New issue of Music & Copyright with South Africa country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

SoundCloud must put faith in its creators to survive and thrive
Germany-based SoundCloud has been involved in music streaming longer than sector leader Spotify, but to date it has been unable to turn an evident appetite for its “social” music services into a sustainable commercial operation. The company was forced into a major reorganization last year, losing a good chunk of staffers in the process. However, it also picked up a fresh cash injection and an experienced management team, which might be able to squeeze more value out of SoundCloud’s most valuable resource: its artists.

Australian Senate committee backs incremental approach to safe-harbor expansion
In December, the Australian Senate referred the newly introduced Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017 to a committee for inquiry, with a view to reporting back with a recommendation in March. In short, the bill deals with the extension of the safe-harbor scheme to a broader range of service providers. As part of the inquiry process, the committee requested submissions from interested parties and then held a public hearing. The resulting report reviewed the bill and outlined the principal issues raised, along with the committee’s findings and a recommendation. Although the committee said the Senate should pass the bill, it said it agreed with the government’s decision to make an incremental expansion of the safe harbor scheme, so that it can continue to consult on how best to reform the scheme to apply to other online service providers.

Miley Cyrus the latest artist on the end of a lyrics plagiarism claim
Miley Cyrus has become the latest high-profile artist to be targeted by a copyright infringement claim. In March, Jamaican singer-songwriter Michael May accused the US performer, her songwriting and production team, and her record company and publisher of plagiarizing a short original lyric phrase that he created for his recording We Run Things. Although the phrase was altered slightly in the Cyrus track We Can’t Stop, May’s copyright infringement claim goes beyond simple copying, with accusations that Cyrus used cultural elements drawn from his track as a basis for her transformation as an artist and performer. May is reportedly claiming upwards of $300m in damages as well as an injunction preventing any further sales and performance of the Cyrus track.

South Africa country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed South Africa music industry report. South Africa is Africa’s biggest music market. Consumer spending on recorded music and live performance as well as royalty collections are significantly higher in the country than in any other market in the region. Despite its geographic location, South Africa more closely resembles a Western music market and has far more in common with many countries in Europe and North America than it does with its neighbors. Although this means per-capita spending on music is high compared with other African countries, the same problems encountered in the developed world in the shift from physical formats to digital and downloads to access, have been experienced in South Africa. Music piracy rates are extremely high and despite government promises to amend copyright laws and increase intellectual property rights protection, the piracy problem persists. But, although the rise in high-speed internet access has exacerbated problems associated with the unauthorized distribution of music, higher digital sales, rising smartphone penetration, and the rollout of several international streaming services suggests the market may well have a bright future.

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