Posts filed under ‘copyright’

Sound News ~ Internet video, tips and the latest on copyright

Sound News
SoundNews 08/03/09
In this issue:

• hot summer
• internet video
• business tips
success story


It’s been a busy summer with many long and short form projects including an animated feature film, audio books, DVD content & authoring, Internet video projects, creative commercials, building web sites & custom programming with e-commerce, CD and DVD duplication.

THE COPYRIGHT HOT POTATO“There’s battle lines being drawn… Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong.”
For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

image A rational person would surmise that REALLY – You can’t win. Copyright law was written FOR the content creators and copyright holders …

See “Can Music Copyright Exist on the Web? Part IV” and read our latest blog article on music copyright.

Other copyright news:


Let us help you create a video for your web site. Did you know that good video content can market your service or product to obtain higher rankings in the search engines? We know video and SEO.


A PowerPoint presentation can be converted to DVD along with new content or made fresh in video to be more interesting. We can convert your old training or marketing presentations to DVD, adding a professional voice track and updated music to make it current.


Facebook is allowing developers and advertisers to your streaming content. To protect yourself, you must “opt-out”… see our blog for the full story:

SUCCESS STORY has shipped several “Visit London” campaigns to radio stations all over the US and that’s only one of hundreds of success stories. DataSlap is a great way to deliver commercials with confirmation.

Copyright © SoundWorks

August 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Can Music Copyright Exist on the Web? Part IV

Battle Lines

“There’s battle lines being drawn… Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong.”
For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

image Now a rational person would surmise that REALLY – You can’t win. Copyright law was written FOR the content creators and copyright holders. But this hasn’t stopped an atmosphere of sheer insanity from developing. In the matter of Lenz v. Universal Music, a California mother posted a short video on YouTube of her toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Get Crazy” for around 20 seconds. Universal, following guidelines from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, sent a takedown notice to YouTube and YouTube complied. Case closed, right? – Oh No! Lenz sent a counter-notification to YouTube claiming “fair use” (see Part II of this series) of the copyright and demanded the video be re-posted. YouTube reposted the video and Lenz filed suit against Universal seeking monetary damages from them, claiming they had no copyright infringement claim! This case is certainly going to be one to watch…

To avoid copyright infringement when playing/streaming music on the internet, music licensing is the normal path to follow. But when it involves rate negotiations, normal gets thrown out the door. After becoming frustrated in negotiations with Google, Warner Music Group pulled its music videos off YouTube in the U.S. in December 2008. Then, in March 2009, frustrated with the U.K.’s Performing Rights Society for Music (PRS), Google took an equal & opposite approach and began random removal of major label videos first in the U.K., then in Germany. This prompted the ire of U.K. artists and music publishers to side with PRS and internet interests like to publicly side with YouTube. And in the midst of both actions, YouTube instituted a system that automatically removed unlicensed music tracks from posted videos before even receiving DMCA takedown notices. So add YouTube content posters and, no doubt, multitudes of YouTube fans to the unhappy fray. And it’s only a matter of time before MySpace, Pandora, and others enter into the fray. The whole affair begins to resemble the remark, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

imageIf you’re thinking that progress is being made by either side, nothing could be further from the truth. The album release date, once sacred among major labels marketers and their artists, is now just gone. Album “leaks” have so saturated the internet, they have become “de rigueur” for any major music release. Indeed, tech-guru and Wired magazine editor, Chris Anderson, has introduced us to the “freeconomics” concept. But to rationalize that simply because your album is leaked (and based on that factor alone) that your sales will be greater, requires a great leap of marketing faith (and many other commodities and merchandise for-sale to the public). Anderson does make one primary point to ponder, “The moment a company’s primary expenses become things based in silicon, free becomes not just an option but the inevitable destination.”

So where does all this leave us? My little dissertation here is not going to solve any problems where all the parties involved are behaving like out-of-control children. So what are reasonable solutions to this modern mess? For a moment, let’s review “the truths we know to be self-evident”:

From the moment a compact disc was able to be ripped into an mp3 and digitally transported to someone either via P2P networks or email, copyright and control of distribution could no longer be contained and controlled by traditional standards.

Taking property from creators, be they artistic, financial or both, without payment is theft. This is not really an arguable point from either a legal or social point of view.

The current and prevailing penalties for digital copyright theft on an individual basis, are unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination unless accessed at, or near, the lowest values statutorily allowed ($750 per infringement).

Laws are NOT going to be changed through the court system! Attorneys listen up and please quit wasting the taxpayers’ money!

ISP’s and file sharing networks can no longer turn a blind eye to thieves of intellectual property within their digital borders anymore than foreign trading partners can ignore the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) within their geographic borders. Get over it!

Now can we consider some reasonable compromises?

imageUltimately, software can be written to not only monitor P2P file sharing infringements, but to remove/block them when they occur. You do not have to disconnect the violator from the ISP after 3 strikes, but if they become a constant pain in your backsides, maybe you’ll consider that!

Reasonable penalties will command reasonable respect for the law! After all, laws are the glue that we all agree to abide by to prevent chaos as a society.

The “rockstar” image cultivated by major labels has done irreparable harm to music and art. Musicians and performers need to be portrayed as the hard-working individuals they are. Major labels need to return to their roots, hire people who understand music and turn out quality product. And not just for young people – Boomers will, and always have, paid for the music they love! (Note to major labels – don’t forget who “brung you”).

Educate yourself! You do not have a god-given right to use anyone’s music for your home videos, especially when posted to the web! It is not Fair Use! In turn, copyright owners should consider making reasonable allowances for situational uses – It just might help them sell more product!

Now, can we all just get along? Nothing else seems to be working!


July 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment

Can Music Copyright Exist on the Web? – Part III

A Modern Mess

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind… The answer is somewhere in the wind.”
Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan

stop And, indeed, answers to Music Copyright existing on the internet do reflect prevailing winds. I’ve attempted to complete the third part of this series since April 2009, and every time I felt I had a succinct conclusion, the winds changed direction. And many facets of this debate will change after this article has been finished and posted. But much like the swing of a pendulum, it’s the back & forth shifting that began to make sense and explain the modern mess that currently surrounds copyright law issues.

As discussed in Part II, the historical legal precedents for copyright infringement carry stringent federal statutory racketeering charges involving the possibility of both criminal and civil penalties. With legislation introduced in the latter part of the 20th century, Congress sought to loosen hard-clad exclusivities of the author’s rights over their creative works. What Congress didn’t see coming was a computer revolution that gave everyday people the ability to quickly and easily violate copyright statutes before being aware of the law itself! And record companies didn’t invite public sympathies as they built irresponsible rock-star images for themselves and their artists (Many of these artists were actually broke after the record company “dole” ended).

Year 2000 was not only a new decade, a new century, but a new millennium. And the expected chaos of that date change, for the most part, came and went unnoticed to most of the world. But to the RIAA and the record industry they represent, it WAS the feared meltdown. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed in October 1998, tried desperately to stem the free-flow of mp3’s by introducing Digital Rights Management (DRM) protections with the net effect of trying to extinguish a four-alarm fire with a garden hose. The greatest harm came from a file-sharing network launched in June 1999 named Napster, who foreshadowed the present-day loss of product distribution control. In fact, there was peer2peer a period of debate over whether Napster was actually GOOD as a promotional tool for record sales (in one form or another, this debate continues today). Somewhat ironically, the RIAA filed suit against Napster on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th, 1999, but did not  gain an injunction to stop file-trading until March of 2001. But the stage was set. Subsequent Napster-imitation platforms proliferated in various guises like eDonkey2000, Kazaa and The Pirate Bay, to name a few. And peer-to-peer (P2P) download technology was vastly improved with the BitTorrent protocol, a distributed-data method whereby a single file can be pulled in parts from many peer computers.

Loss of control of distribution is a knife to the heart of everything that copyright law holds sacred. In this new millennium, there was no one better to pursue copyright infringements on behalf of the record companies, distributors, music publishers, artists and copyright holders than the RIAA, who touts themselves as “the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry” and whose mission is “to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members’ creative and financial vitality.” Since 1999, the RIAA has initiated lawsuits against file-sharing networks, portable audio device manufacturers, internet service providers, colleges and universities, as well as numerous individuals who either posted, downloaded or provided assistance in the illegal transfer of music files. Because of in-exacting methods used to identify infringers based on ISP identification of an IP address, the RIAA has embarrassingly sued dead people as well as people with no computer at all.

Early this year, the RIAA announced that it was no longer going to pursue NEW cases against individuals and announced a new campaign of cooperation with Internet Service Providers world-wide based on a “three-strikes” doctrine of notifications to violators, then disconnection of service upon the “third strike”. One major problem – No negotiations had taken place and no ISP’s anywhere were on-board with the RIAA’s plan. To say that the response from ISP’s has been mixed would be an exaggeration. So far, only the French and Irish governments have expressed what could be termed as a momentary interest in the plan and there have been outright rejections from New Zealand, Norway, Germany, and Spain while most state-side providers have simply denied knowledge of any such agreement.

Copyright Protection Meanwhile, the RIAA continues to win previously-docketed cases in the U.S. In the matter of Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Minnesota single-mother of four was ordered to pay 1.92 million dollars for infringement of 24 songs posted to Kazaa (Before you get outraged, consider she was offered a pre-trial settlement for less than $5000). Arista recently prevailed against Usenet after a long, drawn-out battle. And why shouldn’t they? The attorneys representing these clients somehow think that a court, somewhere, somehow, is going to change punishments that are statutory ie. they are written into the law! These attorneys are barking up the wrong tree – Laws are changed by CONGRESS, not the courts! In the matter of Sony BMG Music v. Tenebaum (a Boston University Grad student facing 30 infringements), the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that statutory damages sought by Sony ARE constitutional because of THE LAW (from $750 to $150,000 per infringement). My friends, you can argue all you want, but until you change THE LAW…. You’re just wasting everyone’s time and money.

On the international scene this past April, Sony Music, Warner Bros., EMI Music and Columbia Pictures prevailed in a Stockholm district court against Pirate Bay, a Swedish-based BitTorrent P2P who had defiantly thumbed its nose at major labels for years. The fines accessed were $3.56 million dollars and the principles, each sentenced to one year in prison, remain out of jail only due to the appeal process and recently sold the company. With precedent at hand, at least two other countries are now set to launch further suits against PB. Semi-ironically, Sweden recently passed an anti-piracy law, IPRED, requiring ISP’s to reveal the identities of repeat infringers.

*Part IV of this article


July 28, 2009 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

Can Music Copyright Exist on the Web? – part 2

Can Music Copyright Exist on the Web?
Part II – Then & Now / What’s the Difference?

copyrightBefore we go further in this series, we must understand that Copyright Law is constantly evolving in a strange, congressional law and litigation-based balancing act, either advancing or subtracting from a creator’s exclusive right to control an original artistic or scientific (some add technological) work. Four decades ago, most music copyright legal issues were confined to three areas: Counterfeit Duplication, Unauthorized Usage and Plagiarism. With counterfeiting, duplicators would crank out thousands of illegal copies of records and tapes and sell them to black market distributors. Most of this product found its way to countries with little or no copyright enforcement as well as some rural areas of the U.S. Federal penalties were quite strict and prosecuted under racketeering (RICO Act), whereby civil and criminal punishment came in a packaged bundle: up to 20 years in jail, $25,000 fines and seizing of all physical assets attributed to the criminal activity. After frequent FBI crackdowns in the late 70’s, most piracy relocated to Southeast Asia and China where it transitioned to compact discs in the 80’s. It was not significantly curtailed until the 1990’s when the U.S. made “protection of intellectual rights” a global trade issue.

Unauthorized Usage, for the sake of this article, is referred to as the unlicensed utilization of a copyright – Think of it as a violation of the “all rights reserved” portion of copyright. The creator of the song, or “songwriter”, has a “reserved right” to control the placement or New Use of the song in, for instance, a movie or advertising. Plagiarism refers to the intentional or negligent representation of the words, ideas or thoughts of others’ works as one’s own. In these type of violations, some were handled with “cease & desist” orders, others sought monetary damages (civil actions) and more severe prosecutions even included property seizure. What can’t be emphasized enough is that in every aspect of copyright infringement, some part or right of that intellectual property creator is stolen – And theft is a criminal act!

These were fairly straight-forward crime/punishment standards (or “bright-line” rules as statutory law would dictate). Now let’s interject two pieces of legislation and a lot of “gray area” (reference “balance” and “evolving” in the first sentence). The “Fair Use Doctrine”, derived from the Copyright Act of 1976, and the AHRA (Audio Home Recording Act of 1992), which amended the Copyright Act of 1976. Both introduced a substantial variance to copyright “exclusivity” and, perhaps for the first time, a great deal of confusion and misinterpretation in the public sector.

The Fair Use Doctrine sought to balance the “public interest” with the author’s “impetus to create”. New permissions were “granted” regarding a copyright’s use in academia or research, satire/parody, news reporting and reviews/critiques (granted is used in quotes as permissions are born mostly from court decisions). This new, “balance scale” introduced 4 criteria to consider for “fair use”, but no single factor was to produce a determination:

  • scales-sound1Purpose & character of use – noncommercial or educational purposes
  • Nature of copyrighted work – informational or creative, published or unpublished
  • Amount of work used in relation to the work as a whole – no formula
  • The effect of the use upon potential market or value of the work – extent of harm

The “scale” set forth a fluid legislation, with no exact rules, that sought expanded public “use” of an author’s work, a subtractive standard to the owner’s “exclusive right”. And in classic-American legislative framework, ultimately “standards” are decided in the courts through litigation. In fairness, this format insures the law is never static and is ever-evolving (and something to consider if you feel judicial appointments do not affect you), but it’s a far cry from the clear standards of the past.

Outside of “limited” use in education and journalism, one of the more striking precedents from the Fair Use Doctrine resulted in popular music parodies. In Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, the U.S. Supreme Court found that in all 4 balance criteria, 2 Live Crew’s production of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman did not violate fair use provisions. As a result, we have protection for the works of Weird Al Yankovic in today’s popular music (even though he claims he always asks both artist & publisher for permission).

But IMHO, the dominant feature of the Fair Use Doctrine is rarely discussed – its profound penetration into the public’s everyday language and, unfortunately, everyday misinterpretation! This new idea of “fair use” for copyrighted material set the stage for many of the music issues we face today. And for the first time, a generation raised from the ‘60’s “revolution”, felt compelled to use technology to exceed the de facto music standard of the time, the vinyl record. Certainly making a tape copy of a purchased record might seem fair, but that was never the doctrine’s intention. Even Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights, admitted in a recent Nate Anderson article, “fair use itself is often ambiguous unless defined by a judge.”
An entertaining list of misinterpretations can be found at the following web locations:

musicWith the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 (AHRA), which amended the Copyright Act of 1976, Congress attempts to resolve “home taping” and pre-internet digital recording issues. The act allowed the much-delayed arrival of Digital Audio Tape (DAT), Philip’s Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) & SONY’s minidisc into the US by defining the relationship and royalty rates between blank media/device manufacturers and the content industry. In regard to “home taping”, the act states in section 1008, “No action may be brought… alleging infringement of copyright… based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings.” What congress intended was to legitimize the copying of a purchased record or cd for the sake of portability in the same sense that consumers could copy broadcast TV on a VCR for time-shifting. But consumers read “noncommercial” as not for sale to the public, though Congress clearly states later in the amendment “not for direct or indirect commercial advantage.” By no means did this amendment legitimize the copying of content just because you did it “at home” or didn’t “sell copies to the public.”

These two pieces of legislation set an air of public confusion regarding copyright law in the years prior to the dot-com explosion. It was the dawning of a new era whereby consumers, for the first time, could shift content from one media to another, almost at whim. By allowing the concepts of “fair use” & “home taping” to misconstrue in the public consciousness without education about their real-world implications, these laws allowed misinformed music seekers to form a culture of disdain for the rights of content creators and set a troubled foreshadowing to the present-day copyright ruckus which we examine in Part 3 of this series.

*also see Can Music Copyright Exist on the Web? – part one

April 6, 2009 at 11:05 pm Leave a comment


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