|WEDNESDAY 9 AUGUST 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A US court has declined to dismiss one of the song-theft lawsuits filed over Dua Lipa's hit 'Levitating'. The judge agreed with Lipa's team that the plaintiffs hadn't really proven that the musician definitely had access to the earlier songs that she is accused of ripping off, but added that the lawsuit should be allowed to proceed for now on the basis of 'striking similarity'... [READ MORE]|
Second 'Levitating' song-theft lawsuit against Dua Lipa allowed to proceed
'Levitating' has been the subject of two song-theft claims. Florida-based band Artikal Sound System alleged that Lipa's hit lifted key elements from their 2017 track 'Live Your Life'. But that case was dismissed in June.
The litigation that continues was filed by the publishing companies of songwriters L Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer. They allege that 'Levitating' infringes not one but two songs that they were involved in, 1979's 'Wiggle And Giggle All Night' and 1980's 'Don Diablo'.
It transpires that that is because 'Don Diablo' is basically a rework of 'Wiggle And Giggle All Night'. Having written their song in 1979, Brown and Linzer subsequently went legal over 'Don Diablo' - which was released by Miguel Bosé - and successfully argued that it was basically a derivation of their song. In doing so they secured an ownership interest in the copyright of 'Don Diablo'.
In terms of the Lipa lawsuits - both the Artikal Sound System litigation and this one - her legal team set out to try and get both cases dismissed mainly by arguing that there was no evidence that Lipa or her collaborators had ever had access to the earlier songs before writing 'Levitating'.
Regarding Brown and Linzer's claim, attorney Christine Lepera wrote last year: "The complaint fails to allege wide dissemination of 'Wiggle' and 'Don Diablo'".
"With respect to 'Wiggle', the complaint merely alleges it achieved certain success in the Netherlands four decades ago. This does not establish 'saturation' and there is no allegation that the songwriters of 'Levitating' were in the Netherlands - or, indeed, had even been born - at that time".
"With respect to 'Don Diablo'", she went on, "the complaint alleges it has been performed at certain times in Latin America; again, these allegations do not establish 'saturation' or that the 'Levitating' writers participated in the Latin American market at the relevant times".
In her ruling yesterday, the judge overseeing the case - Katherine Polk Failla - basically agreed that none of the explanations for how Lipa might have accessed 'Wiggle' or 'Don Diablo' that have been presented by the plaintiffs are particularly strong.
However, where two songs are incredibly similar - so, 'strikingly similar' - plaintiffs can overcome weak theories regarding access by arguing that copying is the only explanation for how two works could end up being so alike.
Failla wrote: "Despite failing to plead access, plaintiffs have alleged just enough facts to proceed to discovery on a theory of 'striking similarity'".
She then noted legal precedent that says "plaintiffs need not prove access if they can show that the works are 'so strikingly similar as to preclude the possibility of independent creation'".
Though, the judge then added that - while she is allowing the case to proceed for now on the basis of 'striking similarity' - Brown and Linzer will face a significant burden if and when the litigation gets to trial.
"Proving striking similarity as a factual matter will be a tall task", Failla wrote. "Plaintiffs will need to demonstrate not just that the works are similar, but that their similarities are 'so striking so as to compel the conclusion that copying is the only realistic basis for them'".
But nevertheless, the judge concluded: "Plaintiffs have failed to allege a claim of copyright infringement as to 'Wiggle' under an access theory, but are entitled to proceed to discovery on their 'striking similarity' theory. Consequently, defendants' motion to dismiss is denied".
PRS and PPL announce partnership with Audoo
The public performance of music by those kinds of businesses needs a licence, and in the UK that licence is issued by the joint venture operated by PRS and PPL.
However, it has always been a challenge when it comes to public performance licensing to know what to do with the money that is generated. Because traditionally societies often don't know what music has actually been played.
Various companies have been developing audio ID technologies that can help with that problem. And PRS and PPL have already worked with the company DJ Monitor for monitoring what music is played in the bigger club venues.
But there are various challenges that those technologies need to address. For public performance, where music is very much in the background, one challenge is filtering out any other noise.
And also making sure that the conversations of customers are not also being tracked, as that would likely breach privacy and data protection laws, such as good old GDPR.
A statement confirming the tie up between Audoo and PRS/PPL notes how the former's technology is "designed to be GDPR-compliant and uses smart plug-in technology to securely track and report the music being played in quasi-real-time, without capturing any non-music audio, whether that's the weather report or private conversations".
Audoo has physical devices that it places in businesses where music is played which it calls Audio Meters. And by using those devices around the UK, PRS and PPL are aiming "to help drive forward and accelerate accurate and transparent royalty distribution to music creators".
"This initiative will help PRS For Music and PPL to continue to define the global standard of music royalties", the statement adds, "enhancing distribution efficiency and delivering optimum payments for their 300,000 collective members".
Commenting on the partnership, PRS's Director Of Operational Improvement Tim Arber says: "We are continually investing in new technologies and services to ensure we can pay out royalties more quickly and accurately, delivering the best possible service to members".
"We have been working with music recognition technology for many years and are excited to see how this collaboration with Audoo can support our ambition to pay out over £1 billion annually in the next few years", he goes on.
"Helping businesses across the UK to report the music they play through smart data capture will be integral to reaching this milestone and maximising our members' public performance royalties".
PPL's Head Of Distribution Russell Chant adds: "At PPL, we're always working to ensure that performers, record labels and self-releasing artists are fairly and accurately paid for the music they create".
"This initiative with Audoo will complement our existing suite of advanced technological tools and public performance music usage data, offering us a further way to check that our distributions are as accurate as possible. We look forward to working with the Audoo team over the coming months".
And Audoo founder Ryan Edwards says: "This collaboration with PRS and PPL is a milestone in the evolution of the public performance royalty space, for creators, performers and rightsholders, as well as licensees delivering an enhanced experience for customers through the joy of music played in public spaces".
"Audoo is a proud British business that has designed, developed and continues to manufacture all products in the UK", he continues, "so it is particularly poignant to launch Audoo at home with global leaders PRS For Music and PPL following the successful impact in other territories".
Music Venue Trust announces Coca Cola partnership
The first is a series of gigs headlined by Casey Lowry which will kick off at Moles in Bath and finish at KOKO in London, calling off at a number of grassroots music venues along the way. People will be able to win tickets for the shows by buying cans of Coke Zero or Coke Zero Cherry in Co-op shops.
Says Paul Hiskens, Associate Director Partnerships & Sponsorships at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners GB: "Coca-Cola has a wealth of historical involvement in music and this summer has seen us give music fans a number of epic experiences at festivals across Europe".
"But", he adds, "we recognise that the festival artists of tomorrow need to play in the grassroot venues of today and by partnering with Music Venue Trust we will help support the venues in a number of ways moving forward".
"In our first activity we have funded a series of gigs to allow venues to raise funds", he goes on, "alongside giving fans of Coke Zero an unforgettable night out - and we hope that they continue to support these venues ongoing, as we will".
Confirming the alliance from MVT's side, CEO Mark Davyd states: "This is the start of an incredibly important partnership with Coca Cola which we hope will bring support to grassroots music venues right across the country".
"Every local community deserves access to an excellent live music experience right on their doorstep. This project demonstrates how MVT can work with great partners to make that happen and keep music live right across the UK".
And Lowry says of the upcoming tour: "If it wasn't for grassroots music venues, I wouldn't have a career in music. They provide a springboard for every emerging artist and keep the culture alive".
"Having Coca-Cola on board with MVT will have a huge impact on keeping these awesome indie venues alive and helping the next wave of music come through. We should celebrate this! It's a huge deal and I feel honoured to be playing".
BandLab backs Human Artistry Campaign
It's the first company that provides music creation tools - some employing AI - to sign up to the campaign, which launched at South By South West earlier this year.
Although spearheaded by the US music industry, organisations representing artists, songwriters, managers, labels and publishers all over the world, as well as groups working with creators beyond music, are supporting the initiative.
BandLab's support was confirmed by its co-founder and CEO Meng Ru Kuok during a presentation at the Ai4 conference in Las Vegas yesterday.
"By becoming the first music creation platform to support the Human Artistry Campaign, we emphasise our commitment to ethical AI practices and ensuring that technology enriches the music industry and empowers new creators rather than making new barriers for them", he told the event.
"BandLab is excited to be at the forefront of this movement", he went on. "Together, we can all forge a future where AI empowers musicians without compromising the essence of human artistry".
Welcoming BandLab's support, Dr Moiya McTier, as a spokesperson for the Human Artistry Campaign, said: "The Human Artistry Campaign champions a future where art and technology reinforce one another and new innovations empower creators".
"We applaud BandLab Technologies' leadership", she added, "and look forward to additional companies committing to responsible AI practices that respect artists' rights, names, images, likenesses, voices and individuality".
Mykki Blanco confirms release date for new EP 'Postcards From Italia'
The EP explores - we are told - "a side of Mykki's sound that hasn't been delved into before - their 'Italian cowboy era'".
On the new single, Blanco says: "The song is a feel good summer anthem about lazy summer days swimming in the sea, hopping from one music festival to the next, feeling good about life and living la dolce vita soaking up the sun".
Not only that, but it is "a summer rave bop with nods to 90s euro dance and acid house stretching itself, hitting every corner of the world from the beaches of Ibiza and Naples to warehouses parties in London and Berlin. Enjoy!".
Spotify rolls out AI DJ into loads more markets
The personalised curation and commentary service - which is still technically in beta - first went live in the US and Canada earlier this year, before becoming available in the UK and Ireland in May. It will now also be available to premium Spotify subscribers in various other markets, especially in Asia and Africa.
Which is surely super exciting, given Spotify tells us that "DJ has become the most discussed Spotify feature on social media among users".
That's right, the most discussed Spotify feature on social media among users! Or, to be more precise, in tweets in the first half of this year from users with a publicly identifiable location, clarifies a footnote. But still, that's lots of discussion.
And, says Spotify, "we've found that when DJ listeners hear commentary alongside personal music recommendations, they're more willing to try something new or listen to a song they may have otherwise skipped".
Plus, "as we bring DJ to new markets, we're seeing users tune in even more, with fans spending nearly one-third of their listening time with DJ".
Wow, good stuff. And now for another footnote. "Results based on eligible DJ users (premium users in the US, Canada, UK and Ireland on mobile) and collected from 19 Jul 2023, to 25 July 2023". Thanks Spotify!
"At its core, DJ is all about connection and discovery. DJ's powerful combination of our personalisation technology, generative AI in the hands of our music experts, and a dynamic AI voice makes it possible for listening to feel even more personal, and fans keep coming back for more", adds the official blurb.
"Since DJ is still in beta", it then concludes, "we'll continue to iterate and innovate to evolve the experience over time, so stay tuned for more". Oh we will Spotify. Well, not me personally, but I've trained an AI to stay very much tuned in for more.