European Commission ramps up pressure on EU states to implement the copyright directive

Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal

By | Published on Wednesday 28 July 2021

European Union

Hey Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia and Slovakia! What’s taking you so long in implementing the damn European Copyright Directive? Catch up slackers of Europe!

Not my words, but the words of the European Commission. Well, technically my words. But the Commission’s sentiment. It has written to all those countries asking them for an update on the implementation of the 2019 copyright directive which – of course – includes the reform to the copyright safe harbour that the music industry lobbied so hard to secure.

With EU directives, each member state is meant to amend their national laws to bring them in line with changes in European law. The deadline for doing that with the copyright directive was 7 Jun. But there have been some delays in many countries. What with some of those copyright reforms being rather complicated and somewhat controversial. And the small matter of a slightly distracting global pandemic. And, of course, all round laziness in the law-making chambers of Europe.

“The Commission has requested Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia and Slovakia to communicate information about how the rules included in the Directive On Copyright In The Digital Single Market are being enacted into their national law”, the EC stated earlier this week.

“As the member states above have not communicated national transposition measures or have done it only partially, the Commission decided today to open infringement procedures by sending letters of formal notice”, it went on, adding that the reforms in the copyright directive “modernise EU copyright rules” and “enable consumers and creators to make the most of the digital world”.

“They reinforce the position of creative industries”, it added, and also “allow for more digital uses in core areas of society. It then concluded: “These member states now have two months to respond to the letters and take the necessary measures. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue reasoned opinions”.

Blimey, not reasoned opinions! Anyway, governments and parliaments of Europe, hurry up and implement the copyright directive, will you? We’d do it here in the UK too if we could, but, you know, Brexit, we hate Brussels, fuck the foreigners, you all smell, we don’t care if our copyright regime is flawed, at least it’s British!



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John Lydon’s lawyer calls on court to block the use of long forgotten “nuclear button” in Sex Pistols dispute

Artist News Business News Legal Top Stories

By | Published on Wednesday 28 July 2021

John Lydon

John Lydon’s legal rep yesterday told the High Court in London that the Sex Pistols have always worked on the assumption that licensing deals will only be done with unanimous approval of the band’s members, and therefore an old band agreement that says only majority approval is required should be set aside.

Mark Cunningham presented his closing arguments at the end of a lively court dispute between Lydon and his former bandmates Paul Cook and Steve Jones. They want to license the band’s music to a new TV programme called ‘Pistol’ based on Jones’s memoir ‘Lonely Boy: Tales Of A Sex Pistol’, but Lydon is currently seeking to veto the deal.

Cook and Jones argue that – while they have never previously enforced the old band agreement that denies Lydon a veto providing the rest of the band agree on a deal – that doesn’t mean they ever accepted that that contract was no longer in force. They just didn’t want the hassle of a major falling out with Lydon by forcing a deal through based on that old agreement. Until now.

According to Law360, Cunningham said in his closing arguments that, while every band member had indeed signed that agreement, it was long forgotten about, and band members instead operated according to a unanimous-consent-only model.

Cook and Jones should not now be allowed to employ the forgotten “nuclear button”, the lawyer stated. “The catastrophic deployment of the [agreement] with the aim of achieving the licensing of ‘Pistol’ goes against the grain of what has been achieved” in the past, he added, noting that, since the agreement was signed, “every licence [has been] granted by unanimous approval”.

Needless to say, legal reps for Cook and Jones counter that an agreement is an agreement, even if it is rarely relied upon. “The [agreement] permits decisions regarding licensing requests to be made on a majority-rules basis”, they noted in a closing submission to the court.

“The [agreement] requires that the parties must exercise their rights of approval under any pre-existing agreements with third parties consistently with the provisions and intent of the agreement … and the [agreement] obliges the parties to provide all such consents and execute all such documents as may be necessary to give effect to a majority decision”.

We now await the court’s decision with some interest. Though, presumably, not quite as much interest as the producers of ‘Pistol’, whose show will probably be a bit rubbish without any Sex Pistols music.



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Russian stream-ripper opts to just ignore the record industry’s lawsuit against him

Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal

By | Published on Wednesday 28 July 2021

Internet

The operator of stream-ripping services FLVTO and 2conv has decided to bail on his ongoing legal dispute with the major record companies. Which isn’t generally how things work when you’re the defendant in a case. But basically Tofig Kurbanov is employing the “I live 5000 miles away, so what the fuck you going do about that?” tactic.

Stream-ripping sites – which turn temporary streams, often YouTube streams, into permanent downloads – have been the music industry’s top piracy gripe for years now, of course. The argument being that such sites are involved in the infringement of copyright. Which is why the majors decided to sue Kurbanov as the operator of FLVTO and 2conv.

While most stream-ripping sites targeted by litigation in this way just ignore the legal action and/or quietly go offline, Kurbanov decided to fight back. His initial argument was that as a Russian citizen running a Russian internet business from Russia, the US courts had no jurisdiction.

That argument initially worked and the record industry’s lawsuit was dismissed. But it was then reinstated on appeal and when Kurbanov tried to take his jurisdiction arguments to the US Supreme Court, judges there declined to hear the case.

That meant the matter returned to the district court in Virginia where it began. Most recently the labels have been trying to force Kurbanov to hand over his server logs so that they can see what content his users are ripping and where those users are based.

Kurbanov said he didn’t have any such data. The majors countered that he should do, and that the court should force him to start storing and sharing the data they require. Kurbanov argued that doing so would be a major hassle, and also pose all sorts of privacy and data protection concerns.

Nevertheless, the court in Virginia concluded that asking Kurbanov to store and share some basic server data wasn’t, in fact, that much of an ask, and therefore ordered him to do so. But Kurbanov really doesn’t want to do that and – still believing the courts in Virgina actually have no jurisdiction over him or his business – he’s decided to ignore that demand and the entire American legal case against him.

In a recent legal filing with the court, the American lawyers who had been working for Kurbanov stated: “Despite the efforts of counsel for defendant, Mr Kurbanov has made clear that he does not intend to cooperate further with the present litigation or counsel’s attempts to mount an effective defence on his behalf. Mr Kurbanov has indicated that he will not provide counsel for defendant with any additional discovery and will not sit for his previously-noticed deposition”.

They added that, despite the original ruling on jurisdiction being overturned on appeal, “Mr Kurbanov has never believed that he is properly subject to jurisdiction in Virginia or the United States. As a result of Mr Kurbanov’s firm conviction that he is not subject to personal jurisdiction in this court, he has been reluctant to participate in the present proceedings and has, indeed, declined to provide discovery as requested by plaintiffs and as ordered by this court”.

Because of this development, the lawyers have requested to be allowed to withdraw from the case. One of them, Evan Fray-Witzer, has told Torrentfreak that he is disappointed that he will not be able to continue working on Kurbanov’s defence, reckoning his now ex-client had a decent case.

“We’re obviously disappointed that this is how things are ending”, he said. “We’ve always believed that the case was a strong one on the merits and that websites like Mr Kurbanov’s simply provide a legitimate tool with numerous non-infringing uses”.

On the jurisdiction point, Fray-Witzer added: “At the end of the day … Mr Kurbanov is an individual who lives in Russia, who has operated the websites exclusively from Russia, and who has had almost no contact with the United States whatsoever. The whole issue of personal jurisdiction in such a context continues to cry out for guidance from the Supreme Court”.

The labels will now likely win this case by default and may well be awarded sizeable damages which Kurbanov will presumably refuse to pay. Though, at that point, the labels could possibly seek to try and grab his domain names, or put pressure on other internet providers to stop working with him.

This case might also help the music industry argue that the web-blocking injunctions that are now easily available in other countries, like the UK, should be finally introduced in the US, given that they are mainly designed to deal with foreign copyright infringers who ignore legal action filed against them.



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Women In CTRL puts the spotlight back on diversity at the top of the UK music industry’s trade organisations

Business News Industry People Labels & Publishers Live Business

By | Published on Wednesday 28 July 2021

Women In CTRL

The Women In CTRL organisation has put the spotlight back on the boards of many of the UK music industry’s big organisations to assess the diversity of those influential committees. It’s the second time it’s conducted this study, having first undertaken such a thing this time last year. The conclusion? Things have improved since July 2020, but there is more work to be done.

Women In CTRL says in a statement: “In July 2020, Women In CTRL conducted an analysis of the board make-up of twelve key UK music industry trade organisations, identifying the woeful levels of diversity within these organisations who are responsible for delivering an equitable, diverse and inclusive industry. A year on, Women In CTRL has repeated its analysis, auditing the gender make-up and representation of black women amongst the boards of directors, CEOs, and chairpersons of those same twelve organisations and identifying the progress made”.

The organisations, by the way, are label-centric trade groups the BPI and Association Of Independent Music; the Music Publishers Association; the Music Producers Guild; the Music Venue Trust; the Music Managers Forum; songwriter organisation The Ivors Academy; artist and musician groups FAC and ISM; plus collecting societies PPL and PRS; and the trade body of trade bodies UK Music.

The new study concludes that “female representation has increased, but women are still underrepresented”. Across all twelve organisations, 42% of board members are now women, up from 34% a year ago. Representation of black women has doubled, though the starting point was only 3%. It is now 6%, which equates to eleven board members.

As part of the new study, Women In CTRL has also asked 100 women across the music business to share what it means to them to see diverse boards leading the industry’s trade bodies and collecting societies. You can access all the latest stats and read the input and insights of those 100 music business professionals on the Women In CTRL website here.

Commenting on the new study – and the improvements made over the last year – Women In CTRL founder Nadia Khan said: “I commend those organisations that have taken steps towards real change, and it’s promising to see. But our work is far from done, the stats are still stark, and a far way off true equality”.

“True diversity goes beyond female representation to minority groups, disability, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and education”, she added. “Let’s try to fix the system and have real conversations. What is it about the system that doesn’t allow underrepresented groups to reach the top? Why don’t we see more women in chair or CEO positions? Let’s identify the barriers and work together to break them down”.



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Check out the revamped CMU Library

Business News Education & Events

By | Published on Wednesday 28 July 2021

CMU Library

If you ever find yourself struggling to navigate and understand all the complexities of the music business, then you should check out the CMU Library. It’s the online educational resource for the music industry that makes it easier to access all the guides, reports, slides and other resources that are available from CMU, our consultancy unit CMU Insights, and our new talent programme CMU:DIY.

The Library has recently been reorganised into eight sections covering different aspects of the music business including music copyright, the record industry, the music publishing sector, the streaming business, the live music sector, the direct-to-fan business, music marketing, and an overview of the wider music industry.

For each section there is a super-concise overview and then links to where you can access and download the guides, reports, slides and other resources. Check out the CMU Library here and why not go premium with CMU to be able to access all the resources?



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