3 Count: Merrie Melodies

68.7 billion of them...

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Note: Due to vacation, this is the first three count in over a week, so we are covering some of the key stories from over that time. Back to regularly-scheduled updates tomorrow.

1: Music Publishers and Peloton Reach Settlement Over Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

First off today, Murray Stassen at Music Business Worldwide reports that the exercise machine company Peloton has settled their lawsuit against the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA).

The NMPA sued Peloton in March 2019 alleging that the company was using NMPA-represented music video exercise classes that were streamed to customers. Peloton attempted to countersue alleging that the NMPA had unlawfully interfered with negotiations but those claims were tossed.

However, now the two sides have settled the NMPA’s claims, which had reached $370 million by the end of the lawsuit. Details about the settlement are sparse but it includes a new plan moving forward to allow Peloton to use and license the music, opening up a new revenue stream for publishers and streamlining the process for Peloton.

2: ‘This Land Is Your Land’ Is Still Private Property, Court Rules

Next up today, Ben Sisario at the New York Times reports that a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit over the Woodie Guthrie song This Land is Your Land, allowing the song’s publishers, Ludlow Music and the Richmond Organization, to continue demanding licenses for the song’s use.

The lawsuit was filed by the musical group Satorii, which paid $45.50 for a license to release a cover version of the song. They then sued, claiming that the song was actually in the public domain and that the license was not appropriate. The group brought in the same lawyers that successfully argued both Happy Birthday to You and We Shall Overcome are public domain works and made similar arguments in this case.

However, in this court, they would fall short. The judge did not rule on the copyright but, instead, that there is no legal dispute for the court to adjudicate. Since the band paid the license fee and has permission to do everything it wants to do, the judge felt that there was no issue for the court to handle and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs have not said if they plan on appealing the decision.

3: Musicians Algorithmically Generate Every Possible Melody, Release Them to Public Domain

Finally today, Samantha Cole at Motherboard reports that two musicians/programmers have created an algorithm that created 68.7 billion melodies, representing every melody within a certain octave range. A hard drive containing those melodies in MIDI format was then registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

The goal of the exercise was to make it so that there are no melodies that have not already been registered and, as such, cases likee the Dark Horse lawsuit would have a much more difficult time. However, experts questions whether this approach will have any impact noting it has no change on songs written before these melodies were created and there are serious questions if the melodies contained within the catalog qualify for protection.

Still, the creators hope that, because of their effort, some copyright cases centered on the melody alone might “go away.” However, that seems highly unlikely given the recent trends in music litigation.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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