CMU Digest

CMU Digest 01.06.21: NetEase, COVID-19, Cox Communications, Brexit, Canadian web-blocks

By | Published on Monday 31 May 2021

NetEase Cloud Music

The key stories from the last week in the music business…

Chinese web giant NetEase announced plans to spin-off its music division via an IPO in Hong Kong. NetEase Cloud Music is the main competitor in China to the Tencent music services. The unit due to be spun off, known as Cloud Village, also runs livestreaming, karaoke and other related services. An IPO prospectus published by NetEase stated that Cloud Village grew its monthly music user-base to 181 million last year, of which 9% are paying subscribers. Revenues surged 111% to 4.9 billion yuan in 2020, though net losses increased too to three billion yuan. [READ MORE]

UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said he was “very hopeful” full capacity shows could return in England on 21 Jun, as is currently planned, despite increased concern in recent weeks about the latest variant of COVID-19. Dowden’s optimism is based on the government’s Events Research Programme, which has been investigating how to safely resume higher capacity events as COVID restrictions lift. Of the 58,000 people who have attended shows staged as part of that programme, only fifteen contracted the coronavirus post-event. Of the 5000 people who attended a mini-festival in Liverpool only two cases of COVID were reported, while none of the 4000 people who attended the BRIT Awards contracted the virus. Despite Dowden’s optimism, his department stressed that ERP researchers are still crunching some of the data and a final decision is yet to be made. [READ MORE]

US internet service provider Cox Communications formally filed its appeal in its ongoing legal battle with the major record companies. In 2019 a jury ruled that the ISP’s deliberately shoddy system for dealing with repeat infringers among its user base meant it could not rely on the copyright safe harbour, and could therefore be held liable for its users’ infringement. On that basis it was ordered to pay the majors a billion dollars in damages. In a lengthy appeal with the Fourth Circuit appeals court, Cox ran through the music industry’s long-running battle with online piracy, and how it ultimately turned its attention to the ISPs. It then argued that, even if didn’t qualify for safe harbour protection, the labels still failed to demonstrate that it was liable for so called contributory infringement. Therefore the appeals court should overturn the billion dollar judgement. [READ MORE]

A new survey from the Musicians Union and Incorporated Society Of Musicians revealed that 77% of UK music-makers expect new post-Brexit bureaucracy to have a negative impact on their income. Because the UK/EU trade deal doesn’t include any Europe-wide provision covering touring performers, British musicians will now have to navigate different rules in each country when they tour the EU. In some countries this will mean securing visas, travel permits and/or equipment carnets. Although the UK government has acknowledged this is a big problem, the MU and ISM argue that ministers are not doing enough to try to tackle this issue, most likely by negotiating bespoke agreements with each European country to remove bureaucratic requirements. As a result, only 43% of the musicians surveyed are currently planning European tours. [READ MORE]

The Federal Court Of Appeal in Canada ruled that the first web-blocking injunction in the country can stay in place. Internet firms in Canada were ordered to block piracy site GoldTV in 2019. Many ISPs in the country either support or are neutral about web-blocking as an anti-piracy tactic. However, net firm TekSavvy decided to fight the injunction in the appeals court by arguing that Canadian copyright law doesn’t specifically mention web-blocking, such blockades violate laws protecting free speech and net neutrality, and that expecting ISPs to implement and manage such a thing is not “just and equitable”. However, the appeals court did not concur and ruled that the lower court had acted within its powers when it issue the web-blocking injunction. [READ MORE]

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