@davidclowery: Does Sensenbrenner Bill Mean It’s Time for a Grand Jury?

What appears to be a backdated NOI sent to the author. If this was intentionally backdated this is fraud. Note MRI is simply a third party that sent the notice on behalf of the service.  All legal responsibility rests with the service. 

Digital music services are trying to end songwriters ability to ever sue broadcasters and digital music services for copyright infringement with this bill.   In order to sue for copyright infringement you have to mount a case in a federal court.  Not your local district court.  This is extremely expensive.   I would estimate you need about $250,000 to effectively fight a case.   This bill takes away statutory penalties and legal fees, even when the songwriter prevails.  This makes it impossible for independent songwriters to exercise their legal rights. NAB Broadcasters and digital services like YouTube and Spotify can safely ignore songwriters, especially independent songwriters with no resources. Songwriters and publishers would have never been able to achieve the recent settlements against Spotify, without statutory penalties and legal fees.

So this may surprise you but I say “fine!” Take away our ability to mount copyright infringement lawsuits?  We still have plenty of other (sometimes much more severe) remedies available.  Most songwriters don’t really care about the money.  The royalties are pretty paltry to begin with.  This is really about the principle. This is about justice.

I’m no lawyer but the more I learn about the predicament of songwriters in the US, it feels like something more than just copyright infringement seems to be going on.  My layman’s reading of the situation makes me wonder if this isn’t exactly what the authors of the RICO laws had in mind.  [RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act”.  Copyright infringement has long been one of the RICO “predicates”.]

Read the post on Hypebot

The 21st Century Marketing Restriction: No licensing for AI

After the money, one of the most important parts of a recording artist negotiation is the “marketing restrictions”.  These are restrictions on what the record company or music publisher can do with your work–what type of licenses they can, or more frequently cannot, grant to third parties, for example.  Essentially, whatever is not prohibited is permitted.

Marketing restrictions also have a temporal element–during or after the term, recouped or not recouped.  There are some restrictions that are acknowledged to be verboten and are usually easy and unrestricted concessions.  An example of these would be licensing for certain types of commercials such as tobacco, firearms, grooming or hygiene products and alcohol.

Stewart Dredge has an excellent article this week in the Guardian which brings to mind Laura Kobylecky‘s post on MusicTechPolicy drawing comparisons between Spotify’s “fake artist” problem and “The Next Rembrandt” with echoes of the fictional  “versificator” operated by Big Brother’s “Music Department” in 1984.  According to Stewart, there are dozens of AI music startups getting funded that all essentially do the same thing.  Using a library of recordings (sometimes called a “corpus”), the algorithms “create” new recordings based on the songs and recordings in the corpus.  Google is, of course, a leader in the space (not that different from how they used Google Books to train their translation algorithm, a process called “corpus machine translation”–the librarians will be next).

Those recordings can then be sold or licensed at a very low price which, as Laura and others have noted, can be used to drive down the royalties payable to all other artists on digital music services.

This is, of course, not dissimilar to Silicon Valley companies hiring lower paid foreign workers and ordering the employees who they are to replace participate in training their replacements.  The difference is, of course, that those recordings have to come from somewhere.

It’s time to start adding to the list of marketing restrictions that the song or recording cannot be licensed for AI purposes of any kind.

@eriqgardner: Judge Rules KickassTorrents Founder Properly Charged With Criminal Copyright Conspiracy

[Editor Charlie sez–in a great day for artist rights, a federal judge rules that the KAT founder is properly charged under applicable US law.]

For years, there’s been ample debate and scholarship on whether or not secondary copyright infringement constitutes a crime. On Friday, a federal judge in Illinois probably made the day of big copyright holders by ruling that the U.S. government has properly indicted Artem Vaulin, the alleged founder of KickassTorrents.

Vaulin is currently in a jail cell in Poland after the 31-year-old was charged last year by U.S. authorities with running one of the world’s most popular places to illegally obtain movies, television shows, songs and video games. After being arrested, he retained some of the same attorneys representing Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom to fight the case.

Dotcom, who is still in New Zealand in a lengthy battle over whether he can be extradited, never prevailed upon a Virginia judge to rule on the argument that secondary copyright infringement is merely a civil claim. That’s because he’s been deemed to be a fugitive. The judge wants him to surrender first.

In Illinois, presiding over Vaulin’s case, U.S. District Court Judge John Z. Lee could have done the same thing. Indeed, in Friday’s decision, he concludes that Vaulin can’t move to dismiss under the fugitive disentitlement doctrine.

Read the post on the Hollywood Reporter

Read the case here.

@PatrickKulp: Google is building a killswitch that will force the internet to play by its rules

[Editor Charlie sez:  Let’s get it straight people, if you use Google products you are a pawn in a game you’ll never see, Google’s own version of The Truman Show.]

Switch on the ad blocking toggle that appeared this week in Google’s experimental version of Chrome, and nothing will happen.

The feature is out of service at the moment, according to a Google spokesperson, a shell of a tool with which its developers can tinker while the search giant hammers out the operational details through an ad industry trade group.

But what that tiny, empty bit of code actually represents is a looming change agent that could reshape the entire web. It’s a killswitch that Google could throw whenever it so pleases.

Chrome is by far the most popular browser in the world, meaning rational commercial websites have no choice but to play by its rules. The standards it builds into the filter will ripple across the rest of the internet as publishers adjust their ad-buying decisions to accommodate them.

Read the post on Mashable

Just Watch, “Shiv Act” Advisory Panel Will Be Stacked With Google Backed Organizations — The Trichordist

Prediction: Public Interest groups that are “married” to Google’s views on copyright will be used to stack the Shiv Act advisory panel in favor of Google and broadcasters. (Photo credit Cory Doctorow 2006 Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic CC BY-SA 2.0) Sen Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced an extremely regressive bill that would essentially eliminate […]

via Just Watch, “Shiv Act” Advisory Panel Will Be Stacked With Google Backed Organizations — The Trichordist

Guest Post: Making Fake Art: “1984”, The New Rembrandt, and The “Fake Artist” — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Laura Kobylecky draws striking parallels from the fictional machine-made music in Orwell’s “1984” to Spotify’s fake artist scandal and “The Next Rembrandt”–art created from human works by machine algorithm.

via Guest Post: Making Fake Art: “1984”, The New Rembrandt, and The “Fake Artist” — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

@royaltyclaim CEO: Services are Spending $50,000 a week to file “address unknown” NOIs

Press Release Teaser:

“DSPs are collectively spending an average of over $50,000 PER WEEK to file mass ‘address unknown’ NOIs under the Section 115 compulsory license provision of the US Copyright Act.” – Dae Bogan, Chief Researcher at Royalty Claim / CEO at TuneRegistry

More facts to come out next week when he presents Royalty Claim’s report on the state of unclaimed royalties and music licenses at the Music Industry Research Association’s MIRA Conference on August 11th at UCLA. www.themira.org