On November 4, 2008, America gave a sweeping mandate to Barack Obama and Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate. What does this mean for the music community? While we are still weeks away from determining some of the details how this will shake out – including who will lead the FCC and the makeup of key committees in Congress – this brief update spells out some key themes that will determine the direction of the media, internet and IP policy issues that will affect the future landscape for the music community.
Post co-authored by FMC policy intern Bryce Cashman
Add another point to the artist rights scoreboard: Village People songwriter/performer Victor Willis has succeeded in reclaiming a 50 percent stake the ownership of classic songs that he co-wrote, including the indelible disco smash “Y.M.C.A.” read more
Yesterday (March 10, 2015), a verdict came in the closely watched copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the family of late soul singer Marvin Gaye against the creators of the monster hit “Blurred Lines.” A jury found defendants Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke liable and a judge awarded Gaye’s children a reported $7.4 million in damages.
Since the news broke, there has been a flurry of commentary about what the verdict means for copyright law, particularly whether the jury’s decision will lead to an uptick in lawsuits around songs that are similar in “feel” to an existing composition. read more
Today, the United States Copyright Office released Copyright and the Music Marketplace, the result of last year’s Music Licensing Study—a project that combined roundtables in various cities with opportunities for written comments from stakeholders and the public. (FMC participated in the roundtables and official docket; see our initial comments here; reply comments here.)
There’s so much in the 245-page report that it’s impossible to offer a full breakdown of the recommendations in a single blog post. In fact, we’re still making our way through it, but the Executive Summary provides an overview of many of the key provisions. We certainly respect the effort it took to produce such a detailed report, and commend Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante for taking the initiative with such a thorny and complex issue set.
At first, I was thrilled to be discussing something other than Taylor Swift and Spotify, but then I got a bit annoyed at the binary nature of the debate. Those in support of Albini tended to be musicians from older generations who in earlier years struggled with basic issues like access to audiences. Those moved by Steinhardt tended to be disillusioned about the economics of music today, accompanied by a general fatigue that comes with trying to cut through a noisy marketplace.
I won’t rehash the points made by either gentleman (which you can read here and here). Both critiques are relevant in the sense that they describe aspects of the challenges and opportunities of making a life in music. However, in both pieces there is a tendency towards totalizing one’s individual experience—however valid—and applying that to the music community writ large. This leaves a lot out, including other genres, genders, cultures, races, ages, business approaches and creative ambitions.
Initially by accident, and perhaps later by design, YouTube became the number one destination site on the planet for music listening, discovery and sharing. It now has more music listeners than every other streaming music service combined.
With this accomplishment under its belt, it is now making a concerted effort to become an even bigger deal in digital music with the launch of its new YouTube Music Key service.
With this launch come several notable changes to YouTube:
Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court in Manhattan said no-go to SiriusXM’s motion for summary judgment (a move to dismiss the suit), giving the satellite broadcaster until Dec. 5, 2014 to dispute remaining facts. This means that SiriusXM can be held liable for copyright infringement.
Currently, recordings made before February 15, 1972 do not enjoy federal protection, as there was no federal copyright for sound recordings until Congress passed a bill on that date. However, this legislation did not apply retroactive protections, which means older sound recordings are covered by a patchwork of state statute and case law.
Last month, we let you know about a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives that would amend the Copyright Act to treat all married couples equally. Now Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), has introduced a version of this bill in the Senate, where he serves as chair of the Judiciary Committee. His rationale: “Artists are the creative lifeblood of our nation, and our laws should protect their families equally.”
Who gets paid, how much and under what terms when music is played on digital and AM/FM radio? Answering those questions isn’t easy, even for experts. But one thing is clear: 2014 has been a big year for the laws and policies that determine royalty rates for all forms of radio, and the intrigue will likely continue into 2015. read more
On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court made headlines by declining to hear several cases where federal appeals courts had upheld same-sex marriage rights on constitutional grounds, effectively making marriage equality the law of the land in several more states. On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit federal appeals court followed suit by rejecting same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. But despite all these quickly moving changes, there are a still a number of federal laws that have yet to be updated to ensure that the federal government treats same-sex marriages equally. One proposed update is of particular interest to musicians, songwriters, and other creative professionals.