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1: Publishers Deny Collusion in Copyright Battle with Fitness Firm

First off today, Chris Cooke at Complete Music Update reports that music publishers have hit back at fitness company Peloton saying that the company’s allegations of conspiracy between them is nothing more than an attempt to distract from their lack of a defense in their copyright dispute.

Peloton makes and sells exercise equipment including treadmills and stationary bikes. They also offer a subscription service that sends both live and pre-taped classes to customers. Traditionally those classes have featured a wide variety of music but music publishers filed a lawsuit claiming that Peloton did not have all of the licenses they needed to use the songs. Peloton hit back with a countersuit on competition law grounds alleging that the publishers illegally colluded to withdraw from negotiations at the same time.

Those publishers have responded to that countersuit and say that the reason they all withdrew at the same time is simple: They were planning to file the lawsuit so continued negotiations didn’t make sense. They went on to allege that the only reason Peloton is making these arguments is because they have no defense in the original copyright lawsuit so they are using the “timeworn tactic of asserting a baseless antitrust counterclaim.”

2: House Judiciary Hearing on Copyright Office Reviews Music Modernization Act, Black Box Royalty Concerns

Next up today, Ed Christman at Billboard reports that the Register of Copyrights, Karyn Temple, testified yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee about the issue of “black box royalties” and various other issues that are facing the U.S. Copyright Office at this time.

Black box royalties are mechanical licensing royalties that are owed to artists from digital streaming services and have been set aside. However, the money can’t be distributed due to either inadequate metadata making it difficult to find just who deserves it. The Music Modernization Act (MMA) ordered the Copyright Office to create a new process for distributing such royalties by creating a new Music Licensing Collective. However, who will operate the MLC and what guidelines it will be under are still being determined.

According to Temple, black box disbursements won’t begin until 2023 and will then be done annually after that. Some estimates say that there could be as much as $4 or $5 billion to be doled out by the MLC. Other topics that were discussed in the hearing include the ASCAP/BMI consent decrees, safe harbors and modernizing the Copyright Office.

3: ‘Copyright Troll’ Lawyer Appeals 14 Year Prison Sentence

Finally today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that Paul Hansmeier, one of the two attorneys involved in the Prenda Law scam, is appealing his 14-year prison sentence saying that it is unreasonable and is incompatible with the sentencing guidelines.

Hansmeier, along with his partner John Steele, operated a law firm named Prenda Law. The company made its reputation targeting suspected illegal file sharers and securing quick settlements from them. However, the firm was engaged in a slew of illegal practices including identity theft and fraud, which was used to conceal the fact that they were the copyright holders in the works they were suing over and that they had uploaded many of their own files to pirate websites in hopes of ensnaring infringers.

Hansmeier was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison following a plea deal. However, in that deal he reserved the right to appeal and is doing so. However, he will not be freed pending the appeal and instead will await the outcome while in prison. As for his partner, Steele will be sentenced in July and is expected to receive a shorter term due to his cooperation.

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