Technology News of Note

October 2013

  1. A Copyright Victory, 35 Years Later

    After six years of legal wrangling and decades after he wrote the lyrics to the hit song “YMCA,” Victor Willis will gain control of his share of the copyright to that song and others he wrote when he was the lead singer of the 1970s disco group the Village People.   Mr. Willis was able to recapture those songs, thanks to a little-known provision of copyright legislation that went into effect in 1978. That law granted musicians and songwriters what are known as “termination rights,” allowing them to recover control of their creations after 35 years, even if they had originally signed away their rights. (Source: New York Times)

  2. Ten Lessons We Have Learned from Internet Radio, So Far ...

    Internet radio is in the news lately, with stories outlining the complaints of internet radio stations like Pandora regarding how much they have to pay for the music they transmit, and recording artists and songwriters stunned like deer in the headlights as they open their internet radio royalty statements from SoundExchange and their PRO (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC), to discover that their life's work is now valued in increments of thousandths of a cent.  Copyright attorney Corey Field provides a summary for the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) “Copyright Corner” blog on some of the key Internet radio related copyright and business affairs issues.  (Source: AIMP)

  3. Ministry of Sound sues Spotify

    Dance record label “Ministry of Sound” is suing music streaming service Spotify in the U.K., claiming Spotify playlists copy its compilation albums.  Although Ministry of Sound does not own the copyright to many of the tracks on its compilations (the majority of which have been licensed from other record labels) and the compilations are not on Spotify, the label says Spotify infringes copyright because some users' playlists mirror the albums' track listings.  (Source: BBC)

  4. Clear Channel-Warner Music Deal Rewrites the Rules on Royalties

    For decades, Clear Channel Communications and other big radio companies have fought fiercely to avoid paying record companies for songs they played on the air. But with the business going digital, Clear Channel is now eager to make a trade, and has announced a deal with the Warner Music Group that would for the first time allow the label and its acts to collect royalties when their songs were played on Clear Channel’s 850 broadcast stations. In exchange, Clear Channel will receive a favorable rate in the growing but expensive world of online streaming, rather than paying the statutory rates for licensing music (which broadcasters say are too high).  (Source: New York Times)

  5. With iTunes Radio, Apple Takes Aim at Pandora

    Apple’s newest music feature, iTunes Radio, was released on Sept. 18 as part of its iOS 7 system update. The service is a sleek take on Internet radio, and Apple’s ability to place the app on millions of its devices gives it an enormous potential audience from Day 1.  The service is a threat to Pandora Media, which dominates Internet radio. But music and advertising executives say that the magnitude of that threat is unclear, given Apple’s relatively late entry into streaming music and Pandora’s strong market position. Both offer free streams of music tailored to a user’s taste and supported by advertising.  (Source: New York Times)

  6. After One Weekend, iTunes Radio Has 11 Million Users...

    If Pandora isn't very, very afraid, they should be.  Because after just three days on the market, Apple is already catching up with over 11 million unique listeners have already tuned in to iTunes Radio since its launch in late September.  As of August, 2013, Pandora reported 72.1 million active users, which refers to returning, non-abandoned accounts.  All of which means that after about 72 hours, Apple already had 15 percent of Pandora's entire listener base.   (Source: Digital Music News)

  7. Hacking Arts – Using Technology To Connect With Your Audience

    “Hacking Arts” – a two-day event to “explore the intersection of arts and entertainment, technology and entrepreneurship” that was held recently at MIT’s Media Lab – included a panel discussion, subtitled “On Stage and Online: What’s next for the Performing Arts?” featuring composer and director Tod Machover, and Elizabeth Scott, Chief Media & Digital Officer of Lincoln Center.  Machover and Scott’s discussion was one of the liveliest and most interesting, perhaps because though they both were trying to solve very different problems.  Machover is using technology to present and enhance performances, as well as to allow large groups – even an entire city – to participate in a project.   At Lincoln Center, Scott is struggling with issues it doesn’t have full control over – such as lack of digital literacy and rights clearances – which are barriers to the effective digital distribution of live performances beyond the concert hall.   (Source: Film Maker Magazine)

  8. Google and Authors Guild return to court for fair use showdown

    It’s been almost four years since Google and the Authors Guild asked US District Judge Denny Chin to approve a massive copyright settlement that would have cleared the way for distributing more than 20 million books Google scanned at libraries around the world.  The parties have now returned before Judge Chin, but this time as adversaries to argue a very different topic: whether the book scanning can count as a “fair use” that allows Google to avoid the permissions and penalties set out in copyright law.  The dispute dates from 2005, when the Authors Guild first filed a class action against Google, but only heated up again after the big settlement failed and the Guild sued the search giant anew in late 2011. This summer, momentum shifted to Google after a unanimous appeals court panel reversed Chin’s decision to certify the class action and told him instead to consider the fair use issue.   (Source: Paid Content)

  9. How do you make money when everything is going free?

    Stop worrying about the price of books, or music, or art, going to zero. It’s happening. It’s happened. There is no going back. So now that we’ve accepted that, how do we answer the really interesting question of the twenty-first century: how do we take advantage of the unique, amazing features of a connected society to finance the profitable creation of art and culture?    In a Future Book blog, Nicholas Lovell says the prescription for twenty-first business comes in three parts:

    • Find an audience for what you do, probably but not necessarily using the power of free to reach as many people as possible.
    • Use technology to figure out what they value
    • Allow those people who love what you do to spend lots of money on things they really value. (Source: FutureBook)

  10. Is streaming music here to stay?

    Dramatic transformations are taking place in the business of recorded music, with the upsurge of online services facilitating a transition from people playing music they own to streaming music on the Internet.   For connected consumers it's never been easier to check out new music, either on demand via services such as Spotify (which has licenses to stream the bulk of major labels' catalogs) or YouTube (a video website that nonetheless serves as a prime music-listening portal, no subscription required) or by listening to an Internet radio service such as Pandora or Apple's newly launched iTunes Radio. But some musicians are complaining about the scant royalties they're receiving from these companies, all while the industry has yet to signal that long-awaited rebound.   (Source: Chicago Tribune)

  11. Music, MOOCs, and Copyright: Digital Dilemmas for Schools of Music

    At first glance, the opportunity to take free online courses from some of the country’s most prestigious universities—Coursera partners with schools like Stanford, Princeton, Rice, and Yale—sounds great.   But for some educational stakeholders, organizations like Coursera—which is for-profit, funded by venture capitalists, and doesn’t classify itself as an institution of higher learning—represent a threat to higher education as we currently know it.   As a result, there are some particular copyright challenges that schools of music face when it comes to using recordings and other media in the context of online learning.   (Source: New Music Box)

  12. Online Music Service Rdio in Deal With Cumulus

    Cumulus Media, which operates 525 radio stations, has announced a deal with Rdio, a subscription music service from the founders of Skype, that gives Cumulus an online outlet and help Rdio compete against more established players like Spotify. In exchange for what it calls a significant equity stake in Rdio’s parent company, Pulser Media, Cumulus will give Rdio broad access to its programming and promote Rdio on its stations.   (Source: New York Times)

  13. Court Gives a Victory to Pandora Over Licensing Streaming Music

    Pandora Media won a battle in its continuing war with the music industry over royalties when a federal judge ruled recently that ASCAP cannot prevent Pandora from licensing all the songs in its catalog.   The ruling is a blow to music publishers, who have tried to get the best royalty rates for digital music by limiting the extent that performing rights societies like ASCAP and BMI represent their songs. The ruling could also hurt the societies themselves if they are perceived as preventing the publishers from getting higher rates.  (Source: New York Times)

  14. Historical Overview of Technical Solutions in Performing Arts (video)

    Renowned performing arts technology consultant Mark Schubin made a video presentation at the “International Workshop on High Quality Dynamic Cross-Continental Networked Artistic Interaction” in Denmark, under the auspices of the International World Opera Association.   (Source: Schubin Café)

  15. In Branson, changing the rules of the live game

    "Six" is an unusual performing group of brothers, which uses only their own voices to create a plethora of sounds (e.g. a symphony orchestra, a classic-rock band, heavily percussive rappers or old-time gospel singers).   What is more unusual is that at the start of every show, one of the brothers informs the crowd that, for $20, you can buy and take home your own DVD copy of the very show you just saw. In its entirety.  Not protecting the material flies in the face of most performing business conventional wisdom about protecting the value of your content.  The brothers clearly decided that the additional revenue from their DVD sales not only offsets any potential impact on future ticket sales, but also was a valuable promotional tool.   (Source: Chicago Tribune)

  16. Sony, Universal, Warner sue SiriusXM for royalties

    The music industry's largest record companies – including Capitol, Sony, Universal and Warner – are suing SiriusXM Radio for royalties they say the satellite radio company didn't pay for recordings from before 1972.   Sound recordings weren't brought under federal copyright protection until 1972, instead being governed through state laws, which the companies say have been violated.   The suit is the third major complaint filed against Sirius XM in recent weeks. SoundExchange, a company that collects royalties on behalf of recording artists, filed a similar lawsuit last month in Washington, D.C.   (Source: Yahoo News)

  17. U.K. Theater Companies Get on Board with Cinemacasts

    With the launch of a new West End Theater Series of cinemacasts, kicking off next month with “Merrily We Roll Along,” and the upcoming start of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Live from Stratford-Upon-Avon” cinema programming, two more options for alternative bigscreen content join the National Theater’s ongoing NT Live series, broadcast in cineplexes in the U.S., the U.K. and beyond.  Arts organizations around the world are increasingly experimenting with the new revenue streams and brand expansion afforded by the theatrical and online distribution of live-performance fare. But while those initiatives follow in the footsteps of the Metropolitan Opera’s successful Live in HD programming, which kicked off the trend in 2006, U.K. theater companies seem to have made the most concerted push into the market.   (Source: Variety)