Copyright Basics: Crash Course Intellectual Property 2

 

This week, Stan Muller teaches you the basics of copyright in the United States. Copyright law is territorial, so we’re going to cover the system we know the most about, and that’s the US. Stan will talk about what kind of ideas can be copyrighted, who can get a copyright, and what protections the copyright grants. We’ll also talk about the always contentious and seemingly ever-growing term of copyright. Stan will also teach you about the low bar for creativity, which means that original work doesn’t have to be all that original, and he’ll also touch on the problems with copyright in the modern world.

Explaining Copyright Term and Fair Use

In this http://www.artistshousemusic.org interview, Maggie Lange, an attorney and Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music, explains how copyright term (that is, the duration for which a work remains under exclusive ownership) works, and sketches out some “fair use” exceptions to the five exclusive rights granted to copyright owners under law.

Understanding Copyright Law and Exclusive Rights

In this http://www.artistshousemusic.org interview, Maggie Lange, an attorney and Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music, explains the five “exclusive rights” that the law grants to a copyright holder, as well as some of the exceptions and additions that apply to music, such as the compulsory mechanical license and minimum statutory rate clauses.
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Beyond the Blockchain: It’s All About The Beans

By Alan Graham

Since I wrote my last piece on deciphering the importance of blockchain without the hype, the hype machine has actually kicked it up several notches. I feel it has gotten so ridiculously far out of hand it is time to bring some additional context to the discussion and take it down a peg, because the overabundance of passion is lacking a fair amount of context. And I’m saying this as someone who uses the blockchain daily.

We need to temper our approach to blockchain because frankly, I’ve seen many pie in the sky ideas run up this flagpole lately with the flag being that of Fair Trade Music (this will solve everything!), but not a lot of discussion of what it actually means, how it will function, how to get buy in from every major/minor player and artist and songwriter etc. in the music industry, and then the most important factor of all, convince listeners. We all see the iceberg, and there is still time to turn the ship before it hits, yet I keep seeing people ready to jump in rowboats and proclaim, “we did all we can”.

Blockchain, for all of what it could do, will not solve the underlying issue that all kinds of creators are facing. That issue is societal. It is at the very heart of everything, and no amount of talk about blockchain, improved transparency, or fair trade is going to change what is ultimately broken.

It’s us…we’re broken.

The full article can be found on The Trichordist Website. Check the link below:

Beyond the Blockchain: It’s All About The Beans

Australian Copyright Amendment

4841330621_2c1e2f7a62_oThe Australian Senate has recently passed a Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill, which could soon force ISPs to block website which are deemed to be ‘facilitating piracy.’

This new bill will allow copyright holders, such as film studios and record labels, to apply to the Federal Court for an injunction requiring all Australian ISPs to block overseas website facilitating piracy. In order for the website to be blocked, the Rights holders must be able to prove to the court that the primary purpose of the website in question is to facilitate copyright infringement. Furthermore, the court will also factor whether the site’s operator has a “disregard” for copyright and the “flagrancy” of infringement that it allows.

While this law will not really affect anyone in the immediate future, numerous sites that facilitate copyright material may soon disappear. If the court’s order ISPs to block a website, then Australian Internet users will be met with dead ends to these websites, meaning they will no longer be available. The bill is designed to target BitTorrent sites, such as the Pirate Bay, which gives users access to enormous amounts of copyrighted material for free.

If you live in Australia and would like to learn more about how this new bill may affect you then check out this article.

Three Important Music Copyright Laws

If you are a musician or business owner that enjoys playing other artists music, then make sure you check out this list of music copyright laws to ensure that you are not breaking any laws. While you may think that your performances are playing within the rules, song owners have more rights over their work than you think. Here are is some key information that you will definitely want to know.

1) The Performance Right

Pink Floyd, Earls Court 1973Many musicians believe they have the right to perform any song, in any place, at any time. However, the right to perform songs depends on the individual song owners, not the performers. Song owners are entitled to collect royalties for all public performances of their songs. This means that performers need licenses from the song owners in order to legally be allowed to perform them.

Business owners and musicians need to be aware that they are required to pay for performance licenses if they want to play music for their customers. If your band ends up performing at a bar, restaurant or party, then you will want to ensure the venue has paid for a performance license before you play any cover songs.

2 – The Right to Make Changes to Others’ Songs

music-musical-instrument-guitar-soundsMaking changes to the lyrics or melody of a song may seem like a good way to leave your personal mark or show your unique artistic talent on a song, but you actually still need permission from song owners before changing inherent parts of the song. While there are some things that you can change, such as tempo and key, anything that alters the fundamental bones of the song requires that you get in contact with the song owners first. Keep in mind that you should be prepared to pay a fee to the song owners for the privilege of making changes to the song.

3 – Fair Use

downloadFair use is one of the tricker and most commonly misunderstood parts about copyright law. There are no hard and fast rules about what is fair use really is. In fact, the courts evaluate fair use on a case-by-case basis, weighing factors four factors to determine fair use.

The court evaluates fair use on the following criteria: whether the use is for commercial or nonprofit/educational purposes and how the use will affect the value of the original work, nature of the copyrighted work, amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Whenever you make a lot of money or gain fame and influence by borrowing someone else’s idea, there is a good chance that someone will take legal action against you. It is always best to err on the side of caution by asking for permission before making changes to someone else’s work.

Fair Play, Fair Pay

Christopher Sabec Fair Pay, Fair PlayToday marks a historic day in the eyes of the music industry, as four members of Congress introduced a bi-partisan piece of legislation called the “Fair Play, Fair Pay Act of 2015.” The four members of Congress responsible for introducing the legislation were House Democrats Ted Deutch, Jerrold Nadler, and John Conyers Jr. and House Republican Marsha Blackburn. If the act passes, it would require radio stations to pay musicians for their songs played on the radio.  The act would also force all forms of radio to pay royalties on master recordings made after 1972, and do away with discounted rates paid by certain digital services to artists and musicians.

There is a short list of countries that don’t pay their artists for AM/FM radio airplay, and the United States is the only democratic country where this exists. The other countries include North Korea, Iran, Rwanda, Vietnam, and China. The United States has held this position for almost a century, and this act is a step forward towards change in the music industry. Because of the laws instilled in the United States, artists also don’t get paid for their songs played on the radio abroad. Since the US music industry imports more music than they export, the music economy in the US suffers due to this.

The executive director of musicFirst Coalition, Ted Kalo said, “The bill is designated to return the music licensing system to a basic principal of Fair Play, Fair Pay.”  People assume that artists are rich if their music gets played all over the world, but this is not necessarily the case coming from the United States.

5 Misconceptions Regarding Copyright Law

Christopher Sabec trichordist copyright misconceptions1)   If someone is defaming me, I can issue a DMCA takedown – If someone is spreading lies and taking about you without using your copyrighted material, then the Digital Millennium Copyright Act can’t be issued.

2)   It is illegal to write a story using somebody else’s trademark concept – Marvel and DC both own the trademark on the term “superhero,” so small time publishers may not use superhero in the title of their works, but it is perfectly legal for them to mention superheroes in their stories.

3)   Stories can not have the same plot a previously copyrighted story –  Copyright law protects the way in which the idea is portrayed, not the actual idea itself. You can have a masked vigilantly fighting crime in New York City, but if he has a fondness for bats, looks like batman, and is a wealthy Christian Bale character during the day, then the court can decide that this is Batman and violates copyright law.

4)   There is no reason to register your work as copyrighted material anymore – It is a lot easier for register your work as copyrighted material than it was 30 years ago. Before, it was mandatory to include a copyright notice if you wanted to register your work under copyright law. Today, any work that you create automatically belongs to you with or without the copyright notice. Registering your copyrighted material and obtaining a notice; however, deters people from copying your work and lets other know who to contact for licensing purposes.

5) Anyone can post a cover of a copyrighted song on YouTube – If you decide that you want to post a cover on YouTube of a copyrighted song, then you must acquire a synchronization license from the copyright holder.

Piracy in the Music Industry

Christopher Sabec Piracy in the Music IndustryFor artists, musicians, and production software developers, piracy has been a steadfast concern for a number of years. Despite preventative measures and regular advancements in online security, pirates maintain to be crafty. As are most, the issue of online media piracy is a two sided argument. On one hand, access to pirated media and software allows composers and media consumers with limited resources to access a viable platform for their work and the music, TV shows, and movies they like to view. On the other hand, piracy deprives software developers and artists of the opportunity to profit from their work, and may discourage future advancements and creative contributions.

Many pirates justify stealing software and media online and sharing it freely by offering the argument that the record companies, studios, and creators of respective software are getting fat off the profit. In some cases, this is true. Musicians only see a fraction of the profit from retail album sales, accruing most of their income from live performances and merchandise they sell personally. Major software companies like Adobe, Microsoft, and Oracle make insane amounts of profit, and to them, pirated software is little more than a drop out of the bucket. But most software companies are small, indepently owned businesses, and rely on software sales to stay afloat. Software often comes with an off-putting price tag, but this often has a lot to do with having to account for piracy in pricing the product.

Pirates also make the claim that media is overpriced, but often overlook the cost of producing the media. The bill associated with studio time for tracking, mixing, and mastering music adds up quickly, and pressing music to a physical medium racks up a hefty bill as well. It should be common knowledge that after paying cast, crew, production studios, composers, directors, etc., movies and television shows often dish out copious amounts of cash in creating film based media. While piracy poses a major threat to lesser known film studios and artists, on the other hand, major studios make millions of dollars from ticket sales at the box office, contracts with Netflix, Redbox, and Hulu, and DVD and Bluray sales.

Controversial by nature, piracy does hinder many artists and software producers from earning due profit from their work. My word of advice to pirates is to consider the producers of the software and media you enjoy, and encourage them to continue creating good products.

 

Google is Linking its Users to Illegal Pirating Websites

Christopher Sabec Google Online PiratingIn a recent study done by MusicTechPolicy there seems to be some interesting connections between Google and online pirating websites. It seems that Google is helping these pirating sites by driving traffic towards the sites via Google alerts. Google alerts are emails that Google can send its users through data analytics. Users can set their Google alerts for whatever they desire, and when the alert appears, the option to share it to social media is readily available. In some cases, Google even send a link that might be relevant to the requested alert. In some cases, the link might even be to an illegal downloading site.

This could be coincidence because Google might not have the capabilities to know that the site it is endorsing is an online pirating site. There is more data to suggest otherwise. By looking at Google’s “Transparency Report,” one can see that in the last 30 days, Google has received more than 31 million Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to disable certain links. One can even go more in-depth to see how many times Google has received a notice for the particular illegal website that they are sending to its users. Google has received and acknowledges 1,161,250 DMCA notices that the site that they are sending to its users violates copyright law.

Twitter and Facebook are also promoting these illegal downloading websites because they link to Google alerts. It is a tough battle for copyright lawyers out there as even the biggest search engine that seems to have a monopoly on online searches is promoting these illegal pirating websites.

These days, it is very difficult for artists to make any money online because of these pirating sites. The fact that Google, Facebook, and Twitter are promoting these sites only makes it more difficult for artists. Digital sales revenue is dropping in the music industry. Physical music product sales (like CDs and vinyl’s) are developing greater revenue.