When the gods dance...

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Tenenbaum's Legal Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday (May 21) refused to hear the legal appeal of former Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum (right), who has been ordered to pay $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs on the internet. "I can't believe the system would uphold a six-figure damages amount for downloading 30 songs on a file-sharing system that everybody used," Tenenbaum said following the SCOTUS decision. "I can't believe the court would uphold something that ludicrous." 
A jury in 2009 ordered Tenenbaum to pay $675,000, or $22,500 per song, after the Recording Industry Association of America [RIAA] sued him on behalf of the four major record labels. A federal judge subsequently called the financial penalty unconstitutionally excessive and reduced the award to $67,500, but the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later reinstated it. The 1st Circuit said a new judge assigned to the case could reduce the award again, but the record labels would then be entitled to a new trial. Tenenbaum argued that the U.S. Copyright Act is unconstitutional and that Congress did not intend the law to impose liability or damages when the copyright infringements amount to "consumer copying." [Full story: Huffington Post]
Michael MacDonald Is Latest Artist To Sue Record Label


Singer-songwriter Michael McDonald, known both as a member of The Doobie Brothers and for such solo hits as "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," and "What A Fool Believes," has filed suit against Warner Music Group, claiming the company underpaid him for online music sales. McDonald, who lives in Franklin, TN, filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Nashville on Monday (May 21). According to court documents, he is seeking at least half a million dollars in royalties he claims were deliberately underpaid for sales of his music through download sites such as iTunes and through cellphone ringtone sales. The underpayments to McDonald were "part of a conscious decision by Warner, and others in the music business, to deprive artists of their proper royalties," his lawsuit contends. McDonald is the latest in a growing list of artists to file breach of contract lawsuits against their record labels over accounting and payment practices for music licensed to online music stores. [Full story: The Tennessean]
Forbes: U.S. Copyright Royalty Structure "In Need Of Repair"


Executives at Sirius XM and many internet radio companies view music copyright royalties as the scourge of the earth, hindering them in their efforts to grow intheir businesses in the era of digital evolution. At the other extreme of this debate is SoundExchange, the organization that collects royalties for record labels and artists, and which insists that not only are the royalty payments fair, but possibly still not "rich" enough. As Forbes legal contributor John Villasenor points out, copyright law is underpinned by the simple premise that authors (including songwriters and recording artists) deserve to be compensated for the use of their creative works, and that society benefits if those works are broadly available. But the power granted by the Copyright Royalty Board [CRB] to SoundExchange now is the subject of a federal antitrust complaint filed by Sirius XM, which questions the overall scope of the group's perceived "monopolistic" collection efforts. This debate, Villasenor says, very well may lead to legal examination of the constitutionality of the CRB, a panel of three copyright royalty judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress. So where does this leave us? "In need of repair," he answers his own somewhat rhetorical question. [Full story: Forbes]
Study: Listening To Loud Music Leads To Pot Smoking, Unsafe Sex


Turns out our parents were right: Listening to loud music leads to marijuana smoking and unsafe sex. That's the primary takeaway from a new study released this week by the medical journal Pediatrics, which claims that teens and young adults who listen to digital music players with ear buds are almost twice as likely as non-listeners to smoke pot and engage in unsafe sex. And those who attend concerts or go to dance clubs are nearly six times as likely as "safe music listeners" to go on a binge-drinking bender. Interestingly, the report is based on a survey of 944 low-income students age 15-25 at two vocational schools in the Netherlands, and concludes that listening to music at 89 decibels for at least an hour per day leads to "increased feelings of isolation, depression, loneliness, anger, and fear." These same individuals, when compared with students who followed what the researchers considered safe music listening practices, were found to be 1.99 times more likely to have used cannabis in the last four weeks; 1.19 times more likely to smoke cigarettes daily; and 1.10 times more likely to have had sex without using a condom every time. Editor's note: The report does not adequately address the issue of causality; i.e., whether the "risky" music listening causes these risky behaviors, or vice versa. [Full story: Pediatrics]
TheStreet.com: Pandora-Triton Deal Officially Crushes AM/FM Radio


Someday we will all look back on May 16, 2012, as the day Pandora - and internet radio in general - rendered terrestrial radio, on a grand scale, obsolete. That's the bold prediction from TheStreet.com, which this week said that the audience measurement pact reached by Pandora and Triton Digital last week would "change the game in terms of how advertisers decide to allocate their radio dollars." "Really?" one might ask. "Really," TheStreet replies, observing that, "While Pandora already experiences success pitching local and national radio buyers advertising, it can now walk into a room with local ratings data compiled and crunched by a third party. Pandora can compare itself, from a ratings standpoint, with radio stations in local markets." It took "forever" for somebody to do this, the website points out, noting that if Arbitron did not rely on Clear Channel and other terrestrial radio companies for a vast majority of its revenue, "it probably would have stepped into the 21st century years ago." Noting that "a place will always exist for traditional radio, [we can] expect to see terrestrial radio broadcasters shed physical stations and broadcast towers like big box retail now races to decrease square footage in feeble attempts to counter Amazon's dominance." [Full story: TheStreet.com]
Sony To Launch Music Unlimited App This Friday


Sony this week announced that its Music Unlimited app for iPhone and iPod touch will be available globally Friday (May 25), allowing subscribers to access the service's catalog of millions of tracks whenever and wherever they are. "With the proliferation of connected devices, consumers expect complete access to their digital entertainment and demand a consistent experience regardless of the device," Tim Schaaff, President of Sony Network Entertainment International, commented in a statement. "Bringing the Music Unlimited service to iPhone and iPod touch is one of the many ways we are able to reach more music lovers around the world while ensuring the same level of high-quality entertainment that is associated with the overall Sony experience." Music Unlimited is a cloud-based digital music platform that hosts a global catalog of over 15 million songs licensed through all major U.S. labels, leading independent labels, and major publishers worldwide. [Full story: company statement]
CNBC: Mel Karmazin Killed The Sirius XM Dream


"Mel Karmazin killed the dream of satellite radio as a terrestrial alternative with compelling and original programming." That's the word from CNBC's Rocco Pendola, who this week said Sirius XM has acted far too long - both operationally and attitudinally - as a player in the dying industry known as traditional radio. "It has failed to innovate and imitate companies in emerging spaces (internet, new media, social media) and it has a reasonable amount of cash to take it through any lean times, pay down debt, and return capital to shareholders. But it has yet to come around to the reality that it can no longer live in the past, or live off of its cash pile, and must make wholesale organizational changes." In fact, Pendola writes, "Karmazin refuses to even consider a Sirius XM with young talent either at the helm or as a major part of the visioning and decision-making process.... The worst part is that Karmazin could flip the switch on a potentially bright future simply by giving up control of the company to John Malone's Liberty Media [but] he does not seem prepared to do this. Mel believes he's the only guy for the job." [Full story: CNBC]
Liberty Media Is Allowing Sirius XM To Grow And Survive


Three years ago Sirius XM was forced to sign over 40% of the company to Liberty Media in order to avoid bankruptcy proceedings. As Seeking Alphapoints out, the deal allowed the satellite radio company to concentrate on growing the company and offer a better product rather than being creative with debt refinancing - positive factors that led to the addition of 1.7 million net subscribers in 2011, including 540,000 in the fourth quarter. Now that Moody's has upgraded its credit rating, Sirius will spend less on debt interest and more on growth and expansion. This has given the company time and resources to focus more attention on such business practices as the lawsuit it filed against Sound Exchange in March, contending in the anti-trust complaint that licensing fees have been set artificially hig. Also, by adding new "Pandora-like" features, such as skipping songs, to its new 2.0 satellite system, the company has demonstrated a willingness to adapt to trends and technology. Profit margins are thin and Sirius is not listed as "investment grade" yet, butSeeking Alpha predicts Sirius XM will survive and be a stable, profitable company over the next decade. [Full story: Seeking Alpha]
Al Bell Presents American Soul Music ... And American Soul TV

If you're into classic and contemporary Soul, R&B, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Hip-Hop Soul, Rap Soul, and Neo-Soul, we invite you to listen to Al Bell Presents American Soul Music. Former Stax Records owner and Motown Records Group President Al Bell personally has programmed this awesome radio station online, presenting your favorites from the 1960s and '70s [and some '80s], a lot of the best new music that's being released today, and some real gems you haven't heard in a long, long time. Come to www.AlBellPresents.Com
 and hear it for yourself!

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