Posts Tagged ‘music and musicians’

June 19 roundup

  • Gorsuch: “A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result.” And yet he and Ginsburg were the only dissenters from the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision Monday in Gamble v. U.S. to allow consecutive state and federal prosecutions over the same conduct, the so-called dual sovereignty exception to double jeopardy protection [Reuters, Ilya Shapiro, Cato brief (with ACLU and Constitutional Accountability Center) that had urged an end to the exception; and a conspiracy theory about Kavanaugh that wound up having absolutely no predictive value]
  • “When Should Plaintiffs Be Able to Sue Anonymously?” [Eugene Volokh]
  • 77-year-old antitrust consent decrees were designed for a music business that long since faded into history, DOJ’s decision to reconsider is welcome [Federalist Society podcast with Kristen Osenga and Mark Schultz, Osenga blog post]
  • Clarence Darrow once boasted a cult following among American lawyers. His manipulative speech in the Leopold/Loeb case leaves you to wonder whether much will outlive the hype [Bryan Caplan]
  • Federal aid-to-state programs have exploded in recent years, a good way to redistribute money and power into the hands of political elites with little taxpayer or voter accountability [Chris Edwards, Cato, new study and blog post]
  • Dear Caterpillar: do you think there is much likelihood of consumer confusion about whether this coffee shop t-shirt is promoting earth-moving machinery? [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

“‘Blurred Lines’ on Their Minds, Songwriters Create Nervously”

Four years after a shocker outcome on music and copyright: “The aftereffects of the “Blurred Lines” decision — which was upheld on appeal last year — have been felt most acutely by rank-and-file songwriters, who work in obscurity even as their creations propel others to stardom. The ramifications for them have been inescapable, affecting royalty splits, legal and insurance costs, and even how songs are composed.” [Ben Sisario, New York Times] Earlier on the case here and here.

Discrimination law roundup

  • New EEOC chief data officer says machine learning algorithms may soon enable agency to predict, and deploy resources against, workplace bias before it happens [Paige Smith, Bloomberg Law]
  • “The BSO, in a statement, defended its pay structure, saying that the flute and oboe are not comparable, in part because the oboe is more difficult to play and there is a larger pool of flutists.” [Geoff Edgers, Washington Post/Allentown Morning Call]
  • Even they can’t comply: “The case was ironic since the commission is charged with eliminating discrimination in Pennsylvania.” [Matt Miller, PennLive, on the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission’s jury loss in a race discrimination complaint] “Do as they say, not as they do: employees accuse Planned Parenthood of pregnancy discrimination” [Jon Hyman]
  • Fourth Circuit: maybe Title VII doesn’t create a right to swipe files from HR [Jon Hyman]
  • Although libertarians support legalizing marijuana, they should not support laws that bar employers from discriminating on the basis of marijuana use [Jeffrey Miron, Cato]
  • “Why do women earn less than men? Evidence from train and bus operators” [Valentin Bolotnyy and Natalia Emanuel via Tyler Cowen]
  • Minnesota jury orders women’s football team and league to pay $20,000 to transgender applicant turned away [Mary Lynn Smith, Minneapolis Star Tribune]

January 9 roundup

  • Maker of Steinway pianos threatens legal action against owners who advertise existing instruments for sale as used Steinways if they contain other-than-factory replacement parts [Park Avenue Pianos]
  • When the Securities and Exchange Commission settles with defendants, it extracts gag orders forbidding them to talk about the experience. Is it constitutional for the government to do that? [Peggy Little, New Civil Liberties Alliance/WSJ] Update: Cato is suing about this on behalf of former businessman who wants to write book about his experience in court against the SEC [Clark Neily]
  • Judge preliminarily enjoins New York City ordinance requiring home-sharing platforms like AirBnB to turn over to authorities “breathtaking” volume of data about users [SDNY Blog]
  • U.S. Chamber’s top ten bad lawsuits of 2018 [Faces of Lawsuit Abuse] “The Most Important Class Action Decisions of 2018 and a Quick Look at What’s to Come” [R. Locke Beatty & Laura Lange, McGuire Woods]
  • “Small aircraft engines are much less reliable than automobile engines. Why? Well, they all must be FAA certified, and it’s not worth the cost to certify, say, a new model of spark plug.” [John Cochrane, who gives HIPAA and military examples too]
  • “Why logos and art are sometimes blurred on reality TV shows” [Andy Dehnart, Reality Blurred, 2017]

“Rolling Stones fan accuses the band of discriminating against disabled people”

“A Rolling Stones fan has filed a complaint against the band for discriminating against disabled people,” arguing in a complaint to the New York City Department of Human Rights that although wheelchair-accessible seats are made available at various parts of MetLife stadium at different price points, the less expensive ones sold out right away, which left him with a choice only of pricey areas. And this part hurts: plaintiff Michael Boyajian, “a retired administrative law judge, argued that the Rolling Stones should be more mindful of the discrepancy, given all the band members are in their 70s.” [Rozina Sabur and Daniel Bates, Telegraph (U.K.)]

Works from 1923 finally enter public domain

“No published works have entered our public domain since 1998.” Why the drought? “Works from 1923 were set to go into the public domain in 1999, after a 75-year copyright term. But in 1998 Congress hit a two-decade pause button and extended their copyright term for 20 years, giving works published between 1923 and 1977 an expanded term of 95 years.” Works from 1923 that became publicly available this week include (silent) films Safety Last, The Ten Commandments, and Our Hospitality, various novels by P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Aldous Huxley, and Virginia Woolf, musical compositions Who’s Sorry Now, Charleston, and Yes, We Have No Bananas, and Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening.” [Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke Law] “And assuming Congress doesn’t interfere, more works will fall into the public domain each January from now on.” Among those in the next few years: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. [Timothy Lee, ArsTechnica; link fixed now] Earlier here, here, and here; given shifts in public opinion, trade associations for rights holders did not attempt to pass another extension this time.

Copyright music takedowns

“Sony Music Entertainment has been forced to abandon its claim that it owned 47 seconds of video of musician James Rhodes using his own piano to play music written by Johann Sebastian Bach.” After Rhodes posted the video to Facebook, Sony sent a takedown notice saying that the performance “matches 47 seconds of audio” owned by Sony. Match-detecting algorithms have become commonplace in the copyright takedown field; in this case, Sony backed down after Rhodes’s tweet about the situation got considerable attention. [Timothy Lee, ArsTechnica]

Sony does own the rights to the performances of important Bach interpreters such as Glenn Gould, so it is possible that a performance influenced by Gould’s would be especially likely to trip a similarity algorithm. But it gets worse. Last year an Australian music teacher named Sebastian Tomczak “posted on YouTube a 10-hour recording of white noise as an experiment” (in sound perception, not copyright practice) and “within days, the upload had five different copyright claims filed against it. All five would allow continued use of the material, the notices explained, if Tomczak allowed the upload to be “monetized,” meaning accompanied by advertisements from which the claimants would get a share.” [Joseph Bottum, Free Beacon]

And finally, from my own recent experience: a comment from a local performance group’s Facebook page about how a recording of a sing-through of Gilbert & Sullivan Utopia, Ltd. triggered a takedown based on supposed copying of an entirely different work, Rossini’s William Tell. The passage that showed too much similarity? The audience applause!

“Senate passes copyright bill to end 140-year protection for old songs”

The Senate has now unanimously passed its own version of the Music Modernization Act, a bill intended to enable clearinghouse payment by those streaming, performing, or otherwise using older musical works. Under a House-passed bill more favorable toward owners of very old material, “a song recorded in 1927 would effectively get 140 years of protection, vastly longer than the 95 years current law gives to books, movies, and other works published around the same time.” [Timothy Lee, ArsTechnica]