When the gods dance...

Friday, April 26, 2013


UMG Wins DMCA Copyright Suit Against Grooveshark

Lawsuit A New York state appellate panel issued a ruling Tuesday (April 23) that could rattle social media sites and online radio stations that were relying on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to shield them from prospection for using music that was recorded prior to 1972. A five-judge panel of the New York Supreme Court's appellate division concluded that "classic" pre-1972 music was not covered by "safe harbor" provisions of the DMCA which, under certain conditions, shields internet providers from liability if they promptly remove copyrighted works when provided notice of specific cases of infringement. In doing so, the judges ruled in favor of Universal Music Group in its lawsuit against Grooveshark, an internet music company that allows users to upload songs. Grooveshark had argued that the DMCA protected it against claims of infringement for music released prior to 1972 because that was the year Congress set for sound recordings to be protected by federal copyright, and further claimed the law did not apply to works made before then. UMG argued its pre-1972 recordings were protected by common law copyright, and that the 1998 DMCA did not apply in this case. "The statutory language at issue involved two equally clear and compelling Congressional priorities: to promote the existence of intellectual property on the internet, and to insulate pre-1972 sound recordings from federal regulation," the judges wrote, noting it was "not unreasonable" to "reconcile the two by concluding that Congress intended for the DMCA only to apply to post-1972 works." [Full story: Variety]

Judge Rules Martha Davis Suit Against EMI, Capitol Can Move Forward

Gavel A federal judge last week ruled the lawsuit Martha Davis filed against EMI Group and Capitol Records can move forward, rejecting label arguments that the Motels singer waited too long to file her case. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers gave two reasons in her ruling why Davis' claims aren't time-barred: Although Capitol believed Davis was contractually required to give written notice of an objection upon receiving a royalty statement, the judge said that the allegations arguably support a basis for "tolling," meaning that the time in which Davis needed to object is paused, and further suggested the matter won't be resolved until after the parties engage in fact-finding.  Additionally, the judge said Davis can make the case that she was prevented from learning about the alleged errors by the record company's concealment or misrepresentation. "Davis alleges that Capitol knowingly underpaid her and other class members by reporting digital download licenses as sales of physical record sales, and concealed the fact that Capitol improperly accounted for sales," the judge wrote. Davis is the lead member of a nationwide class action against EMI and Capitol and alleges that if the defendants counted digital music as "licenses" rather than "sales" - because there's no physical manufacturing happening on iTunes - she would see a much heftier royalty rate, per her contract. [Full story: Hollywood Reporter]

The White House Celebrates Memphis Music

Obama Last week PBS televised a music program highlighting President Barack Obama's recognition and celebration of the "feel good" music that came out of Stax Records, America's delta region, and the city of Memphis, Tennessee. The PBS program was recorded April 9 during a special performance at the White House, and illustrates what poet William Congreve said in 1697, when he wrote: "Music has charms to sooth a savage breast...to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak..." When we were making music in Memphis at Stax Records in the 1960s and '70s it was to make people "feel good," and we need more of that "feel good" music today - now more than ever. I invite you to view the PBS program titled "Memphis Soul: In Performance At The White House" by clicking on this link, and then pass it on, reprint it, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and email it to as many of your friends and family as you can.


Al Bell


Not Just For Music: iTunes Accounts For 67% Of TV Downloads

iTunes While most people think "music" when someone mentions iTunes, a new study from the NPD Group shows Apple enjoys a 67% share of the digital TV download market, and a 65% share of the movie market. No competitor comes close, as Apple outstrips the closest individual services - Microsoft's Xbox Video and Amazon's Instant Video - several times over. In fact, Xbox Video accounted for 10% of electronic sell-throughs in movies and 14% for TV shows, while Amazon's Instant Video accounted for 10% and 8%, respectively. The report says Apple's dominance in the segment comes from a high level of customer satisfaction, with eight out of ten iTunes video customers saying their shopping experience was excellent or very good. A similar percentage of people were satisfied with the service's number of current releases and selection. "Apple has successfully leveraged its first-mover advantage and of iTunes, iOS, and the popularity of iPhone and iPad to dominate the digital sale and rental markets for movies and music," senior NPD analyst Russ Crupnick commented in a statement. "While worthy competitors have come along, no other retailer has so thoroughly dominated its core entertainment product categories for so long." [Full story: Apple Insider]

Study: U.S. Hispanics Listen Disproportionately To Internet Radio

Latinos A new report from The Media Audit indicates internet radio listening is exponentially higher among Hispanics in the top U.S. markets, as 32.7% of those surveyed say they have logged on to an online radio website in the past month. Additionally, the survey found 29.8% of Hispanics in those markets listened to internet radio in the past week, suggesting nearly the same amount are logging on weekly as they are in a typical month. Specifically, 28.7% of Hispanics in the Top 10 markets say they logged on to Pandora, while 8.4% logged on to iHeartRadio and 1.9% logged on to Radio.com. Drilling down even deeper, the study indicates that Pandora reaches 34% of the New York metro area's 3.2 million Hispanics weekly, followed by 17.1% who listened to iHeartRadio within the past week. The weekly figures represent more than 1.1 million weekly listeners for Pandora, and 560,000 weekly listeners for iHeartRadio. Likewise, 25.9% of the 3.9 million Hispanics in Los Angeles listened to Pandora within the past week, a figure that represents more than 1 million weekly listeners and tops weekly listening of all Hispanic-programmed stations or radio clusters. [Full story: All Access Music Group]

Universal Music, X5 Form Partnership To Compile Digital Albums

Universal Music GroupUniversal Music Group and digital music specialists X5 Music have announced the formation of U5, a partnership designed to produce digital compilation albums from the catalogs of Universal's Decca, Deutsche Grammophone, Verve, and Blue Note Records labels. U5 will curate over 50 digital albums for global release each month, with the first slate including a new "50 Greatest" series with such titles as "The 50 Greatest Violin Pieces" by Joshua Bell, "The 50 Greatest Piano Pieces" by Lang Lang, and "The 50 Greatest Performances of Classical Music" compilation. "We see this as the beginning of a unique worldwide partnership that will bring this extraordinary music to a wider consumer audience," X5 CEO Johan Lagerlof said. "With the addition of Universal's classical catalog, we will be able to take our success in classical music to an even greater level." [Full story: Hypebot]

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