-- The Terra Firma-Citigroup case starts in a New York City court today (Oct. 18). If the case is going to court, that means the two sides didn't reach the settlement that some in the media were painting as a real possibility before the trial started. Terra Firma alleges that Citigroup mislead it to believe there was another bidder for EMI, thus raising the amount Terra Firma bid for the music group. As Reuters points out, if Terra Firma settles for loosened debt covenants, it still has a lot of debt to deal with: "Terra Firma may be willing to settle if Citi loosens the covenants on the EMI loan. That would free the buyout firm from having to make regular cash injections to avoid default. Even then, however, the business would still have too much debt: applying the same multiple as a listed rival, Warner Music, EMI is probably worth at least £1 billion [$1.6 billion] less than the current face value of Citi's loan."
-- EMI has one less problem to worry about now that it has resolved its pension dispute. The company has agreed to a £197 million ($313 million) funding deal with the pension's trustee. EMI will make an initial £16 million ($25 million) injection and fund the rest through 2016. EMI's pension had the potential to be a serious problem. In the Maltby Capital Limited Annual Review for 2009/2010, the directors concluded the pension issue represented a "material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt upon the ability of (EMI) to continue as a going concern."
-- Brand protection company MarkMonitor has acquired anti-piracy company DtecNet. The company's technology locates and mitigates piracy on major P2P networks as well as streaming sites, blogs, auction sites and online forums.
-- Ebooks are having their "Napster moment," says a company called Attributer, but book publishers have a different customer relationship than record labels. Attributer says Google searches for illegal ebook downloads are up 50% in the last year to 1.5 million to 3 million Google searches a day. But the company believes publishers can engage consumers considering copyright infringement.
In a study, Attributor created some fake ebook download sites for the most popular books on Amazon.com. On those dummy pages the company included links to Amazon.com's ebook store. About 20% visitors to the sites ended up buying a copy of the ebook they were looking for.
Attributor believes those results show "people are malleable" and "open to the difference choices they can make." But the results also show 80% of visitors were not at all malleable. And who's to say the 20% who purchased an ebook would have done so if the fake site actually had a free and illegal ebook to download. If book publishers are willing to be happy over a few purchases while far more piracy is taking place, they're going to end up in the same place as the music industry. Labels and publishers are not content that much piracy lives alongside fewer legitimate purchases. Giving away free music can actually increase legitimate sales (think of the band that gives away its music to get people listening and talking about it). And music companies have long know that that some people are going to buy a legitimate copy in spite of free, illegal copies being readily available online (people buy billions of songs from iTunes rather than use a P2P service).
-- The third trial of Capitol Records v Jammie Thomas could end up being canceled. At last week's pre-trial hearing of this famous file-sharing case, writes Ben Sheffner, the judge indicated that "he will give serious consideration to a defense request to modify his order so that it would instead rest on constitutional grounds." Such a move, says Sheffner, would bring an end to the case in district court and allow either side to file an appeal. The judge wants to avoid a scenario in which a jury awards damages, he remits those damages, the plaintiffs refuse and another trial is needed to take place.
(Copyrights and Campaigns)