Judge Refuses to Alter Pandora’s Payments to Songwriters

A federal judge on Friday left unchanged the royalty rate that the streaming service Pandora pays songwriters, a move that may fuel efforts by music groups to change the decades-old government regulation over licensing.

Judge Denise L. Cote of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled on Friday that for each year from 2011 to 2015, Pandora must pay 1.85 percent of its revenue to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for the use of its members’ music, according to a statement by the society, better known as Ascap, which was sued by Pandora in late 2012.

While Ascap revealed Judge Cote’s rate determination, her full decision remains under seal for the parties to review for potential redaction of confidential information.

» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)

Mr. Watt’s bill would establish a performance right for AM and FM radio. In an ambitious move, it would also eliminate the compulsory licensing process that lets services like Pandora and Sirius XM circumvent labels by paying a rate set by federal statute. Instead, under the system proposed by Mr. Watt’s bill, radio and online outlets alike would have to negotiate for rights through a market administered by SoundExchange, a nonprofit agency, giving labels and artists the right of refusal. (The bill would not apply to on-demand digital services like Spotify and Rdio, which usually negotiate licenses directly with record companies and publishers.)

Congressman Proposes New Rules for Music Royalties - NYTimes.com

Congressman Vows to Introduce Bill on Radio Royalties

Representative Melvin L. Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, said on Thursday that he planned to introduce a bill requiring broadcasters to recognize the performance rights of record companies and musicians, the latest effort in a decades-old fight by the music industry to extract greater royalties from radio.

Radio broadcasters in the United States — almost alone in the world — pay royalties only to music publishers and songwriters for terrestrial airplay, meaning when songs are played over the air on AM or FM radio. They don’t pay royalties to record companies or performing artists, under the argument that the promotional value those parties receive is sufficient compensation.

The music industry has tried numerous times over the years to change this situation — Frank Sinatra was a leading advocate — but has always failed.

» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)

Late last year, Zoe Keating, an independent musician from Northern California, provided an unusually detailed case in point. In voluminous spreadsheets posted to her Tumblr blog, she revealed the royalties she gets from various services, down to the ten-thousandth of a cent. Even for an under-the-radar artist like Ms. Keating, who describes her style as “avant cello,” the numbers painted a stark picture of what it is like to be a working musician these days. After her songs had been played more than 1.5 million times on Pandora over six months, she earned $1,652.74. On Spotify, 131,000 plays last year netted just $547.71, or an average of 0.42 cent a play. “In certain types of music, like classical or jazz, we are condemning them to poverty if this is going to be the only way people consume music,” Ms. Keating said.

Streaming Shakes Up Music Industry’s Model for Royalties - NYTimes.com

Pandora faces off with traditional radio as Congress debates music royalties

Today the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on music licensing as a first step toward voting on HR 6480, the Internet Radio Fairness Act of 2012, which would set new standards for determining internet radio royalty rates. It’s an issue that Congress has struggled with for more than a decade, and its involvement has resulted in several stop-gap bills to appease the music industry. Both sides, radio broadcasters and the recording industry, say they want a fairer way to determine what the price of music should be. Much of the disagreement surrounds the rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) — a trio of judges that set rates and terms for statutory licenses, which allow broadcasters to use and pay for copyrighted works without the artist’s express permission. But the topic of internet radio took a back seat for much of the hearing, as the recording industry latched onto traditional radio’s exemption from having to pay performers.

» via The Verge

Songwriters oppose Pandora-backed Internet royalty bill

Songwriters and music publishers are entering the battle over royalty payments that has pitted Pandora against recording artists and musicians.

The heads of the National Music Publishers’ Association, Nashville Songwriters Association International and the Church Music Publishers Association on Friday came out against a bill backed by Pandora that would place Internet radio services on the same royalty-setting standard as satellite and cable radio stations. 

» via The Hill’s Hillicon Valley

Increased Royalties Could Spoil the Party in Berlin

With 12 percent unemployment and a staggering municipal debt, Germany’s poor but sexy capital city has little going for itself economically, except a thriving tourism business and reliably relentless nightlife.

But even that fragile engine of growth is under threat. The German music copyright collection agency, GEMA, plans in April to raise exponentially the fees that some hotels, clubs, bars and discos pay to play recorded or live music, potentially leading many venues to shut their doors.

“That would be a death sentence for Berlin’s cultural scene, and we’d have to close,” said Birte Nickel, co-manager of Yaam, a sprawling African and Caribbean-theme reggae club that opened in 1994 on the banks of the Spree River. “No one can pay that kind of fee here, and frankly, no one should have to.”

» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)

Ebook Authors No Longer Hot for Harlequin, Slap the Romance Publisher with a Lawsuit

Three romance novelists have filed a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against juggernaut Harlequin Enterprises, alleging that the publisher is not coughing up the ebook royalties they were promised.

» via BetaBeat

'Patent trolls' cost other US bodies $29bn last year, says study

The direct cost of actions taken by so-called “patent trolls” totalled $29bn (£18.5bn) in the US in 2011, according to a study by Boston University.

It analysed the effect of intellectual rights claims made by organisations that own and license patents without producing related goods of their own.

Such bodies say they help spur on innovation by ensuring inventors are compensated for their creations.

But the study’s authors said society lost more than it gained.

» via BBC

“I just wanted to point out that we pay six figures each year to [Copyright Clearance Center], and that money is reallocated from our collections budget,” he said. “So that’s new content we’re not buying” — as in, monographs published by academic presses.

Great point about budgets from a librarian in this IHE account of the AAUP’s recent meeting discussing the GSU decision. Library budgets are not infinite. When you force us to pay two or three times to use your old content in new ways, we can’t afford to buy your new content. Publishers who monetize fair uses are just cannibalizing other parts of their business. (via arlpolicynotes)

(via arlpolicynotes)