Author: Jennifer C. Duval

New signals for shifts in legal battles over music

Music, with all the legal battling over its intellectual property rights, gets to audiences these days in ways that may prove surprising to some, according to new consumer reports. The NPD Group says, for example, that Internet radio has made significant inroads in the audience ages 13 to 35, increasing six percent over last year and capturing twenty-three percent of that key demographic. It trails just one percent behind its more traditional broadcasting counterpart, which captures a quarter of the big-spending demo. In contrast, just thirteen percent of older listeners tuned into net radio, with AM-FM broadcasts capturing forty-one percent of this audience. Pandora, the free and subscription-based streaming service, proved among those quizzed by NPD to be the net radio content king, capturing thirty-nine percent of music listeners ages 13 to 35. It’s worth noting that those sampled said they accessed net radio via their smartphones, with 0ne in five users tapping into online music in their cars, undercutting the AM-FM share. “Driven by mobility and connectivity, music-streaming services are rapidly growing their share of the music listening experience for teens and young adults, at the expense of traditional music listening methods,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. These developments in net radio, of course, don’t signal the demise of music piracy. But the growth of Pandora (with 200 million registered users now)...

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Long arm of U.S. law slaps 2 for Pacific piracy

So when do nifty ads for bargains or eye-appealing graphics become potential reasons for legal pause for those who run commercial websites? Perhaps when those operators possibly are pirates of others’ content. Or so a federal magistrate in San Francisco has found. She has ruled on a complaint filed by a Korean company that the American arm of the law can reach over the Pacific to exercise jurisdiction over site operators in Indonesia and Vietnam — and the commercial tools the webheads employed proved to be their courtroom undoing. DFSB Kollective, a Korean “boutique creative agency,” took to U.S. courts to sue for copyright infringment entrepreneurs Bing Yang, of Vietnam, and Indrawati Yang, of Indonesia, Entertainment Law Digest reports. The Korean firm asserted that the two made its music available for download on several of their blog sites. Though users could not download music directly off their sites, defendants would upload music onto a third-party site, then direct audiences to download the content from there, using DFSB album artwork, the plaintiffs complained. Neither defendant answered the suit, nor did either travel from Asia to be in court for a San Francisco hearing. So the plaintiffs sought a default judgment The last time DFSB attempted to prosecute online music pirates in a foreign jurisdiction, the case was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, with a federal magistrate then deciding: “Plaintiffs...

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Trio finds harmony in new deal on music rights

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? That’s just what Universal Music Publishing  and the French Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM) did: They reached a licensing agreement with YouTube so the video-sharing site can have access to the Anglo-American musical repertoire of Universal and the French society, with all sharing in recouping a percentage of revenue. Universal CEO Zach Horowitz said  the deal is a good one because “the digital market can only flourish if creators receive fair remuneration delivered through efficient and innovative licensing solutions.” YouTube,  of course, has plenty of legal battles under way as it copes with pressure from major music companies chafing over how the Google subsidiary provides consumers with so much free music and ways to exchange it among themselves. The company is still battling over copyright infringement claims with GEMA, the German society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights. The partnership with the French, as Universal describes it, is novel because it “facilitates greater transparency, coordination and data-sharing between the organizations while ensuring equitable compensation for rights holders who are entitled to a share of the platform’s revenues.” YouTube’s clout in the music industry also stands to grow if it closes a $50-million deal with Vevo; Billboard’s Top 100 also now factors YouTube views in its rankings. As for the French accord, it’s worth noting that it hasn’t won...

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File-sharing service loses bid for DMCA shelter

If you’re running a file-sharing service, making money and encouraging others to infringe on copyrights, the courts have got a legal slap-down for you, as Gary Fung, one such entrepreneurial operator has discovered: He found himself on the wrong side of a recent decision by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a lower court ruling, sought by Hollywood studios, that Fung was liable for contributory infringement. After seven years of legal combat, the courts have said he cannot find his claimed shelter under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because his service’s chief aim was not neutral but to allow others to trade copyrighted materials. Fung owns several different bittorrent hosting services, most notably isoHunt where users could access content files  — and get technological help doing so, with search and storage assistance, especially creation of new copies of materials. Via bittorrent — a “protocol (a set of rules and description of how to do things) allowing you to download files quickly by allowing people downloading the file to upload (distribute) parts of it at the same time” — those who used his service found movies, including those owned by plaintiffs Columbia Pictures Industries. Columbia sued Fung and others in 2006, prevailing in the district court, leading to his appellate appeal. At the appellate level, as reported by Copyright Alliance,  the judges applied the analysis from the...

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89,000 reasons for case losers to sing the blues

The pitched legal battle, which had pitted heirs of the late great entertainer Ray Charles and an eponymous foundation he established to battle hearing diseases, has prompted yet another poke for the unsuccessful plaintiffs: U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins in Los Angeles, who had tossed the foundation’s federal and state claims against them and cleared a path for the Charles family members to continue their push to secure “termination rights” to more than four dozen of his songs, has ruled that the foundation must pay the defendant-heirs’ attorney fees. This had become a complex case that raised potential precedent-setting issues about beneficial owners and their standing to challenge termination rights for some memorable tunes including I Got a Woman, Mary Ann and a Fool for You. His dozen heirs, though told they would get $500,000 each after Charles’ 2004 death of liver disease in return for releasing claims on his estate, recently had decided that they should control the cache of songs that the Ray Charles Foundation insisted it should hold sway over; seven of them launched the process to reclaim rights to the music as part of copyright law. Like Charles, a flood of popular artists, many of whom were young, broker and freer at the time, had assigned those rights to publishers decades ago; they now want the valuable rights back and the statutes say sufficient time...

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