Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo – The Supreme Court has ruled that Aereo, a two-year-old streaming video service, has violated copyright laws by capturing telecast signals on miniature antennas and delivering them to subscribers for a fee, without paying anything to the producers of the video programming. This was a victory for the major TV networks, who had argued that Aereo’s business model was a theft of their programming. And a disappointment for the CEA, who strongly backed Aereo. The networks contended that Aereo and similar services threatened the billions of dollars they receive from cable and satellite firms in retransmission fees, the money paid to networks and local stations for the rights to retransmit their programming. The networks said that had the court ruled in favor of Aereo they would have considered removing their signals from the airwaves (never mind the U.S. system of free over-the-air broadcasts supported by advertising).
Economic Justice for Performers – Since the very first recordings of actors, singers, and musicians, it has been accepted that performers should have some rights over those recordings and share in the proceeds from their commercial exploitation. The composers of songs on recordings, for example, get a royalty, but musicians who sing or play those songs get nothing when the recording is playing on a radio station. Since so many less people are purchasing physical discs now, musicians want to be paid for airplay of their songs. There is now international recognition of so-called “neighboring rights” related to copyright, but performers in audiovisual works are left out and have no rights, partly because the U.S. refused to agreed to the provisions proposed by the European Union. There is a WIPO Copyright Treaty covering musical performances and sound recordings, but not AV works. Half of Hollywood’s revenues now come from abroad, and the scope for authorized and unauthorized copying and digital manipulation has increased vastly, so there is a major emphasis on copyright security—hence the UltraViolet technology and others. If a new WIPO treaty on protection of AV performances is approved, it will extend the minimum term of protection from 20 years to 50 years, and when a DVD is sold, rented, reproduced, or broadcast in a different country, some money will go to the country of origin to be shared with performers. Performers will also have moral rights to prevent lack of attribution or distortion of their performances.
New Digital Distribution Strategy from Linn Records – The online digital music store of Linn was the first to offer their studio masters as DRM-free 24-bit downloads, taking a leading role in the rise of hi-res digital music. 90% of all the downloads from the site are now hi-res, and Linn added nearly 100 other record labels to reach the rapidly increasing audience. However, beginning August 25 Linn will cease selling music from other labels to concentrate on their own releases. Their Studio Master format is supported by artists and major and independent labels alike.