Talking to rights holders in the run up to the CISAC World Creators Summit in Washington, it seems that few agree that any country has the right balance between certain technology companies’ use of music and the abuse of copyright. Google has been on the receiving end of several legal actions by a number of rights holders that have claimed its online video service YouTube has either not acted quickly enough to remove content when asked, or is using content that it has no license for. Ever-troubling for rights holders is the fact that it is their responsibility to check whether music is being used correctly and not the responsibility of the digital-music service. 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
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
Earlier this week the BBC reported the drop in file sharing following the court-ordered block of the Pirate Bay (TPB) was short-lived (link to article). The BBC said it had been shown data by an unnamed major UK ISP which confirmed that P2P activity on the ISP’s network had returned to just below normal one week after the block was put in place. Should we all be surprised by this? Of course not. Stopping Internet users in the UK from accessing TPB won’t stop them file sharing. What will stop them file sharing is if ISPs blocked access to all file sharing services. Interestingly enough, most ISPs’ customer-use policies make it clear that the Internet service provided should not be used to infringe copyright. In fact, the usage policy usually forms part of a contract, and therefore any breach of this contract should result in the customer’s account being terminated. Such a scenario never happens. Continue reading
Last month the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) held a press conference at the Silken Berlaymont Hotel in Brussels to brief news reporters about a stance it was taking against European broadcasters on behalf of music composers. ECSA accused Europe’s leading broadcasters of forcing composers to give up their rights in return for TV commissions. Big names in broadcasting, such as RTL, ITV, BskyB, TF1, ZDF and Rai, were all accused of operating a system called coercive commissioning – in return for awarding a composer with a commission, the composer must assign all rights in the music to the broadcaster or TV production company. Put simply, no rights, no commission. Continue reading
Earlier this month, US District Judge Richard Sullivan ruled against EMI’s Capitol Records’ request for a preliminary injunction against the digital-music reseller ReDigi. Capitol had wanted the service closed down but Judge Sullivan denied the record company’s demand and insisted that the service should stay online and the case go to trial. The judge’s action has been widely reported as a victory for ReDigi and to some extent it is. Not every day can a start-up company say it has fended off one of the world’s biggest record companies. But in the longer term, having the case go to a full trial can only be a good thing for the music industry. Should Judge Sullivan have ruled without a trial that ReDigi was infringing copyright then the issue of legality would rumble on and proponents of digital resale would simply claim they have been trodden on by a big corporation wanting to protect its business. Continue reading
The European Commission (EC) is planning to publish draft legislation proposals early next year that will include new rules for the cross-border licensing of digital music. For several years representatives of the EC have expressed a mixture of mild irritation and outright annoyance over the licensing process for digital-music services in Europe. The number of such services has grown rapidly in the region, but several service providers continue to bemoan the time-consuming process involved in securing rights to operate in several countries. New business models specializing in digital-music delivery have brought change to collection societies, but according to some service providers, rights remain fragmented, and some providers have questioned whether the major publishers’ Pan-European initiatives have simply added a new layer of fragmentation and complexity to the licensing process, with Europe’s largest collection societies the only ones seeing any benefit. Continue reading