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Entries in Law (9)

Tuesday
Aug302016

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Urges U.S. Department Of Justice To Reconsider Changes To PRO Licensing Model

Governor Greg Abbott today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging her to reconsider The United States Department of Justice’s proposed changes to the Performance Rights Organization (PRO) licensing model. In 2015, the Department of Justice announced they would require PROs such as Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) to require 100 percent licensing rather than allowing PROs to negotiate licensing deals based on their market shares. Governor Abbott objected to the Department of Justice’s decision, which runs counter to longstanding industry expectations, and urged Attorney General Lynch to protect the mechanisms that allow musicians to make a living and create wealth.

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Thursday
Jul212016

How Do Music Laws Affect Local Venues?

Restaurants, bars, clubs and similar places often play recorded music or have bands or solo artists play it live to lure and keep customers. Playing this music, however, comes at a price literally and figuratively. That’s because performing rights organizations (PROs) expect licensing fees to be paid to songwriters and music publishers when their copyrighted creations are performed in public.

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Wednesday
Apr112012

Other Ways to Think About the Copyright Debate

I recently started a discussion on TED.com discussing Rob Reid’s presentation, The$8 billion iPod, and a response that was posted by Ken Sanney. While my original intent was discuss the simplification of complex issues, people began some passionate arguments about piracy and copyrights. You can read the whole thing (with comments) here from TED’s conversation page.

I started getting frustrated because the majority of the people posting were not involved in the music industry nor did they have any knowledge of copyright law. If there’s one thing that I can’t stand, it’s simply the regurgitation of rhetoric, especially when there’s no basis in logic and not supported by evidence. 

Here’s my personal take on the issue. If you’d like to see my responses to all of the traditional arguments in favor of unauthorized piracy and the debate whether copyright protection should exist at all, please check out the TED debate linked above.

 

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Monday
Jan232012

The Real Reason Why SOPA Didn’t Pass: Marketing

I’d like to believe that the two recent controversial bills, SOPA and PIPA, were stopped because they were poorly written but the real reason had to do with the power of messaging and branding.

Let’s face it: bad laws are passed everyday. In 2009-2010, Congress passed 8,970 bills alone. Most of the time, things go by unnoticed. SOPA and PIPA had great intentions (even praised by their strongest opponents) to deter piracy but their problem had to do with messaging. Both bills had been making steady progress for months with bi-partisan support and hardly any opposition. However, during the last several weeks, things exploded online when major Internet companies such as Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook got involved. A lot of things were said about the bill that weren’t true…but by then, it didn’t matter. People were buying the new story: SOPA and PIPA would “break the Internet.”

This is what they did wrong from a marketing perspective:

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Wednesday
Oct122011

Sampling - a cautionary tale

I used to be a music lawyer and I was a bit of an authority (for a while) on sampling and sample clearance in the early ‘90’s. Then I ran a bunch of dance labels and worked with a lot of electronic artists. I have cleared a lot of samples but I have released way more records with samples in them that we didn’t bother to clear. Why? Because we thought that no-one would notice that we’d used their music - these were generally small specialist underground records - and that if they did, we would be able to agree something after the event, if the need ever arose. The reality is that it was too much bother and too expensive to try and clear a sample of an obscure and hard to find piece of music or of a snippet of a big successful tune when you knew that your record was going to sell just a few thousand copies - i.e. we felt at the time that the risk was well worth it. And hundreds of thousands of records have been released with uncleared samples in them.

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Thursday
Sep012011

MyMusicExec.com Answers "Do I Really Need a Manager?"

As I made my way back from Los Angeles, I started to think how many talented young artists out there have made the wrong decision when it came to their personal manager? How many of them had an attorney present when signing their management deals? How many of them involved a sunset clause? How did the contract say the manager was paid? Gross revenue stream or would the manager be dipping into “restricted areas”?

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Thursday
Nov052009

Photo and Video Release

When I had live video shot in the past, we hung large, dated signs up that clearly declared our ownership of the video.  The signs also strongly suggested that anyone that did not want to be included in the video should please leave.  We also had our camera crew shoot the signs right into the footage as ‘evidence’ if needed.

Here’s a video and photo release (below) you can use when you believe it really matters.  Get an attorney to check this for you.  Always try to get verified (check an ID) addresses and phone numbers on these releases.

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Monday
Oct262009

Ending agreements in the beginning for bands. 

Many musicians feel like the band they are in is destined for success and that the group will never break up. Even after being a part of a number of bands, there is still that glimmer of hope—which is not a bad thing, but often times it can set you up for problems further down the road. Imagine that things are really starting to take off, money is coming in, you have forward motion and momentum. At this point, things feel good, everyone is happy, decisions are made fast, and quite possibly, never formalized in writing.

Now fast forward two years. For some reason, whatever reason, someone is leaving. The band is breaking up. If there was already fighting going on, it escalates: arguments over who gets what, who is owed what, and who has rights to what. Everything is twice as challenging and twice as hard. In a lot of cases, people hate each other, the fights get louder and harsher. This is not an atmosphere in which any equitable decisions can made.

Simple Solution

It really comes down to a very simple solution: In the early stages, while the band is new, while things are getting ready to happen, and most of all while everyone is happy and friendly, work to set up your end agreements then.

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Wednesday
Oct142009

The Lottery Model, The Free Culture Model, The Click Control Model

Q: What happens when you put a lawyer, an economist, a business executive, a government bureaucrat and an artist into a locked room?  A: The business executive assaults the economists, the lawyer sues the executive, the bureaucrat falls asleep, and the artist writes a song about it.  This is the copyright debate.

Over the last couple of years, and as a background task, I have tried to make sense of the copyright / copy restriction debate.  Is more or less copy restriction better or worse for rightsholders?

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