Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys David Oxenford and Rob Driscoll conducted a seminar – Using Music in Digital Media: Business and Legal Issues – on June 16, 2010 in New York City. The seminar was presented to attorneys from committees of the New York State and New York City bar associations. In the seminar, Dave and Rob discussed the music licensing issues that can arise when music is used in digital media – touching on everything from royalties for the streaming of music by Internet radio stations, to the use of music in video productions or in advertisements that may be displayed online, to the occasional use of music by a business on its website to enhance the "stickiness" of that site. The PowerPoint presentation from the seminar is available here. Many of the issues that were covered in the seminar are discussed in Dave and Rob’s memo the on The Basics of Using Music in Digital Media, available by clicking on this link.
Another topic that was discussed was the use of music in user-generated content, and how website operators can avoid liability that may arise from the posting on their sites of content using music and other copyrighted materials by users over whom the site owner has no control. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides protection for those who host sites where such content is posted, but certain formalities need to be observed by the site owner to insure that they receive the law’s full protection. Site owners cannot encourage the posting of copyrighted content unless the appropriate clearances have been obtained, they cannot have actual knowledge of the infringing content, they cannot receive a direct financial benefit from the infringement, and they must act promptly to remove infringing content if notified that it is on their site. To make this notification possible, to provide a "safe harbor" under the DMCA, a website owner needs to place a notice on its website in a "location accessible to the public," and register with the Copyright Office, the name of a person to be contacted by a copyright owner if the owner finds its content being used on the site without permission. This notice must provide the contact person’s address, phone number and email address. Information about registering the contact person with the Copyright Office, a list of those website operators who have registered, and a link to the form to be used to register a contact person, can be found here.