Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Intellectual Property

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Raising the Royalties for Musical Works? A Discussion of the Potential Dispute between Music Rights Holders over the Value of Their Rights

Posted in Appearances, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
In discussing music royalties, the controversy that usually makes the news is the dispute between music services and copyright holders – with services arguing that the royalties are too high and rightsholders contending that they are underpaid. The introduction of the Songwriters Equity Act in Congress earlier this year seems to point toward a new … Continue Reading

Copyright Office Begins Wide-Ranging Inquiry Into Music Licensing

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
The Copyright Office recently issued a Notice and Request for Public Comment on a study that they have commenced on music licensing in all of its forms.  We’ve written about the complexity of the music licensing process many times, and about proposals for reform.  Many of these proposals have been issued in connection with the … Continue Reading

Utah Court Enjoins Aereo Service – A Preview of the Supreme Court Decision? Could It Find Aereo to Violate Copyright Law Without Overturning the Cablevision Decision?

Posted in Digital Television, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, On Line Media, Television
Aereo finally lost a court decision.  The US District Court in Utah released a well-reasoned decision finding that the service, by transmitting via the Internet over-the-air TV programming to subscribers without any consent from the TV stations or their program suppliers, violated the copyrights that the stations have in their programming.  Specifically, the Court found … Continue Reading

Digital and Social Media Legal Issues for Broadcasters – Exercise Care in Using Internet Content on Your Digital Properties, And Why Fair Use is Not Always a Defense

Posted in Appearances, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
Social media and other digital platforms are playing a more and more important part of the business of traditional media companies.  In the last few weeks, I’ve participated in two seminars, looking at the legal issues that arise in these areas.  At the Winter Convention of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, I conducted a seminar outlining … Continue Reading

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles Arrival in the US – Why Are Their Songs Still Missing on Some On-Demand Music Services?

Posted in Appearances, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
50 years ago the Beatles invaded America, stacking up Number 1 hit records by the dozens, and creating music that, even today, remains incredibly popular with many Americans.  But go to many of the interactive or on-demand music services, like Spotify, and search for Beatles music, and what will you find?   Mostly cover tunes by … Continue Reading

What’s Up in Washington For Broadcasters in 2014? — Part 2, Issues beyond the FCC Including Ad Taxes, Music Royalties, Privacy Reforms, and More

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Performance Royalty, Cable Carriage, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Privacy
We recently wrote about FCC issues that will be facing broadcasters in this new year.  While broadcasters will no doubt be busy keeping track of what the FCC is up to, they also need to have their eyes on other government agencies, as there are numerous issues that may come from Congress and the other … Continue Reading

Super Bowl, the Olympics and March Madness – Watch Your Advertising and Promotions for Unauthorized Uses of Trademarked Phrases

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property
It’s that time again when broadcasters and advertisers need to watch their commercials and promotions to avoid improper uses of trademarked phrases – with the Super Bowl only weeks away, the Winter Olympics to follow soon thereafter and March Madness to follow closely after that.  Already, Stephen Colbert is making jokes about not using the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Decides to Review Aereo – Why This is Not the New Betamax Case

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, On Line Media, Television
The Supreme Court on Friday announced that is has decided to review the decision of a US Appeals Court in New York finding that the Aereo service of retransmitting over the Internet the signals of local television stations, without permission from or payment to those stations, was legal.  We wrote about the Second Circuit Court … Continue Reading

Learning Copyright Law from TV’s The Good Wife – Compulsory Licenses, Derivitive Works and Parody and Fair Use

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The Good Wife is not usually where one turns for serious discussions of music copyright issues (nor is Stephen Colbert’s Christmas special where we found copyright issues discussed several years ago).  But I was surprised to find this Sunday that the principal plot line of The Good Wife was focused on a music rights dispute.  … Continue Reading

Copyright Royalty Board Calls for Petitions to Participate in Proceeding to Set Webcasting Royalties for 2016-2020 – Posing Many Questions for Potential Participants

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
The Copyright Royalty Board today published in the Federal Register its notice announcing the commencement of the next proceeding to set webcasting royalty rates for 2016-2020.  The Notices (here for webcasting and here for “new subscription services” – subscription webcasting and other similar pay digital music services, other than satellite and cable radio whose royalties … Continue Reading

New Music Royalty Rates for Ephemeral Recordings Used By Business Establishment Services

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
“Business Establishment Services” are copyright-speak for those music services that provide background music to commercial establishments.  These services have come a long way from the elevator music that once was so derided – and now set the mood in everything from retail clothing stores to restaurants to department stores with formats as varied as the … Continue Reading

The Courts Continue To Split on Streaming TV Services – As Boston Court Denies TV Broadcasters Request for an Injunction Against Aereo

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, On Line Media
The battle over services that record and stream over-the-air TV without compensation to TV broadcasters has become even more confusing, with a US District Court judge in Boston denying an injunction to stop the Aereo service in Massachusetts in a suit brought by Hearst Corporation, which owns a local TV station. This decision comes on the … Continue Reading

Comments Sought on Commerce Department Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy – Including Issues of User Generated Content and Appropriate Damages for Copyright Infringement

Posted in Intellectual Property, On Line Media
We wrote about the Department of Commerce’s Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy that was released back in July. While our article principally addressed the music issues raised by the Green Paper, many other issues were discussed in its 120 pages. The questions raised by the Aereo case (about which we … Continue Reading

Congressman Watt’s Music Royalty Bill – Performance Royalty For Over-the-Air Broadcasters And Other Fundamental Copyright Act Changes Impacting All Digital Music Services

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
Congressman Mel Watt from North Carolina this week introduced his long-awaited bill proposing that over-the-air radio broadcasters pay a royalty to sound recording copyright holders (usually the record label) and to artists. As we have written many times, currently, royalties on sound recordings are paid only by companies that make digital performances, including webcasters (see our … Continue Reading

DC Court Issues Injunction Against FilmOn X for Its Aereo-Like TV-Streaming Service – Increasing Legal Confusion Over TV Public Performance Rights

Posted in Digital Television, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, On Line Media, Television
The US District Court in Washington DC issued a decision earlier this month, enjoining the operation of the television streaming service FilmOn X throughout the United States – except within the Second Circuit (covering NY) where the US Court of Appeals reached a contrary decision in connection with Aereo – a very similar service. Both of these … Continue Reading

Making Music Rights Manageable in a Digital World – Issues Identified In Commerce Department “Green Paper” on Copyright Policy

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
No one ever claimed that music royalties are easy to understand, especially in the digital age when nice, neat definitions that had grown up over many years in the physical world no longer necessarily make sense. The complexity of the world of digital music licensing is clear from many sources, but the Commerce Department’s “Green Paper” … Continue Reading

Flo and Eddie Use State Laws on Pre-1972 Sound Recordings to Target Certain Sirius XM Services

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, Website Issues
In a lawsuit filed last week (see the complaint here), Flo and Eddie, the artists who were behind the 1960′s band The Turtles, claim that Sirius XM has infringed on the copyrights in their songs by allowing copies of these recordings to be made by the satellite radio service and in certain Internet offerings that … Continue Reading

Using Music in Radio or TV Productions – Why ASCAP, BMI and SESAC Licenses Usually Are Not Enough

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
Using music in commercials and other broadcast station productions can be treacherous. As we’ve written before, contrary to what some stations might think (based on the questions we often get from broadcasters around the country), a station’s ASCAP, BMI and SESAC royalties do not give them the right to use popular music in their station … Continue Reading

Apple Announces an Internet Radio Offering and Pandora Buys a “Real” Radio Station – What Does It Mean for Music Royalties?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media
In one week this month, Apple announced that it will get into Internet Radio, and Pandora, the biggest player in that space, announced that it will be buying a traditional, over-the-air radio station. What do these two big announcements say about the state of music royalties for digital music services? Apple’s struggles to get its service … Continue Reading

Register of Copyrights Maria Pallente Calls for Comprehensive Copyright Reform to Adapt to the Digital World – What Is Being Proposed?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, On Line Media, Website Issues
The Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, has made a series of speeches about the need to modernize Copyright, including offering testimony before Congress on the matter.  Her comments are but one sign that modernizing the Copyright Act has become the new catch-phrase in Washington. As the Courts have over the last few months wrestled with a host … Continue Reading

Changes at the Copyright Royalty Board – Two New Judges Make for an All-New Board for the Upcoming Internet Radio Royalty Rate Setting Proceeding

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, On Line Media
The Librarian of Congress has announced the appointment of two new judges to the Copyright Royalty Board – marking a total change in the three judge board since the decision in the last webcasting royalty case (about which we wrote here). The two new judges are David Strickler and Jesse Feder. Mr. Strickler will serve through 2016, … Continue Reading

How a NY State Court Decision on Pre-1972 Sound Recordings Clouds the Safe Harbor Protections of Websites Featuring User Generated Content

Posted in Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
This week, the Chairman of the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee issued a press release stating that he intends that the Committee do a thorough reexamination of the Copyright Act, noting that new technologies stemming from digital media have upset many settled expectations in Copyright Law, and confused many issues. That this release was issued … Continue Reading

Aereo Court Decision Permits Internet Streaming of TV Programs Without Royalties – Undermining the Public Performance Right?

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Television, Website Issues
We’ve written extensively about copyright issues for audio services, but the big copyright decision that recently made headlines is a TV issue, though one that could have an impact on audio as well. That was the Second Circuit decision in the Aereo case – upholding a lower court decision allowing a company to retransmit over-the-air TV signals … Continue Reading

Why the Differing Perceptions of the Value of Music by Digital Music Services and Copyright Holders Make Royalty Decisions So Hard

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights
With the National Association of Broadcasters big convention coming up next week in Las Vegas, this week we’ll look at a couple of the issues that will likely be discussed when the industry gathers for its annual reunion. On Sunday, before most of the NAB Show begins, the Radio and Internet Newsletter (RAIN) will be holding … Continue Reading