Thought you’d heard the last of the UK’s parliamentary inquiry into the economics of music streaming? Sorry, but no. The politicians on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee published their report in July 2021, but yesterday they held a pair of follow-up sessions with six music industry interviewees. The stated aim: to discuss “whether the ‘reset of streaming’ urged in the Committee’s report is underway”.
According to Bloomberg, which reported on the initial rumblings of Pink Floyd’s hunt for a song-rights deal over the summer, bids for the body of work are smaller now than they were in May, and the list of would-be purchasers has shortened. Per the same source, that’s because Pink Floyd is offering only its recordings and name, image, and likeness rights – not its underlying compositions.
Are text-to-image AI legal? It’s a hard question to answer. The question arises because of the way generative AI systems are trained. Like most machine learning software, they work by identifying and replicating patterns in data. But because these programs are used to generate code, text, music, and art, that data is itself created by humans, scraped from the web and copyright protected in one way or another.
With top NFT marketplace OpenSea saying over the weekend that it may follow the trend of no longer enforcing creator royalties on secondary sales, more and more prominent artists and creators are making their views known. And that now includes Yuga Labs, creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club. In a blog post by Wylie “Gordon Goner” Aronow, Yuga decried the increasing industry moves away from honoring creator royalties, and proposed a technical solution for enforcing them.
YouTube’s latest Transparency Report shows that fewer copyright holders used the Content ID system to protect their works. Despite the modest decline, more content was flagged overall, with over 750 million claims during the first half of 2022. Traditional DMCA takedown notices are on the rise as well, with an increase of more than 30% year-over-year.
Microsoft, its subsidiary GitHub, and its business partner OpenAI have been targeted in a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that the companies’ creation of AI-powered coding assistant GitHub Copilot relies on “software piracy on an unprecedented scale.” The case is only in its earliest stages but could have a huge effect on the broader world of AI, where companies are making fortunes training software on copyright-protected data.
Universal Music Publishing China (UMP China) has signed an exclusive global publishing agreement with China-based RYCE Publishing. RYCE is the publishing unit of music and entertainment company RYCE Entertainment, and covers more than 700 C-Pop and K-Pop songs. UMP China will exclusively lead global administration responsibilities for hundreds of hit songs as part of the deal.
There has been a steady increase in the chorus of grumbling from music rightsholders about how TikTok pays royalties for music. It is true that TikTok virality generates streaming spikes on other platforms where royalties are higher. But it’s also true that there are ghosts of past industry arguments about promo versus consumption (from MTV to YouTube) that are stiffening rightsholders’ resolve to push TikTok to pay more.
The European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (GESAC) and The European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) are calling on EU officials “to put an end to the coercive buy-out practices of US-based VOD platforms.” The way ECSA and GESAC see it, these buy-out contracts, i.e. one-time payments for the use of works, “deprive audiovisual (or screen) composers from an appropriate and proportionate remuneration, as well as the exercise of their moral rights.”