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
by Communications Intern Griffin Davis and Communications Associate Kevin Erickson
Last week, the video-hosting site Vimeoannounced that it would be implementing a copyright identification system called Copyright Match, which is meant to prevent unauthorized copies of works from being uploaded and viewed on Vimeo. Though its benefits to artists may have been a consideration, it’s a safe bet that Copyright Match is also intended to protect Vimeo from lawsuits like the one they are currently involved in with the major labels, while avoiding the headache of processing DMCA takedown notices, which is a frustration for copyright owners as well as service providers.
by Griffin Davis, Communications Intern & Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate
In the wake of the FCC’s vote last Thursday to bring forward a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology convened yesterday to question FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on recent FCC activities, with an emphasis on the ongoing debate over net neutrality. read more