If you’re tuned into the music-tech-policy punditsphere, you’ve probably come across debates about “brand-supported piracy.” Put simply, this is when major corporations have their products advertised on sites that offer music, movies and TV shows to which they don’t have the rights. This doesn’t sit well with creators and content companies, who are frustrated at third parties making money from unauthorized access to their works.
As longtime champions of a legitimate digital marketplace where artists are compensated and fans can easily find lawful content, we understand the concerns. read more
Once upon a time, a performing artist signed with a record label (let’s call the artist Jimmy Hendricks, and the label Toe Jam Records). Hendricks had a pretty decent career, touring around the country, but his record didn’t make much of a splash, failing to receive significant airplay or “move units,” in recordbizspeak. Then, in 2010, an up-and-coming hip-hop artist dropped a pitch-shifted guitar lick from Hendrick’s tune “I Enjoy Rock ‘n’ Roll” into his bangin’ new track. The hip-hopper loved what this lick did for his song, but was justifiably worried about being sued for infringement.
Peter DiCola of Northwestern University School of Law and partner in the “Artists Revenue Streams”-project of the “Future of Music Coalition” has recently published a working paper entitled “Money from Music: Survey Evidence on Musicians’ Revenue and Lessons About Copyright Incentives”, which also will be published in the Arizona Law Review. Based on data of the “Artists Revenue Streams”-project, DiCola analyzes different income streams of musicians in the U.S. […]
Post authored by FMC Communications Intern Olivia Brown]
Like it, or despise it with the white-hot fury of a thousand collapsing suns, Fox’s show “Glee” remains a high-profile musical source for many, especially in the under-50 demographic. Its cover songs routinely show up on the iTunes charts, and as of last February, the cast of “Glee” was the eighth-best-selling digital artist of all time, according to SoundScan. They have also far surpassed the record for most charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100, which formerly belonged to Elvis Presley.
“Glee” is powered by covers, probably more so than its actual plot. People expect new arrangements and interpretations, and then snap them up on iTunes. But what happens when those attention-grabbing and sales-generating arrangements were not actually created specifically for the show? Does “crowdsourcing” arrangements — that have a good chance of charting — from musicians without permission or attribution run afoul of copyright?
Washington can be a wacky place. Case in point: on November 19, 2012, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) — an independent congressional body that advances party-centric policy analysis — issued a brief containing some pretty ambitious ideas for reforming federal copyright law. No sooner than the document was made public, it was yanked, with RSC Executive Director Paul Teller stating: “Yesterday, you received a Policy Brief on copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard. Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand.” read more
If you were to pose the question of why unauthorized downloading is so pervasive many answers would probably refer to the prevalence of convenient, unrestrictive file locker services. This wouldn’t be wrong—file lockers clearly provide the infrastructure that people need to go about their unauthorized downloading activities. Opposition to file locker services tends to focus on their role as enablers and facilitators of unauthorized downloading, and in some cases, their tendency to turn a blind eye to the illegal exchanges that are obviously happening on their websites. read more
Last Friday, Google announced a major update to its search engine algorithm that will lower the ranking of sites hosting unauthorized content. We at FMC think this is a good thing: why should musicians and independent labels have their official pages show up lower in search returns than those offering illegitimate wares? There are, however, some legitimate questions about how this new search rubric will be managed, and to which sites and services it will apply. read more
Washington, D.C .— Future of Music Coalition (FMC) has for several months raised questions about a proposed merger between Universal Music Group and EMI Music, which would have a negative impact on artists as well as the growth of a legitimate digital music marketplace that rewards creators and fans alike.
News recently broke of an EMI proposal to European regulators that included divestitures and behavioral remedies meant to alleviate concerns over market concentration and resultant consumer harms. These supposed palliatives, however, do nothing to address concerns over the merger’s impact on the U.S. market, including the impact on innovation and leverage within the independent sector.
The following statement can be attributed to FMC Deputy Director Casey Rae: read more
[This post authored by FMC Legal Intern Joseph Silver]
The first sale doctrine within American copyright and trademark law has been getting a lot of attention in recent months. A number of federal circuit courts have touched upon this important copyright principle, which says that when a consumer purchases a good on the legitimate marketplace, the law affords them the right to lend, resell and dispose of that item (along with a number of other related uses). However, the first sale doctrine, also known as the exhaustion doctrine, does not permit a purchaser to reproduce, publicly display or perform the work, all of which are exclusive rights held by the copyright holder. Absent a “fair use” defense for consumers, those rules are pretty steadfast. Still, the first sale doctrine is an important limitation on copyright, which allows consumers who have lawfully purchased copyrighted goods to choose how the particular copy they purchased is distributed. This much remains settled. Yet two issues have recently arisen that aren’t so cut-and-dry: whether the first sale doctrine applies to digital goods and whether it applies to goods manufactured internationally.