CMU Digest

CMU Digest 18.11.19: Taylor Swift, Distribution Revolution, MLC, big tech, Nirvana

By | Published on Monday 18 November 2019

Taylor Swift

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

Taylor Swift went public about her latest dispute with her former label Big Machine. She alleged it was trying to stop her from re-recording her earliest releases next year by vetoing an upcoming American Music Awards appearance and Netflix documentary. Swift confirmed that she planned to re-record her early albums as soon as her Big Machine record contract allows such a thing after the label was acquired by Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings earlier this year. She claims that Big Machine is now refusing to licence footage to a Netflix show and is blocking the AMA performance, which would arguably constitute a re-record, unless she pledges to not record new versions of her old records in the years ahead. [READ MORE]

The Association Of Independent Music published a new report reviewing the music distribution sector. Produced by CMU Insights, it looks at how the role of the distributor has evolved over the last two decades, with distribution companies offering a much wider range of services and working with a more diverse range of clients. It also identifies the key factors artists and labels should consider when picking a distribution partner and discusses the key challenges the changing role of the distributor has posed. [READ MORE]

America’s new mechanical rights collecting society agreed its initial budgets with the streaming services. The so called MLC was set up by the Music Modernization Act to help overcome all the issues with how streaming services license the mechanical rights in songs in the US. Because those services will benefit from the new licensing system being established, the MMA said that they have to pay for it. Said streaming services have agreed to budgets slightly below what the MLC asked for. They will provide $62 million for the new society’s launch and first year running costs. [READ MORE]

The tech lobby in the US urged the American government to put pressure on other countries to not introduce too many new copyright liabilities for tech companies. In submissions to the US Trade Representative, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the Internet Association both criticised the recent European Copyright Directive and how it reforms the copyright safe harbour so to increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms. The CCIA said that the directive “poses an immediate threat to internet services”, while the Internet Association added “The EU’s Copyright Directive directly conflicts with US law”. [READ MORE]

A US judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit being pursued by Nirvana LLC against fashion firm Marc Jacobs. The latter has been selling t-shirts featuring the wobbly face image that was a staple of Nirvana’s merchandise back in the day which, the former – a company representing the band’s IP rights – said constituted copyright infringement. Marc Jacobs said its wobbly face image was sufficiently different to not infringe the band’s rights and therefore the lawsuit should be dismissed. But a judge ruled that Nirvana’s copyright claim was strong enough for the case to proceed. [READ MORE]

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