Post by Policy Intern Juan Carlos Melendez-Torres and Casey Rae
T-Mobile markets itself as a great liberator within the mobile phone industry through its “UnCarrier” initiatives. But is the company really all that different from other powerful carriers and Internet Service Providers?
On June 18, T-Mobile announced UnCarrier 6.0, which includes new “partnerships” with streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio, iHeartRadio, Slacker, Rhapsody and Milk Music. Under the UnCarrier 6.0 provisions, T-Mobile will not count music streamed on the aforementioned services against their subscribers’ data caps. Using any other online music service—say, Bandcamp or Noisetrade—will result in slowed speeds and potentially, overages.
by Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate & Jordan Reth, Policy Fellow
You may remember back in March 2013, when Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante—our nation’s highest ranking copyright official—told the House Judiciary Subcomittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, “Music licensing is so complicated and broken that if we get that right, we can get the whole [copyright] statute right.”
Well, after more than a year of hearings examining the nation’s copyright laws from many different angles, that same subcommittee finally tackled music licensing directly on June 10. It was a wide-ranging discussion, touching on multiple pieces of legislation currently under consideration, offering a preview of legislation around the corner, and laying out a range of views of how music licensing ought to be structured.
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Rep. Doris Matsui and Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced a bill called the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, which calls upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take any action required to prevent Internet Service Providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from picking winners and losers in an online free market. read more
“At this point, many of us are looking for a positive outcome after the contentious battle that was SOPA. For music companies, getting intermediaries like ISPs to take on some responsibilities in addressing user behavior is probably more cost effective and less brand-damaging than other enforcement tactics. For musicians, it comes down to whether the policy helps protect their rights without compromising what they find useful about the internet. With CAS, we’ll probably have to wait-and-see.”
In fact, the system seems to have had some impact on infringement without taking an overly punitive approach. We’ve waited for over a year now to see results, and it looks as if CAS might actually be working, though success remains a matter of definition. For example, a decrease in piracy may also have a lot to do with an increase in legitimate services where convenience and attractive price points converge. On the other hand, the “educational” focus of CAS may play a role in driving users to licensed platforms.
By guest blogger Taylor Lambert and Kevin Erickson
In the age of on-demand streaming, it’s common to hear people talk about music as “limitless”— something that flows forth endlessly like water. Indeed, musicians around the world release a huge volume of new music every day. But in practice, most consumers’ exposure to the world of new music is extremely limited. It’s one of the thorniest problems—if there’s so much music out there, why do consumers end up being exposed to so little of it? Why should the music marketplace be a winner-take-all system?
Of course, whether or not you view this as a problem to be solved could depend on whether you’re fortunate enough to be one of the “winners.” Still, media critics have long pointed to the role of gatekeepers who exercise considerable control what music reaches audiences. From radio programmers to retail managers to talent buyers to music reviewers and beyond, the most powerful labels do their best to keep their offerings front and center—often at the expense of independents. Radio is the still the number one source of “music discovery,” but commercial AM/FM radio broadcasters in this era of ownership consolidation tend to be highly risk-averse in their programming choices. Playlists are narrow and repetitive, as our research has documented. It has been the strong hope of the independent sector that online music services would be more democratic, allowing more artists to find audiences than was possible in the old-school media world.
Back in August 2012, the band requested $2.5 million in damages for copyright infringement of several songs—along with false endorsement—all arising from a promotional video Monster made for a Canadian snowboarding event, “Ruckus in the Rockies.” While Monster conceded that it did infringe the Beastie Boys’ work, it claimed the infringement was an accident and that damages should only be around the $125,000 mark. read more
If you think about classic rock, soul, jazz, r&b and pop music, lots of names come to mind—the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis and Elvis, to name a few. What you may not realize is that federal copyright law doesn’t apply to recordings made by these performers before February 15, 1972.
This exception makes it hard for these artists—and thousands of less-known musicians and performers—to be paid for their contributions to musical culture. read more