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First off today, the Associated Press reports that the Copyright Royalty Board has significantly raised the royalties for songwriters and composers when their music is played on interactive streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
Previously such interactive streaming services had been paying 10.5% of their revenue to songwriters but the Copyright Royalty Board has raised that to 15.1% by 2022, which represents an over 40% increase.
The royalty rate was not the amount composers had asked for but, considering that music companies were hoping for a reduction in royalties, the hike is seen as a very big win for songwriters. The move is widely expected to have a strong impact on companies like Spotify and Pandora, but will likely not impact more diversified tech companies, such as Apple and Google.
Next up today, Christopher Mele at The New York Times reports that the legal dispute over the song We Shall Overcome has ended in a settlement and, with it, publisher Ludlow Music is agreeing that the song is in the public domain.
The lawsuit began when two filmmakers sought for a license to use the song in their movies and were ordered to pay high license fees to use it. However, since the Peter Seeger version (the one controlled by Ludlow Music) of the song are minor modifications to a much older song, they claimed that the composition was in the public domain.
The judge in the case had previously ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, saying that changing “will” to “shall”, the most notable change, did not qualify for copyright protection. The case was scheduled to head to a trial next month but the settlement heads that off. We Shall Overcome now joins Happy Birthday To You as songs that recently had their copyright status challenged in courts and their major claimant forced to abandon their stake to the work.
Finally today, Ryan Faughnder at the San Francisco Gate reports that Redbox has filed a lawsuit against Disney alleging copyright misuse in response to Disney’s lawsuit over Redbox’s resale of digital codes.
At issue in the lawsuit is Redbox’s practice of buying combo packs, packs with a physical DVD and a digital copy with the intent of renting out the physical DVD via their kiosks and reselling the digital code via an online service. Disney recently sued Redbox alleging that this was a violation of their copyright and the terms of service of those digital codes. Redbox, however, claims that right of first sale permits reselling such codes and, in their countersuit, is arguing that Disney is engaging in copyright misuse to try and stifle their legitimate business.
In the meantime, Disney is seeking a preliminary injunction to bar Redbox from reselling the digital codes, something which Redbox has stated will have a negative impact on its business should it come to pass.