What.CD Shutdown, Instagram Live Videos and Prince and Roc Nation Lawsuit News, November 22 2016

The torrent site for rare music, What.CD was permanently shut down. Also, Instagram introduced a live video component. And Prince’s estate sued Roc Nation for alleged illegal streaming of the artist’s catalog on TIDAL.


close-up of an old music tape, symbol of old music technology


What.CD Shut Down Forever


Invitation-only torrent site What.CD shut down abruptly on November 17 after a raid of its servers in France, reported Rolling Stone.


A statement on the website read, “Due to some recent events, What.CD is shutting down. We are not likely to return anytime soon in our current form. All site and user data has been destroyed. So long, and thanks for all the fish.”


The final line of the message alluded to A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well as a similar good-bye from What’s former incarnation, OiNK, which shut down in October 2007. After this site was taken down, its founder and six users were arrested and charged with suspicion of “conspiracy to defraud the music industry.” What showed up several days later, built on a similar premise.


What.CD housed over one million unique torrents, including a large number of hard-to-find albums uploaded by users during the past nine years.


France’s cybercrime division, operating alongside the French music industry group SACEM raided What.CD’s servers on Thursday after investigating the operation for two years.


According to French magazine Zataz, no arrests were made, but the founder of What.CD likely lives in the U.K.


Instagram Entering the Live Video Space


Instagram announced today that its users will be able to share live videos within its new Stories feature, designed for disappearing posts.


Billboard said the move was announced just two weeks after Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom insinuated he was excited about introducing a live component to the platform. He added, “If I’m trying to strengthen relationships with someone I love, them streaming video to me live would be an amazing way to be closer to them.”


Live videos will roll out across the platform slowly worldwide in the next few weeks. They will broadcast to a person’s Instagram followers in the main feed, and people will be able to leave comments and likes during the broadcast. Unlike Facebook Live, live videos will not save once the broadcast ends.


Kevin Weil, head of product told The Hollywood Reporter, live video is part of a suite of new changes that takes Instagram away from focusing on large highlights and invites users to post about moments as they are happening. This concept also drives Stories, a Snapchat-like feature launched in August that now has over 100 million people using it daily.


Weil explained, “As the community grew, the feed became more of a pressure packed place … That was the genesis for Instagram Stories. It was the first pressure-free place in Instagram to share without worrying about posting too many times.


Weil also said, “What united Stories and Live is that both are about capturing the moments of your life as they happen and giving you the flexibility and the comfort to share exactly who you want to share with.”


The live online video space has become very competitive during the past year, with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all creating offerings. Twitter has focused on deals, featuring broadcasts of major events like NFL games and presidential debates. Facebook has been courting public figures and online publishers with cash in order to get them to post Live videos. Instagram’s plan is to make the format casual, tying it into Stories, a “low-pressure way” to reach out to friends and followers.


Instagram is also updating Direct, its private messaging platform with 300 million monthly users. Instagram will soon allow people to send photos and videos that disappear after being read to groups and one-on-one conversations via the feature.


Prince’s Estate Suing Roc Nation


On November 16, the administrator of Prince’s estate filed a copyright lawsuit against Jay Z’s Roc Nation for putting up 15 Prince albums on TIDAL, despite allegedly only briefly having rights to stream his last album. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Roc Nation insisted in probate court that it has a license deal that allows it to stream the entirety of the late artist’s catalog.


The complaint was filed in Minnesota federal court and states that Prince’s NPG Records came to an agreement on August 1, 2015 with Jay-Z-owned TIDAL. The lawsuit argues that TIDAL was only given a license to stream Prince’s newly-recorded studio album, Hit n Run for 90 days.


Roc Nation and TIDAL filed claims in probate court stating they were granted “the right to exclusively stream [Prince’s] entire catalog of music, with certain limited exceptions.”


NPG Records’ latest lawsuit indicated that Roc Nation has continued to ignore a number of requests to offer documentation or evidence of any oral and implied agreement granting exclusive rights to Prince’s larger catalog.


The new complaint stated, “For the avoidance of doubt, and without conceding that Roc Nation had any license, oral, implied, or otherwise, to exploit any Prince copyrighted works in addition to those songs on the Hit N Run: Phase 1 album, to the extent that any such license might exist, Bremer Trust, on behalf of NPG Records, Inc. and NPG Music Publishing, LLC, has terminated, in writing, any such license that might have existed.”


According to sources close to the matter, the administrator of Prince’s estate gave Universal Music Group the go-ahead to start negotiations with other digital distributors about licensing Prince’s catalog.


Roc Nation indicated in a November 11 court filing that any deals made with Spotify, Apple or other streaming services might be in violation of its rights. Jay Z’s company submitted a demand for information about the estate’s business dealings that stated the company is “concerned that the Special Administrator may be negotiating with third parties concerning the digital streaming o the Musical Assets, or other rights to exploit the Musical Assets, which prospective arrangements may contravene or negatively impact the rights of Petitioners.”


Roc Nation continues to insist it has “expansive rights” and has put out a threat to other who want to stream Prince’s album.


The total amount of damages requested by Prince’s estate in the lawsuit is thought to be around $18 million.

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