TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US Copyright Alliance - which brings together trade organisations from across all the copyright industries, including music, movies, TV, books, journalism, photography and software - has submitted an 'amicus brief' to the American courts in support of the record industry in its ongoing legal battle with stream-ripping platform Yout... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Copyright Alliance formally backs the record industry in ongoing legal battle with stream-ripper Yout
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Utopia Music announces new deal to enhance its offering in physical distribution
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING BRIT Trust announces new music charity grants
MEDIA Vice Media seeks bankruptcy protection as part of sale to money lenders
Tim Westwood investigators have received a "significant amount" of new information

Bauer Media revamps its weekly chart show

ONE LINERS Kim Petras, LF System, The Pointer Sisters, more
AND FINALLY... Village People hit out at lookalike performance at Donald Trump event
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Copyright Alliance formally backs the record industry in ongoing legal battle with stream-ripper Yout
The US Copyright Alliance - which brings together trade organisations from across all the copyright industries, including music, movies, TV, books, journalism, photography and software - has submitted an 'amicus brief' to the American courts in support of the record industry in its ongoing legal battle with stream-ripping platform Yout.

Websites that allow people to download permanent copies of temporary streams - most commonly streams on YouTube - have been a top piracy gripe of the music industry for some time now, of course. Which is why the Recording Industry Association Of America tried to get Yout de-listed by the Google search engine.

That prompted Yout to sue the RIAA based on the claim that its service was entirely legal. The stream-ripper stressed that it isn't directly involved in any copying of copyright protected material. And - while US copyright law does prohibit the circumvention of technical protection measures that exist to stop people making copies of content without licence - it insisted that YouTube doesn't have any such technical protection measures to circumvent.

That latter claim was central to the subsequent arguments that took place between Yout and the RIAA before the judge. Yout backed up its claim that YouTube didn't have any technical protection measures to circumvent by pointing out that anyone can grab a download of a stream on the Google video site through a web browser if they know what they are doing.

However, the record industry countered that accessing content in that way is complicated and time-consuming, and deliberately so, in order to stop people from downloading audio or video from the YouTube platform that was only meant to be streamed. And those deliberate complications constitute the technical protection measures referenced in America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act and now contained in Section 1201 of the US Code.

The judge hearing the case ultimately concurred with the record companies, which prompted Yout to take its case to the Second Circuit Appeals Court.

The stream-ripper has told appeal judges that its dispute with the record industry involves some "first time novel questions" and a "preponderance of disputed issue of fact", and therefore the judge in the lower court was wrong to dismiss its lawsuit when there was a "clear need for discovery and expert testimony".

Earlier this month the RIAA filed its response to Yout's appeal. It stated: "The district court's opinion was correct on all counts. It is in line with multiple courts that have found similar stream-ripping technology unlawful, in some cases (outside the United States) including Yout's own service. The district court's judgment should be affirmed".

On the key debate around technical protection measures, the RIAA's most recent filing went on: "The core questions in this case are whether YouTube employs a technological measure that effectively controls access to copyrighted works, and if so, whether Yout circumvents it. The answer to both questions is yes".

In its new amicus brief, the Copyright Alliance backs up that position, while telling the appeal judges that if they were to interpret and implement Section 1201 in the way that Yout has suggested, all copyright owners and industries would be negatively impacted.

"In its well-reasoned order dismissing the complaint, the district court correctly held that Yout LLC's stream-ripping service violates the anti-trafficking provisions of Section 1201", the new filing states. "Yout's erroneous interpretation of section 1201, if adopted, would thwart Congress's intended purposes and would harm and undermine popular methods of disseminating the speech of copyright owners like amicus's members".

"As Congress envisioned when passing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act", it goes on, "Section 1201's prohibitions against circumvention of access controls and trafficking in circumvention tools and services play a vital role in furthering copyright's crucial objectives".

"Section 1201 helps prevent piracy and unauthorised access to copyrighted works by preserving the incentive for content creators and distributors like the Copyright Alliance's wide array of members to embrace digital opportunities while continuing to create and disseminate expressive works".

"In this way", it adds, "the statute enables copyright owners to design innovative business models that benefit consumers by enabling lower-cost access to a more diverse variety of offerings, including subscription-based access to high-quality, digital entertainment content, on-demand viewing, cloud-based storage and sharing, and secure, authenticated video game play".

"Indeed, the businesses of amicus's members directly depend upon the types of technological protection measures for which Section 1201 provides protection".

Referencing amicus briefs that have been submitted in support of Yout by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and GitHub, the Copyright Alliance filing says: "The 'fair use' and related 'policy' arguments that Yout and its amici proffer are, as detailed in [the RIAA's] brief, inconsistent with the plain language of the statute and do nothing more than repeat well-worn, erroneous arguments that the courts consistently reject - one court as recently as last December".

It then concludes: "As these courts recognise, the proposed limitations of Section 1201 would hinder, not further, the goal of disseminating expressive speech. The district court properly dismissed Yout's complaint".


Utopia Music announces new deal to enhance its offering in physical distribution
The music distribution division of Utopia Music has announced a new partnership with logistics firm DP World that involves the opening of a new "state-of-the-art, specifically designed warehouse" in the Oxfordshire town of Bicester to facilitate the distribution of physical music and video products.

Although Utopia's core business is in the digital and data domain - it dubbing itself a "music fintech company" - the firm got itself established in physical distribution in the UK market via the 2022 acquisition of the Proper Music Group. Later the same year it acquired another UK distributor, Cinram, saying at the time that that deal had helped stop the Cinram company from becoming insolvent.

The new distribution hub in Bicester will basically replace the warehouse in nearby Aylesbury that came with Cinram acquisition. Utopia says in an official statement on the new deal that "stock will be moving from UDS's current warehouse in Aylesbury - which was inherited from Cinram when Utopia acquired its assets in 2022 - to the new facility across the summer".

Although streaming now accounts for two thirds of recorded music revenues in the UK, the sale of CDs and vinyl albums last year still accounted for 16% of the market according to figures from trade group BPI, and vinyl sales are still growing year on year.

So, while they now generate a minority of revenues, plenty of labels still see physical products as an important part of the business, hence why there is still an opportunity for the small number of players still active in the physical distribution domain.

Alluding to all that, Drew Hill - MD at Proper and VP Of Distribution Services for Utopia Music - says: "With physical music showing its resilience over and over again in recent times, we are delighted to be doubling down on our commitment to the sector with this £100m+ commitment. With state-of-the-art facilities, robotics and increased capacity at the new warehouse, we can't wait to capitalise on this expansion for both our clients and customers".

Rashid Abdulla, CEO and MD Europe for DP World, adds: "This contract is a significant step in our journey as we expand our logistics offerings in the UK and we are excited about working with Utopia in a fast-growing industry".

"We see this as a great opportunity", he goes on, "to realise our investment in the best technological innovations to build agile, streamlined, and sustainable supply chain solutions that can respond to ever-changing challenges whilst minimising costs and reducing environmental impact".

Despite the upbeat announcements on the physical distribution side of its operations, Utopia's core digital and data business has faced several challenges in the past year of course.

That has resulted in its workforce being downsized, plus some of the companies it bought during a previous acquisition spree have been sold on, most notably Sentric Music, which was acquired by Believe in March.


BRIT Trust announces new music charity grants
Music industry charity the BRIT Trust has announced that it is providing grants to four organisations that run music-based programmes around the UK. The funding will benefit projects that support people with learning disabilities, prisoners and musicians recovering from addiction, as well as music venues.

The chosen charities are Heart N Soul, which enables people with learning disabilities to discover creative talents; Not Saints, a sobriety-based recovery record label; Sing Inside, which provides group singing workshops to prisoners; and Independent Venue Community, which supports music venues across the UK.

"So many wonderful organisations have been supported over the years by The BRIT Trust, including those that are well known to our industry such as The BRIT School and Nordoff & Robbins", says the charity's Chair Tony Wadsworth.

"But we [also] take great pride in giving a helping hand to many other organisations around the UK where our backing can help to make a difference to their equally vital work. On behalf of the trustees, we are delighted to support these four deserving organisations and wish them all the best in their endeavours".

Since its launch in 1989, with funds largely provided by the BRIT Awards and the Music Industry Trusts Award, the BRIT Trust has distributed around £28 million through more than 230 grants.


Vice Media seeks bankruptcy protection as part of sale to money lenders
Vice Media Group has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US as part of plans to sell the company to a group of money lenders, including Fortress Investment Group and Soros Fund Management.

According to a statement, those lenders have agreed to provide $225 million in credit and to take on "significant liabilities" in return for the media firm's assets. However, the deal is contingent upon a provision that the company remains open to higher bids from other parties.

Vice, of course, expanded significantly from the mid-2000s to the mid-2010s after successfully turning what began as an alternative print magazine into a digital media powerhouse.

It adapted well to a world where media owners have to connect with audiences - and especially younger audiences - via third-party platforms like YouTube as much as on their own websites. And it also became a pioneer of what was, for a time, called branded content, involving brands in its output via an in-house marketing agency.

However, it was never entirely clear how Vice's advertising and brand partnership operations were going to fully fund what became such an extensive network of websites, programmes and projects, and that period of rapid expansion and acquisition was followed by some significant downsizing.

In recent years, the number of standalone brands operated under the Vice banner has decreased, leading to reductions in the company's workforce. And just last month there were cutbacks in the firm's news output resulting in a new round of redundancies.

There were other challenges for Vice too. By reaching a significant portion of its audience via third party platforms, it was always going to face problems when those platforms - which were also competitors in the digital advertising market - changed their priorities and algorithms.

Meanwhile, with the youth demographic it was targeting, Vice increasingly faced competition from the huge community of online creators building their own media empires via YouTube, Instagram and, more recently, TikTok.

Which is presumably why, despite having been valued at $5.7 billion in 2017, a positive spin is being put on the newly announced $225 million deal. Co-CEOs Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala said yesterday that the "sale process will strengthen the company and position Vice for long-term growth".

They added that the deal that has been negotiated will safeguard "the kind of authentic journalism and content creation that makes Vice such a trusted brand for young people and such a valued partner to brands, agencies and platforms", because it will allow the company to operate "without the legacy liabilities that have been burdening our business".

As part of the deal, the lenders will also provide more than $20 million in cash and additional financing to ensure Vice's continued operation during the sale process, which is expected to conclude within the next two to three months.


Tim Westwood investigators have received a "significant amount" of new information
A dedicated phoneline via which people can provide information to a review of what the BBC knew about the conduct of former presenter Tim Westwood is to close this Friday. Investigators say that they have received "a significant amount of important new information" since it opened last month.

The BBC instigated its review - led by independent investigators Gemma White and Jahnine Davis - after a media exposé last year in which a number of women made allegations of sexual misconduct against Westwood. Some of those women said that, after they agreed to meet with the DJ to discuss their careers in music, he had pressured them into sex. Others claimed that he had groped them as they posed for photographs at events.

Many of the alleged incidents took place between 1994 and 2013 when Westwood worked for the BBC, which is why the broadcaster began an independent review to look into the allegations, and also the extent to which BBC management were aware that Westwood had been accused of sexual abuse while he was still working for the Corporation's radio stations.

It was always the intention for the phoneline to be open for just four weeks, so it is closing on the date originally planned. Davis and White are still encouraging anyone with information to come forward before the 19 May cut-off.

"We would like to thank everyone who has contacted us via the review phoneline", says White. "We know that taking the decision to call was not easy for many of you and that speaking to us has taken courage. Your evidence will assist me in my task of independently establishing whether the BBC knew of concerns and responded appropriately to them. If you have been thinking of contributing but have not been sure about whether to do so, please do get in touch now".

Anyone still wishing to contribute can call 08000 121 838 between now and Friday. It is also possible to submit evidence by emailing [email protected] or by mail addressed to Gemma White KC BBC Review, Linklaters LLP, One Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8HQ.

It also emerged last month that police are investigating five accusations of misconduct that have been made against Westwood, and that the DJ has now been formally questioned by police officers twice. In the past, Westwood has denied all the allegations that have been made against him.


Bauer Media revamps its weekly chart show
Bauer Media has announced a new host for the weekly chart show that airs on its network of Hits Radio stations around the UK.

The weekly chart countdown will now be fronted by Sam Thompson of 'Made In Chelsea' and other reality TV fame, who has hosted a week day evening show for the Hits Radio network since the start of this year.

"A revamped 'Chart Show' will see Sam bringing more of his personality and fun to the countdown as he chats with artists breaking in to and climbing up those charts", says Bauer, seemingly assuming that that statement makes the revamp sound appealing.

Thompson himself adds: "I cannot believe that I am going to be revealing the number one to the nation every Sunday night! It is an actual dream come true to be hosting the 'Chart Show' and I cannot wait to get started. Who's going to be my first number one?! Make sure you're listening this Sunday to find out".

Bauer's chart show goes out from 4-7pm each Sunday on its network of local pop stations, some of which actually operate as Hits Radio. Fans of time will note that that is an afternoon slot, though I guess the number one record is revealed at 6.55pm which may just about qualify as "Sunday night".

Hits Radio Content Director Paul Gerrard adds: "We're delighted that Sam is set to become an even bigger part of the Hits family with this new show. We can't wait to hear more of his chats with artists that already make his weekday show such a must listen. We'd also like to thank Sarah-Jane Crawford for all of her hard work on the 'Chart Show' over the last almost five years".

Crawford is who Thompson is replacing as chart show host. She will continue to present programmes for the Hits Radio network with a late show in the week and an afternoon show from 4-7pm on Saturday.


Approved: Grove
Grove provided one of the standout performances that I caught at last week's Great Escape. And just ahead of the festival, they released their first single of 2023, the furiously anti-monarchy 'Big Boots'. Featuring vocals from EJ:Akin, it comes a year after last single 'Feed My Desire' and precedes a solid schedule of festival dates over the summer.

Speaking about the new track, Grove says: "We're told that there's no money for people and public services, but there is £100 million for the coronation of a billionaire".

"The royal family are a symbol of all kinds of supremacy - class supremacy, white supremacy, imperialism - and we need to decide how we want to be represented as a country now, and not have it be decided for us. We're being pushed coronation biscuits and bunting in Tescos whilst deportations, housing and living situations become dire".

'Big Boots' more than meets the strength of feeling in Grove's words and gives you an idea of just how exciting their live show is. Among those summer festival dates are performances at Dot To Dot and Bearded Theory this month, as well as Glastonbury in June.

Watch the video for 'Big Boots' here.

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


Ministry Of Sound has signed LF System. "We're absolutely buzzing to be working with such an iconic label for the dance music scene and it feels like the perfect home to be releasing our new music on", say the duo. "And finally, we are able to share our new single with the world and hope that you love it as much as we do!" What's that? A new single? Yes, the first release under the deal is 'Dancing Shoes (Take Me Higher)'.

BMG has acquired the artist royalties associated with nine Pointer Sisters albums released between 1978 and 1988, as well as 100% of their US royalties, including from their 1982 song 'I'm So Excited'. "I am so excited and the whole company is so excited to have a chance to work with these incredible copyrights and beautiful music", says Thomas Scherer, BMG's President Of Repertoire & Marketing for New York and LA. Don't know if you saw what he did there.



Kim Petras has announced that she will release her debut album 'Feed The Beast' on 23 Jun.

Binki has released new single 'Doomsday'. "The title says a lot about this song", he says. "'Doomsday'. It's like, would you want to know the day the world's gonna end? I think uncertainty is the scariest thing in the world. People are completely paralysed by it. I think you can either live your life based in fear or based in love. It would be psychotic to not be scared of anything, but I think as much as you can, you should let love lead you".

Snayx have released a new double A-side single featuring the songs 'Boys In Blue' and 'HANG'. "The double A-side is a social commentary of recent times", says vocalist Charlie Herridge. "It's a criticism of the power structures that control and govern us and the hypocrisy they can be steeped in. It's our expression of anger and dissidence".



McFly have announced that they will play an intimate show at The Underworld in London on 8 Jun to launch their new album 'Power To Play. "We're buzzing to be launching 'Power To Play' at such an iconic venue by doing the thing that inspired it the most - playing live", say the band. "This will be the first time playing the new songs for anyone other than ourselves, we can't wait to see the crowd reaction. It's going to be a sweaty one!" Larger scale shows will take place in the autumn. Tickets for the Underworld show are on sale now.

Overmono have announced that they will play their biggest ever headline shows in the UK and Ireland this October, finishing with a performance at the Roundhouse in London on 25 Oct. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.

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


Village People hit out at lookalike performance at Donald Trump event
Donald Trump has annoyed the Village People again, this time by hosting a party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida which featured a group of men dressed up like the legendary disco group and performing their hits.

The former President has regularly made use of Village People songs 'YMCA' and 'Macho Man' at his political events, of course. The group - and especially founder member and lead singer Victor Willis - have been very clear throughout that they really wish he wouldn't.

When it comes to copyright matters, political rallies and other events staged by Trump usually rely on blanket licences issued by the music industry's collecting societies.

And while there is a specific licence for overtly political events that provides some opt-outs for songwriters, it's difficult for artists to stop the likes of Trump from using their music outright by simply enforcing copyright law.

It's a little more clear cut if music is used by politicians without permission in campaign videos, and Village People label Scorpio Music did threaten legal action after Trump shared a video made by a third party that featured the group's music. But with music used at events, things remain tricky.

Artists can still send cease and desist notices - or even just polite letters simply requesting that a politician doesn't use their music - or they can moan about it on social media, perhaps in the hope that that will cause a backlash which will stop the politicians from playing their songs at their events.

But none of that worked for Willis and the Village People. Back in early 2021 they were hoping that Trump leaving the White House might solve the problem.

They told Billboard at the time: "We have no ill will towards the President, but we asked him to cease and desist [using our music] long ago. However, since he's a bully, our request was ignored. Thankfully he's now out of office, so it would seem his abusive use of our music has finally ended".

However, with Trump still regularly dominating the political conversation in the US - and even more so now he's back in campaign mode in a bid to win back the presidency - that "abusive use" of the Village People's music very much continues.

And now Willis - via his wife and manager Karen - has sent another stern letter to Team Trump, this time arguing that the lookalikes performance at Mar-a-Lago potentially violates the Village People's trademark. That's on the basis that the performance - and the circulation of footage from the event on social media - has implied that Willis and his group somehow endorse Trump.

"The performance has and continues to cause public confusion as to why Village People would even engage in such a performance", Willis wrote in her letter, before noting: "We did not. Though my husband has tolerated your client's use of his Village People music, we cannot allow such use by him to cause public confusion as to endorsement".

Whether a claim under trademark law is easier to pursue than a claim under copyright law remains to be seen. Though, the Trump camp - keen to demonstrate that their overlord is a true man of the people - has let it be known that they only talk to lawyers not the wives of pop stars. Even if the wife is also the artist's manager. Oh, and also a lawyer.

"I will only deal with the attorney of the Village People, if they have one, not the wife of one of the members", Trump legal rep Joe Tacopina said in a statement. "But they should be thankful that President Trump allowed them to get their name back in the press. I haven't heard their name in decades. Glad to hear they are still around".


ANDY MALT heads up our editorial operations, overseeing the CMU Dailywebsite and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE is co-Founder and MD of CMU - he continues to write key business news stories, and runs training, research and event projects for the CMU Insights consultancy unit and CMU:DIY future talent programme.
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SAM TAYLOR leads on the commerical side of CMU, overseeing sales, sponsorship and business development, as well as heading up training, research and event projects at our consultancy unit CMU Insights.
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CARO MOSES is Editor of CMU's sister media ThisWeek Culture and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh. Having previously also written and edited articles for CMU, she continues to advise and support our operations.
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