The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
As endgame nears for the Copyright Directive, opponents plan their final hand
The European Union (EU)’s key institutions – the Commission, Council, and Parliament – have finally agreed on new copyright rules, in the face of intense opposition and lobbying from internet giants. The agreed deal between the institutions – the outcome of the so-called trilogue process that underpins EU rule-making that had already been subject to delay in December – includes the controversial Article 13, which will put the onus on the likes of YouTube to remove copyright-infringing material without being asked, something that online platforms have long resisted. For the measure’s supporters, Article 13 reinforces the position of content rights holders and enables them to be properly remunerated. But for some of its opponents, who have tended to rail against it in near-apocalyptic terms, it means the effective end of the internet as we know it.
Class action lawsuits against SME and UMG are set to clarify entitlement to US termination rights
Major labels SME and UMG are facing class action lawsuits filed at the New York District Court in an attempt by a number of authors to reclaim the copyrights to their music under the so-called 35-year law. David Johansen, John Lyon, and Paul Collins were named in the legal action against SME, while John Waite and Joe Ely are part of the action against UMG. According to the lawsuits, both record companies have refuted the artists’ termination rights claims on the grounds that the sound recordings are “works made for hire” and so not available for termination under US copyright law. In addition to copyright infringement claims, the artists have asked the court for declaratory relief that sound recordings cannot be considered “works made for hire,” and that the release of sound recordings created by a particular recording artist in album form does not constitute a contribution of a collective work. Although these two challenges to the record companies’ refusal to recognize the termination rights requests are not the first, they could prove to be the first to go all the way to trial and finally provide resolution to a problem in the making for more than 40 years.
It’s now “game on” for the music industry
Music and gaming are clearly natural bedfellows but the music industry has yet to fully exploit the potential of games and gaming audiences. The reach of some gaming platforms is vast, offering great marketing prospects for the recorded-music business, while esports events can attract sizable audiences that are also looking for content beyond the core tournament battles. Plus, as games developers have shown recently, there is real appetite for virtual concerts inside the titles themselves – and that really should be a cue for physical festival promoters to deploy gaming at events to further develop those live music experiences.
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’s relatively buoyant economy is reflected in several sectors of the country’s music industry. Recent trade results published by the IFPI show the country, often described as an emerging market, is starting to live up to its long-held potential with previous glimmers of optimism now turning into real sales. China’s digital infrastructure is highly developed, and with smartphone penetration on the rise, all the requirements for further digital growth are firmly in place. However, some creative sectors continue to suffer against a backdrop of unlicensed services and restrictive practices. Royalty collections have grown consistently for the last eight or so years, but given the size of the population and level of music use, rights holders’ earnings measured at a per capita rate are very small.
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