New issue of Music & Copyright with China country report

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

US Copyright Office denies Steven Thaler’s registration of an AI-produced artwork for a third time
The US Copyright Office (the Office) has for a third time refused a request from artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer Steven Thaler to register a piece of two-dimensional art that Thaler said was created solely by an AI machine. In a statement, the Office said that after reviewing the application, deposit copy, and relevant correspondence, along with Thaler’s arguments, the review board denied the registration. The Office explained that one of the main criteria for any copyright registration is human authorship. As Thaler stated that the artwork was created without his input, the application was turned down. Although Thaler’s registration attempt was about a piece of two-dimensional artwork and nothing to do with recorded-music, the use of AI to create music is gathering pace and so the denial by the Office to accept a work made using AI only is equally as relevant to proponents of AI-created music as it is to any other creative work.

Trade groups in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria all report annual rise in music retail sales
The three German-speaking countries of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria have all registered a positive year for recorded-music sales. The German trade body BVMI said that total revenue was up 10% last year, with subscriptions and streaming boosting the overall total. Spending on vinyl was also up year-on-year and performance rights and synchronization revenue returned to growth after a tough 2020. IFPI Switzerland reported a similarly positive performance with retail sales in the country rising 10.5%. Like Germany, subscriptions and streaming was the main growth provider with vinyl also registering an increase. The Austrian IFPI branch said total recorded-music revenue last year was up 11%. Streaming sales topped the €100m ($118.3m) mark for the first time and a rise in spending on vinyl partially offset the fall in CD sales.

Now is the time for music stakeholders to reap the full benefits of NFTs
Until fairly recently, no one in the music business was giving much thought to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), but now record companies and artists alike can’t seem to get enough of these tradeable digital assets. There is money to be made in a market where prices are ballooning—Snoop Dogg and Grimes are just two artists to have cashed in—and headline acts and their management really ought to be engaging with NFTs while the financial appetite for this type of asset lasts. But these tokens are more than mere collectibles. They offer a way for music companies and artists to both boost engagement with audiences and increase revenue from fans who are looking for experiences beyond the recorded track and the stage performance.

China country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed China music industry report. China is the world’s most populous country, ending last year with more than 1.4 billion people. Although the population is set to keep rising for the next 10 years or so, the impact of the one-child policy will come in to play from 2030 onward, when the population is expected to edge downward. China also has the world’s second-biggest economy, behind the US. For the final quarter of last year, GDP increased 4% compared with the prior year period. For 2021 as a whole, GDP was up 8.1%, a big rise on the 2.2% expansion in 2020. China’s relatively buoyant economy is reflected in several sectors of the country’s music industry. Often described as an emerging market, retail sales show the country is more than living up to its long-held potential. China’s digital infrastructure is highly developed and with smartphone penetration continuing to rise, all the requirements for digital growth are firmly in place. Royalty collections have grown consistently for the last 10 or so years. However, given the size of the population and level of music use, rights holders’ earnings measured at a per capita rate are much smaller than they should be.

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