Spotify Readies New Free Version, Acquires Licensing Platform

According to sources, Spotify is working on a version of its free music service that would be easier to use on mobile phones. The rationale is likely that, after just going public, the Stockholm-based company now needs to grow its user base. The free service is also a springboard for the company’s paid service, which, although services less than half of its user base, generated 90 percent of last year’s 4.09 billion euro revenue. By the end of 2017, Spotify had 157 million users, of which 71 million were paid subscribers. Continue reading Spotify Readies New Free Version, Acquires Licensing Platform

Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

According to the latest figures from London-based piracy tracking firm MUSO, entertainment media piracy continues its ascent. Globally, consumers made more than 300 billion visits to piracy websites in 2017, up 1.6 percent from the previous year. Despite the popularity of legal streaming options such as Netflix and Spotify, MUSO found that the illegal streaming and downloading of television content and music increased last year, up 3.4 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. However, movie piracy decreased by 2.3 percent. Continue reading Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

Capitol Hill Panel Explores Piracy Threat of Streaming Boxes

President Trump recently explained that the United States is “acting swiftly on intellectual property theft,” adding that we cannot “allow this to happen as it has for many years.” Meanwhile, a panel of experts met on Capitol Hill last week to examine intellectual property theft and the growing threat of streaming media boxes. The MPAA revealed that the Department of Justice is looking into criminal action for several “candidates” that peddle pre-configured set-top boxes enabling piracy. The United Kingdom has already arrested numerous individuals accused of this behavior.

Continue reading Capitol Hill Panel Explores Piracy Threat of Streaming Boxes

Documentarians, Trade Associations Debate Copyright Laws

One of the gray areas of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the exemption for filmmakers. Although documentary filmmakers are allowed to use small pieces of copyrighted films in some circumstances, many of them say the provision is unclear and can lead to confusion and uncertainty. In late 2017, the International Documentary Association, Kartemquin Films, Independent Filmmaker Project, University of Film and Video Association and others asked the U.S. Copyright Office for clarity. Trade associations including the MPAA, RIAA and ESA have expressed concerns regarding exemptions. Continue reading Documentarians, Trade Associations Debate Copyright Laws

HPA 2018: Washington Update on the Future of Net Neutrality

In his annual HPA Tech Retreat address covering all the events in Washington, DC related to copyright law and other entertainment-related issues, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger gave a tutorial on copyright basics he dubbed Copyright 101, and provided an overview on some of the issues related to the Library of Congress and the Music Modernization Act. But the majority of his focus was on the brouhaha over net neutrality and its recent repeal by the Republican-dominated (and chaired) FCC. Continue reading HPA 2018: Washington Update on the Future of Net Neutrality

HPA 2018: Imagining the Future of AI and Storytelling in Media

At the HPA Tech Retreat Wednesday breakfast roundtables, program director Yves Bergquist led a discussion on the work he is doing at ETC on storytelling and artificial intelligence. “We’re doing a lot of research around how to create a more semantic understanding of narrative structures and create a machine-readable understanding of storytelling,” he explained. HPA Tech Retreat regular Jim Burger, an attorney who sat at the table, engaged in a conversation with Bergquist about the copyright infringement potential of AI and storytelling. Continue reading HPA 2018: Imagining the Future of AI and Storytelling in Media

Musicians and Music Groups Push for Updated Copyright Law

Musical artists and music organizations are banding together in an effort to pass copyright legislation on content recorded before February 17, 1972. A coalition of 213 artists and eight music organizations has joined forces to ask Congress to pass the “CLASSICS Act” (H.R. 3301/S. 2393), which would cover such older recordings, resulting in increased royalties for this older era of musical content. The coalition placed a two-page ad in Politico on February 14 that made their case for the legislation. Continue reading Musicians and Music Groups Push for Updated Copyright Law

Studios, Streaming Services Take on TickBox in Copyright Suit

In October, MPAA member studios 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. teamed with streaming services Amazon and Netflix to sue TickBox TV over copyright infringement. Yesterday in California, U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald sided with the studios and streamers by issuing “a preliminary injunction against the streaming device manufacturer to pause further potential infringement while the litigation plays out,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “TickBox argues it only offers hardware, on which users can ‘voluntarily install legitimate or illegitimate software,’ and that access to the infringing content came from downloadable ‘themes’ that it didn’t create.” Continue reading Studios, Streaming Services Take on TickBox in Copyright Suit

Studios Take on Dragon Box in Latest Streaming Piracy Battle

Amazon and Netflix have joined major studios including Disney and Warner Bros. in suing Dragon Box, claiming that the company’s $350 streaming device makes it easy for consumers to access illegal streams of TV shows and movies. The lawsuit alleges that some of the titles, such as Disney’s “Coco,” are still in theaters. Variety reports: “Dragon Box has advertised the product as a means to avoid paying for authorized subscription services, the complaint alleges, quoting marketing material that encourages users to ‘Get rid of your premium channels … [and] Stop paying for Netflix and Hulu.’” Continue reading Studios Take on Dragon Box in Latest Streaming Piracy Battle

Music Publisher Files $1.6 Billion Copyright Suit Against Spotify

Wixen Music Publishing filed a $1.6 billion copyright lawsuit in a California federal court against popular music streamer Spotify. Wixen claims that the Stockholm-based service used thousands of songs — including those by the Doors, Tom Petty and Neil Young — without a direct or compulsory license and without compensating the music publisher. According to Reuters: “Wixen also alleged that Spotify outsourced its work to a third party, licensing and royalty services provider the Harry Fox Agency, which was ‘ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses.’” Spotify, which has grown in value to $19 billion, recently filed IPO documents with the SEC. Continue reading Music Publisher Files $1.6 Billion Copyright Suit Against Spotify

YouTube Signs Agreement With Universal, Sony Music Labels

After two years of negotiations, YouTube is finally inking a long-term pact with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, the top two music labels. The new agreement, say the labels, establishes royalty rates for rights holders of professional music videos and user-loaded clips, offers stronger policing of uploads of copyrighted songs, and gives artists more money and flexibility. The deal is also a precursor to YouTube launching a paid music service early in 2018. Continue reading YouTube Signs Agreement With Universal, Sony Music Labels

Amazon, Netflix, MPAA Go After TickBox TV for Infringement

Amazon, Netflix Studios and the Motion Picture Association of America have filed a copyright lawsuit against TickBox TV, a streaming media player the plaintiffs dub a “tool for mass infringement.” TickBox TV works by grabbing pirated video streams from the Internet, the plaintiffs say, giving users “instantaneous access to multiple sources” that stream copyrighted material without authorization. The Hollywood studios that make up the MPAA include Columbia, Disney, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. Continue reading Amazon, Netflix, MPAA Go After TickBox TV for Infringement

Sony Inks Deal Pioneering Stem Licensing for DJs, Remixers

For years, to create remixes of popular songs, DJs and remixers have used stems — isolated instrument tracks and vocals — but not legally. Now, Nashville-based startup Remix Hits has signed a landmark deal with Sony Music that will allow DJs and other remixers to purchase and download licensed, and therefore legal, stems. Remix Hits, which is also in discussions with Warner Music and Universal Music, has created a hit song stem marketplace. The licensing model includes a revenue sharing plan for rights holders. Continue reading Sony Inks Deal Pioneering Stem Licensing for DJs, Remixers

W3C Officially Recommends EME Spec for DRM Protection

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification as a recommendation, although W3C members only voted 58.4 percent to approve, with 30.8 percent opposing and 10.8 percent abstaining. EME is a standard interface for digital rights management (DRM) protection of content delivered through the browser, defining how Internet content works with third-party Content Decryption Modules (CDMs) that provide proprietary decryption and rights management. In response to the EME recommendation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has resigned from the W3C. Continue reading W3C Officially Recommends EME Spec for DRM Protection

Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

DMCA takedown requests reveal that pirates of television and movie content are turning to cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Kim Dotcom’s Mega since the demise of many public torrent sites. Last month, almost 5,000 takedown requests centered on activity on Google Drive, with each listing a few hundred links. Although some Google Drive links host full movies, others are empty except for an embedded YouTube video. Google reiterated that it takes copyright infringement seriously. Continue reading Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

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