Business News Week In Five

CMU Digest – 26 Apr 2013

By | Published on Friday 26 April 2013


The five biggest stories in the music business this week…

01: An appeals court overturned Grooveshark’s win in Universal’s pre-1972 litigation. The mega-major specifically sued the controversial streaming service in relation to recordings it owns that were released before 1972 and which appear on the Grooveshark site, because of a technicality in US copyright law. Grooveshark says that it can’t be held liable for copyright infringement when it makes available Universal content without licence, because its users upload the music files, and the digital firm will remove any one track if requested to do so by the mega-major (just in time for another user to reupload it). And, to be fair to the Groovesharkers, that is sort of what the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act says.

But, says Universal, the DMCA is federal law, and therefore can only apply to copyrights that themselves stem from federal legislation. And copyrights in works released before 1972 in America come from state law. Ha, gotcha! Except when Universal’s lawsuit reached court last year the judge hearing the case didn’t accept that argument. But then this week an appeals court overturned that ruling, saying the DMCA didn’t apply to the older catalogue, and Grooveshark could be held liable for distributing tracks from it without licence. Needless to say, Grooveshark will now appeal. CMU report | Ars Technica report

02: Capitol UK launched. Universal Music announced last month that it would launch a UK version of what was EMI’s main American label, it having acquired Capitol in the US via its EMI takeover last year. And this week that launch occurred. The UK version of Capitol will be morphed out of existing British Universal label London Records, and will be led by London chief Nick Raphael, though the new division will be quite a bit bigger. Capitol UK is likely to work closely with its US counterpart. The mega-major also confirmed Capitol UK would not be based at its Kensington HQ, adding fuel to rumours that the new division will set up camp at Abbey Road Studios, mirroring Capitol US, which is based in the Capitol Tower, the famous studio complex in LA. CMU reportBillboard report

03: Warner boss Stephen Cooper revealed info about his Parlophone acquisition. According to a memo to Warner staff, the mini-major’s purchase of the Parlophone Label Group, aka most of the bits of EMI that Universal was forced to sell by competition regulators last year, should be completed by the middle of summer. It will result in Parlophone becoming a frontline label alongside Atlantic and Warner Bros. Cooper also hopes the takeover will throw up new opportunities for Warner in Europe, where the company will now have a stronger base, help relaunch the major’s classical operations and a provide a “catalyst” for a new global approach to catalogue. CMU reportThe Music report

04: HMV Canada put a new digital service properly live. Called The Vault, the company’s top man said “we know that the more than 35 million consumers who come through our stores each year count on us to enhance their music experience and The Vault is a clear indicator of our ability to do that. This combined retail and online offering will enable us to better connect with our customers and drive our business forward in 2013_. HMV Canada is, of course, owned by Hilco, which recently acquired HMV UK, leading to speculation The Vault might launch over here too, though the streaming market is much more competitive here than in Canada. CMU report | Toronto Star report

05: The jury was appointed for the Jacksons v AEG Live case. Over 100 people were considered for the jury of twelve, most being removed either because they said committing to a three-month trial would cause problems, or because they had pre-existing opinions on Jackson or mega-bucks legal claims, or because of links to either the Jackson family or AEG. Proceedings in what is likely to be a lively trial are now due to kick off next week. The Jackson family say that AEG should accept liability for the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, because it – as promoter of the late king of pop’s ill-fated This Is It show – hired Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of causing the singer’s demise through negligent treatment. But AEG counters that, while it paid Murray’s bills, Jackson himself appointed and managed the doctor on a day-to-day basis. CMU reportReuters report

On CMU this week, guest poster Caroline Bottomley of Radar Music Videos shared some insights on promoting an independent single release, while CMU Editor Andy Malt delved once again into the murky world of brand partnerships. Nominations also opened for this year’s Yearly Music Convention Awards at The Great Escape. And Approved were LLLL, Parquet Courts, The Good Natured and Hebronix.

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