@lizpelly: The Problem with Musak — Artist Rights Watch

The music world continues to be exceedingly vulnerable, and there are looming questions that desperately need to be addressed. Most important: How can artists distribute and sell their work in a digital economy beholden to ruthlessly commercial and centralized interests? Enter Spotify, a platform that is definitely not the answer.

via @lizpelly: The Problem with Musak — Artist Rights Watch

Major Defeat For Google-Era Justice Department, Huge Victory for Sanity and Songwriters — Music Technology Policy

Great news today that the appeals court upheld BMI’s ruling by the BMI rate court judge that there is no such thing as 100% licensing under the consent decrees. Although it’s like winning an appeal that the Sun really does rise in the East (attention Cal students), it’s good to put that issue to one side and to poke a stick in Google’s eye.

via Major Defeat For Google-Era Justice Department, Huge Victory for Sanity and Songwriters — Music Technology Policy

SoundExchange Scores 41% increase in SiriusXM artist royalties

Billboard reports today the government’s decision on the performance royalties SiriusXM pays to artists (effective January 1, 2018):

The Copyright Royalty Board [“CRB”] has determined that Satellite Audio Radio Services, i.e. SiriusXM will pay 15.5 percent of revenue for the next five years beginning in 2018 to 2022, although the full determination has yet to be posted on the CRB’s website while the participants scrutinize the document to make sure proprietary data is not publicly revealed.

That represents a nearly 41 percent jump from the 11 percent the service was paying in the current year, although it’s short of the 23 percent that SoundExchange was advocating to the CRB judges, who are appointed by the U.S. Librarian of Congress. But its better than the static rate that Sirius was hoping from the judges.

SoundExchange press release says:

The CRB increased the rates for Sirius XM by more than 40%, from 11% of revenue to 15.5% of revenue, effective January 1, 2018. Sirius XM is the only satellite radio service in the United States and reported revenues of $5 billion in 2016. By contrast, the CRB reduced the rates for Music Choice’s and Muzak’s services from 8.5% to 7.5% of revenue. SoundExchange advocated on behalf of its artists and rights owners in this rate litigation, which spanned 24 months.

“We thank the CRB for its work and appreciate their consideration of the case we laid out,” SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe said. “SoundExchange is dedicated to our mission of ensuring that creators are properly recognized and compensated for the use of their work. And while the Copyright Royalty Board did not adopt the rates we proposed for Sirius XM, its ruling demonstrates an important step in the right direction toward valuing the contributions of the music creators represented by SoundExchange.”

Yesterday’s decision confirms the need to change the so-called Section 801(b) rate standards under which satellite radio and the “grandfathered” cable radio services operate, and which permit the CRB to adopt rates different than what the market would provide. As a result of that rate standard, Sirius XM has paid below-market rates for years, and the recording artists and rights owners SoundExchange represents have subsidized the company’s growth.

Major score for artists, musicians, vocalists, as well as major and indie labels.  More to come when the Copyright Royalty Board releases its written opinion.

@crunchdigital Announces Digital Music Sandbox for App Developers — Artist Rights Watch

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Today Crunch Digital, a music metadata management, reporting, and licensing service that bridges music rights owners with content users, is announcing the launch of the Crunch Digital Sandbox™.

The Sandbox is a music licensing platform that enables qualified app developers to include music legally from participating major and indie record labels and music publishers under short-term developer licenses – and do it faster.

The Crunch Digital Sandbox™ directly addresses the much-publicized problems and concerns surrounding music licensing, which have stymied innovation critical to new business models and new revenue streams for the music industry.

On one side, you have innovators and startups who need licenses now – because tech moves fast.  On the other side, you have record labels and music publishers who are inundated with emails and pitches for licenses, all vying for their attention.  It’s unrealistic to expect record labels and music publishers to take time away from their core business to quickly vet and assess the viability of all the incoming license requests.  You also have investors who have been shying away from backing new music companies due to scary infringement lawsuits and high licensing transaction costs.

In making the announcement, Keith Bernstein, Founder of Crunch Digital said, “With the Crunch Digital Sandbox™, app developers can prove out their concepts and features before engaging in all-encompassing music licensing negotiations.  They will have a better opportunity to gain market traction and attract potential investment for a full product launch. For record labels and music publishers, the Sandbox helps them to focus their attention on viable opportunities.  For investors, they can invest in companies that show proof of concept and mitigate the concerns they have about music licensing.”

Getting started with the Sandbox is easy.  Interested developers submit an application to Crunch. Crunch will vet the applications.  Once an application has been approved, Crunch will work with the applicant to help present their idea to labels and publishers who are participating in the Sandbox.

Crunch will then assist developers in requesting a customized limited use license for access to catalogs, either for a period of time or until the company hits a certain success threshold.  Crunch will share growth metrics with participating labels and publishers – and standout developers can start the conversation to “graduate” from the Sandbox and move up to a long-term licensing deal.

Bernstein added, “For innovators and entrepreneurs, being a part of the Sandbox gives them an invaluable opportunity to go from having no meaningful knowledge about music licensing, no meaningful connections, and probably no awareness of who to contact at labels and publishers, to working with a team of people at Crunch who can help to put them on a path to legally launch with music that will help them find an audience.”

The Sandbox will officially launch in January 2018, and Crunch is already accepting applications at www.digitalmusicsandbox.com.  Record labels and music publishers can also visit the site to become a content participant.  View a fun video about the Sandbox here:

via @crunchdigital Announces Digital Music Sandbox for App Developers — Artist Rights Watch

The Flaw Behind Zuckerberg’s Universal Basic Income Scam — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

These 21st Century Robber Barrons will expect the taxpayer to pay for those smart roads or if the beneficiaries of the infrastructurer will pay, they will expect to own the roads, no doubt. So the taxpayer will pay for the roads for the driverless cars that create the automation to creat mass firings and so that the taxpayer will pay Universal Basic Income to quiet down the clingers.

via The Flaw Behind Zuckerberg’s Universal Basic Income Scam — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

The Shopkeeper–a must see movie for the artist rights movement — Artist Rights Watch

He’s worked with Carole King, Ani DiFranco, and a host of great Texas artists — but can music producer Mark Hallman keep his studio open in the age of streaming?

Everybody is talking about Spotify and the pros and cons of “free.” Musician and first-time filmmaker Rain Perry confronts a big issue by telling a small story – of the longest continuously operating recording studio in Austin, Texas, and the shopkeeper who runs it, Mark Hallman.

After recording Carole King, Ani DiFranco and many great Austin artists, Mark is struggling to keep the studio open in the era of streaming. Funny, sweet and insightful, with great music and interviews, The Shopkeeper captures the joy, resolute spirit and frustration of musicians today.

Starring:

Ani DiFranco
Charlie Faye
Colin Gilmore
Eliza Gilkyson
Johnny Goudie
Jon Dee Graham
Mark Hallman
Noell Hampton
Sara Hickman
Iain Matthews
Tom Russell
Will Sexton
and many more

If you’re not aware of this indie film about producer Mark Hallman and his Congress House Studios, you really should check it out.  Rain Perry tells the story that we all know from the point of view of a great craftsman. You can rent or buy the picture directly from the film maker here or on iTunes here.

via The Shopkeeper–a must see movie for the artist rights movement — Artist Rights Watch

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