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First off today, Ben Sisario at The New York Times reports that the major record labels, including Sony, Universal and Warner Music, have filed a lawsuit against the Internet streaming service Pandora alleging that the service has refused to pay royalties for pre-1972 sound recordings that it streams.
Before 1972, sound recordings were not protected under federal copyright law and instead were covered under a mishmash of state laws. When the laws were updated to add sound recordings, previous sound recordings were not added to federal protection.
Pandora pays a compulsory license on music recording after 1972 but currently pays nothing for music from before then, something the record labels feel is an infringement. They’ve filed suit in New York state court though Pandora has said they feel confident about their position and are looking forward to a quick resolution in this case.
Next up today, Adam Oxford at htxt.africa reports that Majedien Norton has entered a plea bargain on a criminal copyright infringement charge and received a five year suspended sentence with no fine, making him the first in the country to be criminally convicted for piracy.
The charges were filed by the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT), which accused him of being one of the first to share a film on The Pirate Bay from a South African studio.
The case and the trial generated widespread publicity in South Africa. The film “Four Corners” has not gone on to be very successful at local box offices and the movie studios were concerned that the early leak could severely harm the international box office and DVD sales for the film.
Finally today, Ed Christman at Billboard reports that Prince has returned to Warner Brothers after 18 years of working independently. The new arrangement will keep much of his older music with the label and ensure re-releases of many of his classic albums, including “Purple Rain”, which nearing its 30th anniversary.
The return marks an end to a bitter dispute between Prince and Warner, which was him leave the label in 1996, change his name to a symbol and heavily criticize the label system.
It also puts an end to a potential legal issue. Prince, like many other artists, was becoming eligible for copyright termination, which could have enabled him to regain control of his music. Under this deal, Prince avoids a lengthy copyright termination fight, regains control of his catalog and Warner gets to continue licensing and distributing his music.
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.
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