|MONDAY 10 JULY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: An ongoing termination rights dispute between Lil Joe Records and the 2 Live Crew got a hearing in the American courts last week. A key part of the dispute centres on whether or not bankruptcy proceedings that took place in the mid-1990s impact the rights of each 2 Live Crew member to reclaim copyrights in their old recordings. Both parties agreed that's a question that hasn't been answered in court before... [READ MORE]|
2 Live Crew's termination rights dispute discussed in court
The music under dispute here was originally released by Luke Records, the label run by 2 Live Crew member Luther Campbell. Those recordings were then acquired by Lil Joe Records - along with other copyrights and trademarks controlled by the group - in 1996 when both Campbell and Luke Records went bankrupt. Lil Joe Records is owned by Joe Weinberger, a lawyer who worked for Campbell prior to the collapse of his label.
But is any of that relevant to the termination rights claim made by Campbell and his former bandmates Mark Ross and Christopher Wong Won (or, in the case of the latter, who died in 2017, his estate)?
Under US copyright law, creators who assign - or transfer - their copyrights to a third party have a one-time opportunity to terminate that assignment and reclaim their rights after 35 years.
The current termination right was added to copyright law in the late 1970s, meaning it only really came into effect in the early 2010s, as we got to the point where 35 years had passed since the first assignment deals done after the law was changed.
In the music industry, it's now common practice for songwriters to terminate publishing deals in this way. However, on the recordings side, there remains a dispute as to whether the termination right even applies. Many labels argue that, under the US system, record deals are work-for-hire agreements, which make the label not the artist the default owner of any recording copyrights created. Therefore there is no assignment to terminate.
Artists and their lawyers dispute that record deals are really work-for-hire agreements, even if they claim to be in the wording of the contract. That dispute is yet to be properly tested in court, though there are test cases going through the motions. Meanwhile, plenty of artists have been able to renegotiate old record deals in the US by threatening to enforce the termination right in court.
For its part, since going legal in 2021, Lil Joe Records has made the work-for-hire argument regarding the attempts by 2 Live Crew members to terminate their old deals with Luke Records. But the label also claims that the old bankruptcy proceedings have an impact too.
According to Law360, a legal rep for the label last week told the judge overseeing the dispute that the hip hop group's members gave up any rights they had in relation to their recordings when Luke Records went bankrupt in the 1990s. Mainly because none of them objected to the bankruptcy proceedings that resulted in the copyrights in their output being bought by Lil Joe Records.
Not only that, but the bankruptcy order issued at that time stated that the assets being acquired by Weinberger were "free of liens, claims or encumbrances". And "the right to terminate is not a lien or a claim, but it is definitely an encumbrance", the lawyer told the court.
However, a legal rep for the group argued that the US Copyright Act overrules the bankruptcy order, because things like the termination right are designed to protect creators, and especially young creators interacting with business partners that might not have their best interests at heart.
And 2 Live Crew needed exactly that kind of protection, their legal rep stated. Because back in the 1990s they "made a mistake of trusting an attorney, Joe Weinberger. They brought him in as a trusted adviser. And what did Mr Weinberger do? He ran the company into bankruptcy. Then he bought up the assets, bought up the music, and launched his own record label".
As for the work-for-hire element of the dispute, Lil Joe Records' lawyer noted that Campbell was very much an employee of Luke Records when the recordings under dispute were made, which means he definitely had a work-for-hire relationship with his label.
However, lawyers for 2 Live Crew countered that the employment relationship only related to his work running the label, and not to his creative output as an artist. And anyway, Campbell's employee status back in the day doesn't affect Ross or Wong Won.
Regarding all that, this case mirrors the other termination rights cases against labels that are underway. However, when it comes to whether or not past bankruptcy proceedings can interfere with an artist's termination rights, this could be the case that sets a precedent.
Both sides want a summary judgement in their favour. We await to see how the judge rules.
Kanye West insisted that Donda Academy windows should contain no glass claims former teacher
Isaiah Meadows - who was also an assistant principal at the academy - filed his complaint with the Los Angeles County Superior Court last week.
According to Law360, he claims that as well as having no proper windows - which meant that a skylight had no glass covering so that water fell directly into the school - there were also serious issues with the building's wiring, which at one point led to an electrical fire.
For several months, he adds, the school had no electricity, with lessons lit by flood lamps powered by a generator. That also meant that there was no hot water in the building, so staff and students were unable to properly wash their hands amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meadows' also alleges there were issues with his pay, and in relation to a commitment West had made to cover his rent, a commitment made after the rapper insisted that the teacher must live nearby the academy.
After joining the school in October 2020 - when it was actually operating as the Yeezy Christian Academy - Meadows says that he was suspended in February 2021 after he raised concerns about the running of the school and called for meetings to discuss the issues.
When he returned, he claims, his pay had been cut and his rent was no longer being paid. Covering the remaining rent payments on his contracted term caused him "severe financial difficulties", he says. Nonetheless, he continued to work at the school, which later became the Donda Academy. However, shortly before the beginning of the 2022 school year, he was fired.
This is not the first lawsuit filed this year making claims about safety issues at the academy. In April, two other teachers went legal, claiming that they were fired after raising concerns. Their allegations include that students were only served sushi for lunch and that chairs were banned.
Those other allegations made against the school were noted by one of Meadows' attorneys, Ron Zambrano, in a statement to Law360.
"It is just absolutely egregious what is going on at this school", he said. "The unlawful and retaliatory behaviour by [West] and the school directors have now been documented multiple times by other former employees who never even worked together but all experienced the same horrendous treatment and witnessed the same serious health, safety and education code violations".
Meadows is suing for breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and a load of violations of California's employment regulations.
Warner Records announces partnership with new label Protect The Culture
The first release via Protect The Culture is 'No Dey Tire', a new track from Ghana-born Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter Lord Afrixana.
"I'm excited to bring Protect The Culture to Warner Records", says Byers. "I have a passion for this genre and feel it will be the pop music of the world. Lord Afrixana is our first artist on the label and he's incredibly talented. PTC wants to introduce more than just sounds coming out of Africa because Afrobeats is universal and incredibly diverse".
Warner Records President Of A&R Steven 'Steve-O' Carless and EVP/Head Of A&R Karen Kwak add in a joint statement: "Marc has already proven to be an invaluable A&R resource with the signings of breakout Nigerian artist Pheelz and afro-fusion rising star Lord Afrixana. We're confident it's just the beginning of what's to come from Marc and Protect The Culture".
Music distributor and retailer Unearthed Sounds announces closure
In an email to clients, the company wrote: "It is with deep regret that we announce the closure of Unearthed Sounds as of 31 Jul 2023. This isn't a decision we have made lightly, but after many months of internal discussions, planning meetings and external consultations, we have reached the conclusion that there is no way that this business can continue in the present financial climate".
Outlining the various challenges faced by the business, the email then ran through some of the specific issues created by both COVID and Brexit.
On the latter, it said: "Whilst avoiding turning this statement into a monologue about Brexit, I think anybody reading this will realise how it must have impacted a business that imports the vast majority of its stock from Europe, and also has many end users there".
The last straw, the email went on, was the cost of living crisis. "When the cost of living rises, individuals have less disposable income available for non-essential purchases like vinyl", it stated. "Retailers and distributors alike face challenges in convincing consumers that the value and experience of physical media justify the price. Unfortunately as shops feel the pinch so do we".
Elsewhere, the memo to clients said: "Please understand, it is important to note that we have not been placed into receivership, this is a voluntary decision and the business will operate as normal until the end of the month. All stock that is owned by you will be available to collect or to be sent to you".
The email also listed other companies that its clients could utilise to access the various services previously provided by Unearthed Sounds. Meanwhile, when it comes to digital distribution, which was run by Jonathan Wilson in partnership with a third party, that will be unaffected by the closure of the main Unearthed Sounds company.
The email concluded: "It's important to recognise that these challenges are not unique to Unearthed Sounds but have affected various players in the music industry, and indeed the business community as a whole. Despite the closure of Unearthed Sounds, we hope the music community continues to evolve and find ways to connect artists, labels and music enjoyers. We will miss you all, it's been a hell of a ride".
Man charged over Beyond Wonderland shooting pleads not guilty
Two people died and three more were injured during the shooting, which took place on the first night of this year's Beyond Wonderland event.
James M Kelly, currently serving with the US army, was arrested in relation to the incident and was subsequently charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, and one count of first-degree domestic violence assault.
According to The Seattle Times, Kelly last week pleaded not guilty to all charges. A public defender has been appointed to represent Kelly, who may well seek to negotiate lesser charges with prosecutors.
After the incident last month, Kelly reportedly told detectives that he took a dose of psychedelic mushrooms while at the music festival which caused him to hallucinate - and that those hallucinations may have led to the shooting.
His girlfriend, who was one of the people injured, says that, under the influence of the drugs, Kelly said he thought the world was ending.
Malmö to host Eurovision 2024
"The European Broadcasting Union is THRILLED that Malmö has been selected as the host city for the Eurovision Song Contest 2024", says Eurovision Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl. "Malmö holds a special place in the history of the Contest, having successfully hosted it firstly in 1992 and then in 2013 following Loreen's last win".
Malmö was chosen, we are told by the EBU - which produces Eurovision - following "a strong city bid process that examined facilities at the venue; the ability to accommodate thousands of visiting delegations, crew, fans and journalists; infrastructure; and other criteria". I bet it's the other criteria that swung it. Malmö is famously good at other criteria.
"Malmö's commitment to diversity, inclusivity and innovation aligns perfectly with the spirit of the competition", adds Österdahl. "Furthermore, its compact size and well-developed transport infrastructure means everyone involved in the Contest, including delegations, media, and fans will be able to navigate the city easily".
"Malmö's bid demonstrated a huge passion for the Eurovision Song Contest", he concludes, "and I have full confidence in their ability to create an unforgettable experience that will bring together fans, artists, and viewers across the globe".
The semi-finals of the 2024 Contest will take place on 7 and 9 May, with the grand final on 11 May. This means Eurovision won't clash with The Great Escape next year. That's probably the bigger thing of interest here.
Care received by MF Doom prior to his death was "not to the standard we would expect", NHS trust admits
Real name Dumile Daniel Thompson - known as Daniel - the rapper died as a result of a "rare" allergic reaction to a drug prescribed to control blood pressure, reports Leeds Live. However, the inquest heard, opportunities to diagnose and treat this reaction were missed by doctors at St James's Hospital in Leeds.
Thompson was admitted to the hospital on 23 Oct 2020 having developed breathing problems after taking new medication to control his blood pressure. There he was given adrenaline, steroids and oxygen, which initially seemed to improve his condition. However, he suddenly deteriorated and collapsed. He was placed on a ventilator but died on 31 Oct.
Assistant coroner Janine Wolstenholme, overseeing the inquest, concluded that while a care plan had been drawn up by the hospital, it was not sufficiently detailed - in part because doctors were given "false reassurance" that things were moving in the right direction when Thompson's condition had initially appeared to improve.
Wolstenholme added that a review should have been triggered when Thompson indicated that his swelling was worsening and that doctors had failed to seek "specialist input" from an immunology expert. However, she added, Thompson's deterioration had been very sudden, and it was impossible to say if any of these actions would have saved him.
Thompson's reaction to the drug he had been prescribed was "rare", but more common in smokers and people of African-Caribbean descent, and Thompson was both.
Following the inquest, the Chief Medical Officer at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Dr Hamish McLure, said: "I would like to offer our sincere condolences to Daniel's family, friends and fans at this difficult time. I apologise that the care he received was not to the standard we would expect".
"Following his sad death we undertook a serious incident investigation and the report has been shared with Daniel's family", he added. "As a result, we have put in place a number of actions and the wider learning from what happened is to be used as a teaching topic in a number of different clinical specialities. We also support the coroner's recommendation for clearer national guidance and awareness in this area".
Pop stars signed up for Capital Radio ad campaign
Among those taking part are Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Jonas Brothers, Stormzy, Niall Horan, Anne-Marie, Tom Grennan, Raye, ArrDee, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Adam Lambert.
They all feature in ads that will pop up on both TV and social media over the next month. So, don't say you haven't been warned. There'll be a big outdoor advertising campaign as well, which will be pretty damn expansive, presumably, given another bit of the Global company owns a big old network of billboard advertising sites.
The new ads have been produced by the media firm's in-house team, as boss man Ashley Tabor notes. "I'm so proud of the teams at Global for producing this brilliant 'Play Capital' advertising campaign in-house, our first made entirely by Globallers", says he.
"The energy and passion for the brand shines through and truly celebrates Capital and its unique ability to connect fans to the artists they love". Yeah, maybe. But, I mean, Globallers?
"Love Music? Love Capital! Ed Sheeran more than lands the message that the hottest hit music really does live on Capital", reckons Global's MD Of Brand Marketing Simon Barnabas, who seems to be playing favourites in terms of the pop stars involved in the campaign. What about Adam?
"We are ecstatic with the outcome of everyone at Global's hard work in producing this attention-grabbing campaign", he goes on. "The whole strategy perfectly portrays the energy and passion of the brand and captures the incredible connection between listeners, fans and superstar artists - be that through radio, digital or at our huge stadium events".