Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 20.02.22: Notorious Markets, AIF boss festival sector warning, AWAL, Dwight Yoakam, Lil Peep

By | Published on Sunday 20 February 2022

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

The US government published its annual Notorious Markets list of websites and physical marketplaces around the world that facilitate copyright infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods. Amazon – controversially added to the list two years ago – is not included this time round. The web giant was previously listed based on complaints about third party sellers selling counterfeit goods via Amazon websites in Europe, although it argued that its inclusion was politically motivated because of the feud between its CEO Jeff Bezos and then US President Donald Trump. Although Amazon is now off the list, some legit web businesses in other countries are still on there – for example in China, Baidu for a cyber-locker service allegedly used for copyright infringement, and Alibaba and Tencent for online marketplaces also allegedly linked to the widespread sale of counterfeit products. Elsewhere on the list are more conventional piracy sites like The Pirate Bay and leading stream-ripping operation FLVTO. [READ MORE]

The boss of the UK Association Of Independent Festivals warned that the festival sector could face a “perfect storm” this year. Although it is hoped that – for the first time since 2019 – there should be no COVID-caused cancellations this year, festival promoters nevertheless face many challenges. AIF estimates that the operational and infrastructure costs of staging festivals could rise by 20-30% due to the increased costs of labour, staffing, materials and transport. And promoters can’t just pass those increases onto the customer, not least because many festival-goers this year will be using tickets originally bought for 2020 or 2021 editions that got cancelled. AIF also says the lack of cancellation insurance remains a problem, with the government scheme designed to help in that domain pretty much useless. The trade group has called for that to be sorted out, plus other government support measures including an extension of the COVID-period VAT rate cut on tickets and a government-backed loan scheme for suppliers. [READ MORE]

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority gave the music industry one last chance to input on Sony Music’s acquisition of AWAL. The regulator initially said last year that Sony’s deal to buy Kobalt’s label services business and neighbouring rights agency raised enough competition law concerns to justify a more in-depth investigation into the transaction. However, following that investigation the CMA recently announced that “our provisional finding is that the deal is not likely to affect competition in a way that will reduce the choice or quality of recorded music available, or increase prices”. Interested parties now have one last chance to input on the AWAL deal by formally responding to that provisional finding, before a final announcement is made by the CMA no later than 17 Mar. [READ MORE]

Warner Music settled a termination rights dispute with country artist Dwight Yoakam. He sued the major last year accusing it of refusing to accept termination notices he had filed in a bid to reclaim the US rights in his 1980s recordings. Although the termination right in US copyright law that allows creators to terminate copyright assignments after 35 years is now regularly employed by songwriters to reclaim copyrights in their songs from music publishers, some labels still argue it doesn’t apply to record contracts. That’s on the basis that such contracts are work for hire agreements, making labels not artists the default owner of sound recording copyrights, so that there is no copyright assignment for artists to terminate. After Yoakam sued Warner it meant all three majors were battling lawsuits filed by artists disputing that interpretation of US record contracts. However, Warner’s big termination rights battle now won’t make it to court. [READ MORE]

A US judge said that the Lil Peep negligence case can proceed to a jury trial. The mother of the late rapper, Liza Womack, is suing his former management firm First Access Entertainment, alleging that the company and its associates acted negligently in managing her son and his touring activity, contributing to his untimely death from an accidental drugs overdose in 2017. First Access had been seeking to have the case dismissed on the grounds Womack’s allegations of negligence, wrongful death and breach of contract all failed as a matter of law. However, the judge overseeing the case ruled that there was a sufficient case to answer for the litigation to go before a jury, which will now likely happen in March next year. However, Peep’s co-manager Bryant ‘Chase’ Ortega was removed as a defendant because there was no evidence that he specifically “directed” any of the alleged negligence that occurred on the tour that took place in the weeks before the rapper’s death. [READ MORE]

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