The five biggest stories in the music business this week...
01: The BPI asked The Pirate Party to stop circumventing Pirate Bay blocks. The UK record industry trade body sent a letter to the boss of the Pirate Party requesting that his organisation stop operating a proxy that means that customers of those ISPs which are, under court order, blocking access to the Pirate Bay, can still access the controversial file-sharing site. The quick route to circumventing the Bay block is accessible via the Pirate Party's website and appears high up in Google searches for the file-sharing site too. Pirate Party boss Loz Kaye said he was considering his response. The letter may be a precursor to legal action by the BPI in a bid to stop those people trying to help others circumvent the Pirate Bay blockades. CMU report | BBC report
02: Newzbin2 closed down. The file-sharing community is important in the context of UK copyright law, because it was the movie industry's successful efforts to force British ISPs to block access to it that set the precedent that let the BPI get injunctions to block The Pirate Bay. The original Newzbin was forced offline by the British courts on copyright grounds, but Newzbin2 was set up outside the UK. Despite being blocked by many British net firms, most users would have been able to get passed the blocks. However, the movie industry also put pressure on various payment service providers to not take monies from Newzbin2 users, meaning the operators of the site cannot afford a much needed upgrade, motivating the shut down. CMU report | Slyck.com report
03: Four bidders remained in the EMI song catalogues race. BMG, Because and Kobalt/G2 have all put in second round bids for the EMI song catalogues being sold by Sony/ATV, which agreed to offload some European assets in order to get regulator approval for its takeover (with others) of EMI Music Publishing. Warner Music is also expected to put in a full bid to buy the Virgin and Famous UK catalogues. Nine parties are thought to have made initial bids, but only these four are still in the running. CMU report | Billboard report
04: Universal appointed a Sony man to run Capitol. Most of the frontline label operations in the US previously owned by EMI will now be headed up by Steve Barnett, who was headhunted by new EMI owners Universal Music this week. Barnett has been a long-time staffer with Universal's rival Sony Music, most recently running Columbia Records in the US. His new division within Universal will include the Capitol, Virgin, Blue Note and Astralwerks labels Stateside, plus The Beatles catalogue. Capitol will be an autonomous division within Universal, which also has ambitions to launch a Capitol label in the UK once its sold off EMI's Parlophone business (a sale forced by European regulators, of course). CMU report | LA Times report
05: Adele album passed the ten million units landmark in US. Somewhat aptly, '21' is the 21st album to sell that many copies in the US since Neilsen SoundScan began recording such data in 1991. Meanwhile Louis Walsh told Q magazine that he thinks Adele is crazy for having a relaxing year, she having performed and recorded very little in 2012, firstly because she was recovering from a bad throat, then there was the having a baby business. "Fine, have a baby, but then get back out there", said Walsh. Perhaps she'll take his advice once she realises she's only the 22nd best paid musician in the world this year. CMU report | Guardian report
This week on CMU, we interviewed Japanese instrumental post-rock/classical hybrid band Mono, Liverpudlian folkists Stealing Sheep put together a playlist for us, and Eddy Temple-Morris selected some of the artists he's most looking forward to hearing more in 2013. Meanwhile, in the Approved column we had new music from Francis Neve, Hype Williams, Autre Ne Veut, and US Girls.
BPI ASKS PIRATE PARTY TO TAKE DOWN PIRATE BAY PROXY
As much previously reported, earlier this year the BPI successfully secured injunctions against all the major UK ISPs forcing them to block access to the Bay, after a judge ruled that the file-sharing service was liable for the copyright infringement it enabled. However, for anyone with a bit of know-how, it is possible to circumvent those web-blocks. Using the Pirate Party's 'proxy', which is accessible on the political organisation's home page and now comes up very high in UK Google searches for "The Pirate Bay", is one of the simplest ways.
Confirming he had received the letter requesting his organisation stop operating the proxy, Pirate Party chief Loz Kaye yesterday posted on his party's website: "Late this afternoon I received an email from Geoff Taylor at the BPI indicating that a letter had been sent to The Pirate Party, as well as an electronic copy of that letter which refers to our provision of a Pirate Bay Proxy. We have not yet received the letter by post. As this letter seems to have been made available to the press, I would like to make it clear that we will respond to the BPI by 6 Dec as requested by Mr Taylor, as well as informing our members of the letter, its contents and our response".
He continued: "The Pirate Party UK has hosted a proxy, allowing people to connect to The Pirate Bay via Pirate Party servers, since April 2012, a little before The Pirate Bay was blocked by some UK ISPs after being issued with court orders. These court orders remain in place and some ISPs continue to prevent access to The Pirate Bay. As we stated in May 2012, we provided the proxy as a tool for users on networks where The Pirate Bay is blocked through filtering, we will continue to do so as long as this situation continues".
He concluded: "The proxy continues to be a legitimate route for those affected by court orders issued to some (but not all) UK ISPs requiring the site to be blocked. Whilst some providers continue to allow access to the web in an unfiltered manner, others are limiting access to specific parts of the internet".
The 'legitimacy' of proxies designed to circumvent web blocks put in place by a court injunction isn't really clear at the moment, certainly such proxies are not in the spirit of the court orders. Whether separate injunctions could be secured against proxy operators through the courts is yet to be tested, web-block injunctions on copyright grounds in the UK still being a relatively new phenomenon, though the BPI's letter could be seen as a precursor of legal action. In the Netherlands, anti-piracy body BREIN has pursued separate legal action against the Pirate Party there to shut down its TPB proxy.
According to the BBC, The Pirate Party, which is not formally affiliated with The Pirate Bay, says it operates the proxy as an act of "freedom of expression" to support "the right to share information and ideas without interference". The BPI's letter seemingly deals with that claim specifically.
The Beeb says the BPI's Taylor writes: "Freedom of expression is not an absolute right. It comes with a duty to respect the rights of others, including those whose talent, hard work and investment help to create music and other entertainment. We are passionate believers in freedom of speech. But it doesn't justify The Pirate Bay helping themselves to other people's work. The human rights implications of blocking this illegal site have been fully considered by the High Court. Whatever their views, Pirate Party UK are no more above the law than anyone else".
NEWZBIN2 GOES OFFLINE
Newzbin2 was launched after legal action by the movie industry through the British courts forced the original Newzbin site offline. The new site was located beyond the jurisdiction of the UK courts, hence the web-blocks. The site, based on the long-established Usenet indexing network, provided links to all sorts of content, and relied on premium users who paid subscription fees to cover technical costs.
But, operators of the site say, pressure has been put on those services that accept payments on behalf of Newzbin, making it difficult to accept monies, meaning some vital upgrading work cannot be undertaken. Other factors have played their part in persuading Team Newzbin to call it a day, including a decline in the number of users contributing editorial skills, making the service less efficient, though the financial issues seem to have been key.
In a statement confirming the closure of the service, published by Slyck.com, the Newzbin2 operators insist that their service was actually compliant with copyright law as set out in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, ie they adhered to takedown requests when submitted by rights owners. They conclude: "The tragedy is this: unlike Newzbin1, we are 100% DMCA compliant. We have acted on every DMCA notice we received without stalling or playing games: if there was a DMCA complaint the report was gone. Period. That was a condition of our advertising and payment partners so we complied but we never got a single complaint from the MPA. Not one".
US THREE-STRIKE-STYLE WARNING LETTERS DELAYED
As previously reported, a number of major ISPs in the States, many of which also have interests in the content industries, have voluntarily agreed to start sending out warning letters to customers suspected of accessing illegal sources of content, similar to those the 2010 Digital Economy Act in the UK obligates net firms to send (not that any have yet).
It was thought the letter sending could kick off anytime now, but the Center For Copyright Information, which will coordinate the letter sending, says not all stakeholders are ready to go, some having suffered setbacks because of the impact Hurricane Sandy had on East Coast facilities. It now seems likely letters will start going out in early 2013.
Customers who ignore the letters could ultimately suffer sanctions, to be determined by each individual ISP, though it is likely up to five warning letters would be mailed first, meaning the scheme has been dubbed 'six strikes'. Similar warning letter schemes have been set up in a number of other countries, of course, most as a result of statutory measures, though some ISPs elsewhere have voluntarily agreed to mail out letters alerting their users to the fact they may be infringing copyrights.
MOSCOW COURT RULES THAT ACCESS TO SITES HOSTING PUSSY RIOT VIDEOS SHOULD BE RESTRICTED
According to Russian news agency Interfax, the judge ruling on the case said: "The video materials in question contain evidence of extremism, specifically statements and actions belittling various social groups based on religious affiliation. There are hidden calls for a riot and resistance of the authorities, and also the organisation of mass unrest".
Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich attempted to launch an appeal against the decision, but the court refused to recognise her as an interested party. Despite this, she vowed to continue to fight the decision, either through the courts or by moving the Pussy Riot website to servers outside Russia, saying yesterday: "Today's decision was expected. I will try to contest it".
The Russian Orthodox Church, meanwhile, welcomed the decision - perhaps unsurprisingly since it too has been criticised by the group, and it was the band's performance of a 'punk prayer' in the church's Moscow cathedral that landed three Pussy Riot members in prison earlier this year (two are still in jail). And it's the video of that performance which is the band's most popular, with almost 2.5 million views on YouTube.
Father Vsevolod of the Church told Interfax: "There are no grounds not to respect this court decision. Many such tests and videos have been put on the federal list of extremist materials, and the decision to put this video on this list is quite appropriate. Texts that were even less insulting and hostile towards other religious groups have been recognised as extremist materials before, [therefore this new ruling] is well in line with the current law enforcement practice".
He added: "If this law is adopted, it should protect the interests of the minority and the majority, it should exercise justice and be effective in all cases when insulting and hostile words are said about a specific group of people, and concepts, symbols and persons that are important to them".
TVSHACK OPERATORS TO AVOID US EXTRADITION
As previously reported, Richard O'Dwyer ran TVShack, a website that provided regularly updated links to where users could find TV shows that had been uploaded, mainly without licence, to YouTube-style services. Sites like TVShack - and another UK-based one called TV-Links - became useful once user-upload sites started properly responding to takedown requests from the TV industry.
On most video-sharing sites unlicensed content is constantly being taken down and then re-uploaded by other users, though if you just want to watch the latest episode of 'Family Guy', navigating all that is a major arse. Sites like TVShack mean users can visit one website which will link them to the latest uploads which are still live.
The existence of such sites made the whole takedown system less effective, so rights owners started targeting the link sites too, claiming their operators were liable for contributory or authorising infringement. Although UK-based with a website hosted in Sweden, O'Dwyer was targeted by the US authorities. In probably his biggest mistake, he ignored a cease and desist from the American government, moved his site to a new domain and carried on regardless. Until UK police and US representatives showed up at his door. Extradition proceedings, to force O'Dwyer to face copyright charges back in the US, followed.
Operators of sites like TVShack always say that they don't actually host any infringing content, and therefore cannot be held liable for any infringement that occurs when a user clicks on one of their links. In most jurisdictions that's not an especially effective defence - such linking services are considered to constitute contributory infringement - although there are exceptions.
But even if there was a civil case for O'Dwyer to answer, it's debatable whether there is a criminal case against the student; criminal liability would depend very much on his motivation and how commercial his operation was. In the UK attempts to prosecute the operators of infringement-assisting websites have had mixed results. And anyway, O'Dwyer's supporters, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, have stressed, even if there was a criminal case to answer, why in the US?
Nevertheless, the extradition proceedings continued, with Home Secretary Theresa May rubber stamping the American's application back in March. However, as O'Dwyer's lawyers pursued every appeals process available, they also continued to negotiate with the American prosecutors, leading to this week's deal.
According to the BBC, O'Dwyer has signed a provisional agreement, which his mother Julia O'Dwyer will complete in the US. It's not clear why the US authorities, which initially seemed adamant that O'Dwyer should face the charges against him in an American court room, have had a change of heart, though Wales's high profile support and petition, signed by quarter of a million people, may well have helped.
Loz Kaye, the boss of the UK Pirate Party welcomed the deal, telling Torrentfreak: "This decision vindicates the Pirate Party's view that the extradition request was disproportionate and unnecessary all along. It does not remove the underlying problem though. The US can not be allowed to be the copyright cops of the world. I hope that Richard and Julia O'Dwyer will be able to begin to rebuild their lives now".
BEASTIE BOYS RESPOND IN SAMPLING LAWSUIT
As previously reported, US label Tuf America alleged that four of the hip hop outfit's tracks from 1986 and 1989 used samples from two songs it owned without permission. Tuf America had only acquired the rights in the allegedly sampled songs in 1999, and had only noticed the alleged samples in the Beastie Boys tracks very recently.
Yauch's death delayed the group's response to the action, but this week legal papers were filed. Lawyers have argued that Tuf America has not provided convincing evidence that the samples in question originate with the recordings it owns, while adding that, even if it could provide that evidence, the case should be dismissed under the statute of limitations - ie the claimant waited far too long to sue.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the legal reps say: "What precipitated plaintiff to bring this action two decades after the release of the songs in question, and the day before the passing of defendant Adam Yauch, is not explained. Plaintiff is attempting to sidestep the Copyright Act's three-year statute of limitations and the defenses of laches and estoppel in light of its decades-long delay in taking any action".
Tuf America is yet to respond.
AUSTRALIA'S ARIA AWARDS GIVEN... MAJORITY GO TO GOTYE
Best Male Artist: Gotye - Making Mirrors
Album Of The Year: Gotye - Making Mirrors
ARIA Song Of The Year: Matt Corby - Brother
Best Cover Art: Frank De Backer & Wally De Backer- Making Mirrors
GOTYE HAS MOST STREAMED TRACK ON SPOTIFY IN 2012
Flo Rida managed to get two entries in the tracks top ten, as well as just sneaking into the ten most popular albums. Only one other artist, Sia, managed two top ten tracks, though on both occasions it was as a guest vocalist (one of them on Flo Rida's track 'Wild Ones').
Stats are fun, huh? Presumably everyone will start listening exclusively to Christmas music tomorrow and therefore these lists won't change before the year is out. You can listen to a playlist of the 100 most popular tracks on Spotify in 2012 here, or check out the single track and album top tens below.
Most streamed tracks:
1. Gotye feat Kimbra - Somebody That I Used To Know
Most streamed albums:
1. David Guetta - Nothing But The Beat
DRE TOPS MUSICIANS EARNINGS LIST
Dr Dre tops the poll, though - as we pointed out when he also topped the Forbes hip hop rich list back in September - HTC taking a rather large stake in his Beats company has helped there. Elsewhere, the usual suspects dominate, with quite a few Brits towards the top of the poll, and elsewhere, including Sade at number 25 with annual earnings of $33 million. These polls are always good for reminding us just how big Sade is in the US.
Anyway, here's the list...
NICK OLIVERI WORKING WITH QOTSA AND KYUSS
SAVAGES RECORDING LP
Something else Savages have done, aside from starting the LP, is to collaborate with Bo Ningen on an alternate version of the band's 'Line The Wall' LP track 'Nichijyou'. It'll be released as a single via Stolen Recordings on 7 Jan.
MATADOR ANNOUNCES 2013 SINGLES CLUB RELEASES
The next series will see a new release pumped out every month of the year (unless you're outside the US and Canada, in which case they'll arrive in a pack of three every quarter). A subscription in the UK will set you back $105 all in, and can be purchased here.
Artists confirmed for the first six months of releases are as follows:
Jan: Jeffrey Novak
JULIAN CASABLANCAS SIGNS THE VIRGINS
An oddly animated Casablancas says: "When I first saw The Virgins I was psyched there was such a rad new band from NYC. [Singer] Donald [Cumming] is such an awesome guy and it's great to meet someone who's such a true artist. I think they've made a classic record and we're really excited they chose to work with us".
SPRINGSTEEN SETS E STREET STADIUM DATES
15 Jun: London, Wembley Stadium
TALL SHIPS TO TOUR
28 Feb: Bristol The Fleece
LOWELL, COLD SPECKS ADD SOLO SEBRIGHT SHOWS
In similar info, Mute's Cold Specks will play her own solo set - also at the Sebright - on 21 Dec. It's a special Winter solstice party, and tickets are free to those who RSVP via this Facebook page.
And now, in line with the show's Christmassy theme, it's time to listen to 'Christmas Evermore', a Mary Margaret O'Hara cover and Cold Specks' donation to Sartorial Records festive new compilation 'All Ready For The 25th'.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
As previously reported, next year will see the twin festivals add new stages, including one hosted by BBC Radio 1Xtra, making room for more artists from non-rock genres. Of that, Reading/Leeds boss Melvin Benn told CMU: "This is a dynamic time for the festivals. Not only do we have a fresh look for next year, but we are also adding to the fans' experience of the festival with the introduction of more stages and genres of music, which also inevitably means an increase in the number of artists playing across the weekend.
Elsewhere, Austria's Snowbombing has piled the electro-centric Simian Mobile Disco and Tiga onto its existing live programme, as features Kasabian, Example, Katy B, Disclosure and Rudimental. 'Extreme' French do Hellfest has acquired its first acts - not least Twisted Sister, Bullet For My Valentine, Bad Religion (and Korn) - while Bloodstock enlists four further bands.
This what that same info looks like in list format:
BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Walton-On-Trent, South Derbyshire, 8-11 Aug 2013: Avantasia, Whitechapel, Kataklysm, Ex Deo. www.bloodstock.uk.com
HELLFEST, Clisson, France, 21-23 un 2013: Kiss, Twisted Sister, Accept, Korn, Stone Sour Avantasia, Bullet For My Valentine, Volbeat, Sick of it All, Bad Religion, The Acacia Strain, Anti-flag, Arch Enemy, Atari Teenage Riot, Aura Noir, Between The Buried And Me, Black Spiders, Candlemass, Carpathian Forest, Coal Chamber, Converge, Cradle of Filth, Cryptopsy, Danko Jones, For Today, God Seed, Haemorrhage, Hardcore Superstar, Heavens Basement, Insahn, Karma To Burn, Krisiun, Leprous, Marduk, Mass Hysteria, My Sleeping Karma, Nachtmystium, Negative Approach, Parkway Drive, Punish Yourself, Red Fang, Rotting Christ, Senser, Skindred, Spiritual Beggars, The Sword, Terror, Testament, Truckfighters. www.hellfest.fr
LEEDS FESTIVAL, Bramham Park, Leeds, 23-25 Aug 2013: Deftones, Alt-J, Sub Focus, Boy Better Know (Wiley, Skepta, JME). www.leedsfestival.com
READING FESTIVAL, Richfield Avenue, Reading, 23-25 Aug 2013: Deftones, Alt-J, Sub Focus, Boy Better Know (Wiley, Skepta, JME). www.readingfestival.com
SNOWBOMBING, Mayrhofen, Austria, 1-6 Apr 2013: Above & Beyond, Dub Pistols, Simian Mobile Disco, Tiga, Heidi, Plastician, Catz N Dogz, Maribou State, South London Ordnance, krankbrothers, Hot Since 82, Union, Rattus Rattus, Clouds, Gingy & Bordello, Tom Staar, Marc Roberts, Wax Wreckaz, North Base, Dave Beer, Adeline, Brinsley Kazak, Josh T, Ben Gomori, BBC, Smak Pony, DJ Shorterz, Neil Parkes, Ernest, Serene, Paddy Lopaski, Seedy Sonics, F.O.H., Dutch Settlers, Hugo Heathcoate, Will Weaver, Jolyon Klean. www.snowbombing.com
WESTFIELD AND 4MUSIC PARTNER TO PROMOTE RIHANNA TOUR
The partnership, brokered by 4Music co-owner Bauer Media and Sold Out Advertising, will also see additional content broadcast on other music channels operated by Channel4/Bauer JV Box TV, plus E4 and Bauer radio stations.
Westfield's Brand Alliance Manager, Fiona Kyle told CMU: "The partnership with Sold Out and 4Music will result in an exciting content package, initially showcasing Rihanna, giving consumers and fans a unique shopping experience at Westfield. Our digital broadcast screens offer a fantastic platform for Rihanna's management to interact with consumers in a retail environment, to promote the must-see show of 2013. We'll also be able to drive consumers to download Rihanna's content on the spot via the free wi-fi we offer in our centres".
AEG APPOINTS SBO CHIEF
Confirming the new appointment, Bush told CMU: "I am excited to be joining an internationally renowned company such as AEG Live at a time when live entertainment is more popular than ever. There are many exciting opportunities and I look forward to bringing my experiences as Chairman of SBO to this new role".
Meanwhile AEG's President of International Touring Rob Hallett added: "We are very much looking forward to working with Sam and having him as part of the team. He brings a huge amount of experience to the job and will be a great addition to AEG Live".
The Sam Bush Organisation will continue to operate as an independent promoter and management firm under the leadership of Bush's former co-Chair Aaron Kirkhouse.
ITUNES 11 GOES LIVE, AT LAST
ROBBIE FORCED POSTMAN TO LISTEN TO NEW ALBUM
Williams told The Sun: "I've been having all sorts of people come in and have a listen - the mail man, the dustman, people delivering things from Amazon... I said, 'Come and have a listen to this. What do you think should be the first single? Is it good?' You see, this is a really important album for me. Every album is important but this one definitely shows where I am in today's society and pop culture".