Brit’s PRS wants to sue singing employee

October 24, 2009

I told you it was coming to this: 

Yet another example of irresponsible copyright enforcement rears its ugly head

From suing dead people, to attacking CD-burning of legally-owned content for personal use, to seeking damages against people who don’t own a computer, it doesn’t seem like there’s many lows to which copyright protection organizations like the RIAA won’t stoop.  However, a recent case involving the Performing Right Society (PRS) — a British RIAA affiliate — shows that even the most curmudgeonly copyright organization can occasionally come around, when faced with overwhelming public scorn.
The humorous tale involves the organization catching wind of a “heinous” offense — an employee singing in public.  Sandra Burt, 56, who works at A&T Food store (a British supermarket) in Clackmannanshire, UK was told by organization representatives that she would likely face fines for lost royalties for her “performance”. 

The debacle began earlier in the year when the PRS threatened the grocery store she worked at, telling them to ditch the radio that played in earshot of customers or pay royalty fees.  Missing the music, Ms. Burt decided to start singing some of her favorite tunes.  She describes, “I would start to sing to myself when I was stacking the shelves just to keep me happy because it was very quiet without the radio.”

Then came new threats from the PRS.  Ms. Burt describes, “When I heard that the PRS said I would be prosecuted for not having a performance license, I thought it was a joke and started laughing.  I was then told I could be fined thousands of pounds. But I couldn’t stop myself singing. They would need to put a plaster over my mouth to get me to stop, I can’t help it.”

Indeed, the woman, who describes herself as a Rolling Stones fan and classic rocker, refused to stop singing.  BBC News caught wind of the story and published a piece on it.

The reaction was instant, with many writing furious letters to the PRS.  Facing an overwhelming outpouring of public vehemence, the PRS backed down, as the RIAA occasionally has.  They sent her a bouquet of flowers as an apology and said she had their permission to keep singing.  The note read, “We’re very sorry we made a big mistake.  We hear you have a lovely singing voice and we wish you good luck.”

 

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STOP THAT LISTENING AND HUMMING!

October 16, 2009

IF YOUR EARS AREN’T LICENSED TO LISTEN TO MUSIC, YOU’D BETTER STOP IT.  ONLY LICENSED EARS MAY HEAR COMMERCIAL MUSIC.

IF YOU’VE BEEN HUMMING OR WHISTLING MUSIC, THEN YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF ALL OF THE COPYRIGHTS IN THE WORKS YOU HUM AND WHISTLE.

BETTER STOP IT BEFORE THE RIAA, ASCAP, HARRY FOX, SOUND EXCHANGE, BMI, SESAC, SACEM, SGAE, GEMA, PRS, ETC.ETC.ETC. FIND OUT.  YOU ARE BEING TRACKED.  THIS IS BIG BROTHER!

an idea about copyrights and patents

October 11, 2009

Art. 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides in relevant part:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited
Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings
and Discoveries.

Limited time.   Give creators exclusive rights for a limited time.  In other words, give them a beneficial incentive to create and profit from their creation.  But only for a limited time.

THEN:  AFTER THAT LIMITED TIME:  THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, FOR WHOM THE U.S. CONTITUION WAS WRITTEN AND ENACTED:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America.

THE PURPOSE OF GRANTING CREATORS RIGHTS FOR A SHORT TIME WAS SO THEY’D CREATE THINGS FROM WHICH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE COULD BENEFIT RIGHT AFTERWARDS AND FOREVER. 

BUT THE LIMITED TIME RIGHTS WERE GRANTED FOR USEFUL ARTS. 

Pathetic. hack and mediocre music is not useful as art or otherwise and ought not to be protected at al.

Progress should not diminish our royalties

October 11, 2009

From Techdirt:

Music Publishers, Songwriters To Congress: Our Royalties Should Be Guaranteed, No Matter What The Market Says (Say That Again)

by Michael Masnick from the songs-from-luddites dept on Friday, October 9th, 2009 @ 8:50AM

In digging deeper into the request from music publishers and songwriters’ representatives after they started demanding performance royalties for the 30-second previews in iTunes, Greg Sandoval was able to get a copy of the letter that was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning copyright laws from the National Music Publishers Association, ASCAP, BMI and the Songwriters Guild. Reading the quotes is stunning, in that you could basically paraphrase them as saying “we are luddites — do not let technology change the way the world works.” Here’s one quote:

“Technology should not be used to strip rights from songwriters, composers and music publishers. The choice of certain audiovisual delivery systems or methods over others should not result in a diminution of creators’ rights or royalties.”

 

Read that one carefully. They are saying that as technology changes, and as the market changes, their royalties should never be allowed to drop. Notice that they’re not taking responsibility for adapting to a changing market. They’re not saying that they need to adjust and put in place smarter business models. No, they’re saying that Congress somehow needs to guarantee that no matter what happens in the market, their royalties remain the same.

What’s really revealing is that this quote highlights the fact that these representatives view their royalties as “rights” to be protected — not revenue to be earned.

No wonder they’re lashing out and doing all sorts of ridiculous stuff like trying to get extra royalties on embedded videos, ringtones and 30 second previews. These are the same groups that have publicly decided they need to try to start a PR campaign against people who are trying to protect user rights and fair use. Since that time, we’ve noticed various people associated with ASCAP and the Songwriters Guild putting up various blogs attacking copyright skeptics in the most ridiculous ways. There’s one, which isn’t worth pointing out, where a lawyer who works with these groups regularly mocks Larry Lessig, William Patry, Michael Geist and myself — using nicknames and making up fanciful stories about us. It’s the sort of activity you’d expect from a 12-year-old.

It looks like these groups simply feel entitled to having the government force everyone to hand over money. Songwriters who belong to these organizations are being led down a dangerous path. It seems like there’s room in the market for groups to represent songwriters’ interests without being anti-fan or anti-technology. Quite clearly, ASCAP, BMI, NMPA and the SGA do not fall into that category. Instead, they’re pretending that the world owes them money just for existing, and they’re going to lash out anyone who tries to suggest otherwise.

Zee French, zay are a funny race

October 11, 2009

FROM TECHDIRT

Nicolas Sarkozy Caught Mass ‘Pirating’ DVDs; Time To Kick Him Off The Internet (Failures)

by Michael Masnick from the see-ya-later-nicky dept on Friday, October 9th, 2009 @ 5:40AM

Why is it always the adamant defenders of silly policies like kicking people off the internet for copyright infringement who are later found to be mass infringers themselves? French President Nicolas Sarkozy, of course, was the first major politician to support the concept of kicking people off the internet for copyright infringement (more commonly called a “three strikes” rule). He took credit for coming up with the idea originally nearly two years ago, and pushed very hard for the law — which eventually passed but was then tossed out as unconstitutional in France. Sarkozy still stood by it and helped bring back a revised version.

Of course, in the middle of all this, there was a bit of irony in that Sarkozy was caught using music without authorization in some online videos, for which he paid a €30,000 fine. Of course, it now appears that may have just been the tip of the iceberg. Boing Boing points us to the news that Sarkozy’s administration has been caught mass “pirating” DVDs of a documentary about Sarkozy. The publisher of the documentary only made 50 copies. Sarkozy’s “audiovisual services” group happened to make itself another 400 without permission — even replacing the name of the original publisher on the cover.

Once again, this should be a “teachable moment,” to point out to Sarkozy and other supporters of such plans to kick people off the internet that the issue isn’t quite so simple after all. When you’re on the other side, sometimes it seems perfectly natural to make a copy of something, without even realizing it’s potentially infringing. Unfortunately, why do I get the feeling that Sarkozy won’t change his stance one bit — or even recognize the irony of the situation?

the 3 most important websites

October 1, 2009

http://indiemusiclaw.com

 

http://indiemusiclaw.com

 

http://indiemusiclaw.com

How to succeed in the music biz without really trying (actually, do, or do not, there is no try)

October 1, 2009

1.  Don’t suck

 

something that often gets lost in these discussions. The music still does need to be good. All of these business models are that much harder if the music isn’t any good and fans don’t like it. Playing good music is a definite first step.2.

2.  Get others to introduce you to their audience: This is another good point. I’ve been talking to some musicians lately, who were trying to understand how to best apply some of this stuff, and I often suggest looking for other, more well-known acts, that the band can work with to get some sort of endorsement, or “opening” slot on a tour (or even just a gig) as a way of reaching more fans. The Topspin post points out that some people assume that this is the real story behind the success of Fanfarlo, but the numbers don’t bear that out. It probably accounted for approximately 30% of the band’s sales. Not shabby, but hardly the only reason for the band’s success.

3.  Make those audiences an offer they can’t refuse: In this case, the band offered a download of their album, plus four bonus tracks for $1 for a limited time. Yes, all of the songs combined for a dollar — not each of them for a dollar apiece. While I normally support just giving away the music for free, I can see a reason to offer them all for a dollar in some situations. In this case, it gets more people to commit to the music and the band, but at a price that is much easier to deal with. I’m still not convinced that $1 is better than free, but it sure beats regular album prices. While this offer was for a limited time, after it was over, the band still offered the download cheaply ($6).

 

4.  Repeat: This is another important one. We keep hearing bands put in place business model promotions that are one time deals, rather than a fully thought-out continuous and ongoing business model. By repeating the process, not only can a band keep making money, but it lets them iterate and experiment, and find out what works (and what doesn’t.).

court orders civilization to shut down!

September 27, 2009

The heirs to the estates of Da Vinci, Galileo, Copernicus, Shakespeare, Newton and countless others have filed a class action seking retroactive imposition of patent, copyright  and trademark laws on their ancestors’ works.  They are seeking that all persona and busines entities who have stood and are continuing to stand on the shoulders of their family members need to stop doing that immdiately.  They also sought $100 quadrillion in damages past present and future from the governments of all countries of the world,. 

As such, the judge ordered that civilization be enjoined from continuing and cease and desist operations forthwith.

The difference between a pro and a hobbyist

September 19, 2009

 can you tell if you’re really a profesional or just an amateur hobbyist.

Some rules first:  an individual cannot qualify as a non-profit or charitable organization.

A professional must be in it for-profit.

 

The IRS will infer you are in it for-profit and allow you to deduct as ordinary business expenses your expenses but only if, in the last 5 yax years, you made a profit in 3 of those years.

If not, yours is just a hobby and you’re not in business.  Only BUSINESS EXPENSES can be deducted, not hobby expenses.

 

If indeed, you are a professional (musician, writing, etc.) aren’t you tired of all the hobbyists posting their non-qualified comments about business?

VISIT MY WEBSITE, PLEEEEEAASE!

September 17, 2009

Just go to any of these:

 

http://www.indiemusiclaw.com

http://www.indiemusicattorney.com

http://corberlaw.com

You might learn something.