Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 10.07.22: AI copyright exceptions, Deezer, PRS Foundation, Tim Westwood, Pandora

By | Published on Sunday 10 July 2022

UK Music

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

UK Music hit out at plans to introduce a new copyright exception into UK law to cover text and data mining. The proposed legal reform follows a review of UK intellectual property laws in the context of artificial intelligence, with AI makers often needing to mine data in order to train their technologies. Although the specific facts and trends being analysed by any one AI tool are not usually protected by copyright, the files and databases actually being accessed and processed often are. A data mining exception – allowing those copyright protected files to be utilised without the copyright owner’s permission – currently exists in the UK for non-commercial research, but the new proposed exception would be much wider to facilitate the development of more AI technologies. Cross-sector trade group UK Music called the proposed new exception “dangerous and damaging”, adding that it would allow AI companies to “launder” music in order to generate new content, and to that end should not be introduced. [READ MORE]

Deezer officially arrived on the Euronext stock exchange in Paris. The streaming service has become a publicly listed company via a merger with special purpose acquisition company I2PO, which raised capital on the Paris stock exchange last year with the intent of acquiring entertainment companies. Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira said the stock market listing was “a milestone in the company’s history”, allowing the business to take “the first steps on a new and exciting journey to develop, expand and capture an even bigger part of the growing music streaming market”. Despite that optimism, Deezer’s share price slumped 35% on its first day of trading. [READ MORE]

A petition set up by the UK’s Featured Artists Coalition calling on PRS to change its position over the future funding of the PRS Foundation passed 1000 signatures. UK song rights collecting society PRS is set to cut the annual grant it provides to the talent development charity it founded from the current £2.5 million a year to £1 million, on the basis the specific income stream it uses to fund the Foundation – interest earned on royalties yet to be distributed – has declined. The FAC argues that the society should find other sources of income to keep funding the Foundation at current levels, proposing it divert monies from the digital black box, ie streaming royalties that have not been accurately allocated to specific works. As the FAC’s petition on this issue passed 1000 signatures artists including Sam Fender, Anna Calvi and Wolf Alice’s Joff Oddie specifically called on PRS to reverse its decision on Foundation funding. [READ MORE]

The BBC admitted it is now aware of six formal complaints accusing former Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood of inappropriate behaviour while he was working for the broadcaster. Some of those complaints have been made since the airing of a BBC Three documentary in April in which seven woman made allegations of sexual misconduct against the DJ. However, some of the complaints pre-date that documentary, despite the BBC previously saying it was not aware of any formal complaints involving its one-time long-term radio host. It now turns out that one of those older complaints resulted in management speaking to Westwood, while another was actually referred to the police. A spokesperson said that BBC boss Tim Davie was unaware of those older complaints when he first responded to the April documentary, and that an investigation into the DJ’s time with the broadcaster is ongoing and will report its findings in due course. For his part, Westwood has denied all the allegations made against him. [READ MORE]

Lewis Black became the latest comedian to sue Pandora over unlicensed jokes. Whereas with music, streaming services get separate licences for the separate rights that exist in recordings and the songs contained in those recordings, with comedy content only the recording rights have generally been licensed. An increasing number of comedians are arguing that another licence is required for the comedy material contained in their recordings, what in copyright terms would be a literary work. Black – who previously criticised Spotify for not fully licensing its comedy content – has now joined a number of other comedians, as well as the estates of Robin Williams and George Carlin, in suing Pandora in relation to this dispute. [READ MORE]

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