Friday 24 July 2015

The CopyKat dips a paw into the fast flowing stream

In China. the the National Copyright Administration has updated its policies on music streaming, updating saying online streaming services must stop providing unlicensed music to users. Service providers were required to remove unlicensed music by the end of July . The NCA said in a stament that the move was in line with China's copyright law and regulations. Those who do not follow the order will be 'seriously punished'. Duan Yuping, an official from the NCA, said the violation of copyright is common in China. “(Music streaming providers) infringed the rights of royalty holders, disturbed the order of the online music market, and also impacted the development of our music industry” - the latter being a common thread amongst comments with artistes, record labels and music industry executives supporting the fight against piracy. 

And Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant Alibaba is launching a music division to join its existing film and video units in China. Ali Music Group will be run by singer-songwriter and TV host Gao Xiaosong, who serves as chairman, and Song Ke, a former Warner Music executive, as CEO. Alibaba already has a number of licensing deals in place with the likes of BMG, Rock Records and HIM Records for their content to play on its platforms. 

In the UK, The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has released data that shows that the number of UK consumers accessing digital content through legal download or streaming platforms has risen 10% since 2013 - but one in five consumers continues to access music, movie, TV or gaming goodies from unlicensed sources online. The IPO survey says that 15.6 million UK internet users now access music online, with twelve million streaming and 10.5 million downloading - confirming the rise of the streams in recent years whic has been a common thread amionst recent figures from the recorded music sector showing streaming income rising at a very fast rate. whilst Spotify and Amazon are amongst the most use streaming music platforms in the UK, 54% of online music was consumed via YouTube - which whilst a licensed service certainly for songs via its licence with PRS for Music - its not seen as a primary revenue source by record labels and music publishers.  10 million UK internet users have accessed films online. Netflix, Amazon and YouTube were the top platforms for film downloads and streaming with Netflix responsible for 44 per cent of all activity. With TV, 15 million UK internet users have accessed a TV programme online. BBC iPlayer, You Tube and ITV Player were the top platforms for accessing TV programmes online with BBC iPlayer responsible for 62 per cent of activity. 21 per cent of users accessed some content illegally. The IPO survey highlighted 62% of internet users in the UK have downloaded or streamed music, TV shows, films, computer software, videogames or e-books. This is up from 56% in 2013. The survey showed that there was a 10% increase in UK consumers accessing content through legal services. One in five consumers still access some content illegally. The survey was published in parallel with research in Australia and shows that while British and Australian users consumed online media at similar rates, illegal downloading for UK consumers was half the rate of their Australian counterparts. 

Last week representatives from the UK’s creative industries, supported by the UK government confirmed the agencies that will help to deliver a major multi-media education campaign aimed at encouraging consumers to do the right thing and access content from a wide range of legal services as part of the Creative Content UK initiative.  The education programme will target 16-24 year-olds, their parents, those responsible for household internet connections, as well as others who influence young people’s attitudes to accessing content. A second part of the initiative will be a subscriber alerts programme that will be co-managed and co-funded by ISPs and content creators and due to begin at a later date.  Participating ISPs will alert and advise subscribers when their accounts are believed to have been used to infringe copyright. The four largest ISPs in the UK- BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media are partnering with Creative Content UK: other partners include the BBC, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), the Musicians’ Union and UK Music. 

And YouTube's dominance has prompted the major labels (Universal, Sony and Warner) to start to explore ways to loosen YouTube’s grip on free ad-supported music videos - not least by supporting rival sites like Vessel and Snapchat. The New York Post says that separately, the labels are weighing going nuclear — "potentially yanking rights to the Web’s most valuable and highly trafficked content" with one industry source telling the Post "They are not serious about monetizing music on behalf of creators and, as a result, music companies are realizing they have to reset the current relationship,” The labels are far keener on subscription streaming services such as Spotify's top tier. Industry body RIAA says ad-supported streaming services (both visual and audio) contributed just $295 million in 2014 to the US record industry — with YouTube’s contribution estimated to be about half of that sum. Google has said that YouTube has paid out billions of dollars to the music industry over the last few years and that partner revenue has increased 50 percent year on year the last three years in a row. More on Music Busines Worldwide here.

And Recent statistics explain why the record labels are so focussed: The income of Germany's recorded music market grew 4.4% year-on-year in the first half of 2015. That was mainly driven by a whopping 87% rise in streaming subscription revenues, which easily offset a decline in CD album sales. Download sales also increased. Germany’s record industry, the world’s third-biggest music territory behind the US and Japan, accrued €686m in the first half of 2015. The income of Sweden's recorded music market rose 4.2% in the first six months of 2015 - with streaming growing once again to claim 83.9% of revenues. According to new data from IFPI Sweden analysed by MBW, the market's recorded music turnover in Jan-June this year stood at 507.5m SEK (€54.6m), up from 486.9m SEK in H1 2014 (€52.4m).
And the income of the Italian recorded music market jumped up 22% in the first half of 2015, according to new figures published by Deloitte. The total revenues of the region stood at €65.55m, compared to €53.61m in H1 2014. A strong release schedule by local pop artists helped lift the total physical market by 22% to €37.3 million. Digital revenues increased 37% to €21.18m, with download sales up by 6% to €10.82m. Streaming, increased its year-on-year H1 income by 37%, up to €17.36m.

The Russian government's top Internet regulator has officially warned YouTube that it could be added to the Kremlin's Internet blacklist unless it removes unauthorised copies of Russian TV shows. It's the second time the agency has warned YouTube about the shows in question, and now the video streaming site must comply in a matter of days. A Moscow city court ruled on April 7th that YouTube was violating Russian copyright law by hosting copies of “Chernobyl” and “Fizruk.” YouTube removed the offending cntent but the shows have been uploaded again since, along with another 137 illegal videos. YouTube has until July 27 to remove the URLs in question or be included on the Russian RuNet blacklist, according to Global Voices Online, which tracks Russian media freedom.

The pit at Glastonbury (Denis O'Regan)
ImageRights International has announced the first "fully automated copyright registration service" designed specifically for the needs of professional photographers, "revolutionizing the process for registering photographs with the United States Copyright Office (USCO)". To be clear - ImageRights is a business - not a government or a free service - but makes the point that they have statistics that show that the time, cost, and complexity of registration has deterred 97% of US professional photographers from registering their work with the USCO, potentially losing out on "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in licence fees and indeed statutory damages from copyright infringement claims. There is a cost of course, but any interested (and unregistered) photographers can find out more here.

Oracle has asked a U.S. judge for permission to update its copyright lawsuit against Google Inc to include the Android operating system's current market dominance - Google's Android operating system is now the world's best-selling smartphone platform.  Oracle said it wants to update the copyright lawsuit, filed in October 2010, to add that Google continues its copyright infringement through updated versions of Android in both existing and new markets and this is resulting in harm to Oracle and (of course!)  benefit to Google. More here.  In June the US Supreme Court denied Google's writ of certiorari to re-examine the 2014 decision of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in favor of Oracle which held that application programming interfaces (APIs) in Java were subject to copyright protection. The next stop for these two companies is back to the trial court to determine whether Google has a defense to copyright infringement under the doctrine of  “fair use.” 

And finally a couple of technology updates - and sorry I have drifted into patents - not the CopyKat's field at all - but fascinating for all lovers of copyright too:

First up, Techcrunch tells us that "Researchers at the University of Cambridge have linked musical taste to thinking style, with possible implications for how future algorithms might better tailor music recommendations. Not to mention the flip side: how music streaming services could psychologically classify their users based on what they like to listen to".

And Mashable says that Apple has filed a fingerprnt sensitive patent application posted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website on Thursday -  "Apple detailed technology for a specialized TV remote control which could be used to access a person's TV preferences, bypass passcodes for services such as Netflix, enable child proofing and even control smart products in the home, such as garage doors and thermostats." 

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