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.

US Supreme Court rules that copyright registration is required to begin an infringement claim
To make a copyright infringement claim in the US, rights holders must first have registered their work with the US Copyright Office. However, courts engaged in infringement claims have disagreed on the nature of registration, with some happy that a registration with the Copyright Office be made when an application has been submitted and others requiring that an application be granted. Authors have complained that the problem with waiting for a Copyright Office grant can lead to a lengthy delay in making a copyright infringement claim. However, proponents of the procedure suggest that the requirement to have a work registered before infringement claims can be made acts as encouragement to register works prior to their release. Now, the Supreme Court has provided clarity on the issue by ruling that rights holders must wait for a copyright registration to have been completed before an infringement claim can be made.

Recorded-music industry makes slow progress in efforts to tackle gender imbalance
Despite a rise in the number of initiatives to increase female participation in the performance, management, and technical sides of the music business, women remain severely underrepresented across the board. New research from the USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative has highlighted the low numbers of women featuring in the performance of top-selling tracks, authorship of those tracks, and their production. This year’s Grammy Awards was a successful night for some of the world’s leading female artists, but their success masks a very real problem of gender exclusion. Although the USC Annenberg report spells out relatively simple solutions to overcome the lack of female opportunities, putting those solutions into practice and changing the mindset that songwriting and music production are jobs for men will be a long process.

SoundCloud must keep artists happy to thrive
Music streamer SoundCloud looked as though it might be on its way out a little over a year ago, but a spot of belt-tightening, an injection of finance, and a new CEO have improved performance. Now the company is upping its game and looking to make more of its large and dedicated artist community by providing a gateway to many of the world’s digital music providers. That pits it against the streaming sectors’ big boys, however, and SoundCloud will need to work hard to ensure that it gives its artists the tools they need both to create music and to distribute it easily and efficiently.

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. 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, South Africa has experienced the same problems encountered in the developed world in the shift from physical formats to digital and from downloads to access. 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 has a bright future.

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