New issue of Music & Copyright

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

Streaming hits new milestone as US recorded-music consumption rises again
US recorded-music consumption has registered a very positive year, with streaming again boosting consumption levels to record highs, according to Nielsen Music. Particularly notable in the results was that the number of streams served reached the 1 trillion milestone for the first time. Although the number of audio and video streams served increased year on year, it was video streams that registered the highest growth. Unsurprisingly, almost all buy-to-own formats suffered a decline in sales, apart from vinyl LPs, which benefited from two successful Record Store Day events. R&B/hip-hop was easily the most popular music genre in the US last year, ahead of rock and pop. However, the share of sales of most genres varied greatly by format and access method.

Subscription services putting the squeeze on unlicensed music access in Australia
A new report from the Australian government’s Department of Communications and the Arts has found that the level of online copyright infringement is falling. A report detailing infringement levels of the four entertainment categories of music, video games, movies, and TV programs painted a positive picture of entertainment piracy decline. For music, the share of respondents accessing only unlicensed content has halved in five years, with the share accessing only licensed content on the rise. The position for the other content types was also largely positive, with the share of respondents accessing only unlicensed movies and TV programs much lower than five years ago. Video games was the only category not to experience a fall in unlicensed-only share, but the proportion of gamers accessing licensed content only grew in 2019.

European Court confirms that supply of e-books represents a communication to the public
The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has published its ruling in a case involving the resale of secondhand e-books. Two Dutch book publisher associations first filed a claim against an e-book reseller in 2014. The associations claimed that the offering of secondhand e-books was an unauthorized communication of those books to the public as determined by the Copyright Directive. However, the reseller argued that its activities were covered by the distribution right, which was subject to a rule of exhaustion if the e-book was sold in the European Union by the rights holder or with their consent. Both a district and appeals court in Amsterdam ruled in favor of the reseller, forcing the associations to take the case to a court in The Hague. A number of questions were subsequently presented by the Hague court to the CJEU to determine if the supply of permanent e-book downloads was covered by the right of distribution to the public provided for by Article 4(1) of the Copyright Directive 2001/29, or the right of communication to the public provided for in Article 3(1) of the directive. The CJEU decided that the supply of e-books for download was covered by the communication right.

Asia’s growth potential prompts music company outreach
Recorded-music growth in Asia, especially in the huge Chinese market, is attracting the music industry’s leading players. In a relatively short space of time, a number of Asian countries have been transformed from piracy havens to the markets with the biggest growth potential. Record companies are establishing operations in the region, often together with local partners, to both distribute their existing roster of artists and to pick up Asian talent with a view to taking them to the West. And recent successes in the US for South Korean and Chinese acts have demonstrated that there is audience appetite. The trick will be to ensure that the region isn’t treated as a homogeneous entity, though the current signs are that record companies recognize this.

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