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First off today, Ashley Carman at The Verge reports that Gigi Hadid has responded to a lawsuit filed against her by a paparazzi photo agency and, in it, is claiming that she didn’t infringe the copyright of the photo because she contributed to the copyright in it by posing and, thus, her use of the photo is a fair use.
Hadid was sued by the paparazzi photo agency for using a photo taken of her on her Instagram account. This is similar to other lawsuits where photographers have filed lawsuits over their work appearing on celebrity social media accounts. Hadid herself faced a separate one in January of this year.
However, Hadid’s claim to have contributed to the copyright of the work flies in the face of current copyright thinking. Under current law, the photographer is deemed the creator of the image. Hadid’s argument, if it finds success, could give at least some copyright interest to the model in the photograph. That being said, most consider the argument an extreme long shot.
2: Spotify: We ‘Overpaid’ Songwriters And Their Publishers In 2018, And We Would Like Our Money Back
Next up today, Tim Ingham at Music Business Worldwide reports that the war between Spotify and music publishers is getting even uglier as Spotify is now claiming that it overpaid for royalties in 2018 and that it wants that money back.
The battle between the two sides began to heat up in February when the Copyright Royalty Board decided that on demand streaming services like Spotify needed to pay significantly more royalties to publishers. Spotify has appealed that ruling though Apple has already agreed to it.
Not Spotify is claiming that it miscalculated the amount it owed for student and family plans and claims that it paid music publishers too much in 2018. As such, they are asking for that money back. The amount, which is said to be in the millions, won’t be paid back directly but, instead, Spotify plans to treat it as an advance and deduct it from 2019 royalties owed.
Finally today, Caleb Shreve and Jon Siebels posted an op-ed to Billboard that highlights an upcoming hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today looking into how the U.S. Copyright Office is overseeing the implementation of the Music Modernization Act (MMA).
Signed into law in October 2018, the MMA created a new system for collecting and distributing digital streaming royalties, in particular mechanical licenses. As part of that, the U.S. Copyright Office was to implement a plan to create a new organization for overseeing that role known as the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). The organization will specifically oversee the distribution of royalties to those who could not be easily identified due to various reasons.
One of the organizations that are considered frontrunners to lead the MLC is a group put together by the National Music Publishers Association and features executives from various major music publishers. According to the op-ed, this creates a potential conflict of interest as these executives would have little motivation to track down musicians owed money as unclaimed money would be distributed to the various music publishers after a period of time. The authors of the op-ed hope that this is an issue the committee will examine later today.