TODAY'S TOP STORY: A New York court has thrown out the lyric-theft lawsuit filed against Google by lyric site Genius, on the basis that - despite Genius suing Google for breach of contract - it was actually a copyright case without a copyright owner... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Genius lyric-theft complaint against Google fails, because it's a copyright case without a copyright owner
LEGAL A declaratory judgment on future termination notices is justified, US judge now says in big termination rights case
DEALS Concord signs Rodaidh McDonald
Sony/ATV signs Jozzy
ARTIST NEWS Neil Young spending $20,000 to disconnect his website from Facebook and Google
AWARDS Damon Albarn led Tony Allen tribute confirmed as finale of online AIM Awards
ONE LINERS CTM, ICM, National Album Day
AND FINALLY... Amazon to add podcasts to its streaming service, and even its critics are now welcome
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Genius lyric-theft complaint against Google fails, because it's a copyright case without a copyright owner
A New York court has thrown out the lyric-theft lawsuit filed against Google by lyric site Genius, on the basis that - despite Genius suing Google for breach of contract - it was actually a copyright case without a copyright owner.

This legal battle centred on Google's information boxes which pop up when you use the web giant's search engine to search for a song or recording. These days that information box usually includes the lyrics of said song, above the actual search results that include links to other places on the internet where the lyrics might be published, like Genius.

Obviously that's somewhat annoying for Genius et al. Though what was even more annoying was that Genius became convinced that some of the lyrics appearing in that information box had come from its website, despite Google claiming that it sourced the content via its licensing partnerships with various music publishers and the lyric aggregator LyricFind.

But, so convinced was Genius that lyrics from its site were being used in the Google info box, it started to employ some sneaky tactics, like the strategic use of different kinds of apostrophes so that morse code style messages would be secretly contained within the lyrics it published. And, lo and behold, those secret apostrophe-coded messages started popping up on Google.

This posed two questions. First, where in Google's lyric supply chain were people cutting and pasting lyrics from the Genius site, rather than transcribing them afresh. And second, was there anything Genius could do about this legally speaking.

Obviously copyright protects lyrics, but that protection belongs to the copyright owner, which is the songwriter or any publisher the writer has assigned their rights to. Genius does not own the copyright in the lyrics.

And even if you suggest that the transcription of said lyrics should create a new lyrical copyright, that would be a derivative work, and the creation of such works requires the specific permission of the owner of the original copyright, which Genius did not have.

So, beyond seeking to embarrass Google in the press - which is what Genius did first - was their anything the lyric site's lawyers could do. Well, they decided to have a go, mainly by arguing that grabbing lyrics off the Genius website breached the terms and conditions of said site, and therefore Google was in breach of contract. They also threw in some claims for unfair competition and unjust enrichment, citing state laws in both California and New York.

For its part, Google argued that this was, in fact, a copyright case in disguise. That actually required that the whole lawsuit be shifted from a state court to a federal court, where copyright matters are considered in the US. Google, of course, knew that if it could get a judge to agree that the real claim here was copyright infringement, then it would be fine, because Genius didn't own any of the copyrights that were alleged to have been infringed.

And once the case was in the federal court, Google's arguments prevailed. "Plaintiff asserts that its contract rights for use of the lyrics transcriptions are 'separate and apart' from the copyright owners' exclusive rights in the lyrics", the judge noted.

However, she added, what Genius is really saying is that its transcriptions are derivative works: "Plaintiff's argument is, in essence, that it has created a derivative work of the original lyrics in applying its own labour and resources to transcribe the lyrics, and thus, retains some ownership over and has rights in the transcriptions distinct from the exclusive rights of the copyright owners".

But "plaintiff likely makes this argument without explicitly referring to the lyrics transcriptions as derivative works because the case law is clear that only the original copyright owner has exclusive rights to authorise derivative works".

So, basically, the Genius terms and conditions Google is accused of breaching all relate to copyright infringement, so this is a federal law copyright case not a state law contract case, but Genius can't pursue that case because it's not the copyright owner.

Therefore, wrote the judge, "given that the court finds that all of plaintiff's state law claims are preempted by the Copyright Act, and plaintiff has not asserted any federal law claims, the court dismisses the complaint for failure to state a claim".

We await to see how Genius respond.


A declaratory judgment on future termination notices is justified, US judge now says in big termination rights case
There have been further developments in the big termination rights case involving Universal Music and a bunch of heritage artists. The court hearing that case has ruled on various technicalities, the most important of which relates to declaratory judgments.

The American termination right says that 'authors' who assign their copyrights to another entity have a one-time opportunity to terminate that assignment and reclaim their rights after 35 years. On the songs side of the music business, American songwriters reclaiming their US rights in this way has become routine. There are formalities a songwriter must go through, but in the main termination notices are accepted by music publishers.

However, on the recordings side many corporate rights owners have resisted efforts by artists to reclaim assigned rights. This is principally on the basis that record contracts are so called work-for-hire agreements, making the label not the artist the default owner of the resulting copyright. Therefore, there was no assignment of rights from artist to label 35 years ago and as a result the right to terminate that assignment does not apply.

Needless to say, most artists disagree with that argument, in turn arguing that record deals aren't really work-for-hire agreements at all. After years of debate on that point, both Universal Music and Sony Music were sued last year by various artists seeking to reclaim their recording rights.

Those lawsuits continue to go through the motions, with all sorts of technicalities needing to be considered. Because, beyond the core question over whether or not record deals are work-for-hire agreements, the majors have tried to hinder the artists' claims with other arguments too.

That includes finding issues with the termination notices that artists have submitted - either by claiming that key information was missing or insisting that deadlines were missed - and also arguing that where artists did deals with the record labels via their own companies, the termination right does not apply.

All those technicalities were considered in a court ruling back in March, and some of them were discussed again in a new ruling this week. That latter ruling also considered efforts by the artist side in the dispute to add new plaintiffs and defendants to the lawsuit.

Also considered, in both the March ruling and the new ruling, is the request by the artists for a declaratory judgment on the validity of their termination notices, which would amount to a rejection of the labels' work-for-hire argument. This is particularly important for those artists involved in the case who are yet to reach the 35 year point where their termination notices would go into effect.

In March, the judge said that such a declaratory judgment would be inappropriate, mainly because the court couldn't foresee what other arguments Universal might present in the future, meaning a declaratory judgment on termination notices and the work-for-hire argument now wouldn't necessarily help those artists yet to reach the 35 year point down the line.

However, in the new decision, having considered new arguments presented by the plaintiffs, the judge concludes that there is now a case for declaratory judgment because "resolving certain legal issues prior to the effective dates of termination would be useful even if not a complete solution".

Although the really big arguments in this case - mainly the work-for-hire debate - are yet to actually be considered, the new ruling on a possible declaratory judgment makes these ongoing proceedings of interest to a bigger group of artists. The case, as they say, continues.


Concord signs Rodaidh McDonald
Concord Music Publishing has announced a new deal with the now LA-based songwriter/producer Rodaidh McDonald, perhaps best known for his decade collaborating with XL Recordings in the UK, and his work on various albums for the label. Artists he has produced and mixed for include The xx, Sampha, King Krule, Daughter, Adele, Savages and Lapsley.

How is McDonald feeling about his new publishing partner? He's "THRILLED" of course! "I am THRILLED to be partnering with Concord", says he. "Through my meetings and conversations with the team in recent months, they have shown an excellent understanding of my work process while offering very inspiring ideas on how we can continue to push my work forward".

Adds Concord's SVP of A&R Jeremy Yohai: "We've all been big fans of Rod's work for a long time as he's worked with some of the most compelling artists around. We're very excited to be partnering up with him as he is now based in the US and embarks on the next phase of his career".


Sony/ATV signs Jozzy
Sony/ATV in the US has signed a worldwide admin deal with singer songwriter Jocelyn Donald - aka Jozzy - who has collaborated with the likes of Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, Usher, Summer Walker, Lil Wayne, Coldplay, Ella Mai and 21 Savage.

But how is Donald feeling about her new publishing partner? She's "THRILLED" of course! "I'm THRILLED to be working with Jon Platt and Sony/ATV", says she. "There's no doubt we'll do great things together. The best is yet to come!"

The there mentioned Platt - CEO of Sony/ATV, of course - is "pleased" about the whole thing, in case you wondered. "Jozzy is an incredibly accomplished songwriter with once in a generation talent", adds he. "We are pleased to welcome her to Sony/ATV, and I am confident we will earn major success as a creative team".

The deal comes as Donald puts more focus on her own career as an artist, alongside all the other songwriting projects. She is working with another Sony company, Columbia Records, on all that, with an EP called 'Soul Therapy: Apartment 215' set to follow various single releases from the last year.


CMU Insights at the Edinburgh Fringe: Future Of Live Music debate this Friday
Given it's August, in normal times the Edinburgh Festival would now be in full effect. Obviously, it's not happening this year because of COVID-19, though some of the city's summer festivals - and many of the performers, producers and venues usually involved in the Edinburgh Fringe - are presenting an assortment of shows and events online instead.

How do we know this? Because our sister publication, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, is busy tipping some of those online shows, and talking to some of the people behind them. You can check all that right now right here.

As part of all that, the Edinburgh Fringe Society is presenting a series of online panels and talks putting the spotlight on the business of making theatre, comedy, music, musicals and all sorts of other cultural delights. You can check the full programme here.

And as part of all that, CMU Insights has teamed up with the Fringe Society to present a free panel discussion on the future of live music, this Friday at 2.30pm.

Over an hour, that discussion will review the major impact COVID-19 has had on the live music sector, and how artists, promoters, venues and managers have dealt with those huge challenges. But more importantly, it will also consider what might happen once the COVID-19 shutdown is over and live music resumes.

Will everything return to normal or will the way artists tour, and the way the live music industry works, be changed forever? Will there be any positives to draw from this difficult period and, if so, how might those positives feed into the Edinburgh Fringe's own live music offering? CMU's Chris Cooke will be joined by artist managers, gig promoters and venue owners to discuss what the future of live music might look like.

You can sign up to watch that panel discussion for free via Zoom here.


Neil Young spending $20,000 to disconnect his website from Facebook and Google
Neil Young says he is spending $20,000 to disconnect his website from Facebook and Google, a move that will mean fans can no longer login to that site using their Facebook or Google accounts.

Why go to that effort? Well, Young writes in a message to fans, "Facebook knowingly allows untruths and lies in its political ads to circulate on the platform, while bots sow discord among users. Sowing dissent and chaos in our country via political disinformation is something we can not condone. Simply put, Facebook is screwing with our election".

He doesn't go into any detail about his grievances with Google or really explain why these changes on the Neil Young Archives site are costing quite so much, although he adds: "The money we are spending to get out of this mess is designed to make it as easy as possible for our valued Facebook users to login simply and securely to NYA without the social media platform involved in any way".

Meanwhile, an email to fans outlining the changes states: "We thank you immensely for bearing with us through this process. We know it's not convenient, but we believe we will be better for it. 'Quality whether you want it or not!'"


Damon Albarn led Tony Allen tribute confirmed as finale of online AIM Awards
AIM's Independent Music Awards will take place tonight, the whole event having shifted online because of pesky COVID-19. And, organisers have confirmed, the proceedings will end with a Damon Alban-led tribute to the late great Tony Allen.

The Afrobeat drummer, who died in April, will receive a posthumous Outstanding Contribution To Music award during the show. And, to mark that fact, friends and former collaborators of Allen - including Damon Albarn, Femi Koleoso, Seye Adelekan, Remi Kabaka Jr and Simon Tong - will perform 'Go Back' from the drummer's fifth album 'Film Of Life'.

Noting that Albarn collaborated with Allen on various projects - including via Africa Express, Rocket Juice & The Moon, and The Good, The Bad & The Queen - AIM says that the 'Film Of Life' performance will "celebrate Allen posthumously receiving the prestigious Outstanding Contribution To Music Award for his rich and hugely significant creative output".

Allen is actually also in the running for the Best Independent Track prize for his collaboration with Hugh Masekela, 'We've Landed'.

Other artists set to appear during the online awards show include AJ Tracey, Little Simz and Arlo Parks. It will all stream via SBTV's YouTube channel from 7pm this evening - more info at



Independent music publisher CTM has signed producer, songwriter and musician James Sanger, who has worked with the likes of Keane, Annie Lennox, Sugababes, U2, Dido and Phil Collins. The firm's CEO Andre de Raaff is "proud and pleased" about the deal, while Sanger himself is "really happy". So, pleasing happiness all round.



Talent agency ICM Partners has hired agent Simon Clarkson, formerly with WME, to head up an LA-based electronic music department. He will work closely with the electronic music team at ICM-allied London agency Primary Talent. Among the artists he brings with him to the company are Skrillex, Alison Wonderland, Aluna George and San Holo.



The UK's National Album Day is set to return on 10 Oct and there's very little you can do about that fact. You could get excited about it. If you want to. Woo! It's going to have a 1980s theme, surely you can get excited about that? And with all that in mind, Billy Ocean and Toyah Willcox will join La Roux and Blossoms as official ambassadors for the whole thing.



Beggars Group CEO Paul Redding is only going to swim the bloody English Channel! It's a sponsored swim in aid of the PRS Foundation in the UK and the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund in the US. You'll find more info and can sponsor Redding here.



Eels have posted a new single called 'Baby Let's Make It Real'.

Singer-songwriter Helena Deland will release her debut album 'Someone New' on 16 Oct on Luminelle Recordings. Here is the title track.

Jorja Smith has posted a - and I quote - "powerful video" to accompany her new track 'By Any Means'.

Nothing But Thieves have shared the - and I quote - "compelling, rousing and surreal video" for their recently released single 'Real Love Song'.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Amazon to add podcasts to its streaming service, and even its critics are now welcome
Amazon is going to start carrying podcasts on both its Amazon Music streaming platform and Audible audiobooks service. So, you know, a bit late to the party, but still, that's another route via which podcasters can get their programmes to market, and it will presumably become the default source of such content if and when people ask Alexa to play their podcasts of choice.

And, with all that in mind, we can't wait to see CMU's Setlist podcast streaming away on the platforms of our favourite patent-law-abusing, small-business-screwing, competitor-blocking, bootleg-seller-empowering, copyright-infringement-enabling, worker-exploiting, trade-union-hating, tax-dodging, money-grabbing, world-dominating, corporate powerhouse of evil capitalist motherfuckers, and its founder and Cunt In Chief, Jeffery "I don't know" Bezos.

Where do we sign up? Oh, at the bottom of this podcaster contract that says "your content may not include advertising or messages that disparage or are directed against Amazon or any service". Oh fuck. That's not going to work, is it?

Worry not everybody! After some good old internet moaning about that free speech infringing contract condition, Amazon has sneakily circulated revised terms for podcasters with that clause removed. So Setlist could still as yet get some podcast distribution love from the fuckers and cunts at Amazon. Good times!


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
[email protected] (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
[email protected] (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY.
[email protected] or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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