TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US record industry last week hit back at American internet service provider Charter Communications requesting that the courts dismiss claims the net firm has made against the major labels - to the effect that said labels breached US copyright law by knowingly submitting false takedown requests - because those claims are based on a "pyramid of conjecture"... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Record industry hits back at Charter Communications over dodgy takedown claims
LEGAL Tom Petty estate issues cease-and-desist to Trump campaign
DEALS Warner Records extends deal with Brazilian chart-topper Anitta to US
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner Chappell announces new base in Shanghai
LIVE BUSINESS Live Nation announces season of COVID-proof drive-in shows
BRANDS & MERCH Grateful Dead organic deodorant launched
ARTIST NEWS Ed Sheeran and Calvin Harris top PPL's most played charts for 2019
AND FINALLY... Trump realised too late that a million K-pop fans weren't coming to his Tulsa rally
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Record industry hits back at Charter Communications over dodgy takedown claims
The US record industry last week hit back at American internet service provider Charter Communications requesting that the courts dismiss claims the net firm has made against the major labels - to the effect that said labels breached US copyright law by knowingly submitting false takedown requests - because those claims are based on a "pyramid of conjecture".

Charter is one of the ISPs that the major record companies are trying to hold liable for the copyright infringement of its users, citing the precedents set in the similar cases pursued against Cox Communications.

ISPs would usually be protected from such liability by the pesky copyright safe harbour. But the music industry argues that various net firms have operated deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with infringing content and repeat infringers on their networks, and therefore do not qualify for safe harbour protection under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

That legal battle is ongoing, but earlier this year Charter alleged that the record industry had also failed to fulfil its obligations under the DMCA. That being based on that claim that the labels had submitted takedown requests to the ISP for music they didn't actually control. In a subsequent legal filing, Charter also argued that those allegedly dodgy takedown requests violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act too.

In a legal filing submitted last week, the labels denied all those claims. They noted that Charter's dodgy takedown request allegation followed a decision by the labels to remove some of the tracks specifically mentioned in their original lawsuit against the ISP. That edit of the list of works allegedly infringed by Charter's customers was, the labels argued, "unremarkable".

However, the labels went on: "Charter speculates on information and belief that [the labels] do not own or control exclusive rights in 'at least some of these works'. Charter then leaps further to speculate, again on information and belief, that [the labels] did not own them years ago, but knowingly sent Charter false infringement notices about them anyway".

"Based on this pyramid of conjecture", they added, "Charter alleges claims for damages under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ... for sending knowingly false infringement notices, and under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act ... for deceptive trade practices".

Both claims should be dismissed, the labels said. First, because Charter can't prove that the labels knowingly submitted takedown requests for music they did not control, nor show that it responded to any of those takedown requests. Second, federal law - ie the DMCA - pre-empts the ISP's claims under state law - ie the Colorado Consumer Protection Act - and, anyway, Charter doesn't fulfil its obligations under that state law either.

"For the reasons stated above, plaintiffs respectfully request that the court dismiss Charter's ... counterclaims under the DMCA and CCPA with prejudice", the labels concluded.

In some ways this dispute over the labels' takedown notices is a sideshow to the main copyright infringement case being pursued against Charter. Though it will still be interesting to see how the court responds to the labels' response.


Tom Petty estate issues cease-and-desist to Trump campaign
With Donald Trump back in campaigning mode - if he was ever out of it - it's time for another round of artists being angry about their music being used at his rallies. Kicking things off, after Saturday's lacklustre event in Tulsa, is the Tom Petty estate, which has not taken kindly to his song 'I Won't Back Down' being used at the event. So much so it's issued a cease-and-desist notice.

In a statement on social media, the estate says: "Trump was in no way authorised to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind. Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. Tom Petty would never want a song of his to be used in a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together".

"Tom wrote ['I Won't Back Down'] for the underdog, for the common man, for EVERYONE", it goes on. "We want to make it clear that we believe everyone is free to vote as they like, think as they like, but the Petty family doesn't stand for this. We believe in America and we believe in democracy. But Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either".

"We would hate for fans that are marginalised by this administration to think we are complicit on this usage", they conclude. "Concurrently, we have issued an official cease-and-desist notice to the Trump campaign".

The Petty family joins a long list of artists and estates who have hit out at Trump using their music. At rallies, for the most part, there is little that can be done. The use of music at these events is often covered by blanket licences held by the venues, so it's perfectly legal for Trump to play it without first getting permission.

There is arguably a moral obligation to get that permission before aligning someone's music with a political campaign, but such moral considerations are not usually enshrined in copyright law. Especially in the US.

Back in 2015, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler did attempt to present other legal arguments as to why Trump wasn't allowed to use his band's song 'Dream On'. However, in that case, Trump agreed to stop using the track anyway, so those legal arguments were never tested in an actual lawsuit.

As campaigning for this year's Presidential elections ramps up, and with Trump an even more divisive character these days (who'd have thought that was possible?) - especially given his response to the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the US - we can expect plenty more artists hitting out at him playing their songs at his rallies in the months ahead. Even if audience sizes continue to be relatively modest.

Indeed, earlier this month, the Village People asked Trump to stop walking on stage to 'Macho Man'.


Warner Records extends deal with Brazilian chart-topper Anitta to US
Warner Records in the US has announced it has signed chart-topping Brazilian artist Anitta and will release her first album in the country later this year. The major already works with the musician in her home country, they having released four albums together since 2013.

Confirming that partnership was being extended into the US, the bosses of Warner Records in the country - Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson - say in a joint statement: "We're THRILLED to partner with the global Warner Music Latin team to bring Anitta's incredible music to the US and beyond".

"Anitta is truly unlike any artist we've ever experienced", they go on. "She's not only an extraordinary musical talent, but is a blazing creative force, an electrifying performer and a true cultural phenomenon. Alongside Anitta's manager, Brandon Silverstein, we look forward to scaling even greater heights together".

Anitta herself adds: "I'm so excited to join the US Warner Records team. It's the most important moment in my career. Now, I can show more about my art and culture to the world internationally. I can't wait for everyone to hear all the new music I've been working on, which will be a fresh blend of both Spanish and English".


Warner Chappell announces new base in Shanghai
Warner Chappell has announced the launch of a second office in mainland China, this one in Shanghai. The company says that the city has an "incredible music scene", while also noting that it is home to many potential sync clients.

Commenting on the new base, Warner Chappell Music Asia's President Monica Lee said: "Shanghai has an incredible music scene and many songwriters move here from across China to pursue their careers. The city is also home to many of China's advertising, brand and entertainment businesses, so it's the logical place to open our new office that'll complement our existing presence in Beijing".

Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the over-all bosses of Warner Chappell - Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall - added: "We're committed to growing the presence of Warner Chappell Music in Asia, and our new office in Shanghai is a significant milestone on that journey. There are so many exciting publishing opportunities in China, and we're looking forward to better connecting local songwriters and brands with our global network".

Although the booming Chinese music market has been a big talking point in the industry for quite some time now, most of the opportunities to date have been in live and recorded music, with the country's music publishing sector much less well developed.

However, both local and global players on the publishing side are now seeking to capitalise on that booming market, with a particular focus on the country's super popular karaoke and live-streaming apps and the potential of a Chinese sync business.

Warner Chappell recently announced a partnership with Chinese streaming service NetEase Cloud Music as part of its bid to pursue those opportunities.


Live Nation announces season of COVID-proof drive-in shows
Live Nation UK last week announced a season of drive-in concerts that are due to take place this summer while conventional venues and festivals remain out of action due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Streets, Ash, Gary Numan, Skindred, Beverley Knight and Dizzee Rascal are among the electric line-up of acts set to appear across the special season of shows. So far At The Drive-In have not been persuaded to come out of hiatus.

The live music giant isn't the first company to experiment with gigs in car parks as a stop-gap measure to get artists back on stage and ticket money flowing back in while the COVID-19 social distancing rules are still in place. Drive-in shows have been staged or planned in multiple countries, with some similar shows already announced in the UK.

Some of these drive-in concerts pump the audio through each car's stereo system - ie in line with the classic drive-in movie experience - though the Live Nation shows won't do that.

The promoter says each of its drive-in shows will boast "a full state of the art sound system, lighting rig and high definition LED screens, creating an arena or stadium concert feel". Punters won't be confined to their cars and will be able to set out deckchairs in an allotted space, safely distanced from the next car-load of music fans and potential virus carriers.

Says Live Nation's Peter Taylor: "This outdoor concert series was created as a way to reimagine the live music experience during a time of social distancing by allowing fans to enjoy concerts in the safest way possible. Each event will comply with all official government guidelines in order to protect fans, artists, crews and staff. We look forward to announcing some of the biggest names across UK music and bringing these fantastic artists to a city near you".

Utilising twelve sites around the country, each show will be able to accommodate around 300 cars, with means a possible crowd of 2100 people, depending on how big those 300 cars are.

Anyone worried that shifting over to a live experience that requires a car to participate isn't exactly a very eco-friendly scheme, well, don't worry. Live Nation has picked as a sponsor Utility Energy, the energy provider that uses sneaky technology to cut how much energy people use and waste.

So, I'm sure everyone attending will sign up for the energy saving app and offset the pollution pumped out by their cars. Hey, the people going to these shows would probably be driving to the venue anyway, so stop your eco-bothering.


Grateful Dead organic deodorant launched
If you've ever wanted to smell a little bit more like the Grateful Dead, well good news, people! A company called North Coast Organics has started selling official Grateful Dead branded deodorant because, well, I don't know, why not I suppose. Hey, at least it's organic!

"We are beyond THRILLED to be collaborating with the Grateful Dead", says the company, about its new five scent collection of deodorants bearing the band's name. The company's founder, Nathan Morin, is a fan, see. Or a Dead Head to use the preferred term.

"The music and spirit of the Grateful Dead have influenced my company's core principles of service, veganism, and organic agriculture", he says, according to Stereogum. "The Grateful Dead have inspired us to stay true to our main mission of social responsibility. We took care in creating special essential oil blends that reference the Grateful Dead's music".

Giving official endorsement to the Grateful Dead smellies, David Lemieux - who manages the band's legacy and archive - adds: "Along with our love of the music, Dead Heads also often identify themselves as socially and environmentally conscious, and with that awareness is a love of the world around us, and the desire to help protect it".

"That goes for ourselves as well", he goes on. "As much as it's important to be mindful of what we put into our bodies, it's also essential to be aware of what we put onto our bodies. We're so happy that a company like North Coast Organics exists, as they share our love of organic, healthful products for the body. Ethical and kind, North Coast Organics lives and functions as we do, with an awareness that the future's here, we are it, and we need to take care of the planet and ourselves".

You can get yourself some Grateful Dead deodorant here, if that makes you happy.


Setlist: Post-COVID pay cuts and Jay-Z's love chat
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including Live Nation's planned changes to artist agreements post-COVID that will mean performers receiving lower fees and taking on more risk, plus Jay-Z and Beyonce being sued for allegedly using a spoken word recording on their track 'Black Effect' without permission.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here, and sign up to receive new episodes for free automatically each week through any of these services...

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Ed Sheeran and Calvin Harris top PPL's most played charts for 2019
Do you remember 2019? Like, really remember it? They were crazy times. People worked in offices. Offices! Bands played gigs. Gigs! Clubs were a thing people went to. Clubs! There were festivals to enjoy. Festivals! I flew to a foreign country and spoke to real people in a room. Flying! Foreign countries! Real people! Rooms!

With all that working in offices, playing gigs, going to clubs, enjoying festivals and flying to foreign countries to speak to real people in a room, it's a wonder anyone had any time left to listen to the radio or watch TV.

But listen to the radio and watch TV they did. And sometimes that listening to the radio and watching TV involved music. Mainly music by Calvin Harris and Ed Sheeran it turns out. It's almost as if British radio and TV didn't get the memo about grime being the most exciting genre of the year. But still, music, woo!

Anyway, UK record industry collecting society PPL has crunched all the numbers its gathers by licensing music to British radio stations and TV channels - and also all the data it has about music being played in public spaces (you know, back when there were such things) - to create two top tens, the most played artists and tracks of 2019.

Why publish those lists now in June 2020? Well, partly to remind you about those weird old times when life didn't mainly revolve around face masks, Zoom calls and queuing for supermarkets. And also to coincide with the society publishing its Annual Review for labels and performers.

Says PPL boss Peter Leathem: "From rising stars to established names, the PPL Most Played Charts for 2019 showcase the songs and artists that soundtracked our year. British music was particularly popular, with Ed Sheeran maintaining his popularity while acts such as Tom Walker and Mabel established themselves on the airwaves. Congratulations to all those featured in our charts as well as the music businesses that invest in and support their success".

PPL's most played tracks of 2019

  1. Calvin Harris & Rag N Bone Man - Giant
  2. Mark Ronson & Miley Cyrus - Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
  3. Sam Smith & Normani - Dancing With A Stranger
  4. Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care
  5. Tom Walker - Just You And I
  6. Kygo & Whitney Houston - Higher Love
  7. Ava Max - Sweet But Psycho
  8. Lewis Capaldi - Someone You Loved
  9. Mabel - Don't Call Me Up
  10. Pink - Walk Me Home

PPL's most played artists of 2019

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Calvin Harris
  3. Sam Smith
  4. Jess Glynne
  5. Pink
  6. George Ezra
  7. Rita Ora
  8. Little Mix
  9. Coldplay
  10. Maroon 5


Trump realised too late that a million K-pop fans weren't coming to his Tulsa rally
Of all the many unexpected things that have happened in 2020, I think K-pop fans forming a major movement of political activism is one of the more enjoyable.

Having banded together for various online actions in support of Black Lives Matter in recent weeks - including drowning out racist hashtags with videos of their favourite K-pop stars - this weekend they left Donald Trump embarrassed. It turned out that the hundreds of thousands of people he was expecting at his campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday were largely K-pop fans who had reserved seats with no intention of attending.

The rally was held at the 19,000 seat BOK Centre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On the day of the event, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale was excitedly telling the world that, due to overwhelming demand for tickets, a stage had also been built outside the venue. With hundreds of thousands of people - up to a million, it was bragged - expected to be left standing in the car park, Trump would address them in person, as well as taking to the stage inside the arena.

However, when stage time came, video footage showed a half empty venue and no clamouring supporters crushing to get through the door. It turned out that the overwhelming demand had been created by K-pop fans and other TikTok users registering for tickets in their thousands, with no intention of joining the US president inside or outside the venue.

Parscale initially claimed that "radical protesters" had "blocked access to the metal detectors, preventing people from entering the venue", hence all the empty seats.

But, having noted the lack of a crowd unable to enter as a result of any on-the-ground protestors, political journalists began reporting online chatter about an online pre-event protest organised by K-pop fans, which simply made the event look like it was going to be far, far more popular than it actually was. Seemingly this flood of ticket requests from K-pop followers and TikTokers was not something Parscale or his team questioned until it was too late.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez then tweeted in response to Parscale's defence of the poor turnout: "Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign with fake ticket reservations and tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID. Shout out to Zoomers. Y'all make me so proud".

This is just the latest act of online political activism by K-pop fans in recent weeks, which has seen them match a $1 million Black Lives Matter donation made by BTS, flood racist hashtags on social media with K-pop photos and videos, and do the same to various police apps meant for submitting images of protesters.


ANDY MALT | Editor
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