Archive for July, 2008

recent commentary from

July 22, 2008

Us_copyright_office_logo In an overlooked notice of proposed rulemaking last week, The Library of Congress’ Copyright Office lived up to the worst fears about government agencies. It took up a nearly eight-year-old petition and, rather than settling a current dispute, created a new one. It also provided yet more evidence that copyright laws written in the analog era don’t map well to the Internet and digital technologies.

The issue has a rich back story, much of it laid out in the notice. But here’s a distillation. The Copyright Office was asked in late 2000 to resolve a disagreement between the RIAA and music publishers over how large a mechanical royalty, if any, should apply to two types of music services: on-demand streams from an online jukebox, and “tethered” downloads that expire after a certain number of days or plays. Such streams and downloads are at the heart of subscription music services such as Napster and Rhapsody. In its proposed rulemaking Wednesday, the Copyright Office basically punted on that question. But it unexpectedly held that music publishers were entitled to an additional royalty for non-interactive streams — e.g., webcasts, satellite services and digital over-the-air radio signals. The size of the royalty was left to a three-person arbitration panel, which has been considering the rates for interactive streams but, apparently, not for non-interactive ones.

Representatives of the music publishers were still digesting the decision when I talked to them Friday, so it’s not clear how they’ll respond. Nor is it possible to say what impact, if any, there would be on webcasters already struggling to pay royalties to the labels. “This is more than we have ever asked for,” said Laurie Jakobsen, senior director of communications for the Harry Fox Agency (a royalty collector for the publishers). Added Jay Rosenthal, general counsel for the National Music Publishers Assn., “We’re still reviewing the rulemaking documents, but so far we’re optimistic.”

What’s perverse about the notice is that the RIAA and the music publishers settled their dispute over DPDs back in 2001. The two sides agreed that mechanical royalties were due on-demand streams, but not on non-interactive ones. That’s more than fair, considering where mechanical royalties fit into the big picture. Mechanicals were designed to compensate songwriters when someone makes a copy of one of their songs, typically by recording it on an album (and then making multiple copies for sale). DPDs expand the notion of mechanical royalties to make sure they apply to situations where the product isn’t necessarily physical — for example, when you download a 99-cent single from iTunes, or buy a hard drive preloaded with the collected works of Megadeath (perfect for the car!). Streaming, on the other hand, impinges more on songwriters’ public-performance rights. It’s the digital equivalent of listening to the radio, not buying a CD.

Granted, webcasters and on-demand streaming outlets have to copy songs into their computers, which impinges on the songwriters’ mechanical rights. But that doesn’t mean the streams sent to listeners amount to DPDs. The Copyright Office contended that not only does the stream amount to a DPD, so do the buffer copies created along the way. As attorney David Oxenford noted on his blog, it defies logic to suggest that online radio listeners could pluck pieces of a streamed song out of the RAM buffer on their computers.

The argument against imposing mechanical royalties on streams isn’t an argument against paying songwriters. It’s an argument against paying them twice for a single use of their works. A federal judge  in White Plains, NY, ruled  this year that RealNetworks, Yahoo and AOL owed ASCAP performance royalties for their streaming services, and he set the rate at 2.5% of their music-related revenue. Last year, however, the same judge ruled that downloads weren’t public performances, meaning that only mechanical royalties would apply to sales from iTunes and other online music stores. Too bad the same kind of logic didn’t inform the Copyright Office, which applied the language of the 1995 law rigorously but not realistically.


more on the RIAA: a comment

July 21, 2008

it is very clear from rcent news that both the RIAA and the MPAA feel that they are not only above the law, but well fiounded and long standing judicial principles, such as burden of proof and burden of producing evidence should not be applied to their lawsuit for alleged copyright infringement.  In addition, via some of their wishes about the ACTA treaty it is clear that they also want to violate human rights, namely privacy.  Whther the right of privacy is explicitly stated in the US constitution is irrelevant, the bill of rights is not a list of rights given to the people by the US government but a list of certin rights made clear.  In addition, California in its state constituion guarantees its citizens the right of privacy.

So, it’s copyright infringement lawsuits without bound vs. american jurisprudence and the federal rules of civil procedure.
The courts are alredy ovrbudened, with the RIAA monoploizing court calendars across he nation, it can only get worse.

Brian Lee Corber
attorney at law
Los Angeles, California

stop copyright infringement, destroy justice system and privacy

July 20, 2008

I Don’t Believe in Imaginary Property brings us an analysis of several organizations’ goals for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which we’ve discussedpreviously. In particular, he points out the anti-privacy views of the Business Software Alliance: “While the ACTA itself is not public, the US Trade Representative has at least released the ACTA comments. While many of them are to be expected, such as the RIAA & co. wanting copyright filters, one item on the BSA’s wish list really stands out: ‘In a number of European countries one of the biggest impediments to efforts by rights holder to enforce their IP rights on the Internet is the overbroad interpretation of privacy laws by some European authorities.’ They want ACTA to ‘fix’ that by neutering the privacy laws. Given the BSA’s other questionable activities, it couldn’t hurt to tell their member companies what you think of their participation. After all, organizations like the BSA exist in part to shield their members from bad PR.” Full documents of comments from the various organizations are available at Public Knowledge.

don’t listen to that music without a license!

July 16, 2008

In the U.K.:


The Performing Right Society (PRS) is writing to thousands of small businesses to make them aware of the consequences of, and possible legal action that could result from, breaking copyright law by playing music without a licence from PRS.

The law ensures that the UK’s 60,000 songwriters and composers that PRS represents – who are small businesses themselves – receive royalties for the use of their work.

PRS aims to ensure that all businesses that play music in public – for example, to customers or employees – understand that permission to do so is needed from the writers and composers of that music.

Keith Gilbert, Managing Director, PRS Public Performance Sales, says: “PRS is a vital source of income to the creators of music, 90% of whom earn less than £5,000 a year in royalties. We are writing to businesses to raise awareness of the value of music to their business and of the need to buy a PRS Music Licence which reimburses those who created that music.

“Around 300,000 organisations are acting within the law and already have a PRS Music Licence. But, often unknowingly, many thousands more are not, and we want those companies to be aware that they need to adhere to UK copyright law and to buy a PRS Music Licence.”

A PRS Music Licence costs from £66 a year. It gives any premises permission to play over 10 million pieces of music – from pop to classical and every style and genre in between – in all formats including radio, TV, CD, MP3 and telephone ‘on-hold’ systems. PRS Music Licences are tailored according to the size of business and the way in which music is being played.


Businesses can call 0800 068 48 28for advice on when they need a PRS music licence or visit

new web based legal services announced

July 15, 2008
Attorney Brian Lee Corber Launches Music Legal Services Site
Posted On July 14, 2008 @ 6:16 pm In Industry News film music magazine 
Veteran Los Angeles music attorney Brian Lee Corber has announced the launch of the [1] website and the availability of document and contract review and other services available for instant purchase via the Internet.
Corber, who has practiced law for over 25 years, represents clients in the music industry and writes and speaks at industry events about music law topics including areas of interest to musicians and film and television composers. He is best known for his work on behalf of ghostwriter Daniel Kolton who claimed authorship of years of music composing work on the “Hercules”, “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Young Hercules” television series. He has also worked as a legal a dvisor to industry organizations including Just Plain Folks, The Film Music Network, The Webcaster Alliance, and others.
The new website offers highly focused industry legal services packaged at special rates to enable musicians at all levels of the industry access to legal services. A question answering service is available for specific business and legal questions, including questions about specific legal language and what it may mean to a musician entering into a deal. A detailed answer is provided by email that addresses the specific legal question in the context of the person asking the question.
A document review service is available from the [1] website where Corber analyzes music industry contracts, synchronization licenses, master licenses, deal memos, publishing agreements, record label agreements, band/group partnership agreements, and other music industry documents. The analysis offers comments on how favorable the document treats the musician, composer or songwriter, and highlights any problematic areas of the document which may include missing elements that are standard in the industry, elements that may be disadvantageous or exploitative, and more.
“I am doing this because I want to be able to bring affordable legal services to more people in the music industry. A music creator or artist ought not to be in the dark about a contract being proposed to them, vulnerable to the demands of=2 0the other party without even knowing what they’re giving up, let alone knowing what they are getting. Simply put, musicians deserve to have a better idea about what they’re signing,” said Corber.
Corber continued, “The most important time to fight for yourself is at the beginning. The best thing would be to be represented by an attorney at the contract stage, but attorneys can be expensive – and some artists and writers are hesitant to consult with an attorney. By reducing the cost and making it user friendly via the internet where you don’t have to worry about going to an office or paying a high cost for the consultation, I hope to give those who can least afford the services of an attorney some protection and advice going into the contract stage of their careers.”
For more information or immediate access to CorberLaw legal services, visit [1]

contracts reviewed over the internet

July 7, 2008

Hello.  Do you create music?  Have you been offered a contract to create music for any purpose or do you have a contract that you want to offer another person?  Unsure about your contract?  Would you like a musiclawyer to review it?  Via the net?

A new service has ben started by which you can do that.  The ontract has to be in digital form, no longer than 6 pages, a pdf or doc file, 12 point type font size or larger, in english.



fighting to stop piracy of music

July 7, 2008

To some it might appear that the RIAA and its alter ego soundexchange are trying to stop piracy of music.  To others it might appear that the RIAA has usurped the courts of the united states almost wholly and intends to destroy american jurisprudence by advocating that it be allowed to sue without proof of infingement–just give it the money.  This is very dangerous and needs to be stopped.

Obama’s view on the music biz

July 3, 2008


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Barack Obama and the RIAA

p2pnet news view | RIAA News:- Presidential candidate Barack Obama has a whole slew of new and revolutionary ideas, one of which should be taken seriously by the major record companies.

It’s this >>>

In a good business, the customer is king.

But as far as the Big 4 labels, Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG, are concerned customers are “criminals” and “thieves” to be disrespected and treated with contempt.

And actually, Obama’s observation, which comes in the June 16 print edition of Time, isn’t new.

The phrase the customer is always right was mooted by Harry Gordon Selfridge, founder of Selfridge’s department store in London, England, in 1909.

But, say music cartel policies, the axiom doesn’t apply in the digital 21st century, if it ever did apply.

These days, according to them, the customer is always shite.

If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule #1

“Stew Leonard’s … is a small chain of supermarkets in Connecticut and New York that Ripley’s Believe It or Not! has deemed ‘The World’s Largest Dairy’ and that Fortune Magazine has deemed one of the top ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’!” – says the Wikipedia, going on:

“In 2004, Tom Leonard, son of the founder, also opened a spinoff store, Tom Leonard’s Farmer’s Market, in the Short Pump section of Henrico County, Virginia (suburban Richmond).

The store is also known for its customer-service policy, which greets shoppers at each store’s entrance etched into a three-ton rock:

1. The customer is always right.

2. If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule #1.

The cartels have created for themselves huge mountains of customer it ill will.

They might have gotten away with it before the Net came along. But these days people can, and do, use blogs, IM, cell phones, web pages and all the other communications technologies of this digital era to bypass, if not completely ignore, the traditional corporate news and information media.

Customers with free will

A primary reason Obama is so successful is: he’s come to understand the importance of the Net as the way to reach people not only in the US, but around the world.

In the 21st century, consumers are steadily being replaced by customers with free will who know what they want and who are no longer willing to be treated like mushrooms —- kept in the dark and fed on bullshit.

And it’s still possible for the corporate music and movie industries to turn things around.

All they have to do is start treating their customers as reasonable people who deserve the best, not the worst.

But the chances of that happening grow slimmer by the day and in the meanwhile, customers are not only right, they know it.

Three years ago, in a Q&A with Slyck, “One way or another, p2p technologies will be the primary backbone for communications in this century,” I said, going on >>>

Thousands of new people are going online every day meaning for the first time in history, ‘we’ have a voice ‘they’ have to listen to.

Look at what’s happening in the entertainment industry, for example. They’re going blue trying to avoid the issues, but they’ll eventually be forced to acknowledge their customers as active participants rather than mindless cash-cows.

Moreover, the companies and governments forget the people they’re threatening in various ways are also the ones who are conceiving, developing, servicing and administering the very systems which keep the wheels turning and the money coming in.>>