TODAY'S TOP STORY: Megan Thee Stallion has accused her label 1501 Certified Entertainment of attempting to push back case deadlines in order to delay an upcoming trial in their ongoing legal dispute. She claims that this amounts to an attempt to hold her "hostage" as she fights to end her relationship with the company... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Megan Thee Stallion claims label is attempting to hold her "hostage"
LEGAL Record companies hit out at Cox Communications for connecting a terrorist content ruling to its copyright appeal
Australian music industry launches petition over radio royalty caps in copyright law

MEDIA OfCom fines Bauer £25,000 over abandoned AM frequency
Spotify podcaster Jemele Hill comments amid reports her exclusivity deal is ending

GIGS & FESTIVALS Skrillex halts Primavera set due to on stage fire
AND FINALLY... Noel Gallagher not impressed by AI-generated Oasis album that his brother called "mega"

Megan Thee Stallion claims label is attempting to hold her "hostage"
Megan Thee Stallion has accused her label 1501 Certified Entertainment of attempting to push back case deadlines in order to delay an upcoming trial in their ongoing legal dispute. She claims that this amounts to an attempt to hold her "hostage" as she fights to end her relationship with the company.

The rapper - real name Megan Pete - was responding to a new motion from the label to push back discovery deadlines, less than three months after a similar motion was granted. In March, 1501 was given an extra 60 days to prepare its case, with a trial date set for August.

Pete says in her new filing that her legal team had scheduled several witness depositions in March and April, but that these were all cancelled by the label. "It is now clear why 1501 did so", she says, according to Law360. "To manufacture another excuse to delay trial".

Pete sued 1501 in February 2022, seeking court confirmation that her 2021 release 'Something For Thee Hotties' counts as one of the three albums she is contractually obliged to deliver to the label.

If it does, then she fulfilled those obligations with the subsequent release last summer of 'Traumazine'. But 1501 insists that 'Something For Thee Hotties' was merely a compilation of previously available freestyles and not a proper album.

Last week's response to 1501's motion to extend discovery deadlines further says: "Pete's last two albums, 'Something for Thee Hotties' and 'Traumazine,' satisfied her final two album commitments to 1501. But Pete needs a trial against 1501 in order to not only maintain, but continue to grow, her fanbase and - most importantly - continue her art without interference. The bottom line is that any further delay could irreparably damage Pete's career and silence her voice".

Meanwhile, 1501 says that the potential delay to the trial is actually all of Pete's doing, after she updated her lawsuit last month to include the label's founder Carl Crawford as a defendant. It says that the current deadline of 5 Jul does not give it enough time to prepare a defence based on this change.

"Requiring Mr Crawford to personally litigate an entire lawsuit in less than three months, with three weeks for discovery, would be highly prejudicial", it said when filing its motion last month. "Ms Pete cannot unilaterally expand the scope of this litigation less than 60 days before the close of discovery and then prevent a new party, let alone 1501, from conducting necessary discovery on her additional claims".

We await to see what the court decides.


Record companies hit out at Cox Communications for connecting a terrorist content ruling to its copyright appeal
Cox Communications is continuing in its bid to have that billion dollar copyright judgement against it overturned because, well, you would wouldn't you?

As part of those efforts, the internet service provider has now cited a recent US Supreme Court ruling that considered Twitter's responsibilities to stop the distribution of terrorist content on its platform, which Cox says is relevant in its copyright case.

The music industry - first BMG and then the majors - sued Cox in the US claiming that it did not do enough to deal with copyright infringement on its networks and repeat infringers among its customer base. Instead it paid lip service to its responsibilities while secretly ignoring its own policies.

The courts concurred, which meant that the internet firm lost safe harbour protection from liability for the infringement undertaken on its networks, and could therefore be held liable for said infringement. Or, technically speaking, for so called contributory infringement.

And with the litigation pursued by the majors, those liabilities ran to a neat billion dollars. Cox is currently appealing that ruling through the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court.

The Twitter v Taamneh case that was recently ruled upon by the Supreme Court wasn't a copyright case, but instead focused on the responsibilities of Twitter regarding the distribution of terrorist content, in particular content posted by ISIS.

When it comes to harmful content of that kind, there has been plenty of discussion about the responsibilities of digital platforms. And there are some parallels between the responsibilities of platforms to deal with harmful content and to deal with copyright infringing content.

Those parallels should be considered as part of the music industry v Cox appeal. Or so reckons Cox. In a letter to the court last month, it said that the plaintiffs who sued Twitter in that dispute "sought to impose aiding-and-abetting liability on social media platforms for a terrorist attack".

"They alleged that the platforms knowingly permitted ISIS to use their services to recruit and raise funds. Applying long-standing aiding-and-abetting principles, the court rejected liability on the pleadings. These same aiding-and-abetting principles animate copyright law's contributory liability doctrine and they likewise foreclose liability here".

The ruling in the Twitter case, it went on, "confirms that aiding-and-abetting liability is appropriate only where 'the defendant consciously and culpably participated in a wrongful act'. This refutes plaintiffs' theory that contributory liability can be imposed absent 'culpable expression and conduct' or 'intent'".

The ISP then argued that the recent Supreme Court ruling "undermines the rule the district court applied here, under which ISPs abet infringement merely because internet is 'necessary' to the wrong. Under the court's logic, Cox cannot be liable for failing to take 'simple measures' - ie terminate subscribers - to stop infringement".

"As Cox argued", it concluded, "because contributory liability is grounded in aiding-and-abetting principles, it follows only from an 'affirmative act' taken 'with the intent of facilitating the offence's commission'. Though Twitter arises in a different context, its reasoning applies with full force and supports reversal of the contributory infringement verdict".

But those claims ignore that this is a copyright case, and in copyright cases the rules are different. Or so said the record companies, when responding to Cox's most recent arguments in their own letter to the court last week.

The Twitter dispute "arose under the Justice Against Sponsors Of Terrorism Act" that letter began. "Plaintiffs there identified 'no duty' under that terrorism statute requiring defendants 'to terminate customers after discovering that the customers were using the service for illicit ends".

"This case arises under the Copyright Act", it added. "This court has already held that an internet service provider has a duty to 'do something' about known infringers", it argued, citing the BMG v Cox case. "So has the Supreme Court", it went on, referencing one of the early file-sharing cases against Grokster.

The Twitter case "also involved allegations 'rest[ing] less on affirmative misconduct' and more on 'passive nonfeasance'". The lawsuit against Twitter was prompted by a specific terrorist attack in Istanbul in 2017, but, "the Twitter plaintiffs made no allegations connecting the terror attack to ISIS's use of the platforms".

"Nor had they alleged that defendants' relationship with ISIS was any different than defendants' 'arm's length, passive, and largely indifferent' relationship with their other users. Plaintiffs' allegations therefore did not meet the requirement of 'conscious, culpable conduct' abetting the underlying tort".

"Cox was not so passive", the labels then insisted. "Cox did not merely 'provide its services to the public' then 'fail to take simple measures' to stop infringement; it set up sham policies ensuring infringement would continue. Cox knew of specific instances of infringement occurring on its network, tied them to specific users, and chose not to terminate those users to avoid 'losing revenue from paying subscribers'".

Which means, the labels concluded, "Cox's material contribution to its users' infringement is nothing like the Twitter defendants' 'passive nonfeasance'. Absolving Cox's conduct would immunise internet-service providers from contributory liability, contrary to decades of contributory-infringement law. Cox's conscious, culpable conduct compels affirmance here".

It remains to be seen if the Fourth Circuit court reckons that the ruling in Twitter v Taamneh is in anyway relevant to this appeal.


Australian music industry launches petition over radio royalty caps in copyright law
The music industry in Australia has launched a petition calling on lawmakers in the country's Parliament to amend a quirk of Australian copyright law that puts a cap on what royalties radio stations pay to artists and labels.

In a briefing on its website, Australian record industry collecting society PPCA explains: "Section 152(8) of the Copyright Act 1968 limits the amount that Australian radio broadcasters can be required to pay to artists and labels to no more than 1% of the station's gross annual revenue".

And "Section 152(11) of the Copyright Act 1968 provides that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation cannot be required to pay more than half a cent per head of population for the broadcast of sound recordings across its radio network. Since the imposition of the radio caps in 1969, the amount payable by the ABC has not been adjusted to reflect any movements in the cost of living or the expansion of the ABC radio networks".

In then adds: "These radio caps are well below the rates applicable in other similar territories around the world (including the UK and NZ) and unfairly limit the amounts paid to artists by radio broadcasters. PPCA believes that the caps undervalue the use of sound recordings so that artists are effectively subsidising the provision of content to the highly profitable commercial radio sector".

The music industry has been campaigning to have the radio caps taken out of Australian law for years, and various independent reviews of the current system have recommended such a move.

The new petition on the Australian Parliament's website - part of a PPCA-led campaign called Radio Fair Play - states: "Radio has built a successful business playing music, yet artists and rightsholders are not being paid a fair market rate when their music is played on the radio".

"Artificial caps, set in the Copyright Act over 50 years ago, limit how much radio stations pay to play music (specifically sound recordings). There are no caps in any other form of copyright, and numerous reviews have recommended removal of these limits. The radio caps are unfair and anticompetitive. The caps should be removed allowing the market to determine an appropriate rate so artists and rightsholders are paid fairly for their music".

With that in mind, the petition requests that Australia's House Of Representatives "removes the broadcast radio caps on sound recordings from the Copyright Act to ensure artists and rightsholders are paid fairly for the use of their music".

We await to see if the latest efforts by the music industry to remove the legal limitations on radio income are more successful than in the past.


OfCom fines Bauer £25,000 over abandoned AM frequency
UK media regulator OfCom has fined Bauer Radio £25,000 over its decision to stop broadcasting Absolute Radio on a national basis via the AM network.

OfCom formally revoked Bauer's AM licence in February after it stopped using its allotted AM frequency for the Absolute service in January. Under the UK Broadcasting Act 1990, the regulator is obliged to fine a broadcaster if a licence is revoked.

Absolute Radio began life in 1993 as the original incarnation of Virgin Radio, broadcasting across the UK on the good old AM band, medium wave to be precise. It was one of three national commercial radio stations launched in the first half of the 1990s, all the UK-based nationwide stations prior to that having been run by the BBC.

Even in 1993, broadcasting a music station on AM seemed less than ideal, given the inferior sound quality compared to FM. And, indeed, from 1995 to 2021, Virgin Radio - later Absolute Radio - also broadcast on FM in London. In more recent years Absolute has shifted its focus onto the DAB digital radio network and online channels.

All of which made Bauer's decision to switch off the AM transmissions somewhat unsurprising. Confirming that decision back in January the media firm said: "We think we sound better on digital, as it offers a much stronger signal and cuts out background noise. Lots of you agree, which is why nearly all our audience listen to us digitally".

It added that continuing to broadcast Absolute Radio on AM didn't make commercial sense given a relatively small portion of its audience listened to the station there. Plus, it went on, looking for other justifications for dropping the AM service, "broadcasting on AM requires running an additional transmitter which is environmentally unfriendly".

OfCom confirmed in late January that it was reviewing Bauer's decision to stop using its AM frequency despite having a licence running through to 2031. It then formally revoked that licence on 13 Feb.

Confirming that it would now fine Bauer £25,000 - which is relatively low compared to the £250,000 financial penalty it could have enforced - the regulator stated last week that: "In setting the level of financial penalty, we took account of Bauer's reasoning for stopping the AM service, which included declining listenership on AM and the commercial viability of the service".


Spotify podcaster Jemele Hill comments amid reports her exclusivity deal is ending
Podcaster Jemele Hill has commented on reports that her exclusive content deal with Spotify is coming to an end. Sort of. She's mainly commented on reports about reports that her exclusive content deal with Spotify is coming to an end.

Sports journalist and former ESPN presenter Hill allied with Spotify in 2019 as the streaming firm was really ramping up its in-house podcasting operations. That led to the launch of the podcast Jemele Hill Is Unbothered, in which - the official blurb states - the journalist "shares her unbothered, nuanced opinions on news, pop culture, politics and sports".

Spotify then worked with Hill to develop other podcasts under the banner the Unbothered Network. That venture describes it mission as seeking "to elevate the voices, stories, agency, and nuance of black women by producing high-quality audio experiences that centre us".

But, Bloomberg reported last week, the Unbothered Network and Spotify are now set to part company as the latter "reconsiders its expensive podcasting strategy" now that it's "under pressure to rein in costs and deliver profits".

"Hill and Spotify are negotiating the terms of her separation", the newswire added, "which will result in the end of her show and network - at least at Spotify, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiation is ongoing".

Among those responding to the Bloomberg reports was OutKick, the now Fox-owned sports website which has its own series of podcasts that combine sports, culture and politics, and which brags that it publishes sports journalism and other content that, among other things, is "questioning the consensus and exposing the destructive nature of 'woke' activism".

Its report on Spotify ending its exclusive content partnership with Hill noted comments she made when her business partner was in the news last year because of controversies surrounding its highest profile podcast star Joe Rogan. He, of course, was criticised for airing unchallenged COVID conspiracy theories and for using racist language, with various artists and subsequently podcasters boycotting Spotify in protest.

As that controversy was building, the New York Times noted that Hill had stated that "Spotify's defence of Mr Rogan had created problems with her audience, and raised questions about the sincerity of the company's dedication to minority talent".

The newspaper then noted how Hill had said in an interview: "What I would like to see is for them to hand $100 million to somebody who is black". That was a reference to the $100 million Spotify had reportedly paid Rogan (although subsequent reports suggested Rogan's deal was worth more).

In its report last week, OutKick honed in on that past statement. "The divorce also comes after Hill tried to extort money from Spotify in the name of equality. In 2022, she dared Spotify to give her - or another black host, but probably herself - the same money as Joe Rogan".

In that statement, OutKick claimed, Hill was hoping Spotify would conclude "we better pay a black host Rogan-money or we'll be called racist". However, it went on, "Spotify didn't comply. See, there is not a black podcaster worth a Joe Rogan-type salary. Nor is there another white podcaster worth $100 million. There is only one podcaster who is, and it's the only podcaster who does: Joe Rogan".

The sports website may well be right about the value of Rogan and his weirdly popular podcast, though - of course - that's not what Hill was saying last year, and those remarks are nothing to do with the current negotiations between her and Spotify.

"A lot of what's been reported just isn't true. My podcast hasn't been cancelled. I never asked Spotify for $100 million. This shit is truly comical", she wrote on Twitter this weekend, before plugging upcoming editions of her podcast. As for her Spotify deal, "When I have something to say, I'll say it", she added.

When challenged by a Twitter user about her 2022 Rogan related statement, she remarked: "You should probably comprehend better or maybe read the original piece - which was about me wanting to see Spotify make that investment in prominent black podcasters. I never told Spotify or the NYT that I deserved $100 million. My deal at Spotify is pretty fair. This was about investment and growth".

So there you go. Though, of course, what's really interesting here is the reconfiguring of Spotify's podcasting strategy, and the seeming move away from splashing mega-cash on in-house productions and exclusivity deals. It remains to be seen what further changes are in the pipeline.


Economics Of Music Streaming interviews and timeline
There were some big announcements last week about the ongoing UK government-led economics of streaming work that was instigated in response to that big old Parliamentary inquiry into how the digital music business works. A metadata code has been agreed and a remuneration working group convened.

With all that in mind, CMU spoke to representatives from eight of the music industry organisations which have been very much involved in the process, to get their perspectives on what has been achieved so far and what should happen next.

You can check out those interviews here...

Association Of Independent Music



Featured Artists Coalition

Ivors Academy

Musicians' Union

Music Managers Forum

Music Publishers Association

Plus, don't forget, you can track all of CMU's coverage of the UK Parliament's streaming inquiry, and the subsequent government-led work and other relevant debates, on this CMU Timeline in the CMU Library.

Skrillex halts Primavera set due to on stage fire
Skrillex's set at Primavera on Friday was fire. No, wait a moment, it was ON fire. Literal fire. The producer was forced to halt his performance at the Spanish festival after a lighting rig burst into flames.

After the music was cut off, the audience watching the show was told that there would be a break in the proceedings due to a "technical error". Something of a 'no shit' moment for said audience, who could all see that the stage was on fire.

The show got underway again after about ten minutes, and the festival later confirmed that there had been a small fire on stage but that no one was injured during the incident.

Watch the drama play out fairly undramatically in this fan-shot TikTok video.


Noel Gallagher not impressed by AI-generated Oasis album that his brother called "mega"
Noel Gallagher has commented on the AI-generated Oasis album that his brother Liam previously described as "mega". And if you think you've already guessed what Noel had to say about it and don't need to read any further, well, fine, you're almost certainly right about that.

"These fucking idiots have clearly got too much time on their hands and too much money that they can afford the technology to fucking piss around doing that for a laugh", he tells NME. "I'm saving up for the technology myself, then I'm just gonna dial it in to some computer and fucking churn it out when I'm 73. I'll have 140 albums to go after I'm fucking dead to keep my kids in choc ices and fucking weed".

The album, posted to YouTube under the name AIsis, was billed as a lost Oasis album from the late 90s, but was actually the work of musician Bobby Geraghty. He took an album recorded by his Oasis-like band Breezer and replaced his own vocals with an AI-generated Liam Gallagher.

Responding to all that in April, Liam said on Twitter that it was "mad as fuck", adding "I sound great" and proclaiming it to be "better than all the other snizzle out there".

Noel's view, as you would expect, is basically the opposite. "Fucking hell", he says. "'Oasis: The Lost Tapes'. Really? Is that what you think it sounds like? You can AI the singer's voice and his tambourine playing. Afraid you can't AI what I do. As soon as you fucking can, I'm done, I'm finished, I'm retiring - I'll just stick it into a fucking algorithm".

Well, certainly all the guitars on that AIsis album were played by a human, but I think Noel's confidence that he can't be replaced by artificial intelligence might be misguided. The question is, would people actually want that?

There's been a real boom of late in music using AI-trained voices, of course, and the AIsis album is not the first Noel has heard.

He says: "People kept sending me stuff like Ringo Starr singing 'She's Electric'. There's not enough hours in the day. Do we need Freddie Mercury singing 'Don't Look Back In Anger'? Does anybody give a shit? People are like, 'Yeah, but it's interesting, isn't it?' Who the fuck is it interesting to?"

Fair point. And his comments highlight the novelty phase that many AI tools are in currently. Though there will probably come a time when even Noel Gallagher is using AI as a collaborative tool, and we won't even bat an eyelid.


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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