Universal Music Lawyers Not Laughing At Peanuts-smiths Mashup

On Tuesday night, Quincy Jones, the legendary musician and producer, hosted a question and answer session in Dubai with two of the people the writer Rod Temperton and producer Bruce Swedien who helped him make Michael Jacksons highly-successful first three albums, including Thriller. The evening was moderated by veteran Rolling Stone writer Ben Fong-Torres and was part of Dubai Music Week, a combination of festival, conference and competition for aspiring bands in the region. I see potential in this country and the Middle East, explains Mr. Jones, whose company Global Gumbo Group is organising Dubai Music Week. I have done this for 65 years and developed all over the world. I just love to help young people do music. Global Gumbo Group is a joint venture between Mr. Jones and Badr Jafar, the Emirati social entrepreneur and managing director of Crescent Petroleum. Both partners have invested capital in the business, according to Mr. Jafar, and have signed an agreement with the Dubai government to bring Dubai Music Week to the emirate for five years, as well as two other festivals called Dubai Rocks and Dubai Classics, which will launch early next year. Siedah Garrett singing I Just Cant Stop Loving You at Dubai Music Week, hosted by Quincy Jones A project such as Dubai Music Week does have tremendous potential for social impact and has the potential to be profitable in the long term, says Mr. Jafar, who booked Will.i.am, Timbaland and Selena Gomez for the main concerts this year, but plans to book more niche, lesser well-known acts for Dubai Rocks and Dubai Classics. The move to offer bands or acts that have not necessarily shot to global stardom yet is a fairly new trend in Dubai, as expats and citizens have generally been viewed as having less sophisticated musical palates than other markets. Yes, many acts with blockbuster appeal have been booked in the past year Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Katy Perry and Alicia Keys but promoters are also signing smaller bands that have a more niche appeal, such as The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men, who are supporting The Killers at the Sandance festival.

The sharps and flats of the music business

But the music publishing arm of Universal Music Group, one of the three major record companies, apparently doesn’t find that joke funny anymore. Or at least its lawyers don’t. Last week, LoPrete posted a note on her page saying that she was going to have to stop the simulated music in the face of a growing number of requests from Universal Music Group to remove the material from Tumblr. She’d received a total of six takedown notices for three separate posts, and said more were coming in every hour. She’s received an outpouring of support online, though, and is pushing back. On Monday, her lawyer filed a counter-notice with Tumblr asking that the three posts be restored. “These brief excerpts [from The Smiths’ lyrics] are used to transformative effect,” wrote attorney Dan Booth. “They also have no commercial purpose, and cannot have any negative effect on the market for the original works. As a result, the takedown notices are erroneous.” Booth’s note touches on all four of the criteria in federal copyright law for judging whether a use is fair or infringing. This Charming Charlie doesn’t copy entire songs, it puts the lyrics in a wholly new context (arguably as a parody of The Smiths, which provides yet more legal protection), it doesn’t sell its content, and if anything, the page stokes demand for The Smiths’ music. The band broke up more than 25 years ago, so Universal should actually be thanking LoPrete for drawing a new generation’s attention to its work.