Music Business News, January 24, 2017

The Copyright Alliance appealed to the new president about keeping U.S. Copyright Law strong. Also, TIDAL sold 33-percent of its stake to Sprint. And, Paul McCartney officially filed his lawsuit over ownership of the Beatles catalog.



The Copyright Alliance Appealing to Donald Trump


The Copyright Alliance penned a letter to new president Donald Trump asking him to “support a strong and vibrant copyright system in the U.S.”


According to Music Week, the letter, dated January 23, asked Trump to “protect copyright holders from online theft and ensure that creators share in the massive profits being made by Internet platforms from these copyright works.”


The Copyright Alliance is based in Washington, DC and represents more than 1.8 million creators and 13,000 trade organizations and companies. In yesterday’s letter, CEO Keith Kupferschmid appealed to Trump to “stand with American creators and innovators by promoting and preserving the value of copyright in the United States and abroad.”


Included in the letter was the Copyright Alliance’s Policy Framework, which asks for strong copyright protection: “Throughout the long history of our country, few, if any, Presidents have had a more sizable and diverse copyright portfolio than you. Your experiences as a businessman have afforded you insights into the value and importance of copyright and how copyright protections help drive the US economy and create millions of well-paying jobs and small businesses.”


He added, “Few laws and few industries do more to support and propel the U.S. economy and to generate a positive trade balance than copyright law and the copyright industries.”


The letter pointed to the fact that in 2015, major copyright industries contributed $1.2 trillion to the U.S. GDP and were responsible for 5.5 million jobs. Average compensation in the industries was 38-percent higher than the average for all workers in the U.S.


Kupferschmid concluded that these statistics “prove that a strong copyright system that rewards creativity and discourages piracy is essential to a healthy and vibrant economy … The prevalence of piracy in the internet age is a blight on the US economy and culture. Weakening copyright or making it harder for creators and small businesses to obtain or maintain their protections weakens the value proposition for creators and small businesses and may result in fewer jobs in the copyright industries. We need to enhance the protections afforded to the creative communities, not dilute them.”


TIDAL Selling Stake to TELCO Sprint


Owner of TIDAL Jay Z struck up a deal with TELCO Sprint to sell 33-percent of the company on Monday.


The New York Times reported that this arrangement may help keep the company alive in the highly-competitive streaming market.


Analyst at Midia Research Mark Mulligan explained, “TIDAL has struggled to make a dent in the streaming market and has shallower pockets than Spotify, Apple or Amazon … The Sprint deal gives it access to a big customer base, free marketing and a war chest to take on the streaming incumbents.”


Under the deal, Jay Z and co-owners Beyonce, Madonna, Kanye West and Alicia Keys will keep running the service. Chief executive of Spring Marcelo Claure will join TIDAL’s board.


Jay Z released the following statement: “Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential … Marcelo understood our goal right away, and together we are excited to bring Sprint’s 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience.”


The two companies also released a joint announcement that detailed very few details of the partnership. The announcement said that Sprint customers who subscribe to TIDAL will receive exclusive content and that more information is forthcoming.


The fact that Jay Z stuck to his plan of offering early or exclusive access to music and videos has helped the company grow. The platform has hosted new releases by Rihanna, Beyonce and Kanye West in order to gain millions of subscribers. The company’s plan also prompted Apple to add exclusives to its features.


Despite innovation, TIDAL has struggled to stay afloat. In a 2016 filing, the company reported losing $28 million in 2015. The board also said it did not have sufficient funding to get it through 2016.


Industry analysts have questioned TIDAL’s reports of large subscriber numbers. In March 2016, one year after the service was introduced, TIDAL claimed three million subscribers. However, Midia said that TIDAL only has one million paying users. A Norwegian newspaper report accused TIDAL of over-reporting its subscriber count last week. TIDAL spokespeople refused to comment on this accusation.


Paul McCartney Filing Federal Lawsuit Regarding The Beatles Catalog


Paul McCartney filed a federal lawsuit against publisher Sony/ATV this past week. His claim was that he owns songs he wrote with The Beatles.


Rolling Stone said that the singer/songwriter said he is seeking to get back copyrights to songs including “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude” and “The Long and Winding Road” starting in October 2018. Paperwork filed in a U.S. District Court in New York aimed “to confirm ownership” of these songs “which are granted to him by U.S. copyright law.”


According to the lawsuit, McCartney has been making legal filings regarding this issue since 2008 and is looking for a “declaratory judgment” in order to make sure the transfer of copyright will not be drawn out.


The former Beatle is also looking for a ruling declaring that the publishing agreements are unlawful and cannot be used against McCartney, attorneys’ fees or other fees the court deems fitting.


The lawsuit is based on the 1976 Copyright Act stipulating that the rights to works made prior to 1978 have to be returned to creators 56 years after the official copyright date. In 2018, 56 years will have passed since 1962, when John Lennon and McCartney first began to write songs as a team.


A representative for the publishing company said, “Sony/ATV has the highest respect for Sir Paul McCartney with whom we have enjoyed a long and mutually rewarding relationship with respect to the treasured Lennon and McCartney song catalog … We have collaborated closely with both Sir Paul and the late John Lennon’s Estate for decades to protect, preserve and promote the catalog’s long-term value. We are disappointed that they have filed this lawsuit which we believe is both unnecessary and premature.”


Duran Duran filed a similar lawsuit last year with a Sony/ATV subsidiary. An English court fuled that American law came second to those of Great Britain. Because McCartney’s suit has been filed in the U.S., the hope is that U.S. Copyright Law and its statutory termination rules will usurp any contracts in the U.K.


McCartney and Lennon assigned the rights to a number of songs written between 1962 and 1971 to several publishers. By the 1980s, In late 1984, Michael Jackson won a bid for The Beatles’ catalog, paying $47.5 million. Jackson later worked with Sony to form Sony/ATV.


In 2009, McCartney recounted, “Some time ago, the media came up with the idea that Michael Jackson was going to leave his share in the Beatles songs to me in his will, which was completely made up and something I didn’t believe for a second … Now the report is that I am devastated to find that he didn’t leave the songs to me. This is completely untrue. I had not thought for one minute that the original report was true and therefore, the report that I’m devastated is also totally false, so don’t believe everything you read folks.”

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