Enrique Iglesias sues label over streaming revenue

In this 2017 file photo, Enrique Iglesias accepts the artist of the year award at the Latin American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Iglesias is suing Universal Music Group in a dispute over how much he is paid for songs played on streaming music services. (AP)
Updated 24 January 2018
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Enrique Iglesias sues label over streaming revenue

MIAMI: Pop star Enrique Iglesias on Wednesday accused his former label Universal of short-changing artists while benefitting from the soaring growth of streaming as he filed a lawsuit for breach of contract.
“Universal has been systematically underpaying Iglesias’ streaming royalties by calculating those royalties at a small fraction of the contractually required 50 percent royalty rate,” said the lawsuit filed in Miami, where Iglesias lives.
The lawsuit alleged that the 42-year-old heartthrob has lost millions of dollars “even though Iglesias has generated sales of a magnitude rarely attained in the music industry.”
Iglesias said that the Universal Music Group, which is the world’s largest record label conglomerate, refused his requests to inspect its records.
The son of legendary Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias, Enrique has achieved a booming international career with his fusion of ballads, reggaeton and pop as well as his on-stage sex appeal.
He is among the few artists to achieve major hits in both Spanish and English, scoring major success with songs such as “Hero,” “Tonight (I’m Loving You)” and “Be With You.”
The boom in on-demand streaming services such as Spotify has rapidly transformed the music business, bringing solid growth to the industry for the first time in two decades.
Many artists have complained that they see little of the money, although they have generally aimed their fire at streaming companies rather than their own labels.
Universal did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Iglesias bolted Universal in 2015 when he signed to rival Sony Music.
James Sammataro, a lawyer for Iglesias, said that Universal had reaped profits at the expense of artists.
“Universal has wrongly insisted that artists like Enrique be paid for streams in the same manner as they are paid for physical records despite the fact that none of the attendant costs (production, distribution, inventory, losses) actually exist in the digital world,” Sammataro said.
“Artists, producers and songwriters should benefit from the reduced costs of streaming, not have their musical works spin unwarranted profits,” he said.
The complaint relates in part to streams of Iglesias’ 2014 album “Sex and Love” which features the hit “Bailando,” which won three Latin Grammy Awards and was that year’s most played song in both Mexico and Spain.


Microsoft’s Bing search engine goes offline in China

Updated 24 January 2019
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Microsoft’s Bing search engine goes offline in China

  • Attempts to open cn.bing.com has resulted in an error message for users since Wednesday
  • China’s Communist authorities operate an online censorship apparatus known as the “Great Firewall”
BEIJING: Microsoft was investigating a disruption in its Bing search engine in China on Thursday, with social media users fearing it could be the latest foreign website to be blocked by censors.
Attempts to open cn.bing.com has resulted in an error message for users since Wednesday.
“We’re aware of reports that Bing may be inaccessible to some customers in China and are investigating,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.
China’s Communist authorities operate an online censorship apparatus known as the “Great Firewall,” which blocks a slew of websites including Facebook, Twitter and several foreign media outlets.
But it was not clear whether or not Bing joined the long list of prohibited websites, or if its China service was experiencing technical difficulties.
China’s cyberspace administration could not immediately be reached for comment.
China’s Great Firewall can be circumvented by using a virtual private network (VPN), which can hide a user’s IP address.
While its rival Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010 after rows over censorship and hacking, Bing has continued to operate in the country along with Microsoft-owned Skype.
On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media site, people complained about the lack of access, with some speculating that Bing too had been “walled off.”
Others aired their dissatisfaction about having to use Baidu, China’s largest domestic search service.
“I can’t open Bing, but I don’t want to use Baidu — what to do?” wrote one user.
“Bing is actually dead — is this to force me to use Baidu??” said another, cursing.
China has tightened policing of the Internet in recent years, shuttering 26,000 “illegal” websites in 2018 alone and deleting six million online posts containing vulgar content, the official Xinhua news agency said earlier this month.
Bing’s disruption comes as the United States and China are locked in a bruising trade war, with US accusations that China steals technological know-how among the core disagreements.
The two sides are scheduled for new trade negotiations next week.