TODAY'S TOP STORY: Another US internet service provider has accused the record industry of employing dodgy practices when issuing takedown requests and copyright complaints against internet companies. These practices are "unfair and fraudulent", says net firm RCN, which also accuses the majors of breaking the California Business & Professions Code... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES RCN latest ISP to accuse record industry of bad conduct when issuing copyright takedowns
LEGAL Majors test new Russian law to take down unlicensed music apps
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Brazilian stream manipulation services go offline after industry action
LIVE BUSINESS Sony expands live interests in US via deal with theatrical booking agency The Road Company
INDUSTRY PEOPLE PPL donates £100,000 to live crew support fund
ARTIST NEWS Aphex Twin puts up mysterious billboard ads
ONE LINERS Keith Sweat, Peermusic, Ghetts, more
AND FINALLY... Government job retraining recommendations website offers little hope for musicians
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RCN latest ISP to accuse record industry of bad conduct when issuing copyright takedowns
Another US internet service provider has accused the record industry of employing dodgy practices when issuing takedown requests and copyright complaints against internet companies. These practices are "unfair and fraudulent", says net firm RCN, which also accuses the majors of breaking the California Business & Professions Code.

RCN is one of a number of American ISPs sued by the record industry over the copyright infringement of their users. The labels argue that because the internet companies have deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with infringement and repeat infringers on their networks, they shouldn't enjoy protection under the copyright safe harbour, meaning they can be held liable when their customers infringe copyright.

Charter Communications, Bright House Networks and RCN's sister company Grande Communications have all also been targeted with litigation in the wake of BMG - and then the majors - successfully suing Cox Communications on this issue.

More recently many of those ISPs have been pushing back with their own accusations against the record companies, trade body the Recording Industry Association Of America, and the anti-piracy agencies they employ, in this case Rightscorp.

The net firms have always been critical of the way companies like Rightscorp go about issuing takedown requests and copyright complaints, arguing that those notices cannot be trusted and are therefore not solid proof that any one customer has been infringing copyright.

However, more recently the ISPs have been increasingly accusing the record industry of having a deliberately slack approach to issuing takedowns, to the extent that - the internet companies say - the labels and their agents are themselves violating safe harbour rules or other related laws.

In its latest legal filing, submitted earlier this week, RCN accuses the labels of deliberately swamping internet firms with copyright complaints, while not sharing and often deleting the evidence that allegedly justifies each complaint.

This is done, it says, in a bid to "force internet service providers to treat all copyright infringement accusations, no matter how flimsy, as legitimate. In a sane world, only actual, verifiable evidence of copyright infringement would provide a sufficient basis for an ISP to terminate the internet access of a customer. But that is not the world the record labels and the RIAA want to live in".

"Instead of actually policing their copyrights", it goes on, "and identifying and proving claims of direct copyright infringement - [the labels] seek to create an environment in which ISPs, including RCN, have no choice but to indiscriminately terminate the internet access of every customer accused of copyright infringement, or face the wrath of the record labels and the RIAA".

It then adds: "The record labels and the RIAA are relying on Rightscorp's copyright infringement allegations not because they are true, but because the nature and volume of the accusations allow [the labels] to use them for the improper purpose of gaining leverage over ISPs. The unspoken threat is RCN's reality: accept the new copyright regime or face the cost and burden of defending against a protracted secondary copyright infringement lawsuit seeking vast sums of damages".

Leading up to its actual legal claim, RCN then states: "[The labels'] intentional destruction of evidence that supports or contradicts millions of conclusory and unsupported accusations of copyright infringement against users of RCN's network, and their scheme to wield that evidence against RCN and others solely for monetary gain, significantly harms competition, is immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, and substantially injurious to consumers and competition. These business practices are in violation of the California Business & Professions Code".

The labels have been predictably disparaging when other ISPs and internet companies have made similar claims. The music companies argue that those net firms are unable to properly defend the copyright infringement lawsuits filed against them, so have instead manufactured complaints about the way copyright owners go about enforcing their rights. A similar response to RCN's new legal filing is likely, but it will be more interesting to see how the judge responds.


Majors test new Russian law to take down unlicensed music apps
The major labels are testing a new anti-piracy law in Russia by seeking to have Apple remove three unlicensed music apps from its App Store: PewPee, iMus and Музыка оффлайн Скачать Музыку, the latter of which pretty much translates as Offline Music Download Music.

Russia has introduced a number of new anti-piracy measures in recent years, often increasing the power of internet watchdog Roscomnadzor, and going further than similar measures in Western Europe and North America.

The latest such measure increases the liabilities of app stores, like those operated by Apple and Google. When formally made aware of copyright infringing apps they must quickly order those app-makers to stop infringing and/or remove those apps from their stores. Failure to do could result in web-blocking action by Roscomnadzor.

According to Torrentfreak, the major labels' representatives in Russia are testing the new law by requesting an injunction that orders Apple to remove the three offending apps that they have identified.

A legal rep for the labels said that the move is very much a test case and, depending on how things work out, other copyright owners are ready to push for the removal of other apps, targeting Google's App Store as well.

Torrentfreak also notes that Roscomnadzor has asked both Apple and Google to identify who in their organisations will take responsibility for speedily removing copyright infringing apps when any injunctions are issued.

We await to see what happens with PewPee, iMus and Offline Music Download Music, and whether a flood of other app removal requests then follow.


Brazilian stream manipulation services go offline after industry action
The record industry's battle against stream manipulation continues. A number of sites that offer sneaky services of that kind in Brazil have been targeted by local trade body Pro-Música Brasil and global grouping the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry.

Stream manipulation, of course, is when companies create artificial plays for tracks on the streaming platforms boosting the overall play count. Such activity can help make artists and tracks look more popular than they really are and - because of the way streaming income is shared out each month - the stream scammers and their clients can get more money out of the system than they put in.

The record industry in Germany has previously secured a number of injunctions against websites based there that offer stream manipulation services. And now the Brazilian industry has targeted stream manipulation set-ups in its country, resulting in a number of companies ceasing to offer that service.

Pro-Música Brasil worked with the country's anti-piracy body APDIF and local police to target one key player in stream manipulation called TurboSocial. As a result of that action, it has now removed stream manipulation services from its main site and a number of affiliated sites.

Meanwhile, six other services have stopped all their stream manipulation operations after receiving cease and desist letters, and a seventh has voluntarily done the same.

The boss of IFPI, Frances Moore, confirming the action, stated: "Brazil's vibrant and streaming-led music market is providing increasingly exciting and diverse opportunities for its artists and fans to share and enjoy music. Streaming manipulation must not be allowed to undermine these developments by depriving creators of revenue and misleading consumers".

"These actions demonstrate the global recording industry's continuing commitment to fighting back against this practice, which harms the entire music ecosystem", she went on. "We commend the police and Pro-Música Brasil for their work and cooperation on this positive outcome".

Over at Pro-Música Brasil, Director Paulo Rosa added: "These are positive developments for Brazil's music community and the first time we have seen successful action against streaming manipulation sites in the country. We would like to thank the police for their work and cooperation on these cases. Streaming manipulation diverts revenues away from artists and damages the credibility of digital platforms and charts. For the industry in Brazil to truly combat this practice we need the full cooperation of the entire music ecosystem, from labels to streaming services, to law enforcement".


Sony expands live interests in US via deal with theatrical booking agency The Road Company
Sony Music has further pushed itself into the live entertainment sector by launching a new joint venture with New York-based theatrical booking agency The Road Company via its Masterworks division.

The Road Company, led by Stephen Lindsay and Brett Sirota, book tours for musicals, plays and other family entertainment productions around North America and beyond.

The new JV with Sony, to be called RoadCo Entertainment, will "develop and produce a range of live events based on popular brands and pre-existing intellectual properties, as well as all new immersive, interactive attractions for viewers of all ages".

Part of the plan is to work with other Sony divisions and companies - and the brands and content they control - in creating some of these lovely live events and lots of those there mentioned and always fun "immersive, interactive attractions for viewers of all ages".

"We are THRILLED to be partnering with Stephen Lindsay and Brett Sirota, whose track record as booking experts is well-known throughout the entertainment industry", Mark Cavell, President of Sony Music Masterworks, said earlier this week.

Noting a past collaboration between Sony and The Road Company, he went on: "Since first working together on the co-producing team of the Tony Award-winning SpongeBob musical, we have looked for other opportunities to collaborate. RoadCo is the perfect venue for us to join forces and further grow our entertainment division in the US market when the live touring business is ready to return".

Lindsay and Sirota added in a joint statement: "We are energised and excited at the opportunity to create a second booking agency with our friends at Sony Music Masterworks, who bring a wealth of expertise, resources and intellectual property. The Road Company will continue its focus on Broadway and other theatricals, while RoadCo starts a new chapter for us, as we build this expansive new enterprise with Sony Music capable of handling a broad roster of live entertainment properties".

Sony Music has been slowly increasing its interest in live entertainment in recent years, especially via Masterworks, a division which includes the major's classical and theatrical labels. In the UK Masterworks has interests in concert promoters Raymond Gubbay and Senbla, the latter of which just bought festivals Strawberries & Creem and Cambridge Club.


PPL donates £100,000 to live crew support fund
UK record industry collecting society PPL has donated £100,000 to the Production Services Association's live industry benevolent fund Stagehand, for its new COVID-19 Crew Relief Fund.

The new COVID-specific fund was launched last month to support crew, technicians and others who work in the live events industry who have not been able to access any financial support from the UK government to date. It will open later this month.

"We are extremely thankful to PPL for coming on board so generously at the beginning of our campaign", says the Chair of Stagehand's board of trustees, Mike Lowe. "As a sector-specific charity, we've already seen devastating effects suffered by some of our workforce caused by the lack of work and financial support. The relief of having rent paid and mouths fed will no doubt ease the undoubted mental anguish caused by the pandemic".

PPL CEO Peter Leathem adds: "The live events sector has been one of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic and so we welcome the opportunity to be able to provide this support. This funding adds to the contributions we have made to hardship funds for musicians, freelancers and venues - all of which are part of the music ecosystem".

"We need to safeguard the jobs and livelihoods of crew so that they are there when our members get back out on the road post-COVID to do what they love most - performing", he goes on. "This is a much-needed initiative from Stagehand and we are pleased to be able to be part of it".

Find out more about Stagehand's COVID-19 Crew Relief Fund here.


Approved: Michael Peter Olsen
Composer and cellist Michael Peter Olsen released his debut single, 'Mayday', in February this year; an ambient, glacial piece with hints of electronic influences. Now he follows it with new single, 'Falling Forward', which stretches the ideas present in that first release further.

Experimenting with recording techniques, in this track his cello parts are processed to become otherworldly and robotic.

"'Falling Forward' is about being disconnected from what is safe and familiar and the grief of that loss of connection", he says. "Implicit is the admission that though the fall is uncontrolled, and the future is unknown, it is still progression, leading to what is next".

"The video was inspired by the Taoist interpretation of water, a visual metaphor on change and fluidity", he goes on. "In Taoist thought, water is a symbol of flexibility, of virtue, of creating new paths - much like many of the new paths that we are forging now in recent events".

An album is set for release next year. For now, watch the video for 'Falling Forward' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

Aphex Twin puts up mysterious billboard ads
Hey, remember when Aphex Twin tied a small blimp to a venue in London back in 2014? Then it turned out it was to promote the producer's first album for thirteen years? Well, it looks like something similar is happening again. Billboards bearing the producer's logo have appeared in LA, Berlin, Bristol and London. What could be happening?

It's entirely possible that this means that new music is incoming. Although it may also not. An image of one of the billboards was shared on Instagram by music software and hardware maker Novation, promising that there would be "more info incoming" on 20 Oct.

Aphex Twin has partnered with Novation before, with the company last year adding an 'AFX mode' to its Bass Station II synth. So maybe this is all something to do with that. Who knows?

Anyway, the short version of this is that someone is making use of the billboards that have otherwise been going ignored during the pandemic.



Round Hill Music has announced a worldwide publishing administration agreement with Keith Sweat, covering his entire catalogue and future work. "Keith Sweat is a bona fide R&B legend and it is an honour to be working with him his amazing back catalogue and on his new music", says Round Hill CEO Josh Gruss.



Alain Veille has been named the new President of Warner Music France. He replaces Thierry Chassagne who is retiring. "This is a historic day for our business in France", says Warner Music CEO For International And Global Commercial Services, Stu Bergen. "Alain is the perfect choice to build on Thierry's legacy and support our artists and team today and in the future".

Talent agency UTA has hired former Paradigm agents Jeffrey Hasson and Matt Meyer. "Jeffrey and Matt have impeccable track records of identifying and developing emerging artists and creating unique opportunities for their clients", says co-head of UTAs music department David Zedeck. "We are THRILLED to welcome both of them to our team".



Peermusic has launched a new company focused on managing neighbouring rights income for artists - ie the monies generated by the performance and broadcast of sound recordings. To get things started it has acquired existing neighbouring rights firms Premier Muzik in Canada, All Right Music in France and Global Master Rights in the Netherlands. "Given the challenging market artists and songwriters currently face, I'm happy to be able to offer our clients new revenue opportunities through neighbouring rights services", says Peermusic Deputy CEO Mary Megan Peer.

Universal Publishing Production Music has launched new label RE|COVERED, which collects cover versions of classic hits for use in media and other video projects. "The RE|COVERED project not only gives our clients incredible, reimagined versions of songs which grace the soundtrack of our lives, it also maintains the 'one-stop shop' appeal of production music where clients can license 100% of the master and publishing", says UPPM President Michael Sammis.



Propeller Communications - the joint venture PR agency set up by Propeller Recordings and 0E0E Records - has announced the launch of a new pan-European radio plugging division. It will be headed up by Finola Doran. "Finola comes to Propeller Communications with an impressive track record in national radio plugging, having progressed a number of significant developing acts from rock and alternative music scenes in the UK. We can't wait for her to blend her specialist experience in liaising with our network of European radio stations too", says Managing Director Tom Rose.



Ghetts has released new single 'IC3', featuring Skepta.

Kaytranada has released the video for 'The Worst In Me', featuring Tinashe, from his 2019 album 'Bubba'.

Mellah has released new single 'Hitchin'. "'Hitchin' is about relinquishing control", he says. "Forever pining and searching and digging for contentment, meaning and joy when in reality it's in your back pocket, all you need to do is stop looking for it to notice the free ride".

Bicep have announced that they will release new album 'Isles' on 22 Jan through Ninja Tune. Here's first single 'Apricots'.

Kate NV has released the video for 'Lu Na', from recent album 'Room For The Moon'.



Billie Eilish has announced a livestreamed performance on 24 Oct at 11pm UK time. Exclusive merch will also be sold in the run-up to the show, with proceeds donated to Live Nation's Crew Nation fund, supporting live crew staff hit financially by COVID-related show cancellations. Buy tickets for the show here.

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


Government job retraining recommendations website offers little hope for musicians
UK Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak continues to insist that he was absolutely, definitely, certainly and undeniably misquoted when ITV News reported that he had told musicians everywhere to re-train and get a new job if they are unable to work as a result of the COVID shutdown. Nevertheless, his government has still put live a new website telling people what profession they should move into if COVID has put an end to their current career path.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is not proving the most helpful service. The site asks a series of pretty generic multiple choice questions about your personality and working style, before offering up a selection of professions you might want to move into.

From there, it drills down further to suggest specific jobs that would suit you. However, even though this service has seemingly been set up to help people who have lost work because of the pandemic, it frequently seems to suggest jobs equally unstable - or even more so - in current circumstances.

Among the musicians testing out the new service was Mary Epworth, who revealed on Twitter: "I got those famously solid professions 'circus performer' and 'entertainer'".

"Sadly it just gave me 'creative', whatever that is", added Dan Le Sac.

If you're wondering - and I'm sure you are - my top new job suggestion was 'actor'. Although I think I might take one from further down the list - 'stunt performer'.

It did also offer various iterations of the job I already do too, which either means I'm in the perfect role already or the government doubts my ability to do it.

Either way, I think I faired better than fellow music journalist Chris Salmon, who - when the jobs identified by this site are made mandatory by 'Boris' Johnson and his gang - is going to have to become a bingo caller.

Discover what the most innapropriate job you could take up in these times would be here.


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.
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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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