The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Blurred Lines authors hit with $7.4m song plagiarism ruling
In one of the most high-profile song plagiarism cases in recent times, authors and performers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have been found guilty by a jury at a California court of copying the Marvin Gaye track Got to Give it Up in the creation of the top-selling track Blurred Lines. The authors have been ordered to pay the estate of Marvin Gaye $7.4m for copyright infringement after an eight-day trial, which heard testimony from both authors as well as a number of witnesses from the recorded music industry and expert musicologists. Thicke and Williams both denied copying the Gaye track and are appealing the court’s decision.
Second straight year of growth for German recorded music sales
Retail sales of recorded music in Germany grew for the second consecutive year in 2014. German trade association BVMI reported a 1.8% increase in spending on recorded music compared with 2013. Revenue from subscriptions and streaming fully offset falls in spending on single track and album downloads. Access service growth also compensated for the modest decrease in sales of CD albums. Performance rights revenue rounded off a good year for the German recorded music industry, rising for the third consecutive year. Continue reading
Depending on where a musician sits in the music industry value chain, a top-10 list of what’s most important to an unsigned artist will differ greatly to one compiled by a million-album seller. Scratching a living out of music is something tens of thousands of musicians do every day. Although the Internet has opened up the promotion and distribution of music to anyone with a computer, it has also made selling music a lot more difficult as almost every single release in a digital-music store is available for free somewhere online. Continue reading
Last year the European Commission introduced new proposals for a directive on the collective management of copyright and multiterritory licensing of music. The proposals, which target collection-society transparency and the efficient working of digital-distribution businesses in Europe, are working their way through a series of committees. After that, they must be agreed upon by the European Parliament and European Council of Ministers.
What the directive will not do is interfere with the way music publishers administer their rights. All of the major publishers and a number of independents have withdrawn the rights to certain repertoire for licensing on a multiterritorial basis. Some see these moves as a step towards the creation of a new form of fragmentation, one based on repertoire, rather than national borders. Publishers have long claimed that withdrawing certain repertoire rights streamlines the licensing process. However, music ownership can involve multiple publishers and therefore digital services that want to provide an all-encompassing offering still need to sign more licensing deals than the number of countries they operate in. Continue reading
In the past 20 years or so, all sectors of the music industry have been through massive change. Format transitions, company consolidation and greater scrutiny of copyright and licensing have changed the industry beyond all recognition. But have the changes made for industry improvements, and more important, have the main players learned from their mistakes? The recent discovery of the first issues of Music & Copyright has allowed for a unique look at just how much certain things have changed, and how much they haven’t.
The newsletter’s 20-year anniversary came and went in September, but thanks to a long-standing subscriber, copies of the first 24 issues published have been found and make for interesting reading. Despite containing names that have either long since left the music industry or been swallowed up as part of industry consolidation, the headlines for a number of news stories resonate closely with happenings today. Continue reading
Toward the end of last year, Deezer and iTunes extended their footprints to include several countries that are often considered emerging markets. The growth of broadband Internet use around the world, providing access to a wealth of unauthorized recorded music, has made life difficult for new digital-service rollouts. But with the balance of economic power expected to shift away from the current leaders, is now the time for the emerging markets to start living up to their name? Continue reading
The accuracy of data regarding the reported use of music is key in determining the level of royalties paid to authors, publishers, performers and producers. Improvements in technology to identify what music has been played and performed at all manner of venues and establishments has resulted in higher collections and greater confidence that royalties are reaching the correct recipients. But is there a point where collection costs outweigh the benefits? And if so, are the smaller, less commercial artists the ones in danger of missing out? Continue reading
Few regions in the world have escaped the spread of digital-music services. Even in the least developed territories, basic digital services, such as ring tones and ring-back tones, have been rolled out in an effort to tempt customers to go digital. But even though many of the Gulf States have highly developed technology infrastructures, digital-music services have been slow to take hold. Moreover, the lack of collection societies to administer rights collections has left the region as something of a rights wasteland. Could overseas involvement kick-start the rights-administration process? Continue reading