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First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that Pandora has won a victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that will allow it to continue paying lower royalty rates to songwriters based upon consent decrees placed upon performing rights agencies.
Music publishers had sought to do “partial withdrawals” of their rights from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI). This would have allowed publishers to withdraw their digital streaming rights while allowing ASCAP and BMI to handle other uses of their content, such as restaurants and bars. However, the rate court ruled that such a withdrawal is not permitted under the consent decrees and the appeals court has now upheld that.
The ruling comes at a time that Congress is looking to revamp music licensing and the Department of Justice is reviewing the consent decrees, which were originally drafted more than 50 years ago to prevent publishers from wielding too much power over smaller venues.
Next up today, Liam Tung at ZDNet reports that the European Commission has formally announced that it is launching an investigation into ending geoblocking within the European Union as part of its efforts to turn the entire bloc into a single digital market.
The move has been anticipated since March when the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, announced that she would look into whether companies were using cross-border content restrictions to limit competition.
While digital content is an obvious target of the investigation and goes in conjunction with the single digital market initiative also announced today, other industries may also be looked at as well as the bloc seeks to streamline all cross-border trading.
Finally today, Vernon Silver at Bloomberg Business reports that the Stairway to Heaven lawsuit has survived its first challenge as a judge has declined to dismiss the case and instead has ordered it transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which includes Los Angeles.
The lawsuit began earlier this year when survivors from the band Spirit claimed that Stairway to Heaven was an infringement of their 1968 song Taurus. The two bands toured together routinely during that time and Stairway to Heaven was released in 1969. Attorneys representing the surviving members of Led Zeppelin had asked that the lawsuit either be dismissed or moved out of Philadelphia, citing that all parties had business interests in Los Angeles, to which the judge agreed.
The judge did not weigh in on the merit of the claims or the soundness of the complaint. However, he did decline to dismiss the suit “in the interest of justice” because the jurisdiction issues could be easily fixed. The judge in Los Angeles still could easily dismiss the lawsuit if he or she finds it to be without merit.
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.