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  1. Ariana Grande leads album sales, Drake tops most-streamed Image: Ariana Grande was the top-selling artist in the first half of the year, according to Nielsen Music. Revenue from recorded music in the U.S. rose 18% to $5.4 billion in the first half of the year, driven by growth in subscriptions to streaming services like the ones offered by Spotify Technology SA , Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Such paid streaming services added more than 1 million new subscriptions a month in the period, according to a report from the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group for recorded-music companies, and subscribers totaled 61.1 million by the end of the first six months of 2019. In 2018, the music business experienced its third consecutive year of growth in revenue from recorded music in the U.S., as streaming continued to power the industry’s recovery after years of declines. Pop singer Ariana Grande was the top-selling artist in the first half of the year, according to Nielsen Music, with 285,000 albums sold and 2.59 billion on-demand audio streams. Hip-hop artists, however, have fared particularly well in the streaming era, with rappers securing seven of the 10 top-streaming slots. Drake, the No. 2 selling artist overall, led the way in streaming with 2.66 billion on-demand audio streams. Revenue from music streaming in the U.S., including paid subscriptions and ad-supported options, increased 26% to $4.3 billion in the period, representing 80% of the industry’s total revenue. Paid subscriptions surged 31% to $3.3 billion, accounting for 62% of total industry revenue. Such paid streaming services added more than 1 million new subscriptions a month in the period, according to a report from the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group for recorded-music companies, and subscribers totaled 61.1 million by the end of the first six months of 2019. In 2018, the music business experienced its third consecutive year of growth in revenue from recorded music in the U.S., as streaming continued to power the industry’s recovery after years of declines. Pop singer Ariana Grande was the top-selling artist in the first half of the year, according to Nielsen Music, with 285,000 albums sold and 2.59 billion on-demand audio streams. Hip-hop artists, however, have fared particularly well in the streaming era, with rappers securing seven of the 10 top-streaming slots. Drake, the No. 2 selling artist overall, led the way in streaming with 2.66 billion on-demand audio streams. Revenue from music streaming in the U.S., including paid subscriptions and ad-supported options, increased 26% to $4.3 billion in the period, representing 80% of the industry’s total revenue. Paid subscriptions surged 31% to $3.3 billion, accounting for 62% of total industry revenue. Source
  2. Music Industry Asks EU to Scrap Article 13 A powerful group of organizations in the music, broadcasting, and sports industries have called on the EU to cancel the proposed Article 13. Headed by IFPI, the worldwide voice of the music industry and formerly the most vocal supporter of the legislation, the groups say that "no directive at all" is better than a bad one. The road to implementing the EU’s proposed Article 13 started off relatively smoothly for the entertainment industries but during the past couple of months, serious cracks have begun to emerge. In fact, the proposed legislation, which was designed to prevent large Internet platforms (such as YouTube) from exploiting the so-called Value Gap, has descended into unexpected chaos. With large Internet platforms faced with the prospect of deploying filters to scoop up infringing content, there was outrage among huge numbers of YouTubers, who felt their livelihoods might be at stake. But somehow, in the midst of this dissent, YouTube began lobbying in favor of filtering. With the battle lines becoming even more blurred, rightsholders began complaining about the shifting details of the proposals as they moved through the negotiation process, apparently in YouTube’s favor. In December 2018, the Motion Picture Association, the International Union of Cinemas, the Premier League, and La Liga, announced that they were concerned about proposals for liability shields for large Internet services, which would gain power in the market, not lose it as planned. Soon after, major entertainment organizations including IFPI complainedthat if Article 13 passed in its current form, they would be worse off than they were before. Things were very clearly not going to plan and were about to get worse. Last month, the MPA and other rightsholders called for a suspension of Article 13 just as the EU Parliament and Council were about to agree on the final text. Those negotiations were eventually canceled after the Member States failed to agree on a final negotiating position. Earlier this week, there appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel, with Article 13 proposals moving forward after France and Germany reached a deal on which services should be bound by the terms of Article 13. Now, however, all external support for Article 13 appears to lie in tatters. In an open letter, organizations including IFPI, IMPALA, Premier League, La Liga, and others in broadcasting and media, have effectively asked the EU to scrap Article 13 completely. Noting that the original aim of Article 13 was to create “a level playing field in the online Digital Single Market”, the groups state that as it stands, the proposed legislation will not strengthen the positions of European rightsholders. “Despite our constant commitment in the last two years to finding a viable solution, and having proposed many positive alternatives, the text – as currently drafted and on the table – no longer meets these objectives, not only in respect of any one article, but as a whole,” they write. “As rightsholders we are not able to support it or the impact it will have on the European creative sector.” While thanking parties for trying to reach a “good compromise” during the negotiations of recent months, the organizations state that the text contains elements which “fundamentally go against copyright principles enshrined in EU and international copyright law.” “Far from leveling the playing field, the proposed approach would cause serious harm by not only failing to meet its objectives, but actually risking leaving European producers, distributors and creators worse off,” they state, winding up for the following bombshell. “Regrettably, under these conditions we would rather have no Directive at all than a bad Directive. We therefore call on negotiators to not proceed on the basis of the latest proposals from the Council,” they conclude. In other words, the global music industry (and others, less affected by the Value Gap) have effectively called for Article 13 to be canceled. What happens next is anyone’s guess but Julia Reda, MEP for the Pirate Party, is cautioning that the EU probably won’t back away. “The EU_Commission will never do the politically responsible thing and withdraw #Article13,” she wrote on Twitter. “It is time for checks and balances to kick in. Council has to refuse the backroom deal by Macron & Merkel.” Source
  3. And the evidence “proving” your guilt could be little more than fluff and nonsense. The entertainment industry is waging a major legal campaign to turn ISPs into copyright cops authorized to kick broadband users offline—based on what’s often flimsy to nonexistent evidence of wrongdoing. As it currently stands, if you download a copyrighted file via BitTorrent or another platform, you’re risking a copyright violation warning from your ISP. These warnings are generated by investigators hired by the entertainment industry to track and combat online piracy, often by monitoring BitTorrent swarms. Unfortunately, the warnings are often based on flimsy evidence, and the presumption that if a downloaded file is traced to your IP address, you’re automatically guilty. Of course that’s not always the case, the most common example being if someone decided to download the latest episode of Game of Thrones while sitting in your driveway using your WiFi hotspot. ISPs are required to pass these copyright infringement notices on to end users under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). But since users frequently ignore these warnings, and there’s no real penalty for repeat offenses, the entertainment industry has spent years trying to dramatically up the ante, often to a ridiculous degree. For example, the music industry has attempted to turn copyright infringement into a revenue model by hiring companies tasked with scaring potential pirates into paying up to avoid a trial. Industry organizations like Rightscorp send “pre-settlement” letters to pirates informing them they can avoid any prolonged, nasty legal headaches simply by paying a fine. But the practice is legally sketchy, and as this Reddit thread illustrates, paying up is often a bottomless rabbit hole of ever-steeper penalties. Rightscorp, routinely accused of being a “copyright troll,” has subsequently been forced to ease off the practice in recent years in the wake of terrible publicity. But using Rightscorp as an intermediary, the entertainment industry has also taken to suing ISPs it claims aren’t doing enough to thwart piracy. The entertainment industry has long misrepresented an integral part of the DMCA to mean that ISPs should be forced to kick pirates offline permanently. Supreme Court precedent ( Packingham v North Carolina ) has been interpreted by copyright experts to indicate that booting users offline for piracy is a violation of the First Amendment. But the entertainment industry has taken sustained legal action against smaller ISPs that disagree. One of the industry’s targets has been a small Texas ISP called Grande Communications. Grande was sued in 2017 by a collection of 18 different music and film labels for failing to stop subscribers from engaging "in more than one million infringements of copyrighted works over BitTorrent systems." In its latest filing in the ongoing case, the ISP pulled no punches calling the entertainment industry’s lawsuit against it an “absurd” gambit to force ISPs into the role of “de facto copyright enforcement agents.” Often, the ISP warned, using nonexistent or incomplete evidence as the basis of “misleading” infringement warnings and threats. "Having given up on actually pursuing direct infringers due to bad publicity, and having decided not to target the software and websites that make online file-sharing possible, the recording industry has shifted its focus to fashioning new forms of copyright liability that would require ISPs to act as the copyright police,” the ISP wrote in its lawsuit. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a recent music industry legal victory against Cox Communications. It’s a victory that copyright experts say was based on a notable misrepresentation of the law by the courts, and could pave the way toward the erosion of ISP “safe harbor” protections under the DMCA protecting them from liability. That could be a huge problem for ISPs and users alike, Meredith Rose, Policy Counsel at consumer group Public Knowledge told me in an email. “If ISPs lost their safe harbor protections, the incentive would be for ISPs to boot customers proactively, before they ran into any liability,” Rose said. “Proactive enforcement would necessitate pervasive monitoring of user behavior online, which, again, would chill speech—to put it mildly.” Critics charge that kicking and keeping users offline for alleged copyright infringement isn’t just a draconian over reach and a potential First Amendment violation, it’s a technical nightmare. Tracking booted users and preventing them from simply signing up with other ISPs—under say a spouse's name—would be largely impossible. But the daunting technical logistics, the resulting legal mess, and the potential stifling of online speech doesn’t seem to worry the music industry, which has argued that a good faith accusation of piracy is enough to warrant kicking a user offline permanently. “If they won that argument, it creates a perfect storm for consumer extortion, without a much in the way of legal safeguards,” Rose said. Mitch Stoltz, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed. Stoltz told me in a email that the erosion of ISP safe harbor protections “would mean a huge expansion of surveillance over our online lives.” “It also means that people could be kicked off of their home Internet service because of the actions of roommates, houseguests, children, or strangers,” he said. “In today's world, that means losing access to schoolwork, medical services, political participation, and other vital information—especially because many Americans have only one option for home broadband service.” For its part, Grande Communications’ latest filing states that the music industry’s lawsuit places it in an “impossible position: either terminate subscribers based on unverified allegations of infringement, or face litigation for the secondary infringement of thousands of copyrighted works." So far, the music industry has yet to challenge bigger players with deeper pockets like AT&T, Comcast or Verizon, though these giants are likely watching the case with great interest for liability reasons. Consumers eager to avoid being kicked offline based on nebulous allegations of guilt should probably keep a close eye on the ongoing case. Source
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