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First off today, Todd Shields and Lily Katz at Bloomberg Business reports that music streaming service Pandora has secured key support with the U.S. Copyright Office that may help it with its ongoing royalty fight against SoundExchange, an organization that collects royalties for digital streaming of sound recordings.
SoundExchange and Pandora are embroiled in a royalty battle with the Copyright Royalty Board for the rates Pandora will pay between 2016 and 2020. Pandora, seeking to pay lower royalties, is asking the court to consider a separate deal that they have reached with Merlin, an organization that represents some 20,000 independent labels. SoundExchange, however, said that the deal wasn’t relevant.
However, the Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, has filed an opinion with the court saying that it should consider the Merlin deal. That reduces the risk of Pandora facing a “devastating loss” and caused Pandora’s stock to rise by as much as 15% yesterday.
Next up today, the Associated press is reporting that, as streaming royalties continue to rise, revenue from digital downloads are continuing to drop.
For the first half of 2015, digital download royalties fell 4 percent, down to $1.3 billion. Physical disc sales also dropped significantly, down 17 percent to $748 million. However, streaming revenues did rise with paid subscriptions rising 25% to $478 million while revenue from free services grew 22 percent $550 million. It was the first time that streaming revenue, in a half year period, topped $1 billion.
Overall though, the music industry was down, dropping half a percent to $3.2 billion. The RIAA CEO, Cary Sherman, criticized the rates streaming music services paid artists saying that they, “Do not always equal fair market rates.”
Finally today, David Crary, also at the Associated Press, reports that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has filed a lawsuit seeking to administer the copyrights in the “monkey selfie” photo taken by Naruto, a crested macaque living on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
The photo was snapped in 2011 when Naruto snatched the camera from the hands of photographer David Slater. Recently, the photo became popular on the Internet but also found itself at the center of a copyright controversy as questions were raised as to who owned the copyright. Many, including Wikipedia, used the photo claiming that, since it was taken by an animal, that it was in the public domain.
The U.S. Copyright Office backed up that opinion with a recent report saying that works created by non-humans did not qualify for copyright. However, PETA is suing, asking the court not only to rule that Naruto does hold a copyright in the work, but that they should administer it so they can use the proceeds to benefit Naruto and the macaques on the island.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.