Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Appetite For Copyright

Seriously you can’t make up the madness that Copyright comes up with these days.

It looks like the music labels will get even more richer. Facebook is making licensing deals with all of them so users are allowed to upload their own videos to copyrighted music.

Of course musicians can earn royalties from the views/plays, but how much of the licensing fee is going back to the musicians, because it’s those works the label used in the negotiations. So far Universal and Sony have made the deal and Warner Music Group is in conversation.

And music creators believe a government bill increasing the royalty rate services that play music need to pay, will increase the payments get back. Umm, it won’t. The record labels and publishers will have more money in their bank account and the creators will still get the payments they always get based on their publishing and label contract.

And seriously how many times are we going to read how the music industry’s revenue declined to about $15 billion in 2015, from the $40 billion it brought in around 1998. First, those figures are about the RECORDING industry, not the music industry. The music industry encompasses income from tours, merchandise, radio royalty payments, licensing and sales of recorded music. Sales of recorded music is just one portion of recorded music. And if the people who are writing the songs are not getting paid, then they should be renegotiating their agreements with the organisations.

And being a music creator doesn’t guarantee you an income.

Then again, suing other artists for creating a song which is similar to another song has become a new income model for businesses who hold the copyrights of songs. And these cases bother me, because it sets a precedent that the person suing has created an original piece of work, in a vacuum, free from influence and other songs that came before it.

Here are two more suits around copying.

Ed Sheeran and Tim McGraw are being sued by Australian songwriters. Seriously, how many suits has Ed Sheeran faced in the last 5 years.

And then you have Boomerang Investments, the copyright holder to songs written by Harry Vanda and George Young suing an American band for their 2011 song, “Warm In The Winter” because it contains a line “love is in the air” with a similar melody. Now I have heard interviews from Vanda and Young back in the day where they state how classical music is a great influence for writing melodies.

The issue with this case is not the copying or the similarities, it is the fact that Air France paid a license fee to use Glass Candy’s song and the subsequent song is now making decent money.

And somehow people own the copyright to white noise. You know that noise you hear when you can’t find a TV channel. Suddenly on YouTube, a video containing “white noise” had a copyright complaint made against it. What’s next, copyright complaints against songs featuring distorted guitars. It’s madness.

Read about the white noise takedowns here and here.

And Spotify is still getting sued for licensing issues over songs played on the service. Someone is always aggrieved. Check out the text from the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Spotify hired Harry Fox Agency (HFA) to obtain the correct licenses, which Wixen calls “ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses.” Moreover, the complaint alleges, “Spotify knew that HFA did not possess the infrastructure to obtain the required mechanical licenses and Spotify knew it lacked these licenses.”

You see, this is what happens when you create a law that creates a monopoly, which in turn gives rise to corporations who become powerful entities. Wixen is not about helping the creators and paying them the correct monies. They are all about their own pockets. People who have created no value and no art which is popular, living off the hard work of others.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Memphis Three

If you want to know what society and politics is like, just look at the documentary “West Of Memphis”.

In it you will see incompetence and political corruption. The scary thing is, these kinds of things happen way too frequently in our life.

These kids story is just a drop in the ocean.

For those who don’t know it’s about three metal head kids (the Memphis Three) who were arrested for the murders of three 8-year old children. These metal head kids got convicted of murder and remained in prison for more than 18 years.

And what the hell is an Alford Plea?

I looked it up on Wikipedia. The Prosecutors knew they had to release them, but the only way they would do it is by an Alford Plea, so the Memphis Three claim their innocence but plead guilty. The tragedy is the killer still walks free and law enforcement can’t go after any other suspect because a piece of paper says they have the killers.

WTF.

What kind of society is this?

Is all about votes?

There is nothing here that deals with justice. You can see that a person in power once upon a time came up with this “Alfords Plea” deal so they don’t look bad because of their incompetence in developing tunnel vision.

And the current prosecutor at the end of the doco is a joke. He’s saying those kids are guilty.  If they are guilty why didn’t he go to a re-trial then?

He knew he was going to lose the re-trial because the weight of new evidence found was in favour of the Memphis Three and he would lose votes and lose his position as City Prosecutor.

In the end the parents of the murdered kids never got justice because they never found out who the real killer was.

The metal head kids will never get their 18 years in prison back. And a killer/killers are still walking the streets, even though the film alludes to the step father of one of the murdered kids as being a suspect based on his past violence rap sheet, however he wasn’t even interviewed by police.

These injustices are only brought to the light by civil rights crusaders. The rest of society turns a blind eye to it all and gets on with their daily lives of work, live, die and in our spare time, we waste it away watching dystopian shows and movies to escape the political sham and corruption infecting our society and lives.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Suits

Poor old Lana Del Rey. Radiohead are suing her for copyright infringement in her song “Get Free” which has a verse that sounds similar to “Creep” released in 1992. On her own Twitter page, Del Rey mentioned the below;

“I know my song wasn’t inspired by Creep, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% publishing – I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court.”

Boy George had the best quote on his Twitter account. “Radiohead were sued by The Hollies and now Radiohead are suing Lana Del Rey. Utter Madness!”

For those who don’t know, when “Creep” came out in 1992, everyone said how similar it sounded to “The Air I Breathe” from The Hollies, released in 1972. So of course if a song shares a chord progression and melody with another song, the artist must be sued for copying.

So the song’s writers Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood sued and received co-writing credits and a percentage of the song’s royalties. And now, Radiohead are doing the same.

But Radiohead claim they are not suing Lana Del Rey. All they want is a credit, and Radiohead’s Publisher disputes what Del Rey put on her Twitter account.

And how many copyright infringement court cases does “Uptown Funk” need to get through. The song came out in 2014. In 2015, members of The Gap Band were added as songwriters of “Uptown Funk” because The Gap Band had a song with the lyric “Oops! Upside Your Head” and so does “Uptown Funk”.

In 2016 it was certified Diamond for 10 million track sales in the U.S. Also in 2016, the funk band Collage sued claiming “Uptown Funk” was a copy from their 1983 song, “Young Girls”.

In 2017, Lastrada Entertainment, owner of the copyright of Roger Troutman and Zapp’s “More Bounce to the Ounce”, put papers in court claiming the first 48 seconds of “Uptown Funk” and the repetition of the word “doh” crossed the line into infringement.

Seriously, this is how messed up it all is. “Oops, upside your head” and “doh”, crosses the line into infringement. And suddenly the songwriters of “Uptown Funk” is starting to resemble a football roster.

And now at the end of December 2017 and going in to 2018, 1970s rap group The Sequence are suing Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, claiming “Uptown Funk” is infringing on their 1979 single, “Funk You Up” and of course everyone wants credit and monetary damages.

The thing that is scary is that the people who sued Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, believe that their words and music are totally original, created in a vacuum and free from any influence. I don’t think so.

And for even more stupidity, Taylor Swift has a lawsuit to contend with based on words and phrases.

The two songwriters Nathan Butler and Sean Hall believe they should be credited on Taylor Swifts song “Shake It Off” because a song they wrote in 2001 called “Playas Gon’ Play” has the phrase, “Playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate” which they believe Swift ripped off by having the phrase, “Players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,”

Wow. Just wow.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Public Domain 2018

In the US and Australia, we don’t get nothing entering into the Public Domain. The US from next year (unless Disney, the MPAA and the RIAA lobby really hard) will get works released in the 1920s entering the public domain. For Australia, I think we had works up to 1955 in our Public Domain and then the law got changed to be plus 70 years after death, so we will not get any works into our public domain until 2026. And these works will be from 1956.

And the Copyright industries are still pushing hard for longer copyright term extensions because once the person who created the works to be under copyright passes, it’s the corporation who benefits.

Duke University has a cool list of what could have entered the public domain on January 1, 2018.

Now you need to remember, these works would have been in the Public Domain, under the Copyright Law that existed until 1978.

Basically all works from 1961 would be in the Public Domain this year.

“Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1961 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2018, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2057. And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in other countries are different—thousands of works are entering the public domain in Canada and the EU on January 1.”

Duke Public Domain 2018 webpage

So what books would be entering the public domain if the U.S had the pre-1978 copyright laws?

  • Joseph Heller, Catch-22
  • J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
  • Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
  • William S. Burroughs, The Soft Machine
  • Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

“The Soft Machine” by Burroughs broke all Copyright rules back then anyway as it was created by using the “cut-up technique,” where existing text from books got cut up and rearranged to create a new work.

The above books are but a fraction of what would be entering the public domain on January 1. And if they did enter the Public Domain, people would be free to use these books for whatever they want. Re-write their own versions of the books, modernise them, make them into space operas, make a film from them, create a stage play from them, write a concept album from the stories and so forth.

Instead, people from the U.S will have to wait until 2057 to have these works enter the Public Domain.

What films from 1961 would be entering the public domain if the U.S had the pre-1978 copyright laws?

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • West Side Story
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • The Parent Trap
  • Splendor in the Grass
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • The Misfits
  • The Hustler

“If these films were in the public domain, you could use them in your own works, just as they used earlier works in theirs. West Side Story (music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Arthur Laurents) was free to draw upon Romeo and Juliet because Shakespeare’s work was in the public domain. And as Judge Richard Posner observed, if the underlying works were copyrighted, “Romeo and Juliet itself would have infringed Arthur Brooke’s The Tragicall Historye of Romeo and Juliet . . . which in turn would have infringed several earlier Romeo and Juliets, all of which probably would have infringed Ovid’s story of Pyramus and Thisbe.” One work inspires another. That is how the public domain feeds creativity.”

Duke Public Domain 2018 webpage

While popular films have a larger shelf life and commercial life, 90% of films made are forgotten. The true tragedy is that these films are disintegrating while preservation libraries wait for their copyright terms to expire.

What 1961 music would be entering the public domain if the U.S had the pre-1978 copyright laws?

  • Patsy Cline’s classic Crazy (Willie Nelson)
  • Stand By Me (Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
  • Runaway (Del Shannon, Max Crook)
  • Let’s Twist Again (Kal Mann, Dave Appell)
  • Surfin’ (Brian Wilson, Mike Love)
  • Crying (Roy Orbison, Joe Melson)

Again, it’s just a sample; however you would be able to use the above songs in your own songs and perform them without permission or a fee. The same way the above songs used other songs as inspiration, you would be free to use them as inspiration. Instead these musical works remain copyrighted until 2057.

Like West Side Story, some of the hit songs from 1961 borrowed from earlier works. Elvis Presley’s Surrender (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) was adapted from the 1902 Neapolitan ballad “Torna a Surriento” (Ernesto and Giambattista de Curtis), and his Can’t Help Falling in Love (Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, George David Weiss) is derived from the 1784 French song “Plaisir d’amour” (Jean-Paul-Égide Martini).

Duke Public Domain 2018 webpage

A U.S Congressional Research Service study showed just 2% of works between 55 and 75 years old still make money. So for the sake of a few films and few corporations who benefits, the Public, which is millions upon millions strong is robbed.

“Locking up culture does no one any good, except for a small number of copyright holders on the few works that are still economically viable.”

Techdirt

The Public Domain Review page as a Class of 2018 article. Check out the class that should in the Public Domain all around the world, not just in some countries like the UK and Canada.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Ride The Copyright Until Forever

I have a Google Alert set up for Copyright news stories and there is a lot of em, every single day.

In Australia/NZ, there has been coverage about Eminem’s copyright win against the New Zealand National Party for using a track called Eminem Esque in a political advertisement.

So the courts found a political party guilty of infringing Eminem’s copyright on “Lose Yourself” even though they paid a license fee for a “sound-alike” song called “Eminem Esque” to a production music company.

I’m curious to know why the production music company who created the track “Eminem Esque” escaped punishment.

Didn’t the production music company create a work and then fraudulently claim it as their own work?

Didn’t the production music company pocket a license fee for their fraudulent song?

So shouldn’t that production music company who wrote the song “Eminem Esque” be in trouble as well.

Instead the deviousness of the political party to seek out a song which sounds similar to “Lose Yourself”, so they could pay a cheaper licensing fee is why the case is in the courts.

While the rest of the world worries about job security, it’s so pleasing (loaded with sarcasm) to see the Copyright industries securing their future with the courts.

In the U.K, Copyright complaints take up most of the High Court’s time. The world is dealing with all forms of crime, but intellectual property crimes are more important. It’s probably why the Commonwealth Bank of Australia invested via a tax haven into the performing rights income of popular artists. Thank god for the Paradise Papers which sheds some light on how the elite avoid paying taxes?

Copyright disputes are not just in the courts. They are in the local bars, the coffee shops, the sandwich shop and any other mum and dad place which play music or might have live music at the venue. Basically, if music is played anywhere, the collection agencies want to be paid via a license. Don’t be surprised if the price of the car you purchase is loaded with a music licensing tax based on how many people could listen to music for free in the car. Because, you know, for a five seater care, five people in the car could be listening to music at any point it time. And don’t be surprised if your car service fee is loaded with a music tax.

In a lot of European countries, blank media like CD’s and portable drives and USB keys already carry a music tax in their price. The lobby groups argued hard that every blank CD, USB or Portable Drive sold would be used to store copyrighted material, so a tax must be paid. The Courts believed them; maybe got influence by them in other ways and a law was passed for these devices to carry a copyright tax.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Copyright Rants 

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.”

Graham Henderson – Music Canada’s President

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.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

How the Labels and the RIAA Rob Creators?

YouTube tells the world that the service pays more in the U.S for Ad-Supported Streaming than other services like Spotify and Pandora. YouTube points out that they pay about $3 per 1000 ad-supported streams in the U.S.

The record labels via their lobby group RIAA disagree with YouTube’s math

Cary Sherman, the RIAA head honcho had this to say on the matter;

“About 400 digital services have been licensed around the world, many with ad-supported features. Comparatively, YouTube pays music creators far less than those services on both a per-stream and per-user basis, and nowhere near the $3 per thousand streams in the U.S. that Lyor (YouTube) claims.”

Okay so if the RIAA is going to dispute the math put out by YouTube, then what is their math.

How much do they get from YouTube per 1000 streams?

The record labels and the publishing/licensing companies are the first to get paid. And nowhere in this debate have these organisations mentioned what they get. I know I have seen thousands of news articles showing what the artists or the song writers get from YouTube streams in their bank account, but the artists are the last to be paid, once the labels and publishing companies take their cuts.

If the record labels via the RIAA want to be taken serious they need to be transparent.

Instead they counter the math from streaming services with fluff. Yes, that same thing found in people’s belly buttons.

They fluff the conversation about a value gap, talking on and on about how YouTube has billions of users and the amount of traffic they generate should equate to higher payments and because it doesn’t, there is a value gap.

They fluff the conversation about DMCA Safe Harbor provisions being a rigged system and how politicians need to create laws to protect the business model of the record labels and in the process destroy innovation on the internet.

Basically, these organisations are doing the same thing they have always done. Lying and scheming to keep their creative accounting in-house and away from the actual people that made these organisations rich. The creators.

Think about it for a second. The streaming services via their own blog mention how much they pay the copyright holder. The very next day, the RIAA or the Record Labels quickly counter it, but they never mention how much they do get?

So the headline of the next article should be “How the labels and the RIAA rob creators?”

 

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