Another year, another white-knuckle thrill ride in the world of music policy. There was so much going on in 2013 that if you blinked, you’d be in danger of being clobbered by the next development. And that’s just on the legislative, executive and federal agency side—we could (and might!) compile a separate list of marketplace and legal developments.
Below is an instant replay of some of 2013’s biggest policy episodes. Order does not connote rank, but feel free to debate it anyway…
Here at FMC, we regularly engage in a kind of protracted dialog with government through public comments and other filings that can extend over years (actually, thirteen and counting!). While we don’t claim to have all the answers, we do believe that our history of direct engagement with musicians, composers, independent labels, publishers, PROs, unions and others is useful for policymakers to consider as they grapple with the many questions facing creators in the digital age.
On Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2013, FMCfiled comments with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) regarding their recent “green paper”—itself a product of the Internet Policy Task Force comprised of USPTO, the Department of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Way back in 2010, we filed comments in the original proceeding that resulted in this year’s report, Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy [PDF].
Future of Music Coalition filed the following comments with the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) in an inquiry related to a previously published “green paper” from the Internet Policy Taks Force (a joint effort also including the United States Copyright Office and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration).
This just in (again): if you’re an online service provider and want to enjoy safe harbor protections under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you’ve got to play by the rules.
That’s the lesson storage locker service Hotfile learned the hard way when it was sued by all five major motion picture studios (Disney Enterprises, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios Productions LLLP, Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.) in the Southern District Court of Florida. U.S. District Court. In her ruling on Aug. 28 (and just recently made public), Judge Kathleen Williams found that Hotfile could be held liable for the infringing material users uploaded to its site.
What can you do when someone makes unauthorized use of your creative work?
In the past, we’ve seen the RIAA and the major labels go after alleged pirates and large-scale copyright infringers with some frequency—they have the money and the man-power to dedicate to litigation. But if you’re an unsigned solo artist, or a photographer or an author, the cost of taking someone to court, regardless of how flagrant the infraction, can often be prohibitive. read more
Future of Music Coalition submitted the following written testimony in the House Subcommitee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet’s hearing on “The Role of Voluntary Agreements in the US Intellectual Property System.”
FMC respects the process of multi-stakeholder engagement to identify shared solutions to persistent issues around protecting copyright and other forms of intellectual property online, but stresses that oversight, transparency and the inclusion of the independent music sector in the process is crucial to the success of these initiatives.
House Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet 2138 Rayburn Office Building Washington, DC 20515read more
[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
Same issue, new lawsuit. The big three record labels (Sony, Universal and Warner Bros), along with indie ABKCO, are the latest to sueSiriusXM for underpayment of royalties for pre-1972 sound recordings.
“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)!