LABEL BOSS SAYS BRITNEY'S FRIEND LUTFI WAS MORE GOFER THAN MANAGER
As previously reported, Lutfi is suing the Spears family claiming that he is due 15% of her earnings from that time as a result of his alleged management role. He also accuses Spears' mother of defamation over allegations that Lutfi contributed to Britney's mental breakdown, and her father of assault in relation to an altercation in 2008. Spears Senior, of course, subsequently took control of his daughter's financial affairs after Britney was sectioned.
According to Reuters, Lutfi told the court this week that he first met Spears in a nightclub in spring 2007. She asked if she could have his hat. Self-conscious about his balding head, he refused, and, Lutfi says: "She told me she doesn't get told 'no' often, so it was refreshing to get told no for once. We talked for a while and hit it off".
Lutfi and Spears exchanged contact details and subsequently became close friends, with Lutfi moving into Spears's home. He said that the singer quickly began discussing her personal problems with him, including the fallout of her divorce from Kevin Federline and her drug problems.
The latter, he alleged, caused that incident when the singer shaved off her trademark long blonde hair and appeared on front pages the world over totally bald. Someone had told Spears, Lutfi claimed, that scientific analysis of hair could reveal drug use, and she was terrified that such analysis could be used against her in the custody battle with Federline over their children.
While many have accused Lutfi of manipulating his newfound friendship with Spears in 2007 for personal gain, cutting off other friends and family members, and in turn contributing to her mental breakdown, he argues that he cared for the singer, and did all he could to guide her through a difficult patch. In particular, he says, he tried to control the aggressive paparazzi who were stalking the pop star at the time. He told the court: "She was dealing with a lot of anxiety, with the way they followed her everywhere".
Core to the main strand of Lutfi's legal action, though, isn't whether or not he cared for the singer, but whether he acted as her manager in 2007 and 2008, and is therefore due 15% of the monies she earned during that time. As previously reported, legal reps for Spears say that while Lutfi did eventually claim to be the singer's manager, he was never formally appointed as such, had no previous experience in artist management, and is basing his claim on a template contract downloaded off the internet. Meanwhile the monies Spears earned of which Lutfi now wants share stemmed from deals negotiated before his involvement in the pop star's affairs.
Supporting the Spears family's case in this regard, Universal Music exec Barry Weiss, who previously headed up Spears' label Jive Records, told the court on Monday that Lutfi never introduced himself to the record company as Britney's manager, and never conducted any business dealings with the then SonyBMG subsidiary on her behalf, even though the label was marketing the singer's fifth album 'Blackout' during this time.
Describing how he had previously worked very closely with Larry Rudolph, Britney's original and current manager, who was cut out of the singer's career during most of this period, he said he had no such dealings with Lutfi, and dealt mainly with Spears directly on issues that would normally be handled by management. According to the Associated Press, Weiss told the court: "Sam Lutfi never introduced himself or came in for a meeting. He never discussed records or a record contract, there was no manager involved [at this point]".
Weiss, who also confirmed how troubled Britney was in this period, especially once she became estranged from her family, said that Lutfi had helped on a video shoot, and had played a role in persuading Spears to stay on the set, but that if the claimant had a formal role in Britney's life at that time, it was more as a personal assistant than a manager. Or a "gofer" in the label exec's words.
The case continues.
MEGAUPLOAD USER WANTS RAID DOCUMENTS UNSEALED
As previously reported, Kyle Goodwin is one of the former MegaUpload customers who used the file-transfer service to store his own files (rather than unlicensed music and movie files), and he lost access to that content when the feds shut-down the site without warning, amidst allegations the digital company and its management were guilty of money laundering and copyright infringement.
The switched-off servers haven't been wiped yet, but there has been much legal wrangling over how former Mega users might be able to access their legit data (but not unlicensed content), and who would pay for the management of that process, given MegaUpload's assets have been frozen.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been helping Goodwin, who has been caught between feuding rights owners, Mega chiefs and American prosecutors, and who, despite a seemingly sympathetic judge, has yet to get his files back.
The EFF argues that it needs to see paperwork relating to the American authorities' raid on MegaUpload to assess whether Goodwin has a case to sue the government for access to his files on the basis of the Fourth Amendment right that guards against "unreasonable searches and seizures". According to Ars Technica, the lobby group adds that "the public also has a strong interest in understanding the government process in executing search warrants on cloud computing servers that contain innocent third-party property".
It remains to be seen if the judge hearing this case orders documents be published, and if so if they unveil anything of relevance to both Goodwin's case, and the wider criminal action against MegaUpload and its former bosses.
ONE DIRECTION JOIN HEAT'S LIST OF RICH YOUNG CELEBRITIES
Daniel Radcliffe remains at the top of the poll, which he probably will do for the next seven years until his 30th birthday bars him from this particular list, pretending to be a wizard seemingly being the safest bet if you fancy being both rich and famous. Oh well, at least he always seems like a nice guy, even if he isn't sharing all that dosh with those poor struggling boyband stars, who are having to make do with a tenth of his fortune.
Here's the Heat young, famous and rich Brit list top ten. I've no idea how they calculate fortunes. Drop a line to editor Lucie Cave if you want to know, I guess.
1. Daniel Radcliffe - £53.33m
TRACEY THORN RECORDING CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Says Thorn: "I've wanted to do a Christmas album for ages, [but usually] it gets to that time near Christmas every year when people have their Christmas records coming out and I realise I've left it too late".
A short documentary about the making of the album is also due to be released shortly, a snippet of which you can see here.
EMELI SANDÉ TOURING ARENAS
26 Mar: Birmingham Academy
BIFFY CLYRO TOURING ARENAS
So, to the specifics:
20 Mar: Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena
KENDRICK LAMAR NOT TOURING ARENAS
Tour dates as follows:
16 Jan: Glasgow, ABC
IP OFFICE PUBLISHES MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR COLLECTING SOCIETIES
The document stems from the previously reported government-instigated review of the UK copyright system by Ian Hargreaves, which also led to the launch of the 'digital copyright exchange' project and various other proposed reforms which are in the process of being translated into legislation.
UK collecting societies will be expected to ensure that the minimum standards set out in the document, which cover fairness, transparency and good governance, are met by their own codes of conduct. An independent review of each society's code will then take place in a year's time.
The code has been developed in consultation with UK collecting societies and their users, and the minimum standards are intended to be a 'living document' so that revisions can be made as new issues arise, most likely linked to new digital developments.
You can read the code here.
BMG DENIES KKR SHAREHOLDING COULD BE AFFECTED BY EMI BIDDING
As reported yesterday, the New York Post said that KKR was pushing for more rapid expansion of BMG, its joint venture with Bertelsmann, and that the acquisition of one or more of the EMI assets that Sony and Universal are being forced to sell by competition regulators would enable such speedy growth. In particular the acquisition of the Parlophone business and Chrysalis sound recordings catalogue in the UK.
So keen was KKR for such growth, the Post's sources alleged, that it might exit the music venture sooner than planned if no EMI deal came off. Though, as we pointed out, a Parlophone acquisition may not fit with BMG's plans in the sound recordings domain (given its insistence it will not become a traditional record company again), and certainly BMG bosses have indicated they are not interested in entering a rampant bidding war that might result in overpaying for any EMI assets, a policy the private equity dudes at KKR would presumably endorse.
Either way, BMG spokesman Ryan O'Keeffe told Bloomberg yesterday: "There are no immediate plans for a KKR exit from BMG and nor is there any link between a KKR exit and the outcome of any EMI-related process".
IFPI CHIEF CALLS ON RUSSIA TO CAPITALISE ON COPYRIGHT
Noting all the fab music makers in Russia (some of whom haven't been sent to a prison camp for expressing an opinion), the wide internet usage amongst the Russian population, and the slowly emerging legit digital music market in the region, IFPI boss Frances Moore said the country had the potential to be amongst the top ten music markets in the world, but was currently 23rd biggest because of rampant piracy, increasingly online.
Noting the record industry's recent fight with Russian social network vKontakte, which has been found liable for copyright infringement in the Russian courts for enabling its users to share unlicensed music, Moore told the International Anti-Counterfeiting Forum in Moscow: "The law [in Russia] should make it clear that sites such as vKontakte are obliged to take reasonable steps to prevent copyright infringement and that it is illegal for such services to induce or knowingly facilitate infringement. If we strike the right balance, then the Russian online music marketplace can grow exponentially to everyone's benefit, but the key is to ensure that there are incentives for reasonable conduct that will expand legitimate commerce rather than theft".
She continued: "Government can also provide valuable help in addressing some of the issues rights holders face when bringing infringement cases before the courts. Streamlining the requirements for the provision of evidence would make it more cost efficient for rights holders to bring cases. And the courts could be more open to ordering injunctions that stop illegal businesses trading, that could stop them continuing to generate revenue after their infringement has been brought to the authorities' attention".
In addition, making provision for the personal liability of directors of infringing companies would stop individuals acting as serial infringers through a succession of unlicensed services. These steps will deliver a viable online economy".
Moore then had to leave the building, aware that criticising the Russian regime in public can lead to accusations of vandalism and two year prison sentences.
CHASE AND STATUS TO OPEN FREE MUSIC SCHOOL
Chase, real name Will Kennard, said the he was inspired to set up the school after seeing work his brother had done at North Trafford College in Manchester: "I came across some incredibly talented kids who did not know how good they were at music. They did not really progress to the next level and realise their ambitions. These kids were probably more talented than I was, yet here I am succeeding in the music industry. Why aren't they?"
APPLE LAUNCHES IPAD MINI, NEW ITUNES YET TO GO LIVE
PLAYSTATION KARAOKE GAME TO BECOME FREE, FOCUS ON SELLING TRACKS
Rather than charging for the game itself, users will pay to download tracks to sing along with from the SingStore, so that the business model becomes selling songs rather than the game itself. Users won't even need a special microphone to play the free version of the game, though buying the PlayStation periphery is an option for better gameplay.
HMV DIGITAL BECOMES PART OF 7DIGITAL SITE
The latest revamp of HMV Digital, which was only relaunched two years ago, takes the flagging retailer's download platform out of the HMV environment and into the 7Digital website, which was also revamped last week. The new HMV/7 store can be accessed from both the HMV.com and 7Digital.com sites.
You might think that further divorcing CD and download sales, and introducing a new brand, is a decidedly odd thing for HMV to do, given its apparent ambition to become an entertainment destination site. But 'odd' can be good, right? And it's certainly good brand exposure for 7Digital, I suppose.
PARSONS MOVES TO DAYTIME ON SMOOTH
Confirming all this, the Programme Director of Real And Smooth Ltd, John Simons, told Radio Today: "It's great to be able to make Lynn a permanent feature on the weekday schedule. She has a very warm yet knowledgeable style and is well liked by the listeners. She is also one of the UK's most experienced broadcasters. David has provided weekend cover on the station this year and I am delighted to welcome him as a permanent fixture in the schedule".
Smooth Radio, of course, is in the process of being acquired by Global Radio. A competition regulator investigation into that deal is unlikely to rule until next March, after which it's not clear what plans Global would have for the Smooth network and the FM frequencies it uses.
SIRIUS XM CEO TO STEP DOWN NEXT YEAR
It's thought Karmazin's departure has likely been motivated by expectations that American media group Liberty, which already owns 49.5% of Sirius XM, will push for and ultimately get complete ownership of the company, and would then want to put its own management team in place. As previously reported, Liberty also owns a fifth of live music major Live Nation, and is thought to be interested in ultimately taking complete ownership of that company too.
Confirming his departure from Sirius XM, which was created by the merger of rival satellite radio broadcasters Sirius and XM in 2008, Karmazin paid tribute to the company, saying in a statement: "Sirius XM is an extraordinary company with an incredible team. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished. Given where we started, it is amazing that Sirius XM has grown to become the largest radio company in the world".
Meanwhile the boss of Liberty Media, John Malone, told reporters: "We appreciate the tremendous job Mel has done for the Company in overseeing the merger and delivering outstanding operating performance. While we understand, we regret Mel's decision to pursue other interests and are grateful for his willingness to oversee a smooth and orderly transition".
Recruitment is now underway for a new Sirius XM CEO.
LEE RYAN QUITS TWITTER AFTER DRUNKEN RANT
The two met via MySpace in 2007 and now have a three year old son, Rain. They were engaged to be married, but broke up in 2010 after Ryan was charged with assaulting Millar. However, recently they have seemingly been on good terms, and as recently as Sunday Ryan tweeted a picture of Millar and Rain with 'Eastenders' actor Adam Woodyatt.
Shortly before his rant began in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Ryan tweeted that he was working on the script for a horror movie and had drunk an entire bottle of wine in the process. Then, just after midnight he wrote: "No I've had enough of it!!!!! I'm only a person!!! I've had enough. Loved ones selling stories!!! Takes the piss!!!! Press takes the piss".
Claiming that Millar was "selling my story on my abusive relationship over the last five years", he proceeded to say that Millar had told him that she was going to the papers in the morning, after which he posted the mobile phone number of the journalist he claimed she was in contact with.
After a number of Twitter users suggested that was poor form, an hour after his first tweet Ryan wrote: "Fuck all u wankers on here!!! Some people have killed themselves over twitter!!! This sight should be banned!!!"
Waking up to all this in the morning, Millar tweeted just after 7am: "The weirdest thing is... There was nothing mentioned about selling anything. Nothing's getting sold. Madness".
Ryan was seemingly no less angry after a few hours' sleep, though his ire was still directed at the users of Twitter, rather than his former partner. Just after 9am, he wrote what may or may not be his final tweet: "Sorry, will never be on twitter again. I think this sight is actually wrong".
Ryan did return overnight, but only to delete his angry tweets. Witness the full Twitter storm here.