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Old School And New: Ninth Circuit Presses Play In Music Copyright Dispute

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Old School And New: Ninth Circuit Presses Play In Music Copyright Dispute

Postby MrFredPFL » Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:56 am

Story :

The Ninth Circuit just let the needle drop on a blockbuster opinion in a copyright case that, like your turntable, has gone ‘round and ‘round and ‘round again. The Circuit therein turns its gaze to the requirements for a work to qualify as a legal “derivative,” the application of byzantine compulsory music licenses, the technical aspects of song remastering, and everyone’s favorite bar exam subject — preemption. In doing so, the appellate panel provides a thoughtful and thorough analysis of these (and other) complex copyright and music industry issues before pressing play and remanding for further proceedings.

The action, styled ABS Entertainment, Inc. v. CBS Corporation, pits the owners of a library of old-school (defined for legal purpose as pre-1972) sound recordings against the CBS radio empire, which wanted to broadcast and stream those old-school recordings without paying any license fees.

CBS is already protected by The Sound Recording Act, which includes a safe haven, under 17 U.S.C. § 114(d), for terrestrial radio performance. That means that when you hear a tune on your non-Sirius car radio or through your boombox while kicking back on the stoop, the radio station pays nothing to the artist, which allows it (the radio station) to maximize the profits made from selling all those 1-877-Kars-4-Kids advertisements. So, it was all good there.

But CBS must pay royalties when it broadcasts or transmits digital streams, at least for new-school (defined for legal purposes as 1972 or thereafter) sound recordings. These royalties, under federal copyright law, are governed by compulsory license obligations set by statute.

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