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

Triple Trouble: Three High Profile Copyright Cases Settled

Maybe it was in celebration of International Happiness Day, or maybe it was just coincidence, but this week saw three high-profile copyright cases all resolved through out-of-court settlements.

First, upstart toy company GoldieBlox settled with Beastie Boys over the unauthorized use of a version of the Beasties song “Girls” with altered lyrics in an online ad video. As we reported in December, the case was framed initially as a question of whether the video qualified as fair use, but it also raised issues of trademark infringement, false endorsement, unfair competition, and misappropriation of publicity rights. In the end, the Beasties got what The Hollywood Reporter originally reported that they were after: a donation by Goldieblox to a charity of the Beasties’ choice, based on a percentage of revenue, and a more substantive apology:

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Copyright Hearing Recap: DMCA Notice & Takedown

It’s been exactly one year since US Copyright Office head Maria Pallante called for a comprehensive update to the Copyright Act. Since then the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet has conducted a series of hearings amounting to a review of our nation’s copyright laws.

That process continued last Thursday with an examination of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This section contains “notice and takedown” provisions, under which internet service providers are sheilded from liability for infringement committed by users. Such “safe harbors” are only extended if an online service expeditiously complies with rightsholders’ requests to take down infringing content upon receiving notice. (You can watch the hearing online and read witnesses’ written testimony at the Judiciary Committee’s website).

The safe harbor protection provided by the DMCA is important to musicians and other creators because it enables the existence of many services that we use every day to communicate with fans, express ourselves creatively and sell our wares. Without the safe harbor, it would be difficult for services like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, YouTube, and countless others to have gotten off the ground and remain in business, due to potential damages for the actions of their users.

However, assessments of how well the notice and takedown requirements are working in practice vary widely.  

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Submitted by kevin on March 20, 2014 - 1:17am

Artists' Pay for Radio Play: A View From the Green Room

by Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate

When I talk to friends about my work with FMC, they’re eager to hear about the behind-the-scenes excitement that fuels policy change. Perhaps they’re hoping for House of Cards-style political intrigue set amidst DC’s marble halls.

To be honest though, the most exciting part of my job happens in more humble settings—like a couple Tuesdays ago in NYC, when I got to see Tift Merritt and Marilyn Carino huddle in a corner of a backstage green room to practice harmonies, singing along with a phone’s tinny speaker: “You! You got what I neeeeed!” as David Byrne paced around staring at a lyric sheet, doing his best to memorize as much he could before taking the stage at Le Poisson Rouge. 

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