TODAY'S TOP STORY: Political pressure continues to build on TikTok, with two US senators writing to the video-sharing app's CEO Shou Zi Chew about recent media reports that claim data linked to American users is being stored in or accessed from China. That's "despite repeated public assurances and Congressional testimony that TikTok data was kept in the United States", senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn reckon... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES US Senators hit out at TikTok over latest data security allegations
LEGAL Texas appeals court declines to intervene on Astroworld litigation gagging order
Maria Schneider wants Content ID case to be paused following class action decision
DEALS Warner Music Japan announces partnership with creative house LAND
RELEASES Aluna releases track with Pabllo Vittar and MNEK, announces second solo album
CLT DRP announce new album Nothing Clever, Just Feelings
ONE LINERS Yungblud, PJ Harvey, Romy, Gaika, more
AND FINALLY... Guns N Roses trademark lawsuit against Texas seller of guns and roses dismissed
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US Senators hit out at TikTok over latest data security allegations
Political pressure continues to build on TikTok, with two US senators writing to the video-sharing app's CEO Shou Zi Chew about recent media reports that claim data linked to American users is being stored in or accessed from China. That's "despite repeated public assurances and Congressional testimony that TikTok data was kept in the United States", senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn reckon.

Concerns have been expressed across the political spectrum, of course, that the Chinese government has access to TikTok user-data from around the world via the app's China-based owner Bytedance. Despite TikTok denying that there are any data security issues on its platform, those concerns have led to multiple governments banning their employees from using the app on official devices.

Wider bans have also been proposed. India actually outlawed use of the app back in 2020, while more recently the US state of Montana passed a law that will ban the downloading or distribution of the app within the state from next year.

Former American President Donald Trump also tried to instigate a US-wide ban when he was still in power and, while Joe Biden ended those efforts, Democrats as well as Republicans continue to voice concern.

TikTok has been busy trying to allay the fears of its critics. Back when Trump was trying to ban the app, it began working on what is now referred to as Project Texas, an alliance with American tech firm Oracle to ensure data about US users is stored on US-based servers.

Meanwhile Chew himself has had something of a higher profile of late as part of the company's lobbying efforts. And that included appearing before the House Committee On Energy And Commerce in US Congress.

Those media reports raised by Blumenthal and Blackburn were published by Forbes and the New York Times last month. Forbes claims, the senators note, that "for several years, TikTok has stored the sensitive financial information of US TikTok creators in China, including social security numbers and tax information".

Meanwhile the New York Times "found that TikTok employees regularly share user-data on an internal messaging app owned and controlled by Bytedance, a tool named Lark", data from which is stored on servers in China.

"These reports directly contradict statements you and other TikTok representatives have made to the public and under oath before Congress about where TikTok stores US user-data and the ability of employees in China to access that information", the senators then claim.

They say that both Chew himself, when he spoke in the House - and TikTok Head Of Public Policy Michael Beckerman, when he spoke before a Senate committee last year - insisted that US user-data was stored on US servers with back-ups in Singapore.

They then add that - in neither of those testimonies, nor in a letter exchange between TikTok and the Senate committee - "did you mention that TikTok stores user-data in China, or that information about US users - including sensitive information like photos and driver's licences or reports containing illegal materials like child sexual abuse materials - would be shared on Lark, and therefore accessible to Bytedance employees".

"TikTok has also repeatedly made misleading and inaccurate representations to the American public about the security of private information", the senators' letter goes on. "For example, in a blogpost from June 2022, TikTok assured that 'TikTok has long stored US user-data in our own data centres in the US and Singapore' and '100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle cloud infrastructure'".

And "in a Myths Vs Fact document published about Project Texas ... TikTok states that 'employees of [Bytedance] are restricted from access to US user databases, with no exceptions'. Again, these claims do not appear to be accurate".

With that in mind, the senators conclude: "We are deeply troubled by TikTok's recurring pattern of providing misleading, inaccurate or false information to Congress and its users in the United States, including in response to us during oversight hearings and letters". They then ask Chew a series of questions about TikTok's management of user-data, requesting responses by 16 Jun.

Commenting on the correspondence from Blumenthal and Blackburn, TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek told reporters: "We are reviewing the letter. We remain confident in the accuracy of our testimony and responses to Congress".

Adding to those recent reports in Forbes and the New York Times, yet more allegations have come to light against TikTok and its owner Bytedance via a wrongful dismissal lawsuit that has been filed by a former US-based employee of the parent company.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in that litigation, Yintao Yu claims that - when he worked for the company in 2017 and 2018 - the Chinese Communist Party had access to TikTok user-data connected to anti-government protesters and civil rights activists in Hong Kong. And, not only that, but Bytedance provided a "backdoor channel" via which party officials could also access US user-data.

A TikTok spokesperson has strongly denied those allegations, telling reporters: "We plan to vigorously oppose what we believe are baseless claims and allegations in this complaint. Mr Yu worked for Bytedance Inc for less than a year and his employment ended in July 2018. During his brief time at the company, he worked on an app called Flipagram, which was discontinued years ago for business reasons".

They then added: "It's curious that Mr Yu has never raised these allegations in the five years since his employment for Flipagram was terminated in July 2018. His actions are clearly intended to garner media attention".


Texas appeals court declines to intervene on Astroworld litigation gagging order
Appeal judges in Texas have declined to force the lifting of a wide-ranging gagging order that is in place regarding the ongoing litigation over the 2021 Astroworld tragedy.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Travis Scott's headline set at the Houston-based festival he founded.

As a criminal investigation got underway to ascertain if decisions made by event organisers before or during the festival contributed to the crowd surge, hundreds of those affected by the incident filed lawsuits, including the families of those who died.

Various entities were named as defendants in all that litigation, although Scott himself and the festival's promoter - Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary - were the primary targets. With the total number of lawsuits filed ultimately exceeding 400, all the litigation was consolidated to make it easier to manage, with judge Kristen Hawkins appointed to oversee the proceedings.

She subsequently issued a court order restricting what plaintiffs and their lawyers could say about the lawsuits in public, concluding that such restrictions were necessary to ensure a fair trial if and when the litigation ended up in court before a jury.

As a result, while some of the lawyers working on Astroworld cases had initially been very vocal online and in the media, there has since been very little commentary and therefore relatively little reporting on the lawsuits as they slowly work their way through the motions.

Although last October, one lawyer, Tony Buzbee, confirmed that one of his clients – the family of Axel Acosta, a 21 year old who died during the crowd surge – had settled their lawsuit. It was also reported at the time, and subsequently confirmed via court records, that the family of another festival-goer who had died, sixteen year old Brianna Rodriguez, had likewise settled.

Meanwhile, ABC News has been trying to get the gagging order put in place by Hawkins overturned, taking the matter to the Texas appeals court last year. Specifically, the news broadcaster sought a writ of mandamus, which is when a court mandates a lower court or government agency to fulfil their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.

In its legal filing last year, ABC News said that Hawkins' order was in violation of "constitutional principles", adding: "The gag order has restricted the flow of accurate, newsworthy information not only about the Astroworld litigation but also about the Astroworld festival. Since the court issued the gag order, individuals with even a remote connection to the Astroworld festival have been silenced for fear of violating its broad and vague provisions".

But appeal judges have declined to intervene. Providing no explanation for that decision, their judgement on the matter reads: "ABC News has filed a petition for writ of mandamus challenging the trial court's gag order prohibiting attorneys and others involved in the underlying litigation from speaking publicly about a range of topics related to the litigation, and the trial court's order denying ABC News's motion to reconsider the gag order. We deny the petition".


Maria Schneider wants Content ID case to be paused following class action decision
Maria Schneider has asked the Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US to pause her ongoing legal battle with YouTube over who has access to Content ID, which is due to get to trial next week. That move follows a recent decision by the judge overseeing the litigation to not grant Schneider's lawsuit class action status.

Schneider and others argue that YouTube does not do enough the help independent creators to stop the unlicensed distribution of their content on the video site. Because, while YouTube's Content ID is a sophisticated rights management system, it is only available to large copyright owning businesses and content aggregators.

Independent creators have to manually monitor and manage the unlicensed use of their content by users on the YouTube platform. And the manual system provided by YouTube is defective, it's alleged, meaning that the Google-owned company isn't fulfilling its obligations under copyright law to ensure that all and any copyright owners can stop the infringement of their works on its platform.

Schneider was seeking class action status for the lawsuit, meaning any success in court could benefit all independent creators whose content has been used by third parties without permission on the YouTube site. But judge James Donato last month ruled that the case wasn't suitable for a class action, because each creators' specific copyright claims would need to be separately assessed.

Team Schneider reckon that that decision was "manifestly erroneous" and merits reversal by the appeals court. Meanwhile, they want the Ninth Circuit to stop next week's court proceedings from going ahead, pending an appeal of the decision on class action certification.

Otherwise, Schneider's lawyers said in a legal filing earlier this week, "plaintiffs will be forced to proceed to trial on 12 Jun on their individual claims. If the court reverses the district court's denial of certification thereafter, the class claims will then need to be tried in a separate proceeding, resulting in plaintiffs incurring substantial costs associated with duplicative trials".

"Further", they add, "if plaintiffs are required to try their individual claims on 12 Jun, their claims in this litigation will be finally decided. At that point, even if the court reverses the district court's denial of class certification, and even if plaintiffs have prevailed at trial, plaintiffs may perversely face the prospect that they are no longer viable class representatives".

On top of that, the lawyers go on, since the case was declined its class action status YouTube has actually changed its defence strategy, specifically in relation to the copyright safe harbour, which protects internet companies from copyright liabilities, but also puts rights management obligations onto those companies.

Which means "the individual plaintiffs face having to try a case that will not result in what they have been trying to achieve - and what they would be able to achieve through class action litigation - a preclusive, final judgment on whether YouTube qualifies for the safe harbour".

We await to see how the Ninth Circuit judges rule.


Warner Music Japan announces partnership with creative house LAND
Warner Music Japan has agreed one of those strategic partnerships with LAND, which is - and I quote - "a creative house known for its work with world-class artists" with bases in Tokyo, Jakarta and LA.

The major explains that "the deal will see LAND fully produce music involving collaborations with several prominent global artists, which WM Japan will lead the global rollout of in all formats worldwide".

The two companies will also "jointly develop global marketing strategies, as well as engaging in digital distribution services and media promotion". So that's all fun.

"This partnership aims to create global hits based on the genius of Japanese artists, using the combined creativity and global firepower of LAND and Warner Music", says WM Japan COO Kaz Shimada. "We'll put together thoughtful campaigns that'll amplify artists' voices and help connect them with fans around the world with a sense of speed".

LAND CEO Naoki Wada adds: "Through this partnership with WM Japan, we look forward to making our artists' creativity leap further and fostering global connections with fans".


Approved: Sweeping Promises
Set to release their second album 'Good Living Is Coming For You' later this month, Sweeping Promises - comprising Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug - have followed up last month's 'Eraser' with new single 'You Shatter'.

Like its predecessor, the new track is a punchy art-punk number given extra urgency with scratchy, lo-fi production. The duo themselves say: "'You Shatter' is our ode to being a hammer".

'Good Living Is Coming For You' is set for release on 30 Jun, and Sweeping Promises will be in the UK and Ireland for live shows in October.

Listen to 'You Shatter' here.

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

Aluna releases track with Pabllo Vittar and MNEK, announces second solo album
Aluna has announced that she will release her second solo album 'Mycelium' next month, launching it with new single 'Oh The Glamour', a collaboration with Pabllo Vittar, MNEK and Eden Prince.

Of the new track she says: "What is the allure of glamour? To me it holds most of its power in the aspirations of those living a life of struggle. Glamour can uplift the worst of days and the darkest of hearts, make tears beautiful and pain graceful. My mother always worried about my expensive taste, but for me it was the taste of survival. For who can live this miserable life without a touch of glamour?"

"Black and LGBTQ+ people go through a lot of shit, but we often present ourselves as glamorous", she continues. "Being glamorous is an aspiration that drags you out of bed. Aiming for normal and average is a way to send yourself into the shackles of society. Glamour can often be a method to break free, celebrate and thrive".

On the wider album, she adds: "The mycelium is the cell network seeped into the fabric of nature. I'm not talking about the bloom or the fruits. You need to lay the groundwork to see the fruit one day. I got burnt out from trying to work with powerful people who have lots of money and no actual genuine care for what I'm trying to do".

"I realised there was no foundation where I was standing, and we have to build our own foundation", she goes on. "It's not going to be all bells and whistles; it's going to be substance. So, I broke some barriers and started mentoring creative fans. I built a community of black ravers on Geneva and by joining groups on Instagram and social media. Now, the album is my community I've created".

'Mycelium' is set for release on 7 Jul. Listen to 'Oh The Glamour' here.


CLT DRP announce new album Nothing Clever, Just Feelings
CLT DRP have announced that they will release their new album, 'Nothing Clever, Just Feelings', later this year. Out now is the title track of the record.

"This is the title track for a reason", says vocalist Annie Dorrett of the new single. "Desperation, anger, confusion - ALL the feelings. I think I spent a lot of time when I was younger trying to be clever about lyrics. I wanted to try and be witty or something 'mature'".

"As a younger woman in the industry, I felt like I wasn't going to be taken seriously writing the way I did", she explains. "I quickly realised that the music I listen to the most is nothing like that, so why would I try and emulate something I don't even listen to?"

"The lyrics I connect with are always straightforward emotions or familiar scenarios that I can identify right away when I first hear a song", she goes on. "Being present in the lyrics and emotions are important to me as a lyricist. I want you in the car with your friends screaming the lyrics at full blast cursing your ex! That's what this song is supposed to do".

Of the album as a whole, she adds: "Overall, this album embodies our true ethos of self-expression. Equally chaotic and hypnotic, it's meant to be blasted in the car at full volume while you curse your ex, your past ghosts, and you celebrate your cherished independence while you have it".

'Nothing Clever, Just Feelings' is out on 8 Sep. Watch the video for the title track here.



Yungblud has released new single 'Lowlife'. "I wrote 'Lowlife' because I just didn't want to leave my house", he says. "I was sick of people, of games, of myself, my friends, anytime I did anything some idiot had an opinion about it. What I should do or be. The truth is I didn't want to be anything at all sometimes, I wanted to be nothing. So I just didn't leave bed. I was dissatisfied and craving some sort of boredom. The type of boredom where you sit in your house, in the same sheets and watch fucking mind-numbing TV, so I wrote a song about it".

PJ Harvey has released new single 'I Inside The Old I Dying', taken from upcoming album 'I Inside The Old Year Dying'. "This delicate and beautiful song eluded us until the very last day in the studio", she says. "Then John [Parish] reinvented the feel of the guitar pattern. As he was demonstrating it in the control room, Flood handed me a microphone and pressed record whilst I sat next to John trying to work out how to sing to it. The result somehow captures the ethereal and melancholic longing I was looking for".

Romy of The xx will release her debut solo album 'Mid Air' on 8 Sep. Alongside the announcement comes new single 'Loveher'.

Gaika is back with new single 'Lady', featuring Bbymutha. He's also announced that he will release new album 'Drift' on 8 Sep - his first for Big Dada.

Dream Wife have released 'Social Lubrication', the title track of their new album, which is out tomorrow.

This Is The Kit have released new single 'Stuck In A Room', taken from the album 'Careful Of Your Keepers', which is out tomorrow. "It's not so much about being stuck in a literal room - although I suppose it is a bit - but more about getting stuck in the imaginary restrictive rooms we create for ourselves", says frontwoman Kate Stables.

Glasser will release new album 'Crux' on 6 Oct. Out now is new single 'Vine'. She says of the track: "'Vine' was written a long time ago. It was like an attempt at making something where all the parts sound like they're very separated. I was thinking like jazz, actually. It was about getting back to writing music after feeling a bit disconnected from the machinery around making it your profession".

Martha Skye Murphy has released new single 'Dogs'.

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


Guns N Roses trademark lawsuit against Texas seller of guns and roses dismissed
A Californian judge has dismissed a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Guns N Roses against a retailer which operates as Texas Guns And Roses. Which is a shop that sells, well, guns and roses. In Texas. Actually, the location of the shop is key because the trademark action has been dismissed on jurisdiction grounds.

In a lawsuit last year, the band argued that the gun seller's trading name was "confusingly similar" to their name, and that confusion was causing "irreparable damage" to their brand. All of which, they reckoned, constituted infringement of the Guns N Roses trademark.

The "irreparable damage" was partly because the band simply don't want to be associated with the sale of guns. But also because the website for the Guns And Roses shop had a section commenting on news stories relating to the US Second Amendment and gun control debates, which included "political views related to the regulation and control of firearms and weapons … that may be polarising to many US consumers".

Texas Guns And Roses actually successfully registered its own trademark back in 2016. In their lawsuit, the band confirmed that they had been seeking to have that trademark cancelled while also sending various cease and desist letters to the gun store.

But with Texas Guns And Roses still selling both guns and roses under that name, they felt they needed to go the litigation route to protect their band name.

However, were the Californian courts the right place to file a lawsuit against a retailer that operates solely in Texas? No. The owner of Texas Guns And Roses filed a motion for dismissal on jurisdiction grounds last month and earlier this week the judge granted that motion.

"Defendant does not own any buildings or operate any physical stores in the state of California", the judge wrote, "has never been licensed or registered to conduct business in the state of California, [and] has never employed anyone residing in the state of California".

Also, it "does not maintain any California-based bank accounts within the state of California, has never directed any advertisements to the state of California, and does not knowingly work with vendors residing or conducting business in California".

And while the shop does also sell gun stuff online, "notably, none of defendant's sales through [its] website or in conjunction with the Texas Guns And Roses marks have been made to any residents or customers located in the state of California".

The retailer's website does, however, identify which guns it is selling are 'California compliant' or 'California legal', ie they comply with gun laws in that state. But, the judge added, that doesn't constitute the Texas shop actively selling or marketing its products to customers in California.

Listing firearms as 'California compliant' or 'California legal' "is simply a factual statement about the qualities of the product, and the court concludes that such a statement does not, without more, indicate that defendant had the intent or purpose to serve the California market".

So, with all that in mind, the judge dismissed the band's lawsuit. Meaning - future legal filings pending - Texas Guns And Roses can carry on selling both guns and roses as Texas Guns And Roses to its customers in Texas.


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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