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FutureBlog

Frequent postings from the FMC staff about the issues at the intersection of music, law, technology and policy.

Consolidation Station: Next Stop - Comcast & Time Warner Merger

by Jordan Reth, Policy Fellow

The proposed deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is the latest in a wave of major media mergers drawing public concern and scrutiny from the feds. Deals like AT&T’s reported acquisition of Direct TV for $50 billion and Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion, along with last year’s Maker Studios buyout by Disney—also near the billion dollar mark—are part of a larger trend of corporate consolidation. The Comcast Time Warner deal itself could be upwards of $45 billionbut is not the biggest deal Time Warner has been a part of. The Time Warner/AOL Online deal in 2000 was the largest merger by value ever announced, coming in at over $186 billion.

Beyond the staggering dollar figures are very real antitrust and public policy concerns. Let’s look at what it means for creators and fans when just a few companies control so much of the media, technology and entertainment universe. 

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Copyright Hearing Recap: Remedies

by Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate.

On July 24, the House Judiciary Subcommitee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and The Internet continued its ongoing review of copyright law with a hearing on the topic of Remedies. US Copyright laws give creators a number of exclusive rights controlling how their works can be used, but when one of those rights are violated, they must have options for recourse. As Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) noted, the legal maxim goes “there’s no right without a remedy.” That’s what this hearing addressed, and while there was consensus that the current system leaves plenty of room for improvement, a wide range of views were presented on what problems currently exist, and how to solve them. (You can watch the full hearing and read written testimony at the House Judiciary website.)

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Submitted by kevin on August 10, 2014 - 10:20am

Getting Tough With Unlicensed Lyric Sites

by Juan Carlos Melendez-Torres, Policy Intern

If you’re seeking lyrics to your favorite songs online, you now have two fewer sites to choose from. That’s because back on May 21, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) filed lawsuits against two unlicensed lyrics sites, SeekLyrics.com and LyricsTime.com, as the latest step in an ongoing effort to ensure that publishers and songwriters get compensated when lyrics are reproduced and transmitted online. Since then, these offending sites have disappeared from the internet. But don’t worry; you probably won’t notice they’re gone, and you can instead choose from one of the plethora of licensed and legal alternatives.

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Submitted by kevin on August 6, 2014 - 4:59pm

FMC to DOJ: Don't Forget About the Songwriters

Regular readers will be familiar with FMC’s position on artist compensation, including our support of efforts to have songwriter and composer royalties better reflect their creative contributions. (Keep in mind that songwriters aren’t necessarily performers or recording artists, which means they rely on royalties from the music they composed and/or the lyrics they’ve written.) read more

US Senator Backs Deer Tick's Right to Carry Guitars

by Juan Carlos Melendez-Torres, Policy Intern

In the lead up to this past weekend’s Newport Folk Festival, reports surfaced on social media of an all-too-familiar tale: a musician once again encountering problems while attempting to board a flight with a musical instrument.  Last Wednesday, it was John McCauley, singer, guitarist, and songwriter of Rhode Island-based Deer Tick who was refused entry to his flight in Philadelphia by U.S. Airways.  The reason?  He wanted to take his guitar on board with him.  read more

Submitted by kevin on July 30, 2014 - 1:41pm

Artist Compensation and the Future of Music

It used to be that big companies were able to define the parameters for debate about music industry issues, and make all the big decisions. What was good for corporate media and big money, we were told, was good for the artists, and for the music industry as a whole.

The desire to tell a more complete and accurate story centered on the needs and experiences of musicians was a big part of why Future of Music Coalition got started 14 years ago. By now, more people understand that the agendas of a handful of giant music companies may sometimes align with artists, but not always. In fact, these companies are very capable of misdirection when it benefits their bottom line. And tech companies don’t have a lot of experience working directly with artists, in part because the existing structures so often compel big-money negotiations with the major rightsholders. Today, we’re thrilled to see more and more artists speaking openly about the issues that impact their livelihoods. Independent labels are getting bolder too, in demanding fair treatment and respect for their different way of doing business.

Copyright Hearing Recap: Music Licensing Pt. 2

by Juan Carlos Melendez-Torres, FMC Policy Intern

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held its second hearing on music licensing on June 25, welcoming input from a variety of interest groups and organizations as a continuation of the ongoing reexamination of our country’s copyright system.  You can find our coverage of the prior hearing here

Nine witnesses testified before the committee, offering opinions that varied in focus but all highlighted major areas of potential reform. Witnesses for this hearing included singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash representing the Americana Music Association, Cary Sherman (CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA), Charles Warfield on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Darius Van Arman on behalf of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Ed Christian of the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), Paul Williams as President of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Chris Harrison of Pandora, President of SoundExchange Michael Huppe, and David Frear, CFO of Sirius XM

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Understanding SoundCloud's Copyright Woes

By Griffin Davis, Communications Intern

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that streaming music host SoundCloud was close to finalizing licensing deals with the three major labels. The deals would reportedly grant each label an ownership stake in SoundCloud of 3-5 percent in exchange for their agreement not to sue over copyright infringement on SoundCloud. Meanwhile, a mini-controversy has erupted over Soundcloud’s implementation of its copyright enforcement procedures, making it important to separate fact from fiction.

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Submitted by griffin on July 21, 2014 - 3:18pm

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