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Pandora Responds To Royalty Controversy

Streaming radio giant Pandora has responded to allegations, most recently from classic rock giants Pink Floyd as well as music-biz critic and Cracker frontman David Lowery, that not only are their current royalty payments criminally low, but that they are currently lobbying for the right to reduce those royalties by as much as 85%.

Pointing the blame mainly at the RIAA, Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren has issued a lengthy and personal letter to users and industry personnel around the world. In the letter, which you can read below, the company denies plans to lower artist royalties and addresses ongoing concerns with their current compensation system. The message reads: Continue reading ‘Pandora Responds To Royalty Controversy’

2 Chainz Performs “I’m Different” On Kimmel

Recently Grammy-nominated artist 2 Chainz took his stage show to the set of Jimmy Kimmel Live last night for a rowdy rendition of his latest single, “I’m Different.” The appearance came on the heels of news that 2 Chainz’s debut album, Based On A TRU Story was certified Gold by the RIAA. You can view the performance below.

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If you enjoy 2 Chainz, be sure to check out OS artist Fat Trel!

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Young Man Fined $675,000 By RIAA For Illegally Distributing 31 Songs

Joel Tenenbaum has been in an ongoing court battle with the RIAA over 31 songs that he illegally distributed on Kazaa. The case finally came to a close yesterday, leaving Tenenbaum liable for $675,000. Gizmodo.com summarized it thusly: ”That’s nearly $22,000 per song, plus some wholesale character assassination that has now been sealed with judge’s rubber stamp.”

While it may seem like an excessive punishment (and it most certainly is) this fine is apparently very low compared to the maximum $4.65 million penalty he could have faced. So the judge believes, “it was awfully nice of the jury to be so lenient.” Needless to say, Tenenbaum’s life will be riddled with financial turmoil for quite some time over a measly 31 songs. That oughta teach all those Internet pirates a lesson! …Right?

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RIAA’s Tax Filings Shows Funding, Legal Fees Dwindling

The Recording Industry Association of America, the anti-piracy trade group that represents the interests of many powerful music industry companies, is losing money. Fast.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the RIAA’s publicly available 990 Form, showing the filings for the trade organization for the fiscal year of April 2010 to March 2011. While the form cannot provide a completely up-to-date bill of health on the RIAA’s operational funding, the outlook is not positive.

Continue reading ‘RIAA’s Tax Filings Shows Funding, Legal Fees Dwindling’

Megaupload Warrants, Seizure Ruled Illegal In NZ

The past week has seen a lot of good news for file sharing service Megaupload and founder Kim Dotcom as he fights his extradition to the US. Judge Helen Winkelmann of the New Zeland High Court ruled today that the warrants used to arrest Dotcom and search and seize his property were “invalid.” In Winkelmann’s brief on her ruling, she stated that the warrants used in the case were too vague and general. As such, their use in the arrest of Dotcom, the seizure of his assets, and the removal of Megaupload’s servers from New Zeland by the FBI, was illegal.

The ruling marks a major victory for Dotcom and his defense team. At FBI, at the behest of the RIAA, MPAA, and various trade organizations in the US, has been investigating Megaupload and Dotcom for the past two years. It is alleged that Megaupload was actively encouraging users to host copyright infringing content through the service, profiting from increased traffic and ad revenues from such content.

It seems that Dotcom also has some friends in high places. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, voiced his opinion that the case against Dotcom is “hokey.”

“Copyright violation is wrong,” Wozniak said in an email to CNET. ”So is driving over the speed limit. But don’t let that halt the progress of the digital age.” Dotcom also received some Twitter love from famous hacker Kevin Mitnick.

Police in New Zeland and the FBI have not offered comment on the ruling.

RIAA, Google To Go After Video-To-Mp3 Conversion Services

The Recording Industry Association of America has found a new target in their crusade against the violation of intellectual property. CNET reported that the RIAA asked them to remove software from Download.com, an Internet download directory which CNET owns and operates. This request from the RIAA comes in the wake of Google’s recent legal action against YouTube-MP3, a popular YouTube video-to-audio conversion service.

Youtube video-to-audio conversion services and applications are nothing new. This Wikipedia page has a full listing of the various audio ripping services out there. But fans of such services should know that they might not have much more time to enjoy them. Since their injunction against YouTube-MP3, Google has promised that they will pursue other audio ripping services in a similar fashion. While the site does not utilize YouTube’s API, Google is still pursuing legal action against the site as its primarily functionality is in violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.

It should be noted that CNET did not directly respond to the RIAA’s request, stating that, “CNET’s policy is that Download.com is not in any position to determine whether a piece of software is legal or not, or whether it can be used for illegal activity…As for removing illegal software, CNET has a record of doing that.”

RIAA Demands Near-Imaginary Amount Of Money From LimeWire

Not since the fall of file-sharing mogul Napster has the music industry pursued such a high-value case of copyright infringement. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has now developed an estimate of $72 trillion, yes, trillion, owed in damages from LimeWire in the aftermath of the termination of their file-sharing functions in October of 2010.

This staggering estimation was calculated by the distribution of over 11,000 songs, downloaded illegally several thousands of times each, and the RIAA is claiming compensation for each individual download that took place over LimeWire’s ten-year run. Computerworld.com reported that Judge Kimba Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found this claim to fall under the category of “absurd results,” saying that this award would amount to “more money than the entire music industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.” Judge Wood’s statement was rather accurate considering that the total combined wealth of the entire world, as multiple sources have pointed out, is roughly $60 trillion.

Judge Wood ruled that the music industry had the right to claim only a “single statutory damage award from Defendants per work infringed.” This could still force LimeWire to return up to $150,000 per download, totaling to over $1 billion in damages.

Industrial Revolution: LimeWire/RIAA Settlement – Sound, Fury, Etc.

The popularity of LimeWire, the now-defunct peer-to-peer file-sharing network, predictably drew the ire of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which went into full-attack mode within the last year. The RIAA first went to federal court and had LimeWire, which they called a “massive piracy machine,” effectively shut down in that the court ordered them to cease their central operation—an application designed to allow sharing of copyrighted material. The next logical step then was to seek damages. The RIAA has a history of overreaching in their compensation goals, making actual recoupment of damages unlikely and further casting themselves as the greedy, monolithic villain. In this case, they settled with LimeWire for a relatively more reasonable $105 million (a jury could have gone as high as $1.4 billion).

So where does the money go? Who absorbed the actual damages? This is where the RIAA may very well cement their reputation as the Monty Burns of corporate associations. Ostensibly, they have sought this recompense on behalf of artists, whose hard work is being stolen—STOLEN!—from them by nasty pirates…and children… and hospitalized teens…and grandmothers. But there is rampant speculation that artists will see none of the $105 million. While the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) broadcasted their satisfaction with the settlement, they simultaneously made it clear that they expected the money to go to their musician members. For a few days, the beneficiaries remained undetermined, and rumors surfaced that the RIAA intended to keep the money for their ongoing operations.

 

RIAA spokesman J.M. Burns

Needless to say, people were pissed.

But the RIAA quickly denied that they ever intended to keep the money and countered that they have no control over how funds would be distributed. Subsequently, Warner Music, EMI and Universal announced their intention to share the settlement with their artists. But the lack of specifics and the continued silence of other plaintiff-labels did little to ameliorate the concerns of the artistic community. AFTRA has pledged to see the funds distributed fairly to their artists, but questions remain, especially in terms of how much of the settlement will remain after legal and other costs incurred by the RIAA are paid.

This here is a joke.

For artists, this will likely signify nothing. There is a chance that small fractions of the settlement will reach certain recording artists, and while Metallica might be psyched, few others share the backward-looking mindset of the RIAA and affiliated labels. In the end, the labels typically blew this case out of proportion, explicitly blaming LimeWire in court for the steady decline in music sales over the past ten years. Yeah, no one believes that. While this is a nice little settlement and is being celebrated as a great victory by the powers-that-be, it is more likely that this is a last gasp—the final effort to contain an uncontainable sea change in the way people obtain and consume music.

GETTING CREATIVE WITH CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSING

The RIAA has a beef with copyright infringement. Anyone who reads the paper and sees the headlines knows no one is safe from the RIAA’s wrath; not your average college co-ed, not even your own grandmother. So before you download some of your favorite tunes on the sly, think about what copyright means. With a copyright, all rights are reserved for the copyright holder because the copyright protects the creator’s exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, publish, perform, sell and adapt their work for a certain period of time. So, the college co-ed who makes a copy of a Metallica CD without Metallica’s permission is violating the band’s copyright. And your grandmother, who retired from teaching to write Harry Potter fan fiction, is violating J.K Rowling’s copyright.

Now consider what happens if the copyright holder doesn’t mind, or even encourages, the reproduction, distribution or adaption their work? What if an artist finds copyright protection too restrictive? What if they only want some rights reserved? This is where Creative Commons steps in.

Founded in 2001, Creative Commons provides free, downloadable licenses for creative works that allow copyright holders to give up some of their exclusive rights to the public. These licenses also make clear to potential users what these works can and cannot be used for and under what conditions they can be used. This video from the Creative Commons Website gives a great overview of why Creative Commons was founded, and the benefits of creating and using works with Creative Commons licenses.

Courtesy of creativecommons.org

Creative Commons offers six standard licenses to choose from:

Attribution – This license allows users to share, adapt or remix any work in any way — commercially or non-commercially — as long as they credit the creator.

Attribution Share Alike – Like “Attribution,” this license allows users to adapt and remix any work. However, in addition to crediting the creator, future users of the work must also license any new creations based on the original under the same license used by the creator.

Attribution No Derivatives – This license allows for commercial and non-commercial distribution of any work, as long as no further changes are made to the work and the creator gets credit.

Attribution Non-Commercial – A license allowing users to remix and build upon any non-commercial work. Any works based on the original must also be non- commercial and acknowledge the creator.

Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike – Similar to “Attribution Share Alike, ” this license allows users to remix, download, redistribute and build any non-commercial work. Users must credit the creator, and any new works based on the original must be licensed in the same way.

Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives – This license allows users to download and share any work. They must credit the creator and agree not to alter the work in any way or use the work for commercial purposes.

Licensing music through Creative Commons is a great way to engage current fans and create new ones. Fans no longer have to worry about ending up in court over sharing their favorite artist’s music: the Creative Commons Attribution license tells them that the artist permits and encourages sharing.  Music buffs can also get involved in the creative process by creating remixes and getting feedback from other listeners and, sometimes, the original artists themselves. The most high profile artist so far to use Creative Commons licensing to this affect is Trent Reznor. In 2008, Reznor released the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts I-IV under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license, allowing his fans to download the full multi-track recording of the album and to post their remixes in the online community remix.nin.com. With a traditional copyright license, the thousands of fans who participate in the remix community would need to contact Reznor individually to get his permission for each remix they intend to make.  In addition, each remixer would also need to get Reznor’s permission to post their remixes online for download.  The Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license lets NIN fans know they already have Reznor’s permission to share his music with their friends, to create new works based on his music and to share those as well.

Copyright infrignment is like stealing. But why steal when you can share? Over 150 million works have been licensed through Creative Commons since the organization’s creation.  A Creative Commons license makes it easy to collaborate and share your ideas with people from all over the world, all on your own terms.

For more info about Creative Commons licensing, click here.
For music, photos, books and other works licensed under Creative Commons licenses, click here.

 


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