Monday, October 28, 2019

Memo to Google from Merkel and Macron: 'Respect EU's copyright rules!'

By Emmanuel Legrand

France and Germany have joined forces to send a message to Google and other tech companies: European Union's copyright laws have to be respected. The two countries issued a joint statement following a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron calling for “full respect" of the rules outlined in the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market that was adopted by the EU before the summer.

  In a joint statement, the two countries said: "France and Germany reaffirm their determination to implement the new European Copyright Directive and to ensure full compliance with these rules." However, the statement was short on explaining how the two EU member states were planning to enforce the Directive.

  France is pushing for the creation of a European-wide regulator of digital platforms such as Google to sanction possible abuse of power, according to a Reuters report, which quotes a French official saying: “A big American company, Google namely, has announced it would not comply with an EU copyright directive. France and Germany share the view that... we have to put an end to this illegal behaviour." The official added: “Over the short-term, we would like the European Commission.... to look into whether legal action [against Google] is possible."

Get around the rules

  France was the first European country to transpose the Copyright Directive into its own legislation, taking effect at the end of October. The Directive creates a neighbouring right for news publishers to compensate them for the use of news snippets by search engines or social networks. “Certain companies like Google now want to get around the rules. We will not let them do this,” Macron said.

  The Franco-German initiative follows the decision by Google to refuse to pay French news publishers for using news snippets. Instead, Google said it would stop featuring news organisations that do not allow he search engine to use news items for free. Google was soon followed by Facebook in refusing to apply the neighbouring right.

  Facebook's director for news partnerships in Europe Jesper Doub wrote in a blogpost that French media groups would have to give consent for the social network to continue to feature enriched links to new stories and that publishers would not be compensated for the use of enriched links. 

Abuse of dominant position

  Publishers who do not agree to Facebook's terms will only be provided with a simple link of text. "Our talks with French editors to determine the best experience for users and how we could appropriately compensate our partners are ongoing and will continue," Doub wrote.

  The German Newspaper Publishers‘ Association (BDZV) and the French Alliance de la Presse d’Information Générale (APIG) have joined forces to publish a joint declaration calling for the full and timely implementation of the Copyright Directive’s neighbouring right for press publishers. 

 The APIG is calling for French government to enforce the law and take action against Google, while news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) is considering legal action. French news organisation are planning to ask the competition authorities to rule on Google's decision, which they equate to an abuse of dominant position.

Disinformation campaign

  Over 1,000 journalists, photographers, filmmakers and media executives signed an open letter published in media outlets across Europe urging governments to "fight back" against Google's decision.

  "Now that disinformation campaigns are infecting the internet and social networks, and independent journalism is under attack in several countries within the European Union, surrendering would be a catastrophe," reads the letter, which described Google's move as "a fresh insult to national and European sovereignty." 

  "The existing situation, in which Google enjoys most of the advertising revenue generated by the news that it rakes in without any payment, is untenable and has plunged the media into a crisis that is deepening each year," it said.

  The European Magazine Media Association (EMMA) and the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) have also expressed solidarity with newspaper and magazine publishers in France. Carlo Perrone, President of ENPA warned: “The publishers’ right is the first step to address platform’s dominance online. We will consider possible formal and legal steps to stop this misuse of Google’s market dominant position.”

> Facebook has launched a “News” tab that will offer stories from hundreds of news organisations, some of which will be paid fees for supplying content to the service, accordingto a report from The Washington Post. Facebook’s service is understood to include a mix of human curation by a small editorial team of journalists, who will select top stories, and computerised algorithms.

> In Brussels, current Digital Economy and Society Commissioner and future Commissioner for Youth and Innovation Mariya Gabriel, held the first stakeholder dialogue on the Copyright Directive, regrouping rights holders, tech companies and civil society groups. “We have to get over the divisions of the past,” she explained. 

Most of the discussion centered around Article 17 of the Directive, which requires platforms to have licenses for content and take down unlicensed content. Gabriel said Article 17 “opens a new chapter… [and] brings in a new framework that provides essential safeguards…it’s an approach that is a response to a very specific challenge.”

  The next round of stakeholder discussions will take place in Brussels on November 5, and will focus on copyright related to audiovisual, sports, images, prints, and news industries.  

Report shows depth of gender gap in UK music biz

By Emmanuel Legrand

Women account for 14.18% of the 12,040 writers represented by UK publishers, while female artists account for 19.69% of British labels' rosters, according to a report titled 'Counting The Music Industry: The Gender Gap' penned by former BASCA CEO Vick Bain. 'Counting the Music Industry' is a gender gap analysis based on data from 300 music publishers and record labels in the UK.

  The gender disparity is also reflected in executives positions: 82% of CEOs of UK music publishing companies are male, and 36.67% of those working for UK music publishers are female while 63.33% are male. When it comes to artists, the report found that genres such as classical, pop, folk and jazz have higher representation of women than in the electronic, rock, metal and grime genres. However, the proportion of women never exceeds 30% (classical).

  "There has been increased participation by girls and women in music education at all levels over the past five years, to near equity, often gaining better results than their male counterparts. And yet female graduates do not seem to be as successful as their male colleagues in starting careers," stated the report.

A deficit of women

  Bain wrote: "The deficit of women in these figures, the gender gap, suggest systemic practices of implicit and explicit discrimination across the entire music industry."

  To address this deficit, Bain makes a series of recommendations that, if achieved over the next five years,could significantly improve music’s gender gaps:

> Government:
Improve legislation extend pay-gap reporting, paternity cover, shared parental leave for self employed, extend maternity protections, greater protection against sexual harassment and victimisation, strengthen flexible working requests, and provide greater access to legal advice.

> All Music Businesses:
- Support one female positive initiative per year such as Women in MusicSheSaidSoGirls-I-RateKeychangeWDM CollectiveIlluminate Women’s MusicParental Pay EqualityWomen in Music Awards, among others.
- Conduct an audit of staff and rosters and set their own diversity targets Improve female recruitment, especially in leadership roles.
- Improve female talent retention in companies for those aged 35+ by instigating flexible working and ‘return to work’ initiatives.
- Record labels to sign more female musicians going forward with an ultimate aim of 50%.
- Music publishers to sign a minimum of 40% female composers going forward.

  "Each of these issues can and must be systematically addressed by government, our education system and our music workplaces," wrote Bain. "There are already organisations in the industry tackling these issues and they need greater support."

IFPI and WIN to launch Repertoire Data Exchange

By Emmanuel Legrand

Global trade bodies representing recorded music companies IFPI and WIN have announced a cross-industry collaboration to create Repertoire Data Exchange (RDx), a centralised industry data exchange service, and have appointed British neighbouring rights society PPL to deliver and operate RDx.

  The purpose of the venture is to "develop a centralised gateway to supply recording data in support of timely, accurate and efficient payments of public performance and broadcast revenues to recording right holders by music licensing companies." RDx will enable record companies and music licensing companies (MLCs), which collectively manage recording rights, to submit and access authoritative recording data via a single point.

  PPL chief executive Peter Leathem said the society has invested "significantly" in technology and data capabilities and is well positioned "to address the challenges of big data, drawing on our in-house experience in using DDEX, our relationships with music licensing companies around the world, and our expertise gained from managing huge volumes of recording data every week."

Improvements in data quality

  The partners in the project said RDx would offer recording right holders, regardless of their sizes and countries, a single registration point to supply their repertoire data in a standardised format (DDEX MLC). The data will then be quickly and easily accessed by all MLCs. The process should be "leading to improvements in data quality" and "improve the timeliness, accuracy and efficiency of MLCs’ revenue distributions to right holders worldwide."

  For Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, RDx is "a key example of an initiative that will benefit all parties involved." She said the system should "improve operational efficiencies and lower costs for right holders whilst allowing MLCs to retrieve authoritative repertoire data from a single point – enabling more accurate and timely distribution of revenues."

  Added Charlie Phillips, Chief Operating Officer of WIN:  “Historically, supplying complex data into the international network of MLCs has not been straightforward for independent producers and right holders. We are delighted that the industry has worked together to create a service for the benefit of all labels and producers."

Broad group of stakeholders

  RDx has been developed by a broad group of industry stakeholders led jointly by IFPI and WIN. The launch phase of RDx will receive technical support from music companies (Beggars GroupPIASSony Music EntertainmentUniversal Music GroupWarner Music Group, and Consolidated Independent/state51) and MLCs (PPLRe:SoundSENA and Gramex Finland).

  The roll-out of RDx to all right holders and MLCs is expected to start in 2020.

NMPA urges Congress to investigate TikTok for copyright infringement

By Emmanuel Legrand

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has asked Congress to investigate TikTok over concern that the Chinese-owned social network app was engaging in or allowing potential copyright infringement. In a letter to Senator Marco Rubio, NMPA president and CEO David Israelite, wrote: "The scale of TikTok’s copyright infringement in the US is likely considerable and deserves scrutiny. We hope that if Congress looks further into matters relating to TikTok that copyright theft is included in the scope of its examination.”

  Rubio himself had sent a letter to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for an investigation into TikTok's policies by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Rubio in particular singled out TikTok's reported censoring of postings favourable to the upheaval in Hong Kong.

  The NMPA is asking for the investigation to go further and include potential copyright infringement. “In addition to important censorship concerns, it appears that TikTok has consistently violated US copyright law and the rights of songwriters and music publishers,” wrote the NMPA. “Many videos uploaded to TikTok incorporate musical works that have not been licensed and for which copyright owners are not being paid.”

Licensing issues

  TikTok is owned by Chinese media company ByteDance, which bought in 2017 the app and re-branded it TikTok for the international markets. At this stage, TikTok, which allows users to share short videos, has not been fully licensed by rights holders, even though several publishers and labels have made deals with the service.

  A spokesperson for TikTok, contacted by MBW, said that TikTok had "broad licensing coverage across the music publishing industry covering many thousands of publishers and songwriters and millions of copyrights, and has paid royalties since its inception.”

US House of Representatives passes 410-6 the CASE Act

By Emmanuel Legrand

The US House of Representatives has voted 410-6 in favour of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act (H.R. 2426), which will introduce a small claims tribunal within the Copyright Office to deal with copyright infringement cases. The bill is now heading to the Senate, where it had already been cleared by the Judiciary Committee.

  The bi-partisan legislation was supported by many organisations representing creators such as photographers, musicians or graphic artists, and was opposed by several free internet advocacy groups such as Public Knowledge, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called the bill "disastrous."

  H.R. 2426 establishes an "alternative dispute resolution program for copyright small claims," and was sponsored by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Doug Collins (R-GA). The court will consist in three judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress who will rule on cases brought forward by creators whose works have been infringed.

  The process, which will be voluntary for defendants, will allow creators to seek damages for infringement without having to go through the process of federal court. Damages will be capped at $15,000 per claim and $30,000 total.

Serious harm to free speech

  Prior to the vote, ACLU sent a letter to policy-makers stating: “Any system to enable easier enforcement of copyrights runs the risk of creating a chilling effect with respect to speech online. Many of these cases will be legitimate. However, some will not, and others, even if brought in good faith, may be defensible as fair use or for some other permissible reason.”

  The EFF complained after the vote that the bill was adopted by the House without any debates. "That means that there has been no public consideration of the serious harm the bill could do to regular Internet users and their expression online," wrote Katharine Trendacosta, manager of policy and activism at EFF, who urged the Senate not to pass the bill.

  Supporters of the bill welcomed the vote by the House. “Today’s vote by the House further attests to the tremendous support that’s been demonstrated for the CASE Act, legislation that will provide US creators with a viable means for defending their copyrighted works through the creation of a small claims tribunal within the US Copyright Office," explained Keith Kupferschmid, CEO of Washington, DC-based Copyright Alliance

  He added: “Today’s vote by the House demonstrates not only the tremendous support for the bill but also the fact that members of Congress could not be bamboozled into believing the numerous falsehoods about the CASE Act that were proffered by those who philosophically oppose any copyright legislation that will help the creative community and who will use any means to achieve their illicit goals."

A victory for creators

  Daryl Friedman, chief industry, government, & member relations officer for the Recording Academy, called passing the CASE Act "another victory for music creators almost exactly a year after the Music Modernisation Act was signed into law.” He added: "We now look to the Senate and the White House to get this bill into law and ensure music makers have access to the copyright protection they deserve." 

  The Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) also praised the House for passing the bill, which the organisation claims will give "rights-holders the tools they need to stand up for their rights. We encourage the Senate to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

  Added Teri Nelson-Carpenter, AIMP National Chair and Los Angeles Chapter President, Alisa Coleman, AIMP New York Chapter President and John Ozier, AIMP Nashville Chapter President: "For too long, independent publishers and songwriters have languished under outdated laws that allowed their works to be exploited without proper compensation." They now "encourage the Senate to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

European music sector calls for ambitious export strategy

By Emmanuel Legrand

To overcome Europe's fragmented landscape, cultural specificities and multiple languages, the music sector is asking for specific European Union-wide policies and increasing cooperation between Member States in order to improve the export of European repertoire within and outside the EU.

  Proposals to boost European music exports were outlined during the European Music Export Conference in Brussels, at the initiative France's Le Bureau Export, Brussels-based research firm KEA, and EMEE (European Music Exporters Exchange), which have been tasked to develop a 'Study on a European Export Strategy' as part of the European Commission's “Music Moves Europe” initiative.

  The objective of the study is to analyse the challenges and opportunities regarding the export of European music and present solutions to some of the issues faced by stakeholders and suggest operational tools to increase the cross-border circulation of European repertoire in the world.  

  The Brussels event served as a launchpad to present the first findings of the study and discuss some operational strategies to strengthen the export of European music. In particular, the study highlighted mobility issues, with a series of regulatory and structural hindrances, that are detrimental to a well-functioning single market, in particular double taxation issues for EU artists playing in Europe. The sector also faces a fragmented market that is not conducive to developing intra-EU circulation of repertoire and artists.

Toolbox to improve the situation

  A study conducted by EMEE, based on data from BMAT, mapping the share of repertoires played on streaming services in Europe, showed that US repertoire accounted for 41.74% of all streams this year, while European repertoire (excluding the UK) was set at 18.5%, and UK repertoire at 18.23%. “Europe is not doing very well in terms of streaming,” said Corinne Sadki, from the Bureau Export.

  EMEE, which regroups 25 export offices from 23 countries, unveiled a series of proposals and tools to improve the situation, including:  

> Sharing knowledge, with the creation of a European Music Export Resource Centre, compiling all relevant information about specific music markets (market reports, contact database, stakeholder interviews, etc.) both inside and outside of Europe, and European fact-finding missions in overseas territories.

> Professional development for music professionals and artists through mentoring programmes, a music professionals exchange fund and a European music co-creation fund.
> Improving cross-border circulation for music artists with a cross-border mobility fund, and a cross-border marketing fund.

> Reinforcing the foothold of the EU music sector on international markets with the creation of a European Music Week, consisting of showcases and professional events outside of the EU, and a fund for national European export organisations that wish to access a new international market through participation in a professional showcase event. > Provide funding support to invite international professionals to European showcase events and conferences connected to EMEE export offices.

> Support the creation of a European Music Observatory to provide, at European level, a tool to monitor the music eco-system in Europe, and the economic impact of the European music sector globally. The European Commission has commissioned a feasibility study on the Observatory.

A historical moment

  These proposals are likely to end up in the final report to be delivered to the Commission's DG EAC by the end of the year to be considered as part of the "Music Moves Europe" action plan.

  “This is quite a historical moment,” said MarcThonon, Director of the Bureau Export. “We are finally seeing things happening at European level.”

  Thonon's message was backed by comments from EU officials, such as Kimmo Aulake, Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Council of the EU, who said that discussions on the EU's next Europe Creative programme “are going very well” and that “the inclusion of a specific strand for music is supported by all three institutions – the Commission, the Council of Europe and the Parliament."

WIPO recommends multi-lateral policy approach to tackle IP issues linked to AI

By Emmanuel Legrand

The World Intellectual Property Organisation has identified Artificial Intelligence as a field that “is raising a broad and multi-disciplinary range of policy questions – one of those questions is property and intellectual property,” in the words of WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.  

  During the WIPO 2019 Assemblies in Geneva, which took place Sept. 30-Oct. 9, Gurry pointed to challenges created by new technologies, such as AI, that are “raising new questions about the application of existing IP policy, as well as the major question of whether the classical system of IP needs adjustment to cover perceived gaps in order to ensure that the IP system continues to serve the innovation eco-system effectively.”  

WIPO's Francis Gurry (photo: Photo: Emmanuel Berrod)

  WIPO hosted during the Assemblies a seminar on AI and IP, which identified issues related to the development of AI technologies. Speaking on the fringes of the 'WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence', Daniela Simone from the University College London framed the challenges posed by AI and IP: “The question we need to really think about is whether it’s better to think of AI as an author or a creator in its own right, or as a tool of human creators.”  

Identifying the issues

  For Gurry, identifying key issues is the first step in a process that could eventually lead to policy proposals. “We are getting to the stage where we can see a process going forward for the identification of the issues that are important in the intellectual property field in this very challenging area of a new general purpose technology in the form of artificial intelligence,” said Gurry.  

  However, he added that pressures on the multilateral system “are impairing its capacity to produce timely results in the normative area, not the least of which is the faltering political will to adopt a multilateral approach and to develop multilateral solutions.”

  He added: “Ultimately, a race to develop the global rule or solution through national or regional regulatory competition, as opposed to a multilateral approach, will erode the value of the technologies themselves and their useful economic and social deployment. Technical operability depends on regulatory operability.”

Other WIPO news include:

  > During the Assemblies, over 1,200 delegates from WIPO’s 192 member states approved the WIPO programme and budget for the 2020-21 biennium, with revenue is projected to rise to CHF 882.8 million, a 6.4% increase over the previous biennium, while expenditures are expected to total 768.4 million, leaving a projected surplus of CHF 95.8 million. 

  > With the addition of Venezuela, New Zealand and Trinidad & Tobago, WIPO's Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled now counts 61 contracting parties covering 88 member states, with 47 additional member states joining the Treaty since the 2018 Assemblies. In addition, WIPO’s public-private partnership, the Accessible Books Consortium(ABC) now has 100 signatories, with the recent addition of Hachette Livre and the ABC Charter for Accessible Publishing.  

  > The thirty-Ninth Session of the World Intellectual Property Organisation's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, to be held in Geneva, October 21-25, 2019, will discuss a proposal from Senegal and Congo to include the resale right (droit de suite) for visual artists in the agenda of future work by the SCCR.  

SoundExchange to launch online process to make claims on recordings

By Emmanuel Legrand

US rights society SoundExchange will introduce in November new features on its portal that will allow artists and sound recording owners to better manage their existing repertoire and to make new claims on recordings in SoundExchange's databases. 

  "This marks the most significant update to our client portal since it was introduced in 2014," wrote SoundExchange Director of accounts services Michael Darpino and Director of rights management Scott Berenson in a blogpost.

  The new features will be part of the “My Catalog” section of SoundExchange Direct (SXDirect). The updates will allow sound recording copyright owners (SRCO) to self-manage overlaps and disputes with other SRCOs. Through the "Search & Claim" feature, SoundExchange members will be able, for the first time, to search and make claims in SoundExchange's complete database of sound recording International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC) and usage data that has not yet been matched to sound recordings but are available to claim.

Transparent view

  "By moving this process from our bi-annual 'email rounds' to the SXDirect platform, we will be able to bring new overlaps to your attention in near real-time and reduce resolution times by months," wrote Darpino and Berenson.

  SoundExchange is also introducing a major changes in the way SRCOs can submit their sound recording ISRCs catalogues via SXDirect. The platform will feature in-app validations that will "dramatically reduce the processing time for their ISRCs to appear in our repertoire database."

  Noted Darpino and Berenson: "Together, these updates will provide you with a transparent view of all sound recordings that are currently associated with your account and enhance our ability to collaborate with you to ensure that you are collecting all of the SoundExchange royalties for which you are owed – accurately and on time."

Monday, October 7, 2019

Memo from Google to European policy-makers: "We won't pay the 'link tax'!"

By Emmanuel Legrand

European policy-makers have been scrambling to find an answer to Google's decision not to remunerate European news publishers for the use of their content on Google News, despite a provision in the recent Copyright Directive which introduced a neighbouring right for news publishers (originally Article 11, now 15). Google's decision was aimed at France, which became the first country to implement the new right in its legislation, following a July 25 vote by the Parliament. 

  French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with La Montagne newspaper that Google's decision will not deter France, and other European countries, from implementing the Directive. "We are going to start implementing the law," he said. "A company, even a very large company, cannot get away with it when it decides to operate in France." 

  Google announced on September 25 that it will display just headlines rather than news snippets, if publishers agree to provide them for free, and that it refused to pay for news items as a matter of principle.

  “In the wake of new copyright law in France, Google will change the way it presents search results for European press publications to people in that country,” wrotethe company on its updated European press publisher FAQ. “Specifically, Google will no longer present snippets and thumbnail images in France for these publications unless publishers displaying content in France have specified how much of this content they want to show in search results.”

Google doesn't pay publishers

  Google VP of news Richard Gingras explained in a blogpost the platform's policy with regards to news items. “We don’t accept payment from anyone to be included in search results. We sell ads, not search results, and every ad on Google is clearly marked. That’s also why we don’t pay publishers when people click on their links in a search result.”

  French minister of culture Franck Riester was particularly incensed by Google's decision. “I met with the head of Google News [Gingras] this morning at the Ministry of Culture,” said Riester to journalists on the day Google made its decision public. “I sent him a very strong message about the need to build win-win partnerships with publishers and news agencies and journalists. The answer he gave me a few minutes later was stonewalling. This is unacceptable.”

  France’s Alliance of the Press of General Information, the European Newspapers Publishers Association, and the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers condemned Google's decision. “Google is not above the law,” said the ENPA. “European publishers intend to remain united in the face of intimidation and demand that EU legislation be respected. Otherwise, a free, independent and quality press will not be able to find its viability in the European Union.”

Build harmonious relations

  The Alliance of the Press of General Information commissioned a study from EY-Parthenon which estimating that between €250-320 million in revenue were lost by French publishers due to the dominance of the advertising market by Google and Facebook. Google's Gingras countered that news content generates over 8 billion clicks per month in Europe through Google’s search engine and that advertising-sharing schemes produce billions in revenues for publishers.

  For David Assouline, who was the French Parliament's rapporteur on the copyright law, Google should take note that the law has changed in Europe. "There will be neighbouring rights and digital giants would do well to quickly become aware of them to create harmonious and respectful relations with publishers now,” said Assouline. “Any other attitude on their part, in addition to impoverishing their offer, will be judged harshly by the people and governments of the European Union."

A bad solution to a real problem?

  A dissenting voice came from the French organisation the Union of Independent Online News Press (Spiil), calling the neighbouring rights for publishers "a bad solution to a real problem." Legally, the law has already shown its limits, according to Spiil, since Google managed to "easily circumvent it." 

  In addition Spiil argued that the law does not provide a real definition of what is a news gathering media, nor does it specifies what should the remuneration be, how to collect it and distribute it. Spiil added that the unintended consequences of the neighboring right will be to "mechanically create a click race, since, among potentially other elements, the click will be remunerated."

  Instead, Spiil suggested to build a "true democratic regulation of online press" with "a real equality of treatment in the digital distribution of the press." Spiil called for "new digital rules ... to be imagined and negotiated by a united press, with search engines and social networks"

  Forbes columnist Nicole Martin, the owner of NR Digital Consulting and host of Talk Digital To Me Podcast, wrote that "for anyone familiar with Google’s business tactics, this comes at no surprise.” She added: “They made it clear from the beginning of the talks of the new copyright law that they believed it does more harm than good to news publishers and that they did not agree with the proposal. They have numbers and facts to back up their position on the matter, but the EU continues to push on this new link tax and do not seem to be backing down yet.”

Creators ask the EU for 'an ambitious European policy'

By Emmanuel Legrand

Creators have urged policy-makers to support an ambitious European programme to promote culture, creativity and innovation during the September 25 'Meet The Authors' event hosted by MEP Christian Ehler

EU policy-makers in attendance included the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli and Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, who is the proposed Commissioner for Youth and Innovation, and whose remit includes culture.

An ambitious manifesto

  The event coincided with the launch of a manifesto called 'Creators’ Priorities for Ambitious European Policy'. The platform outlined five key priorities for creators in the next five years to support the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI):

> Ensuring that the transposition and implementation of the newly adopted Copyright Directives "are carried out smoothly so remuneration of creators and return on investment from CCI improve."

> Ensuring "a fairer and more sustainable European online market." Creators claim that US-based video-on-demand services "create difficulties for European industry and creators," in particular by imposing "unfair contractual practices and buyout contract clauses."

> Maintaining EU's private copying regime on electronic devices. The manifesto  singled out the efforts made by non- European device manufacturers, such as SamsungApple and Huawei, "to change EU law on private copying at the expense of European creators and consumers."

> Reinforcing two of EU's main funding schemes for creatives, Horizon Europe and CreativeEurope, "to encourage new forms of creation and promotion of creative content." Creators ask for specific financial support for the music sector through the Music Moves Europe programme and ask for the adoption of a European Music Observatory.

> Breaking silos "to ensure the adaptation of and coherence between policies," in particular, taking into account "the specificities of the cultural sector" in EU competition and trade policies.

Ensuting that creators are fairly remunerated

  "European policymakers will have to address several issues in the next five years to ensure that creators are fairly remunerated for their work," explained Véronique Desbrosses, General Manager of GESAC, the European groupment of societies of authors and composers. 

  She added: "The proper transposition of copyright reforms, stopping aggressive attempts by Chinese, US and Korean device manufacturers to phase out long-standing compensation schemes for private copying to the detriment of European consumers and creators, and tackling the damaging buy-out clauses circumventing European and national rules are at the top of the list."

  In addition, creators gathered in Brussels expressed their support for the re-establishment of the Intergroup on Cultural and Creative Industries initiated by Ehler. “The CCI Intergroup proved to be instrumental in the adoption of the Copyright Directive," explained Desbrosses.

Creating intergroups at the Parliament

  Another MEP, Niklas Nienaß, is trying to convince MEPs to join in on a Cultural Creators Intergroup. "Intergroups brings together MEPs across political groups and it's a place to exchange information, invite experts and prepare the ground for policy initiatives that are not on the agenda yet," wrote in a blogpost Annica Ryngbeck, Public Affairs manager for Brussels-based Society of Audiovisual Authors

  "Together with our colleagues from other cultural organisations, we have been calling for an intergroup that put creators in the spotlight, opposed to in the shadow of the creative industries."

RIAA's list of 'notorious markets' includes Telegram

By Emmanuel Legrand

At the request of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), US music labels' trade body the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has submitted its most recent list of "notorious markets," identifying internet and physical markets based outside the United States that should be included in the forthcoming Notorious Markets List.

  "The online and physical markets identified in our comments are harming American creators, businesses, and the American economy," wrote RIAA’s SVP of International Policy GeorgeYork. He added, "While the growth in music streaming is promising, the music industry recovery continues to be threatened by online marketplaces that infringe our members’ music, as well as by sales of counterfeit products over ecommerce platforms, outdated laws and their misapplication and abuse, and lack of proper enforcement mechanisms."

  In its submission, the RIAA identified "some of the major online infringing actors that threaten our industry’s recovery and jeopardise the US competitive advantage in digital trade." For the RIAA, identifying and enforcing the rights of music rights owners against "rogue actors" is a "challenge."

Distortions in the marketplace

  York added that the infringing activity from these sites "creates distortions in the marketplace that undermine the music industry prosperity, which in turn negatively impacts the US trade surplus."

  Key infringers, according to the RIAA's list, are stream-ripping services that convert into files music licensed to audio and video streaming service. "The distribution of permanent downloads of files from streaming services deprives the record companies and artists of streaming revenue by eliminating the need for users to return to YouTube and other licensed services every time they listen to the music," wrote the RIAA, which monitors over 200 sites, such as Mp3juicesand Ytmp3, both registered in Panama, Russian-operated Flvto.bizand 2Convmp3-youtubefrom France or Y2matefrom Vietnam.

  The RIAA also identified sites that directly or indirectly offers unauthorised on-demand streaming and/or downloading of music, such as Newalbumreleasesfrom the Czech Republic, Ukraine-based Rnbxclusive, or Xclusivejams, registered in the Seychelles. BitTorrent indexing sites are next on RIAA's list of infringers. including The PirateBay1337xRarbgTorrentz2, among others, followed by cyberlockers, like Zippyshareor Rapidgator.  

  The submission also lists unlicensed pay-for-download websites based in Russia and the Ukraine that engage in the digital sale of singles and albums.

  A new addition to the list is piracy within Mobile Apps, with apps such as Telegram, described as an instant messaging service which allows users to communicate via text and voice message, which also offers "many user-created channels which are dedicated to the unauthorised distribution of copyrighted recordings."

Telegram taking no action

  According to the RIAA, Telegram itself hosts many of the copyrighted recordings made available through these channels and has sent DMCA notices to the service containing over 18,000 instances of copyrighted recordings offered without authorisation through these channels. However, the RIAA noted that these notices seem to have no effect.

  Wrote the RIAA: "Telegram claims that it forwards our notices to the channel operators who are responsible for removing the infringements listed in our notices. We have found, however, that most channel operators appear to take no action in response to our notices, with nearly all of infringements listed in our notices remaining available."

  TorrentFreak noted that by putting Telegram on the USTR’s agenda "the RIAA hopes to, directly or indirectly, motivate the messaging app to do more to prevent piracy."

IFPI 'Music Listening' report shows all demographics embrace music streaming

By Emmanuel Legrand

Music engagement is at an all-time high, according to the 'Music Listening 2019' report, which shows that music listening is up across the board and that an increasing number of older age groups are embracing the streaming revolution.

  The report, published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, examines the ways in which music consumers aged 16-64 engage with recorded music across 21 countries representing 92.6% of global recorded music market revenues in 2018.

  “This year’s report tells an exciting story of how fans are increasingly engaging with music,” explained IFPI chief executive FrancesMoore. “At a time when multiple forms of media vie for fans’ attention, they are not only choosing to spend more of their time listening to – and engaging with – music but they are doing so in increasingly diverse ways.”

More music consumption

  Some of the trends highlighted in the report include:

Music consumption is growing, with people spending 18 hours per week listening to music – up from 17.8 hours in 2018. This equates to listening to 52 three-minute songs each day. `

Audio streaming continues its global expansion, with 64% of all respondents saying they accessed a music streaming service in the previous month, up by about 7% over 2018. The 16-24 that prove to be the main users of music streaming services as 83% of them claim to have sued a service in the past month (with 53% saying they've used a paid streaming service). 

Older demographics also join to the streaming wave with the 35-64-year-old age group having the highest rate of growth with 54% of that group accessing a music streaming service in the past month (+8% on 2018).

Radio remains the preferred way to access music content, accounting for 29% of total listening time, ahead of smartphones (27%), computers/laptops (19%). 

Video is the dominant streaming format, accounting for 47% of on-demand streaming consumption globally (77% of the people surveyed said that used YouTube for accessing music in the past month).

Smart speakers only account for a 3% share of listening time but the usage is growing with 20% of the respondents claiming to have used smart speakers in the past month. The share rises to 34% in the US, 30% in the UK and 22% in Germany.

Streaming did not kill piracybut contributed to reduce the previous levels of piracy. However, IFPI noted that “copyright infringement remains a challenge for the music eco-system,” as 27% of all those surveyed used unlicensed methods to listen to or obtain music in the past month, while 23% used illegal stream-ripping services (34% of the 16-24s), which has become the leading form of music piracy. 

Threats to the music eco-system

  For Moore, “The report also highlights that the availability of music through unlicensed methods, or copyright infringement, remains a real threat to the music eco-system. Practices such as stream ripping are still prevalent and return nothing to those who create and invest in music. We continue to coordinate worldwide action to address this.”

  The results are based on an online survey of 34,000 respondents aged 16-64 conducted by by the IFPI and its research partner AudienceNet in April-May 2019 in the following territories: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States. The study was also conducted in China and India but results from these two countries are not included in “global” figures.

DDEX introduces new MEAD format to enrich metadata

By Emmanuel Legrand

DDEX, the international standards-setting organisation, has adoptedthe Media Enrichment and Description (MEAD) standard that will enhance the metadata available on each title, providing a better experience for consumers. 

MEAD enables support for additional types of metadata that do not appear in Electronic Release Notification(ERN) message which contains the core data about releases that labels and distributors provide to DSPs (artist name, track title, and duration). MEAD will allow for over 30 types of additional data such as lyrics, reviews, historic chart positions, and focus track information to be communicated through the supply chain.

  DDEX said the standard will support new service options, in particular those linked to smart devices, and marketing opportunities, "ultimately improving the consumer experience for search and discovery."

Adapting metadata standards

  MEAD was initiated at the annual DDEX Plenaries in the Fall of 2017, which included representatives from various stakeholders — including AppleAmazonUniversal Music GroupSpotifyWarner Music GroupASCAP,  BMIPandora, and around 30 other experts covering everything from classical rights to copyright law — to brainstorm on how to improve data exchange among all companies that provide metadata. 

DDEX said that MEAD was developed at "an exceptional speed for a new standard" since it only took two years to bring the standard to market.

  “As music distribution and consumption evolves, so too must our metadata standards. Today, music reaches more people in more places than ever before, and it is imperative that we provide the data necessary to help listeners make connections and drive discovery,” said MarkIsherwood, from the Secretariat of DDEX. “The MEAD standard is the first step in giving consumers what they are demanding: richer context that lets them find what they want.”

ASCAP unveils new research and innovation initiative

By Emmanuel Legrand

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has launched an innovation programme “to explore how advanced technologies, new business approaches and creative collaborations can drive value for its music creator members and music users.”

  Dubbed the ASCAP Advanced Research & Innovation Initiative, the project will help “identify and develop new areas of growth and efficiency” through a series of initiatives including external participation in technology accelerators, prototyping research projects, cross-pollination with the start-up community and knowledge-sharing through a future-forward expert speaker series to inspire ASCAP members and employees.

  ASCAP's inaugural initiative is a collaboration with theNYC Media Lab(NYCML), a public/private partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporationthat connects media and technology companies with New York City’s universities, to conduct an R&D project with a faculty-led research team on ways to better serve ASCAP members by leveraging applied technologies in areas such as machine intelligence, extended reality and other emerging disciplines. ASCAP will also take part in NYCML’s Combine Startup Accelerator, which helps NYC’s university eco-system extend and commercialise new technologies.

Broadening the lens

  Commented ASCAP Chief Strategy & Digital Officer NickLehman: “To realise our future, we are broadening our lens to envision it. With the Advanced Research & Innovation Initiative, we are looking further into the technology horizon to seek out what may be possible to super-serve and support our songwriter and publisher communities for years to come. We are pursuing this program as a deliberate way to provide a funnel for the deep passion that ASCAP employees already bring to their work, in order to harness innovation that matters to our members.”

  The programme will also include a bi-monthly speaker series on innovation topics held at ASCAP offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Nashville. The initial phase will also see ASCAP host 'Music Startup Summits' with selected VC and investment firms “to explore specific applied technologies and how they might be used in ASCAP’s business in the future.”