US COURTS REINSTATE ORIGINAL RULING IN JAMMIE THOMAS CASE
And remember how the major record companies were convinced that expensive DRM software bought from companies with names like Digital Protection Utilities Corporation Inc were the solution? If backed up by even more expensive litigation against the file-sharing kids, led by eager legal beagles excited that they would be first to profit from the digital music revolution. They were simpler days. They were happier days. They were shit days.
I'm feeling nostalgic for the Kazaa era because one of those early-doors P2P stories that just won't go away is back in the headlines. And the judge overseeing this particular file-sharing lawsuit is clearly harbouring back to simpler times too, reinstating the original damages sum handed down by a US court way back in 2007.
Yes, Jammie Thomas - one of the few file-sharers sued by the Recording Industry Association Of America to let her case get to court - has been ordered to pay the record companies $222,000 in damages, the figure originally set in 2007. Which is good news in that it's somewhat less than the $1.9 million another court ordered her to pay. But bad news in that it's somewhat more than the $54,000 damages another court said was more reasonable. And Team Thomas weren't even happy with that.
So let's recap. File-sharing went on chez Thomas circa 2005. The RIAA sued. Thomas refused to settle. A court found her guilty of copyright infringement for illegally sharing 24 songs, and ordered her to pay damages of $220,000. But then the judge decided an error had been made in the trial. So a second hearing took place, where the same verdict was reached, but damages were set by a jury at $1.92 million. But then a judge ruled that was a loony tunes amount, and revised damages down to $54,000.
The RIAA offered to do a deal with Team Thomas around that figure, but the file-sharer's legal reps, sensing they were on a roll, refused. So the record industry appealed, a jury was again consulted, and they set damages at $1.5 million. Again a judge deemed that figure pie in the sky, and reset the damages figure back to $54,000. But the RIAA appealed again, and yesterday won, in that a panel of three judges ruled the original $220,000 was the most appropriate damages figure that this single mother of limited means should pay the labels for a bit of sneaky file sharing seven years ago. Good times.
As previously reported, the size of the damages to be paid can vary so radically because of US copyright law, which allows the courts to order damages of anywhere between $750 and $150,000 per infringement. And because many file-sharers shared hundreds of tracks illegally, if a per-infringement figure towards the end of that bracket is selected, you can quickly be talking silly money damages (and pretty silly money damages even if, as they usually do, rights owners only list a small number of infringements in their actual litigation).
The judge who overruled the $1.5 million figure last year called that level of damages "outrageously high" and "appalling" given what Thomas was guilty of, and the tangible loss the labels suffered as a direct result of her (or her family's) file-sharing. Thomas's legal team hoped to capitalise on that sentiment when the RIAA appealed.
In part, they pointed out that damages of $222,000 worked out at over $9000 per infringement, and had the RIAA listed 1000 tracks in its lawsuit (the trade body has informally accused Thomas of file-sharing significantly more than that), then the total damages figure would be over $9 million, which would clearly be insane.
But Judge Steven Colloton, speaking for the appeals panel that considered the case this week, said that if a lawsuit listing that many tracks came to court, then that would be something to consider at that point. But in the meantime, $222,000 in damages was not "so severe and oppressive" as to cause constitutional concerns.
Needless to say, the RIAA welcomed the ruling, telling reporters: "We look forward to putting this case behind us". Though it shouldn't get too excited just yet, as Team Thomas, who told Reuters that the damages award was "punitive" and out-of-line with the US Supreme Court's rulings, plan to appeal again. Meaning that, as with the other big outstanding file-sharer case still rumbling its way through the US courts, that involving Joel Tenenbaum, while the RIAA has had some victories of late, this story ain't finished yet.
Which is good news for those of us that like to get nostalgic about that heady, crazy days of spending three hours downloading an Nsync album, wondering whether the RIAA lawsuit would arrive before the malware Kazaa had just installed on your machine killed your computer.
THE WEEKND DOES DEAL WITH UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC
2011 mixtape releases 'House Of Balloons', 'Thursday' and 'Echoes of Silence' will all be mixed and mastered for a release in November as 'Trilogy', with some extra bits and pieces thrown in too.
The project will be preceded by the release of a track from 'House Of Balloons' - 'Wicked Games' - which should be available via digital retailers pretty soon. And you can have a listen to it right now here.
SUEDE IN STUDIO, "POWERFUL" NEW LP EN ROUTE
Anderson says to The Quietus: "Any album is brutally hard, and this one has been pretty hard. The first couple of months were us trying to get on the same wavelength, is this working, trying to develop the sound we wanted. A lot of the writing process for me is throwing stuff away, because you're finding out what you want to do. There was a lot of that, and we discarded quite a few songs. Early this year we started hitting on the sort of songs that we were aiming to write, and it's sounding really good now".
Asked to characterise said sound, he answers: "Without wishing to be facetious, it sounds like Suede. We're not trying to reinvent the sound of the band, that'd be a disastrous thing to do. I think that's possibly where we went wrong on the last two albums, we didn't know where to go with the sound so we were looking for another direction, with mixed results. With this it's about great songs, it's about great guitar hooks, it's about a very powerful band sound. So it sounds like Suede. I think you'll like it. Don't worry, it doesn't sound anything like the last album".
CHAVRIL LAVIGNE LP "IN MIXING PROCESS", SAYS LA REID
Reid, who praises the collection as being "really good", notifies Billboard as to its present state: "We're in the mixing process now and I expect to release it very soon. I'd like to get it out this year, but time seems to be flying. If we don't, it will be top of the new year".
So, that's that. The sonic manifestation of Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger's torrid love affair out soon.
MISSY ELLIOTT, TIMBALAND COLLABORATE
You can hear a kind of pointless one minute 25 second 'snippet' of Missy and Timbo bragging over the track here.
Meanwhile, in the long playing music realm, a new Missy album - which may or may not be titled 'Block Party' - is set for (again, speculative) release by the year's end.
MASSIVE ATTACK TO RE-RELEASE DEBUT
Talking of 'Unfinished Sympathy', this is what its video looked like.
RACHEL ZAFFIRA STARTS LABEL WITH FARIS BADWAN, GIVES AWAY TRACK
The duo, who last year put out an eponymous record together as Cat's Eyes, will oversee the release of Zeffira's debut on 10 Dec. She'll also appear live at London's St Andrew Holborn church on 18 Oct and, who knows, Faris might play the harp or something. Tickets for that date are still available here.
While we're on Zeffira, you really should listen to this free 'The Deserters' MP3 'Break The Spell', which sounds (in the best possible sense) like Julia Holter doing ABBA's 'The Visitors'.
R STEVIE MOORE DOC NOW SCREENING
Shot by French cineaste Arnaud Mauget and (also French) band Hifiklub in Nashville, Tenessee, 'I Am A Genius (And There's Nothing I Can Do About It)' is fascinating, if slightly mad. But then again, so is R Stevie's discography, the just-added mere fraction of which, a 'sort of best of' compilation entitled 'Lo Fi High Fives', you can read a little about here.
And now, if you have 52 minutes spare (and it is worth the time), take a look at the doc as its makers ask "who is R Stevie Moore?".
PLAN B PLANS ARENA TOUR
He'll take the live version of his movie soundtrack 'Ill Manors' to the following arenas:
1 Feb: Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena
DAUGHTER SET 2013 DATES
If you're curious, here are said dates:
14 Jan: Norwich, Arts Centre
CODY SIMPSON TO TOUR
15 Nov: London, IndigO2
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
WARRIOR'S DANCE, Kalemegdan Fortress, Belgrade, Serbia, 15 Sep: Kill Me Laser, Hex, Lollobrigida, Hype, Dredd Up, Tea Break, Overdrive, Goblini, Ritam Nereda, Eyesburn, Sve Barabe, Feed Me, Wenti Wadada, Martinees Selecta, Wenti Wadada, Shpira (DJ set), Damjan Eltech & Sajsi MC, Hornsman Coyote, Dovlaman & Pips. www.warriorsdancefestival.com
SIMON COWELL LAUNCHES HEADPHONES
Yes, the 'X' chief has been travelling the world desperately trying to find the cans that can truly do 'What Makes You Beautiful' justice, and do you know what, they don't exist. But worry not people, because the Syco chief has given the science geeks at Sony Electronics a good talking to, and they've created some brand new headphones that will let you enjoy forthcoming One Direction album 'Take Me Home' as God intended (presumably that means they come with an in-built mute button).
The X Headphones range will be co-distributed via Cowell's own Sony subsidiary Syco with Sony Electronics, and says the man himself: "I chose to make a set of headphones with Sony because I simply wanted something better than what is in the market today. I've tried all of them, literally every single one. Sony and I set out to create the best headphone in the world. We are absolutely blown away by these. With the X Headphones, it's like being in the recording studio when the records are made. The sound is that clear".
Meanwhile Andrew Sivori, Sony Electronics' VP Personal Audio, added: "Our X Headphones are for the true listeners, the music fanatics who share Sony's uncompromising passion for music and precision in sound. Created by Sony and Simon Cowell, the new X Headphones deliver an amazing listening experience wrapped up in a cutting-edge design for the ultimate in self-expression".
Oh, this just in, bees do have knees. Hmm, not sure what that says about Cowell's claims. Oh well, have a look at this headphones anyway at www.sony.com/XHeadphones
CHRISTOPHER OWENS MADE SAINT LAURENT MUSE, MODELS IN NEW CAMPAIGN
He is photographed by SLP's new Creative Director Hedi Slimane, whose 2008 'Rock Diary' also featured images of Owens when he was still a part of Girls last year.
HYDRA HEAD RECORDS TO CLOSE
He continues: "The simple fact of the matter is we've been running on empty for a while now and cannot afford to keep our doors open for much longer. Years of imbalance between creative ideals and financial realities, personal problems amongst the label operators, an unwillingness to compromise our aesthetic standards, a tendency towards releasing challenging (ie unmarketable) artists, and the steady decline of the music industry in general, are amongst the chief reasons for our inability to continue. It is a harsh but undeniable reality, and one which we are attempting to confront with as much integrity and grace as is afforded by the circumstances".
The label will stop releasing new material from December, becoming instead a catalogue enterprise "with the ultimate aim of repaying our rather sizable debts".
Turner concludes: "There is no way to sum up nearly 20 years of incredibly important music, experiences, and evolution other than to say a big heart felt 'thank you', and that we hope this closing will provide an opening into other even more positive and rewarding experiences for all of us and all of you who have been a part of our shared experience. For now we bid you all a very fond farewell".
ALAN MCGEE "SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT RESTARTING CREATION"
In recent years McGee mostly moved away from music and launched a film company called Escalier 39, but after being asked to help curate next year's Tokyo Rocks festival in Japan he says he's been enthused to rejoin the music industry. Though he has to make a film first and write a book, so don't hold your breath.
Speaking to Louder Than War, McGee said: "Since spending the summer helping curate Tokyo Rocks for next year it's made me realise I do still love it! It was when I was flying back from Japan with the Primals that started me loving it again. I have to finish the edit to my film 'Kubricks', and deliver the book I have signed up for but to be honest I am now seriously thinking about restarting Creation, or maybe call it something else, if I can find the right people at a label to work with. Music needs a kick in the balls, and I have got the music buzz back again after working on Tokyo Rocks".
In an earlier interview with Dangerous Minds in July, McGee also hinted that he was warming to the world of music again, saying: "Recently I have been helping curate stadium festivals in Tokyo for 2013, and I am enjoying it. So maybe I am moving back towards music. I don't know, to be honest. I do like films and books more than working with music but I find music easy to do, I sort of understand the music process and always have done. I think music is awful at this point and it's deliberate. Music is such a strong thing, with the message and the vibration and they want it now to be shit so it loses its impact on people. There are great bands around but they just are basically marginalised till they give in".
OMNIFONE GOES INTO PROFIT IN LAST FINANCIAL YEAR
The London-based digital firm yesterday announced that it made a £2.9 million profit in the last financial year, compared to a £21.7 million loss the previous ear. Of course, given the investment in technology, licensing and business development made in the last decade, the company is presumably someway off truly going into profit, though when operating in a market dominated by companies still wholly reliant on start-up capital, being a profitable business year to year is worth bragging about.
Which is what Omnifone did yesterday. CEO Jeff Hughes told CMU: "We have experienced fantastic momentum on all fronts over the past year and have achieved profitability as a result. The growth of smartphones, connected devices and the availability of high speed connectivity has led to an increased demand for cloud-based music services, opening up a land grab opportunity for the digital music industry".
As Hughes says, Omnifone's primary business is as a B2B provider of content and technology to other consumer-facing digital services, usually operated by existing major brands. And while the company's own MusicStation brand has been used by some the company's clients, when the Omnifone team moved fully into the consumer-facing part of the market last year, they did so by setting up Rara.com as a separate entity.
The B2B model isn't new of course, and in the early days of digital music it was the back-end providers that seemed to enjoy most success, partly because their clients took most of the risk associated with launching a loss-leading download or streaming service. That said, few of those providers lasted the distance.
Whether yesterday's news means Omnifone is the company that has a long-term future in this space is something industry experts will debate. Though the inevitable shift of digital music to mobile devices should given Omnifone further competitive advantage given that, while the company has worked with various web and PC-based music services over the last nine years, as its name suggests the firm's ambition has always been in the mobile music space.
FACEBOOK'S FUTURE IS MOBILE, SAYS ZUCKERBERG
And, needless to say, the Zuck reckons his firm is now fully positioned to capitalise on the shift of social networking to smartphones, admitting that the company's initial reliance on HTML5 apps in the mobile space was a mistake, and that it was the launch of native iPhone and Android apps earlier this year that put Facebook on the right track. The challenge now, he said, was to find a better way of integrating advertising into the mobile experience.
But all this talk of mobile does not mean Facebook is planning its own mobile device, Zuckerberg said, pointing out that his business is based on big numbers audience wise, and that relying in anyway on proprietary hardware would hinder that. According to the BBC, he told the conference: "If we make a phone we could get maybe ten million users? Twelve million users? That doesn't move the needle for us. Building a phone is the wrong strategy for us".
Of course what everyone really wanted to know is, what about Facebook's share price, which has slumped since the social networking firm's much (and arguably way overly) hyped IPO back in May. The share price slump was "disappointing" Zuck admitted, and had had a negative impact on morale he seemed to concede.
But, he added, "there are tons of people that are super-pessimistic, [but] I would personally rather be underestimated - it gives us latitude to go out and make some big bets". Yeah, he probably should have told that to the people sent out on Facebook's behalf to totally oversell the firm ahead of its flotation.
As for Zuckerberg's thoughts on digital music. Well, "Spotify is killing it just now" he reckoned. And we think that means he thinks it's doing rather well. Either that, or the Spotify app had just killed his iPhone.
NICKI MINAJ RESPONDS TO ROMNEY RAP UNCERTAINTY
As previously reported, there was much debate online last week about the meaning behind Minaj's contribution to Lil Wayne's 'Dedication 4' mixtape, which includes the lines: "I'm a Republican, voting for Mitt Romney/You lazy bitches is fuckin up the economy".
Asked by Florida radio station Power 95.3 if he thought Minaj had outed herself as a supporter of his presidential rival Romney, Barack Obama said: "I'm not sure that's actually what happened. I think she had a song on that [Lil Wayne mixtape], a little rap that said that. But she likes to play different characters. So I don't know what's going on there".
Responding to the president's comments, Minaj tweeted: "Ha! Thank you for understanding my creative humor and sarcasm Mr President, the smart ones always do", adding: "Awesome! Now I can tell my grandchildren that the first black President of the United States took the time to address a Nicki Minaj question".