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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Streaming Royalty Issue Heats Up

The streaming royalty debacle goes back quite a while, but 2008 has seen its share of headway on the issue. In May, ASCAP announced a favorable ruling giving it “legacy” (back pay) royalties from AOL and Yahoo to the tune of millions of dollars. Keep in mind that ASCAP is a performing rights organization that represents performance rights only, and only as such rights relate to compositions (as opposed to sound recordings). That was great news for songwriters, composer and publishers who – up to that point – may have been uncertain as to how the law would treat streaming for royalty purposes. But the case really only answered two questions: 1) are performance royalties due for streams; and 2) if they are, how much. It left a host of other questions unanswered.

Then along came the RIAA.

Last week, the RIAA (representing the recording industry, i.e., record labels), and DiMA (representing digital media outlets), and other trade groups, reached an agreement concerning the ‘other’ piece of the puzzle: the mechanical royalty. The agreement only applies to interactive streaming and limited download scenarios, and does not address non-interactive streaming, such as your standard Internet radio station. Likewise, it does not address digital downloads. The agreed rate is 10.5% of net revenue, reduced by the amount of performance royalties. In other words, it’s a royalty cap. Betanews reports, however, that the cap relates to performance royalties for sound recordings, leaving an additional royalty tier for performance royalties due to ASCAP and the other Performing Rights Organizations.

Three royalties for a single activity? Sounds like it.

This all sounds like good news, because if the Copyright Royalty Judges adopt the agreement, it will clarify any uncertainty as to which royalties are due for interactive streaming activities, and how much will be paid. The agreement also created a byproduct acknowledgement: mechanical royalties are required for interactive audio-only streaming, but not for non-interactive audio-only streaming (i.e., Internet radio).

That’s an interesting non-point, because most Internet radio stations are non-interactive audio-only, so they won’t be paying mechanical royalties. But yes, they’ll still be paying performance royalties for both the composition and the sound recording. What will they Pay? At this point, Internet radio really doesn’t have an answer. The more intriguing question is whether this agreement between the music industry and the trade groups is in contemplation of a new music delivery method yet to be unveiled.

For now, even though this is a substantial milestone in royalty clarification, there are many questions unanswered. The Copyright Royalty Judges are expected to rule on a few royalty matters on October 2, and we may see additional revelations concerning this agreement. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ad Placement in Song Lyrics?

You must be joking. It was one thing hearing Jennifer Garner in Alias say, "Quick, the Ford F-150..." Product placement can be somewhat innocuous in a film or, sometimes, in TV, but in song lyrics? You've just gone too far with that one.

I've heard the songs...references to cars, cell carriers, etc., but knowing that the lyrics were written to incorporate a brand? It's pathetic. It crossed my mind when Lupe Fiasco had that song that listed off everything he likes "...False Now-N-Laters..." you had to wonder...did they all write him a check or is it real? Art ceases to be art when it's not real. Then it's just PROPAGANDA!

You can go on and on about how the music industry is on a crash-and-burn course, and I agree that creativity will ultimately solve the problem. BRAND PLACEMENT IN SONG LYRICS IS NOT CREATIVE!! It is lame. Keep it real.

Read about it here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why Pay Royalties on a Preview?

You gotta ask yourself, would Honda charge a fee to have a picture of its Accord in an sell the Accord? That's what the PROs want. They want web retailers to pay royalties for 30 second clips of music used solely as a preview intended to elicit a sale of music. We'll see how that one goes.

What I see is an industry needing to make up for a loss in CD sales, but is the right choice to start charging for uses that have no monetary value in and of themselves? I don't think so.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Turkey and Shrimp Meatballs

Bold, is how I describe it. You can't find these at IKEA or Trader Joes...maybe not anywhere. Why? Not because they're not amazing, but because people stick to what they know. Don't be one of those people...try this:

1 pound of ground turkey
1 pound of raw scrimp
1 handful of fresh mint
1/2 handful of fresh Italian parsley
1 small chili
1 egg
Olive oil

Here's what you do:

Drop the turkey in a working bowl. Mince shrimp until they're almost like a paste...add to your turkey. Chop your mint and parsley, drop it into your bowl. Dice your chili and drop it into the bowl. Add salt and pepper how you like it. Add at least 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Take 1 tablespoon of cumin and dry toast it until fragrant, then grind it into a powder and drop it in.

Mix up the stuff well, and drop 2 glugs of olive oil in for good measure. While you're at it, crack an egg in too. Mix it all very well with your hands.

Let it set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Take it out and roll into as many 1 inch balls as you can make.

Pour some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and let it warm up. Cook them bad boys for about 10 minutes, shifting them over and around often.

They're good by themselves, or with your favorite condiment - ketchup sweet chili sauce, etc.

Amazon to Start Selling Wine Online

Wine is good. Amazon will start selling it online in October 2008. Good news for enthusiasts.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

DRM Keeps Gamers Pissed

You know, as a copyright owner and IP lawyer, I support copyright protection and enforcement. But, there's a point where you see that some protections actually encourage piracy. The release of a DRM-laden SPORE is sending gamers into anti-establishment mode because you just don't want to pay full price for a game that can only be installed 3 times. What if you need to uninstall and reinstall? What if this? What if that? There may be many, many legal reasons for needing to install the game more than 3 times.

At Costco, you know you've got to wait in line to get out because those people with the yellow marker are waiting to pretend they're counting what you have in your cart for loss prevention. You accept it because that's how Costco has been for years. A small price to pay considering you can buy massive quantities at low prices.

But then Wal-Mart thinks they can start doing the same thing? Forget that. It makes me want to run for it and clock that old lady as I dash. It's human nature.

What's my point? The more difficulties you implement in a product, the less likely someone wants to pay for it. They just want to steal it. My opinion - more access will equal more sales, because if it's just as easy to buy as it is to steal, why take the risk? Human nature is skewed towards risk avoidance. More people steal because you can find what you need for free easier than you can to pay for it.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Next Evolution in DVD Portability?

RealNetworks announced a tool that will enable you to copy your entire DVD collection to your PC. Starting at $29.99, this could make it so your movies are as portable as your music collection. Pretty sweet - although I'm not sure how storage limitations are going to impact viability of having your entire library on a single PC.

RealNetworks reports that you won't be able to email or share P2P any of the films, which they say "stops the worst violations people can do."

Give it a spin later this month.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Crispy Chicken on Cold Pasta with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Granted, something with a red-pink tint probably looks more fitting on a donut than pasta, but I had to take a chance.

While walking the other day, I noticed a pomegranate tree FULL of the fruit. I snatched a few and headed home. I thought about making a vinaigrette, but didn't feel like eating a salad. Hmmm....chicken...pasta...ok, how about this one.

Take some chicken breasts (slice into the size you see above) or buy 'tenders.' Salt and pepper generously. Take 2 slices of bread into processor and make bread crumbs. Smash the crumbs into your chicken. Heat 2 - 3 Tsp oil in a pan and fry on medium heat until golden brown and crispy...maybe 5 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, drop some angel hair pasta into boiling water and cook according to your notes. When it's done, run under cold water until the noodles are cold or drop into ice water then drain.

Pull some fresh basil off your bush and pound it with the back of your knife, then slice it up. Also toast a handful of pine nuts for a couple of minutes (don't burn them).

Find your favorite vinaigrette recipe and replace the citrus in it with fresh pomegranate juice. For mine, I used an orange juicer and made about 2 cups of juice. I drank whatever I didn't use in the dressing.



Cable Companies Help Erode Copyrighted Content Value (at least to the content owner)

The Second Circuit recently gave an opinion passing the value of content into the hands of the cable companies and away from the people who own it.

You know the sign up for cable and Entourage is on at 10pm. You want to watch it before work at 5am while you're on the treadmill. You're sick of all those devices below the plasma screen, so you opt for the 'remove DVR' service, which allows you to store a show digitally and REMOTELY (i.e., not in your house and not on your equipment) for later viewing.

Funny thing, those copyright owners...they thought the cable companies should get a license to permit that activity. But, the court said "nope."

This is a horribly decided case. With the increase in ways technology can deliver content, the ability to protect copyrights seems to have least as to the copyright owner. But there have never been more ways to exploit a copyright, or to locate so many "value points" for copyright exploitation. In other words, we can get it out there like never before, but we can't find a way to make people pay for it...who gets punched in this scenario? The copyright owner.

I'd love to see the day when copyright protection co-exists at the same advanced stage as copyright exploitation- which should also co-exist at the same advanced stage as the ability to monetize it. As for right now, exploitation and delivery is light years ahead of protection and monetization.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Simple Snack for Late Night Movies

I'm all for eating 50% of your daily calories between the hours of 11pm - 1am. Dark chocolate. Salami. Your choice.

Last night I was watching Diggers and enjoying a simple snack of crackers, mango, basil and Havarti. Actually, it's Brie in the picture, but that was the picture round. It doesn't need to be complicated, but why settle for popcorn?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Spicy Mint Peach Sauce

So my neighbors ask my wife and I over for dinner. Like usual, it's Argentinian BBQ and empanadas. My neighbor's mom says she'll make Chimichurri and she's a great cook. I want to add a little something of my own so I decide to make a sauce using peaches and some fresh peppers from my back yard. A big mistake I made not taking a picture of this one. It was perfect with Argentinian BBQ and empanadas.

Take 8 cloves of garlic, skins still on, and roast in dry pan for about 3 - 4 minutes, shaking often. Remove, peel, and dice. Drop into a bowl.
Dice 1 large peach and drop into the bowl with garlic.
Dice 2 red chiles (or one serano, or whatever you like depending on your spice comfort level). Drop them bad boys into the bowl too.
Sqeeze the juice from 2 or 3 limes into your bowl.
Take about 1 TSP of cumin and heat it in your dry pan until it smells good...maybe 2 minutes. Don't burn it. Take it out, grind it in your mortar and drop it in your bowl with everything else.
Take a small soup pot and add about 1/2 Cup or more of olive oil. Add about the same amount of water. Turn on the heat. Add your bowl full of goods. Turn up the heat towards a boil. Add fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste. Boil the mixture, then simmer it for about 4 minutes. During this time, chop up a mean handful of fresh mint and drop it in the pot. Stir well and stir often.

Pour it all into a bowl. You can pour it straight over your meat or empanadas. It's awesome!