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

Debunked: There Is No "SOPA 2014"

by Communications Associate Kevin Erickson

Hailed as a new step towards a more open, responsive government, The White House’s petition site is in the news again as a key reason for the passage of a bill legalizing cell phone unlocking, signed into law this month. However, as a recent Time Magazine article points out, a handful of popular petitions are still awaiting a White House response despite having surpassed the 100,000 signatures mark, which was supposed to trigger an official reply. Among the petitions crossing this threshold were two that caught our attention: “Stop SOPA 2013” and “Stop SOPA 2014.”

Oddly, the Time article doesn’t mention that the White House already responded thoughtfuly and extensively to a petition about SOPA back in 2012. But much more disconcerting than the lack of official response to the new petitions is the fact that so many people have signed petitions expressing fierce opposition to legislation that they don’t seem to know doesn’t actually exist.

Submitted by kevin on August 28, 2014 - 4:41pm

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

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