@musictechpolicy: Holding The Line On Statutory Damage Tradeoffs

It is very likely that we will hear about a move to make significant amendments to the Copyright Act at some point before the beginning of campaign season in 2018.  There are a high number of copyright-related bills that have been introduced in the House of Representatives in the current session, so brace yourself for an “omnibus” copyright bill that would try to cobble them all together Frankenstein-style.

A Frankenstein omnibus bill would be a very bad idea in my view and will inevitably lead to horse trading of fake issues against a false deadline.  Omnibus bills are a bad idea for songwriters and artists, particularly independent songwriters and artists, because omnibus bills tend to bring together Corporate America in attack formation.

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@RobertBLevine_: Congressmen Introduce CASE Act Bill Aimed at Helping Independent Creators With Copyright Claims

[Editor Charlie sez:  Big thanks to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a great friend of creators!]

Copyright may be one of the few nonpartisan issues left in Congress. As the issue of copyright reform continues to heat up, Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Tom Marino (R-PA), along with Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced in the House of Representatives the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, which is intended to give creators a cost-effective way to enforce their rights.

The idea of a copyright small-claims court, which has been discussed in Washington D.C. for several years, would not have a substantial effect on major labels or publishers. But it could make it easier for small companies and independent creators to enforce their rights — especially where merchandise is concerned. And it could be a game-changer for photographers and visual artists.

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@RobertBLevine_ : Spotify’s Motion Denied In Legal Tussle Over Mechanical Rights Payments

[Editor Charlie sez:  Here is the judge’s order: 

ORDER denying 20 Motion for More Definite Statement. The complaint appears sufficient to allow the defendant to respond. The defendant is free to file a motion to dismiss if they truly believe the complaint is defective. The plaintiff filed a lengthy response which also contained a request for sanctions. Counsel should not mix apples and oranges in a single pleading. To the extent there is an actual motion for sanctions it is denied. Both counsel are cautioned that their language is excessive and personal attacks are not appreciated or helpful to the case. Counsel are also reminded that they must meet and confer before starting this bickering. Both sets of pleadings are too long. One can state the time of day without giving the history of their watch. (JBB) (Entered: 09/14/2017)]

In an important copyright lawsuit from a music publisher that Spotify faces over mechanical rights, a judge just denied a motion from the streaming company that suggested it doesn’t need to license those rights in the first place. Although the denial of the “motion for a more definite statement” means the case can proceed without a revised complaint from the plaintiffs, it does not prevent the company’s attorneys from continuing to make that argument.

In July, Spotify was sued by Robert Gaudio, a songwriter and founding member of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and Bluewater Music Services Corporation, which administers publishing rights for songwriters. The companies allege that Spotify infringed their copyrights by streaming compositions for which it hadn’t licensed “mechanical rights.”

In response, Spotify filed a motion in the Gaudio case for a more definite statement, arguing that the publishers complaints do “not set forth a cogent theory of infringement” because it has no obligation to license mechanical rights in the first place, although the company and other on-demand streaming services have always done so.

Read more: Spotify, Bluewater & Mechanical Licensing: What’s Really Driving the Streaming Giant’s Latest Legal Fight

On Wednesday, the lawyer for the publishers, Richard Busch, who represented Marvin Gaye’s family in the “Blurred Lines” case, filed a response, as well as a third lawsuit. The cases are important for the entire music business: A loss for Spotify could hurt the company as it prepares for a public stock offering, while a win on these grounds could shake the music publishing business.

In an abstract case, which could hinge on the difference between a public performance and a distribution, the order denying Spotify’s motion is something of a sick burn: It says both sets of pleadings are too long, and that “one can state the time of day without giving the history of their watch.” But it does not rule on the merits of Spotify’s argument, and it points out that the company can file a motion to dismiss the case.

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

[Editor Charlie sez: Thank you DOJ, FBI and RIAA!]

Press 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.

Consumer Protection

@Lindsay_Stein: Universal Music Publishing’s Jody Gerson Pumps Up the Volume for Ads

Jody Gerson is having a good year.

The CEO and chairman of Universal Music Publishing Group recently closed a deal for Bruce Springsteen’s catalog and—years after discovering a 14-year-old Alicia Keys—believes she has found the next big thing.

You likely saw her handiwork at the Grammy’s this year in an ad that matched up “Nothing Compares 2 U,” sung by a variety of musicians in tribute to Prince, with the Google Pixel smartphone (executed by Droga5). Gerson, who has been with Universal Music for almost three years, sat down with Ad Age to discuss the intersection of marketing and music, the problems with streaming, her favorite app and more.

Read the post on AdAge