The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Algorithms may have rhythm, but questions remain over who gets the credit
Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to make waves in the music industry. Algorithms are already composing music – albeit often with a little help from their artist friends – and with the technology advancing apace, audiences will certainly be listening to more AI melodies in the charts. However, composing with a piece of code that learns its skills from existing compositions raises some interesting rights issues that will probably take years to resolve. But that doesn’t mean that artists and songwriters won’t benefit from AI-based solutions on the royalties side as copyright owners become more creative with algorithms.
Europe’s top court details its ruling in the long-running Kraftwerk sampling case
At the end of July, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) made a ruling in a case involving Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider‑Esleben, from German electronic group Kraftwerk, and two composers, Moses Pelham and Martin Haas. The case concerns a track called Nur Mir, recorded by German rapper Sabrina Setlur in 1997, which included a two-second sample from the 1977-released Kraftwerk track Metall auf Metall. The ECJ decided that sampling without authorization can infringe a phonogram producer’s rights, but that use of a sound sample taken from a phonogram in a modified form unrecognizable to the ear does not infringe those rights, even without any authorization. The case was initially filed by the Kraftwerk pair 20 years ago, and although the two were initially successful at the first trial and on appeal, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) overturned the previous rulings. The case was returned to the lower court to be reassessed, and several questions of law were subsequently referred to the ECJ. Initially, the ECJ published its decision in a short press release. However, the European body has now explained in more detail why it came to its conclusions.
Subscription streaming drives up midyear recorded-music sales figures in Italy and the UK
New figures published by Italian recorded-music trade group FIMI and UK entertainment retail body ERA show recorded-music sales in the two countries increased in the first half of this year, with a rise in music subscriptions behind the growth. According to FIMI’s trade results, revenue from paid audio subscriptions overtook sales of physical formats, with a rise in income from the former more than offsetting a drop in sales of the latter. Further growth came from ad-supported offerings and video streaming. Moreover, the growth rate in the first half of this year was up on the rate in the prior-year period. ERA’s results did not include any ad-supported or video-streaming details but did show a healthy rise in subscription sales. Despite the continued decrease in sales of physical formats and music downloads, retail sales of recorded music in the UK are well on the way to registering a fifth consecutive year of growth.
Poland country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Poland music industry report. Poland is one of Eastern Europe’s largest recorded-music markets, second only to Russia. However, the country is the region’s leader for trade earnings from the sale of physical formats and revenue from performance rights. For several years, high levels of piracy restricted efforts to establish a digital sector, but rising consumer interest in streaming and subscriptions has meant digital is accounting for an increasing share of overall trade sales. Positive economic results will also have boosted most music sectors in the country. Poland is unique in the European Union (EU) for being the only country not to have fallen into recession following the global financial crash 10 years ago, and the country’s economy is one of the EU’s success stories. UMG maintained its position as the country’s biggest recorded-music distributor, while authors’ society ZAiKS reported a third straight year of collection growth after two years of decline.
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