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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The music industry’s legacy of sloppy, archaic and indifferent data management, particularly with respect to who owns what, has proved a major liability in the age of streaming, when billions of individual transactions need to be tracked, reported and paid out on every day. But repeated efforts to improve the situation through data sharing and collaboration throughout the value chain have floundered, mostly on fears of loosing proprietary control and leverage.
Digital technology has transformed the audio sector of the publishing business, creating new formats for published works, new forms of licensing, and new modes of production and distribution.
Once limited to simple books-on-tape, often in abridged form, and sold through retail outlets, audiobooks are today available in both downloaded and streamable form, as well as retail, and on a variety of platforms, from Amazon-owned Audible to Spotify and Apple Music. From 2015 through 2020, according to the Audio Publishers Association (APA), sales, rentals and streams of audiobooks grew by 157%, and now represent roughly 15% of publishing revenue.