@KRSfow: Future of What Podcast on the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act

 

Episode #94: Recently, a bill was introduced by Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner which calls for the creation of a comprehensive database of compositions and recordings. The “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” claims to make things easier for coffee shops, bars and restaurants who want to license music to play in their establishments. To many in the music industry, the bill seems like a wolf in sheep’s clothing with the potential cause big problems. On this episode we dig deep into the bill with Future of Music Coalition’s Kevin Erickson and attorney Chris Castle.

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Corpus Christi Songwriters Benefit Delivers Hurricane Harvey Relief to the Rockport, Texas Center for the Arts

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Google Feels the Heat from Congress on Sex Trafficking–And Gaslights Public Opinion on @SenRobPortman’s and @RepAnnWagner’s Legislation — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

I first called your attention to Dr. Robert Epstein in 2013. Dr. Epstein’s work on Google’s power to throw elections by manipulating public opinion was startling to many, and I got the usual eye rolling about how mistrustful I was of Google. (See “Democracy at Risk: Manipulating Search Rankings Can Shift Voting Preferences Substantially Without […]

via Google Feels the Heat from Congress on Sex Trafficking–And Gaslights Public Opinion on @SenRobPortman’s and @RepAnnWagner’s Legislation — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Thanks @theJusticeDept and @FBIAtlanta! Sharebeast.com owner pleads guilty to criminal copyright infringement — Artist Rights Watch

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 8, 2017

Sharebeast.com owner pleads guilty to criminal copyright infringement

ATLANTA – Artur Sargsyan has pleaded guilty to one felony count of criminal copyright infringement related to his ownership and administration of Sharebeast.com, a file-sharing website that facilitated the unauthorized distribution and reproduction of over 1 billion copies of copyrighted works.

“Through Sharebeast and other related sites, this defendant profited by illegally distributing copyrighted music and albums on a massive scale,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “The collective work of the FBI and our international law enforcement partners have shut down the Sharebeast websites and prevented further economic losses by scores of musicians and artists.”

“This is another example of how the FBI and its international law enforcement partners, working together, make it difficult for criminals to profit from illegal activities on the internet,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta. “Illegally making money off of the talent of hard working artists will not go unpunished thanks to the dedication and hard work of our FBI agents.”

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Artur Sargsyan owned and operated a number of websites including Sharebeast.com, Newjams.net, and Albumjams.com. From at least 2012 through 2015, Sargsyan illegally distributed and reproduced copyrighted works through Sharebeast.com. Using a network of websites that he owned and operated, including Newjams.net and Albumjams.com, Sargsyan created links to a wide swath of copyright-protected music that was stored on Sharebeast.com. Sharebeast illegally stored and distributed works from scores of artists including Bruno Mars, Linkin Park, Pitbull, Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5, Ariana Grande, Destiny’s Child, Ciara, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Kanye West, and Justin Bieber.

In numerous instances, Sharebeast distributed and reproduced pre-release copyrighted works meaning that Sargsyan made the songs available before they were commercially available to paying consumers.

From 2012 through 2015, Sargsyan received over 100 emails notifying him that Sharebeast was hosting copyright-infringing works. Despite receiving such notices, the copyright-infringing files were still available for download.

In August 2015, the United States seized control of the domain names Sharebeast.com, Newjams.net, and Albumjams.com. And with the assistance of international law enforcement partners in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the FBI seized the computer servers used by Sargsyan to illegally distribute the copyrighted music worldwide.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Sharebeast.com was the largest online file-sharing website specializing in the reproduction and distribution of infringing copies of copyrighted music operating out of the United States.

Sentencing for Artur Sargsyan, 29, of Glendale, California has been scheduled for December 4, 2017 at 10:30 am before U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samir Kaushal and Kamal Ghali are prosecuting the case. The prosecution and seizure of the website domain names reflects a coordinated effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS), the Office of International Affairs, the FBI’s filed offices in Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Substantial assistance was provided by CCIPS, United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, and the Ministry of Security and Justice in the Netherlands, as well as the CCIPS Cyber Crime Lab.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov(link sends e-mail) or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Topic(s):
Consumer Protection

via Thanks @theJusticeDept and @FBIAtlanta! Sharebeast.com owner pleads guilty to criminal copyright infringement — Artist Rights Watch

How Spotify (and others) Could Have Avoided Songwriter Lawsuits, Ask The Labels.

This is simply a story about intent. Daniel Ek is the co-founder of Spotify, he was also the CEO of u-torrent, the worlds most successful bit-torrent client. As far we know u-torrent has never secured music licenses or paid any royalties to any artists, ever.

Spotify could have completely avoided it’s legal issues around paying songwriters.  The company could have sought to obtain the most recent information about the publishing and songwriters for every track at the service.  The record labels providing the master recordings to Spotify are required to have this information. All Spotify (and others) had to do, was ask for it.

Here’s how it works.

For decades publishers and songwriters have been paid their share of record sales (known as “mechanicals”) by the record labels in the United States. This is a system whereby the labels collect the money from retailers and pay the publishers/songwriters their share. It has worked pretty well for decades and has not required a industry wide, central master database (public or private) to administer these licenses or make the appropriate payments.

This system has worked because each label is responsible for paying the publishers and songwriters attached to the master recordings the label is monetizing. The labels are responsible for making sure all of the publishers and writers are paid. If you are a writer or publisher and you haven’t been paid, you know where the money is – it is at the record label.

Streaming services pay the “mechanicals” at source which are determined by different formulas and rules based upon the use. For example non-interactive streaming and web radio (simulcasts and Pandora) are calculated and paid via the appropriate performing rights society like ASCAP or BMI. These publishing royalties are treated more like radio royalties.

The “mechanicals” for album sales from interactive streaming services are calculated in a different way. It is the responsibility of the streaming services to pay these royalties. CDBaby explains the system here and here. Don’t mind that these explanations are an attempt to sell musicians more CDBaby services, just focus on the information provided for a better understanding of this issue.

Every physical album and transactional download (itunes and the like) pays the “mechanical” publishing to the record label directly, who then pays the publishers and writers.  This publishing information exists as labels providing the master recordings to Spotify have this information. All Spotify (and others) have to do, is ask for it.

Record labels have collectively and effectively “crowd sourced” licensing and payments to publishers and songwriters for decades. Why can’t Spotify simply require this information from labels, when the labels deliver their masters? It’s just that simple. Period.

The simple, easy, and transparent solution to Spotify’s licensing crisis is to require record labels to provide the mechanical license information on every song delivered to Spotify. The labels already have this information.

The simple solution is for Spotify to withdraw any and all songs from the service until the label who has delivered the master recording also delivers the corresponding publisher and writer information for proper licensing and payments. Problem solved!

No need for additional databases or imagined licensing problems. Every master recording on Spotify is delivered by a record label. Every record label is required by law to pay the publishers and songwriters. This is known and readily available information by the people who are delivering the recordings to Spotify!

There is no missing information, and no unknown licenses. Why is this so F’ing hard?

This system would mean that the record labels would have to provide this information. It’s also possible that some of that information is not accurate. Labels would probably fight against any mechanism that would make them have to make any claims about the accuracy of their data, which is fine. If it’s the most update information it’s a great place to start.

Of course, we know that both sides (both labels and streamers) will reject any mechanism that introduces friction into the delivery of masters. However, with the simple intent of requiring publisher and songwriter info for every song master delivered there will no longer be a problem at the scale that currently exists.

To be completely fair to Spotify they did work to make deals with the largest organizations representing publishers and songwriters (NMPA and HFA). However those two organizations leave out a lot of participants. So back to square one. If publishing information is required upon the delivery of masters, the problem is largely solved. Invoking a variation on Occam’s Razor, the best solution is usually the most simple one.

You’d think that in the times before computers this would have been harder than it is now, but like all things Spotify you have to question the motivations of a company whose founder created the most successful bittorrent client of all time, u-torrent.

Oh, and of this writing Spotify is now claiming they have no responsibility to pay any “mechanicals” at all. Can’t make this up.

 

Please Support @cc_songwriters Hurricane Harvey Relief Benefit

harvey relief concert cc

This would be a perfect opportunity for Congressman Blake Farenhold to explain to songwriters in his Corpus Christi district how he plans to screw songwriters with HR 3350, aka The Shiv Act that David has written about on The Trichordist.

Perhaps Rep. Farenthold could lead the audience in a dramatic reading of the bill.

SoundExchange Reaches Out to Help Texas Flood Victims

Press Release

For SoundExchange members based in Houston and throughout the Gulf Coast, SoundExchange wants to make sure you receive your royalties in this time of tragedy.

sound exchange logo

SoundExchange’s Senior Director of Artist and Industry Relations Linda Bloss-Baum sent the Texas Music Office a statement today that reads:

“Our next royalty distribution will be made in late September.  If you currently receive your SoundExchange royalties via physical checks, you can update your account so we can send you your royalties via Direct Deposit. We hope this makes it easier for you to access your royalties at this difficult time. To update your account, please complete our Direct Deposit form.

“We will also need either a voided check OR a bank authorization letter. If you use a bank authorization letter, the bank authorization letter should be on bank letterhead with your account information (routing number and account number). It should indicate the name on the account, and be signed by a bank official.

“We have a dedicated member of our industry relations team standing by to expedite getting our artists and rights holders set up to receive their royalties via direct deposit.  Please send the form and support document to tiarap@soundexchange.com and we will rush to get it processed for you.”

A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Victims w/ Guy Forsyth & Friends (Aug. 31, Antone’s 9:30 pm)

This Thursday, 8/31/17 Legendary Blues Club Antone’s (305 East 5th Street, Austin) will host “A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Victims with Guy Forsyth, Carolyn Wonderland & Friends” starting at 9:30.

Acting quickly, locally based but world traveling Austin music icon Guy Forsyth has donated his already booked show to the Red Cross to help raise money for the unprecedented disaster still unfolding on the Gulf coast.

“This is heartbreaking, and the only way to deal with something of this scale is find a way to help.” said Forsyth this morning. “So this is what we do, Texans take care of their own. Carolyn Wonderland was the first person I asked and she said yes in seconds.”

Carolyn Wonderland is known internationally for her soul saving voice and down right damning guitar playing. Other guests are expected…

Tickets on Ticketfly

To help people affected by , please visit or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

YouTube, Facebook and Moral Rights

In much of the rest of the world, artists are extended “moral rights.” These rights are mostly quite non-controversial, things like attribution and credit for a work. The US does not fully recognize these rights despite the fact we are signatories to international treaties that seem to require us to implement these rights.

MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

I was honored last year to have been asked to participate in a symposium on moral rights co-sponsored by the U.S. Copyright Office and the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property at the George Mason University School of Law.  The symposium relates to the Copyright Office Study on the Moral Rights of Attribution and Integrity.

Moral rights is a key area of the law of copyright that is sadly lacking in the United States and an important legal tool to protect the rights of artists.

Moral rights (or for the fancy people, droit moral) are largely statutory rights that maintain and protect the connection between an author and their work.  (As I highlighted in Artist Rights are Human Rights, moral rights are not economic rights like copyright, but transcend those rights.  This is why you see language in the human rights documents, like the Universal Declaration of…

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Did @EFF Properly Disclose “Relationship” to Google in Supreme Court Case?


Yesterday we broke a story that iit appears Google senior copyright counsel and EFF executive director were married.  Aside from the obvious conflicts of interest this is also relevant because if true there is likely to be community property and that community property could be Google stock or options.   We wonder if the defendants and Supreme Court Justices were informed of this relationship? I am not a lawyer nor an expert in legal ethics, but in my humble opinion this is the sort of conflict that should have been disclosed especially to the defendants.

Update:: Google senior counsel  tweeted they were divorced “years ago.”  Von Lohmann provided no month or year when asked.  It’s thus not clear which amicus briefs were filed during marriage. Regardless courts and opposing counsel should reexamine what was disclosed by EFF, and ask EFF to further clarify.