The Rights Angle

Beyoncé and the Eve of Disruption

Many people in the music business are anxiously awaiting sales and streaming results from Beyoncé’s newest album “Renaissance,” released last week. As the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, fingers are crossed that Queen Bey can snap the recent streak of commercial and/or critical disappointments among recent releases from major artists, including Post Malone, Drake, Kendrick Lamar and even Adele, whose November release “30” fell well short of her previous record sales. Early signs were not encouraging.

RightsTech Summit: Are Music Rights Still in Tune for Investors?

Copyrights, particularly music publishing rights, has been a hot alternative asset class over the past four or five years, as investors chased yield after a decade of low interest rates, and sought shelter from the volatility of equity prices. But with the post-Covid economy showing signs of slowing down around the world and central banks raising rates to try to choke off accelerating inflation, will smart money start to look elsewhere for returns, and what would that would that mean for the fortunes of songwriters, publishers and other rightsholders who haven’t yet cashed in?

Music in the Metaverse at the RightsTech Summit

This week’s e-news is chock full of headlines about Web3 and the metaverse thanks to the blossoming enthusiasm and optimism around those concepts within the music, movie and television industries, to say nothing of the game business. Yet for all the optimism, one theme that comes through many of the discussions is the difficulty and complexity of licensing copyrighted content for use in those applications. That’s particularly true of music, with its dual copyrights and multiple rights owners.

Competition vs. Copyright On Digital Platforms

The U.S. Copyright Office last week released a report on copyright protections for press publishers and whether the U.S. should adopt additional digital protections similar to the “ancillary right” included in the European Union’s Directive on Copyright and Related Rights in the Digital Single Market (“EU Copyright Directive”), which is designed to empower publishers to demand payment for the aggregation and display their content online by the likes of Google and Facebook.

PPL: We have lagged behind other industries in identifying opportunities to collaborate.

For a long time, every Collective Management Organisation (‘CMO’) having their own set of systems and databases was the norm. It was as if being totally self-sufficient was a badge of honour, rather than the result of a properly considered assessment of the economics and risks. To any rational observer, we have lagged behind other industries in identifying opportunities to collaborate and share back-end infrastructure, but things have been changing in recent years.

Source: ‘We have lagged behind other industries in identifying opportunities to collaborate.’

Senators Want Answers on NFTs and IP

The Great Bored Ape NFT Theft Saga that temporarily derailed actor-producer Seth Green’s plan to cast his cartoon simian (BAYC #8398) in an animated series appears to have ended peacefully now that Green has agreed to pay nearly $300,000 for the safe return of the purloined primate. Why, exactly, the NFT’s adopted owner, DarkWing84, agreed to sell after rejecting previous offers is unclear. But the animated series project, presumably, can now proceed. While good news for Seth Green, the ape’s return does not really resolve the questions discussed here in a previous post concerning the relationship between NFTs and the IP rights associated with the assets to which they’re bound.

Announcing the RightsTech Summit 2022

We are very pleased to announce that the annual RightsTech Summit will be held this year on September 21-22. The 2-day, online conference will include sessions addressing emerging challenges facing rights owners and licensees, such as licensing content for the metaverse and other new, immersive applications, the evolving role of podcasts and other forms of non-music audio in creating and building IP franchises, NFT rights and royalties, and how the changing economic climate could affect IP catalog valuations and M&A activity, plus keynotes and special presentations. Contact Concurrent Media Strategies or Digital Media Wire for speaking and sponsorship opportunities.

Monkeying Around with Rights

There is more to a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT than merely an encrypted link to a JPEG image. According to the terms & conditions of acquiring an ape published by BAYC creator Yuga Labs, “Yuga Labs LLC grants you an unlimited, worldwide license to use, copy, and display the purchased Art for the purpose of creating derivative works based upon the Art (‘Commercial Use’).” That commercial-use license has been a key to the success of the BAYC brand. It has enabled an entire ecosystem of BAYC spinoffs and merchandise — derivative works — to flourish and greatly buoyed the value and price of the NFTs, at least until the recent market pullback.

Listen Up: Audio is the New IP Incubator

Where do new IP franchises come from? Increasingly, they are coming out of podcast studios and other sources of non-music, or spoken-word audio. Time magazine recently compiled a list of 9 podcasts that have been turned into streaming TV shows, ranging from true crime series (The Shrink Next Door, Dirty John) to comedy (Bodega Boys) to ripped-from-the-headlines scandals ( The Dropout). The Wrap came up with a roster of 17 for a list published last June.

Amazon-owned Audible, which made its mark as a distributor of audiobooks, has lately been inking multi-year development deals with A-list Hollywood talent and music superstars for its Audible Originals, including with the likes of Kerry Washington, George Clooney, Charlamagne tha God and Queen Latifah.

Reframing the Debate Over Online Copyright Infringement

Pretty remarkable series of rulings from a federal district court this week (h/t TorrentFreak) in a string of copyright infringement cases against a trio of allegedly illegal streaming sites. In three nearly identical rulings (see here, here and here), the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the sites to cease operating and to each pay the plaintiffs $7.65 million in statutory damages related to 51 copyrighted works.

Get the latest RightsTech news and analysis delivered directly in your inbox every week
We respect your privacy.