[UPDATE: Read our written testimony before the committee here.]
On Wednesday September 18, The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing to discuss “The Role of Voluntary Agreements in the U.S. Intellectual Property System.”
Uh-oh, did we lose you already? Hearings always sound boring; they don’t have punchy names like SXSW panels, but we promise this one was relevant to musicians, fans, and Internet users. Keep reading. read more
“The making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art—many dos and dont’s.” – High Fidelity
This is the essentially the argument made by dance record label Ministry of Sound in their lawsuit against Spotify in the United Kingdom. Most of the label’s profits come from selling compilations featuring artists they haven’t signed—albums with names like Running Trax 2013, Clubbers Guide and Chilled House Classics.
“We painstakingly create, compile and market our [compilation] albums all over the world,” wrote Ministry of Sound chief executive Lohan Presencer in his Guardian Op-Ed.“Millions trust our brands, our taste and our selection.” (Note: Lohan Presencer is only a slightly-less awesome name than Benedict Cumberbatch.)
According to Presencer, the effort that goes into this curation process is intellectual property that needs to be protected.
Having had time to digest a 100+ page report on digital copyright policy, we can report back that this “green paper” covers a range of issues around copyright and technology with an understanding of the complexities for creators. The report is a product of the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) with input from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). We wouldn’t say that the green paper is a good beach read — and not just because it’s after Labor Day — but it does lay out very clearly the challenges and opportunities of the digital marketplace.
Of course, we’re mostly concerned about how these issues impact musicians and composers. This is why we’re also delighted to announce that one of the contributors to this report, Shira Perlmutter, Chief Policy Officer and Director of International Affairs at USPTO, is going to give a keynote at the Future of Music Summit (Oct. 28-29, Georgetown University, Washington, DC). Don’t miss the chance to hear from the horse’s mouth about how executive branch agencies are dealing with the issues that impact YOUR livelihood — registration is open now (with a limited number of musician scholarships available)!
On June 20, 2013, the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for the United States (IPEC), released its 2013 Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement, which lays out the administration’s agenda for coordinating efforts to protect and encourage American intellectual property (IP) at home and abroad. The following statement can be attributed to Casey Rae, Interim Executive Director for Future of Music Coalition:
“Future of Music Coalition is glad to see that IPEC has again issued a Plan that is balanced and takes into account the current landscape intellectual property, especially copyright. read more
Here’s a little background: Victoria Espinel is the chief officer of IPEC and serves the White House on matters of IP enforcement. In this capacity, she is tasked with coordinating the many federal agencies that work to prevent copyright infringement and counterfeiting. This covers everything from books, movies, and music to software, designer clothes andpotentially harmful consumer items. Espinel’s post at the White House blog provides a good overview of her work and purpose of the Joint Strategic Plan.
Here at FMC, the part of intellectual property we pay the most attention to is copyright.
Well, this week, a New York City federal court passed (partial) summary judgement against ReDigi [PDF], ruling that the service is liable for infringement. In doing so, the court strongly rejected ReDigi’s claims that their activities are covered under “fair use,” as well as the aforementioned first sale doctrine.
What does this matter to musicians? Well, first off, musicians are also music consumers. Second, creator compensation looks different in a used marketplace (typically nonexistent). ReDigi did supposedly hold a percentage of revenue from “used” sales in “escrow,” but it’s a bit fuzzy how this money would get to artists.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the legal factors involved in the court decision. You can tell us what you think in the comments.
Washington can be a wacky place. Case in point: on November 19, 2012, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) — an independent congressional body that advances party-centric policy analysis — issued a brief containing some pretty ambitious ideas for reforming federal copyright law. No sooner than the document was made public, it was yanked, with RSC Executive Director Paul Teller stating: “Yesterday, you received a Policy Brief on copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard. Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand.” read more
[This post authored by FMC Legal Intern Joseph Silver]
The first sale doctrine within American copyright and trademark law has been getting a lot of attention in recent months. A number of federal circuit courts have touched upon this important copyright principle, which says that when a consumer purchases a good on the legitimate marketplace, the law affords them the right to lend, resell and dispose of that item (along with a number of other related uses). However, the first sale doctrine, also known as the exhaustion doctrine, does not permit a purchaser to reproduce, publicly display or perform the work, all of which are exclusive rights held by the copyright holder. Absent a “fair use” defense for consumers, those rules are pretty steadfast. Still, the first sale doctrine is an important limitation on copyright, which allows consumers who have lawfully purchased copyrighted goods to choose how the particular copy they purchased is distributed. This much remains settled. Yet two issues have recently arisen that aren’t so cut-and-dry: whether the first sale doctrine applies to digital goods and whether it applies to goods manufactured internationally.
Future of Music Coalition respects intellectual property and copyright. We believe that musicians and songwriters must have the ability to be compensated for their work, regardless of where or how that work is used or accessed.
We also recognize that creators are not a monolithic group, and may have a variety of perspectives on issues at the intersection of copyright and technology. That’s why we think it is so important that the artist perspective is represented in debates about intellectual property in the information age. read more