Monday, May 12, 2008

This Week In News

Berman, Leahy Introduce Radio Royalties Bills
U.S. Rep. Howard Berman and Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation today that would require radio stations to pay performance royalties to recording artists and record companies. Backers include both Republicans and Democrats, the RIAA and a host of recording artists. Opposing the bill is the National Association of Broadcasters, who have considerable clout when it comes to influencing policy. And the NAB vigorously opposes the performance royalty. FMC supports royalty parity, so we think that performers should get paid for terrestrial spins. For more info, check out our factsheet on the Public Performance Royalty.
L.A. Times BitPlayer Blog

State of the Music Industry
Last week's NARM conference (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) featured a compelling presentation from Nielsen SoundScan called the "State of the Industry" (PDF). Some highlights: in 2007, 450,344 of the 570,000 albums sold were purchased less than 100 times. 1,000 albums accounted for 50% of all album sales. Interestingly, the music industry had its biggest sales week since they started keeping records, with 58 million units sold in the last week of 2007. Also of note: 13% of all album sales come from American Idol and the Disney franchises. Telling stuff.
Duke Listens Blog

Project Playlist: Another Lopsided Settlement Ahead?
Web-based music app Project Playlist is being sued by the major labels, a common scenario for music startups. The lawsuit is backed by all four majors and accuses Project Playlist of massive copyright infringement. The focus of the suit is concerns whether Project Playlist is actually liable for infringement. PP's architecture allows users to create playlists by linking to content hosted across the internet, a solution that taps into the massive — but highly decentralized and chaotic — library of media assets online. But the filing may be part of a familiar negotiation dance, one that frequently features a dropped lawsuit in exchange for serious licensing overhead and equity stakes for the majors.
Paul Resnikof, Digital Music News

When DRM Detonates Your Music Collection
Imagine if you had a bedroom full of CDs and decided to buy a new player one day, only to discover that none of your albums would play on the new system. That is more or less what has happened to people in America who bought music downloads from Microsoft. Last month the company announced that from August 31 this year songs bought from MSN Music, its online music shop, would no longer be transferable to machines other than the ones the files were registered to. This means that, come September, if you want to transfer songs from your main PC to a laptop or a new computer you haven't registered, you won't be able to. If your computer dies, your painstakingly assembled music collection dies with it.
Alex Pell, Times UK

Colleges Fret as RIAA Pushes for State Anti-P2P Laws
The entertainment industry's efforts to get universities to be more proactive about policing peer-to-peer piracy are spreading from Capitol Hill to the individual states. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Hollywood-backed proposal buried in a higher education reauthorization bill that would require universities receiving federal financial aid funding to devise plans for "alternative" offerings to unlawful downloading. That otherwise wide-ranging bill won't become law until House and Senate politicians agree upon a compromise version. Meanwhile, the debate over the proper role of higher education institutions in fighting piracy has shifted to some state legislatures.
Anne Broache, CNET

House Passes Copyright Enforcement Bill
By a vote of 410 to 10, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would allow law enforcement authorities to seek the forfeiture of property used in copyright infringement. The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, or PRO-IP Act, would also create a new Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement representative, often called a copyright czar, in the White House. The bill would also expand a U.S. Department of Justice program that gives local law enforcement agencies grants to fight computer crimes, including grants for copyright infringement enforcement.
Grant Gross, IDG News

RIAA Representative Forecasts a Comeback for DRM
[Psst — don't tell the market!] RIAA representative forecasts a comeback for DRM At the Digital Hollywood conference, where entertainment industry representatives are meeting to discuss technology and trends in digital content delivery, David Hughes of the RIAA made bold statements about the future of DRM. Despite a clear move toward selling DRM-free music by every major label Hughes, the RIAA's Senior Vice President of Technology, says DRM is far from dead, and even intimated that it's nearly impossible to make money on digital music without it.
Rich "Vurbal" Fiscus,

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