'Over the Rainbow' composer's estate sues Apple & others over 'pirated' music sales

2»

Comments

  • Reply 21 of 35
    larz2112larz2112 Posts: 286member
    kruegdude said:
    The defendant list seems to be rather short, for instance Spotify is not mentioned. One interesting attribute of the defendants seems to be that they are profitable. 
    You think over 40 defendants is a "rather short" list??? As far as Spotify not being on the list, it could very well be that they do a better job of policing for unauthorized content before making it availble on their service. Maybe that's part of the reason why they aren't making as much money as others. Well, that and the fact that they were founded on a completely unsustainable business model.
  • Reply 22 of 35
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 716member
    I have lived a long life, so far, and I still haven't met a single person who understands the difference between copyright duration on music performances and copyright duration on music. People claim to be interested in music but don't make any effort to understand how music is copyrighted. I have respect for copyright holders. And I especially have respect for the copyright holder of the greatest movie song of the century. Let the legal process work itself out.
  • Reply 23 of 35
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,593member
    I can't see the legal argument that it's Apple's job to check each and every version of the 45M+ songs they have to ensure that each and every musician/arranger/composer/producer/record label/publisher's rights have been cleared. That is **literally** the job of the record company licensing the end product to Apple (or Spotify, et al).

    Certainly Apple needs to have (and, incidentally, does have) a mechanism where artists/publishers/estates/songwriters/musicians/arrangers/producers can file a complaint about an illegal version/copy of a song or album, and that version can be taken down pending an investigation. I think that more than meets Apple's end of the legal obligation.

    IMO the estate of Mr. Arlen is endangering the suit by trying to target NPCs who happen to have deep pockets rather than targeting the actual guilty parties, the individuals or companies who licensed the illegal files to Apple/Spotify et al. Apple (et al) would likely be an ally in court detailing how the guilty party committed fraid, rather than making them an adversary in the hope of a lucrative settlement.
    edited May 17 sdw2001
  • Reply 24 of 35
    iyfcalviniyfcalvin Posts: 64member
    larz2112 said:
    kruegdude said:
    The defendant list seems to be rather short, for instance Spotify is not mentioned. One interesting attribute of the defendants seems to be that they are profitable. 
    You think over 40 defendants is a "rather short" list??? As far as Spotify not being on the list, it could very well be that they do a better job of policing for unauthorized content before making it availble on their service. Maybe that's part of the reason why they aren't making as much money as others. Well, that and the fact that they were founded on a completely unsustainable business model.
    Spotify isn’t on the list because they’re a streaming service. As far as I know, they do not sell songs/albums to download. 
  • Reply 25 of 35
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 837member
    spice-boy said:
    Stop defending Apple especially when they are wrong. Tech companies are entering waters they know little about and although not perhaps intentional Apple and others have not done their homework. Apple has no problem suing other companies when their toes are stepped on. 

    You're joking right? Apple is largely responsible for fixing a huge problem in the music industry. Digital Piracy was rampant 10+ years ago, and Apple successfully helped to change consumer behaviours to adopt for-pay models for legitimately accessing digital music through iPod and iTunes Music Store. Music is so easy to access digitally now, and for free in many cases (ie. see YouTube).

    I think the problem is the sheer quantity of music these days and the difficulty policing it. That's not the same thing as Apple knowing little about what they are managing. It's just a big, big job! As long as they provide an avenue for copyright holders to make requests, then they've covered their bases.

    excuse excuses
  • Reply 26 of 35
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,980member
    Many years ago Amazon advertised that it has over ten million songs in its store. I wondered how it can check each song is legitimate. 
  • Reply 27 of 35
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,038member
    larz2112 said:
    Seems like they have a legitimate gripe. And from what I've read, most of these companies that stream/sell digital music make rights holders jump through hoops in order to remove an unauthorized item, far more trouble than it took the criminal to post and sell it in the first place. That shouldn't be the case. Hence the lawsuit. It seems like Apple has at least removed the pirated copy of the song mentioned in the article. One down, thousands more to go I'm sure.
     The question is who is responsible for that gripe? I really don’t think it is Apple or the other services. They cannot be expected to jump through hoops to verify ownership claims. As I said, I’m just speculating... but I think it would be reasonable that Apple makes them attest in writing to their ownership of material. Who knows.
    edited May 17
  • Reply 28 of 35
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 329member
    Ah, perpetual copyright ownership by estates & trusts, with nary a public-domain death deadline in sight... How long do estates get to collect now? We can thank Disney for constantly having the public domain deadline pushed further and further back from the point of death.
    This is ultimately the problem here.  The entire point of copyright is to encourage invention and art, the constitution is clear on that.  A dead man will write no songs, death should terminate copyright immediately.
  • Reply 29 of 35
    davidwdavidw Posts: 972member
    I have lived a long life, so far, and I still haven't met a single person who understands the difference between copyright duration on music performances and copyright duration on music. People claim to be interested in music but don't make any effort to understand how music is copyrighted. I have respect for copyright holders. And I especially have respect for the copyright holder of the greatest movie song of the century. Let the legal process work itself out.
    Like you, there's much more that I don't understand about music copyright laws, than I do or ever will, but I at least know that this estate of the songwriter that wrote the music to, "Over the Rainbow", do not own the copyright to the "greatest movie song of the century", Judy Garlands version of "Over the Rainbow". MGM, or who ever owns MGM now, owns that copyright. MGM, at the time, paid the songwriter for the rights to use the music in their movie. This does not mean that the songwriter owns the copyright to "Over the Rainbow", as sung by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz".

    There's must to ten's of thousands of versions of "Over the Rainbow", all done by different artists. And each of those artist owns the copyright to their version of "Over the Rainbow" and are entitled to its proceeds, providing they paid the songwriter or who ever owns the publishing rights, for the rights to the music. And depending on how those rights were paid for, the songwriter might get none of the proceeds from any sales from someone elses copyrighted work. 

    So with this lawsuit, they only have a beef with the artists or music labels that didn't paid the songwriter for the rights to use the music. Apple can sell as many digital copies of the "greatest movie song of the century", "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland and none of the proceeds might make its way to the estate of the songwriter, as MGM owns the copyright to that version and this estate can't dispute it. Whether MGM still have to pay any royalties to the writer, for Judy Garland's version, depends on how the rights to the music were obtain in the first place. It being around 1939, I bet MGM don't. And that should not be Apple's problem. 

    Now, radio airplay, which I understand even less about, pays the songwriters (or whoever owns the public performance rights) a royalty fee every time it's played over the air, no matter what version is played. The money goes into a pool and the 2 or 3 big music unions ditty up the money to writers. The artist, who owns the copyright to their music, gets paid next to nothing for radio air play, as they get the advertising that drives listeners to buy their records or go their concerts. Where the artist makes money from their copyrighted music. 

    Digital streaming is where it gets messy. Songwriters wants each stream to be like a radio play, where they will get a paid and the music label wants each stream to be like a record sale, where the songwriters gets nothing and the artist gets next to nothing. Specially the older artist that drew up contracts with their music labels, before digital streaming or digital anything for that matter.

    Where as paid subscription streaming can not be considered a "public performance" where songwriters should get paid, free streaming paid by advertising on the other hand, can be considered a public performance, just like radio, and thus songwriters should get paid like radio airplay. I don't think there's any new copyright laws to address this. It's just something that is worked out or being worked out, between the songwriters, artists, copyright holders, music labels, music unions and streamers.    
    edited May 18
  • Reply 30 of 35
    grifmxgrifmx Posts: 89member
    how unfortunate literally. there should be some simple way of checking ownership but I don't really think there is. people who have profited off stolen digital goods should be banned from distribution platforms but as a composer, not sure exactly how Apple would validate or non-validate ownership. some people file official copyrights when some people don't. then if a license holder has right to distribute, that is a different form than a copyright. however, it seems if duplicate titles appear, there should be some further scrutiny as to checking against known owners, and I'm sure covers could be matched with Harry Fox licensing database...
  • Reply 31 of 35
    apple2capple2c Posts: 33member
    David, I don't think that's right.  If I own the copyright to a creative work and give you permission to use it a movie or a play or a book, I still retain the copyright to the song.  You cannot, on your own, license your use of it to someone else.

    In this case, it depends on whether MGM bought the rights, commissioned the work (i.e., a work for hire), or licensed it.  Just because they used it doesn't mean that they now hold the copyright to the song!  For sure, they hold the rights to Judy Garland's performance of it, but they cannot license that to others unless they have made arrangements with the copyright holder (or hold the copyright) or the new user also gets permission of the current copyright holder.

    As to other parts of the film, they certainly hold the copyright and can grant permission or license.  Although there are fair use provisions, including satire, that don't require permission.  For example, if I did a scholarly analysis of the song, I could quote some parts of it.  Or, if I did political satire of the amalgamated melting pot, the Rainbow Coalition, or Trump's anti-immigrant stances, I could even rewrite the words to “Over the Rainbow” and I’d be protected — as so long it was satire.  I could not, however, even for scholarly purposes reproduce the ENTIRE work in my book!
    edited May 19
  • Reply 32 of 35
    davidwdavidw Posts: 972member
    grifmx said:
    how unfortunate literally. there should be some simple way of checking ownership but I don't really think there is. people who have profited off stolen digital goods should be banned from distribution platforms but as a composer, not sure exactly how Apple would validate or non-validate ownership. some people file official copyrights when some people don't. then if a license holder has right to distribute, that is a different form than a copyright. however, it seems if duplicate titles appear, there should be some further scrutiny as to checking against known owners, and I'm sure covers could be matched with Harry Fox licensing database...
    As far as i know, it is the sole responsibility of  the copyright owners, to enforce their own copyrights. If a copyright owner finds out that someone is infringing upon their copyrighted works, they must inform the infringer of that and demand that the infringer either pay for a license to use the work or stop distributing or using the work as their own. Only then, if the infringer don't pay for a license, can they inform entities like Apple, Walmart, Target, etc., to stop selling the infringed upon copyrighted work. It is not up to entities like Apple, Walmart, Target, etc. to research if the copyrighted works they are selling in their stores, do not in anyway infringe upon someone else's copyrights. But once informed of that infringement, they have the duty to stop selling that work in their stores. 

    Up until 5 years ago ........

    With Google, if a mother uploaded a video of her singing "Happy Birthday To You" to her 1 year old baby on to YouTube and it gets 1M hits, Google could have been hit with an order to take down the video or pay for a license for the song "Happy Birthday To You". Even though the mother had fair use right to sing "Happy Birthday To you" to her baby on the video, neither she or Google, have the right to make money from placing ads on that YouTube video, if the main reason for the 1M hits was to hear the mother singing .... "Happy Birthday To You". That would be beyond "fair use".  But I'm sure Google pays millions, if not billions, of dollars toward the 3 big music unions, to cover situations like this, just like how radio stations pay songwriters for airplay. But Google can still be forced to take down a video that is using a song without the proper license, if it's not covered under "fair use".

    If a rock band 10 years ago, during a live concert, sang "Happy Birthday To You" to a fan and pays for the public performance rights for "Happy Birthday To You", they are covered. But if a year later, they release an album of that concert that includes the 30 seconds of them singing "Happy Birthday To You", they could be infringing upon a copyright, if they didn't secure the rights to use "Happy Birthday To You" on their album. The "public performance rights" to a song do not include the "mechanical rights" to record and release that song on an album. Thus once informed of that, they must pay for a license to use "Happy Birthday to You" on their album or stop selling the album or do as some have done, release a new version of the album, with the infringing copyrighted work taken out.   

    That would be the way it was 5 years ago with "Happy Birthday to You", before a judge ruled that that song belongs in public domain. 

    https://diymusician.cdbaby.com/music-rights/is-happy-birthday-now-in-the-public-domain/

    But there are still millions of songs today, that are like what "Happy Birthday To You" was, before it was ruled in public domain. Songs that we wouldn't think its publishing rights were owned by anyone, but are by now, owned by everyone. And it's not just the lyrics but also the tune or melody. Include just the first dozen notes of "Over the Rainbow" anywhere in your own work and you need a license. Otherwise your copyrighted work is infringing upon the owners of the publishing rights to ..... "Over the Rainbow". Which appears to be, the estate of the original songwriter. 
  • Reply 33 of 35
    davidwdavidw Posts: 972member
    apple2c said:
    David, I don't think that's right.  If I own the copyright to a creative work and give you permission to use it a movie or a play or a book, I still retain the copyright to the song.  You cannot, on your own, license your use of it to someone else.

    In this case, it depends on whether MGM bought the rights, commissioned the work (i.e., a work for hire), or licensed it.  Just because they used it doesn't mean that they now hold the copyright to the song!  For sure, they hold the rights to Judy Garland's performance of it, but they cannot license that to others unless they have made arrangements with the copyright holder (or hold the copyright) or the new user also gets permission of the current copyright holder.

    As to other parts of the film, they certainly hold the copyright and can grant permission or license.  Although there are fair use provisions, including satire, that don't require permission.  For example, if I did a scholarly analysis of the song, I could quote some parts of it.  Or, if I did political satire of the amalgamated melting pot, the Rainbow Coalition, or Trump's anti-immigrant stances, I could even rewrite the words to “Over the Rainbow” and I’d be protected — as so long it was satire.  I could not, however, even for scholarly purposes reproduce the ENTIRE work in my book!
    That is exactly what I'm saying. MGM owns the copyright to their Judy Garland version of "Over the Rainbow" as sung in "The Wizard of Oz". I'm sure Judy Garland owns the copyrights to the versions of "Over the Rainbow" that she sung in concerts and other recordings, later on as an adult. And she obtained the rights to sing those songs through the original songwriter (or legal owner of the publishing rights to the song), not through MGM.  

    The songwriter usually owns the publishing rights to the song. In which case, it's now own by his estate. But the OP I was responding to, thinks the estate owns the copyright to the "greatest movie song on the century". Which would be incorrect. The estate only owns the publishing rights to all versions of "Over the Rainbow", not the copyright to Judy Garlands singing the song in "The Wizard of Oz". Every artist that paid for a license from the owner of the publishing rights, to use "Over the Rainbow" to create their own version, owns the copyrights to their own version of the song and have control over it. They can sell or transfer their copyrighted version of the song to someone else, but they can not transfer over any publishing rights to the song itself. They have no ownership rights to the original tune from which they derived their version of the song.

    And only the version sung by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz", can be considered "the greatest movie song of the century". Not the version sung by Drew Barrymore in "Blended" (2014). And in this case, MGM did not pay the songwriter for the copyright to "Over the Rainbow" as sung Judy Garland. They own that copyright automatically when Judy Garland sang that song for their movie. If anything, Judy Garland estate might own that copyright. So long as MGM paid the songwriter for the use of that song in their movie or commissioned the songwriter to write that song. But if MGM commissioned a songwriter to write "Over the Rainbow", the estate of the songwriter would not own any rights to it now.   

    When the Beatles signed with VeeJay (or maybe it was Capital?), they signed over the publishing rights to their songs to their music label (which was common for songwriters and musicians to do at the time), which later on was sold it to some other music publishing catalog holder. The Beatles retained all the copyrights to the songs that they sang but their record label was able to sell licenses to other artist that wanted to create their own versions of a McCarthy/Lennon song and then eventually sold their whole Beatles catalog of songs.

    So we ended up with hundreds of artist singing Beatles tunes and they all legally own the copyrights to their version of the Beatles tune but not the publishing rights to the original tune. They only have the right to allow someone else to use their copyrighted version of their song but not the rights to allow some else to create a different version, using their song. Those rights remains with the owner of the publishing rights of the original tune.

    Joe Crocker owns the copyright to his famous version of "A Little Help From My Friend", that Paul McCarthy and John Lennon wrote in 1967 for their St. Pepper album. Joe Crocker can sell a license to the creator of the TV series, "The Wonder Years" that allows them to use his version of the song at the beginning each episode. But has no right to allow the creator of "The Wonder Years" to create a new different version of the song. Nor does the creator of "The Wonder Years" have any copyright rights to the song. They only paid for a license for the rights to use it for their TV series. Nor does Paul McCarthy, as the songwriter, own any of the copyrights to Joe Crocker's versions of his song. Though he might now be receiving royalties for its use in "The Wonder Years". That depends on the license agreement Joe Crocker signed to use the song. 

    Paul McCarthy tried to buy back the publishing rights to his old Beatles songs but was outbid twice. The second time by Micheal Jackson and Sony. But it now seems Paul McCarthy finally got what he was trying for decades to buy back, the publishing rights to his old Beatles songs. Not the copyrights to the Beatles version of the songs he wrote, the Beatles never lost control of those copyrights. And it doesn't mean that he has any control of the Beatles songs that were already licensed to others. But now, as the holder of the publishing rights, he has control over who gets a license to create a new versions of any of his old songs that he wrote when he was with the Beatles and receive any royalties from those songs if that was or is part, of the license agreement. There's a reason why just the publishing rights to the Beatles old songs, are now worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  

    https://liveforlivemusic.com/news/paul-mccartney-beatles-rights-win/ ;    
  • Reply 34 of 35
    larz2112larz2112 Posts: 286member
    iyfcalvin said:
    larz2112 said:
    kruegdude said:
    The defendant list seems to be rather short, for instance Spotify is not mentioned. One interesting attribute of the defendants seems to be that they are profitable. 
    You think over 40 defendants is a "rather short" list??? As far as Spotify not being on the list, it could very well be that they do a better job of policing for unauthorized content before making it availble on their service. Maybe that's part of the reason why they aren't making as much money as others. Well, that and the fact that they were founded on a completely unsustainable business model.
    Spotify isn’t on the list because they’re a streaming service. As far as I know, they do not sell songs/albums to download. 
    That is what I thought originally, but Pandora is on the list, and as far as I know, they are a streaming service only and do not sell songs to download.
  • Reply 35 of 35
    larz2112larz2112 Posts: 286member
    chasm said:
    I can't see the legal argument that it's Apple's job to check each and every version of the 45M+ songs they have to ensure that each and every musician/arranger/composer/producer/record label/publisher's rights have been cleared. That is **literally** the job of the record company licensing the end product to Apple (or Spotify, et al).

    Certainly Apple needs to have (and, incidentally, does have) a mechanism where artists/publishers/estates/songwriters/musicians/arrangers/producers can file a complaint about an illegal version/copy of a song or album, and that version can be taken down pending an investigation. I think that more than meets Apple's end of the legal obligation.


    IMO the estate of Mr. Arlen is endangering the suit by trying to target NPCs who happen to have deep pockets rather than targeting the actual guilty parties, the individuals or companies who licensed the illegal files to Apple/Spotify et al. Apple (et al) would likely be an ally in court detailing how the guilty party committed fraid, rather than making them an adversary in the hope of a lucrative settlement.
    The estate is not "trying to target NPCs who happen to have deep pockets" as you claim.  You also claim that they are not "targeting the actual guilty parties",  but they are. If you take a look at the actual lawsuit (link at the bottom of the AI article), there are over 40 defendants listed, many of which are the "actual guilty parties" you are referring to. The lawsuit states the following:  "86. Defendants each fall into at least one of three categories of participants in the digital music business: (a) online digital music stores and streaming services; (b) distributors; and (c) pirate record imprints/labels."

    That pretty much covers every company involved, not just those with "deep pockets".

    As I stated in a previous post, at the moment it is very easy to sell pirated material on digital music stores and streaming services, and much more tedious and time-consuming for legal copyright owners to have said pirated material removed. And currently the financial and legal consequnces of selling pirated material are not very steep. My hope is that lawsuits such as this one will pursuade online music stores and streaming services to improve the process by which copyright owners petition to have pirated material removed, and also to make distributors and pirate record labels think twice about uploading and selling pirated material. 
Sign In or Register to comment.