REISSUE LABELS CAPITALISE ON 'LOVE ME DO' GOING PUBLIC DOMAIN AS IPO BEGINS CONSULTATION ON COPYRIGHT EXTENSION
As much previously reported, the European record industry lobbied for years for the copyright term enjoyed by sound recordings to be extended from the current 50 years. European labels really wanted parity with the US, where the sound recording copyright term is 95 years, but in the end politicians in Brussels approved an extension to 70.
The UK government initially opposed the term extension, but was persuaded to back the 70 year term in 2009, mainly because of the small community of aging session musicians who earn royalties from the 1960s hits they were involved in, thanks to a rule that says any recording artists involved in a recording are due a cut of public performance royalties via collecting society PPL, oblivious of past agreements with the labels who released and likely own said recordings.
As copyright terms must be the same across the European Union, once it backed the 70 year term, the British government had to persuade its counterparts in Brussels to support the extension. Although the European Commission and Parliament approved the move, some member states opposed the extension in the EU Council, which delayed things somewhat.
For the UK record industry there was an urgency, because its catalogue of mid-1960s recordings, including key Beatles and Rolling Stones releases, which still generate sizable revenues, was approaching the end of its 50 year term. The deadline was always informally set at 2012, the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Beatles' single 'Love Me Do'.
At a European level the deadline was technically met, and the 70 year term was approved in September 2011. However, the extension then had to be incorporated into the law of each EU member state, with the requirements of the copyright extension directive needing to be interpreted in the context of each European copyright system. That is set to be done by November this year.
The UK's Intellectual Property Office began that work just last week, opening a consultation on the matter. The rights and wrongs of the sound recording copyright term extending to 70 years (and not everyone agrees it's a good idea) is not up for debate, however there are some technicalities that need working out.
In particular, there will be a 'use it or lose it' clause, that will mean that labels must ensure that recordings 50 year old and over are available for consumption and purchase, otherwise a featured artist will be able to claim control of the copyright. Quite what 'making available' means, and how featured artists will go about claiming control, is still to be worked out.
Input on all of that is being welcomed by the IPO until 4 Mar this year. How quickly UK copyright law will then be amended isn't clear, though under European Union rules the extension must be in place by November. Because sound recordings actually go 'public domain' at the end of the year in which the 50 year term expires, that means that anything released in 1963 will get the 70 year term.
However, those recordings released in 1962 went into public domain at the end of last month, and as the extension will not be applied retrospectively, they will remain out of copyright. And that includes the original recording of 'Love Me Do' and its b-side 'PS I Love You'.
The copyright in the songs, of course, are not affected, because they are subject to a different term (life of the creators - ie Lennon and McCartney - plus 70 years), but providing the songs' publishers are paid a licence fee, it means anyone can distribute those original recordings without the permission of their former owners, EMI, or now Universal Music.
And first to seemingly capitalise on that fact is a company called Digital Remasterings, which has included 'Love Me Do' on a compilation of very early Beatles recordings, mainly live recordings from their time working at Hamburg's Star Club. Meanwhile a company called Pristine Classical, which specialises in releasing remastered versions of out-of-copyright classical recordings, has issued its own remaster of 'Love Me Do', seemingly in protest at the copyright extension.
Universal, of course, will still have the exclusive rights to distribute 'Love Me Do' alongside the rest of the Beatles catalogue in Europe, and will still own subsequent official reworks of the original recording, but that one Beatles song (and its b-side) falling out of copyright is nevertheless an interesting little epilogue to the term extension story.
In related news, a very limited edition release of early Bob Dylan recordings, called the 'The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol 1', has been distributed in various European record shops, seemingly to ensure the copyright owners don't fall foul of the 'use it or lose it' clause as it is incorporated into copyright systems around Europe.
PLAY.COM TO SHUT DOWN RETAIL SITE, WILL BECOME MARKETPLACE
Play.com was one of the first online operations to really capitalise on the tax benefits of selling low-cost mail-order products from the Channel Islands into the UK. As much previously reported, a tax exemption called Low Value Consignment Relief meant that such operators - based outside the European Union but within the customs zone - didn't have to charge VAT on products under £18, giving them a 15-20% advantage over mainland retailers.
Founded in 1998 just as web-based mail order was taking off, although Play.com moved into other product areas where prices were not low enough for LVCR to apply, low-cost entertainment products remained key to the operation. Many other CD sellers followed Play.com's lead in locating to the Channel Islands, of course, including the bigger British high street retailers who could afford an off-shore base (either directly, or by employing the services of companies like The Hut).
But the use of LVCR in this way - which saw ships full of CDs and DVDs sail from the UK to Jersey and Guernsey, to be mailed back one by one to the British mainland - was controversial and, it was eventually proven, an abuse of European tax laws. Many argue it also accelerated the demise of traditional music retail in the UK, with independent retailers unable to share in the web-led boom in mail-order, because if they set up their own mail-order sites from within the UK they could never afford to compete on price against Play.com et al.
After years of campaigning, UK Chancellor Of The Exchequer finally axed the tax relief for Channel Island-based companies last April. Since then many mail-order companies, many of whom for years insisted that they were Jersey or Guernsey-based for reasons other than the VAT-break, have shut their operations on the islands. Some have been investigating ways to continue using the LVCR benefit that still applies to other non-EU territories, though there are logistical and customs challenges. Which is perhaps why some are just considering giving up. Such as Play.com.
The company's founders cleverly got out of the business once it became clear the UK government was finally going to act over LVCR abuse, selling to Japan's largest online retailer Rakuten for £25 million in September 2011. It was already known at the time that Play.com would likely lose its 20% advantage on CDs and DVDs, but Rakuten seemed to think the wider Play business was now sufficiently diverse to weather that storm.
At the time of the sale, Rakuten boss Hiroshi Mikitani said: "Play.com is not only a pioneer in the market but also one of the UK's most successful e-commerce businesses. We aim to leverage our e-commerce strength and experience to further expand and develop Play.com's business model and channel its loyal user base, merchants, and deep product offerings into Rakuten's global e-commerce network".
But it would seem tax-free entertainment products were more key to Play.com than Rakuten realised, though when confirming that the company would no longer be selling goods itself yesterday, the firm's current operators insisted that its marketplace platform - which allows other retailers to sell goods online - was "our main business area" anyway.
The shift means Play.com will pull out of Jersey completely, making 147 staff redundant. The streamlined firm will still have a base in Cambridge, with about 200 staff expected to remain with the restructured operation. The shut down of the main Play.com retail business will also result in over 60 redundancies in the UK. It's thought that now about 550 Jersey people have now lost their jobs as a result of the removal of LCVR from Channel Islands operations.
Commenting on the development, Jersey's Economic Development Minister Alan Maclean told the BBC: "I'm saddened, this is a Jersey business, set up in the island that did extraordinarily well, that became a global brand. We will work with other businesses and entrepreneurs to help them develop the next Play.com".
Speaking for RAVAS, the campaigning group that successfully lobbied for the ending of LVCR abuse in the Channel islands, Richard Allen told CMU: "In 2004 a number of major retailers complained to the UK Treasury about the avoidance of VAT by Play.com and the damage that the allowance of Play.com's offshore operation was doing to UK internet and high street retail. Play.com were innovators in LVCR-based music retail and the allowance of their business model by the UK authorities was responsible for the subsequent stampede of UK online retail to the Channel Islands. The simple reason UK business went there was because they couldn't compete with Play.com because, unlike Play.com, they had to pay VAT".
He continues: "It is somewhat of a vindication for RAVAS and those who have supported us that Play.com finally admits that LVCR was the backbone of its business. Whilst we do not relish the fact people have lost their jobs, we hope this marks the beginning of the end of LVCR-based VAT avoidance schemes which do nothing more than damage livelihoods and siphon tax income and employment out of the UK. Both the UK and Jersey Governments have a lot to answer for in allowing this trade, particularly Jersey who wasted a million pounds - on a pointless judicial review [to try to stop the axing of LVCR] - that they could have given to those who have lost their jobs".
WILKO JOHNSON DIAGNOSED WITH TERMINAL CANCER
Hoy wrote in a post on Johnson's Facebook page: "He is currently in good spirits, is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity. He has just set off on a trip to Japan; on his return we plan to complete a new CD, make a short tour of France, then give a series of farewell gigs in the UK. There is also a live DVD in the pipeline, filmed on the last UK tour".
Johnson formed Dr Feelgood in 1971 with singer Lee Brilleaux, bassist John 'The Big Figure' Martin and drummer John 'Sparko' Sparks. Centred on Johnson's distinctive guitar sound, they were best known as a live band, and it was their 1976 live album 'Stupidity' that was their most successful recording, reaching number one in the UK.
Shortly afterwards in March 1977, Johnson left the band, to be replaced by John 'Gypie' Mayo. Although their next album, 'Sneakin Suspicion', went to number ten, the band's popularity waned after this. Mayo left the group in 1981, followed in 1982 by Martin and Sparks. Brilleaux continued as the band's only original member with a varying line-up until his death in 1994. The band continues today with no members of the original line-up.
In 2009, Johnson appeared in 'Oil City Confidental', a Julien Temple-directed documentary about his live growing up on Canvey Island and with Dr Feelgood. After producers of HBO series 'Games Of Thrones' saw him in the film, he was invited to appear in the series, playing the role of mute executioner Ilyn Payne in five episodes over its first and second series.
EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AWARDS PRESENTED
Commenting, Festival Awards co-founder Steve Jenner told CMU: "This edition of the European Festival Awards has been a great and much needed celebration for the industry as a united whole. A significant increase in events rallying to take part suggests a healthy display of confidence, competitiveness and pride. The staggering number of public votes received shows that people's appetites for festivals have never been greater. In the face of toughening conditions, the forecast still looks bright for Europe's festival market".
And look, have a list of winners...
JUDGING PANEL VOTED
CHOICE MUSIC PRIZE SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED
DAVID BOWIE SINGLE MISSING FROM MIDWEEKS
In a statement, the OCC said: "Owing to chart rules which are agreed in partnership with UK record companies and retailers, data relating to the David Bowie single 'Where Are We Now?' cannot currently be counted towards the official singles charts, as the release is linked to an album pre-order promotion and it is not possible to distinguish album sales from track sales from the retail data received".
With Bowie currently riding atop the iTunes singles chart, many accused the Official Charts Company of disqualifying him from taking his rightful place above Will.i.am and Britney Spears, who are number one in the midweeks with their track, 'Scream & Shout'.
But it's alright, you can all calm down, Bowie's still in with a chance, should the retailers' be able to work out which sales were single track downloads and which were part of the pre-order bundle. Something, amazingly, they've apparently never thought to do before.
The Official Charts Company confirmed to CMU yesterday: "Straight purchases of 'Where Are We Now?' (as opposed to free downloads tied to an album pre-order) are, in theory, perfectly eligible to chart based on chart rules. However, the volume of these types of straight purchases need to be separated out from the free downloads and reported to us from retailers. The necessary information for this Bowie release is simply unavailable to us, so cannot be counted until the data is made available".
He added: "['Where Are They Now?' is] maybe the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him. I thought to myself: 'Why is David coming out with this very slow, albeit beautiful, ballad? ... He should come out with a bang'. But he is a master of his own life. I think this was a very smart move, linking the past with the future, and I think the next thing you hear from him is going to be quite different".
The album is due for release on 12 Mar.
PETITE NOIR SIGNS TO DOUBLE SIX
Check out the video for 'Disappear' here.
ANTLERED MAN SIGN TO COOKING VINYL PUBLISHING
The band have also announced a clutch of tour dates for April and released a new live video.
4 Apr: Norwich, Open
KEITH RICHARDS AND TOM WAITS RELEASE PIRATE DUET
'Shenandoah' features on 'Son Of Rogue's Gallery', a Johnny Depp-devised two-CD compilation of "Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys" also starring such guest buccaneers as Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Patti Smith and Sean Lennon.
That's set for release on 18 Feb, but in the meantime, do have a listen to 'Shenandoah'.
WILLOW SMITH SHARES NEW TRACK AS ARBRE MORT
The once-peppy 'Whip My Hair' poplet's new single features bars from Radiohead's 'Codex', and is titled 'Sugar And Spice'.
Ms Smith's Arbre Mort SoundCloud bio reads: "Hi my name is Willow. I have another account but I don't use that one as much lol. This is for my creativity to grow with no walls. Maulheureux [misery] bound".
EFTERKLANG ONE-SIDED LP TO GET DIGITAL RELEASE
Featuring a track with Danish singer Martin Hall, plus contributions from Amiina's Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir and Hildur Àrsælsdóttir, it will be available from 21 Jan.
The vinyl edition, if that sounds more up your street, is still available form Burnt Toast. And here is the tracklist:
BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB DETAIL LP
Original BRMC-er Robert Levon Been makes a mandatory 'making of' speech: "This record took a long time to pull together. I think we all reached the breaking point after our last tour and needed to step back for a bit. These songs brought us back to life and gave us a second chance. I've never been more excited to play an album live before, these songs were born to be loud".
TIM BURGESS AND LAMBCHOP TO PLAY LONDON BARBICAN
The pair will appear at London's Barbican on 23 Jun. Event details and tickets (on sale as of 11 Jan) are available at this link.
AMATEUR BEST SETS LIVE DEBUT
WOLF ALICE TO TOUR
If you so choose, you can hear 'Fluffy' and view the tour's individual dates now:
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
GARDEN FESTIVAL, Tisno, Croatia, 3-10 Jul: Theo Parrish, Bicep, Huxley, Eats Everything, Maurice Fulton, Tim Sweeney, Brawther, Young Marco, Auntie Flo, Paqua, Crazy P, Claremont 56, Beats In Space, Louche, Wolf Music. www.thegardenfestival.eu
ROSKILDE, Denmark, 29 Jun - 7 Jul: Animal Collective, Action Bronson, Danny Brown, Flatbush Zombies, Joey Bada$$. www.roskilde-festival.dk
SLAM DUNK, Leeds University/South Hertfordshire University/Wolverhampton Civic, 25-27 May: Sleeping With Sirens, Memphis May Fire, Man Overboard, Andrew McMahon, MC Lars, The Summer Set, Mallory Knox. www.slamdunkmusic.com/slam-dunk-festival
NICKI MINAJ AND ADAM LEVINE TO CO-DESIGN KMART LINE
But wait, please stifle that cynical yawn whilst you hear what Nicki has to say about her 'inspirational' new project. And that is: "I am so excited to work with this iconic mass retailer and to bring affordable fashion to my beautiful Barbz [they're her fans] all across the US".
Executive VP of Marketing & Online at Kmart/ShopYourWay parent Sears Holdings, Imran Kooma, deferentially adds: "We are thrilled to align Kmart and Shop Your Way with two of America's superstars. We welcome Adam and Nicki into our world and look forward to capturing their energy and creativity on ShopYourWay.com and translating it into unique apparel, accessories and other merchandise".
COWELL TAKES NEARLY £900,000 SALARY FROM ONE OF HIS COMPANIES
Maidmetal is one of Cowell's companies, described as being involved in 'developing talent and intellectual property'. It's not known which of Cowell's projects are funnelled through Maidmetal, though he is the sole director of the business and owns 99.9% of the shares.
Cowell's main companies, of course, fall under the Simco umbrella, his joint venture with Sony Music that operates as Syco, though he has various other interests too. As previously reported, a separate set of Companies House accounts showed that Simco made £22.9 million in profits in 2011/12, a massive increase on the previous year mainly as a result of Syco's increased US-based TV output.
BLOOM.FM OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES
The latter element is the USP. The Bloom.fm service will offer three levels of subscription for people who want full mobile functionality. Like Spotify et al, £10 a month will get you full access to the streaming service's catalogue via mobile, with played tracks downloading to the mobile device to allow offline listening. But consumers will also be able to choose a £5 a month option (up to 200 tracks stored on device) or one pound a month level (20 tracks). Subscriptions can be paid online or from within the app (though the latter way will be slightly more expensive to cover Apple charges).
Launching the new app, which follows a year of development of the Bloom.fm service, the company's CTO Thong Nguyen told CMU: "From the very beginning we wanted to design Bloom specifically for mobile; to take advantage of the touchscreen with a unique interface that contributes to the user experience rather than take away from it. Music excites people and we think software should too!"
Bloom.fm boss Oleg Fomenko added: "We are very encouraged by the industry-wide support - from the likes of Universal, Sony Music, EMI, Beggars, Orchard, PIAS, INgrooves and dozens more indie labels - for our desire to bring a service to the UK consumer that is not only beautiful and easy to use, but also offers an amazing entry price of only £1 a month. We believe that Bloom.fm will excite millions of music lovers who find existing price points too high for their needs and we hope our fantastic discovery features will help everyone find a new favourite artist".
SPEARS TO BAIL ON X-FACTOR, SAYS TMZ
Says the gossip site: "We have unimpeachable sources who tell us Britney loves the show but wants to focus on her music ... which she is doing right now. Britney is in the studio recording her eighth album, with some help from Will.i.am and producer Hit-Boy, the brains behind Kanye and Jay-Z's 'Niggas In Paris'".
The source says: "Britney loves Simon [Cowell], she likes [fellow judge] Demi Lovato, but her thing is music".
LILY ALLEN GIVES BIRTH TO SECOND DAUGHTER
A friend told the Mirror: "Marnie is a real cutie. Sam and Lily are ecstatic about adding another girl to the family. A little sister for Ethel is great news for them".
Responding to online congratulations, Allen posted to Twitter this morning: "Quite overwhelmed by all the well wishing going on. THANK YOU everybody".