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OFCOM PUBLISHES LATEST THREE-STRIKES CODE - TIME FOR MORE CONSULTATION
Well, the initial element of it anyway, in which letters are sent by internet service providers to suspected file-sharers warning them that copyright infringement has occurred on their net connection, when the net provider is made aware that a user has been sharing unlicensed content by a rights owner.
A 'strike-three' sanction does not yet exist (and would require further parliamentary involvement to instigate), so at the moment the so called graduated response system would simply provide a slightly smoother framework via which content owners could file legal proceedings against prolific file-sharers, something rights owners can already do, of course, and have on occasion, though in the main UK music companies have shied away from prolific file-sharer litigation.
The new code is a development of one first drafted almost as soon as the 2010 DEA was passed. Only a few changes have been made in the subsequent two years of development, one regulates the way rights owners gather evidence against suspected file-sharers, another adds extra obligations on what information ISPs must provide in their warning letters, and a third refinement clarifies (and limits) how accused file-sharers can appeal if they believe allegations are incorrect.
OfCom will now further consult stakeholders, including rights owners, net firms and consumer groups, about the latest draft, with a view to presenting the code to parliament later this year (subject to an earlier review by the European Commission). As previously reported, it's thought that, even if this draft of the code is approved by the end of this year, it could be 2014 before warning letters are actually sent out, meaning any strike-three measures wouldn't be on the table until 2015.
As also previously reported, various execs from across the music industry have been critical regards quite how long it has taken for this code to be written since the DEA was rushed through parliament in 2010, though external factors haven't helped, in particular BT and TalkTalk trying to have the copyright element of the Act overturned through judicial review.
Commenting on the latest draft of OfCom's code, Geoff Taylor, boss of record label trade body the BPI, told CMU: "It's time to get down to business and start implementing the law to educate consumers about illegal downloading, so that artists and creators are fairly rewarded for their hard work".
There's more info about the code here.
GLOBAL COMPETITORS TO RAISE COMPETITION OBJECTIONS TO GMG DEAL
As previously reported, it was confirmed yesterday that Global had successfully bid for GMG Radio, after weeks of speculation that the Guardian publisher was in talks to sell its radio business. Initial reports suggested Global had paid in the region of £50 million to buy its rival, but Media Guardian suggests the final figure was closer to £70 million, after a bidding battle between Global and its biggest competitor in the UK radio sector Bauer.
Bauer are now among those who are thought to be already lobbying against the proposed Global/GMG merger, arguing that the deal will give the company more than 50% of the UK radio advertising market, and that that would make the company too dominant. TalkSport operator UTV, which was also bidding for GMG Radio, and the Absolute Radio company will also object to the deal.
Speaking to The Guardian, UTV's Scott Taunton said: "This merger would leave the enlarged Global Radio controlling more than 50% of commercial radio revenues, and more than 50% of listening in key markets like London and Manchester. The competition authorities should see this for what it is, an attempt to achieve an unassailable position of market dominance. Simply put, the proposed merger must not go ahead. We are consulting with our legal advisers to prepare our engagement with the Office Of Fair Trading's investigation". Statements from Absolute and Bauer, while not quite so forthcoming, communicated similar sentiment.
UTV also raised concerns about the other part of yesterday's announcement from Global, that the current boss of GMG Radio, Stuart Taylor, will resign with immediate effect, and the company will be run by a Global Radio exec, Mark Lee, on secondment while the regulators investigate the deal. UTV said it was "seeking urgent clarification" as to how that would work, and whether Global could ensure that GMG Radio continued to operate as a standalone company while any competition investigation is going through the motions, as the law demands.
If the merger does get the go ahead it will mean that what were three big British radio firms just over five years ago - Chrysalis Radio, GCap and GMG Radio - will have become one mega-major, in control of a significant portion of the country's commercial radio listeners and advertisers. Global is certain to stress that in terms of listeners it also competes with the BBC, which commands even bigger audience share overall, and on the commercial side the company now also competes head on with online audio and music services, and faces ever tougher competition from that domain as the internet finally reaches the kitchen, bathroom and car, key locations for radio listening.
Though pluggers at the big record companies will tell you that, despite the internet revolution, for mainstream releases radio remains a key platform for promoting artists and music, and they too may worry about a Global in control of so much of the UK radio sector. Especially given Global's known ambitions in the music publishing and talent management space (fears of programming bias towards the firm's own acts may be unjustified, but they are fears nonetheless), and the recent petty ban of One Direction at flagship pop station Capital after a silly slip by one of the boy band's members during an awards acceptance speech.
Competition regulators will likely consider the implications of the Global/GMG deal on a region by region basis, and may force the offloading of frequencies in those areas where the combined company would be particularly dominant. A similar approach when Global acquired GCap in 2008 forced the sale of various stations in the Midlands, which were bought by a Phil Riley-led consortium to create Orion Media. According to Absolute Radio's CEO Donnach O'Driscoll, Global/GMG would be most dominant in Glasgow, Birmingham and especially Cardiff.
Though it's thought Global will argue that, given the new competition it faces from online media, competition regulators should be more generous than in 2008, even though this deal will give the company unprecedented dominance in the British radio market.
MP3TUNES.COM FOUNDER FAILS TO HAVE EMI CASE AGAINST HIM PERSONALLY HALTED
As much previously reported, EMI sued MP3tunes.com, one of the first music-specific digital locker services which also operated a platform for storing and sharing links to music online, accusing it of various kinds of copyright infringement.
In the end most court time was spent on the link sharing facility, which, a judge ruled, was basically legal under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, though certain failures to operate an efficient takedown system (removing, when alerted by content owners, posted links that pointed to unlicensed content), and evidence Robertson himself used his own service to share links to unlicensed content, meant there was some liability for infringement.
After years of fighting the EMI litigation, which was first launched in 2007, MP3tunes.com filed for bankruptcy last month, and the ongoing legal case against it was stayed, or put on hold, permanently. But the major label had sued both the MP3tunes.com company and Robertson himself. And when the digital firm filed for bankruptcy protection last month, EMI accused Robertson of simply trying to avoid liability for the copyright infringement he was accused of, and vowed to continue to pursue the entrepreneur directly for damages.
For his part, Robertson requested that the court stay the case against him personally too, but yesterday a judge denied that request. This means that EMI can continue to fight Robertson through the courts in a bid to win its damages.
Some have suggested that the MP3tunes.com man could end up paying damages of up to $75 million to the major record company, though as C-Net points out, that seems unlikely, given last year LimeWire settled with the entire US record industry for $105 million, while in 2007 Kazaa settled for $100 million, and both services enabled vastly more infringement than MP3tunes.com, and the settlements were with all the majors, not just one. Though those deals were ultimately settled out of court, and it remains to be seen if Robertson will be willing to do that.
APPLE CO-FOUNDER CONFIRMS SUPPORT FOR DOTCOM
Speaking to C-Net, Wozniak says he believes America's case against Dotcom and the other former MegaUpload chiefs is unjust, partly by employing the classic 'net companies are just postmen' argument, but partly by insisting Dotcom et al were trying hard to reduce the illegal use of their file-transfer and video-sharing websites.
Wozniak: "When crimes occur through the mail, you don't shut the post office down. When governments dream up charges of 'racketeering' for a typical IT guy who is just operating a file-sharing service, or accuse him of mail fraud because he said he had removed files [to alleged infringing content] when he'd just removed the links to them, this is evidence of how poorly thought out the attempt to extradite him is. Prosecutors are attempting to take advantage of loopholes. Too bad for the US government that Dotcom lives in New Zealand, which is better on human rights".
He also criticised the US government for not allowing Dotcom et al sufficient access to their frozen funds to cover the legal costs of fighting the charges against them. He continued: "How unfair that the United States will allow him living expenses out of his frozen assets but not give him any legal fees. The side with access to the funds spends millions on lawyers hoping the other side goes bankrupt and gives in. Shame on the system that permits this one-sided advantage. [But] Kim is well enough liked and respected that his legal team is working without up-front payment".
Adding that he was no fan of piracy, Wozniak concluded that he felt traditional content companies were too quick to see technical innovations and innovators as a threat, rather than working with them to open up new opportunities. He concluded: "I will note that Apple was the pioneer in finding the first good compromise [with the music industry over the legal distribution of MP3 files] with iTunes. Thank heavens that this wasn't stopped at the beginning".
Of course American prosecutors will argue that Dotcom et al had no intention of working with entertainment companies to generate new opportunities. Rather they recognised that quick commercial success could only be achieved by allowing (and encouraging) users to upload large amounts of unlicensed content, that other users would then flock to access, while hiding behind the 'legitimate user' and 'DMCA takedown system' defences when accused of contributory copyright infringement; even though - prosecutors will argue - legitimate users were never core to the business, and the DMCA takedown system was deliberately shoddy.
As much previously reported, the US is trying to extradite Dotcom and six other men, four in total from New Zealand, to face the various charges against them and their company. Defence lawyers, as well as denying all the charges made against their clients, also argue that the US cannot prosecute the MegaUpload corporate entity because it had no base in America, and that the personal charges against the Mega execs are not sufficiently serious to justify extradition.
PLACEBO COVER STAR THREATENS TO SUE
Speaking to The Times, he said: "What had happened was my brother had just passed away, and my cousin came up from London to see me. He was a professional photographer, and he took some photographs of my family for his personal use. He brought up all his equipment and got me to do a few poses outside".
A month later, he says, his cousin called him to tell him he was going to be on an album cover. "Within a week it was out in the shops. It was in Virgin, it was in HMV, it was in Tesco, it was all over the place. I was watching 'Eastenders' with my mum and I saw one of the billboards by the Tube station and it had my face on there. Nobody wanted me on their side or anything like that. Even the teachers used to pull me aside and ask me about this CD cover".
He says he now plans to use his mother's savings and "every bit of spare money" in order to launch a lawsuit against the band next month. Though it's not clear as yet on what grounds, given that the copyright in the image will have initially belonged to his cousin, and if he sues on privacy grounds, that may require also taking action against his relation.
Meanwhile, Placebo's management, Riverman, told The Times that Fox should direct any claims to EMI's Virgin, which released the record, rather than the band themselves.
SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA ANNOUNCE SPLIT
An official statement issued last week by Axwell, Angello and Ingrosso, who will presumably now concentrate on their solo careers, reads: "Today we want to share with you, that the tour we are about to go on will be our last. We want to thank every single one of you that came with us on this journey. We came, we raved, we loved".
The tour in question will take place throughout July and August, and includes a date at the Milton Keynes Bowl on 14 Jul.
ANDRE 3000, EARL SWEATSHIRT TO FEATURE ON FRANK OCEAN DEBUT
There's also some unimaginative 'Channel Orange' cover artwork to look at, so do so at frankocean.com
SUSANNE SUNDFØR LP GIVEN UK RELEASE
Here's the video for Sundfør's forthcoming single 'White Foxes'.
THE ANTLERS PREVIEW NEW EP
Stream 'Drift Dive', as features first on the EP's tracklisting (alongside 'Endless Ladder', 'Crest' and 'Zelda'), here.
TASHAKI MIYAKI TO RELEASE SINGLE
In the interest of promoting said single, the duo will also play the first of several tour dates at the Tunbridge Wells Forum on 22 Jul.
Listen to one half of the new record in the form of 'Best Friend' now, if you like.
NICKI MINAJ TO TOUR ARENAS
And the dates are:
21 Oct: Nottingham Arena
RANCID ANNOUNCE 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR
Meanwhile Rancid, who have been talking about a new studio LP - their eighth to date - for almost a year now, will begin recording in November prior to the tour.
Here's a montage marking their time as a band.
28 Nov: Belfast, Mandela Hall
EL-P PLOTS SEPTEMBER OUTING
See El-P at the following:
12 Sep: London, The Scala
ALT-J LIST HEADLINE DATES
If you haven't yet heard the band's next single, 'Tessellate' (which, according to Alt-J's Joe Newman was written about "the lingering of an old flame and the physical intimacy shared with that particular individual", no less), then why not preview it prior to its 16 Jul release via this SoundCloud player.
In keeping with the same Alt-J theme, here's the playlist that keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton compiled for us but a month ago.
And finally, to those tour dates:
27 Oct: Manchester, RNCM
FESTIVAL OF FESTIVALS TO LAUNCH IN BLACKPOOL
Commenting on the motivation for the new event, which will take place on 8 and 9 Dec, One Of These Days promoter Ruth Daniels told CMU: "We had been thinking about starting a boutique festival in the North West of England for a while. The idea just clicked when we saw the Winter Gardens, the space is so conducive to housing lots of different events at the same time. So we decided to invite all the amazing festivals we have seen around the world to come to recreate micro versions of their events across this amazing space".
Explaining how it will work, Daniels continues: "Each of the sixteen festivals has a venue for one day and night. They will take over the space, bringing a music line up and strong visual elements that reflect their festival. As you walk around The Winter Gardens each space will look and sound completely different, and we have over 150 of the most exciting bands and DJs that have all featured on the stages of the festivals involved. You can buy a day or weekend ticket and that will get you into everything!"
More info at www.oneofthesedaysfestival.com
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
ATP CURATED BY THE NATIONAL, Pontins , Camber Sands, 7-9 Dec: Amongst the attractions just added to ATP's superlative The National-curated edition are Pedro Soler & Gaspar Claus, The Philistines JR and - very excitingly - Wild Beasts, who'll play their third LP 'Smother' in its entirety. The Kronos Quartet, The Antlers, Owen Pallett, Boris, Sharon Van Etten and Kurt Vile are amongst those acts already announced. www.atpfestival.com/events/thenational.php
CORNBURY MUSIC FESTIVAL, The Great Tew Estate, Chipping Norton, 29 Jun - 1 Jul: Charlotte Church, Honey Ryder and rock vet Steve Winwood are the newest features of Cornbury's classic live line-up, which also includes Elvis Costello & The Imposters, James Morrison, Jools Holland, Ruby Turner and Alison Moyet. www.cornburyfestival.com
LONDON BLUESFEST, various venues, London, 26 Jun - 6 Jul: With Texas's Charlene Spiteri, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor just confirmed as special guests at solo Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood's BluesFest set, they join Erykah Badu, Nick Lowe, Van Morrison, Tom Jones, George Benson and Hugh Laurie in the wider programme of this London festival. www.bluesfest.co.uk
SZIGET, Danube, Budapest, Hungary, 8-13 Aug: Hungary's premiere five-day music spectacular announces the addition to its bill of Snoop Dogg, Sum 41, Leftfield and SebastiAn, all of whom will join The Stone Roses, Placebo, The xx, The Killers and many more on Sziget's 2012 listings. www.sziget.hu
HENLEY BUSINESS SCHOOL TO THROW SPOTLIGHT ON BRAND MUSIC PARTNERSHIPS
Explaining why such partnerships are becoming ever more important, Higham told CMU: "Brands and music are two of the biggest purchase drivers in the world. Brands drive 20% of purchase decision and up to 80% of company value. Meanwhile over half of all Britons claim to be passionate about music and three quarters claim it can have a positive impact on purchase choice. But the negative impact of a weak economy and new technologies means both now need to drive greater revenue levels and streams. Combining two such enormous purchase drivers can offer a solution".
He continues: "Brands bring reach and scale, music brings credibility and content. The future lies in combining them. And not just in traditional areas such as synch and sponsorship, but in new areas such as discovery platforms, apps, promo product placement and creating social glue".
Representatives of brand partnership agencies Vision Artists and Capitalise will join artist manager Jonathan Shalit and AEG Live's Peter Palmer among the line-up of experts to share their viewpoints with a delegation of brand and music industry professionals at the seminar event, being held in Henley on Thursday morning. The new MBA course will begin at the Business School in September.
CHERRYTREE CHIEF DEPARTS UNIVERSAL
Confirming his departure from Universal, which seemingly comes after the exec and the major couldn't agree terms for a new contract, Kierszenbaum told Billboard the he'd leave Interscope at the end of the week and looked "forward to sharing our plans for the next chapter of Cherrytree soon".
It's not yet clear what Kierszenbaum's departure, and Cherrytree seemingly becoming independent of the major, means for those artists currently signed to Interscope/Cherrytree deals.
GIGWISE RELAUNCHES WEBSITE
The new site has been designed by Michael Pumo at London agency Branch, who said of the new look: "The design is bold, unpretentious and straight-forward. Users will now find it easier to consume the content they want, without the design itself becoming a barrier. Improvements have also been made to increase usability on touch devices like the Apple iPad. The website will continue to be refined and improved as we collect feedback from our users in the near future".
SPICE GIRLS TO REUNITE FOR PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY
A 'source' (ie PR person) told The Sun: "There's been rumours knocking about that Victoria wasn't going to show - but she always made it a priority. She was never going to miss the launch and is looking forward to seeing the rest of the girls. The musical is a proud moment for them all. It will be emotional".
It won't be emotional, it will be a press conference. A press conference about a West End show that isn't even going to open until December.