Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Intellectual Property

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Legal Issues for Digital Audio Companies – A Presentation

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media, Trademark, Website Issues
This week, I was given 15 minutes at the RAIN (Radio and Internet Newsletter) Summit in Nashville to summarize all of the legal issues that are important to digital audio companies including webcasters and podcasters.  While getting everything into a presentation that short entailed some speed talking and the briefest description of many very complicated… Continue Reading

Trademark Basics for Media Companies, Part One: What Trademarks Are and Why They Matter

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark
In today’s digital economy, trademarks are often the most valuable assets that a business owns.  For example, in 2015, Google’s trademark portfolio was estimated to be worth $76 billion, which constituted almost one third of the entire value of the company.  Microsoft clocked in at $67 billion, with Verizon close behind at almost $60 billion. … Continue Reading

BMI Judge Rejects DOJ Conclusion that Consent Decree Requires 100% of Songs – What Does that Mean for Music Services?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
On Friday, the US District Court judge who oversees the administration of the BMI Consent Decree rejected the recent Department of Justice interpretation that the antitrust consent decree required that, when BMI licensed music to music users, that license would embody the full musical work, not just a fractional interest that might be held by… Continue Reading

Pandora and Amazon Negotiating Agreements with Record Labels – Why They Don’t Just Rely on the CRB Rates?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The press has been full of reports over the last few weeks about Pandora and Amazon negotiating deals with record labels over music royalties, and some observers have expressed confusion – why don’t these services just rely on the rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board at the end of last year? The answer, as… Continue Reading

September FCC Meeting To Be a Big One for Media Companies – Set Top Boxes, Foreign Ownership of Broadcast Stations and Promotion of Independent Programming

Posted in Cable Carriage, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, Multiple Ownership Rules, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Television
September 29 will be a big day for broadcasters and other media companies when the FCC holds its next open meeting. In the tentative agenda for that meeting released on Thursday, the FCC identified several issues that deal with the media including two big items on video issues – the decision as to what to… Continue Reading

What’s Up With Music Rights for Broadcasters and Webcasters? – A Presentation on Pending Issues

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
While this summer has perhaps not brought the big headlines in trade press about copyright issues involving broadcasters – particularly in the area of music rights – there still are many issues that are active. I addressed some of those issues in a presentation earlier this month at the Texas Association of Broadcasters Annual Convention. I… Continue Reading

Congressional Proposal for Copyright Small Claims Court – What Does It Suggest?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen almost daily press reports of new lawsuits against media companies being sued for the use of photos on their websites without permission of the photographers. We’ve written many times about copyright issues that can arise if media companies put content on their website without getting permission of the… Continue Reading

Stephen Colbert Brews Up a Parody on Aggressive Protection of Olympic Trademarks

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
A few weeks ago, we wrote here about the risks of using in advertising and promotions the Olympic trademarks, symbols or marks that may suggest an association with the Olympic Games.  The Olympic Committee recently demonstrated just how serious it is about its marks, sending a letter to non-Olympic sponsor companies, warning them  that they… Continue Reading

DOJ Recommends No Changes in ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees, And Requires Full-Work Licensing – How It Affects Music Users

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The DOJ yesterday issued its long-awaited review of the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees. We wrote about the issues raised by the DOJ in its initial inquiry here. The questions that had been advanced in DOJ’s initial notice included (1) whether to allow music publishers to partially withdraw their catalogs from one of the… Continue Reading

Beware – Using Online Photos and Videos in Radio and TV Productions and on Websites Can Bring Lawsuits for Copyright Infringement if Rights are Not Secured in Advance

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Video, Programming Regulations, Website Issues
Everyone who has a computer, smartphone, or other Internet-connected device has probably spent at least some time perusing photos or videos of cute pets or babies, or of the latest amazing (or sometimes amazingly stupid) things that people do. Broadcasters, in particular, with an audience to reach both through their over-the-air facilities and on their… Continue Reading

Copyright Office Filing System to be Down This Weekend – Warning About the Deadline for Filing Royalty Claims by TV Stations for Copyrighted Programming Used By Cable and Satellite TV

Posted in Cable Carriage, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Television
The websites of the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office, which include the site used by the Copyright Royalty Board, will be down for maintenance this weekend. This includes the portal for filing cable and satellite royalty claims, which will be unavailable 5 p.m. ET, Friday, July 29, through Sunday, July 31. Claims by broadcast… Continue Reading

Dirty Dancing with Trademark Rights: How Pop Culture References in Ads Can Raise Legal Issues

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
Prospective advertisers come to your station and describe their ideas for local ads. A realtor’s ad ends with “There’s no place like home.” A boat builder says he will tell buyers, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” And, a used car salesperson wants to say “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.”… Continue Reading

SOCAN Buys Audiam – The Consolidation and Fragmentation of Music Rights – What Does it Mean for Music Services?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
The Canadian performance rights society SOCAN (essentially the Canadian version of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC) has announced the purchase of Audiam, a private company that specialized in representing composers trying to maximize their music rights collections – both for performance rights and mechanical royalties – worldwide. Audiam also claims to provide a comprehensive database of… Continue Reading

Covering Breaking News and Local Emergencies – FCC Issues to Consider

Posted in Emergency Communications, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In recent weeks, tragic events in Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge and elsewhere engender thoughts for the victims, their families and their communities.  Events like these have become all too common, and certain normal routine has developed, with broadcast stations devoting substantial amounts of airtime to coverage of the event until some new story takes away… Continue Reading

Avoiding Olympic Hassles – Trademark and Other Legal Protections Limit the Use of Olympics, Paralympics and Related Terms in Advertising, Marketing, and Promotions

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Trademark
Over the last several months, we have written about the risks of publishing ads or engaging in promotional activities that refer to the SUPER BOWL® or MARCH MADNESS® without first asking the NFL or the NCAA, respectively, for permission to use those marks.  With millions of viewers about to tune into the OLYMPIC® games in… Continue Reading

A Question for Readers – What’s Brexit’s Impact on Music Licensing in Europe?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
Usually, on these pages, I’m trying to give my views on legal issues for media companies. Today, I’ll ask for your views on today’s news – as least as it affects media companies.  We write extensively here about US music rights issues, and we have noted how US media companies with an online presence need… Continue Reading

Axl Rose DMCA Takedown Notices Illustrate the Difficulty With Safe Harbor Reforms – User-Generated Content and Fair Use Issues

Posted in Intellectual Property, Music Rights, Website Issues
In recent days, the press has been full of stories about Axl Rose from the band Guns N’ Roses sending take-down notices to websites, including Google affiliated sites, that feature a picture taken of him from one of his concerts making him look to be overweight (see, e.g. stories available here, here and here). The… Continue Reading

Appeals Filed of Copyright Royalty Board Decision on Webcasting Royalties – What’s Next?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, Noncommercial Broadcasting
SoundExchange last week filed an appeal of the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision on webcasting royalties (a decision which we summarized here and here), as reported by a number of trade press articles. Most of these press reports did not note that this was not the only appeal filed. At least two other parties, IBS (Intercollegiate… Continue Reading

US District Court Finds Digitally Remastered Pre-1972 Sound Recordings Are “Derivative Works” Covered By Federal Law – Dismisses Suit against Broadcaster Seeking Over-the-Air Performance Royalties

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The question of whether state laws about pre-1972 sound recordings could give copyright holders a claim against broadcasters for the over-the-air public performance of these recordings was answered in a novel manner in a decision rendered by a US District Court in California. The evidence before the Court showed that CBS, the broadcaster being sued,… Continue Reading

Copyright Royalty Board Webcasting Royalty Decision Published in the Federal Register – Appeals Due in 30 Days

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The Copyright Royalty Board Decision on the royalty rates to be paid for the public performance of sound recordings by Internet radio companies – webcasting royalties – was published in the Federal Register today. We wrote about that decision setting the royalties here and here. The publication in the Federal Register gives parties to the… Continue Reading

2016 is a Big Year for Radio and ASCAP, BMI and SESAC

Posted in AM Radio, Broadcast Performance Royalty, FM Radio, Intellectual Property, Music Rights, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media
The “performing rights organizations” – ASCAP, BMI and SESAC – don’t get as much attention in these pages as do the royalties paid to SoundExchange for the use of “sound recordings.” The PROs collect for the public performance of the “musical work” or the musical composition – the words and music of a song. These… Continue Reading

Can You Trademark A State’s Name? Can Such a Trademark Affect a Broadcast Program Title or Other Product Names?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark
Can the name of a state be trademarked so that no one else can use it in a particular line of business? Last week, in connection with the denial of the trademark application filed by the producers of the podcast SERIAL, we wrote about the difficulty of trademarking brands that are descriptive of the product… Continue Reading

Appeal of Public Performance Rights in Pre-1972 Sound Recordings Referred to NY State Court for Interpretation – What Issues Might Radio Broadcasters Be Facing?

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
Pre-1972 sound recordings are back in the news. Yesterday, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided to defer its consideration of an appeal of a District Court’s decision that NY law included a public performance right for pre-1972 sound recordings. The Court deferred its decision until it can get a definitive answer… Continue Reading

Copyright Office Reviews Section 512 Safe Harbor for Online User-Generated Content – The Differing Perceptions of Musicians and Other Copyright Holders and Online Service Providers on the Notice and Take-Down Process

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
Both the popular and media trade press has been full of reports in the last few weeks about musicians and other artists petitioning the Copyright Office to hold YouTube and other online services liable for infringement when the artists’ copyrighted material appears on the service (see, e.g. the articles here and here). The complaints allege… Continue Reading