Cross-Border Licensing In Europe One Step Closer To Reality

BNA reports that the European Parliament approved (by a vote of 640-18 with 22 abstentions) a system that will allow online music services to get licenses that cover multiple EU member states.  Currently, licensing rights must be obtained in each of the EU member states.  Further approval is required before becoming law.

Dylan Outtakes Released To Extend European Copyright

Allan Kozinn, "Sony Issues Dylan CDs to Extend Copyright", New York Times (Arts, Jan. 8, 2013).  Online here.

In sum, Sony issues an album of early, previously unreleased Bob Dylan recordings in order to take advantage of "use it or lose it" provisions under new European Union copyright law, extending protection from 50 to 70 years beginning in 2014.

Broadband Fee for Unlimited Downloads

Instead of fighting file-sharing, the local government of the Isle of Man announced a proposal this month that the 80,000 people who live on there would be able to download unlimited amounts of music — perhaps even from notorious peer-to-peer pirate sites. To make this possible, broadband subscribers would pay a nominal fee of as little as £1, or $1.38, a month to their Internet service providers.

[New York Times]

Sampling in Germany

Germany's highest civil court today held that sampling music does not in principle violate copyright.

The decision overturned a lower court ruling that reusing even the shortest bit of a song infringed on copyright.

Today's order means that sampling of a song melody is prohibited, but a sample that is part of a completely new musical work bearing no resemblance to the original is not infringement.

[Kraftwerk case]

[Rolling Stone Article.]

EU Initiatives

The European Commission adopted two initiatives in the area of copyright (July 16, 2008). First, the Commission proposes to align the copyright term for performers with that applicable to authors, in this way bridging the income gap that performers face toward the end of their lives. Secondly, the Commission proposes to fully harmonise the copyright term that applies to co-written musical compositions.

Prince - On Cover Songs

Rolling Stone reports that Prince is suing a Norwegian record company for releasing a 5-CD cover album of "the Purple One's songs".  The article describes "the whole thing [as] quite hypocritical of Prince [because he] has no problem with borrowing other people's songs", referring to his cover of Radiohead's "Creep" at Coachella.

But, is the article missing an important distinction?  Cover songs on an album implicate the copying/fixing of the underlying musical composition (i.e., publishing); but, cover songs at a live festival implicate the public performance of the underlying musical composition.  In other words, different rights.  Licensing administration schemes for the two regimes are different, and often involve different players.

Accross the Pond, EU Takes Bite into Apple

Item 1: The European Union closed its anti-trust investigation into Apple iTunes operation. However, "some copyright issues remain". Notably, the European Commission refused to address other copyright restrictions in place, i.e., DRM.

Item 2: Apple will eliminate its price discrimination across the EU. Users of iTunes in Britain are charged approximately 9 cents more per download than users in other EU nations that use the Euro currency. In the coming months, users across the EU will be charged a uniform "pan-EU" price per download. However, what this means if the record labels fail to get on board and lower their wholesale prices to Apple is yet to be seen? It seems unlikely that the majors will forfeit the huge market iTunes provides by playing hard-ball and not lowering their prices. Similarly, small and indie labels will likely adjust their prices to maintain their access to their product via a mass-distributor like iTunes. what does this mean to Apple? Are they no longer a "Standard Oil"?