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MEGAUPLOAD CHIEF GETS BACK SOME OF HIS ASSETS
The boss of the controversial file-transfer business is currently facing extradition from New Zealand to the US, of course, where he faces charges of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement in relation to the Mega enterprise. His multi-million dollar fortune was seized by the New Zealand authorities at the request of the Americans when he and several other Mega execs were arrested back in January.
It subsequently emerged that the New Zealand police had secured the wrong kind of warrant before raiding Schmitz's home which, the tech man's lawyers argued, made the whole operation illegal, and meant their client should get all his stuff back.
In a court hearing about Schmitz's belongings last week, the New Zealand High Court said that a bank account containing just over $300,000 should be unfrozen, and a $250,000 Mercedes should be returned. The defendant's wife will also get money to fund her living expenses out of Schmitz's fortune, and the use of a Toyota Vellfire.
However, the majority of Schmitz's assets will remain out of bounds while the criminal case against the Mega chief goes through the motions. And a bulk of the money made available to Schmitz last week will likely go on legal fees, with criminal proceedings to prepare for in both New Zealand and the US, not to mention the prospect of various civil claims by copyright owners, mainly in the States.
Though, as also previously reported, legal reps for Schmitz and the other Mega execs, none of whom are currently in the US, are confident that they can successfully fight off America's extradition attempts, mainly because the core copyright charges against their clients do not command a high enough jail term in America to justify extradition. Criminal charges linked to the Mega company itself are hard to formally press, because the firm didn't have a corporate base within the USA.
It was thought the extradition hearing for Schmitz et al would take place in August, though some local media in New Zealand are now pointing towards a September court date.
IS REDIGI RUNNING OUT OF MONEY AS IT AWAITS EMI COURT BATTLE?
As previously reported, ReDigi is a website that enables music fans to sell unwanted MP3s on to third parties. The founders of the company say reselling MP3s is no different than reselling CDs, a practice protected under American copyright law by the so called 'first sale doctrine'. The tech firm adds that its technology verifies the source of the digital file being sold and ensures the original is deleted from the seller's computer after sale.
But even if you buy the idea that the ReDigi system is really capable of ensuring an MP3 put up for sale came from a legitimate source, and that the seller deletes their copy after sale (which seems unlikely, but whatever), the American record industry argues that the 'first sale doctrine' does not apply, because when a CD is exchanged no actual copying takes place, whereas a digital exchange requires new mechanical copies to be made without a licence.
While both sides think their arguments are strong, when EMI - the record company actually suing over this - pushed for a summary judgement in February, the judge hearing the case ruled that the debate was too complicated for a judgement to be made without a full trial. He added that the dispute at the heart of this case was a "fascinating issue" that "raises a lot of technological and statutory" points.
So, well done ReDigi for proving the law wasn't as clear on this issue as EMI originally claimed, though, as we noted in February, a court hearing that will cover "lots of issues", as Judge Richard Sullivan predicts it will, sounds expensive for a start-up that has only raised, to our knowledge, half a million in capital, and which will struggle to find new investment while this lawsuit hangs over it.
According to Digital Music News, last week ReDigi attorney Ray Beckerman filed a motion to exit the case and hand things over to another firm. There are, of course, various reasons why the lawyer might choose to do that, but most commentators noted that Beckerman's filings stated that the lawyer had a 'retaining lien' with his former client, which basically means he is owed money and can exercise the right to keep hold of paperwork relating to the case until bills are settled.
That, in turn, has led to speculation that ReDigi is running out of money, which is no fun at all when you have a big complicated court case upcoming, and a fledgling business to develop at the same time. Although neither Beckerman nor ReDigi have commented, some now wonder if this case will ever go to court.
If it doesn't, that will piss off some in the tech community - partly because no one likes it when big companies put start-ups out of business simply by landing them with a bit of litigation they can't afford to defend, and partly because, while the MP3 resale thing may be a non-starter, it's thought the ReDigi case, if it gets to court, might also test some copyright principles relating to the wider cloud-storage and file-transfer marketplace.
GOMEZ SUED OVER CHORUS
Anyway, Gomez has been sued over the chorus in the title track to her 2010 album 'A Year Without Rain', which a little known Californian band called Luce reckon was stolen from their 2005 single 'Buy A Dog'. The rock outfit's million dollar lawsuit claims that Gomez's chorus was "virtually identical" to theirs.
Of course Gomez didn't actually write 'A Year Without Rain', so the lawsuit is really targeting songwriters Lindy Robbins and Toby Gad, though the teen star has been named as a co-defendant too because, well, why not? I mean, had they not, Gomez would probably have had to paint a giraffe blue to ensure another appearance in CMU sans her slightly tedious boyfriend, and that sounds like a whole load of hassle to me.
ROBIN GIBB COULD RETURN HOME THIS WEEK
As previously reported, friends, family and doctors feared the worst when Gibb slipped into a coma earlier this month after suffering from pneumonia following surgery, but he regained consciousness and is now reportedly feeling much better. Gibb's most recent illness followed his fight against cancer, in which doctors were also reportedly surprised by the speed with which the Bee Gee responded to treatment.
The tabloid quotes a friend as saying: "Robin is still weak but getting better by the day. His recovery is nothing short of a miracle. Weeks ago [his wife] Dwina and the family were prepared for the worst, now they are hoping he will be home very soon. They will not rush him but there is a very good possibility of him being discharged at the end of the week and arrangements are being made for him to have medical help at home".
The source added: "The doctors will not take the decision lightly. Dwina will make sure his every medical need is catered for. Robin is aware how close to death he was. But he is determined to go home".
VAMPIRE WEEKEND TALK NEW ALBUM
Lead singer Ezra Koenig tells Rolling Stone: "It would be cool if it was [released] this year. I always want to release music as soon as possible, but more and more I'm realising it's something you almost have no control over".
Despite the band having done "a ton of stuff" towards a tbc third studio album, he adds: "We just never want to be in a position [where] when we put out something, we feel we could've benefited from more time".
So, while prizing songwriting quality over deadlines is great and all... such an attitude might mean a new VW LP is a while away yet.
SCUM TO HEADLINE LONDON SHOW
With the band's debut album 'Again Into Eyes' set for a reissue later in the year, the event - which is titled 'The Reading Of The Truth' - will take place on 26 May.
AZEALIA BANKS CANCELS SUMMER FESTIVAL BOOKINGS
An official statement from the Polydor-signed MC's management reads: "Azealia Banks has unfortunately had to cancel her remaining UK festival appearances due to recording commitments. Her October UK headline tour will still go ahead as scheduled".
Said recording commitments, of course, relate to Banks' forthcoming debut album, 'Broke With Expensive Taste', which is set for release in September.
He says: "Obviously we're gutted. It would have been her first major headlining show in the UK and we were pretty chuffed about getting in there early and backing her to be a great act even before her debut releases. However, I think her management have made the right decision. As great as her Coachella performance was, the UK audience is going to need more than half hour of material from a headliner".
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BESTIVAL, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight, 6-9 Sep: Bestival undergoes significant line-up expansion as Hot Chip, Gary Numan, Alabama Shakes, John Foxx & The Maths, Killaflaw, Willis Earl Beal, Jessie Ware and Skepta seal the wildlife-themed weekender's now finalised roster. Stevie Wonder, The xx, Friendly Fires, Justice, New Order and Sigur Rós represent a select few of those acts already announced. www.bestival.net
JERSEY FOLKLORE FESTIVAL, Peoples Park, Jersey, 30 Jun - 1 Jul: Ray Davies, Nouvelle Vague, Lee Scratch Perry, Rodriguez and John Cooper Clark form the latest additions to this fabled Jersey fest, which will also host Joan Armatrading and headliner Van Morrison. www.folklorejersey.org.uk
T IN THE PARK, Balado, Scotland, 6-8 Jul: Radio-rock favourites Keane prove the icing on the T In The Park cake, adding extra decoration to an existing bill that includes Snow Patrol, The Stone Roses and Kasabian alongside the pop-tacular likes of Nicki Minaj, Tinie Tempah, Calvin Harris and David Guetta. www.tinthepark.com
WAKESTOCK, Abersoch, North Wales, 6-8 Jul: Chiddy Bang, Hadouken!, Swiss Lips, Bastille and All The Young are amongst Wakestock's latest wave of artist additions, and thus join the previously announced likes of Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, Annie Mac, Katy B and Funeral For A Friend. www.wakestock.co.uk
LIVE NATION WILL PAY OVER A MILLION TO PUT UP OLYMPIC STAGES
As previously reported, the live music giant will stage various events in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square during the London games, including high profile ticketed concerts at the opening and closing of the proceedings and a bunch of free more low key events, as well as providing screens via which tourists and locals will be able to watch coverage of some of those sporty things due to take place alongside the big Olympics Festival Of Brands And Sponsorship.
According to Event, Live Nation will cover its costs via merchandising, the sale of food and drink concessions, hospitality packages and, presumably, ticket revenues from the bigger events. The live music firm has an existing relationship with the Royal Parks, of course, via the stage it operates in Hyde Park each summer, which hosts the Wireless and Hard Rock Calling concerts amongst other things.
IS SPOTIFY CONSIDERING ADDITIONAL PANDORA-STYLE SERVICE?
Pandora, of course, plays a personalised playlist based on any one individual user's chosen artist, and enables users to rate, skip and block tracks. But it doesn't provide the full on-demand functionality of Spotify, which enables users to access tracks, albums and playlists created by themselves or others on demand at anytime (subject to some limitations for free users in some territories).
Some reckon that Pandora-style services, with less interactivity, actually have more mainstream potential, with more casual music fans (which is most people) being put off by too much functionality. And British streaming service We7 said just that when it removed total-interactivity from its free-to-use option last year.
Pandora-style set ups are also cheaper to run, because generally rights owners charge less when a user has less control. Plus in many territories the operators of such platforms can licence both recording and publishing rights via collecting societies. Spotify-style platforms can only licence publishing rights (the money due to songwriters and publishers) via the collective licensing system, while sound recording rights must be licensed directly from the record companies, who will generally make more demands in terms of equity, up-front payments and ongoing royalty fees.
That means that a Pandora-style service would be more cost effective for Spotify in the freemium space. These days the ad-funded Spotify free service is run primarily as a sales tool to persuade music fans to upgrade to a proper subscription, with both the digital firm and its content partners taking a hit.
Original plans to make the freemium version a viable business in its own right seem to have been dropped, though restrictions put on the free option in Europe (to reduce costs and make paid-for options more attractive) have been reduced in some countries, and are still to be applied in the US. Going the Pandora-style route for Spotify Free might look attractive for both the streaming service and its content partners, though Pandora itself has always resisted launching outside the States, claiming royalty rates demanded by non-US collecting societies are too high to make their platform viable.
Opinion is divided on how Pandora, which floated on the stock market last year, is doing, though with a self-declared registered user-base of 150 million, of which 50 million were active in the last month, the twelve year old digital firm has much, much bigger reach than Spotify and, indeed, the current biggest player in the fully on-demand streaming music space in the US, Rhapsody.
TUNECORE CONFIRMS NEW AGREEMENT WITH AMAZON
As previously reported, music distributed by TuneCore disappeared off Amazon MP3 in Europe in late January after the retail firm failed to renew its licensing deal with the distributor. TuneCore claimed that there had been problems with getting payments from Amazon under its previous agreement with the retailer, and that it was insisting those issues be addressed before signing a new deal. Despite accusing the web giant of "heavy handed tactics", TuneCore bosses always said they were confident issues could be addressed.
And seemingly they have been, though details of the new agreement between the distributor and Amazon MP3 store, and how they addressed past problems, are not clear. Archive content represented by TuneCore will reappear on Amazon over the next month, while new releases will go live on schedule.
CHIRPIFY RAISES FUNDING, LAUNCHES MP3 SALE FUNCTIONALITY
The new platform makes it possible to do SMS-style transactions over the micro-blogging platform. A seller simply tweets info about their product with a Chirpify link, interested buyers then just tweet back BUY, their account is charged (via PayPal), and they get a DM with a link to whatever they have bought.
According to The Next Web, in pilots the return tweet usually contained a voucher redeemable for a physical product, though Chirpify has just added an extra function so that artists and labels can provide a link to a bit of digital content in the return DM. Simple - assuming security issues have been covered by the start-up.
Amongst those who reckon the Twitter payment platform has potential are Voyager Capital and individual investors Ryan Holmes (HootSuite CEO), Andy Liu (BuddyTV CEO) and Rudy Gadre (former Facebook exec), who have all reportedly contributed to the $1.3 million funding round.
THE WANTED CALL CHRISTINA A BITCH
Aguilera is a judge on the US version of 'The Voice', on which The Wanted recently guested. Apparently she was pretty sullen throughout their performance of 'Chasing The Sun', and her reaction didn't go down well. Especially given that Jennifer Lopez gave at least one of the boy band a sneaky kiss when they performed on 'American Idol'.
Says Tom Wanted, speaking to New York radio station Now FM: "She [Christina] is a total bitch. She might not be a bitch in real life, but to us, she was a total bitch. She just sat there and didn't speak to us. She wouldn't even look at us". Meanwhile, referencing their meeting with Lopez at the 'Idol' recording, George Wanted added: "J.Lo's hot, Christina's nothing special!"
You know, I have a new found respect for Christina Aguilera this morning. Though her records are probably being banned from the Capital airwaves as we speak, and J.Lo Monday could be a regular feature by next week.
GELDOF NOT IMPRESSED WITH GRANDSON'S NAME
Geldof Senior seemingly told The Sun when asked about his daughter's choice of name for his grandson: "Yuck! I've actually been begging them to change it. What's he going to be called in school? Ass? Stella? It's a girl's name, let's face it".
But, despite the naming, Geldof is, obviously, delighted to have a grandchild, and even more so to have a boy in his family, having lived with four daughters for so long (his three own children by Paula Yates, and her other daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, who he adopted). He continued: "I've swam in oestrogen my entire life, and now finally a little chap comes along. It's great".
GRIMES DESIGNS RUDE RING RANGE
The collection isn't available to buy online yet because, says Boucher, Black "refuses to have a website so I don't have any link". Boucher herself doesn't do any such thing though, so you can still view an image of said rings, which have nothing to do with cats of any kind, here: grimestyle.tumblr.com/post/21872453967/preview-grimes-pussy-rings-first-creation-of-the
Not that I'm a fashion authority or anything, but I think they look like 'adult' wine gums.