Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Can a cover version have more than one original?

At first sight a trivial question which you would answer with a clear "no" in the first impulse. The original only exists once. You can argue which song came out first, but that one is the original.

So far, so simple – but unfortunately it's not that simple in the world of music. The best example that currently causes us headaches in the editorial staff are the so-called "Sanremo cases" in our database. In the early decades of the Sanremo Music Festival, it was organized from the beginning as a composer and not as an performer competition. It was common that a song was presented by two different artists to the audience and the jury. The award went to the composer and to the song, and thus to both performers.

Many songs of the festival – and not only the winning titles – became world hits and thus were covered many times. This of course brings us to the dilemma that we can't determine exactly which artist sang the original. So far, we have avoided this decision, especially since in the old version of our database it would have been very difficult to register two originals for cover versions. So there are currently 344 "Sanremo cases" without directly assigned performers in the database where the two performers are mentioned only in the comment.

In theory it is possible to allow two originals, but do we want that? Not really, but of course we try to find a feasible solution. We already had the idea to take the song which was performed first at the festival as the original and its second performance with the other artist as the cover. But unfortunately the sources available on the Net don't give any reliable information about the order in which the songs were presented.

Hence our question to all music lovers who know and use our site: What do you think about the idea that there could be two originals? Or should we stick to the current strict principle and simply choose one original? Is there anyone among you who has more detailed information about the Sanremo Music Festival, someone who perhaps knows sources that document the order of appearances?

The "Sanremo cases" are not the only ones that sometimes make us wonder. In the Disney cartoon "Aladdin" the song "A Whole New World" is performed by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane. But it's played a second time, at the end of the movie during the whole time of the credits. But this time Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle are the artists. In this case it was relatively easy for us after a short discussion to enter the version by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane as the original as their interpretation is played in the film before Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle. The soundtrack album with both songs was released after the movie premiere and so there was also a disc for the cover version.

It gets funny when the soundtrack album appears before the movie premiere. And there is such a case, even with the similar constellation of a double interpretation. In the Disney cartoon "The Lion King" there is the song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" performed by a whole ensemble of singers.

Now the soundtrack album was released on May 31, 1994, but the movie premiere was on June 15, 1994. So for us the album counts as the sound carrier for the original song. The only problem is that both on the album and in the movie the song appears a second time, again during the credits. This time it was sung by Elton John together with another group of artists.

Since the album was released first, we can't say: In the movie the song runs at the end, so this is the cover version. Someone can easily play the last song of the CD at the beginning and listen to the last track first. But in this case we have the good "fortune" that the version with Elton John has the title "Can You Feel The Love Tonight (End Title)", so it is really a cover version for us, even if it is on the same record. And like so many cover versions, this one has overtaken the original in popularity.

Dear music lovers, this little excursion should just illustrate that it is not always that easy to determine what is the original and what is the cover version. But our question to the COVER.INFO community remains: Can you help us with information regarding the "Sanremo cases"? What's your opinion about the approach to relate a cover song to two originals?

We hope for a lot of feedback, there is enough space for comments on this article.
/AME

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Katy Perry must pay compensation in the millions

A Los Angeles court awarded 2.7 million dollars as compensation to rapper Marcus Gray a.k.a. Flame because Katy Perry used an element from his 2008 "Joyful Noise" in her 2013 song "Dark Horse". The record company is said to have earned 31 million dollars, and Katy Perry 3.2 million dollars from the number 1 hit. The record company now has to pay 1.2 million dollars, Katy Perry 0.55 million dollars, the rest has to be provided by other partners.

In the legal dispute that has lasted since 2014, the jury came to the conclusion that the copied beat is an independent work, whereas Perry's lawyer had denied that the beat had the necessary level of creativity. Perry had denied having known the song. (Source [German])
/TWA

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

European Court of Justice: Sampling is allowed if it is not recognizable when listening

Once again there is a new judgement in the long lasting dispute about the sample in Sabrina Setlur's song "Nur mir" which was produced by Moses Pelham in 1997. We've been reporting about the case since 2008. This time, no lesser than the European Court of Justice decided after the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) had referred some questions about the interpretation of the Copyright Directive (Directive 2001/29).

Members of the German electro band Kraftwerk had sued because Pelham had sampled about two seconds of a rhythm sequence from the title "Metall auf Metall" (Metal On Metal) and placed it under the title "Nur mir" (Only Me) in continuous repetition, although they would have been able to play the adopted rhythm sequence themselves. They are of the opinion that Pelham infringed their copyright-related right as a phonogram producer. Kraftwerk demanded prohibitory injunction, damages, the provision of information and the surrender of the phonograms for the purposes of their destruction.

The European Court of Justice (29 July 2019, C-476/17) ruled that the reproduction by a user of an audio fragment of a phonogram – even a very short one – is in principle to be regarded as a reproduction "in part" of that phonogram and is therefore subject to the phonogram producer's rights. If, however, a user takes an audio fragment from a phonogram in the exercise of freedom of the art in order to use it in a new work in a modified form which cannot be recognized when listening to it, such use does not, in the Court's view, constitute a reproduction of the phonogram. According to the Court, the technique of electronically copying audio fragments (sampling), whereby a user takes an audio fragment from a phonogram – usually with the aid of electronic equipment – and uses it to create a new work, is an artistic form of expression which falls within the freedom of the arts. The Court of Justice justifies its weighting in favor of the freedom of the arts by understandably stating that the opposing interpretation would, in particular, enable the phonogram producer to oppose a third party taking an audio fragment – even a very short one – from its phonogram for the purpose of artistic creation, even though such sampling would not interfere with the opportunity which the producer has of realizing satisfactory returns on his investment. In other words: Just because a song is sampled briefly doesn't mean that nobody wants to buy the original song anymore.

When excercising freedom of the arts, one may therefore, when creating a new work, take an audio fragment (sample) from a phonogram and change it in such a way that it is not recognizable in the new work when one listens to it.

In addition, the European Court of Justice found that the right under German copyright law (§ 24 UrhG) to create an independent work in the free use of another's work and to publish and exploit it without the consent of the author of the used work is contrary to the Directive because it is not an exception to copyright allowed under the Directive. Pelham could therefore not rely on the corresponding provision of German copyright law.

Furthermore, the Court found that the rules on quotations does not apply to those samples which could not be identified in the new work.

It is now up to the Federal Court of Justice to make a decision in the case on the basis of the questions answered by the European Court of Justice.
/TWA

Friday, July 5, 2019

What does the new COVER.INFO logo stand for?

Originally, coverinfo.de's logo, in the letter "o", has expressed the idea of reusing since 2001: melodies come back again and again throughout history, are "recycled" again and again.


This reusing is also expressed in the logo that has been applied since 2003. The three arrows arranged in a triangle stand for recycling. The musical note stands for the melodies that are recycled in the form of cover versions or musical quotations.


This logo survived the relaunch of the website in 2007 (see in detail our anniversary article "20 Years of COVER.INFO"). This meant that the recycling logo was in use from 2003 to 2018, for almost 15 years – longer than any other at coverinfo.de.


It was now obvious to continue using the logo for the new COVER.INFO in a similar form, especially for the sake of better recognition. However, for the new website the logo did not seem modern and simple enough. Above all, the association with recycling was no longer wanted. There was a worry that the symbol would be associated with something negative, namely garbage.

The compromise then was to abstract the old logo in such a way that the old triangular shape and the musical note would be preserved, but that it could no longer be associated with garbage.


The triangle with the top pointing upwards now symbolizes the new way of representation on COVER.INFO, namely the chronological one that has replaced the table view from the old coverinfo.de: at the top there is a melody, an original. In the run of time this melody is covered or quoted more and more often by other songs. The pyramid becomes wider and wider at its base. The box under the original with the follow-up songs becomes literally longer and longer.
/TWA

Thursday, June 27, 2019

After 50 years: Dispute over Pippi Longstocking

In 1969 Rosy Teen & Orchestra Eric Frantzen singing "Hey, Pippi Langstrumpf" covered the Swedish title song for a TV series, "Här kommer Pippi Långstrump" by Inger Nilsson. The song was composed by Jan Johansson, the Swedish lyrics are written by Astrid Lindgren and the German lyrics by Wolfgang Franke.

The two lyricists have long since passed away. As SPIEGEL ONLINE has now made known, the heirs of Astrid Lindgren have been taking action since 2017 against the music publisher which holds the rights to the German version of the Pippi Longstocking song. Now the case is pending at Hamburg District Court because Lindgren's heirs believe that the German lyrics lack the necessary permission. It is not a simple translation, but a modification requiring approval.

For example, the Swedish original literally says: "That's not bad, I have a monkey, a horse and a villa, and it's also good to have a suitcase full of money", but the German text formulates: "I have a house, a colorful house, a little monkey and a horse, they look out the window from there".
/TWA

Sunday, June 16, 2019

An expensive cover version

Metallica played the carnival hit "Viva Colonia" by De Höhner at their concert in Cologne (Germany) on June 13th. But that will become expensive now.

As Bild reported, the German collecting society GEMA collects a fee of 7,000 EUR for it. These would be calculated from the income from the Metallica concert. It can be assumed that 50,000 tickets were sold for an average price of 100 EUR.

German band De Höhner is proud according to the Bild report that such a well-known US-American band is singing their song and now wants to make a Cologne version of "Nothing Else Matters": "Alles andere zählt nit".
/TWA




Sunday, June 9, 2019

Contact forms in test mode

In the old coverinfo.de there were forms with which you could send us corrections and new songs. In the new COVER.INFO we now also test such forms. Initially, you will only find forms for correcting existing entries and for adding initial or follow-up songs to existing entries. You can find the forms on the Song Page under the link "Report error / contribute".



But with the new database, the whole thing is not as trivial as it used to be. The dabatase has become much more complicated with many more data fields. The balancing act is to offer you an understandable form that you can fill out without having to go through a training course for COVER.INFO editors, but at the same time to retrieve the data in a way that allows us to internally work with it as efficiently as possible.

We will now gain experience with this first version of the forms and optimize them over time. You are welcome to write in the comments below if you have difficulties with the forms.
/TWA

Sunday, April 14, 2019

20 years of COVER.INFO – a journey through time

Do you remember what it looked like here 20 years ago? We are proud to show you the originals of cover versions for two decades already. The beginnings are a bit embarrassing today, but we nevertheless look back on them with you.

The origins

In April 1999 two schoolboys, Thomas Wagner and Aaron Praktiknjo, wanted to put a homepage on the Internet, because it was just "in". It should be a site that benefits the general public. And because there was a cover version on the radio – which wasn't unusual in the 90s, because there were many cover versions in the charts at that time – the idea for the topic of the homepage was born: cover versions in the charts.

Brainstorming and an additional screening of the current Top 100 resulted in around 50 cover versions, each of which was compared with the (presumed) original in tabular form with their artist and title. Everything else was done by Thomas Wagner. On April 14, 1999, he finally created a banner with the name of the site on a colorful background and uploaded everything to the web server of his Internet access provider. As the path http://www1.inetmail.de/w9000185/cover/ was difficult to remember, a short and easier to remember subdomain had to be found at a provider where you could redirect to the more complicated path for free. So the subdomain cover.here.de was created. Of course, this address was also registered at two dozen search engines.

The visitors of the website – which in the beginning was in German only  were asked to report additions by e-mail. And it did not take long, until not only the site was found, but after some days also already the first people made submissions, which Thomas Wagner maintained in regular intervals.

Fast growth

From old backups we know today that on August 30, 1999, only four and a half months later, we already had 1,346 entries together. While on the first day everything had been on a single HTML page with olive-green background, this would not have made sense anymore, because the loading times would have been too long. (With the so-called 56k modem one actually reached about 40 kbit/s, similar to when today the mobile Internet was restricted). So the cover version list was divided into 5 lists, which interestingly were sorted by cover artists, not by songs. This was not a real database, but simply a listing in tables on HTML pages. That looked like this – with a newly created navigation frame:





There was no search function yet. One was completely dependent on the corresponding functionality of the web browser. With increasing growth and ongoing subdivision of the cover version list, it became more and more difficult to find the right list to search in.

Finally, on March 5, 2000, the sorting was changed to one by cover titles, and each initial letter (as well as the numbers 0-9 and the rest) got its own list. On this day a search function finally came up,which displayed all found entries from the list.

In the middle of April 2000 the 2000th cover version was already registered. It was the Jetzendorfer Hinterhof-Musikanten with "La Bamba", one of about 40 other versions of this song that were included in the list at that time. (By the way, it is not known why the entry was created later anew and is now in the database with the creation date March 7, 2004.)



Since the end of May 2001 Thomas Wagner was no longer alone with the maintenance of the website. Herbert Zach joined him and has remained a hard-working member of the editorial staff until today. Herbert had gotten to know the website on May 28, 1999 thanks to the presentation in the television show NBC GIGA and had since then regularly contributed to the dataset by e-mail.


The new domain coverinfo.de

On June 9, 2001, paid web space for the operation of the website was rented for the first time. In this context, the website cover.here.de should receive its own domain.


The desired domain would have been cover.de, but it was given to a cover band called COVER. From the news headlines it was known that there would soon be a new top-level domain: .info, which would not start until June 26, 2001. Aware of this news, the wish came up to get the domain cover.info, but you couldn't order it on June 9th. For this reason, the combination coverinfo.de was chosen as domain. Two weeks later coverinfo.de joined the discussion forum of Coverversion.de.





The site hasn't been called "Cover versions in the charts" since then, because we had long ago moved away from the initial list of songs that made it into the charts.

On September 29, 2001 we started to distinguish musical quotations (samples and replayed elements) from the cover versions in the list. Records which are full cover versions now had a "C" for cover and the others a "S" for sample in the right column (from April 28, 2003 instead a "Z" for the generic term "quote" [German: Zitat], which includes samples).

Overloaded technology

Since 2002 coverinfo.de was a little brighter and a little less colorful. In April 2002, 3 years after the launch of the website, we already had over 19,400 entries.

At that time, the whole thing was still not a real database, but a search in HTML pages, which was far from performant, which eventually brought the server to its knees.





Finally a real database

On July 1, 2002, there was finally an end to collecting the data in a large Excel file and exporting it to HTML files for the web server at more or less regular intervals using virtual basic scripts. Our MySQL database was launched. This reduced the response time of the search function and since then, changes to the database go live immediately and not after several days.





Behind the scenes we worked with Microsoft Access 2000, which was connected to the MySQL database via an ODBC interface. All the technical solutions that had been in use since 2000 were developed for us by a few hard-working users of the website. We thank Achim Kaiser, Gerd Nachtsheim, Mike Wilhelm and Björn Hutzler. Without them coverinfo.de would never have come this far, which is why we thank them for their work.

It's getting more professional

On September 1, 2003, the website presented itself for the first time in a professional looking design, which was donated to us by a user of the site, Marcel C.








In the meantime, our team had been enriched by further editors, so that after 5 years, in April 2004, almost 57,000 cover versions and quotations could be collected.

Holger Kung's work

But on October 4, 2007, the website was relaunched for the first time completely by the editorial staff itself, more precisely by its member Holger Kung. The essential design elements of the site designed by Marcel C. were preserved.





Technically, the site was completely redeveloped. This was accompanied by an improvement in the database search function, which was now more intuitive to use than before. Another new feature was that, to make it clearer at first glance, the database now displayed covers in bold type and musical quotations in lean type.

For the first time, there was a web interface for the editorial staff with which the database could be edited, so that platform-dependent additional software was no longer necessary, but a browser was sufficient. Nowadays such a thing is almost taken for granted.

After 10 years of continuous work, we had collected more than 181,000 entries in April 2009. We suffered a bitter blow on April 23, 2010, when his girlfriend told us about Holger Kung's death. His work – the redevelopment of the website and database in 2007 and a list of artists that could be mixed up – lived on for many years. His entries, which he contributed to the database, will hopefully last forever.

Unfortunately, Holger did not leave any detailed documentation of his development work. It was therefore not practicable to continue his work. However, as the size of the database increased, the solution he developed came up against its limits. On September 14, 2010 we listed 200,000 entries, on November 5, 2012 already 250,000, on June 16, 2015 even 300,000, on July 15, 2017 impressive 350,000 entries. With workarounds, the system's limitations could still be pushed back for some time, so that it continued to run with hardly noticeable limitations for the user. Towards the end of 2017, however, it was no longer possible to maintain a reliably functioning search function. Increasingly, users were only able to see part of the data records matching their search.

Today's COVER.INFO

Fortunately, at that time our editor Falko Rickmeyer, who had meanwhile been trained as a software developer, was already in the process of completely redeveloping the website – together with Adrian Semmler, who helped to design the website, and Thomas Wagner, supported by the rest of the editorial staff, who contributed ideas for redesigning the data output. For the first time in the website's history, there was no longer a table view with cover versions on the left and originals on the right, but a chronological presentation that made it possible to display chains such as cover versions that have an original that samples another song which for his part quotes another song. For the first time, this new design also features a mobile view for usability on smartphones.

On May 6, 2018, the redesigned website went online, and finally under the domain name we had dreamed of since 2001, but which had already been taken at an early stage: COVER.INFO. A domain other than coverinfo.de was necessary for the new concept anyway, because from now on the site was to be internationally oriented and therefore also made available completely in English (besides German), so that a regional domain extension would no longer fit.



The new presentation has a disadvantage, which is why there were complaints from the users: It was no longer possible to see at a single glance which songs were covered by which artists or who covered their songs. You had to click each song individually to find out. We fixed this with the extended artist view that went live on July 19, 2018. It now offers on artist pages under the link "go to table view..." again a tabular representation of all songs of an artist – but now according to the new chronological concept the other way round than before with originals on the left and cover versions on the right.


COVER.INFO is still undergoing technical development in order to increase the range of functions and user-friendliness both for the public and for the editorial staff who maintains the data. Since June 1, 2018, the task of coordinating this has fallen to the non-profit association COVER.INFO n. e. V., who took over the responsibility for the maintenance of the website from Thomas Wagner. In this way, the dependence of the website on an individual is to be minimized to make it future-proof. In addition, tax-privileged donations for the maintenance of the website become possible.

The anniversary year at COVER.INFO

We have planned to present you more background information about us here in the blog in the next months.

But now we're asking you! What from the history of 20 years of COVER.INFO do you still remember? Since when do you know us? Write it down in the comments under this article. The comment function is the replacement for the discussion forum which was closed on May 24, 2018.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

EU copyright reform approved: less diversity on the Internet

The European Parliament today adopted the Copyright Directive, rejecting any amendment to the latest draft. This provides the basis for the destruction of diversity on the Internet.

The main criticism of the reform is Article 13 (after the final numbering Article 17). It is addressed to online content-sharing service providers – in particular YouTube and other social networks, but also forum operators. In the future, these providers will have to ensure that authors can put their works, for which they do not want to grant a licence to the provider, on a blacklist and achieve that these contents cannot be published on the platform. Some call it an upload filter, while others call it recognition software.

Article 17 makes service providers liable for copyright infringements insofar as they do not reasonably prevent such infringements. Those who do not have their own recognition software or cannot have it developed, will have to buy such filter services in order to avoid the liability risk. The platforms for which this is not profitable are very likely to close.

Another possible scenario is that instead of developing filtering software, providers will only allow selected, trusted users on the platform who they believe will not commit copyright infringements. YouTube could also do this. The company already has one of the best detection softwares in the world, but only for movies and music. The new Copyright Directive requires all works to be recognized, including texts, photos, sculptures, performances, and so on. Whether YouTube will further develop its software for the European market or instead delete small YouTube channels is not known.

For COVER.INFO, deleting small YouTube channels would mean losing many of the over 200,000 audio clips of songs hosted on YouTube linked to our database. Not all songs were uploaded by the copyright holders themselves, but there are also many record collectors who make sold-out records available to the interested public via YouTube. This archive of cultural assets threatens to be deleted.

In order to exclude this danger, another regulation would have been preferable, for example one that excludes providers from liability if they have concluded licence agreements with the major collecting societies, without, however, excluding the possibility that authors conclude licence agreements directly with the providers.

The detection software (or upload filters), however, also bring with them another great danger: the problem of false detections, which could also block legitimate content (so-called overblocking). For example, videos with rights-free piano music from composers who have been dead for a long time can be blocked because a record company has put a similar-sounding recording of the same piece on the blacklist. Or a song contains the purring of a cat and users can therefore no longer upload cat videos.

No matter how the providers implement the new specifications: The copyright reform will probably result in a noticeable decline in the variety of offers on the Internet.
/TWA

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Save your Internet from the new Copyright Directive! [UPDATE 03/22/2019]

The EU wants to endanger freedom of expression on the Internet with an inadequate copyright directive. The German government gave the green light for this in the Council of the European Union even in violation of the coalition agreement. The implementation of the directive could lead to censorship on Internet platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, but also in Internet forums and comment areas under newspaper and blog articles in order to rule out copyright infringements. It's not too late to protest. On March 26, the European Parliament will vote on the directive.

The final draft of the Copyright Directive has triggered a huge wave of protests on the Internet, especially among young people, which has largely gone unheard by traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. This only changed this week, after several thousand people in different mainly German cities had been bringing their protests from the Internet onto the streets and demonstrating mainly against Article 13 of the directive for a good two weeks. The demonstrations will continue this weekend.

In its German section, the website www.savetheinternet.info announces the current dates for demos in Germany.

Article 13 is the main point of criticism of the new DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. COVER.INFO first reported on November 8, 2018. Meanwhile, the final version of the draft has leaked and will be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote on March 26.

Unfortunately, this is the worst possible version of the draft, as it threatens the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Currently, platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter work in such a way that users are responsible for protecting copyright. If the user infringes third-party rights when uploading, he is liable, but not the platform, if it deletes the content immediately as soon as it becomes aware of it.

Article 13 now requires online content sharing service providers to ensure that content can only be published if the respective platform (!) has permission from the copyright holder to do so.

Each platform should now try to acquire the rights from the authors. On this point, the directive requires something that is practically impossible. Every platform would have to try to conclude contracts with every author in the world, regardless of whether they were pictures, music, texts or other works.

Where the rights cannot be obtained, the platform should make best efforts to prevent the publication of works for which the rights could not be acquired. Otherwise, the platform shall be liable for copyright infringements.

But here, too, the proposal for the directive demands something impossible. How is a platform supposed to know whether a user upload infringes copyright? The best efforts it can make is to use so-called upload filters. This means that an algorithm compares uploaded content with known works and blocks the content if it matches. Such a computer program cannot detect whether the use of a third-party work was permitted and would therefore also block permitted use such as in satirical works or as a quotation. Especially expressions of opinion live from dealing with the opinions of others and quoting them for this purpose. Upload filters thus attack freedom of expression.

However, these filters can only block content they know. In order to store and synchronize the entire works, immense storage and computing capacities are required that only large companies can afford. Nevertheless, a liability risk remains if the filter fails because it does not know works and therefore does not recognize them or for other reasons.

YouTube already has such a filter for comparison with copyrighted films and music. It is regarded as the best and most expensive upload filter in the world, but even this filter would not meet the requirements of the directive and would have to be developed further. For example, it would have to have images and texts in its repertoire and would also have to be able to detect them in videos. Nevertheless, anyone using YouTube's filter would certainly meet the requirements of the directive to make best efforts. Therefore, we have to fear that YouTube will make the use of its filter available to other providers and thus become even more powerful, because now the contents of the other platforms are transferred to YouTube who can collect even more data.

But not every platform will be able to afford upload filters. According to the directive, however, even a newly founded platform will have to meet the requirements after three years at the latest – no matter how profitable it is. The Internet will probably be unrecognizable, especially if Article 13 of the directive is adopted, because many platforms in Europe would have to close their doors. The big ones that remain may only allow selected people to publish content; those they can trust they will not infringe copyrights.

The young people who are taking to the streets in Germany these days are protesting mainly against the parties CDU/CSU and SPD. The reason for this is that the representatives of these parties intend to vote for the copyright reform with their controversial Article 13 in the European Parliament on March 26, even though they had stipulated in the current coalition agreement that they would oppose upload filters because they considered them to be disproportionate. The German government, on the other hand, has already voted in favor of the reform in the Council of the European Union because it is predominantly reasonable. It accepted that Article 13 was not sufficiently clearly formulated.

Another criticism of the reform, by the way, is Article 11, which could also lead to the Web soon looking different from what it does today. In many social media it is now common for a hyperlink to be posted with a thumbnail and a short excerpt of the link's destination. Result pages of news search engines are also based on this principle. Article 11 requires that press publishers be given the right to demand payment if the link target is their site.

The press therefore has an interest in presenting the copyright reform as something useful. It would probably have preferred not to report on it at all, as long as heated discussions were conducted on the Internet only. Now that people are taking them to the streets, the press feels obliged to report, but in some cases, the press presents it as if the demonstrators were just children and adolescents who had been instrumentalized by YouTube. CDU politicians have even denied that the many complaining e-mails they received about the copyright reform came from people. They accused Google, as the operator of YouTube, of having generated and sent these e-mails through bots, i.e. computer programs. This can be seen from the fact that the mails were predominantly sent from Gmail addresses. The fact that this is simply because YouTube users as Google customers also have Google Mail accounts is ignored consciously.

While there will be demonstrations in some German cities this weekend and next, Europe-wide demonstrations against the copyright reform are planned for March 23. As Julia Reda, member of the European Parliament of the Pirate Party, told us, Manfred Weber (CDU), the leading candidate of the European People's Party, is said to have tried to accelerate the vote on the directive, so that the European Parliament can anticipate the citizens' protests and create accomplished facts. In any case, the version of the directive to be submitted to the Parliament has not yet been translated into all the official languages of the EU. However, the English version of the working paper was not officially made available to the public either, so that a substantive debate on the directive could only take place after it had been unofficially leaked to the outside world.

The idea of reforming copyright law, adapting it to today's realities and providing authors with appropriate remuneration is to be welcomed. Most opponents of Article 13 also see it that way. However, the provision in Article 13 is quite simply unsuitable for achieving this objective. On the contrary, it threatens to destroy the Internet in its present form, with which many creative authors earn their living. Not only would a good entertainment network be lost, but if every platform were to filter on a large scale for fear of liability for copyright infringements, freedom of expression being one of the fundamental pillars of our democracy is endangered.

That is why it is important to raise our voices and protest against Article 13 of the Copyright Directive. The locations and dates of the demos can be found at https://savetheinternet.info/demos.

Update March 22, 2019:
The draft of the directive has been finalized now with new numbering. Article 11 is Article 15 now (page 116 of the linked PDF file), and Article 13 becomes Artikel 17 (page 120). The term "online content-sharing service providers" in this last article is defined in Article 2 no. 6 (page 90). The European Parliament will vote about it on March 26. The translations into all official languages of the European Union are finished now. Julia Reda explains how to find them.

/TWA

Friday, February 15, 2019

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" – the Story of a Legend

Elvis Presley once called it the saddest song he'd ever heard. Hank Williams was certainly not a happy person when he wrote this song and recorded it in Cincinnati on August 30, 1949. He is still considered one of the greatest, if not the absolute greatest singer of the country scene and his songs are still covered by countless artists.

He got only 29 years old, had 35 singles in the top 10 of the Country & Western Best Seller Charts, 11 of them even at number 1. Even though he was a brilliant musician, he was not a very happy person all his life. Coming from very simple backgrounds and handicapped from birth by a malformation of the spine (spina bifida), he had always the feeling of being detached from the world and different from the people around him.

He felt at home in the world of music, the music that came from the radio and that he heard in church. At the age of eight, he started playing the guitar and first appeared on the radio at 13. He had learned playing the guitar, which he soon mastered perfectly, from the street musician Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne, whom he had met in Georgina, Alabama, where the family had meanwhile moved to. Hank later called him his only teacher.

One year later he performed in talent shows and already had his own band – The Drifting Cowboys. For his musical career, he left school in 1939 and started working for the local radio station WSFA. He soon had his own show there, which lasted 15 minutes twice a week. But already at that time he drank and often appeared drunk to the broadcast dates, which is why the station quit him in August 1942.

His mother supported his musical career with all her might, drove him with his band to shows all over Alabama, which also drew the attention of the music scene in Nashville. But his constant back pain caused him to take pills on a massive scale and finally to drink alcohol, which was not advantageous to his reputation as a musician, which is why he was soon regarded everywhere as not very reliable.

His life took a decisive turn when he met Audrey Mae Sheppard in 1943, freshly divorced and mother of a young daughter. He taught her how to play bass and she joined his band. They got married in 1944 and on May 26, 1949 their son Hank Williams Jr. was born. But the marriage was in crisis again and again, because Audrey's relationship to Hank's mother was not uncomplicated. It seems that both women were often rivals in the fight for Hank's time and attention.

In 1946 Williams met the music publisher Fred Rose in Nashville who released Country & Western songs with his Acuff-Rose Company. Williams began writing songs for the singer Molly O'Day, which later leaded to a contract with Sterling Music and then with the newly formed MGM label. In 1947 he had his first top-10 hit "Move Over" which made it to number 4 in the charts. Even though the second hit "Honky Tonkin" in 1948 was only number 14, that year was the beginning of a breathtaking musical career for Hank.

But the success didn't get him well. His drug and alcohol consumption increased and he often appeared drunk on shows. Despite several arguments with Hank, Fred Rose stuck by him and made it possible for him to appear as a regular guest in the "Lousiana Hayride", a Saturday night show that a radio station in Shreveport regularly hosted.

The radio appearances increased Hank's popularity considerably and in 1949 he finally had his first number 1 hit in the Country & Western Charts with "Lovesick Blues". With it the success carousel accelerated enormously, fame and money gave him a freedom that the simple boy from the country could never have imagined. In the following years he wrote big hits like "Cold, Cold Heart", "Your Cheatin' Heart", "Hey Good Lookin'" or "Lost Highway". During this time he also began to write religious songs under the pseudonym "Luke the Drifter".

His self-doubt, his inner conflict and unfortunately his dependence on morphine and alcohol increased with his success. This dependence even grew when his marriage with Audrey failed in 1952. He married Billie Jean Jones Eshlimar in October of the same year and turned the wedding into a huge spectacle. His health and appearance deteriorated rapidly during this time. He lost a lot of hair and gained about 30 kilos.

On December 30, 1952, he collapsed before a concert in a hotel room in Knoxville, Tennessee. The doctor who examined him did not have any reservations and allowed him to travel to the planned New Year's concert in Canton, Ohio. As the weather did not permit a flight, he hired the student Charles Carr to drive him to Canton with Hank's blue Cadillac. Near Oak Hill, West Virginia, Carr was stopped at a police checkpoint and Hank was found lifeless in the back seat of the car. The cause of death was a heart attack, probably caused by excessive alcohol consumption along with the tablets taken.

His untimely death intensified the hype about his music and made him a legend. A whole series of his singles, which have risen to the charts, were only released after his death. His great role model Roy Acuff is said to have once told him: "Boy, your voice is worth millions, but you don't have brains for 10 cents". These millions are what his inheritance was worth, but also his musical talent has been passed on. His son Hank Williams Jr. became a very well-known country musician whose children Hank Williams III and Holy Williams also work as musicians.

The song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" best reflects his ever-present inner sadness. Released as the B-side of his hit "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" in November 1949, the song was not a chart hit, but it still became one of his most famous songs. For me it reflects the soul of this brilliant musician, who was a deeply sad man all his life despite his success.
/AME


Monday, January 7, 2019

Plagiarism allegations against Ed Sheeran

Last Thursday, a US judge has ruled that a jury has to decide whether Ed Sheeran is guilty of plagiarism for using parts of Marvin Gaye’s "Let's Get It On" in his song "Thinking Out Loud" from the album "X" (spoken "Multiply").

Ed Sheeran requested to dismiss the lawsuit but the judge found "substantial similarities between several of the two works' musical elements".

Indeed at least the two songs have a very similar rhythm. But the question the jury has to answer is whether the harmonic rhythm of "Let's Get It On" was deserving of copyright protection or whether it was too common.

Due to another song of the same album, "Photograph", there was a lawsuit with Matt Cardle who accused Ed Sheeran of plagiarism related to his song "Amazing". The parties agreed on a settlement whose content is not known by the public.

Sheeran had also been accused of plagiarism over a song of his album "÷" (spoken "Divide"), "Shape Of You". He later admitted to have used elements of the TLC song "No Scrubs". Furthermore the beginning of the song reminds the beginning of Tracy Chapman's "Mountain O' Things". Some also hear similarities to Sia's hit "Cheap Thrills".
/TWA

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

What did COVER.INFO do in 2018?

The programming work for the new COVER.INFO began in 2017. In 2018 we continued the intensive revision of the database content that had already begun in the 2017 Christmas season. The main thing is to adapt the data to the new structure (see our article of June 19, 2018 for details).

The beta phase of the new COVER.INFO began on May 6, 2018. We give a brief overview of the major changes we have made since then.

General terms

We introduced the term initial songs as general term for originals and sources of medleys, of samples and of quotations. Follow-up songs is the general term designating cover versions, medleys, samples and musical quotations.

Indication of the number of initial and follow-up songs

Beside songs we show you the number of initial songs (green up arrow) and follow-up songs (orange down arrow). Thus you can see immediately on how many others a song is based and if and how often it is used for later songs.

Help reworked

The Help has been written anew to make it shorter and more comprehensive.

Optimization of the labels

Labels indicate the type of relation between two songs. To enhance comprehensibility, we optimized the texts and colors of the labels. Pairs of terms belonging together ( Cover  –  Original  Sample  –  Sample Source  and so on) have the same color now. For initial songs the labels don't have partly the same text as for follow-up songs anymore. We added the word "Source" to those initial songs. For example instead of quote the initial song is called now quote source.

Table view

As wished by many of you, all songs performed by an artist can be seen in a table view now. You find it top right of artist pages (as long as your display is wide enough).

Sorting functions

At many places we added sorting functions to change the order of search results and to faster find what you are looking for. We think this should meet most requirements. This way, development of an extended search seems to be less important. Due to a lack of resources we will not pursue this plan for now and wait and see if the sorting functions will succeed.

Folksongs

We created the technical requirements to handle folksongs in a better way (see this example). Until now, we had dummy artist names such as "Folksong". Now we have to rework existing entries.

What's next?

COVER.INFO will still be developed in the future. We will make our home page more informative and introduce forms which allow to easily report corrections and additions for our database.

The editorial staff wants to rework in the next years as many entries as possible to enhance the data quality on COVER.INFO. Nowadays sources in the Internet are a lot better than they were when the older database entries have been created.

If you like to support us financially, please donate to our non-profit association.
/TWA