Monday 22 January 2018

The 'Catch Up' COPYKAT

After a week in Groningen in Holland at the EuroSonic music conference and festival. it's time for a quick catch up before our two new interns, Mateusz Rachubka and Kelsey Farish take over. And since you were asking - the buzzwords at ESNS 2018 were 'bots' and 'blockchain' ! As for the word of copyright, and still mostly in the world of music - here goes!

There has been a LOT of chat about the fact that even with the 1998 twenty year extension to the copyright term in the USA, copyrights will (again) begin to enter the public domain with works from 1923 in the public domain next year, and Mickey Mouse cartoons entering the public domain starting in 2024, with Steamboat Willie. Will Disney lead another charge to extend the the term - AGAIN? Ars Technica's Timothy B Lee has polled lobbyists for the record and movie industries and so far there seems to be no will to push for any legislative pushes this year, and EFF's Daniel Nazer suggests that the studios know that there would be a big pushback now - "the days of copyright being a wonky, obscure issue that fronts the families of dead artists as human shields for policies that let big companies lock up more and more of our shared culture are over."

Still in the US, the music industry has (mostly) come together to support a raft of new legislation. First of all there is the CLASSICS Act, which is aimed at rectifying the much discussed pre-1972 quirk in American copyright law that excludes the earlier sound recordings from the performance right and therefor royalties from airplay (litigation by the Turtles, pictured left, has kept us busy on this blog).  US music trade bodies, lobbying groups and collecting societies representing record labels, music publishers, artists, songwriters, record producers and artist managers have also  backed the AMP Act, which would introduce a new right for record producers and sound engineers, and reform to the way satellite radio royalties are calculated, and provide a general performing right  for sound recording copyright to rectify another odd position in US copyrights law where AM/FM radio stations do not royalties (at all) to artists and labels for the airplay of sound recordings (they do play for the use of the 'song'). And the music industry is (mostly) behind the recently unveiled Music Modernization Act, which would cover the anomalies in America’s mechanical rights that (as CMU says) "has resulted in songwriters going unpaid and streaming services getting sued, including that mega-bucks $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by Wixen last month."  More here

Facebook has signed another multi-year licensing deal with a major music company -Sony/ATV Music Publishing.The news comes just two weeks after Universal Music Group announced that it had signed an agreement with the social media giant, which draws more than 2 billion users every month to its platform. Sony ATV’s multi-territory, multi-year deal covers a catalogue of more than 3 million songs, including those by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Drake, The Chainsmokers, Sam Smith, Sia and Kanye West. On top of this, Facebook them announced it had signed three more significant music licensing agreements,  this time with SESAC’s HFA/Rumblefish platform, Kobalt Music Publishing and Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights. SESAC says that its new Facebook agreement, a standardised deal in which indie publishers can choose to opt in, will provide ‘streamline music licensing and administration for the independent publishing market’.

Lana Del Rey by Bea Gibson
Are Radiohead suing Lana Del Rey over an alleged copy of their iconic song 'Creep'? Lana Del Rey recently tweeted: “it’s true about the lawsuit. Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by ‘Creep’, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing. I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court”.” Whilst many took this to mean a lawsuit had been filed by Radiohead’s lawyers, that isn’t quite the full picture. The spokes person for Warner/ Chappell states that: “As Radiohead’s music publisher, it’s true that we’ve been in discussions since August of last year with Lana Del Rey’s representatives. It’s clear that the verses of ‘Get Free’ use musical elements found in the verses of ‘Creep’ and we’ve requested that this be acknowledged in favour of all writers of ‘Creep’. To set the record straight, no lawsuit has been issued and Radiohead have not said they ‘will only accept 100%’ of the publishing of ‘Get Free'”.

Four of Britain’s biggest karaoke firms "face ruin" after being sued for infringing copyright in the US. It seems that "they must cough up hundreds of millions in damages after failing to pay royalties on versions of hits by acts including The Beatles and Oasis." £527 million in damages to be precise. UK firms SBI Global, Mr Entertainer, Zoom Entertainments and Music Factory re-create hits without the vocals and sell them on. But while they paid royalties on sales in the UK and Europe they did not have permission to sell in the US, a US court has ruled. More here

Fox and the Premier League have joined telcos Singtel and StarHub in a private case against two Android set-top box sellers in Singapore for allegedly ‘wilfully infringing’ copyright. The actions against Singapore distributor Synnex Trading and retailer An-Nahl, along with their respective directors Jia Xiaofeng and Abdul Nagib Abdul Aziz, have been brought under Section 136 (3A) of the Copyright Act. In a joint statement, Starhub, SingTel, Fox Networks Group and the FAPL said the broadcasting industry would continue to take "concerted and decisive action" against content piracy through public education as well as via legal channels to uphold intellectual property rights saying “The alarming proliferation of piracy and illicit streaming devices that are used to view copyright-protected content hurts both consumers and producers. Piracy makes it untenable for producers to keep on creating content for the public's enjoyment and Singapore cannot effectively encourage innovation when intellectual property rights are constantly trampled on”.

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