If it weren't for the 1976 Copyright Act, copyright on work would expire after 56 years - which would have meant that Kerouac's On The Road, the original 12 Angry Men, and Elvis's All Shook Up would be public domain by today.
"Mbube", a song that morphed into "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", illustrates the convoluted legalities surrounding music publishing rights and payments.
Sly Stone's history of drug addiction and eccentricity is well known. But, a recent California Court of Appeals ruling details how a series of ill advised business deals left Stone destitute. [more inside]
What do the songs The Electric Spanking of War Babies, Uncle Jam, Hardcore Jollies and One Nation Under a Groove all have in common? Well, sure, they were all written (with a collaborator here and there) by Mr. George Clinton. But that's not all they have in common. As of now, the copyright in these booty-shaker workouts does not belong to the legendary P. Funk mastermind, but rather to the law firm of Hendricks and Lewis. Funk Classics Seized to Pay Off $1 Million Debt.
As Amazon and the RIAA go head to head over the Amazon Cloud Player (esentially Dropbox with streaming) it seems like a good time to recap the turbulent history of the humble MP3, upender of the music industry business model.
Record label Fool's Gold, run by DJs A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs, has just put their entire catalogue online for free streaming with links to paid downloads for each track. [more inside]
“Clients aren’t deciding whether to pay you so you can send them your product. They’ve already got it.”
The Music-Copyright Enforcers “A few years back, we had Penn, Schoen and Berland, Hillary’s pollster guys, do a study. The idea was, go and find out what Americans really think about copyright. Do songwriters deserve to be paid? Absolutely! The numbers were enormously favorable — like, 85 percent. The poll asked, ‘If there was a party that wasn’t compensating songwriters, do you think that would be wrong?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes!’ So then, everything’s fine, right? Wrong. Because when it came time to ask people to part with their shekels, it was like: ‘Eww. You want me to pay?’ ” [more inside]
Weaponizing Mozart - "How Britain is using classical music as a form of social control".
As is well known by now, the opening spectacle of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing featured a young girl's performance of Ode to the Motherland which was later revealed to be a lip-synch. The talented original singer Yang Peiyi was considered not "cute" enough. As is perhaps not so well known, however, the resultant flap resulted in the creation of a strict anti-lip-synch law in China, and now two Chinese pop stars face a $12,000 lip-synching fine. Some Chinese rockers have eagerly supported the creation of the ban on lip-synch, and, interestingly, the practice of lip-synching in Chinese musical entertainment had been under discussion in Chinese government circles since at least 2005.
Edward Samuel's Illustrated History of Copyright A fascinating illustrated historical tour, looking at how different technologies have shaped how we think about copyright and intellectual property.
A proposal for the monetization of the file sharing of music from the Songwriters and Recording Artists of Canada. "Most Canadians are aware that the Internet and mobile phone networks have become major sources of music. What they may not know is that songwriters and performers typically receive no compensation of any kind when their music is shared or illegally downloaded... We believe the time has come to put in place a reasonable and unobtrusive system of compensation for creators of music in regard to this popular and growing use of their work."
In the increasingly surreal battle between the RIAA and music listeners, reality and satire can be hard to discern.
The Rubinoos recently filed a lawsuit against Avril Lavigne, claiming that her song Girlfriend (Youtube) plagiarized from their song, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (mp3). An authorized cover version of the Rubinoos song performed by Lush and retitled "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend" has even more similarities to the Lavigne song. Now that the teeming millions on the Internets have gotten into the act, YouTubers are now arguing whether Lavigne is a plagiarist, whether the Rubinoos plagiarized from the Rolling Stones, and whether Ms. Lavigne plagiarized a second time. Now that Web 2.0 has made it easier to uncover musical copycats, I'm hot on the case of Bob Marley vs. The Banana Splits.
While Courtney pulled an Albini, Jeff handed out the bread. Are the peasants acting like emperors, or do they still want something shiny, aluminum, plastic, and digital? Debacle or cage, something's got to give (pdf). Alternatively, you can just roll your own.
Make a mixtape highlighting a young artist, have that artist proclaim his delight about the project on the CD, reignite that artist's career, repeat, then, the RIAA has you arrested for counterfieting. The RIAA continues its vain struggle to understand the new music economy. In the meantime, at least one company gets it, offering DRM-free CD downloads of obscure titles.
The RIAA would like to remind you that copying purchased music to your iPod is illegal without first gaining permission from the copyright holder. Thank you.
The Columbia Law School Music Plagiarism Project is a repository of the music industry's most famous copyright infringement cases of the past 100 years. Each case contains links to samples of the original song and the alleged infringer, and there's even a song list for easy browsing. (My favorite: Gilbert O'Sullivan v. Biz Markie).
"The spiritual, physical, intellectual, social or economic well-being of the general public". Within the MacDowell Colony's rustic stone and clapboard cottages, Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town, Aaron Copland composed Appalachian Spring and Dubose and Dorothy Heyward wrote Porgy and Bess. Jonathan Franzen finished writing The Corrections and Alice Sebold worked on The Lovely Bones. For decades, the town considered the colony a tax-exempt charitable organization. Not anymore.
A new, controversial law making its way through the Finnish parliament is confusing, but its implementation may infringe on already existing Finnish laws of free speech. With decisions set to be made later this week, a demonstration has already been planned for Tuesday. On the other hand, some sources seem to be saying that this new law should present no major issue. Thus, it seems like there's a small amount of confusing legal voodoo going on: while the law wouldn't make it illegal to copy music to MP3 players, it would mean that "the breaking of copy protection for the copying of the content of a sound or video recording for personal use would be prohibited." It looks like no one knows exactly what they want out of this law, or how to interpret it. DMCA, anyone?
Being threatened with litigation by the RIAA? There's always this solution.
U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Privacy & Piracy: The Paradox of Illegal File Sharing on Peer-to-Peer Networks and the Impact of Technology on the Entertainment Industry. View the hearing of September 29. [Real Media].
Federal judge rules Morpheus, Grokster not liable for Internet piracy. Well that is until the big pocketed music industry finds a favorable judge and wins the appeal.
Silence is Golden: A bizarre legal battle over a minute's silence in a recorded song has ended with a six-figure out-of-court settlement.
MTV bans Public Enemy 's video "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need" because the video contains the lyric "Free Mumia and H Rap Brown". MTV are willing to air the video if the lyric is cut. Public Enemy front-man Chuck D is vocal in his response. Responsible action or censorship in its worst form?
This new RIAA lawsuit really frosts my cookies! I can't believe the Recording Industry Ass. of America has the balls to think they can censor the Internet, but they contend that "As a matter of fact, copyright itself was written into the Constitution before the Framers ever even got to the first 10 amendments." Therefore, the RIAA reserves for itself the right to determine which Internet websites you may view. Please discuss.
Drop the marker and back away from the CD-RW drive. Add Senator Joe Biden (D - Delware) to the list of politicians eager to put the brakes on technology, kowtow to Hollywood and otherwise stop the Earth from turning: Biden's new bill would make it a federal felony to try and trick certain types of devices into playing your music or running your computer program. Breaking this law--even if it's to share music by your own garage band--could land you in prison for up to five years. And that's not counting the civil penalties of up to $25,000 per offense. Biden's bill is on the fast track and not getting the same press attention that Sen. Holling's CBDTPA bill had earlier this year.
Royalties proposed for booming used market as new-CD sales stagnate. (Via Slashdot). First sale doctrine, anyone? Section 109 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 109, permits the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under title 17 to sell or otherwise dispose of possession of that copy or phonorecord without the authority of the copyright owner, notwithstanding the copyright owner's exclusive right of distribution under 17 U.S.C. 106(3). Commonly referred to as the ``first sale doctrine,'' this provision permits such activities as the sale of used books. The first sale doctrine is subject to limitations that permit a copyright owner to prevent the unauthorized commercial rental of computer programs and sound recordings.
Copy protection for CDs does not have future says Philips. Philips spokesperson Klaus Petri, speaking to Reuters, says its company counts on the fact that the refusal of consumers will convince the music industry to step back from copy-protected CD's. Petri said that Philips could sue the manufacturers of CD's with copy protection (as managers of the world-wide CD patents), because they would not correspond to the standards. "those are silver disks with music on them, but which do not resemble CD's". [via Neowin.net]
The RIAA wants to hack your computer (via Fark ) The RIAA tried to attach a rider to the anti-terrorism bill currently in Congress that would have allowed them to hack anyone's computer without consequence. One more reason why the RIAA is evil.
Just when you thought the the world was going to hell, a story like this makes you realize that there are still things that are right in this world.
It seems Metallica has some high class company. The Cleveland Orchestra has halted distribution of their concerts to about 250 U.S. radio stations because of concerns about streaming audio. The orchestra's contract with its musicians covers radio broadcasting rights of live performances, but not Internet streaming, said Gary Hanson, the orchestra's associate executive director. Does this strike anyone else as strange?
Wired News reports on the upcoming DMCA review. Via Linux Weekly News: "When music is streamed, webcasters are required to pay a performance royalty. In order to generate smooth playback of incoming streams, computers temporarily store some of the data in memory in a RAM buffer. Music publishers have stated that the data in this buffer should be considered a physical creation that would require webcasters to pay a mechanical royalty, similar to what they pay for downloads or CDs." Anyone need any more on that? Time to get your congressman on the phone...
An interview with the lawyers from Napster and Metellica. Good points, both.