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MP3TUNES FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY, EMI VOWS TO FIGHT ON
And, Robertson argues, it was the actions of one such aggravated major label that drove his latest company into the ground. As previously reported, EMI first sued MP3tunes.com in 2007 and, although in the main the arguments put forward by Robertson's lawyers prevailed in court last year, the major is appealing and a new round of court hearings are due to kick off this month.
In part the case considered the legalities of services that let users upload their MP3 collections to a remote server and then re-download or stream them to other net-connected devices. In most territories (though not the UK) the upload bit is allowed within copyright law under the user's private copy right principle, but some rights owners have argued that if a service like MP3tunes.com then lets people stream those MP3s back to another device through a user-friendly bespoke player, then that isn't covered and a licence is required. MP3tunes.com did not concur, and nor did Google or Amazon who subsequently launched similar services.
However, when the case finally got to court last year, much of the deliberations actually focused on a periphery services offered by MP3tunes called Sideload.com, which let users store and share links to music files online, the majority of which linked to unlicensed content. There was some criticism of MP3tunes from the judge with regard to Sideload.com, though even there, in the main, Robertson's arguments - that, because his company operated a takedown system to remove links to unlicensed music the service was allowed under US law - prevailed.
Indeed, although neither side won outright, last year's court rulings did seem to favour Robertson more than EMI, leading the former to accuse the latter of deliberately dragging out its legal assault against his company, knowing that - even though their legal arguments might not stand up in court - there was always the option of draining the smaller defendant's resources and driving them out of business that way.
Robertson told C-Net: "Four and a half years of legal costs and we're not even out of trial. MP3tunes has no choice but to file [for bankruptcy]... this is what they do. The labels engage in multi-year legal battles and put small companies through hell for years. EMI went to other companies and demanded that they not work with us. They went to retailers, as one example, and forbid those guys to work with us".
Meanwhile, according to Music Void, the MP3tunes.com chief added: "At every opportunity EMI dragged out the legal process, making it costly and burdensome. One example is the interrogation of company employees in all-day inquisitions called depositions, where attorneys try to trick people into making admissions. In our case, they deposed not just management but nearly everyone in the company, all the way down to clerical help and customer support personnel. They even paid $25,000 to get an ex-employee to agree to a deposition. From management they deposed everyone - some multiple times - with me getting deposed three separate times".
For its part, EMI says that Robertson has decided to shut down his locker company now, just before appeal hearings are due to begin, because he fears this time he will lose. But, the major adds, with Robertson himself also a defendant in the case, bankrupting the company will not enable him to avoid liability for the copyright infringement it believes the entrepreneur enabled.
In a statement to C-Net, the major said: "Since November 2007, EMI Music and EMI Music Publishing have been engaged in a lawsuit with MP3tunes and its principal, Michael Robertson, in connection with Mr Robertson's facilitation of widespread copyright infringement on MP3tunes.com and Sideload.com. These sites have built their businesses on the unauthorised distribution of music, at the expense of EMI's songwriters and artists".
"Now on the eve of trial, and after an ongoing press campaign claiming that MP3tunes would fight to vindicate its 'right' to infringe, Mr Robertson has filed for bankruptcy protection for MP3tunes in the Southern District of California. After four and a half years of Robertson's bluster and rhetoric, it is apparent to EMI that Robertson has finally realised that his case has no merit".
"While Robertson may believe that MP3tunes will be able to escape liability in the upcoming trial through this bankruptcy, Robertson himself is still a named defendant in the case and the court has already determined that both he and MP3tunes have infringed EMI's copyrights. As such, he is facing personal liability both for infringements that the court has already determined have occurred and for the further alleged infringements that will be addressed at trial. Accordingly, EMI will continue to pursue its case against Robertson, to ensure that its songwriters and artists are properly compensated for their creative work".
So all in all, while the ending of this story may have already been revealed, the final chapters could still make for interesting readings.
UNIVERSAL'S EMI BID TO BE CONSIDERED IN US SENATE
As previously reported, two lobby groups, Public Knowledge and the Consumer Federation Of America, recently called on the Senate judiciary committee's antitrust panel to give time to considering the proposed EMI takeover, given concerns amongst some tech and consumer rights groups, and in the indie music community, that the deal, that will make the world's biggest music company significantly bigger, will be damaging for artists, digital music providers and music fans.
Of course the US Federal Trade Commission, like the European Commission, is already considering the competition law implications of the proposed takeover, and the ultimate ruling from said regulator is much more important than any debates that happen within US Congress, though any public airing of the arguments for and against the acquisition could be interesting.
Responding to the news the Senate committee was planning on discussing their EMI proposals, a spokesman for Universal told reporters: "We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions that the subcommittee may have, address the facts and debunk myths. Universal Music is committed to reinvesting in EMI to create even more opportunities for new and established artists, expand the marketplace with more music and support new digital services. We remain confident of regulatory approval".
MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING JENNIFER HUDSON'S FAMILY MEMBERS FOUND GUILTY
As previously reported, Balfour, who had been married to Hudson's sister Julia, shot dead the singer's mother Darnell Donerson and brother Jason, seemingly after seeing balloons outside the Hudson family home, and believing them to be from his estranged wife's new boyfriend. He then abducted and later killed the singer's seven year old nephew.
Testifying at the start of Balfour's trial last month, Hudson told the court: "None of us wanted [my sister] to marry him. We didn't like how he treated her and I did not like how he treated my nephew".
Balfour, a small time drug dealer, now faces life imprisonment without the chance of parole in relation to the killings. He denied being responsible for the murders, with his defence reps proposing that a rival drug dealer had committed the crimes and framed their client. The jury spent three days deliberating, with three members uncertain of the defendant's guilt, though enough were convinced he committed the crime. Nevertheless, one of Balfour's lawyers, Amy Thompson, has already said she intends the apply for an appeal hearing.
Responding to the guilty verdict, a joint statement from Jennifer and Julia Hudson said: "We have felt the love and support from people all over the world and we're very grateful. We want to extend a prayer from the Hudson family to the Balfour family. We have all suffered terrible loss in this tragedy".
WONDER NEPHEW ARRESTED OVER EXTORTION CHARGES
According to TMZ, Walker demanded $5 million from Wonder and said he would go to the press with allegations of incest if the singer failed to pay up. After being knocked back, Walker and his friend lowered their demands rather considerably to $10,000. Undercover cops then met with the two men, posing as representatives for Wonder, and the arrests were made.
Both Walker and his accomplice have so far pleaded not guilty to the extortion charges. Both are being held in jail pending a hearing that will decide whether there is enough evidence to move to full trial.
THRILLER GIRL SETTLES WITH JACKSON ESTATE
MEGAUPLOAD REPS WANT CIVIL CASES POSTPONED
Lawyer Ira Rothken said that the previously reported civil cases already filed against the MegaUpload enterprise, by smaller rights owners Microhits and Valcom, are based around allegations almost identical to those made in the American criminal case, and therefore it would put unfair pressure on the defendants if they had to give testimonies in the civil actions that could impact on any later criminal trial.
Rothken's court filing also noted that the MegaUpload company was unable to secure vital evidence off the old MegaUpload servers, because with its assets frozen it is unable to pay the company which owns the servers the required fees. The debate about the future of the data stored on the old MegaUpload servers is, of course, ongoing.
It remains to be seen if the courts concur with Rothken that criminal proceedings should occur before any civil claims are given court time. While Microhits and Valcom are relatively small players in the music and TV/film industries (respectively), a bigger civil action from the Motion Picture Association Of America, representing the big movie studios, is anticipated, though that too might need to be postponed until after the criminal trial.
THE GREAT ESCAPE 2012: YEARLY MUSIC CONFERENCE AWARDS PRESENTED
With the showcase festival and music conference season reaching its conclusion for another year, before heading to the fields for the big summer events the YMCAs is a chance to look back at the music convention year just gone (plus a sneaky way to justify vodka cocktails at 11am on a Saturday morning). And the winners were...
Categories with a public vote:
Categories picked by the YMCAs committee:
In addition to the main awards, the YMCAs Hall Of Fame was opened for business for the first time, and the following five things were inducted.
1. YMCAs at The Great Escape - For being the best music conference based awards event.
COMMERCIAL RADIO AWARD NOMS ANNOUNCED
Commenting on the shortlists, the boss of organisers RadioCentre, Andrew Harrison, told reporters: "The Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards are a great opportunity for our radio stations to showcase their work. We are delighted to have received our highest number of entries ever this year, with some really fantastic entrants into our new Radio Station Event Of The Year category".
While Head Of Client Relationships at sponsors Arqiva, Ben Hart, added: "Arqiva is an ardent supporter of the best of British broadcasting and, for us, commercial radio is no exception. Celebrating the best in radio is as important to us as ensuring it reaches listeners in the quality our broadcasters intended. I'd like to wish all the nominees the best of luck in this year's awards".
The awards will be presented in London on 4 Jul. Meanwhile, here's some noms...
Presenter Of The Year (smaller stations): Greig Easton & Yasmin Zemmoura, Northsound 1; Matt Foister, Trax FM; Trevor Marshall, 106 JACKfm Oxfordshire
Presenter Of The Year (bigger stations): Christian O'Connell, Absolute Radio; John Suchet, Classic FM Danny Wallace, XFM
Programmer Of The Year: James Brownlow, 95.8 Capital FM; Ricky Durkin, Real Radio Yorkshire; Chris Pegg, Metro Radio
Newcomer Of The Year: Alun Cochrane, Absolute Radio; Emma Barnett, LBC 97.3; Eoghan McDermott, XFM
Journalist or News Team Of The Year: 106 JACKfm Hertfordshire, GMG Radio North West News Team, Radio Aire News
Breakfast Show Of The Year (smaller stations): Radio Aire Breakfast, Radio Aire; The Bay Breakfast with Danny Matthews, The Bay; JACK's Morning Glory, 106 JACKfm Oxfordshire
Breakfast Show Of The Year (larger stations): The Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show - Absolute Radio; Des & Jennie at Breakfast - Capital Scotland; Real Radio Breakfast with Ewen & Cat - Real Radio Scotland
Feature Of The Year: Oldham Riots - The Legacy, Smooth Radio; Raoul Moat - One Year On presented by PC David Rathband and Kath Rathband, Metro Radio; Ronnie Wood - The Guests, Absolute Radio
Specialist Programme Of The Year: The Ronnie Wood Show, Absolute Radio, Music: Response with Mary Anne Hobbs, XFM; Matt Stocks, Kerrang!
Social Action Initiative: Walkathon 2011, brmb; Positive Mental Health Week, Cool FM; Cocaine Unwrapped, Real Radio North West
Station Imaging Award: 106 JACKfm Oxfordshire, The Capital Network, Kiss Network Imaging
Marketing Award: Absolute Radio, Faces for Radio & #NowPlaying; Capital FM Marketing; Touch FM, Pride of Stratford Awards 2012
Radio Station Event Of The Year: Absolute Radio Live - Absolute Radio; Capital's Jingle Bell Ball - The Capital Network; Jagger & Woody 'Beside the Seaside' Tour - Real Radio Wales
Local Sales Team Of The Year: The Bay; Gem 106; Real Radio North West
National Sales Team of the Year: Absolute Radio; Bauer Media; Global Radio
Best Branded Content: Absolute Radio Live with Swiftcover.com, Spark; Arla Starbuck's Frappuccino and Capital FM Summertime Ball, Carat; 'Dangerous' Dave Vs The Log Flume, Gem 106.
Best Creative Campaign: comparethemarket.com,VCCP; Honda - Do You Believe In The Power of Dreams? Wieden + Kennedy; Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park, Global Radio Creative
Most Effective Campaign: Autoglass Radio Effective Frequency Test - Starcom Mediavest; Heart & More Th>n 2011; Ikea 'Happy to Bed' with Absolute Radio
Advertiser Of The Year: Lloyds TSB, Unilever, Vodafone
Media Agency Of The Year: Mediacom, PHD, Mindshare
Station Of The Year (smaller stations): The Bay, Isle Of Wight Radio, MFR
Station Of The Year (smaller stations): 106 JACKfm Oxfordshire, Northsound 1, Radio Tay
Station Of The Year (larger stations): 95.8 Capital FM, Radio City 96.7, Absolute Radio
PPL Most Played UK Artist On Commercial Radio: Adele, Take That, The Wanted
PPL Breakthrough UK Artist On Commercial Radio: Ed Sheeran, Example, Jessie J
KENNY ROGERS SIGNS TO WARNER BROS
Confirming his new long-term deal with Warner, Rogers himself told reporters: "I'm looking forward to returning home to Warner Bros Records after all these years. Our history together, combined with the incredible team that's in place now, provides the catalyst for a great new relationship going forward".
Meanwhile, John Esposito, boss of Warner Music Nashville, added: "With his unique storytelling ability and soulful voice, Kenny Rogers' music has touched generations across all musical formats. He has not only had a remarkable career but is truly an American icon. Warner Music Nashville looks forward to continuing his musical legacy but more importantly, having him back home at Warner Bros Records".
ANDRE 3000'S JIMI HENDRIX BIOPIC WILL GO AHEAD
But director John Ridley, who has already cast part-time actor Andre Benjamin to the lead role, says he will begin filming his Hendrix movie in Ireland later this month, deriving part of his original screenplay from archived live and interview footage.
A statement from Hendrix's estate - which doesn't rule out the potential for a Hendrix-scored Hendrix film in the future - says: "Experience Hendrix CEO Janie Hendrix, sister of Jimi Hendrix, and the EH board have not ruled out a 'biopic' in the future. Though producing partners would, out of necessity, have to involve the company from the inception of any such film project if it is to include original Jimi Hendrix music or compositions".
REUNITED BEN FOLDS FIVE TO TOUR
Folds and bandmates Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge have been at work on a new studio LP, the first Folds record since 'The Unauthorised Biography Of Reinhold Messner', and are expected to release it before the year is out.
23 Nov: Bristol, Academy
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
JERSEY LIVE, Royal Jersey Showgrounds, Jersey, 2-3 Sep: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Chase & Status are just confirmed to share topmost slots at this year's Jersey Live, and align with main stage acts including Primal Scream, Professor Green, Devlin, Maverick Sabre and The Stranglers. www.jerseylive.org.uk
THE GREAT ESCAPE 2012: GETTING STARTED IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS
While opinion was slightly divided over the merits of university qualifications in music business management, all agreed that hands-on experience, passion and the willingness to work hard were prerequisites for those looking for their first job in music. And while internships at existing music companies - especially the paid kind - can be as hard to come by as proper jobs sometimes, the panel of experts noted that setting up a music blog, running a gig night or helping manage a friend's band were just as valuable, and could be achieved with initiative rather than contacts and resources.
Speaking just before the session, Morna Cook, Senior Director Of HR at Universal Music UK, told CMU: "Any music experience is good experience - put together a CV that shows you have carried out music related projects in your own time, whether that's running or promoting your own night, managing a band, or writing a music related blog. Projects like this show you are passionate and have an active interest in the industry, and that you are proactive".
From the independent side, Simon Goffe of Brownswood Recordings also talked up the blogging approach. "Set up your own music blog", he said. "It will impress potential employers immensely and show them your genuine passion. And then, when contacting prospective employers, do your research and write a personalised letter. Never send round blanket letters or emails. They get deleted straight away!"
Cook likewise agreed that, when approaching music companies for jobs, whatever the size of the firm, aspiring music execs needed to do their research before getting in touch. "Ensure you've done your research on the company, and know what's going on in the wider industry, from the latest technological developments to what's happening in the charts".
Meanwhile Matt Booth from Teenage Rampage, who has run numerous programmes helping young people interested in the music industry, had some other advice for people who do find internships, training opportunities or even a first job in music. "Be prepared to work very hard. Don't just wait for the opportunities to come to you, and when you do get that first opportunity, do the job you've been asked to do as well as you can. Hard and passionate workers will be spotted by other people working on a project, and they might be future employers".
Wrapping things up in the 'advice for newcomers' department, Jack Kingslake, who has also run ventures supporting young talent, told CMU: "Appreciate and innovate. Be professional: be nice, turn up on time and work hard. And don't forget why you love music".
There is more information about Teenage Rampage here: www.teenagerampage.co.uk
BRITISH MUSIC ACCOUNTS FOR ONE IN EIGHT ARTIST ALBUMS SOLD WORLDWIDE
So that's nice. Nice enough, in fact, that David Cameron has taken to his Blackberry to email us a quote. Well, he BBMed it to someone at the BPI, who has passed it on. Says the PM: "British music is loved all over the globe, and as a country we can be proud of the tremendous success of our music industry, which is a world leader".
So there you go artists and label owners and songwriters and all other music people, David Cameron is proud of your achievements, which is presumably what you've all been striving for all these years.
BPI boss Geoff Taylor also has a quote, which is this: "Britain makes great music - and the world is tuning in. From the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to Coldplay and Adele, our global success helps the reputation of Britain overseas and generates jobs here in the UK. This success is due to the creativity of our artists, but also because we have an innovative, risk-taking music industry in Britain that helps our artists reach billions of fans around the globe. Music is one of the things that makes Britain great. Government support for the British music industry is pivotal to maintaining the UK's position as the second most important producer of music in the world".
These stats and quotes have landed on our desks this morning at the start of Music Is GREAT Week, which apparently is a 'thing'. Or a THING, possibly.
UK MUSIC APPOINTS NEW GOVERNMENT RELATIONS MAN
Says UK Music's CEO Jo Dipple: "This is a key appointment for UK Music. The secondary legislation needed to enable the Digital Economy Act is due for parliamentary scrutiny. The government's consultation on intellectual property and copyright will result in draft legislative proposals in the autumn term and a Bill next year. Meanwhile, the anticipated Communications Green Paper will include provisions on formalising the responsibility ISPs have to prioritise consumer access to legal content".
She continued: "These are just three areas where Tom's technical skill and parliamentary knowledge will be invaluable to shaping legislation that will define the future of the music industry. I am very excited about him joining our team. He will be a great asset to UK Music, our members and the industry".
GROOVESHARK OFF FACEBOOK BECAUSE OF COPYRIGHT COMPLAINT
As previously reported, Grooveshark's official presence on the social network was deleted at the start of the month. The controversial streaming service, currently in legal dispute with all four major labels, initially said its app and official page on Facebook were offline by mistake, but with no further word on the matter it looked increasingly like there was more to the disappearance.
And a Facebook spokesperson has now told DMN: "We have removed the Grooveshark app due to a copyright infringement complaint we received".
DEEZER DOES DEAL WITH MERLIN
THE ENEMY DISCUSS NEW LP, "PARASITIC" SIMON COWELL
Speaking to NME, Tom Clarke of the band said that the Cowell-created 'X-Factor' was an "exploitation of people with miserable lives", adding of the Syco mogul: "He wants a new Rolls Royce. [That's] understandable, the new one looks amazing. [But] he's a parasite off people who've had bad lives".
Turning that critical gaze inward, Clarke went on to comment on the two LPs his band has released to date, saying: "We were disappointed with both albums because both of them had something missing. The first album we'd nailed the songs, and the second album we'd nailed the sound but the songs weren't right".
He continued: "It feels like we've now got a solid platform to build on to release more albums. Now that we know it's possible and we know how to do it and who to do it with, it feels okay".
Well, third time's the charm, as they do say. 'Streets In The Sky' is out on 21 May.