr Andrew Thillainayagam of Imperial College Healthcare said in a statement: "The prognosis was very grave, given that Robin had brain swelling from liver failure, a severe pneumonia and a weakened immune system from malnutrition ... It is testament to Robin's extraordinary courage, iron will and deep reserves of physical strength that he has overcome quite incredible odds to get where he is now".
Read the full statement here: www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10151539883785276&id=28951845275
BURT WEEDON 1920 - 2012
Born in East London in 1920, Weedon began playing classical guitar aged twelve and formed his first band, Butch Townsend And The Cold Shoulders, two years later. His big break came when he was chosen to replace Django Reinhardt in Stephane Grapelli's band, which led on to further work with many big bands and orchestras, including the BBC Show Band, with whom he performed on over 5000 radio broadcasts.
He also worked prolifically as a session musician both on recordings and for live performances, meaning he appeared on many early British rock n roll records and performed with many touring American artists. Not only that, but he also released many solo singles in the late 50s and early 60s, as well as several albums in later years.
This prolific performance work means that many, if not most, people will have at some point heard Weedon playing, perhaps without realising it. Yet it is not as a performer that he is best remembered.
In 1957, Weedon published he first guitar tutorial book, 'Play In A Day'. Offering a simple way to get to grips with guitar, it quickly sold over a million copies to teenagers keen to learn to play rock n roll. Amongst the musicians who first learned to play with the book were Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Brian May, Mark Knopfler, Mike Oldfield, Sting, Robert Smith and David Arnold.
Amongst the many artists paying tribute to Weedon last week, Brian May told the BBC: "He will be so sadly missed by all his friends because he is one of the most generous and giving people I have ever met in my life. He was always teaching people, privately and publicly. You know, he didn't have any secrets from anyone and he was so supportive to us all. There's not a guitarist in Britain from my generation who doesn't owe him a great debt of gratitude".
Weedon is survived by two sons from his first marriage and his second wife, Maggie.
FIRST INDIE RECORD STORE CHART UNVEILED
Official Charts Company Managing Director, Martin Talbot told CMU: "The first Official Record Store Chart underlines exactly why this is going to be an important way of promoting new music, with Alabama Shakes leading the way in a top ten featuring Shins, Jim Lockey and Trembling Bells, among others. The fact that there are also places for established acts such as Adele, Lana Del Rey and Graham Coxon underlines the catholic tastes represented by independent stores".
1 Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS PREP CLASSIC COVERS COLLECTION
Serving as a tribute to previous Hall Of Fame inductees, it will include the Chilis' interpretations of the following:
Havana Affair (The Ramones)
GEOFF BARROW TO RELEASE JUDGE DREDD-BASED CONCEPT LP
Anyway. The "mega edition" version of the release, which is confined to just 400 copies, will come in bespoke metal film canisters containing two ten-inch vinyl LPs. Each will also include a 'bunker' deluxe edition CD and a 'drokk-card' granting online access to extra digital material. Oh, and a t-shirt.
This beast will be released alongside the standard digital edition on 7 May, and is available to pre-order here: www.invada.co.uk/drokk
FAITH NO MORE FOR HAMMERSMITH APOLLO SHOW
The announcement comes in the wake of the band's booking at Sonisphere being withdrawn after the festival's previously reported cancellation.
ACTRESS ANNOUNCES LIVE ALBUM LAUNCH
'RIP', by the way, is out today via Honest Jon's Records. Further info on the album launch here. www.facebook.com/events/216033961837872/
ACTIVE CHILD TO HEADLINE LONDON DATE
Yes... sorry to all regional people; it's another London-only one.
The electronic artist, aka Pat Grossi, takes the topmost quarter of a billing also featuring The Invisible, Hospitality and NZCA/Lines.
ALEXANDER TUCKER TO TOUR
After you've browsed the dates in question, why not see below for the eerie video for 'Third Mouth' component 'Andromedon', which co-stars a strange hooded character with what looks like two pen-torches for eyes.
20 Apr: Brighton, The Blind Tiger
CITY SHOWCASE NEW ZEALAND RETURNS - BAND APPLICATIONS OPEN
Artists wanting to be considered for a slot at the New Zealand festival should send a web link, a brief biography, full contact details and a photo to City Showcase, PO Box 3217, Onekawa, Napier, or can apply via SonicBids at www.sonicbids.com/cityshowcasenapier.
Commenting on the competition, Spotlight New Zealand organiser Kevin Murphy told CMU: "This is a chance for talented Kiwis to perform for, not only the public, but also the leaders of the New Zealand music industry".
Meanwhile, City Showcase Director Nanette Rigg added: "This event presents a fantastic opportunity for the cream of New Zealand's emerging acts to gain exposure worldwide and become stars of the future".
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
LODESTAR, Lode, Cambridge, 31 Aug - 2 Sep: LodeStar accommodates a stellar line in just-announced performing artistes, its roster so far comprising - The Go! Team, Frankie Rose, Karima Francis, Michele Stodart, Animal Kingdom, Ryan Keen, Karima Francis, The Rocket Dolls, Inouwee, Glass Pear and Dead Wolf Club. www.lodestarfestival.com
MFEST, Harewood House, Leeds, 7-8 Jul: The first ever edition of this Morrisons supermarket-run food and music festival now stocks Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Pigeon Detectives, Mike Peters, Lawson and Delilah amid its freshest wares, with the previously confirmed Texas, Matt Cardle, Beverley Knight, Bob Geldof and Cher Lloyd also shelved atop its live line-up. www.themfest.com
Øya, Middelalderparken, Oslo, Sweden, 7-11 Aug: Odd Future, Kindness, Cloud Nothings, Friends, Oberhofer and Haim form a hypeworthy selection of supplements to Middelalderparken Øya's existing bill, as also houses Björk, Azealia Banks, Pulp, The Stone Roses, Feist and Florence And The Machine. www.oyafestivalen.com
ROSKILDE, Denmark, 5-8 Jul: Announced last but not least, this Danish fest's seventh headliner, Jack White, is now set to rival the afore added Bruce Springsteen, Björk, The Cure, Mew, Bon Iver and The Roots. New amendments further down the bill include A$AP Rocky, The Shins, Janelle Monáe, Santigold, Alison Krauss, Big KRIT, Alabama Shakes and First Aid Kit, who bring the Roskilde count to 200. www.roskilde-festival.dk/uk/
WOMAD, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, 27-29 Jul: Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Cliff, Ben l'Oncle Soul, Mama Rosin, Donegal's Balkan Alien Sound, Kimmo Pohjonen and Marewrew represent the latest international acts set to amass under WOMAD's vari-coloured banner this year, with Buena Vista Social Club, Robert Plant's Sensational Space Shifters, Dizraeli & The Small Gods, Peatbog Faeries and Raghu Dixit amongst those announced on previous occasions. www.womad.org
GLOBAL ARTIST UNION OPPOSED TO UNIVERSAL'S EMI DEAL
As much previously reported, Universal's bid to buy the EMI labels is being considered by competition regulators around the world, and in particular in the US and European Union. Two American unions representing artists last week said that Universal had a good record for complying with and respecting "collective bargaining agreements", and that providing US regulators were happy with the mega-major's commitment to start investing in the EMI record companies anew, "we respectfully request that it look favourably on Universal Music Group's stewardship over EMI".
But the FIM, which issued a statement on the proposed EMI deal in March, takes a very different view. It's statement noted: "As they are today, the four major record companies (Universal, Sony, EMI, Warner) already represent a high market concentration. For performers, this means weak bargaining power and hyper-standardised, disadvantageous contracts. The disappearance of EMI as an autonomous actor would entail an increased concentration of the market forces into a duopoly (Universal/Sony), which can only be expected to further deteriorate this already imbalanced situation".
It continued: "The problems that artists have been facing in the traditional market for many years are even worsening in the digital world, from which they usually receive insignificant incomes. Should the mergers be authorised by the EU Commission, artists would lose one of the remaining few alternative routes to access the mass market. The new duopoly would also mean less investment, lower quality, fewer jobs, narrowed consumer choice as well as reduced cultural diversity".
FIM is not alone is opposing Universal's EMI bid, with IMPALA leading the indie label community's very vocal opposition in Europe, and Warner Music - which will be dwarfed by its main competitors if Universal is allowed to buy the EMI labels and Sony the EMI publishing company - also lobbying against the deal. In Europe, Universal's bid has been pushed into a full three-month investigation by the European Commission, who will rule on the proposed deal in August.
Elsewhere, the New York Post has reported that Sony is already talking to possible buyers for the publishing assets it has pledged to sell on in order to gain approval for its purchase of EMI Music Publishing. As previously reported, the EC last week approved the Sony-led bid to buy EMI's publishing business after Sony committed to sell some key catalogues, including EMI's Virgin Publishing songs roster. Both BMG and Warner are expected to bid for those catalogues.
RAPIDSHARE PUBLISHES RESPONSIBLE PRACTICES PAPER
While the American content industries got all hot and bothered about MegaUpload, in Europe it was more often RapidShare being criticised by the content industries as they became concerned that the growth of file-transfer and cloud-storage services was providing a new digital framework for online-copyright infringement that the music and movie industries' piracy-trackers weren't equipped to monitor.
In the main RapidShare has used the same old defences as most of its competitors in such disputes ("we can't be liable for our customers' actions"), albeit with some success - it's probably won as many copyright actions as it's lost. But with the feeling that 2012 is the year of the copyright clamp down, with the Mega raids, the final Pirate Bay ruling in Sweden and the mounting legal challenge faced by Grooveshark (and despite the SOPA debacle in the US), Rapidshare seems keen to be seen as the cloud storage set up that doesn't just piss on copyright law.
In its 'Responsible Practices For Cloud Storage Services' document, RapidShare calls on its industry to go beyond the obligations set down in US copyright law (ie the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which offers tech companies more protection than in most other jurisdictions), including monitoring for repeat copyright infringers on their networks and taking action, and ensuring any bonuses offered to uploaders who generate lots of download traffic have done so without infringing any third party's rights.
Which is all lovely. Though some rights owners remain cautious of RapidShare's intent, while others have been openly critical, either accusing the file-transfer company of paying only lip service to copyright issues, or of explicitly not going far enough to tackle problems. The real issue remains that RapidShare - like MegaUpload - enables users to make their uploaded content accessible to the whole world, rather than just named friends and colleagues, which makes the tech firm's servers a destination point for those looking for free music and movie files.
The Recording Industry Association Of America responded thus: "Unfortunately the new measures announced fall short of the goal to meaningfully and effectively reduce the massive amount of copyright theft occurring on its service".
AUDIOBOO BECOMES OFFICIAL BBC PARTNER
Confirming the stepping up of his company's relationship with the BBC, Audioboo CEO Mark Rock told reporters: "Music has been done, text has been done, but no one has yet captured the uniqueness of the spoken word on the internet. We've had some fantastic content uploaded by the BBC since AudioBoo's initial launch. It's great now to formalise this relationship in an official partnership and work closely with the broadcaster to enhance its presence on both AudioBoo and all the social platforms we distribute to".
THIS JUST-IN: TAKE THAT, MARIAH
She sued for paternity; he threatened to sue for defamation; she withdrew her paternity suit but said she stood by her allegations and would pursue child support from the teen star; and then all went quiet. Various lawyers came and went, the Biebster handed over some DNA, but nothing much else has happened over the allegations that always sounded highly dubious.
But this weekend the Beiber sent a little message to his accuser, Mariah Yeater. Via the tweets, the pop star wrote: "Dear Mariah Yeeter (sic)... we have never met... so from the heart I just wanted to say..." He then linked to a bit of audio of Sacha Baron Cohen's alter ego Borat taunting: "You will never get this, you will never get this, la la la la la!"
Perhaps that's five months of pent up frustration and anger released on Bieber's part, which is probably understandable. Though I think had he run his tweet through the probably-should-be-developed 'PR advice app' before pressing send, it might have flashed up "just let sleeping dogs lie".