|TUESDAY 13 JUNE 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The big Content ID legal battle being led by musician Maria Schneider is over. Plaintiffs in the long-running litigation dismissed their action on Sunday - the day before a trial was due to begin - after the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court declined to intervene on an earlier decision by the judge overseeing the case to deny it class action status... [READ MORE]|
Long-running YouTube Content ID lawsuit collapses following class action decision
Schneider and others argued that YouTube does not do enough to 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, the plaintiff'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.
There were plenty of twists and turns as Schneider's lawsuit went through the motions. An initial co-plaintiff had to drop out after it emerged that he had employed dodgy tactics in a bid to get access to Content ID. Replacement co-plaintiffs then came on board. Meanwhile, additional allegations were made that YouTube removes or alters copyright management information that is often embedded in content and which can be used in anti-piracy efforts.
Schneider wanted class action status for the lawsuit, which would mean that 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 creator's specific copyright claims would need to be separately assessed.
That decision - described as "manifestly erroneous" by Team Schneider - had a big impact on the case. Aside from significantly reducing the reach of any potential judgement in favour of the copyright owners, it also prompted YouTube to change its defence strategy.
The change of strategy was because the ruling meant that the Google company could focus on the specifics of the complaints raised by each of the plaintiffs in the case rather than having to deal with more general arguments about YouTube's obligations under copyright law. A bigger debate in court about YouTube's obligations could have resulted in wider liabilities or forced more wide-ranging changes to the way the video site operates.
With all that in mind, Schneider's lawyers tried to get the decision on class action status overturned, taking the matter to the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court. They also tried to get the start date for the trial in the case - which was yesterday - pushed back, arguing that if the decision on class action status was overturned it would totally change the substance of the debates in court. And so there was no point starting those debates while a final decision on the class action status was still to be decided.
However, on Friday, the Ninth Circuit denied the Schneider side's petition for permission to appeal the lower court's ruling on class action status. After some last minute wrangling between the plaintiffs and defendants, on Sunday it was confirmed that Schneider et al were dismissing their action, with prejudice, meaning they can't subsequently file a new complaint on these issues.
A court filing read: "Pursuant to Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure, plaintiffs Maria Schneider, Uniglobe Entertainment LLC and AST Publishing Ltd, and defendants YouTube LLC and Google LLC, hereby stipulate to the dismissal of the action. All claims that plaintiffs raised or could have raised in this action are dismissed WITH PREJUDICE. Each party will bear its own costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees".
And so an interesting legal battle that raised some legitimate concerns about how independent creators are able to manage and police their rights online has come to an end, without those concerns getting any real consideration in court.
Beach Boys guitarist wants foreign royalties lawsuit against Universal Music revived
Marks was originally a member of the Beach Boys in 1962 and 1963, and rejoined the band for a couple of other short stints in the 1990s and 2010s. Universal Music, meanwhile, acquired the band's 1960s catalogue when it bought EMI and its Capitol Records label back in 2012.
The lawsuit filed by Marks centred on a common gripe among many heritage artists over the deductions that are made by local subsidiaries of the major labels when music is streamed in countries other than the one in which those artists were signed. The question is, is the artist royalty - a percentage of income, of course - calculated before or after the local subsidiary's deduction?
Marks hit out at Universal for calculating what royalties he was due based on what monies the major received in the US after its local subsidiaries had taken a cut. He also accused the major of not properly communicating that this was happening.
"Defendants failed to disclose", his lawsuit stated, "and omitted material facts regarding the total foreign streaming revenues collected by its foreign affiliates as detailed herein and instead only disclosed amounts remaining after imposing an inter-company charge between defendants and their foreign affiliates".
The LA court where Marks went legal dismissed his lawsuit twice, basically saying that the musician had failed to show what specific contract terms the major had breached by applying inter-company charges when processing the royalties he was due from streams outside the US.
Of course, the old record contracts at the heart of this case don't talk about digital income at all, which means the dispute is really over how the major has chosen to interpret deals that were negotiated with physical products in mind in the context of streaming. And whether those deals can be interpreted in a way that puts the music firm in breach of contract by applying the inter-company charges and/or not declaring that practice.
According to Law360, lawyers for both Marks and Universal presented their respective arguments in that domain before the appeals court yesterday, the former hoping that the Ninth Circuit will reinstate the musician's legal claim. Given the complexities of applying physical-era record contracts to the streaming business, the discussions in court proved to be, well, quite complex.
One of the judges, Jay Bybee, noted that this is not the only litigation on this kind of dispute going through the motions at the moment, and asked if there had been any efforts to mediate outside of court. The lawyers present did not seem to be aware of any such mediation process.
It remains to be seen whether the Ninth Circuit reinstates this particular foreign royalties lawsuit.
Grimes "very stoked" to distribute AI tracks through TuneCore
During the recent flurry of AI-generated tracks that imitate the voices of existing artists, Grimes announced that she would be happy for people to release music with an AI-generated version of her voice, providing they agreed to share any recording royalties 50/50. She then launched a website where people can get AI-generated Grimes-style vocals for songs they have written.
That website was a partnership with a company called CreateSafe, using the firm's Triniti system which, according to the official blurb, is "a landmark platform for generative music AI". Believe-owned TuneCore has now come on board to handle the distribution of tracks created on the site.
Says TuneCore CEO Andreea Gleeson: "The use of AI allows artists to enhance their creativity, build a deeper relationship with their fans through co-creation, and establish a new revenue stream. It also expands the pool of music creators by making it easier for people to create music".
"By joining forces with Grimes and CreateSafe", she goes on, "TuneCore becomes a first mover in the space, providing artists the opportunity to engage with AI technology in an innovative, streamlined process that provides tangible value and enables consent, control and revenue splits at scale. Going forward we're eager to explore similarly innovative initiatives on behalf of our artists".
CreateSafe boss Daouda Leonard adds:" In partnering with TuneCore, we're bridging the gap between the traditional music business and the future, streamlining cumbersome processes and reducing costs for the next generation of creators".
As for Grimes herself, she states: "Very stoked to be working with CreateSafe and TuneCore to enable their users to distribute collaborations with GrimesAI to all major streaming platforms! Through this unique pilot partnership, I can consent to the use of my voice in other creators' releases, share revenue and easily distribute everyone's work. Excited to be trying new things!"
Concord renews ICE deal
Owned by European collecting societies PRS, GEMA and STIM, ICE - among other things - negotiates and manages multi-territory deals with streaming services on behalf of an assortment of societies and publishers. The licensing of song rights to streaming services is complex for various reasons, and - via its ICE Core licensing venture - ICE has sought to navigate those complexities on behalf of its clients, while expanding the number of countries in which its licences apply.
On announcing the renewal of its partnership with Concord, ICE states: "Having been a direct member of the ICE Core since 2018, Concord has seen significantly increasing royalties, with an average year-on-year rise of more than 34% since 2020. The footprint of the ICE Core has also significantly expanded in recent years, incorporating regions such as MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa, robustly delivering fast and accurate royalty flows to rightsholders from more territories".
Confirming the renewed partnership, Concord's Chief Publishing Officer Jim Selby says: "We continue to see tremendous performance as part of the ICE Core and are excited by the future opportunities. It's a genuinely customer-centric partnership that we enjoy with everyone at ICE, and that extends well beyond doing the initial deal. Backing up deep market understanding with systems that efficiently and effectively deliver actual royalties enables us to in turn deliver more to our writers".
ICE Chief Commercial Officer Ben McEwen adds: "It's wonderful to be able to build on our long-standing relationship with the team at Concord and to continue to collaborate together in the future. The ICE Core brings together and supports a wide variety of rightsholder customers to deliver shared benefits, including leading independent publishers such as Concord. We look forward to continuing to deliver royalties and enable our customers to provide new services for the songwriters and composers we all serve".
Meta trained music-making AI tool on "20,000 hours of licensed music"
Felix Kreuk from the Facebook owner's AI research team last week posted on Twitter about the music-making tool, which is called MusicGen. It is, he wrote, "a simple and controllable music generation model" which can be "prompted by both text and melody".
A more detailed description on GitHub, meanwhile, says "MusicGen is a single-stage auto-regressive Transformer model trained over a 32kHz EnCodec tokeniser with four codebooks sampled at 50Hz".
And unlike, say, Google's text-to-music generator MusicLM, "MusicGen doesn't require a self-supervised semantic representation, and it generates all four codebooks in one pass. By introducing a small delay between the codebooks, we show we can predict them in parallel, thus having only 50 auto-regressive steps per second of audio".
So that's all fun times, isn't it? Of course, for many in the music industry, alongside discussions about the capabilities and technicalities of these ever-evolving music-making AI tools, there is a big debate about what music is being used to train the tech. And where commercially released music is being employed - either to train an AI tool in general or as a reference track by someone using the tool - how is that being licensed?
In a white paper to accompany MusicGen, Meta writes: "We use 20,000 hours of licensed music to train MusicGen. Specifically, we rely on an internal dataset of 10,000 high quality music tracks, and on the ShutterStock and Pond5 music data collections with respectively 25,000 and 365,000 instrument-only music tracks. All datasets consist of full-length music sampled at 32kHz with metadata composed of a textual description and additional information such as the genre, BPM, and tags".
The music industry and other copyright industries are busy lobbying lawmakers in a bid to counter any suggestions that it is - or should be - possible to train generative AI tools with copyright protected works without getting licences from the copyright owners. Meanwhile, both copyright owners and creators are calling for more transparency as to how existing content is being used by generative AI tools.
By using only licensed music and providing some information about what music was used, Meta is ticking some of those boxes already. Although, the music industry - and especially music-makers - probably need a bit more information than just "an internal dataset of 10,000 high quality music tracks", which poses more questions than it answers. And the option to upload an existing reference track alongside text prompts in order to use the tool is likely to pose a bunch more questions.
In the meantime, there is a demo version of MusicGen accessible here.
Leicester to take the crown for Radio 2 festival's post-COVID return
Radio 2 staged an annual event in London's Hyde Park from 2011 to 2019. The first edition post-pandemic was meant to take place in September last year, with the big old show relocated to Leeds. But then the Queen died and the whole thing was called off at the last minute.
This means that the return of the BBC station's own festival will now take place this September. You know, dead kings permitting. And rather than Leeds, it is Leicester that will host the proceedings. Poor old Leeds.
Helen Thomas, Head Of Radio 2, says: "I'm THRILLED to officially announce today that Leicester will host this year's Radio 2 In The Park, our much-anticipated live music weekender".
You won't actually have to be in Leicester to catch performances from Tears For Fears, Kylie Minogue, Bananarama, James Blunt, Busted, Pretenders, Rick Astley and more. Because, obviously, the BBC will be broadcasting it all as well.
"We hope it will bring together music lovers from across the nation", Thomas goes on, "whether joining us in Leicester or tuning in wherever they are - with our brilliant family of Radio 2 presenters sharing all the infectious energy of the event on and off stage".
Adds Leicester's City Mayor Peter Soulsby: "We're very excited to be welcoming Radio 2 In The Park to Leicester this summer. Victoria Park has a proud tradition of hosting these big events and they are always a tremendous boost to the area".
So, good news for fans of big events and tremendous boosts. Who don't live in Leeds.
Paul McCartney has revealed that a "final Beatles record" has been created using AI. You know, just like you wanted. The BBC reckons it's a 1978 John Lennon song called 'Now And Then'. We'll find out when it's released later this year.
Despite being on hiatus, BTS have released new single 'Take Two'.
Sigur Rós have released their first single for seven years, 'Blóðberg'. The band are set to play a sold out show at London's Royal Festival Hall on Friday.
Teri Gender Bender has released new single 'You Won The Man', taken from her new EP 'Outsiders', which is out on 7 Jul.
Mong Tong have released new single 'Tropic Sub'. Their new album 'Tao Fire' is out on 30 Jun.
GIGS & TOURS
Little Simz has announced a run of UK shows in November, rounding off with a performance at Alexandra Palace in London on 10 Nov.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Richard Curtis and Emma Freud to cook up a Suffolk feast at Latitude
Though don't be expecting them to be on stage talking about their comedy and media careers, because - according to the BBC - they've been booked to cook some food. Because, you know, at music festivals these days, it's only really the food that matters.
"Suffolk is the warmest and most magical county in Britain, with massive skies, stunning beaches, and a community that glows with kindness", says Freud, "and its culinary wonders are stunning".
"In the early 1930s", she goes on, "many members of my German Jewish family arrived in Suffolk and were made to feel welcome. Nearly 100 years later, we're still here. On 20 Jul, in our beautiful tent, we would love to welcome and feed you, the Suffolk way".
What's on the menu? Cheese, seafood and Suffolk crullers for pudding, which, the BBC explains, are a light choux pastry fried dessert. "It may be the greatest dessert you have ever eaten", adds Freud. So now you know.
Pulp, Paolo Nutini and George Ezra all headline this year's Latitude. I think they're just going to sing some songs. Though if it turns out they are also mainly cooking food, we'll try to find out what's on the menu. Ezra strikes me as a beans on toast man.