The Trump Admin's Advice to Supreme Court in Copyright Case Is a True Mind-Bender

From The Hollywood Reporter by Eriq Gardner

The Trump Administration has finally weighed in on copyright, a subject as contentious*** as healthcare or immigration. On Thursday, the Acting Solicitor General advised the U.S. Supreme Court that even though a lower appeals court made a "significant legal error" in a dispute over a YouTube clip of a toddler dancing to Prince's 1984 hit, "Let's Go Crazy," the high court should pass on a review.

The case focuses on whether Universal Music made a misrepresentation when issuing a takedown notice to YouTube. Representing the owner of video, mother Stephanie Lenz, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been in court for about a decade on this issue. In September, 2015, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that copyright owners must consider fair use before sending takedowns, but wrote that if a copyright holder forms a subjective good faith belief that allegedly infringing material does not constitute fair use, that's enough to shield the copyright holder from misrepresentation liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That left neither side truly happy, so petitions came from both for a high court review.

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SoundExchange, Inc. v. Muzak LLC

This case pits SoundExchange, a nonprofit entity, charged with the responsibility of collecting royalties for performing artists and copyright owners of music, against Muzak, a company that supplies digital music channels to satellite television networks who, in turn, sell to subscribers. SoundExchange sued Muzak under the Copyright Act in district court, claiming that Muzak underpaid royalties owed. The district court dismissed SoundExchange’s complaint. (From the point of view of classic administrative law, the Register of Copyrights, to which we normally are obliged to defer, plays a rather unusual role.) Although the case is close – the controlling statute is dreadfully ambiguous – we conclude that SoundExchange has the better position, and therefore reverse the district court.

Download SoundExchange Inc. v. Muzak LLC

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Cortes-Ramos v. Sony Corp. of America

Luis Adrián Cortés Ramos ("Cortés") appeals from the dismissal of his contract and intellectual property claims against a variety of companies affiliated with Sony Music Entertainment ("Sony"). The dispute concerns an original song and music video that Cortés submitted to Sony as part of a songwriting contest sponsored by Sony. The District Court dismissed all of Cortés's claims. It did so on two grounds: that the claims were subject to mandatory arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, and that Cortés failed to allege facts sufficient to support his claims under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Because Cortés has not appealed the ruling that his claims must be arbitrated, we affirm the order compelling arbitration.

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Ellington v. EMI Music, Inc.

In this breach of contract action, we have been asked to interpret the terms of a royalty provision contained in a 1961 United States copyright renewal Agreement between the legendary Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (Duke Ellington)and Mills Music, Inc. (now EMI). We hold that the disputed terms of the Agreement are clear and unambiguous. Thus, we affirm the Appellate Division.

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Judge Slams Attorneys in 'South Park' 'What What (In the Butt)' Copyright Lawsuit (Video)

Ruling says there wasn't ever much question that the show had fair use to viral music video and harshly criticizes the plaintiff for bringing the lawsuit.

12:55 PM PST 12/7/2011 by Eriq Gardner

As punishment for suing Viacom, the owners of the YouTube viral video What What (In The Butt) have been ordered to pay up the you-know-what.

In November 2010, Brownmark Films filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Viacom and Comedy Central over an episode of South Park that allegedly infringed the massively popular music video. In July, a federal judge dismissed the case, finding that South Park characters recreating the super-silly clip was clearly fair use. Now, the judge has also ordered Brownmark to pay Viacom more than $30,000 in attorney fees for making a legal action that interfered with free speech and wasn't a proper way to handle the situation.

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Songwriter Claims BMI Isn't Accurately Tracking Use of Music on Television

Deyon Davis says that the performance rights organization is a "bully" and is taking advantage of music publishers in the way it accounts for song royalties from TV networks.

12:24 PM PST 12/7/2011 by Eriq Gardner

Deyon Davis is a songwriter and the head of a business that claims responsibility for representing hundreds of songwriters in placing their music in films and on hit TV shows like American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance and Jersey Shore. A year ago, Davis was sued by BMI, the performance royalty collection society, for submitting falsified "cue-sheets," allegedly obstructing the organization's calculation of royalties. On Friday, Davis struck back with a bold counterclaim that alleges that BMI has engaged in a broad scheme to rip off songwriters and publishers.

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Lawmakers Pushing Bill That Could Land YouTube Lip-Synch Artists Behind Bars

By Pete Griffin

Record labels are clamoring for a chance to have their artist lip-synch alongside 16-year-old YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill in, of all places, his bedroom. But could a proposed amendment to the federal copyright infringement law potentially land Cahill, or any person lip-synching copyrighted material in a YouTube video, behind bars?

Senate Bill 978, a bipartisan measure introduced last month by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), is backed by supporters who say it closes glaring loopholes in current copyright infringement law created by the realities of the digital age.

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F.B.T. Prods., LLC v. Aftermath Records

This dispute concerns the percentage of royalties due to Plaintiffs F.B.T. Productions, LLC, and Em2M, LLC, under their contracts with Defendant Aftermath in connection with the recordings of Marshal B. Mathers, III, professionally known as the rap artist Eminem.1 Specifically, F.B.T. and Aftermath disagree on whether the contracts’ “Records Sold” provision or “Masters Licensed” provision sets the royalty rate for sales of Eminem’s records in the form of permanent downloads and mastertones. Before trial, F.B.T. moved for summary judgment that the Masters Licensed provision unambiguously applied to permanent downloads and mastertones. The district court denied the motion. At the close of evidence, F.B.T. did not move for judgment as a matter of law, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Aftermath. On appeal, F.B.T. reasserts that the Masters Licensed provision unambiguously applies to permanent downloads and mastertones. We agree that the contracts are unambiguous and that the district court should have granted summary judgment to F.B.T. We therefore reverse the judgment and vacate the district court’s order awarding Aftermath its attorneys’ fees.

Download F.B.T. Prods., LLC v. Aftermath Records

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RIAA Accounting: Why Even Major Label Musicians Rarely Make Money From Album Sales

from the going-behind-the-veil dept

We recently had a fun post about Hollywood accounting, about how the movie industry makes sure even big hit movies "lose money" on paper. So how about the recording industry? Well, they're pretty famous for doing something quite similar. Reader Jay pointed out in the comments an article from The Root that goes through who gets paid what for music sales, and the basic answer is not the musician. That report suggests that for every $1,000 sold, the average musician gets $23.40.

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