Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 18.12.22: Asake, Altice USA, ticket touts, Taylor Swift, Ticketmaster

By | Published on Sunday 18 December 2022

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

One person died and seven more were hospitalised following a crowd crush at an Asake show at the Brixton Academy on Thursday night. The crush seemingly occurred after a number of people without tickets for the sell-out show – the final of three performances by the afrobeats artist at the London venue – tried to force their way into the Academy building. A tweet from Asake ahead of his first show at the venue had urged fans without tickets to stay away. Of those hospitalised, three were in a critical condition. On Saturday morning it was confirmed that one of those who sustained serious injuries, 33 year old Rebecca Ikumelo, had died. Asake said in a statement that he was “devastated by the news”, urging anyone with relevant information about the crowd crush incident to get in touch with police. The management at the Brixton Academy issued their own statement saying they were “deeply saddened by the news of the tragic death of Rebecca Ikumelo”. [READ MORE]

BMG, Universal Music and Concord together sued US internet service provider Altice USA for copyright infringement. It’s the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by music and movie companies seeking to hold American ISPs liable for their customers’ copyright infringement, based on the argument that those net firms did not do enough to deal with infringing content and users on their networks in order to avoid liability via the copyright safe harbour. BMG arguably set that series of lawsuits in motion when it sued Cox Communications in 2014, with its success in that legal battle prompting the majors to do the same, going on to win a billion dollars in damages. More recently various ISPs have sought to settle similar lawsuits filed by the music industry, and it remains to be seen if Altice – which operates the Optimum internet and cable TV service – does the same. [READ MORE]

Two convicted ticket touts were ordered to pay back more than £6 million by Leeds Crown Court. Peter Hunter and David Smith – who operated as Ticket Wiz and BZZ – were previously found guilty of breaching UK laws that regulate ticket touting. That included the rule that forbids the use of special software to automatically buy up tickets for resale from primary ticketing sites, and the rules that say touts must make buyers aware they are being sold unofficial tickets that could be subsequently cancelled by a show’s promoter. The two men were jailed in 2020 and the UK Court Of Appeal upheld the guilty verdict the following year. National Trading Standards then sought a confiscation order to seize the monies Hunter and Smith made from their touting business and that was issued last week. They now have three months to pay back £6,167,522.02. [READ MORE]

Taylor Swift settled her long-running ‘Shake It Off’ song-theft legal battle. Sean Hall and Nathan Butler claimed that Swift’s 2014 hit ripped off their 2001 song ‘Playas Gon Play’, because both tracks had lines about players playing and haters hating. The Swift side argued that lyrics about players playing and haters hating were too generic to be protected by copyright in isolation, and the judge overseeing the case – Michael W Fitzgerald – initially agreed and dismissed the lawsuit. But that decision was over-turned on appeal and subsequent efforts by Swift’s lawyers to get the case dismissed for a second time failed, meaning the whole thing was headed to trial in early 2023. But a deal has now been done that will stop that from happening, details about which are not known. Following a legal filing from both parties confirming the deal, Fitzgerald stated: “Pursuant to the parties’ stipulation, this action is hereby dismissed, in its entirety and with prejudice, plaintiffs and defendants to bear their respective attorney’s fees and cost”. [READ MORE]

Ticketmaster was criticised over ticketing issues at a Bad Bunny show in Mexico that saw a number of ticket-buyers refused entry. The Live Nation ticketing company said that “the presentation of an unprecedented number of fake tickets” for the show at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium “generated confusion and complicated entrance to the stadium, with the unfortunate consequence of some legitimate tickets being denied entrance”. Ticketmaster said all affected fans would get full refunds, though the head of Mexico’s Federal Consumer Attorney’s Office, Ricardo Sheffield, demanded that they also receive compensation equal to 20% of the ticket price. He also alleged that the problems were caused by Ticketmaster over-selling the show and threatened to fine the company. A Ticketmaster spokesperson denied that allegation and again insisted that the problem was the unofficial sale of counterfeit tickets. [READ MORE]

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