If you’re a copyright nerd (wait, you’re not?), you may have come across the issue of “pre-’72s.” In a nutshell, recordings made before February 15, 1972 are not protected by federal law, which can complicate how—or whether—royalties are paid for certain uses, like plays on internet or satellite radio.
Many people are unaware that there wasn’t even a copyright for recordings until 1972. Well, that’s not entirely true—some sound recordings made before ’72 are copyrighted at the state level. Still, federal protections are relatively new. At least when compared to compositions, which have been protected since the early 1800s (public performances of musical works came under federal law in 1897).
Debates about pre-’72 recordings might seem arcane, but there are major implications for today’s music ecosystem. First there’s artist compensation. The absence of a performance right for pre-’72s means that there’s no guarantee that recording artists are going to get paid fairly for the use of their work when played on Internet or satellite radio. (AM/FM broadcasters aren’t obligated to pay performers anything, though they do pay songwriters; more info on this crazy loophole here.) The lack of federal recognition also makes it more complicated for services to obtain a license to play music—and where there is no permission, there’s potential liability.
Meet Victoria Espinel. As the White House’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), she’s tasked with coordinating the many federal agencies that work to stop copyright infringement and counterfeiting. This covers everything from books, movies, and music to software, knockoff designer clothes, and counterfeit toothpaste laced with antifreeze. As you can imagine, it’s a big job. read more
File sharing site MegaUpload has recently been in the sights of both the RIAA and MPAA for hosting copyrighted content. In an ironic (and immensely satisfying) twist, a new video surfaced today from artists whom the RIAA claim to represent that sings the praises of MegaUpload.
The video was commissioned by MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and features the likes of P. Diddy, Kanye West, Will.i.am, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx, Lil John, and more. read more
You are a musician who has released music across a variety of legal digital platforms. Your fans can purchase your latest album on your own online store or at their favorite digital retailer for a reasonable price. Increasingly, though, you’re hearing that your fans are picking up copies from third party sites that aren’t licensed to carry your content. You blast off an angry email to that site telling them to cease and desist; they ignore your emails and continue selling your music, handling the payments through major payment processors. read more
Intellectual property theft on the internet is as rampant as it is difficult to effectively curtail. Musicians are among those who earn a living — at least in part — from their copyrights, which is why Future of Music Coalition is generally supportive of efforts to protect artists’ rights online. read more
The History of the Music Industry vs The Future of Music
Thursday, June 1, 2000
FMC’s original Manifesto, published in June 2000 that articulated the structural problems with the music industry from a musicians’ perspective, and framed the objectives of the organization for the first three years. read more