Its been a long time coming, but a change gonâ€™ come.
The â€śnext great copyright actâ€ť is the change that Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, is calling on Congress to make (perhaps taking a cue from our neighbors up north, eh?) Among the list of changes called for by the Register is reformation in the music marketplace.
It would be difficult to ignore the effect that the current copyright system and new technology has had on the music industry over the past few years. Digital music exploitation (including online downloading and streaming) is quickly becoming the dominant revenue generator for the industry, but this has come at a cost. Pandora and the like, the radio broadcast and the recording industries continue to fight Congress and each other over the music licensing and statutory royalty system, an issue heavily influenced by a rise in new music business models. The first sale doctrine, with respect to digital sales, is another battlefield, as well as the evergreen music piracy issue. Whatever your personal preference or stance, the law is definitely â€śshowing the strain of its age.â€ť
Buyer beware! No, not really. Â But maybeâ€¦
On March 19th, the Supreme Court decided in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. that the first sale doctrine of the U.S. Copyright Act applies to copies of a copyrighted work made abroad, so long as the copies are made in accordance with the Copyright Act. In its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that the Copyright Act is not here to protect your price discrimination business models or your bottom line.
Many interested in the IP and Tech fields have heard of the term â€śPatent Trollâ€ť to refer to a rights holder who may be overly-litigious, aggressive in enforcement, or excessively alleges patent infringements for the sake of coercing money and tying people in ligation.
In the past few years, however, a similar strategy has developed worldwide in the field of copyright, as a way to exploit modern technology and take advantage of our modern culture of illegal downloading.Â These people, dubbed as â€śCopyright Trolls,â€ť have commonly used a technique of mass litigations to try to coerce individuals into cash settlements.Â Often the companies initiating these lawsuits are not the original copyright owners, and instead buy up copyrights for the sole purpose of locating infringers and enforcing the rights.
The Wiz? Virgin Records? Tower Records? Where do we go to browse used CDs today (with the exception of a slight few â€śmom and popâ€ť shops that stood strong against the reign of an emerging Internet, thankfully)? Music aficionados alike, can universally relate to the exhilarating feeling of walking into a music store with $20 in hand, and leaving with 4 CDs, tangible, in good condition, and bargained for. Rare finds were like gold mines for a young jazz collector, like myself, but where do I go now for such obscurities?
Earlier this year, Grooveshark and parent company Escape Media Group (â€śEscapeâ€ť) filed a subpoena in Los Angeles Superior Court against Digital Music News (â€śDMNâ€ť). Â The subpoena compelled the disclosure of an anonymous commenterâ€™s identity. Â This petition could haveÂ â€śchilling effectsâ€ť on the rights and obligations of Internet bloggers.Â An unfavorable ruling on DMNâ€™s appeal would impose data preservation requirements on journalists resulting from third-party litigation. Â The rulingâ€™s reach could extend past journalism by targeting companies that often keep client information for a short period of time, as outlined by theÂ Electronic Frontier Foundation.
On June 13, 2012 the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned NamesÂ and Numbers (ICANN) announced those companies whose bids have been accepted to become the exclusive registry service for â€ś.musicâ€ť generic top-level domain names (gTLD). Some of the top candidates included internet stalworths like Google (Charleston Road Registry) and Amazon (Valideus); alongside music industry-endorsed candidates like DotMusic, whom received support from international government bodies and distributors like TuneCore and The Orchard, and .music LLC (Far Further, Inc.), whom received support from the Recording Industry of America (RIAA), artist-support groups like A2IM and rights collection agencies like Sound Exchange and BMI. With applicants willing to pay an application fee of $185,000 for the chance to control not only whom obtains band site names, but genre names with the .music suffix, the potential value could be astronomical.
Last week, I wentÂ on Ticketmaster to purchase a ticket to see one of my favorite artists, The Weeknd, in concert. Tickets went on sale on Thursday at 10 am. There I was on my iPad at 10am, trying unsuccessfully to process my order.Â I tried for thirty minutes – on my iPad, my Blackberry, and even a PC. Finally, I called Ticketmaster, who apologized for my inconvenience and explained that the show was sold out (a fact that my Twitter feed later confirmed happened in about 30 seconds). On a whim, I checked out Stubhub, the world’s largest fan-to-fan ticket marketplace. To my non-surprise, tickets
for the concert were already on sale, less than an hour after Ticketmaster opened for sale and priced at up to 200% of the face value.
Weâ€™ve been able to pay to digitally download sound recordings through legitimate services for over a decade now, and these services have grown pretty rapidly in terms of both scale and profitability. So much so, that iTunes (so far the most successful of the digital distribution platforms) has sold more than 10 billion songs since its inception, and has passed on over $12 billion in revenues to record labels. That’s an enormous amount of money.
Love is in the air and to commemorate the spirit of St. Valentine (resenting happy people), weâ€™re reviewing the recent trend of partnership disputes plaguing the comic book industry.Â The first case portrays the culmination of a decade-long feud between two industry greats.Â Â The second depicts the early stages of a dispute between childhood friends.Â Both cases involve Image Comics, a comic book publisher founded by Todd McFarlane.
Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman finally ended their decade-long ordeal. Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn and collaborator Neil Gaiman had been disputing copyright ownership over a few characters from the Spawn drama.Â Spawn was a graphic novel series created in 1992 and centered on Al Simmons, a dead soldier who makes a pact with Satan in an attempt to reunite with his wife.
After ten years of litigation, a Wisconsin federal judge confirmed a settlement between the parties. The settlement declared Neil Gaiman the copyright co-owner of five comic book issues in dispute.Â (Two Spawn book issues: #9, #26, and the first three Angela issues.)Â The judge relied on evidence that when Todd McFarlane left Marvel to start his own studio, Image, it was â€ś[f]ounded on the principle of creatorsâ€™ rights rather than the work-for-hire system at Marvel.â€ťÂ While at Image, McFarlane and Gaiman entered into an oral agreement for Gaimanâ€™s work on Spawn.Â Gaiman produced Spawn issue #9, which introduced new key characters including Angela and Medieval Spawn.Â Gaiman claimed that he was asked to write a spin-off mini-series for Angela after the success of Spawn #9.Â He also declared that a partial script he created was published in Spawn #26.Â He also maintains that McFarlane attempted to circumvent their deal by recreating the disputed characters under different names.
Letâ€™s start by taking a look at Grooveshark. Universal Music Group (UMG) filed a complaint in Manhattan District Court on November 18, 2011 against Escape Media and five of its executives alleging that Grooveshark engaged in a plethora of infringing conduct. According to the complaint, â€śEscape publically touts the fact that it has a catalog of 15 million sound recordingsâ€¦ by top commercial artists such as Bob Marley, Elton John, Jay-Z, the Black Eyed Peas, and Lady Gaga.â€ť Read more