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@KRSfow: Future of What Podcast on the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act

September 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Episode #94: Recently, a bill was introduced by Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner which calls for the creation of a comprehensive database of compositions and recordings. The “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” claims to make things easier for coffee shops, bars and restaurants who want to license music to play in their establishments. To many in the music industry, the bill seems like a wolf in sheep’s clothing with the potential cause big problems. On this episode we dig deep into the bill with Future of Music Coalition’s Kevin Erickson and attorney Chris Castle.

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The Government’s Music Database: What Would Monk Do?

September 7, 2017 Leave a comment

There is a fundamental difference between people with experience in the vagaries of copyright chain of title research and those who want their data served up in nice neat–very, very neat–packages.  So neat that you could eat your lunch off of those packages–one pea at a time arranged in a straight line, preferably.

Those who do not step on cracks have an especially difficult time understanding that song data is a dynamic process best left to the people who…well, who don’t mind the cracks.

Explaining this to our friends in the tech community is kind of like explaining the interpretation of a blood test to…well, to Monk.

@luluyilun: Tencent Music Seeks Pre-IPO Funds at $10 Billion Value [for Music Streaming App]

September 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Tencent Music Entertainment Group, controlled by China’s biggest social network operator, is seeking new funding at a $10 billion valuation ahead of an initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said.

The operator of karaoke and Spotify-like streaming apps plans to sell about 3 percent of its shares to strategic partners, including record labels, one of the people said, asking not be identified as the details are private. Tencent Holdings Ltd., owner of the WeChat messaging service, held about 62.45 percent of the music group at the end of last year.

By forging an equity link with record labels, Tencent Music would be securing its right to hold on to vital streaming rights in China’s increasingly heated music market. Tencent spun out its music division after merging it with China Music Corp. to win over a larger slice of a domestic streaming market forecast to reach 4.37 billion yuan ($664 million) of subscription revenue by 2018.

The company, which competes with products from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and NetEase Inc., is scooping up content to cater to users who turn to the web for entertainment and want services tailored to personalized preferences. Tencent Music has deals in place to distribute songs from artists including Beyonce and Taylor Swift after signing up with some of the world’s largest record labels, including Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music.

Some of the other most influential record labels for the China market include Huayi Brothers Media Corp. and Korea’s YG Entertainment, both of which have distribution deals with Tencent. Shares of Huayi Brothers rose as much 0.9 percent in Shenzhen while Tencent Holdings dropped 0.9 percent in Hong Kong.

Read the post on Bloomberg

YouTube, Facebook and Moral Rights

August 20, 2017 1 comment

I was honored last year to have been asked to participate in a symposium on moral rights co-sponsored by the U.S. Copyright Office and the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property at the George Mason University School of Law.  The symposium relates to the Copyright Office Study on the Moral Rights of Attribution and Integrity.

Moral rights is a key area of the law of copyright that is sadly lacking in the United States and an important legal tool to protect the rights of artists.

Moral rights (or for the fancy people, droit moral) are largely statutory rights that maintain and protect the connection between an author and their work.  (As I highlighted in Artist Rights are Human Rights, moral rights are not economic rights like copyright, but transcend those rights.  This is why you see language in the human rights documents, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that essentially track the moral rights language.)

The two principal moral rights are the right of integrity and the right of attribution (which conversely includes protection from misattribution).  These are recognized in the Berne Convention (Article 6bis for those reading along).  Others that are not mentioned in Berne include the right of first publication (which the U.S. has a version of in the “first use” doctrine for songs under compulsory license) and withdrawal–which is a bit reminiscent of the more recent right to be forgotten.

When it comes to attribution, or what we might think of as credit, there is a form of imperfect social contract between record companies, film studios and television produces with the creative community.  This is largely thanks to years of collective bargaining with guilds such as the Writers Guild, SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild as anyone who has been to a Writers Guild credit arbitration can attest.  It is unlikely that any of these would trade on a creators name.

The place where we have problems, of course, is with the New Boss companies like YouTube, Google and Facebook.  These companies don’t just trade on your name, they SELL your name as an advertising keyword thus associating the artist’s name with products, works or services without the artist’s knowledge, albeit somewhat in the background.

Try boosting a post on Facebook and selecting the attributes of the audience you want to reach.  Type in the names of 5 popular artist and I feel certain that you will find them all there.

Facebook Artist Names

We also have confirmation of this business practice from the Luke Sample affidavit in a piracy case against Google where Google executives advised Sample how to maximize traffic through Google Adwords to push Sample’s pirate site:

Luke Sample

If the U.S. expands its moral rights “patchwork”, it is likely that these business practices could come under a microscope as violations of moral rights.

Global Songwriter and Composer Organizations Send Open Letter to RIAA Proposing Solution to Massive Failures to Accord Credit and Respect International Laws of Moral Rights

August 16, 2017 1 comment

[For more information go to BASCA website.]

An Open Letter

15thAugust 2017

Mr. Cary Sherman
Mr. Mitch Glazier
RIAA

Via email

Dear Messrs. Sherman and Glazier,

It was with great disappointment that we read the recent RIAA comments to the Copyright Office in connection with moral rights; in particular, with regard to the right of attribution. The RIAA’s argument prioritizes the inconvenience of dealing with accurate metadata over the principle of the protection of the rights of the people upon whose work the music business is built. In our view, and the view of many in the creator community, this is not only irresponsible, it represents a betrayal of the ‘greater common purpose’ to which so many of us are committed—a purpose with which the RIAA claims to agree.

While music creators have greatly appreciated the RIAA’s leadership on, for example, the Music Community submission on Section 512, it’s crucial to note that such a leadership requires buy-in from the community one purports to lead. In this case, not only do you not have buy-in, the RIAA comments have inspired very active opposition, including that from UK and European music creators whose work is consumed widely across the USA but whose moral rights are not recognized, in part, due to your position. The Berne Convention, revised in 1928 to include moral rights, has 172 countries around the world signed up to it; it is only the US that refuses to assert them.

To make our position clear, we urge you to read the comments filed by Maria Schneider in this matter, which we believe capture the general views of the performer and songwriter community. Maria has outlined how enforceable rights of attribution (in the form of statutorily protected metadata) can be useful, if not indispensable, tools in achieving the kind of accountability from the internet that, in other submissions, the RIAA seeks to establish. [See Maria’s comments here.]

More fundamentally, RIAA’s comments are taken by many in the music creator community as a betrayal of our joint commitment to expand opportunities for creators. Unfortunately, this divergence of views gives our common adversaries an opportunity to divide our community.

We certainly are aware that the RIAA and its members have historically not embraced the idea of moral rights, and have tended to view it as a litigation risk. But the basic metadata rights we’re talking about here are already protected by Section 1202. We are not living in ordinary times, and we’re sure RIAA is well aware of the sensitivities regarding transparency and accountability. Without accurate metadata, contributors to a work risk not getting paid. That’s a moral dilemma intrinsically linked to the issue of moral rights — and on this issue the RIAA has now aligned itself with those who seek to enfeeble IP rights.

Even anti-copyright groups like Creative Commons understand the importance of attribution. If the RIAA is seen as less artist-friendly than Creative Commons, the copyleft and all who seek to undervalue our work will benefit. What’s more, this could make the job of aligning creators with the RIAA around our combined interests infinitely more difficult.

The RIAA comments raise fears about technical issues concerning implementation of the metadata. However, we believe this misses the point. No one is asking to add new requirements here. The current ID3v2 metadata tag is clearly a ‘standard technical measure’, and includes 80 separate ‘fields’ for including all sorts of metadata, including performers, lyricists, studio engineers etc. This capability is baked in to every MP3 and AAC. The RIAA should fully support and encourage all of us in the music community to harness and protect that metadata.

Instead, the RIAA frantically lays out a litany of hurdles they claim will prevent digital platforms from giving credit to the many people that contribute to a creative work. We believe there’s no doubt music platforms will come up with innovative and effective ways to give credit. Certainly there’s no need to set expectations at rock bottom as the RIAA did in their comments.

We have no interest in imposing new requirements that are unreasonable, or that require parties to include information that they themselves do not possess. But we do expect that the metadata capabilities that the industry and Section 1202 have given us will be protected, today and into the future.

Accurate metadata is essential to the healthy digital future of music creators, it is also critical to the healthy digital future of each and every Citizen Creator. The potential to report 100% accurate usage is the greatest promise cyberspace makes to Creators. Yet, in your Moral Rights submission, the RIAA seems to approach attribution and the accuracy that metadata provides as if it were a threat.

With key efforts like the Open Music Initiative, the future value of metadata to musicians and songwriters will be absolutely critical. And if, in the process of protecting those rights, we also happen to implicate certain moral rights, so be it.

The RIAA comments go in the exact opposite direction on this crucial issue, failing to take into account the potential value of legislated accreditation via metadata and providing ethical and political cover for Google and others to treat the internet as some kind of accountability-free zone. That, of course, has much broader implications than just with regard to the issue of moral rights.

We urge you and your members to think carefully about how to move forward from here in ways that truly reflect the interests of those you claim to protect. There are corporate players here, whose unfettered commercial self-interest masquerades as ideology and who capitalize upon our perceived divisions.

While the comment period may have technically closed, there is no restriction on the RIAA revising its views, endorsing the comments filed by Ms. Schneider, and affirming the following: a) the importance of metadata to musicians and creators; b) its strategic value to rights-holders in the future of payment/accountability technologies; c) the relevance and authority of Section 1202 in protecting those rights; and d) the short-term and long-term damage and chaos that is created by encouraging music distributors such as YouTube to disrespect and strip that metadata from our valuable creative works. In fact, we hope the RIAA will join us in encouraging the Copyright Office to use its authority under Section 1202(c)(8) to expressly include all of the metadata contained in a standard ID3v2 tag as falling within the definition of CMI.

We ask that the RIAA work with the creator community to address the specific issues of implementation. More important, we strongly urge the RIAA to present a united front in our common cause to protect the rights of music creators and those who present their work.

Sincerely,

British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA)

European Composer & Songwriter Alliance (ECSA)

MusicAnswers

Music Creators North America (MCNA)

Council of Music Creators (CMC)

Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC)

Societe Professionnelle des Autuers et des Composituers du Quebec (SPACQ)

Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL)

Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC)

Songwriters Guild of America (SGA)

Songwriters of North America (SONA)

@MykiAngeline: @The_WIMN: Front And Center: @SoundExchange Senior Director Of Industry And Artist Relations, @LindaBlossBaum — Artist Rights Watch

August 14, 2017 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez: A must read interview with a true artist rights advocate, Linda Bloss-Baum.]

Music has come a long way since the age of vinyl records and cassette tapes. It wasn’t that long ago when the only way to listen to music was either attending a live performance, tune in to your favorite radio station, or purchase hard copies from your local music store. Now with the ability to stream music from the internet, listening to our favorite artist is readily at our finger tips. Anyone with a laptop or smart phone can access almost any artist and song.

It also became increasingly harder for music artists to get paid for their creations.

This is where companies like SoundExchange come into play, working at the center of digital music to develop business solutions that benefit the entire music industry. As the Senior Director of Industry and Artist Relations, Linda Bloss-Buam ensure that artists and rights owners are aware of all the services that SoundExchange has to offer.

Below, Linda shares with us how she applies her experience and training in music policies and practices, and what she is doing to increase awareness of women in the music industry.

Read the interview on the Women’s International Music Network

@RobertBLevine_: Federal ‘Transparency’ Bill Endangers Songwriters’ Leverage for Getting Paid

August 12, 2017 Comments off

On the surface, at least, the “Transparency in Music Licensing Ownership Act,” introduced in the House of Representatives on July 20 by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), seems like a copyright bill that could help untangle the online music business….but the devil is in the details.

via @RobertBLevine_: Federal ‘Transparency’ Bill Endangers Songwriters’ Leverage for Getting Paid — Artist Rights Watch

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