CMU Digest

CMU Digest 26.04.21: COVID, #fixstreaming, Apple, Know Your Business Customer, Maria Schneider

By | Published on Monday 26 April 2021

The key stories from the last week in the music business…

The UK live sector again called on the government to help festival promoters reduce the risk of staging 2021 events. Boomtown and Barn On The Farm both joined the list of independent festivals forced to cancel their 2021 editions, even though COVID rules may be sufficiently relaxed by the time they were due to take place. Commercial cancellation insurance is not currently available and promoters can’t afford to take the risk that COVID regulations extend resulting in shows being called off at the last minute. The UK government has so far resisted calls to follow the lead of other European countries by introducing state-backed cancellation insurance. Reps for the live industry this week suggested that ministers at least allocate some of the monies already committed to support COVID-hit cultural businesses to a special contingency fund that could be used to reduce the risks of promoters who do go ahead with plans to stage festivals this summer. [READ MORE]

More than 150 artists and musicians signed a letter to UK Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson asking that copyright law be rewritten so to add an ER obligation to the making available right. Because streams exploit the making available element of the copyright, that would mean that artists – including session musicians – would have a statutory right to payment at industry standard rates every time a recording on which they appear is streamed, oblivious of any deals they have done with the copyright owner, usually a label. Applying ER to streams – which is opposed by most labels – was a big topic of debate during the recent Parliamentary inquiry into streaming, which is still to report. The letter also asked that the market dominance of the majors be investigated by the Competition & Markets Authority and that a general regulator for the music industry be considered. [READ MORE]

There was much discussion about a memo published by Apple regarding the royalties paid by its streaming music service. Mainstream media focused on Apple’s claim that its average per-stream pay out on single-user premium accounts is one cent per stream (when the recording and song royalty are combined), which is something some music community campaigners in the US have called for. That’s also about double the per-stream rate usually cited for Spotify. However, Apple itself admitted that, because streaming is a revenue share business, there are no fixed per-stream rates, and average per-stream payments on family plan accounts and in emerging markets will be less. There are various reasons Spotify’s average per-stream pay-outs are lower, it having a free tier being one key factor. [READ MORE]

A consortium of groups representing the wider copyright industries called on the European Union to beef up a ‘know your business customer’ provision in the proposed new Digital Services Act. The proposed new EU regulations that will increase the obligations of digital platforms include an article that will oblige online marketplaces to verify the identity of sellers that use their services. The copyright repping consortium says similar obligations should also be applied to other internet intermediates – like server hosting companies, domain registrars and ad networks – who should be obliged to ensure all their business customers comply with an existing European law that says online operators must publicly state their identity and location. Piracy sites often break that rule, making it harder for copyright owners to pursue infringement litigation. If internet intermediaries had to ensure their business customers were easily identifiable, that would help copyright owners to enforce their rights. [READ MORE]

Maria Schneider said that demands made by YouTube in her ongoing legal battle over who has access to Content ID were impossible to meet without her getting access to Content ID. Schneider argues that, while YouTube’s Content ID is a decent rights management system, too few creators and rights-owners have access to it. When independent creators see their content uploaded to YouTube without permission they must manually issue takedown notices, and Schneider reckons YouTube’s manual system for dealing with takedowns is not good enough for the Google site to enjoy safe harbour protection under US copyright law. YouTube says Schneider should tell it which specific videos on its platform currently infringe her copyrights. Schneider’s team argues there are so many videos uploaded to YouTube everyday it’s impossible to keep up, and the only way their client could meet YouTube’s demand is if she had access to Content ID. [READ MORE]

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