Copyright is all over the news again.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is speaking out against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), accusing it of “misstating copyright law” in a submission it made to the US Government around stream ripping sites.
The RIAA states the popularity of stream ripping sites is high and the traffic volumes the sites get inflicts enormous damage to the US record industry.
It doesn’t look like the balance sheets of the record labels show any damage whatsoever.
The EFF states stream ripping has legal uses and stream ripping of music audio might be covered by fair use. The EFF also states the RIAA is asking the US government to apply copyright law the way RIAA wishes it to be applied and the US government needs to apply Copyright law as it’s written.
Then you have the music publishers seeking a new licence for mechanical (songwriter) royalties.
It’s no secret streaming companies are having issues paying royalties on songs. The reasons are many. Some obvious ones are because the data of who wrote the song is not available or if it’s available, it’s not entirely correct. Blame the record labels/publishers for having no duty of care to hold the correct information and when they provided this information to the streaming services, it’s been lacking. So they are happy to take the money from streaming services and then fail the artists they are meant to represent when it comes time to compensate them. Add to the mix how Copyright pre-1972 is driven by state laws and what you have is a litigation mess.
Streaming services are meant to pay both mechanical rights and the performing rights of a song. For the performing rights, there is a blanket licence paid to BMI, ASCAP, SESAC and GMR. For the mechanical rights, rates are set by laws and the streaming service has to get in touch with each individual copyright owner, to tell them a song they are involved with is being exploited and how they will pay the royalty rate to them. So suddenly, a technology that wants to bring music to the masses is tasked with FINDING all of the Copyright owners.
Makes me wonder what the record labels and publishers have been doing for the last 70 years.
Of course, a blanket licence would simplify things. This also means another government granted monopoly needs to be created. And from past experiences, the songwriters will still get pennies while this new entity will make billions.
In Canada, the record labels are asking the government to change the copyright laws, so they can “offset internet-driven losses”.
“Our goal was to point at two changes that will put millions of dollars into the pockets of music creators and people who invest in them.”
If the music creators got paid on a 70 (to the artist) / 30 (to the label) split, it would put millions of dollars into the pockets of the music creators. However, the splits are more like 80 to 90% to the record label which means the music creators would get hundreds to the thousands, while the label gets millions.
Because if Copyright is there to reward creators then why are the Spinal Tap creators taking Vivendi/ Universal Music to the courts.
“Further compounding this fraud, improper expense deductions were made in Vivendi’s accounting to the creators, allegedly representing print, advertising and publicity expenses (undocumented) totalling over $3.3 million and a further $1 million in freight and other direct costs, more than half of which extraordinarily appears to fall some 20 years after the film’s release. Vivendi has also recently charged over $460k in ‘interest’ on production advances for a film released in 1984 and $165k in ‘litigation expenses’ to the creators’ account. Vivendi clearly has no intention of honouring its obligations to account honestly or to fairly compensate the Spinal Tap creators for their work”.
So let me get this straight.
Vivendi owns the film rights via some past acquisitions and Universal owns the soundtrack (music) rights. Both of them are making up accounting transactions so the creators of the Spinal Tap movie and the soundtrack are shown as being in debt to the studio/label.
35 years later.
They are still in debt to the studio/label.
All they guys want to do is take back their copyrights. Copyright law was written to allow the creator to take back their copyrights after 35 years. But the corporate entity which currently holds the copyright is not letting go.
Don’t you just love how Copyright is there to benefit the corporate entity?
The corporation is well compensated while the creator is alive and even more so once the creator is dead.
Yep copyright is so far gone it’s not even funny anymore.