|MONDAY 22 MAY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A New York court last week paused a lawsuit filed as part of a dispute over the Jimi Hendrix Experience catalogue pending the outcome of litigation related to the same dispute in the London courts. It follows an appeal court ruling in the UK last month which said that the London lawsuit should be allowed to proceed despite the connected legal action in the US... [READ MORE]|
New York judge pauses Jimi Hendrix Experience litigation pending outcome of UK lawsuit
The Jimi Hendrix estate and its label partner Sony Music is on one side in this dispute, with companies representing the estates of the two other members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience - Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell - on the other side.
The Redding and Mitchell companies claim that they control rights in relation to the Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings catalogue which are being infringed by the Hendrix estate and Sony.
But the latter parties counter that, after Hendrix's death in 1970, both Redding and Mitchell signed agreements in which they gave up any claims to rights and royalties stemming from the Jimi Hendrix Experience in return for "significant monetary consideration".
After lawyers for the Redding and Mitchell companies contacted Sony Music in the UK last year to make their formal claims in relation to the Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings, the Hendrix estate and Sony in the US filed legal proceedings in the New York courts. They want the courts there to confirm that those 1970s agreements are still in force.
The Redding and Mitchell companies then subsequently filed their own lawsuit with the courts in London. Sony has been trying hard to get that case paused, arguing that the 1970s agreements are at the core of this dispute and they are subject to New York law.
But the Redding and Mitchell companies argue that the dispute is fundamentally about rights under UK copyright law. Plus they are mainly concerned with the digital exploitation of the Hendrix recordings which, they reckon, falls outside the scope of the 1970s agreements.
The UK courts have generally sided with the Redding and Mitchell companies in terms of whether or not the case filed on this side of the Atlantic should be paused.
After Sony took the matter to the English court of appeal, judge Edwin Johnson ruled last month that - while the 1970s agreements are "a central aspect in the dispute" - New York law is only relevant to those agreements and "not to the entirety of the claims made in the action or, as it seems to me, to the entirety of the claim".
With UK judges seemingly happy for the lawsuit in the London courts to proceed, the judge overseeing the litigation in New York - Ronnie Abrams - has now decided that it's the US legal action that should be paused.
For starters, Abrams notes in her ruling, although the US lawsuit was technically filed first, the legal dispute actually began in the UK.
"The parallel litigation in England effectively commenced more than a month prior to the filing of this action", she writes, "when the Redding and Mitchell estates sent a letter of claim to Sony UK on 8 Dec, 2021, marking the start of the dispute between the parties in both fora".
"Moreover", she goes on, "defendants' latest letters reiterate ... that the litigation centres on estate matters in England, general release documents located in England, and copyright and intellectual property rights under English law. It can thus hardly be said that the courts of England are not an adequate forum in which the parallel proceeding may proceed".
The Redding and Mitchell companies actually asked Abrams to dismiss the US lawsuit on the basis that the dispute is also being fought out in the UK courts.
However, the judge is pausing - or staying - rather than dismissing the litigation filed by the Hendrix estate and Sony in her court. And, she adds in her ruling, "because the court here merely stays, rather than dismisses, this action, plaintiffs will not be prejudiced".
With that in mind, Abrams concludes: "For the foregoing reasons, this action is hereby stayed pending the resolution of defendants' action in England".
TikTok creators file lawsuit challenging app's ban in Montana
The ban is a response to ongoing concerns in the political community that the Chinese government has access to TikTok user-data via the app's China-based owner Bytedance.
After signing the ban into law, Gianforte tweeted: "To protect Montanans' personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana".
In response TikTok - which insists there are no data security issues on its platform - said: "Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state".
The five Montana-based TikTok creators who filed a lawsuit with a federal court in the US state last week are seeking to test that claim. According to Reuters, their lawsuit says that, with the TikTok ban, the state is seeking to "exercise powers over national security that Montana does not have and to ban speech Montana may not suppress".
The lawsuit names the state's Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who is tasked with enforcing the new ban. His spokesperson told reporters: "We expected a legal challenge and are fully prepared to defend the law".
The Proxy Bay is offline following City Of London Police's recent intervention
Web-blocking - where ISPs are ordered to block access to copyright infringing websites - is the music industry's anti-piracy tactic of choice. And, in countries where such web-blocks are available, The Pirate Bay is usually one of the first sites to be blocked.
However, there are, of course, ways for people to circumvent the blockades. And that includes using proxies that are set up by the piracy sites or their supporters. Like - in the case of The Pirate Bay - The Proxy Bay.
Aware of all that, the music and movie companies that routinely seek web-blocks against piracy sites also regularly seek similar web-blocks against the proxies. Although - with new proxies popping up all the time - that does create yet another Whac-A-Mole type scenario for the anti-piracy brigade.
As part of those ongoing efforts to block the proxies, earlier this year the City Of London Police - on behalf of UK record industry trade group BPI - sent a copyright notice to GitHub under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act requesting that a Proxy Bay subdomain on its platform be deactivated.
Github initially complied with that request, but then a counter notice was filed arguing that The Proxy Bay does not infringe copyright under UK law because it doesn't actually host any copyright infringing content. On the basis of the counter notice, Github restored The Proxy Bay subdomain.
That didn't mean that Github necessarily agreed with the copyright position stated in the counter notice, rather it was doing what it is required to do under US law when it receives notices and counter notices on copyright matters.
The restoration of The Proxy Bay seemed like a setback for the BPI and City Of London Police. But, Torrentfreak reported this weekend, after having been restored on Github, The Proxy Bay then subsequently went offline.
It's possible that this is due to another copyright notice being filed, although Github would usually declare any such notice and it is yet to do so. Which means it could be that the operator of The Proxy Bay has voluntarily taken the service offline to avoid any future legal issues.
That then poses the question why the operator of The Proxy Bay bothered to issue the counter notice. Although - Torrentfreak pointed out in its new report - we don't actually know for certain that it was the operator of the proxy that filed the counter notice.
"It's not clear if that was actually sent by the operator", Torrentfreak stated, "especially since the notice referenced the incorrect .com domain name, instead of the .io one that GitHub pages use. Interestingly, all proxy domains that were previously promoted on The Proxy Bay have gone offline as well".
So, while it's not yet clear why, The Proxy Bay is offline. For now at least. Of course there are plenty of other proxies out there, which means - even if the efforts of the City Of London Police were ultimately successful here - that game of Whac-A-Mole continues.
MU and Black Lives In Music contact London mayor Sadiq Kahn over "Form 696 by stealth" concerns
There has been criticism before, of course, that London's Metropolitan Police have applied extra obligations on and unfairly discriminated against shows which feature certain genres or target certain audiences, with genres like grime and drill, and music fans from black communities, often the target.
That criticism previously centred on Form 696, a risk assessment document that venues and promoters were required to fill out for shows involving DJs and MCs. The original version of that form had specific questions about genre and the ethnicity of the anticipated audience which caused particular controversy. Those questions were removed in 2009, though the form continued to be used until 2017.
Under political pressure about its continued use of Form 696, the Metropolitan Police confirmed in 2017 that it would no longer use that document and instead it introduced a "voluntary partnership approach" to identify any risks or concerns associated with specific events.
However, in a recent report in The Guardian, one London club operator said that that voluntary approach was "696 by another name".
The club is still expected to submit its own risk assessment and, where a show features artists from a certain genre, police will often informally tell the operator that they consider that show to be "high risk" and that if any incidents occur it might prompt a review of the venue's licence. So while police aren't actually blocking those shows, they are discouraging venues from staging them.
In the same article, an artist manager and promoter is quoted as saying: "You're still required to fill in the form, they've just taken 696 off the top of it. They've taken away the ethnicity question, because that's the thing they were really getting hammered for. But they're doing it by stealth now: they know that these are black shows".
The Guardian also put the spotlight on London shows from Digga and Fumez The Engineer that were allegedly cancelled after the intervention of the police, the latter just 20 minutes before the gig was due to start.
On his cancelled show, Fumez told the newspaper: "All I know is I was booked to perform, I was putting on a show, and I [was] told 20 minutes before that it [was] cancelled. And they haven't given me a reason".
"It's like having the rug pulled from underneath your feet", he added. "All the money that we'd spent making sure that the set was sick and everyone was there - we had people fly in from Ireland, Sweden - it was crazy. So when they just cancelled it on the spot, it was devastating".
Confirming they had contacted Kahn about these reports, a statement from the MU and Black Lives In Music said last week: "In the past the MU have had constructive conversations about the use of Form 696 and were pleased to see the Met engage in a dialogue that ended the use of the form".
"It's therefore deeply concerning that claims of racial profiling of musicians have once again surfaced, and are being used to pressure venues into cancelling shows by predominantly black artists and artists who perform music of black origin".
"Black artists still face enormous challenges, including racism and discrimination, whilst trying to pursue a career in the music industry", the statement continued.
"Research from BLiM revealed that black music creators have experienced direct/indirect racism in the music industry, and more - 71% - have experienced racial microaggressions. 86% of all black music creators agree that there are barriers to progression. This number rises to 89% for black women and 91% for black creators who are disabled".
"The music industry is working together to tackle these issues", it went on, "and the recent reports about racial profiling are in direct opposition to the work that the music industry is engaged in. The MU and BLiM condemn all forms of racism, including the reductive act of racially profiling musicians and stereotyping musicians and audiences on the basis of genre".
"Whilst we fully appreciate the Met's role in ensuring the safety of the public", it then stated, "the 'voluntary partnership approach' that was implemented to replace Form 696 is having a disproportionate and detrimental impact on the careers of black musicians and the music venues that programme these artists".
"The MU and BLiM have asked that the current approach be revised and have requested dialogue with the mayor of London and the Met Police to a discuss an alternative approach that is fair, transparent, free from bias and does not disproportionally impact black musicians".
Commenting on the decision to contact Kahn, MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl said: "The MU will continue to act to tackle racism in all its forms and challenge reductive behaviours like those being perpetuated by the Met".
"When we know that black musicians face such disproportionate barriers in live performance, as well as in their career progression, maintaining access to venues of all scales and sizes is crucial in creating development pathways", she went on. "We are concerned that race and genre are being conflated in order to discriminate against musicians who already face significant barriers in their musical careers".
Roger Wilson, Director Of Operations at Black Lives In Music, added: "Live music should not be used as a device for the police to criminalise the black community. Black Lives In Music are working in collaboration with the Musicians' Union and the music industry to level the playing field of opportunity within the sector".
He continued: "Our combined efforts to help enable black musical talent to take a step forward are under threat with the latest efforts by the Met to control promoters and venues while, effectively, placing a muzzle on the mouths of black artists. We ask the Met to review this aspect of its policing as a matter of urgency".
Adidas to sell off unsold Yeezy stock and share revenues with anti-discrimination organisations
The sportswear company announced in October that it was terminating its long-running and very profitable alliance with West after his increasingly controversial racist and antisemitic statements made the partnership untenable. The sudden axing of the deal around West's Yeezy brand left Adidas sitting on a lot of unsold stock and the company has been figuring out what to do with it ever since.
Friday's announcement said that some of that stock will now be put on sale via the Adidas website and app before the end of this month. And a "significant amount" of any monies generated by the sale of those products will be "donated to selected organisations working to combat discrimination and hate, including racism and antisemitism".
This approach has been adopted after a consultation of employees, community groups and consumers, the announcement added. Among the organisations set to benefit financially are the Anti-Defamation League and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute For Social Change.
The products initially up for sale will be "existing designs and designs initiated in 2022 for sale in 2023", plus "additional releases of existing inventory are currently under consideration, but timing is yet to be determined".
On the decision to start selling the Yeezy stock his company is sitting on, Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden says: "After careful consideration, we have decided to begin releasing some of the remaining Adidas Yeezy products. Selling and donating was the preferred option among all the organisations and stakeholders we spoke to".
"We believe this is the best solution as it respects the created designs and produced shoes, it works for our people, resolves an inventory problem, and will have a positive impact in our communities", he goes on. "There is no place in sport or society for hate of any kind and we remain committed to fighting against it".
Lending his support to this approach, ADL CEO Jonathan A Greenblatt adds: "At a time when antisemitism has reached historic levels in the US and is rising globally, we appreciate how Adidas turned a negative situation into a very positive outcome. They have shown real thoughtfulness in engaging with community organisations working to combat this pernicious and stubborn hatred".
"Their leadership, in not only condemning anti-Jewish hate but lending their support for education and other initiatives, is exemplary and a model for other public companies to emulate", he continues. "We thank them for their ongoing dialogue around their remaining inventory and their vested interest in tackling issues of prejudice and hate".
The sudden axing of the Yeezy partnership last year had a significant impact on Adidas's revenues and the unsold stock increased the impact on the sportswear brand's finances. That said, Friday's statement also noted that: "Today's announcement has no immediate impact on the company's current financial guidance for 2023".
Cambridge Audio launches new podcast series interviewing "music icons"
Each edition of the podcast will see the featured music-maker chat to Sean Hannam about "key moments from their lives", "the records that shaped and influenced them" and "an ultimate music moment".
Says Cambridge Audio CEO Stuart George: "It's no secret that music connects with listeners on an emotional level and our new podcast celebrates that. Listening to these incredible artists and producers talk about life-changing music moments is spine-tingling".
"Made by music", by the way, is also Cambridge Audio's new slogan which, we are told, underlines the company's "lifelong obsession for music and the musicians themselves".
Foo Fighters reveal Josh Freese as new drummer
The new member of the band's line-up was revealed in a livestream yesterday. Teasing the new addition, the video saw other drummers first enter the studio, with Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith, Motley Crue's Tommy Lee and Tool's Danny Carey all making brief appearances, before it was revealed that Freese had been waiting behind the drum kit the whole time. Following the big reveal, the band ripped into a performance of their song 'All My Life'.
A number of drummers had been mooted as potential new permanent or temporary members of the band after it was revealed that they would begin touring again this summer. Freese's name nudged closer to the top of the rumour list after it emerged that he had pulled out of planned shows with The Offspring and Danny Elfman earlier this month.
An in-demand session drummer, Freese has previously performed with bands including Nine Inch Nails, Paramore, Weezer, A Perfect Circle, The Vandals, Devo, Good Charlotte, Evanescence and more.
New Foo Fighters album 'But Here We Are' is set to arrive on 2 Jun, with tour dates beginning in the US this week. You can catch Sunday's full livestream for the next few days here or watch the drummer reveal section here.
Taylor Swift fan got security job at Nashville stadium after missing out on tickets
After the videos of Davis Perrigo clearly enjoying Swift's performance while performing his stewarding role went viral, News Channel 5 Nashville spoke to the TikTok famous security guard, who is actually an accountant by day.
When he wasn't able to secure tickets for the Nashville dates on Swift's ongoing US tour, he decided to apply for a job working at the shows. That meant he couldn't capture any moments of the concerts on his own phone, but it turns out he didn't need to, as Swift's fans started filming him.
Having been made aware that those clips were going viral, Perrigo says: "I showed someone at work, like, 'Hey, this video got 10,000 views', and then by that night, it was over one million. I was like, 'OMG, this is out of control".
As for his Swift singalong abilities, he adds: "My wife jokes that I sing Taylor Swift songs with such passion for someone who's never been broken up with".
So that's all fun. And, I guess, next time Ticketmaster's Verified Fans system goes into meltdown and Swift fans get annoyed that they haven't secured tickets for her shows, the ticketing site could just link those fans through to the venue's recruitment site.