New issue of Music & Copyright

A very Happy New Year to readers of this blog and followers of Music & Copyright.

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

Physical still matters to the merchandise business, but goods are turning meta
Music merchandising remains big business, both for leading artists and for up-and-coming musicians. The former are able to charge high prices for limited edition items such as clothing and accessories, while many emerging artists have really needed to shift merchandise so stay afloat as lockdown measures continue to shutter music venues. Right now, there’s lots of innovation around nonphysical products as vendors look to develop digital music-related merchandise. UMG is emerging as a serious player in this fast-moving space. The company may well have a leading role to play in entertainment in the developing metaverse if its move to launch a virtual band selling virtual merchandise is any kind of guide.

Taylor Swift requests California judge reconsider trial ruling in Shake It Off plagiarism case
Taylor Swift is attempting for a third time to have a lyrics plagiarism case brought against her in California dismissed. The authors and copyright owners of the 3LW track Playas Gon’ Play claimed in 2017 that the Swift track Shake It Off contained lyrical similarities to Playas Gon’ Play and sued for copyright infringement. Although a district court ruled that the disputed lyrics in the 3LW track were too short and not eligible for copyright protection, an appeal at the Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the district court for further deliberation. Swift’s legal team then filed another motion for summary judgment, but the court denied the request to have the legal action thrown out. The judge in the case said that a jury may find enough similarities to show copyright infringement had occurred. Now, a third filing has been submitted to the district court, this time asking for the judge to reconsider his decision to press on with a trial.

The rise of OTT video and the potential impact on broadcast collections
Over the top (OTT) streaming of audio and video is a delivery system that has quickly become the leading mechanism of distribution and consumption. In contrast to traditional broadcast means, OTT is, as its name suggests, a process that uses the open internet rather than a service provider’s own infrastructure. Multiple services, including those from pure-play providers, such as Netflix and Amazon, are now available across the world. Moreover, revenue from OTT services now exceeds pay TV and growing numbers of consumers are finding the flexibility and convenience of OTT offerings preferable to traditional broadcast services. Pay-TV services’ entry into the OTT sector was as much about attracting subscribers that have so far not engaged with their full paid-for offering as it is about competing with the current pure-play services. However, with the competition for viewing intensifying, collective management organizations (CMOs) may well be feeling apprehensive about the impact of OTT video services on broadcast royalties, particularly given that the income source has, for many years, been their biggest revenue generator.

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