Tuesday 25 October 2011


Tommy Funderburk (CEO PayArtists, Inc) has contacted me to tell me all about his current venture. He explains: "I come from the music business as recording artist and label and now, founder and CEO of PayArtists.com. PayArtists is on the artists' and fans' side. We’ve patented a business model that provides a friendlier way for copyright owners to be fairly compensated without resorting to the lawsuits and tactics of the RIAA and MPAA. We believe that if a copyright owner were able to reach out to P2P users, the owners should be grateful for the opportunity to treat them as fans, potential customers".  I suspect that some of this blog's readers may have some thoughts on the subject, particularly once they've read the web page on the PayArtist site headed "Why Settle" ...

Enrico Bonadio (City Law School) wants everyone to read his latest publication: “File Sharing, Copyright and Freedom of Expression”, which has now been published in the European Intellectual Property Review (EIPR). Good news is that you can get it at no cost to yourself via SSRN here . Enrico explores the relationship between copyright and freedom of speech in the internet environment. He believes that file sharing technologies may boost the exchange of information, opinions and ideas among internet users and foster a number of values underpinning the very protection of free speech. For this reason, he argues, copyright rules might be relaxed when it comes to file sharing technologies, e.g. by transforming copyright from a “proprietary” to a “compensation” right.

The Copyright Clearance Center tells us of a profile of its CEO 
Tracey Armstrong, in which she describes how the digital evolution of content has paved the way for new methods for content licensing. Says Tracey:
“Licensing is evolving… It’s evolving because of the way that the users are interfacing with content…. The best technology is transparent. And the best licensing solutions for our users are transparent.” 
She then goes on to highlight that licensing tools which are easy to use have resulted in being used, generating revenue for publishers.If either you can't guess which licensing tools she is referring to, or just want to read the profile for the fun of it, you can find it here.

Last week the United Kingdom's Intellectual Property Office placed two major copyright-related reports on its website, neither of which have I had a chance to see yet.  They are (i) Private Copying and Fair Compensation, by Professor Martin Kretschmer, billed as "A study on the operation of levies on copying media and equipment in the EU. This report offers the first independent empirical assessment of the European levy system as a whole" [nb Ben Challis has posted on this item on the 1709 Blog here; I'm just including it for the sake of completeness in this round-up] and (ii) Changing Business Models in the Creative Industries, which examines the business model response to the change from analogue to digital in the creative industries.

"Sound recordings and copyright" is the title of an article by Tony Kent, parts of this article have previously appeared in The Audio Restoration Handbook, which you can find on the internet here.  As Tony explains:
"The purpose of this article is to provide basic copyright information for those involved in the restoration and remastering of old sound recordings. As my field of expertise is United Kingdom copyright law, this article is written predominantly from a European copyright perspective (UK and European Union intellectual property legislation having now been largely harmonised). Whilst I welcome input from anyone wishing to contribute additional information or to comment on any of the views or opinions expressed, I regret that I cannot provide formal advice on copyright matters via e-mail"

Copyright, Communication and Culture, by Carys J. Craig, received quite a warm and favourable welcome from me on the 1709 Blog when its publication was announced, here.  One of the comments posted in response came from blogger, tweeter and copyright cynic Crosbie Fitch who mentioned that he had requested but not received a review copy.  Crosbie has since reviewed the book, in terms which are far more critical of it. You can read his comments here.  Whether you agree with Crosbie or not, you cannot fault him for the effort and the energy which he has expended in his critique of it.  Readers' comments are, as ever, welcome.

Tied to the mast so that he couldn't jump overboard
in response to the Sirens' song, Odysseus realised
he couldn't access his smartphone ...
Via Chris Torrero -- who has again been scouring the pages of be Spacific for interesting topics -- comes news of "The Song of the Sirens: Google Book's Project and Copyright in a Digital Age", a paper by Clarice Castro and Ruy De Queiroz which you can enjoy via SSRN here.  According to the abstract
"Numerous scholars have highlighted the extraordinary book-scanning project created by Google in 2004. The project aims to create a digital full text search index which would provide people with online access to books and assist research. A few months after the original idea started being implemented, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers-AAP filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming that Google Book’s Project violated copyright law in the United States. The main contention was that the books which were not under public domain could not have been scanned without permission and compensation for authors and publishers. Google’s Book Project radically changed its character from the time of its birth until the negotiation of an Amended Settlement Agreement - ASA with the plaintiffs. It has raised serious controversies not only regarding different aspects of the future of the Internet but also over the issue of privatization of knowledge. Those in favour of the initiative highlight the astonishing accomplishment of Google, allowing us to access books more easily than ever before in human history. However, their claim is as dangerous as the song of the sirens. While at first sight Google tells a tale of extraordinary inclusion, it excludes those who cannot pay to access snippets or limited view of around 80% of the books available. We will also discuss the Amended Settlement Agreement of Google with the Author’s Guild and its failure on March, 2011. Finally, we will explore the concept of “fair use,” or “exceptions and limitation on copyright,” which provides for full access to books to any individual, library or archive as long as they are used for educational or scientific purposes."


Ben said...

I read Mr Funderburk’s website with some interest. Certainly the idea sounds good - a neat and cheap way to settle claims and make sure the artiste gets paid. Hooray!

But the business model raises and the ‘answers’ on the website raise far more questions than are answered. Firstly and most importantly I am still unclear who PayArtists represents – and so of course I looked at the FAQs which say this: “Why are you receiving a notice from PayArtists?“ with the answer “PayArtists is a company that is independent of the copyright owner, however we have been authorized by the owner (musicians, singers and songwriters or their family members) of the copyright.” This is a very odd answer. I am not saying it is wrong, but I couldn’t find where Mr Funderburk’s clients are detailed – although there were fourteen album covers from Chicago, and album covers from Funderburk Miner, Tommy Funderburk, The Front, Airplay and the West Coast All Stars on one page of the website. Musicians, singers, songwriters and their families are invariably NOT the owner of either the copyright in the sound recording or the song. Indeed the Four major record labels (Universal, Sony-BMG, EMI and Warners) control over 70% of the global market in sound recordings and the major independent labels a sizable chunk of the remainder. The major music publishing houses (and the collection societies) are equally dominant in the ownership of songs. It may not be a palatable truth, but artistes almost always assign one or both of their copyrights in songs and sound recordings away.

There is a lot more, but I will part on the issue of taking legal advice: The copyright in the song and the sound recording are often owned by separate copyright owners, potentially two claims, statutory damages in the USA are currently subject to judicial scrutiny in the Joel Tenenbaum case and the Jamie Thomas-Rasset case, and the issue of internet disconnection is a ongoing moveable feast in different jurisdictions around the World: So I was alarmed when I read “Will I need a lawyer?” with the answer “As with any legal proceeding, the guidance and representation of a lawyer can be important. However, the cost incurred to retain a lawyer for less than ten minutes will exceed our settlement offer. Deciding to hire a lawyer doesn’t make economic sense, but is entirely up to you”. I have to disagree and I would suggest that anyone who received a claim from PayArtists consider it very very carefully indeed.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the MediaCAT judgement clear up that one can't assign the right to litigate and recover independently of the copyright? I think this chap may need a good Birssing.