While Spotify’s technocrats may be breathing a sigh of relief after the company’s most recent multimillion dollar settlement with songwriters, it is well to remember that the company is probably not anywhere close to out of the woods. As others have learned the hard way, once you replace the rights of songwriters and artists with your own lust for IPO riches, the lawsuits can go on for a very long time indeed. You would think that after nearly 20 years of massive infringement online, the obvious answer would suggest itself to the “get big fast” group: Don’t use music you don’t have rights to use.
Yes, that’s right. Just say no.
The typical reason given by interactive services about why their need to offer unlicensed music exceeds their desire to offer only licensed music is because of competitive pressure from YouTube. Why do they feel this competitive pressure? Because their investors tell them at every board meeting that they should feel it. But let’s be clear–I doubt that Tim Cook gets Eddie Cue in a headlock over the issue over at the Infinite Loop. If you agree, then that kind of narrows it down.
But entertain that idea for a moment, however ill founded. Why is YouTube able to sustain this competitive position that supposedly makes otherwise licensed services soil themselves with fear of being undercut and overrun by YouTube?
That’s right–the “DMCA license”, or YouTube’s absurd use of the “safe harbors” granted to them under the U.S. Copyright Act which YouTube likes to think makes them bullet proof. (Which is also what Cox Communications thought until they weren’t and is probably what Facebook thinks, too.)
So get that straight–some would say that The Golden Child (aka Spotify) is to be allowed to limp their way to the increasingly inexplicable goal of some kind of big financial reward (or “exit”) in an IPO of whatever stripe while we are all asked to look the other way and allow them the same shite arrangements that YouTube enforces through lobbying, litigation and unprecedented monopoly position (aka crony capitalism).
And you thought it was all about the “Value Gap”? Apparently not.
Amazon, Google, Pandora, Spotify and other tech companies are taking advantage of their influence in the Library of Congress to leverage a loophole in the Copyright Act to their great benefit and to songwriters great harm. Congress can stop them overnight if the Congress will act.
After visiting Capitol Hill, where we spent the entire time speaking to policymakers about the importance of copyright to the creative communities, we are gravely concerned.
Last month, in a positive step for creatives, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), along with 29 co-sponsors, introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695). Last week, the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee with a virtually unprecedented, bipartisan, 27-1 vote….
However, there are some politicians with deep relationships to those who benefit from a weak copyright system that are casting partisan aspersions in an attempt to sabotage the bill. This ignores that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, in both the House and Senate, have been working on this issue for years, including under the last Administration.
The Copyright Office’s role is far more than a ministerial one intended to serve the collection needs of the Library of Congress. While some may have you believe that the Copyright Office does little more than administer the registration and recordation systems, this is patently false. The Office plays the critical role of advisor to Congress and the Executive Branch on copyright law and policy – meaning that the Office is the in-house expert on legislation that can deeply affect the job stability of more than 5.5 million hardworking Americans.
To be sure, the Library of Congress has a mission of national importance. But that mission gives it a particular view of copyright that differs from the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office is charged with effectuating the constitutionally enshrined notion that protecting creatives’ rights over how their content is disseminated promotes the creation and wide distribution of knowledge and creativity, to everyone’s benefit. It is no secret that libraries have a vested interest in loosening copyright laws to reduce their cost to access and distribute copyrighted works. The current structure, which makes the Register of Copyrights a subordinate officer within the Library, prevents the Copyright Office from working in the best interests of the creative industry and the public at large.
Pandora Media, Inc. has launched its long-awaited Pandora Premium on-demand competitor to Spotify according to reports from journalists who previewed the platform.
Pandora built Pandora Premium on top of its 2015 acquisition of RDIO’s assets in a controversial bankruptcy and is reportedly leveraging its Music Genome technology that allows Pandora to build on-demand playlists based on an artist’s name or work. Premium evidently transposes Pandora “stations” to Premium “playlists” with what sounds like largely the same functionality, including transferring “thumbs up” ratings in the historical interactive/noninteractive webcasting service. The Premium service evidently uses prior choices to recommend future music in the known-unknown dichotomy. And of course it sounds like you can download all the tracks.
What is different about Pandora’s on-demand service is that it implicates a license for songs that Pandora did not have to obtain for its webcasting service—the mechanical license for on-demand services and downloads. Pandora is evidently negotiating direct deals with major publishers and also is trying to encourage other songwriters to sign up to a “standard” mechanical license.
According to Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec, Pandora has filed approximately 1,193, 346 “address unknown” NOIs with the Copyright Office between April 2016 and January 28, 2017. I have been informed by other sources that representatives of Pandora have stated that the company intends to pay statutory royalties retroactively for any songwriter who comes forward and complies with the formality of registration, but I have yet to see a public statement by Pandora of this intention.
Here’s the future of the Library of Congress!
Normally, finding your book on a university reading list or course outline can be the fulfilment of an author’s fondest hopes: It means that scholars take your work so seriously they want to pass it on to the next generation.
And it can mean a big increase in book sales, directly to students or to university libraries.At Montreal’s Concordia University, however, those hopes turned to bitter disillusionment this week when poets realized that the Centre for Expanded Poetics had been scanning their books and posting them to its web page without their permission.
“I find it distressing,” said Alana Wilcox, editorial director at Toronto’s Coach House Books, the publisher of two of the books. “Poets make so little money … making their work available for free on a public website feels very disrespectful. … These aren’t tenured professors with salaries; these are poets who are scraping by, getting no compensation for their hard work.”As well as works by Coach House poets Damian Rogers and Jeramy Dodds, the page for the centre’s contemporary poetry reading group featured high-quality reproductions of entire books by such high-profile Canadian writers as Governor-General’s Award winner Dionne Brand and nominee Lisa Robertson, and international poetry superstar Anne Carson, as well as leading U.S. poets including Claudia Rankine, Ariana Reines and Maggie Nelson.
The books, most of which would retail for less than $20, were available to download free to anybody who clicked on a link. Apparently, centre director Nathan Brown has been running books through a sophisticated scanner to produce copies: a picture on the reading group’s Facebook page in January shows him working on a Atiz brand book scanner of a type that costs at least $10,000.