MediaNet Blog

RECAP: Artists Petition Against DMCA, Apple Slams YouTube, TuneCore & SOCAN Deliver Huge Payments

Posted by Glen Sears | June 20, 2016 9:30 am | No Comments


Story of the Week

Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney Among 180 Artists Signing Petition For Digital Copyright Reform
In an ad that will run Tuesday through Thursday in the Washington DC magazines Politico, The Hill, and Roll Call, 180 performers and songwriters are calling for reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which regulates copyright online. A range of big names from every genre signed the ad — from Taylor Swift to Sir Paul McCartney, Vince Gill to Vince Staples, Carole King to the Kings of Leon — as did 19 organizations and companies, including the major labels.

Artists are usually reluctant to get involved in copyright policy debates, but several signed an April 1 petition on the same topic. Like the petition many artists signed in 2012 against the Internet Radio Fairness act, which would have lowered online radio royalties, this represents a rare case in which most of the music business agrees on something.

Two other artists have been especially critical of YouTube. Trent Reznor, no stranger to technology given his role at Apple Music, told Billboard on June 13 that YouTube was “built on the backs of free, stolen content.” Nikki Sixx’ band Sixx:A.M. also wrote a detailed open letter to YouTube, appealing to Larry Page, chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to better compensate musicians. Last week, YouTube responded, in a statement to Music Business Worldwide that said “the voices of the artists are being heard.”

Read the entire story on Billboard.

Top Music News Stories

Apple Says YouTube Is “Built On the Backs of Free, Stolen Content.” “Personally, I find YouTube’s business to be very disingenuous. It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big. I think any free-tiered service is not fair. It’s making their numbers and getting them a big IPO and it is built on the back of my work and that of my peers. That’s how I feel about it. Strongly.”

Why Apple Music Matters So Much To Apple. Apple is building a new narrative for Wall Street that focuses on the revenue it generates from its existing customer base (in order to distract attention from slowing device sales). Apple Music is the proof of concept. If it gets Apple Music right it will demonstrate its ability to deliver on best-in-class digital services.

Twitter Makes A Massive $70 Million Investment In SoundCloud. Both companies could use some help—Twitter has been punished by Wall Street for its inability to add users at a rapid clip; SoundCloud’s flat valuation indicates that investors are also worried about its own growth prospects.

Rhapsody Rebrands As Napster But Promises ‘No Changes.’ “No changes to your playlists, favorites, albums, and artists. Same music. Same service. Same price. 100% the music you love. Stay tuned!

Guvera $75M IPO Blocked By ASX, Future Of Music Streamer In Doubt. In an almost unprecedented move, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has rejected a $75 million IPO by international music streamer Guvera just one day after its was approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Federal Court Upholds FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules. The 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is a win for the Obama administration, consumer groups, and content companies such as Netflix that want to prevent online content from being blocked or channeled into fast and slow lanes.

SOCAN Reports Record Figures For Canadian Creators In 2015. The PRO brought in $307.8 million in total domestic and international royalties, the first time in its history exceeding $300 million in total revenues from the performance of the music of its more than 135,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members.

TuneCore Artists Earned $42 Million Last Quarter, Up 16%. Revenue from music streaming services like Spotify, TIDAL, Deezer and Rhaposdy has grown significantly, according to the digital music distributor.

RIAA Writes to Judge About Controversial Ruling Over Remastered Sound Recordings. Despite the view that the RIAA might find the remastered ruling beneficial — some have even argued that remastered albums might allow record companies to avoid copyright termination — the recording industry’s top trade group appears to be siding with ABS in this fight.

Our best wishes for a great week! – MediaNet

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FAQ: 5 U.S. Digital Music Use Types & the Licenses You Need

Posted by Glen Sears | June 19, 2015 11:08 am | No Comments

Digital Music License Royalties

There you are, on the cusp of planning or building your digital music service. Maybe you’re creating an online radio station. Maybe something as simple as covering a song and posting the video online. Whatever your project, if it contains copyrighted music you need a license. Probably more than one. It’s critical that everyone gets paid each time the play button is pressed.

The question is: what license(s) do you need? Mechanical? Performance? Do I have to negotiate? Is it compulsory? What about synchronization? Where do I go to obtain the licenses?


FAQ: The Basics of Core Music Licenses

Posted by Glen Sears | June 12, 2015 2:10 pm | No Comments

basics of music licenses

In almost every situation, before you can use a copyrighted piece of musical content, you need to obtain at least one license. This license entitles you to use the work, and also requires you to pay various types of royalties to the copyright owners. In many cases, more than one type of license is required.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of music licenses, who they are obtained from, and what they are used for.

Master Recording License

Gives the holder of the license the right to use a recording made by someone else. Master recording licenses are controlled directly by the rights holder, usually the artist or record label. A master recording license must be obtained for each song required for a project. These projects typically include things like compilation CDs.

Mechanical License

Gives the holder of the license the right to copy or duplicate a song. Mechanical licenses are controlled by the song’s publisher or songwriter(s), sometimes both. A mechanical license entitles the rights holder to mechanical royalties, which are paid every time the song is “reproduced.” Projects that require mechanical licenses typically include CD pressings and cover songs.

Public Performance License

Gives the holder of the license the right to “publicly perform” a work of music. Performance licenses are controlled by the songwriter, or the songwriter’s Performing Rights Organization. These PROs include ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and others. The term “public performance” includes much more than just live performances. DJ sets, background music in businesses, presentations and meetings, and digital radio & streaming services all require performance licenses.

Sync License

Gives the holder of the license the right to “synchronize” a musical work to another visual medium, usually video. Sync licenses are controlled by the composer, songwriter, or publisher; sometimes all three. Projects that require sync licenses typically include theme songs for television, video advertising, movie soundtracks, and video games.

Print License

Gives the holder of the license the right to reproduce lyrics or sheet music for a musical work. Print licenses are controlled by the song’s publisher or songwriter(s), sometimes both. Projects that require a print license typically include sheet music books and lyrics websites.

Compulsory License

Allows an individual or company to obtain a music license without first seeking the rights holder’s consent. In exchange, that individual or company pays the rights holder a set fee for the license called The Statutory Rate. Projects that can receive a compulsory license are jukeboxes, digital broadcasts, Public Broadcasting Service, Cable TV broadcasts of local stations, and mechanical licenses for an album or digital recording (also called a compulsory mechanical license).

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FAQ: How Does The DMCA Really Work?

Posted by Glen Sears | May 27, 2015 10:00 am | No Comments

Everything You Need To Know About The DMCA

If you’re a part of the music industry at any stage, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Yet despite being over 15 years old, many industry professionals don’t have a firm grasp on what it means or how it works.

What is the DMCA?

As the internet’s popularity exploded in the late 1990s, media industry executives from Hollywood to Nashville and abroad were searching for a way to protect their intellectual property online. To that end, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) implemented new copyright policies in 1996 for their member nations to adopt. Their role as the primary rights protection organization on the planet assured that most nations would adopt similar rules.

The United States government convened to create updated legislation that both aligned with the new WIPO treaties and established protections for businesses operating in the new digital world. It was named the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1998.

While a complicated piece of legislation, the DMCA has three major points of interest for music industry professionals: (1) making circumvention of Digital Rights Management (DRM) illegal, (2) providing ISPs, web hosts, search engines, and other “interactive services” immunity when its users infringe on copyright, and (3) updating compulsory license law to include webcasting.

DRM & Anti-Circumvention

Many pundits credit the anti-circumvention measures in the DMCA (Title I) with the proliferation of technologies like the DVD and the subsequent success of companies like Blockbuster and Netflix. From an industry standpoint anti-circumvention measures made adopting emergent technology much easier. However, some like the Electronic Frontier Foundation now posit that these same anti-circumvention measures are stifling innovation and “have not been used as Congress envisioned.”

Whatever the case may be in regard to anti-circumvention, arguably the far more important part of the DMCA is Title II, which deals with “Safe Harbor” legislation. This section also lays out the groundwork for what we now know as the DMCA Takedown Notice, and its importance in the modern music and technology industries cannot be overstated.

DMCA Safe Harbor

Piracy of copyrighted materials such as master recordings or movies doesn’t just involve the end user and pirate. Transmission of pirated material often involves internet service providers (ISPs), hosting services such as GoDaddy, search engines such as Google, and “interactive services” such as Soundcloud and YouTube — usually without their knowledge.

Safe Harbor provisions protect these companies from legal action related to copyright infringement on their networks, so long as they implement specific takedown procedures. This protection was pivotal to the internet as we know it today. Services like YouTube, lacking these protections, could be buried in direct litigation for material residing on their servers that infringed a rights holders copyright.

To qualify, a service provider must 1) not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, 2) not be aware of the presence of infringing material or know any facts or circumstances that would make infringing material apparent, and 3) upon receiving notice from copyright owners or their agents, act expeditiously to remove the purported infringing material.

DMCA Takedown Notices

So, what happens when an artist, songwriter, publisher, label, or other rights holder discovers their work improperly hosted on one of these services? The rights holder submits a DMCA Takedown Notice to the service provider requesting the material be removed. That notice, given to the service provider’s listed DMCA agent, sets in motion a series of actions:

  1. Upon receiving the Takedown Notice, the service provider must remove the work in question and inform the Original Poster (OP) of the action.
  2. The OP now has the option to counter the claim of copyright infringement by providing notice of their right to use or post the work in question. If they do not, the work stays removed.
  3. If the OP does submit a counter-notice, the rights holder has 14 days to issue a lawsuit or the material will be reinstated as the OP had posted.

Writing a DMCA Takedown Notice is easy, as this article on WikiHow shows. Similarly, writing a DMCA counter-notice is easy. In both cases, you must identify yourself, the material, your claim to the material, and state both the verity of your claim and your consent to the proper legal jurisdiction.

Takedowns themselves don’t have a set time frame, only “expeditious” action is required. Different service providers have different interpretations of “expeditious,” and the time between a Takedown Notice submission and the actual takedown varies. Some services like Muso will automate this process for you, sending notices, follow-ups, and aiding in the legal process.

If the OP has no counter-claim to the Takedown Notice, the takedown is complete. Certain service providers levy penalties on posters for having successful DMCA Takedowns leveraged against them. Others simply remove the content and move on.

If the OP does have a counter-claim, a protracted legal case is possible but unlikely. In many cases the Takedown Notice is merely an oversight and the counter-claim ends the conversation. If this is the case, the rights holder is then liable to the OP for any damages resulting from improper removal. In the event that the rights dispute does make it to court, cases can sometimes last a year or more.

As the landscape becomes more complex, service providers are seeing their Safe Harbor come into question more often. This has lead some to speculate that Safe Harbor protection is less robust than it used to be. In any event, the DMCA Takedown Notice system remains the primary way for rights holders to remove infringing material from services without penalizing their providers.

Compulsory Licensing

Title IV of the DMCA also largely expanded compulsory licensing. Compulsory licensing is a part of copyright law that allows an individual or company to use another’s intellectual property without first seeking the rights holder’s consent. In exchange, that individual or company pays the rights holder a set fee for the license.

Essentially, the rights holder is required to allow another entity to use their copyrighted material, in exchange for royalties at a rate set by Congress (the Statutory Rate). Prior to the DMCA, compulsory licenses were granted for things such as jukeboxes, cable broadcasts, or use on public broadcasting stations.

The DMCA expanded the umbrella of compulsory licensing to include “webcasting.” This opened the door for things like simulcasting of television events, streaming of concerts, and other synchronized licenses to exist as compulsory licenses, rather than be subject to pre-arranged deals. This also removed a large barrier for fledgling fields like podcasting and online radio.

One More Thing: Boats?

Title V of the DMCA added a unique copyright protection: boat hulls. Hull designs were not covered under copyright law because they are useful articles whose form cannot be clearly separated from their function. So if you’re a musician or label owner who also builds boats in their spare time — you have another reason to love the DMCA.

Read the full U.S. Copyright Office Digital Millennium Copyright Act summary here.

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