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The singer is known for her honesty in life and her music. Shes been talking about solitude, sobriety and how Quentin Tarantino convinced her to give up cocaine

Its been eight years since Fiona Apple last graced the world with a studio album, but an illuminating profile in the latest issue of the New Yorker, filled with a fair number of wild anecdotes involving her celebrity cohorts, serves to remind us of her brilliance. Here are six reasons why Apple is just the performer we need in this mixed-up, locked-down world.

She doesnt shy away from the difficult topics
Apple has said that her new album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is about women and not being afraid to speak. Throughout her career she has spoken, in her songs and in the press, about her issues with depression, self-harm, OCD, PTSD, and the fact that, when she was 12, she was raped by a stranger.

In so doing, she paved the way for other women to speak about their experiences, from Kesha to Lady Gaga, and on to the #MeToo movement.

She has the best story about giving up cocaine
Every addict should just get locked in a private movie theatre with QT [Quentin Tarantino] and PTA [Paul Thomas Anderson] on coke, she jokingly told the New Yorker magazine. And theyll never want to do it again.

She can teach us a thing or two about self-isolation
Apple doesnt venture out much these days, save to walk her dog along the beach near her home in Venice Beach, California.

She has learned how to live a little more wisely
Once a bottle-of-vodka-a-day level drinker, Apple is now sober and has been vegan for many years.

She knows her political onions
Last summer, Apple pledged two years worth of earnings from her song Criminal to the While They Wait fund, which finances legal support and necessities for immigrants seeking asylum. In 2017, she released Tiny Hands for the Womens March on Washington. She has said that one of her latest tracks, For Her, was written in a cloud of rage after the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court Justice.

She has her priorities straight
In late 2012, Apple postponed the South American leg of her tour due to the ill-health of her dog, Janet.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/mar/17/fiona-apple-six-reasons-she-is-the-perfect-artist-for-a-time-of-crisis

With Katy Perry and Led Zeppelins recent judgments reversing previous rulings, musicians dont know which way to tread

Have you written a song? A song so memorable that everyone who hears it starts humming it? A song so good it feels as though it has been around forever and you simply plucked it from the ether? Then a word of advice: get an expert to listen to it. Because somewhere, someone is going to be sure your song was copied from theirs.

An old music industry adage holds that where theres a hit, theres a writ. It was true in 1963, when the Beach Boys released Surfin USA, and Chuck Berry duly noted that the song was simply his own 1958 hit Sweet Little Sixteen with new lyrics (Berrys publisher, Arc Music, was granted the publishing rights, and from 1966 Berry was listed alongside Brian Wilson as a writer of the song). And its especially true now after several recent cases.

March alone saw two important judgments about music theft in appeals courts in California. First the ninth circuit court of appeals ruled that Led Zeppelins Stairway to Heaven did not crib from Taurus by Spirit. Then a federal court overturned last years jury verdict that Katy Perrys Dark Horse had stolen from the song Joyful Noise by the Christian rapper Flame.

Katy
Katy Perry performing Dark Horse in Los Angeles in 2014. A federal court in March overturned a 2019 verdict that the song had stolen from Flames Joyful Noise. Photograph: Youtube

Whats important, though, is not whether anyone was plagiarised, but whether a copyright was infringed. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are related but they are distinctly different, says Peter Oxendale, who has been a professional forensic musicologist someone who offers expert analysis of compositions for legal purposes for more than 40 years.

Copyright, for example, does not protect ideas but rather the fixed detailed expression of those ideas. Copyright infringement is a legal matter known as a tort, he says. Plagiarism, on the other hand, is an ethical matter and occurs when someone uses the ideas or works of someone else in their own work without giving the appropriate credit to the original source. The cases that come to court are not about plagiarism; theyre about infringement of copyright.

Members
Members of Led Zeppelin pictured in 1970. A US appeals court has found the bands Stairway to Heaven did not crib from Taurus by Spirit. Photograph: AP

The Zeppelin and Perry cases have been hailed as important because they appear to offer songwriters the latitude they seemed to have been denied by a crucial earlier trial. In December 2018 the long-running and highly controversial case involving the song Blurred Lines came to a close, when Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, two of the songs writers, were ordered to pay just short of $5m to the estate of Marvin Gaye, for Blurred Lines similarity to Gayes 1977 song Got To Give It Up.

Blurred Lines certainly stirred up the music community, says Joe Bennett, a forensic musicologist based at Berklee College of Music, in Boston. The reason it had so many musicians concerned is that the two songs are demonstrably different in their melodies, lyrics, and underlying chords. It hasnt set a legal precedent exactly, because every plagiarism case is judged on its individual merits, and every comparison is different, but it certainly has shifted the culture among songwriters, and made many worried about unintentional similarity leading to unfair accusations of copyright infringement.

What the Blurred Lines case did was to allow something previously unheard of: the notion that the feel of a record could be copyrighted. Given that the musician who didnt want to replicate the feel of a beloved record, if not its chords and melody, has yet to be born, the verdict sent shudders through the industry.

Much of the feel of a song is created by instrumentation, production techniques and other elements that many people consider to not be part of the song itself, says Peter Mason, a music law expert at the solicitors Wiggin LLP. The difference is starkly demonstrated by comparing Blurred Lines to the Stairway to Heaven case, in which the jury was limited to considering only the notes of the composition, as registered at the US copyright office.

Robin
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams performing at Miami Beach, Florida, in 2013. A court in 2018 ordered them to pay $5m to the estate of Marvin Gaye. Photograph: Startraks/Rex

Taking away the similarities in sound, feel or playing style reduced the similarity between the compositions. Importantly, much of what remained was commonplace and therefore not protected by copyright.

Nevertheless, says Oxendale, We are aware of a number of well-known clients who have been told to never cite the source of their inspiration in public or in print. This, in my view, has resulted in the stifling of creativity to the extent that inspiration is now being confused with appropriation.

Conversely, we are also seeing a growing number of instructions from clients who wish to pursue claims for infringement of copyright based on the use of nothing more than similar musical or lyrical ideas. I believe the Blurred Lines verdict has had a significant impact on the music industry as a whole and this is reflected in the number of cases coming into our office.

For all the high-profile court cases, though, many music copyright infringement claims never see the light of day. One major star who must remain nameless employed a musicologist for the specific purpose of listening to new releases in order to note any resemblance to their own works. The writer of any offending song received a polite note expressing the desire to avoid any embarrassment, and suggesting the whole matter might be resolved by a payment, without the need to shame the writer by going public or forcing a change to the songwriting credits.

Since the Blurred Lines case, notes Mason, other songwriters have pre-empted litigation by adding writers who might conceivably have had a claim to writing credits famously, Mark Ronsons worldwide hit Uptown Funk ended up with 11 writers. The average number of writers on hit songs has increased dramatically over the last five years or so, Mason says, and part of this is due to composers agreeing to add the authors of past songs that are somewhat similar.

Why, though, do all the best-known copyright infringement cases come from the worlds of pop and rock? After all, one rarely hears of classical composers fighting it out in court, or jazz players arguing furiously about whether one has ripped off the others saxophone solo.

I think there are two reasons, Bennett says. First, popular song is a constrained art form, with a palette of statistically predictable phrase lengths, song forms, scale and chord choices, lyric tropes and song durations. These norms are largely defined by market forces, through massed listener preferences over time affecting the kind of creative decisions that songwriters are likely to make.

Beyonce
Beyonc presesnting the award for record of the year, Uptown Funk, to Mark Ronson during the 2016 Grammy music awards. To avoid litigation, the song was credited with 11 writers. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

Its a type of cultural Darwinism, in a sense, but thats not to diminish the songwriters art writing a world-class hit is incredibly difficult, and needs everyone in the artists production team to excel.

Second, pop is where the money is. A plagiarism lawsuit is a financial matter party A is pursuing party B for compensation, so theres little point in going after someone whose work has not generated significant income.

You might think, of course, that musicians and songwriters are pinching from each other all the time weve all listened to songs and been reminded of something else. There are some artists, in fact, who seem to have made careers out of sounding like someone else: neither ELO nor Oasis would deny their respective debts to the Beatles.

Sometimes, though, musicians dont even realise they are borrowing. On a recent edition of the Reply All podcast, Princes longtime recording engineer Susan Rogers remembered him sitting at the piano and picking out a melody. He liked it, he noted. But had it already been written?

Subconscious recollection is called cyrptomnesia, and it has been responsible for some notable copyright infringements: in the 1976 case where George Harrison was sued for the similarity of My Sweet Lord to the Chiffons Hes So Fine, the judge described the similarity as an example of unconscious copying. Sam Smiths Stay With Me ended up getting Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne added to its writing credits, because of its similarity to their song Wont Back Down, and Petty observed, without rancour: All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by.

As Bennett puts it: Most melodic similarity is coincidental, and most accusations of melodic plagiarism are unfounded. In the rare cases when the similarity is so striking that it appears to be evidence of plagiarism, then yes its usually unintentional. Songwriters have almost zero incentive to copy melodies verbatim, and enormous economic disincentives to do so.

The miracle, perhaps, is not that there are so many accusations of musical copyright infringement, but so few. Consider that thereare just 12 semitones in an octave. Or think about how many songs that derive from the blues use the 1-4-5 chord progression (Twist and Shout; Blitzkrieg Bop; Louie Louie and Wild Thing and thousands more). What makes a song special is not its chords, or its top-line melody, or its lyrics, or its feel. It is how it combines all those elements.

Listeners dont hear songs as simple linear sequences of pitches they hear everything all at once, and its that combination of elements, in a recording or at a live show, that produces the powerful emotional response that we find so intoxicating, Joe Bennett says. If the cultural value of a song subsisted only in its melody, the world wouldnt need performers, lyricists, producers, or artists.

And, as everyone sitting in their living room gazing at the empty world outside knows, the word really does need all those people, for the sake of its sanity.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/mar/26/a-hit-a-writ-why-music-is-the-food-of-plagiarism-lawsuits

Jacobs lawyers argue that case against him has numerous deficiencies, in dispute over smiley face logo that appears in his designs

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs has filed a lawsuit against Nirvana, after he was sued by them for breaching copyright of their smiley face logo and signature font in a T-shirt design.

The original lawsuit was filed against Jacobs in January, accusing him of being oppressive, fraudulent and malicious in creating the designs, which, it was argued, threaten to dilute the value of Nirvanas licenses with its licensees for clothing products.

Jacobs attempted to dismiss the suit in March. His lawyers argued that the smiley face was a commonplace image and that while the designs were inspired by Nirvanas 1990s concert T-shirts, his designs did not infringe copyright as they sufficiently deviated from Nirvanas.

Earlier this month, a California judge allowed the case to move forward. Jacobs has now responded with a countersuit, arguing that there are numerous deficiencies with the case.

Chief among these alleged deficiencies is that it is not clear who designed the bands logo. The original Nirvana lawsuit claimed it was designed by late frontman Kurt Cobain in about 1991 it first appeared on a flyer for a release party celebrating the album Nevermind, and would later adorn the bands T-shirts. But in depositions during the lawsuit, surviving bandmembers Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic admitted they didnt know who created it.

Jacobs suit demands that Nirvanas copyright claim to the logo be removed, and his companys legal costs be recovered. Nirvanas legal team will continue to contest the case they have complained that individuals who were more familiar with the copyright registration have not yet been questioned by Jacobs lawyers.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/nov/28/marc-jacobs-countersues-nirvana-in-t-shirt-copyright-dispute

Swift and two other songwriters are accused of taking lyrics from a song by girl group 3LW for her hit Shake It Off

A copyright lawsuit against Taylor Swift is returning to court in the US, after an appeal overturned an earlier dismissal of the case.

Swift and her fellow songwriters Max Martin and Shellback are accused of copying lyrics from the 2001 song Players Gon Play by US girl group 3LW, for Swifts song Shake It Off.

Both songs feature the lyrics the players gonna play and the haters gonna hate. In February 2018, a federal judge said the 3LW songwriters who brought the claim, Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, did not have creative ownership over the phrases, which were deemed to be commonplace. By 2001, American popular culture was heavily steeped in the concepts of players, haters, and player haters, judge Michael Fitzgerald wrote. The concept of actors acting in accordance with their essential nature is not at all creative; it is banal.

But the successful appeal found that Fitzgerald should not have had the sole final judgment on the originality of the song. The decision will now be made by a jury.

Plagiarism claims have been made against numerous high-profile songs recently, with the latest case in the US being Truth Hurts, a song by singer and rapper Lizzo that spent seven weeks at No 1. Brothers Justin and Jeremy Raisen allege that they co-wrote the song and filed a lawsuit against Lizzo; she has countersued, saying the men did not help me write any part of the song. She did add British singer Mina Lionness to the songwriting credits, acknowledging that a viral tweet Lionness wrote was used for the songs opening line.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/oct/29/taylor-swift-copyright-lawsuit-shake-it-off-players-gon-plat-3lw

Fans were speculating that Spears had been admitted to a mental health facility against her will under the terms of her fathers conservatorship

Britney Spears has made her first public statement after checking into a mental health facility in early April. At the time of her admission, Spears, 37, was reported by Variety to be suffering from emotional distress, related to her father Jamies health troubles. In January, she cancelled her ongoing Vegas residency to prioritise spending time with her family.

However, fans of the star have claimed that she is being held against her will under the terms of her conservatorship. It has been in place since early 2008, after she shaved her head in public, attacked a paparazzis car with an umbrella and was hospitalised twice.

Under the conservatorship, Spears cannot make personal or financial decisions without the approval of her father. A co-conservator, lawyer Andrew M Wallet, reportedly resigned from his position on 4 March. The conservators cannot, however, force a conservatee to take medication, nor institutionalise them against their will.

In a video posted to her Instagram, Spears said: All is well. My family has been going through a lot of stress and anxiety lately, so I just needed time to deal. But dont worry, Ill be back very soon.

She offered more details in an extended caption, in which she stated that the allegations have just gotten out of control. She claimed that her family and team had received death threats, and that she was trying to take a moment for myself.

Back in May, as part of a settlement, Spotify agreed to pay more than $112 million to clean up some copyright problems. Even for a service with millions of users, that had to leave a mark. No one wants to be dragged into court all the time, not even bold, disruptive technology start-ups.

On October 11th, the President signed the Hatch-Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (the “Act”, or “MMA”). The MMA goes back, legislatively, to at least 2013, when Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) announced that, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, he planned to conduct a “comprehensive” review of issues in US copyright law. Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) was also deeply involved in this process, as were Senators Hatch (R-UT) Leahy (D-VT), and Wyden (D-OR). But this legislation didn’t fall from the sky; far from it.

After many hearings, several “roadshow” panels around the country, and a couple of elections, in early 2018 Goodlatte announced his intent to move forward on addressing several looming issues in music copyright before his planned retirement from Congress at the end of his current term (January 2019).  With that deadline in place, the push was on, and through the spring and summer, the House Judiciary Committee and their colleagues in the Senate worked to complete the text of the legislation and move it through to process. By late September, the House and Senate versions had been reconciled and the bill moved to the President’s desk.

What’s all this about streaming?

As enacted, the Act instantiates several changes to music copyright in the US, especially as regards streaming music services. What does “streaming” refer to in this context? Basically, it occurs when a provider makes music available to listeners, over the internet, without creating a downloadable or storable copy: “Streaming differs from downloads in that no copy of the music is saved to your hard drive.”

“It’s all about the Benjamins.”

One part, by far the largest change in terms of money, provides that a new royalty regime be created for digital streaming of musical works, e.g. by services like Spotify and Apple Music. Pre-1972 recordings — and the creators involved in making them (including, for the first time, for audio engineers, studio mixers and record producers) — are also brought under this royalty umbrella.

These are significant, generally beneficial results for a piece of legislation. But to make this revenue bounty fully effective, a to-be-created licensing entity will have to be set up with the ability to first collect, and then distribute, the money. Think “ASCAP/BMI for streaming.” This new non-profit will be the first such “collective licensing” copyright organization set up in the US in quite some time.

Collective Licensing: It’s not “Money for Nothing”, right?

What do we mean by “collective licensing” in this context, and how will this new organization be created and organized to engage in it? Collective licensing is primarily an economically efficient mechanism for (A) gathering up monies due for certain uses of works under copyright– in this case, digital streaming of musical recordings, and (B) distributing the royalty checks back to the rights-holding parties ( e.g. recording artists, their estates in some cases, and record labels).  Generally speaking, in collective licensing:

 “…rights holders collect money that would otherwise be in tiny little bits that they could not afford to collect, and in that way they are able to protect their copyright rights. On the flip side, substantial users of lots of other people’s copyrighted materials are prepared to pay for it, as long as the transaction costs are not extreme.”

—Fred Haber, VP and Corporate Counsel, Copyright Clearance Center

The Act envisions the new organization as setting up and implementing a new, extensive —and, publicly accessible —database of musical works and the rights attached to them. Nothing quite like this is currently available, although resources like SONY’s Gracenote suggest a good start along those lines. After it is set up and the initial database has a sufficient number of records, the new collective licensing agency will then get down to the business of offering licenses:

“…a blanket statutory license administered by a nonprofit mechanical licensing collective. This collective will collect and distribute royalties, work to identify songs and their owners for payment, and maintain a comprehensive, publicly accessible database for music ownership information.”

— Regan A. Smith, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights

(AP Photo) The Liverpool beat group The Beatles, with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, take it easy resting their feet on a table, during a break in rehearsals for the Royal variety show at the Prince of Wales Theater, London, England, November 4, 1963. (AP Photo)

You “Can’t Buy Me Love”, so who is all this going to benefit?

In theory, the listening public should be the primary beneficiary. More music available through digital streaming services means more exposure —and potentially more money —for recording artists. For students of music, the new database of recorded works and licenses will serve to clarify who is (or was) responsible for what. Another public benefit will be fewer actions on digital streaming issues clogging up the courts.

There’s an interesting wrinkle in the Act providing for the otherwise authorized use of “orphaned” musical works such that these can now be played in library or archival (i.e. non-profit) contexts. “Orphan works” are those which may still protected under copyright, but for which the legitimate rights holders are unknown, and, sometimes, undiscoverable. This is the first implementation of orphan works authorization in US copyright law.  Cultural services – like Open Culture – can look forward to being able to stream more musical works without incurring risk or hindrance (provided that the proper forms are filled out) and this implies that some great music is now more likely to find new audiences and thereby be preserved for posterity. Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), generally no great fan of new copyright legislation, finds something to like in the Act.

In the land of copyright wonks, and in another line of infringement suits, this resolution of the copyright status of musical recordings released before 1972 seems, in my opinion, fair and workable. In order to accomplish that, the Act also had to address the matter of the duration of these new copyright protections, which is always (post-1998) a touchy subject:

  • For recordings first published before 1923, the additional time period ends on December 31, 2021.
  • For recordings created between 1923-1946, the additional time period is 5 years after the general 95-year term.
  • For recordings created between 1947-1956, the additional time period is 15 years after the general 95-year term.
  • For works first published between 1957-February 15, 1972 the additional time period ends on February 15, 2067.

(Source: US Copyright Office)

 (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Live Nation)

Money (That’s What I Want – and lots and lots of listeners, too.)

For the digital music services themselves, this statutory or ‘blanket’ license arrangement should mean fewer infringement actions being brought; this might even help their prospects for investment and encourage  new and more innovative services to come into the mix.

“And, in The End…”

This new legislation, now the law of the land, extends the history of American copyright law in new and substantial ways. Its actual implementation is only now beginning. Although five years might seem like a lifetime in popular culture, in politics it amounts to several eons. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that the industry got over its perceived short-term self-interests enough, this time, to agree to support something that Congress could pass. That’s rare enough to take note of and applaud.

This law lacks perfection, as all laws do. The licensing regime it envisions will not satisfy everyone, but every constituent, every stakeholder, got something. From the perspective of right now, chances seem good that, a few years from now, the achievement of the Hatch-Goodlatte Music Modernization Act will be viewed as a net positive for creators of music, for the distributors of music, for scholars, fans of ‘open culture’, and for the listening public. In copyright, you can’t do better than that.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/03/a-long-and-winding-road-to-new-copyright-legislation/

The long read: Can you be convicted of a killing if you were there when somebody else dealt the fatal blow? The law says so especially if youre young and black

At 5.13pm on Thursday 12 May 2016, a young man named Abdul Wahab Hafidah was seen on CCTV cameras running westward through busy traffic across Princess Road in Moss Side, a crowded, diverse, working-class neighbourhood two miles south of Manchester city centre. He was pursued by two young men on foot, and another on a bicycle. As traffic slowed at the junction of Princess Road and Moss Lane East, Hafidah tried desperately to open the door of a passing car, before turning to face his pursuers, waving a knife. They stepped back, and he ran off down Moss Lane East. Someone threw a hammer at him, but missed. The chase went on, joined or followed by seven other young men who made their way across Princess Road over the next 45 seconds.

Hafidah was drunk, and he was scared. He knew some of the boys who were chasing him, and he knew they were angry with him. On Moss Lane East, he tried once more to get into a passing vehicle. As he ran across the street, he was hit by more than one car, one of which was a Vauxhall Corsa, driven by a friend of some of those pursuing him. A pathologist later found that he had suffered leg injuries suggesting a glancing blow at low speed.

At around 5.14pm, near the junction of Moss Lane East and Denhill Road, roughly 100 metres west of Princess Road, several of Hafidahs pursuers caught up to him. He was punched, kicked and stamped on, although witnesses remember the details and the number of attackers differently. According to statements taken by the police, a student walking home from college saw at least three or four people drag Hafidah to the ground, punching and kicking him. A man working in an office overlooking the scene saw a couple of youths fighting on the northern side of the road, and six or seven youths watching from a nearby grass verge. Another witness, a lab assistant, thought there were five attackers. A woman on her way home from work saw three young men knock Hafidah to the ground. He curled up into a ball while they kicked him around the legs, torso and head.

Dont you think youve done enough? Get off him! the woman coming home from work shouted at the assailants, according to her witness statement. All but two ran away; one of those two continued to beat Hafidah. The lab assistant thought the other young man was telling the attacker to leave it and run, but that the attacker ignored him. The attacker was really angry, she thought, and was shouting at Hafidah as he kicked him. She noticed that the attackers face was covered, and that he was wearing gloves, despite the weather that day, which was clear and warm.

Then he bent over Hafidah and stabbed him in the neck. The attacker ran off after the others, most of whom were already at least 20 metres away. The assault had lasted 30-40 seconds.

No, no, no, the lab assistant cried as she ran towards Hafidah. Not another one of our boys! A man on his way home from Asda tried to press the victims hood against his neck to stop the bleeding. With some of his last words, Hafidah asked this man to tell his family that he loved them. Paramedics arrived. The shopper and the lab assistant sat on the grass verge and cried.

Hafidah died two days later in Manchester Royal Infirmary. He was 18 years old.

In the weeks following his death, 17 young people were arrested in connection with the killing. The young man who stabbed Hafidah who would eventually admit to the crime after he was sentenced to life imprisonment in September last year was a 19-year-old named Devonte Cantrill. A six-month investigation led police to the same conclusion. In an interview room at Longsight police station on 15 November 2016, Cantrill was asked several times why he committed the crime.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/09/joint-enterprise-law-uk-how-do-11-people-go-to-jail-for-one-murder

Environmental lawyer James Thornton says Chinas ecological civilisation concept is the best response to the worlds environmental crisis

James Thorntons specialty is suing governments and corporations on behalf of his only client the Earth and hes very good at it. In his four decades of legal practice across three continents, hes never lost a case.

Acknowledging this in 2009 the New Statesmannamed him one of the ten people likely to change the world; ClientEarth, the public interest environmental law firm he started in London in 2007 now employs 106 people.

Thornton has been in Australia to talk about his work and his new book, Client Earth, which he co-wrote with his partner Martin Goodman. When I met them in Sydney, Thornton was keen to discuss his unlikely adventure in China, while Goodman, usually a reserved Englishman, enthused about the unexpected hope he found while writing Client Earth.

First invited to Beijing in 2014 to help implement Chinas new law allowing NGOs to sue polluting companies for the first time, Thornton has seen how serious the worlds biggest polluter is about addressing its environmental problems. He believes their concept of ecological civilisation is the best formulation hes heard for the new environmental story we must tell.

Facing the ruin of their environment, the Chinese looked hard and amended their constitution. This core document now calls for the building of an ecological civilisation, he says. We built an agricultural, then an industrial, and now must build an ecological civilisation.

I have no cynicism about whether they mean to do it. My job is to try and clean up the environment for future generations. The Chinese really want to do that. This task, apparently insurmountable for the west, is made possible by Chinas 2,500-year tradition of centralised government.

They said, we have a long-term vision, we want to be here in another 2,000 years and that will only happen if we clean up the environment. So we have determined that were going to deal with our environmental problems and were going to do so in a very thoroughgoing way.

Thornton said it helps that most of the politburo are engineers, rather than political scientists, lawyers or economists as in the west. So when they actually decide that there is a problem and it takes actual evidence to get them there they define the problem and then their next question is: whats the solution? How can we afford it, how quickly can we do it, and how can we marshal all forces in society to get there?

At first Thornton thought this was rhetoric. And then I realised it wasnt rhetorical. So by the time we got deep into conversation and I first heard the notion of ecological civilisation, I asked several very senior officials, Is this serious? And they said Yes, absolutely serious. Its been central policy now for some years.

Chinese
Chinese workers prepare panels that will be part of a large floating solar farm project under construction on a lake caused by a collapsed and flooded coal mine in Huainan, Anhui province, China. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

With a group of Chinese experts and five other westerners, Thornton spent 18 months analysing how to create the legal structures for an ecological civilisation. They then gave recommendations for how to create the rule of law to deliver it. Thats typical of what theyre doing. Theyve thrown hundreds of their best intellectuals at designing the theoretical framework for each of the pieces of the architecture of ecological civilisation. These include economic, industrial and agricultural policies for an ecological civilisation.

Thornton says that when he first went to China, hed only read the western media about it and had many of the same notions hes often challenged with, especially concerning democracy and human rights. And I understand where they come from. But I also know that the western democracies that we prize so much arent doing very well with respect to the environment. Weve elected somebody in the United States who seems really dedicated to the notion of contempt for the environment.

In the west, efforts to address environmental problems are fragmentary and not well funded. Whereas in China, he says, suddenly you have this direction from the top on down asking all of these top people over the course of the next few decades: How does everything have to change to deliver this?

Thornton is also a Zen Buddhist priest, which helps him to see intractable environmental problems with a commanding clarity and precision, and to approach them with admirable pragmatism, patience, tenacity and long-term strategy. Law becomes about saving civilisation, he says. Law is the answer to the question Im often asked: what can I do about global problems?

The extraordinary challenges Thornton overcame to bring environmental litigation to Europe are among the many inspiring stories Goodman tells in ClientEarth. Jamess first actions were therefore brazen, Goodman says. In the UK, he set out to change the cost rules. In Germany and at the EU level, the matter was one of standing: rights had to be granted for citizens to bring serious environmental concerns to the courts.

Thornton did change the legal system and ClientEarth flourished. In 2016 the Financial Times named this small non-profit firm in the top 50 law firms in the world. ClientEarth also won the most innovative law firm award and Thornton won a special achievement award.

It was then that Goodman realised ClientEarth was an ugly duckling story: The poor relation charity environmental law group that suddenly found itself among the swans of top global law firms.

ClientEarthis a rare thing: a hopeful book about the environment and a page-turner about the law. Goodman is professor of creative writing at the University of Hull and a lively storyteller. His chapters recount Thorntons life and work; Thorntons are meditations on the laws moral dimensions.

Thornton and Goodman have been together for 25 years and their conversation swings from Thorntons urgent stories about systemic change to Goodmans tales of hope. Despite having lived with ClientEarth for a decade, it was only when Goodman came to write the firms story that he began to fathom just how powerful its legal work really is.

I think its the most important thing going, he says. The environment no longer seems an intractable problem. We need lawyers, they bring hope, they can help you.

It seems this hope is contagious. Alice Garton, a lawyer from the Northern Territory, feels like the luckiest person on the planet to be working for ClientEarth. Ive spent years of my life being really depressed about climate change and pessimistic, she says. Since starting here, Im optimistic.

Client Earthhad a similar effect on Brian Eno, a long-time supporter and trustee of the firm. After reading the book to write its foreword, Eno was so inspired he told Thornton: I want to come and live with you in the office for three days to really see how I can help.

Thornton replied: Youre the worlds greatest producer, so what Id like you to do is produce ClientEarth. Something great will come of that.

Brian Eno and ClientEarths James Thornton talk about law and the environment.

When asked about his own most inspiring moments, Thornton names three. Preventing Poland from building a new generation of coal-fired power stations. Enforcing the first environmental laws in the US, introduced by Nixon in 1970 along with the Environment Protection Agency, but flouted by Reagan. When Reagan told the new head of the EPA to disable it, Thornton almost singlehandedly (with a scientist) showed them that somebody could do it better, embarrassing them into enforcing the law again. And his work in China.

Im tough and patient, Thornton says. This is an understatement. Aged eight, a spider-loving Thornton considered studying entomology but realised that wouldnt help the threatened natural world. So he decided to become a lawyer, to fight for its protection. But this was the early 1960s and there were no environmental lawyers then. So Thornton helped to found his vocation, including teaching the first courses on environmental law.

Now Thornton is looking to the next stage of the Paris Agreement. Paris was a turning point in history, he says. The next stage must be a legal framework and enforcement, otherwise citizens can go to court to accuse their government of not implementing the law, and we will help them do so. When the law is passed, the work begins.

But these laws are new and fragile and need our active support. As Goodman says: I think people have got to understand that these laws are around, theyre really vulnerable, and theyll die unless we pay them attention and demand that theyre held strong.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/10/my-job-is-to-clean-up-the-environment-china-really-wants-to-do-that

The singer/songwriter is filing a suit to regain copyright ownership after Duran Duran tried and failed to do the same with their catalogue in 2016

Paul McCartney has filed a lawsuit against Sony/ATV to regain the rights to classic Beatles songs.

The star is hoping to confirm the reclaim of ownership of songs he wrote while a member of the band in a case that recalls a similar battle faced by Duran Duran in 2016.

In a complaint filed in New York, it details McCartney transferring rights of songs he wrote with John Lennon to various music publishers throughout the 1960s. In the 1980s, Michael Jackson bought the rights to many of these songs, including Hey Jude and Let It Be. The singer then bought shares in Sony/ATV and after his death, and his estate sold them back for $750m. This bundle included many Beatles tracks.

The ownership of the songs is set to be McCartneys again in 2018 but he claims that he hasnt received confirmation this will happen without a legal fight despite numerous attempts to contact the company.

McCartney has reason to worry, given that Duran Duran fought and lost a similar fight with Sony/ATV last December. A judge ruled that English laws of contract barred them from seeking to reclaim rights over their own works.

Rather than provide clear assurances to Paul McCartney that Defendants will not challenge his exercise of his termination rights, Defendants are clearly reserving their rights pending the final outcome of the Duran Duran litigation in the UK, the complaint reads.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jan/18/paul-mccartney-sue-sony-rights-beatles-songs

Rapper required to pay out after allegedly assaulting a contestant on his television show, Shes Got Game, in 2015

Rapper the Game has reportedly been ordered to pay $7.13m after being found guilty of sexual assault.

According to TMZ, a court in Illinois found in favour of plaintiff Priscilla Rainey, a contestant on Shes Got Game, a dating show where women compete to date the Game.

She sued him for $10m with claims that the 36-year-old was out of control and intoxicated which led him to grope her on multiple occasions in 2015. The Games legal team tried to discredit her by citing her background as a sex worker and time in a mental institution.

It is not the first legal case for the star. He was arrested for assaulting a fan in 2005, charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in the same year, arrested for threatening someone with a gun in 2007 and involved in a lawsuit for assault and battery in 2012.

The Game initially broke out with hits such as How We Do, Hate It or Love It and Dreams, working with 50 Cent and Kanye West.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/nov/21/game-rapper-sexual-assault-case