The Recording Industry Association of America has filed its official appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that sided with the Russian operator of two of the Internet’s most popular stream-ripping websites. In January, Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia said he lacked jurisdiction to take on the major labels’ case against Tofig Kurbanov, who runs FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com.
In his decision, Judge Hilton ruled that Kurbanov’s sites were “semi-interactive” with users, and that even those interactions would be considered non-commercial. Further, the judge concluded that the defendant “did not purposefully avail himself” to any benefits or protections of doing business in Virginia or the U.S. as a whole.
“That was error,” the RIAA appeal, filed March 12 in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, asserts. “There is nothing random, fortuitous, or attenuated about appellee’s contacts with Virginia or with the United States. [Kurbanov] cannot seriously contend that he lacks ‘fair warning’ that he might be sued in U.S. courts under U.S. law when he violates U.S. copyrights by transmitting hundreds of millions of infringing files to U.S. devices on U.S. soil, and then profits from ads targeted to his U.S. customer base.”
Plaintiffs, including several major labels, filed the lawsuit against Kurbanov on Aug. 3, 2018, arguing that the sites — which convert audio from videos on YouTube and other sources into MP3 files — are vessels for copyright infringement. FLVTO.biz received over 263 million visits between October 2017 and September 2018, according to court documents, with nearly 10 percent of site traffic coming from the United States. Because that included 500,000 visitors from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the record labels believed the court had jurisdiction in the case, arguing that FLVTO’s geo-targeted ads meant it was purposely targeting Virginia residents and others in the U.S.
To illustrate the popularity of the sites, the RIAA cites data showing that between July and September of 2018, FLVTO and 2conv were the 264th and 829th most popular websites across the entire Internet.
In its appeal, the RIAA asserts that there is no precedent that it “violates due process to assert specific jurisdiction over a defendant with such deep contacts in what he knows to be his third-biggest market world-wide, and there is no case holding unconstitutional the assertion of personal jurisdiction over a defendant with contacts that are so numerous and substantial.”
The appeal adds, “The district court’s decision thus gives carte blanche to Internet pirates to set up shop outside of the United States, safe in the knowledge that they are effectively immune from the reach of U.S. courts seeking to vindicate the rights of U.S. plaintiffs for violations of U.S. copyright law, even as they cater to U.S. users.”
Plaintiffs in this case included UMG, Capitol, Warner Bros., Atlantic, Elektra, Fueled by Ramen, Nonesuch, Sony Music, Sony Music Latin, Arista, LaFace and Zomba. The record labels believed the court had jurisdiction in the case because many of the site’s U.S. visitors originated in Virginia, arguing that FLVTO’s geo-targeted ads meant it was purposefully targeting Virginians and others in the U.S.
The two sites, with domains registered through Arizona-based GoDaddy, are free to use but earn revenue through ads, much of it geo-targeted based on a user’s location. The court found that the defendant does not have a commercial relationship with users because its revenue is derived from third party advertisers.
The labels argue that the websites are “highly interactive” due to the sheer volume of users, and that the court’s interpretation of a “typical commercial arrangement” on the internet was overly simplistic.
“Many of the Internet’s most popular sites generate revenue not from directly charging users, but rather by enticing millions of use with ‘free’ content and then selling advertisements to entities wishing to target this captive audience,” the appeal states. “A typical commercial arrangement on the Internet is thus a three-way relationship: Websites attract users with content; users access content on the websites and make available their “eyeballs” and “data”; and websites and their advertisers send ads to these “eyeballs,” often using user-specific data (such as location) to make the ads more effective.
The RIAA’s appeal goes on, “To isolate the content from the revenue-generating advertisements as the district court did here would be to say that Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and countless other Internet companies’ relationships with their users is non-commercial. That position is absurd.”
Janelle Monáe Leads The Revolution In Stirring ‘Turntables’ Video
YouTube “We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.” That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic…
“We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.”
That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic refrain with clear gospel influences. It’s Monáe’s take on a contemporary protest song, a call for a political sea change, in the vein of, say, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
Courtesy of Atlantic RecordsAnd on Tuesday (September), Monáe released a moving music video — or, as she calls it, an emotion picture — that solidified that message. The visual opens and closes with the singer walking along the beach in a beige trench coat and military cap. At times, she can be seen singing into a retro microphone before an American flag; in others, she moves through staged breakfast scenes, with a family reading through newspaper headlines as they mouth her lyrics. The visual flashes through archival and contemporary footage depicting inspirational figures past and present: Where one scene shows the model and activist Jillian Mercado at a photo shoot, another depicts a conversation with lifelong activist Angela Davis.
What rings true without is a hopeful cry for change and for equality, and a recognition of those who have been leading that fight for decades. Monáe wrote “Turntables” for the new Amazon Studios documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, that shines a light on voter suppression, particularly through the lens of Stacey Abrams’s failed bid for the Georgia governorship. “Right now, I am focused on turning the election in our favor,” Monáe told Entertainment Weekly, “and I hope this song can inspire those who are on the ground doing the work.”
Joe Keery’s Reinvention, Mxmtoon’s Carly Rae Jepsen Collab, And More Songs We Love
Getty Images/April Blum The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new? Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by…
Getty Images/April Blum
The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new?
Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by genre and can include anything — it’s a snapshot of what’s on our minds and what sounds good. We’ll keep it fresh with the latest music, but expect a few oldies (but goodies) every once in a while, too. Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
St. Vincent ft. Yoshiki: “New York”
St. Vincent, the intuitive musical goddess that she is, must have sensed our collective need for another quarantine ballad. Enter “New York [Feat. Yoshiki],” a classical arrangement of the standout single from 2017’s Masseduction. An added string section courtesy of Yoshiki, a Japanese multi-instrumentalist, beautifully complements the song’s original piano instrumentals. What more can I say? “New York isn’t New York / Without you, love” just hits different in the middle of a pandemic. —Sam Manzella
Djo: “Keep Your Head Up”
Last year, Joe Keery (of Stranger Things fame) released a glossy solo album under the moniker Djo. It was titled Twenty Twenty, and its sparkling arrangements ended up being quite far removed from the overall vibe of 2020 the year, but who could fault him for his optimism? Keery has also long been a contributing member of Chicago psych band Post Animal, but Djo is simply Joe — and latest “Keep Your Head Up” feels like several Joes ripping open a vortex in the funk-time continuum. This is a groove, peppered with buzzy synths and icy falsetto and an honest-to-god sax part. It’s akin to Todd Terje doing Tame Impala, a lightheaded cocktail rush that feels both clubby and bedroom ambitious. Positively galactic. —Patrick Hosken
Mxmtoon ft. Carly Rae Jepsen: “OK On Your Own”
When Mxmtoon’s Maia said she recorded “OK On Your Own” for the girls and the gays, she wasn’t kidding. The mellow bedroom-pop bop soundtracks a journey of self-reflection after a breakup, complete with the soft ukulele instrumentals that put the 19-year-old singer-songwriter on the map. Is it revelatory? No, but with pop icon Carly Rae Jepsen lending her sugary-sweet vocals to the second verse, it doesn’t have to be. Now I’m just waiting for “Party for Two.” —Sam Manzella
Video Age: “Aerostar”
Pleasure Line, the third album from emerging indie pop quartet Video Age, delivers perfectly escapist ’80s new wave vibes for when you need to get outta 2020 for just a moment. “Aerostar” is its punchy center, a hip-twisting, shoulder-shuffling groove that delivers quirky robot dance commands (“Slide to the left, now! Shimmy to the right!”) over hoppin’ funk synths and a kickin’ drum machine. It all harkens to a simpler time, one where dance floors were actually a real thing. Oh, the ’80s! —Terron Moore
Ruel: “As Long As You Care”
About a year ago, Australian middle-part heartthrob Ruel told MTV News that for him, “songwriting is exaggerating to an extent.” On his latest, the technicolor, soulful “As Long As You Care,” his exaggeration is so seamless, you’d be forgiven for believing the 17-year-old is actually a time traveler. The neo-soul groove he rides propels everything upward, even as the sound cheekily looks backward. “As Long As You Care” has one amazing hook, coupled with sonic candy that makes his upcoming third EP, Bright Lights, Red Eyes (out October 23) one to watch. —Patrick Hosken
Alycia Bella ft. Boogie: “Cue the Sun”
Something magical happens two-and-a-half minutes into “Cue the Sun,” the exploratory new collab between striking R&B voice Alycia Bella and rapper Boogie. After piping in the aural equivalent of stage smoke via jazzy piano and gorgeous vocalizations — “It feel like being lost in the right direction” — Bella’s song enters a more sparkly realm for Boogie’s recitations. By the end, you’re lighter, like your mind’s been cleared of all the cobwebs. Cue the sun. —Patrick Hosken
Carly Rae Jepsen
Who Are You Most Excited to See Perform at the 2020 ACM Awards? Vote!
The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will welcome back Taylor Swift and present a new collaboration from the evening’s host Keith Urban and P!nk on Wednesday, Sept. 16. But which one of the highly anticipated performances are you counting down the hours to? Nine-time ACM Award winner Swift, whose latest studio album Folklore has topped the Billboard 200 for six…
The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will welcome back Taylor Swift and present a new collaboration from the evening’s host Keith Urban and P!nk on Wednesday, Sept. 16. But which one of the highly anticipated performances are you counting down the hours to?
Nine-time ACM Award winner Swift, whose latest studio album Folklore has topped the Billboard 200 for six weeks, will come back for the first time in seven years to perform the country-leaning fan-favorite track “Betty.” Meanwhile, 15-time ACM Award winner Urban and Pink will come together for the world television premiere of their brand new collaboration “One Too Many,” which is from the country star’s forthcoming album, The Speed of Now, Part 1.
Billboard broke the news Monday (Sept. 14) that all five nominees for entertainer of the year — Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett — will take the stage to perform a medley of their greatest hits. Additionally, ACM’s freshly crowned new male and female artist of the year winners Riley Green and Tenille Townes, respectively, will also perform.
For the first time in the awards show’s history, the ACMs will be broadcast live from Nashville, with socially distanced performances from the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.
The 55th ACM Awards will air live Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. ET (delayed for the West Coast) on CBS and CBS All Access. (The event is produced by dick clark productions, which shares a parent company with Billboard.)
So which of the performances can’t you wait to see? Vote below!