New issue of Music & Copyright with Austria country report

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

Soul Assassins accuses Peloton of “outrageous and willful” copyright infringement
Fitness service Peloton has been hit by a copyright infringement lawsuit from music publisher Soul Assassins. According to the California federal court filing, the fitness service is accused of using a number of unlicensed tracks in its exercise videos without permission. A few years ago, Peloton faced similar claims from several music publishers in the US. Although the service initially denied any wrongdoing and countersued the publishers, an out-of-court settlement was subsequently agreed, and Peloton paid undisclosed damages. Soul Assassin’s filing is short in comparison with most other copyright infringement claims, with limited specifics of the accusations. Moreover, the publisher has not made it clear whether it attempted to have the disputed tracks removed from the service or sign any licensing deal.

Online takes the lead for SACEM as total rights collections return to growth
In June, French authors’ society SACEM reported a return to growth for member collections, with the total exceeding the €1bn ($1.18bn) mark for only the third time. Now, the society has published its annual report shedding greater light on the results. After five straight years of rising income, total rights receipts were down in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic badly affected several revenue streams. Although growth returned last year, SACEM said the effects of the crisis are still impacting its business. Online was the biggest positive, with collections rising sharply. Such was the size of the rise, digital income overtook broadcasting to become the society’s biggest revenue source. Broadcasting and general licensing receipts were down for the second year in a row. However, private copying income was up, along with mechanical rights.

Record companies turned movie makers need to tell a good story
A raft of music-based documentaries is coming out across a multitude of platforms, both on established and developed services such as Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and Paramount+. Streamer Amazon Music has seen an opportunity here and is able to leverage the powerful distribution channel that is Amazon Prime Video. The major music companies have also been busy positioning themselves in this space, teaming up with TV and movie production outfits. However, they must guard against producing content that merely relies on seen-before footage and editing-room expertise. The documentaries need to have savvy angles, not to mention a rattling narrative, to attract decent audiences.

Austria country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Austria music industry report. Although well-developed, with a relatively high per-capita spending rate on music, Austria could be described as one of Western Europe’s laggards when it comes to the transition from physical formats to digital. Like its bigger neighbor to the north, Germany, which plays host to a large sector of consumers that have long been wedded to the CD album, physical formats accounted for the biggest share of spending on recorded-music in Austria until 2018. However, digital has quickly increased in dominance with streaming now easily the biggest revenue generator for local record companies. Authors’ rights collections in the country suffered a second year of decline, although growth is expected to return this year. Performance rights receipts for producers and performers edged up but remain short of prepandemic levels.

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