3 Count: Songwriter Blues

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1: Songwriting Group Sues Department of Justice Over Licensing Mandate

First off today, Andy Gensier at Billboard reports that the Songwriters of North America (SONA) as well as three named songwriters have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) over its recent ruling that performing right organizations ASCAP and BMI need to provide 100% licensing of every song they represent, even if they represent only a portion of that song.

SONA is an organization that represents some 200 songwriters and composers. ASCAP and BMI are two performing rights organizations that provide licenses to publicly perform compositions at bars, restaurants and as well as digital streaming services. They operate under consent decrees from the Department of Justice that places restrictions on how they operate. Both ASCAP and BMI sought changes to those decrees but the DOJ declined and further required them to provide 100% licensing for all music in their catalog, even if they only represent a fraction of the song.

Songwriters, however, have protested this, saying that it limits their ability to control and license their work as they see fit. This is especially problematic since hit songs are often the product of multiple authors, who may be represented by different performing rights organizations. Because of this, SONA says that the move diminishes the value of musical works, takes away the rights of songwriters and interferes with their ability to sign contracts.

2: Beatles Shea Stadium Show Takes Spotlight in Copyright Spat

Next up today, Erik Larson at Bloomberg reports that Sid Bernstein LLC has filed a lawsuit against Apple Corps Ltd. over the master tape recorded at the iconic Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in 1965. 

Apple Corps Ltd is a record label controlled by the the two living Beatles and the estates of the two that are deceased. They have long held the copyright to the master tapes from that concert and exploited it. However, Sid Bernstein LLC., an organization controlled by the heirs to Sid Bernstein’s estates. Bernstein was the person who worked with the Beatles to get them to come over to the United States, booking both their famous appearance on the Ed Sullivan show and the aforementioned concert.

Bernstein’s heirs are claiming that, since the concert was primarily his project, that they should control the copyrights to the master recording. They are suing for copyright infringement, alleging that Apple Corps infringed the master recordings by using it in television movie and a documentary series, among other places. Apple Corps has called the lawsuit “frivolous.”

3: Adblock Plus Now Sells Ads

Finally today, Jacob Kastrenakes at The Verge reports that the company behind the popular ad blocker Adblock Plus has launched a new business line, one that has them selling ads to users who have installed their ad blocker.

The company Eyeo GmbH, which owns and operates Adblock Plus, has long had an Acceptable Ads program that allows advertisers to pay to have non-intrusive ads whitelisted by default. However, advertisers have complained that the program amounts to extortion, requiring them to pay to have their ads evaluated and shown.

Now the company is expanding that program with an ad marketplace. Publishers can register and add code to their site that then shows adds to Adblock Plus users. These ads, according to Eyeo, will be less intrusive and can not track users. The publishers will be allowed to keep 80% of the revenue their ads earn.


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.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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