Some may have thought when they first heard Puff Diddyâ€™s-â€ś Iâ€™m Comin Outâ€ť, Kanye Westâ€™s- â€śGold Diggerâ€ť or even Jay-Zâ€™s- â€śHard Knock Life,â€ť that they were original works by the artists themselves. In fact, when I first heard â€śPuff Daddy- Ill Be Missing You,â€ť a song I was a huge fan of, the thought didnâ€™t even cross my mind that the chorus wasnâ€™t Puff Daddyâ€™s creation for his tribute to the late Notorious B.I.G., but it was from an original track by â€śThe Police.â€ť
â€śTHE CHORUS IS MY FAVORITE PART, AND ITS NOT EVEN HIS?!â€ť –was my initial reactionâ€¦
However, I quickly began to appreciate this art of sampling as a way to help introduce me to the older generationâ€™s music. But also, it became a creative and lucrative method of not only bringing young artists onto a bigger platform, but helping reignite older artistâ€™s careersâ€™ and legacies as well.
The Fiery Debate between Radio and Record Industry
Â A long-standing issue among policymakers is whether to make broadcasters of traditional radio stations pay a â€śperformance royaltyâ€ť for every time an artistâ€™s song is played on the radio.Â You are probably wondering, â€śWhat are performance royalties anyways?â€ťÂ A performance royalty is a free owed to a songwriter and publisher of a particular song whenever that composition is performed â€śin publicâ€ť or â€śbroadcasted.â€ť Fees are not paid to record companies or a songâ€™s performers.
In the United States, among a handful of other countries, performance royalties have been paid to songwriters and publishers. Funny enough though, Internet radio stations, such as Pandora, pay out royalties to labels AND artists. This, as you would assume, creates tension between digital broadcasters and traditional radio stations. Even with Internet radio, a vast majority of Americanâ€™s still listen to AM/FM radio, but streaming services have replaced the sale of CDs. In todayâ€™s world, music is essentially free. Most music is illegally downloaded, which is killing the music industry. Therefore, labels and performers are itching to get every penny they can out of broadcasters to make up for the decline in CD sales.
Musical artists today earn the majority of their income through live performances. In order to ensure a strong turnout, artists understandably have to create a fair ticket price that will encourage sales and generate necessary income. In the â€śinternet ageâ€ť advanced technology has allowed ticket scalping to morph into a new form that quickly and easily profits off of concert tickets, with little benefits to the artists.
Once tickets are on sale, scalpers can easily make quick online purchases that they subsequently resell on sites like www.stubhub.com. Popular artists are likely to attract scalpers, which means that their concerts are sold out within minutes. The majority of the tickets end up in the hands of scalpers. It is then up to these scalpers to make a profit off the resale.
This past September, Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) introduced to Congress H.R. 3219, the Free Market Royalty Act. The purpose of this Act is to provide sound recording copyright owners with the â€śexclusive right to negotiate the public performanceâ€ť of their works by means of an audio transmission. The Act addresses one of the more complicated areas in music copyright law (licensing) in an attempt to provide clarity and parity in the law and marketplace. In this article, I will discuss the changes the proposed Act would make in the music marketplace.
Earlier this month, I attended two panels discussing the recent cases and developments in the television industry (including one which I hosted at New York Law School, which is available to view here). Both panels honed in on the relevant issues related to copyright law, its interpretation and its application in the digital age. While I found both panels to be quite educational and enlightening, I am left stuck with one important, but unanswered question: what can the television broadcast industry (or television industry at large) learn from the music industry about disruptive business practices? More specifically, what, if anything, have we learned from the rise and fall of Napster and its progeny? And can those lessons serve as a teaching moment for the television industry?
In this article, I will humbly attempt to answer my own queries. To begin, letâ€™s start with a brief history and revisit 1999, the year that Napster was born.
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.