#Music Australian Indie Label Admits to Mistakes in Copyright Lawsuit

Labels make mistakes too. But what’s admirable about the Australian based label, Liberation Music, is that they owned up to that mistake and were able to “amicably resolve” the copyright disagreement between them and Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig. 

The issue began when Professor Lessig used a video in his June 2010 lecture at the Creative Commons conference in South Korea. This video contained many small clips taken from the ’80s comedy “The Breakfast Club” and had Phoenix’s song “Lisztomania” playing in the background. The interesting part about this situation is that Lessig originally used this video in his lecture to show a classic example of fair use, not knowing that he would soon have to defend his own fair use of the video after Liberation Music ordered for it to be taken down from YouTube. To counteract the lawsuit, Lessig joined forces with Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) to file suit against the label.

Now, the label has decided to agree with Lessig in that use of the song was indeed “fair use” under copyright law. Liberation Music is required to pay a settlement to Lessig for “the harm it caused” and has worked with the professor to respectfully resolve the matter. Hopefully, we can say this is #lessonlearned.

Read more & watch Lessig’s video here: http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/legal-and-management/5922856/liberation-resolves-copyright-issue-with-lawrence

Record Labels & Movie Studios Sue Kim Dotcom

Just three days after the Motion Picture Association of America filed a lawsuit against MegaUpload and its founder, Kim Dotcom, The Recording Industry Association of America filed a similar lawsuit against the file-sharing service on Thursday.

According to a recent CNET article, the suit was filed on behalf of record labels Warner Music, UMG Recordings, Sony Music, and Capitol Records in US District Court in Alexandria, Va. This particular lawsuit accuses MegaUpload of “massive copyright infringement” of music, and that the site’s administrators knowingly infringed on copyrights while encouraging others to do so. 

In addition to these lawsuits, criminal charges have been filed against MegaUpload and Dotcom by the US Justice Department after the January 2012 raid on Dotcom’s mansion, claiming that he was encouraging users to store pirated videos, music, software, and other media and then share them with others.

If convicted, Dotcom, could face up to 20 years in prison. He is currently denying the charges and claiming that MegaUpload was protected by the recent Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Read the full CNET article here: http://www.cnet.com/news/record-labels-join-movie-studios-in-suing-megaupload/

Is Wu-Tang Clan's New Album A Look Into Future Music Industry Sales?

As RZA announced in an interview for Forbes, the Wu-Tang Clan plans to release only one physical copy of their upcoming album, The Wu - Once Upon A Time in Shaolin.  After “touring” the album for listening sessions in the same fashion as a fine art exhibit, the sole copy of the album will be auctioned.  RZA has stated that the group has already been offered upwards of five million dollars.  What Wu-Tang has done is make a dramatic example of basic economic theories.  An artist has infinite and scarce product.  A download is an infinite product because it can be reproduced an infinite amount of times, but the physical copy of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin is the scarcest of scarce since there is only one copy available.  Basic principles of supply and demand state that the more rare or scarce a product is, the more it’s worth.  Artists could take this model as a cue to make specialty or collector products that are made in smaller batches to sell at higher prices.  As Cilvaringz said about the upcoming Wu-Tang release, “I know it sounds crazy.  It might totally flop, and we might be completely ridiculed. But the essence and core of our ideas is to inspire creation and originality and debate, and save the music album from dying.”  If Cilvaringz’ and Wu-Tang’s goal is to spark conversation and debate within the music business community, they’ve already succeeded.

Read the original Forbes article here:  

#Music- Notorious B.I.G. Estate Faces Copyright Claims

Though Notorious B.I.G. has been dead for 17 years, his estate is still dealing with copyright infringement lawsuits against his songs. According to a recent Billboard article, the estate of Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, has recently filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief that his song “The What” on Ready to Die isn’t a copyright infringement of the song, “Can’t Say Enough About Mom,” co-written by Leroy Hutson and Michael Hawkins.

In this case, the estate admits sampling the song, but says that the sample is de minimis and fair use as only “two nonsequential tones” were used, adapted, modified and supplemented. Moreover, Hutson is being charged with copyright misuse for threatening legal action with alleged knowledge of no real infringement.

"The What" was written in 1994 by Biggie, Osten Harvey Jr. (known as Easy Mo Bee) and Clifford Smith (known as Method Man).

To read the full article on Billboard: http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/6029498/notorious-big-estate-files-pre-emptive-lawsuit-over-song-sample

Disney Investigates Deadmau5’s Logo

Rolling Stone reports that Disney is currently investigating a trademark registration filed by DJ Deadmau5 regarding his logo, a black silhouette of a mouse head with white eyes and a white mouth.

Deadmau5, also known as Joel Zimmerman, applied for the trademark last year, and if registered, the logo could appear on a multitude of products. This logo does bare a resemblance to Disney’s Mickey Mouse, the company’s primary symbol. Therefore, Disney, known to be tough on copyright infringement, has been granted 90 days to investigate Deadmau5’s claim and to potentially file a notice of opposition.

Read the full article at Rolling Stone’s website:


#Sports- Local News Works Around March Madness Copyright Rules

A clever local news station has found a creative way to get around footage copyright laws. WCJB TV20 in Gainesville, Fla., was not legally able to show highlights of the University of Florida Gators’ win over the University of Dayton on March 29. Not wanting to wait for footage rights to recap the game, their sports anchor Zach Aldridge recruited his coworkers to recreate the biggest moments of the game in an office conference room.

With only a small ball and miniature basketball net, the WCJB TV20 news team hilariously recreated each major play. Aldridge even dramatically reenacted of Gators center Patric Young crying with joy at the end of the game.

To see the news story and full article, check it out on Mashable here: http://mashable.com/2014/03/31/march-madness-local-news/

#Music - Could Smartphones be Encouraging Music Piracy?

In the music industry’s long-running battle against piracy, the smartphone has emerged as the newest obstacle. According to a new study published on Recode, mobile applications on these phones now overshadow file-sharing services, online storage sites called “digital lockers” and stream-ripping software as the most widely used source of free music downloads.

As devices have become more capable and networks grow, app stores now offer hundreds of applications for downloading MP3 files to smartphones and tablets. The music industry has been increasing its efforts to combat piracy in the form of illegal downloads on these phones, devices that executives see as critical to efforts to revitalize the music business. Google has been a frequent target of complaints from the industry, with many trade associations claiming that the company does too little to curb illegal music downloading within its applications and app stores.

Check out the full article on Recode: http://recode.net/2014/03/24/music-piracy-goes-mobile/

#Music RuPaul Sends a Message by Posting Decoy Album

Leave it up to RuPaul Charles, the queen of drag, to send a message to all music lovers by giving his listeners something they wouldn’t expect —a decoy album. RuPaul and his producer made the fake album a few days before its release, with the hopes of capturing the attention of those who would download it illegally. The album, actually consisting of samples of the real tracks, ended up getting more publicity than expected as seen on social media. But the real reason the play made so much buzz is because of RuPaul’s “stream-of-conscious” commentary on each track. So, whats the point of a decoy album? To teach music lovers the importance of purchasing music. RuPaul wants to make sure his fans understand that the hard work of the artist should be recognized, especially if you admire and support their work. Also, what better way to build anticipation for the real thing than to send out a teaser? Time will soon tell if the ploy made a significant impact on sales of the real album.

Read the full story and listen to two of the decoy
tracks: http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/digital-and-mobile/5922972/rupaul-messages-pirates-with-decoy-album-you-done-stole 

#YouTube and Viacom Settle Outside of Court


According to a recent New York Times article, Viacom and YouTube, a unit of Google, announced Tuesday morning, seven years after their initial dispute, that they had settled a copyright violations battle out of court. Neither Viacom nor YouTube revealed the terms of this settlement, but the digital news site ReCode reported that no money passed hands.

The lawsuit began just two years after YouTube’s creation, when Viacom’s complained that its shows were appearing on YouTube without its permission. Viacom sought $1 billion in damages. However, in the time since Viacom’s complaint, Google has worked to address concerns of all content owners, including Viacom, by creating a system that allows them to track their content when it is posted and then request it be taken down or run with ads. The changes to YouTube have been so great that in 2012 the two media companies signed a pact allowing YouTube to rent out hundreds of Paramount films.

To read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/business/media/viacom-and-youtube-settle-lawsuit-over-copyright.html

"Happy Birthday" Turns 90!

The copyright for the song “Happy Birthday” turned 90 years old last week.  It seems surprising that such a pervasive song in our culture could have tangible ownership.  Luckily for Warner Music, who owns the copyright, “Happy Birthday” generates millions of dollars annually in performance royalties, mechanical royalties, and sync licenses.  Everytime the song is sung in a public place or used in a television show or movie, a royalty or license is required.  Unfortunately for Warner Music, all good (or at least lucrative) things must come to an end.  Since no one knows exactly who wrote the tune or the words to the song, “Happy Birthday” is classified as an anonymous work.  Current U.S. copyright law states that the copyright for an anonymous work is 95 years from the date of publication, so “Happy Birthday” will be moving into the public domain in five years.  

For more history, read the full article here: