RECAP: What Brexit Means For The U.K. Music Business, Led Zeppelin Wins In Court, Ticket Bots Under Attack
Posted by Glen Sears | June 27, 2016 9:32 am | No Comments
Story of the Week
What Brexit Means For The U.K. Music Business
The British music industry and wider touring business faces a turbulent future after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU). Thursday’s historic referendum saw 52 percent of the electorate vote to exit the EU – dubbed Brexit – with more than 30 million people voting, the country’s highest turnout at an election in over 20 years.
The implications for the music industry are similarly grave with the decision to leave the economic stability of the EU anticipated to impact heavily on the live sector. A members’ survey conducted before the vote by the labels trade group BPI found that a two-thirds majority opposed Brexit on the grounds that going alone would carry grace consequences for the U.K. music biz.
“We’re stunned and saddened at the UK’s decision to leave the EU family,” Beggars Group founder and chairman Martin Mills said of the news in an email to his staff provided to Billboard. “While we digest the consequences, we’d just like to re-assure you all that the Beggars family is, always has been, and always will be, international, with no frontiers.”
Top Music News Stories
European Commission, IFPI, BPI, AIM and Others’ Full Statements on Britain’s Exit. “We regret this decision but respect it.”
Led Zeppelin Wins ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Jury Trial. The jury — eight California citizens — delivered its verdict that the plaintiff owned the copyright to “Taurus,” that Led Zeppelin members indeed heard it, but that there was no substantial similarity in the extrinsic elements of “Taurus” and “Stairway to Heaven.”
Inside the Music Industry — and Congress’ — Fight Against Ticket Bots. “I don’t know how people in the first 30 rows get their tickets,” Q Prime’s Peter Mensch, longtime Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers co-manager, told Billboard in January. “But none of my friends seem to be able to do it. And no one seems to care.”
U.S. Copyright Office Modernizes Key Part of Digital Licensing. The U.S. Copyright Office has taken an important step, finally making it possible to file compulsory licenses digitally.
Irving Azoff Calls On Music Industry To “Work Together.” “The music industry has never been more powerful and popular and we as an industry have never done a shittier job of rallying together as one industry.”
Pandora Listeners Added 1 Million New Music Stations In First 24 Hours. Each week, Pandora’s music team will handpick recently released music for each New Music Station blending emerging, underground and well-known artists across 9 genres.
Spotify, IHeartMedia Sued Over Audio Playback Patents. As the value of music streaming has grown, so have the legal action surrounding it—Spotify and iHeartMedia are the latest targets.
Our best wishes for a great week! – MediaNet
Posted by Glen Sears | October 12, 2015 2:46 pm | No Comments
It doesn’t take a law professor to understand that musical copyright is a complex beast. Just look at all the artists up in arms about Soundcloud takedowns, or MediaNet’s own exploration of the dizzying spiral of music ownership. Copyright laws are always passed with the intention of protecting rights owners, but as time passes and new technologies arise these protections can have counterproductive consequences.
The Library of Congress’ own Congressional Research Service has identified these protection gaps in a 37-page report called “Copyright Licensing in Music Distribution, Reproduction, and Public Performance.” The report, authored by attorney Brian Yeh, outlines the basics of musical copyright law then identifies 4 major areas where copyright law needs to be updated to support the current musical ecosystem.
Any reader interested in the history of how copyright law came to be should take the time to read the first 16 pages of the report. Yeh does a masterful job of explaining how various facets of musical copyright work together, as well as providing the context under which various protections were instituted. The real meat of the report, however, starts at page 18. Here The CRS outlines the 4 major areas it believes copyright law should be updated for 2015 and beyond.
Federal Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings
As recent news may have informed you, digital radio services are required to license sound recordings, but due to a loophole only those sound recordings produced after 1972. According to the report “such pre-1972 sound recordings constitute approximately 15% of all digital radio transmissions and would have provided about $60 billion in music royalties for recording artists in 2013, according to one industry estimate.”
While some states have taken it upon themselves to pass legislation to close this gap, there still exists no federal protection for the rights holders of these sound recordings. Two pieces of legislation, The Fair Play Fair Pay Act and the RESPECT Act, have been offered up to bolster protection for pre-1972 recordings, but both lack total protections for rights owners. In addition, the report states these measures could “have the effect of dissuading digital music services from including the ‘golden oldies’ in their music catalogs.”
Extending the Performance Right in Sound Recordings to AM/FM Radio Broadcasts
Despite extending public performance copyright protections to sound recording owners in 1995, these protections did not include AM/FM radio transmissions. “Thus, public performance of sound recordings through non-digital audio transmissions does not trigger any obligation on the part of the radio broadcaster to pay royalties to the sound recording copyright holder.”
In 2013 the Register of Copyrights testified to a House Judiciary Committee that Congress should extend “full” public performance rights to sound recordings in all types of transmissions. While the Fair Play Fair Pay Act would extend copyright protections to all types of broadcast, an opposing piece of legislation called the Supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act would direct Congress not to impose any new performance fees or royalties for over-the-air broadcasts of sound recordings by local radio stations.
Standards for Setting Royalty Rates for Public Performance of Sound Recordings
An entity called the Copyright Royalty Board calculates the royalty rate applicable to “compulsory” licenses by applying a standard that is specified in the Copyright Act. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act established different standards for the compulsory license depending on the type of digital service and whether the service existed at the time of the DMCA’s enactment.
“The Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015 (H.R. 1733) would require the Copyright Royalty Board to set performance royalty rates for satellite radio and cable music providers by applying the same ‘willing buyer/willing seller’ standard that the CRB currently uses in determining Internet radio webcasters’ royalty rates, instead of using the 801(b) standard.”
The Internet Radio Fairness Act was introduced in order to “level the playing field for Internet radio services” and reform the current royalty rate calculation system. However, organizations like SoundExchange oppose such legislation as they suspect it would cause services like Pandora to pay less in royalties than they do now.
Modification of Consent Decrees Governing Songwriter Performance Royalties
In 1976 performing rights organizations such as ASCAP and BMI were legislated to be subject to “consent decrees,” for fear that they would monopolize the royalty collection process. As such, all agreements with PROs must be submitted to the Circuit Court of New York to verify their veracity.
In June 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced that it would initiate a review process to examine the operation and effectiveness of these consent decrees, after ASCAP, BMI, and other parties in the music industry raised concerns that the consent decrees have been unable “to account for changes in how music is delivered to and experienced by listeners.”
The Songwriter Equity Act, with support from a consortium of hospitality companies, seeks to help increase the performance royalty payments from PROs, which includes keeping consent decrees on the books.
What Does It All Mean?
Copyright law is a complex beast. The deeper you dive, the more complex it becomes. At the end of the day, the changes proposed by the CRS will only help so long as the technologies we use support these regulations, rather than circumvent them.
MediaNet believes that all rights holders should be paid for every play. We have created an end-to-end licensing, distribution, fulfillment, reporting, and payment system that ensures all payments are delivered to the letter of the law.
Like many large pieces of legislation, U.S. copyright law will never be “complete.” All we can do in the mean time is ensure that all rights holders are getting their fair share of payment for creative works.
MediaNet features the only digital music catalog that internally matches sound recordings directly to rights holders, ensuring maximum accuracy and industry-leading reporting. Want to talk about how MediaNet can power your music experience? Let’s chat!
Posted by Glen Sears | October 5, 2015 10:26 am | No Comments
The Story of the Week
Amazon Prime (Finally) Signs Deal for Universal Music Artists
Subscribers to Amazon’s Prime service — the company’s music and video streaming, and shipping discount, service — can now stream the likes of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Lana Del Rey, Maroon 5, Of Monsters and Men, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Ellie Goulding, Drake, Lorde, Jessie J and Eminem.
Universal Music Group, long a holdout from Prime, struck a deal with the Seattle-based company earlier this week. While a total number of artists included in UMG’s licensing wasn’t made public, sources tell Billboard the number stands at around 1,000 and includes genres like jazz and classical, which skew to an older demographic that Prime is seen as being strong with.
Read More on Billboard: http://bit.ly/1Z49usC
Apple Music Launches in China – Apple has officially launched its streaming music service in China. The company announced Wednesday that Apple Music will cost 10 RMB per month, or only $1.50 US, but not before users exhaust a three-month trial membership. Read More
Tidal Hits One Million User Milestone, Announces Celeb-filled Live Show – Under the snappy title TIDAL X: 1020, the show will feature performances from artists like Beyoncs, Jay-Z, Prince, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, and TI. Read More
Posted by Glen Sears | May 27, 2015 10:00 am | No Comments
If you’re a part of the music industry at any stage, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Yet despite being over 15 years old, many industry professionals don’t have a firm grasp on what it means or how it works.
What is the DMCA?
As the internet’s popularity exploded in the late 1990s, media industry executives from Hollywood to Nashville and abroad were searching for a way to protect their intellectual property online. To that end, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) implemented new copyright policies in 1996 for their member nations to adopt. Their role as the primary rights protection organization on the planet assured that most nations would adopt similar rules.
The United States government convened to create updated legislation that both aligned with the new WIPO treaties and established protections for businesses operating in the new digital world. It was named the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1998.
While a complicated piece of legislation, the DMCA has three major points of interest for music industry professionals: (1) making circumvention of Digital Rights Management (DRM) illegal, (2) providing ISPs, web hosts, search engines, and other “interactive services” immunity when its users infringe on copyright, and (3) updating compulsory license law to include webcasting.
DRM & Anti-Circumvention
Many pundits credit the anti-circumvention measures in the DMCA (Title I) with the proliferation of technologies like the DVD and the subsequent success of companies like Blockbuster and Netflix. From an industry standpoint anti-circumvention measures made adopting emergent technology much easier. However, some like the Electronic Frontier Foundation now posit that these same anti-circumvention measures are stifling innovation and “have not been used as Congress envisioned.”
Whatever the case may be in regard to anti-circumvention, arguably the far more important part of the DMCA is Title II, which deals with “Safe Harbor” legislation. This section also lays out the groundwork for what we now know as the DMCA Takedown Notice, and its importance in the modern music and technology industries cannot be overstated.
DMCA Safe Harbor
Piracy of copyrighted materials such as master recordings or movies doesn’t just involve the end user and pirate. Transmission of pirated material often involves internet service providers (ISPs), hosting services such as GoDaddy, search engines such as Google, and “interactive services” such as Soundcloud and YouTube — usually without their knowledge.
Safe Harbor provisions protect these companies from legal action related to copyright infringement on their networks, so long as they implement specific takedown procedures. This protection was pivotal to the internet as we know it today. Services like YouTube, lacking these protections, could be buried in direct litigation for material residing on their servers that infringed a rights holders copyright.
To qualify, a service provider must 1) not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, 2) not be aware of the presence of infringing material or know any facts or circumstances that would make infringing material apparent, and 3) upon receiving notice from copyright owners or their agents, act expeditiously to remove the purported infringing material.
DMCA Takedown Notices
So, what happens when an artist, songwriter, publisher, label, or other rights holder discovers their work improperly hosted on one of these services? The rights holder submits a DMCA Takedown Notice to the service provider requesting the material be removed. That notice, given to the service provider’s listed DMCA agent, sets in motion a series of actions:
- Upon receiving the Takedown Notice, the service provider must remove the work in question and inform the Original Poster (OP) of the action.
- The OP now has the option to counter the claim of copyright infringement by providing notice of their right to use or post the work in question. If they do not, the work stays removed.
- If the OP does submit a counter-notice, the rights holder has 14 days to issue a lawsuit or the material will be reinstated as the OP had posted.
Writing a DMCA Takedown Notice is easy, as this article on WikiHow shows. Similarly, writing a DMCA counter-notice is easy. In both cases, you must identify yourself, the material, your claim to the material, and state both the verity of your claim and your consent to the proper legal jurisdiction.
Takedowns themselves don’t have a set time frame, only “expeditious” action is required. Different service providers have different interpretations of “expeditious,” and the time between a Takedown Notice submission and the actual takedown varies. Some services like Muso will automate this process for you, sending notices, follow-ups, and aiding in the legal process.
If the OP has no counter-claim to the Takedown Notice, the takedown is complete. Certain service providers levy penalties on posters for having successful DMCA Takedowns leveraged against them. Others simply remove the content and move on.
If the OP does have a counter-claim, a protracted legal case is possible but unlikely. In many cases the Takedown Notice is merely an oversight and the counter-claim ends the conversation. If this is the case, the rights holder is then liable to the OP for any damages resulting from improper removal. In the event that the rights dispute does make it to court, cases can sometimes last a year or more.
As the landscape becomes more complex, service providers are seeing their Safe Harbor come into question more often. This has lead some to speculate that Safe Harbor protection is less robust than it used to be. In any event, the DMCA Takedown Notice system remains the primary way for rights holders to remove infringing material from services without penalizing their providers.
Title IV of the DMCA also largely expanded compulsory licensing. Compulsory licensing is a part of copyright law that allows an individual or company to use another’s intellectual property without first seeking the rights holder’s consent. In exchange, that individual or company pays the rights holder a set fee for the license.
Essentially, the rights holder is required to allow another entity to use their copyrighted material, in exchange for royalties at a rate set by Congress (the Statutory Rate). Prior to the DMCA, compulsory licenses were granted for things such as jukeboxes, cable broadcasts, or use on public broadcasting stations.
The DMCA expanded the umbrella of compulsory licensing to include “webcasting.” This opened the door for things like simulcasting of television events, streaming of concerts, and other synchronized licenses to exist as compulsory licenses, rather than be subject to pre-arranged deals. This also removed a large barrier for fledgling fields like podcasting and online radio.
One More Thing: Boats?
Title V of the DMCA added a unique copyright protection: boat hulls. Hull designs were not covered under copyright law because they are useful articles whose form cannot be clearly separated from their function. So if you’re a musician or label owner who also builds boats in their spare time — you have another reason to love the DMCA.
Read the full U.S. Copyright Office Digital Millennium Copyright Act summary here.
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