IP and Digital Entertainment conference: Part III

The post-prandial session of today's CLT conference, "IP and Digital Entertainment conference", was opened by IP consultant and serious copyright enthusiast Amanda Harcourt. Speaking on "Personalised internet radio and Pandora: a legal perspective", Amanda opened by giving a vivid sketch of the legal and business side of music licensing, together with the royalty "food chain" through which money is paid in at one end and comes out at the other. At this point, Amanda gave her sincere thanks to the French for one of three great contributions to the word: following an initiative from a French composer, Ernest Bourget (right), there arose the now ubiquitous institution of the copyright collecting society.

Amanda then explained the structure, operation and interrelation of copyright collecting societies -- in the analogue world.  There is also a right of equitable remuneration for performers, which exists (if it all) in different ways in different jurisdictions and which in the UK can be only claimed against the record label. Once we enter the digital world, however, things changed, particularly after UK record labels withdrew the right to collect their rights from the relevant copyright management organisation (in this case the PPL) -- since the performers' rights can only be exercised through collective management. Elsewhere in the EU, performers can get their payment directly from the music users. The situation just gets more and more complex.

Amanda then went on to look at the equivalent provisions under the "insane" US copyright provisions. While in every other country the author gives a global exclusive right to its copyright management organisation, in the United States it's only possible to grant a non-exclusive licence. The consequences of this, leading to the DMX scandal (noted here and here on the 1709 Blog) and to firms like Pandora paying only tiny sums for playing their music and still complaining that they're paying too much.

Amanda's bravura performance was a hard act to follow, but Toni Vitali (YouView -- NOT to be confused with YouTube), addressing TV on Demand. YouView owns no content and sells no boxes to consumers -- it's an open platform which is open to all and lets users aggregate content, of which YouView is not the aggregator. Users can watch what they wan, when they want.

Video on Demand (VoD) is rising rapidly in popularity, from a more or less standing start: witness the rapid rise of Netflix and Lovefilm (soon to be rebranded Amazon). Some 400,000 VoD set-top boxes are now in use and this is scary for the major broadcasters, since time-shifting is generally at their expense.

What are the copyright infringement issues? In principle the act of recording for time-shifting is permitted, but does the streaming of a programme infringe the right to distribution or, if done in public, a public communication, of it? And has there been an authorisation of infringement by others? A further issue relates to the incorporation into the set box of an algorithm that suggests and automatically pre-records material on the basis of its perception of the box-owner's preferences.

Toni then went through a list of regulatory approvals that must be maintained, depending on the nature of the communication service in question. Lacunae exist even now, though: for example, live broadcasts of opera.  Football club websites offering 'goal of the month' and interviews with players may be another example, though the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD) thought it might be -- and it probably would be if it operated a paywall.

IP and Digital Entertainment conference: Part III IP and Digital Entertainment conference: Part III Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, July 18, 2013 Rating: 5

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