Recently in Licensing Category

Yes, it's New Jersey. No, it's not the plot from a recent Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode. This is actually a software license contract dispute.

Seriously.

Hoboken has a parking garage that uses a robotic elevator/conveyor system to park cars more efficiently than the typical garage layout. But, the software that runs the intelligent system was licensed to the company managing the garage, not to the owners of the garage.

Wired News reports: Giant Robot Imprisons Parked Cars: "In the course of a contract dispute, the city of Hoboken had police escort the Robotic employees from the premises just a few days before the contract between both parties was set to expire. What the city didn't understand or perhaps concern itself with, is that they sent the company packing with its manuals and the intellectual property rights to the software that made the giant robotic parking structure work."

Copyrights Keep TV Shows off DVD

Wired News reports on the licensing trouble that television producers have in clearing music rights for DVD releases of certain series: Copyrights Keep TV Shows off DVD: "For many TV shows, costs to license the original music for DVD are prohibitively high, so rights owners replace the music with cheaper tunes, much to the irritation of avid fans. And some shows, like WKRP, which is full of music, will probably never make it to DVD because of high licensing costs."

Exterminate Licensing

A copyright licensing dispute prevents "TV's most evil villains," the Daleks, from appearing in the BBC's latest Dr. Who series. BBC News: No Daleks in Doctor Who's return.

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Fans had hoped to see the Daleks' return in the series, scheduled for release on BBC One in early 2005, but feared copyright issues might stand in the way.

The BBC spokeswoman said: "The BBC offered the very best deal possible but ultimately we were not able to give the level of editorial influence that the Terry Nation estate wished to have."

But an agent for the Nation estate accused the BBC of ignoring copyright laws and said the corporation was trying to "ruin the brand of the Daleks".

Boucher on tech legislation

News.com's Declan McCullagh interviews Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va) about copy protection, the DMCA and Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act and regulating VOIP: The Hill's property rights showdown:

Our intellectual-property laws have always been intentionally porous, and the porous nature of those laws, accommodating, for example, the Fair Use Doctrine, has enabled the society to have a right to use intellectual property in certain circumstances without having to obtain the permission in advance of the owner of the copyright.

White, Black and Grey

What happens when you mix together the Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's Black Album? DJ Danger Mouse did just that and created the Grey Album, by mixing Jay-Z's vocals (taken from a CD of just the vocal tracks from the Black Album) over music tracks built using samples from the White Album. Rolling Stone calls it “the ultimate remix record.” Boston Globe music critic Renee Graham thinks that the Grey Album is “the most intriguing hip-hop album in recent memory.”

EMI, who owns the copyright in the Beatles sound recordings, has requested that Danger Mouse stop distributing the album and requested that web sites stop hosting Grey Album MP3’s. For a sampling of the press coverage, see BBC News: EMI blocks Beatles album remix, Wired News: Copyright Enters a Gray Area, and MTV News: Producer Of The Grey Album, Jay-Z/ Beatles Mash-Up, Gets Served. Illegal-Art.org continues to host MP3's of the Grey Album tracks.

Even before the era of recorded music, musicians would build on existing songs written by other artists. Recording artists cover standards and songs written by other songwriters. In order to allow recording artists to more easily record new versions of existing songs, the Copyright Act provides for a compulsory license to make and distribute phonorecords of non-dramatic musical works. 17 USC §115. The rise of hip-hop and DJ culture in music over the last 25 years or so has changed the way that artists create new music, by building on the work of earlier artists through direct audio sampling.

In the sampling era, the legal departments of record labels, particularly those that specialize in hip-hop or the other genres that sample heavily, spend significant amounts of time clearing samples for use on records.

Under current copyright law, the Grey Album is clearly illegal—the right to make derivative works is an exclusive right of the copyright holder. 17 USC §106(2). Because sampling has become so prevalent, perhaps copyright law needs to allow for more sampling.

Four approaches towards sampling are currently available for samplers: unlicensed sampling, ad-hoc licensing, fair use sampling and sampling from the public domain. Each of these carries significant drawbacks. One alternative may be to legislate a compulsory license for sampling. Another emerging alternative is for artists to preemptively license their work for sampling.

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Global webcast licenses

IFPI: Recording industry announces new one-stop-shop for webcast licensing

The recording industry today announces a new international agreement that will allow internet webcasters to stream music programmes to consumers on the basis of a single "one-stop" licence.

The agreement will allow webcasters to clear record producers' rights in a multitude of countries by entering into a licence in one participating country. It will come into force as it is signed by national collecting societies over the next few weeks.

Reuters: Music industry offers global Webcast license

Penn State and Napster

While Penn State's deal with Roxio will provide access to popular music, how relevant is the Napster catalog to academic music studies? Wouldn't Penn State be more successfully promoting its academic goals by spending the money from the Roxio deal to create digital streaming access to its entire music library?

Penn State Live: Q&A: Penn State's new online music service with Napster

Penn State is concerned that some of its students don't understand that downloading music over computer networks without purchasing copyright permission is both unethical and against the law. The University believes it has a responsibility to do something to change that. Penn State will continue to try to educate students on this issue and will continue to enforce its strong policies against copyright infringement. At the same time, the University wants to provide legal alternatives to illegal downloading. This service is directly aimed at helping students to understand the issue and to provide them with an alternative.

The Collegian: PSU students react to deal with Napster: "I think it is kind of dumb."

News.com: Penn State students blast Napster deal: "The money I pay could go to much better things such as rebuilding the network or better lab equipment."

Boston Globe: Penn State, Roxio link to let files flow

Wired News: Penn State, Napster Ink Pact

Derek Slater: Thoughts on PSU/Napster and Responses to Thoughts on PSU/Napster

The Register: Penn State's pigopolist pork is not smelling sweet

Previously: Napster follows in the footsteps of Lexis and Westlaw

Digital Music Faces Hurdles in Europe

Reuters (via BizReport.com): Digital Music Biz Faces Hurdles in Europe

Apple's plans to take a bite out of the still nascent European sector will depend strongly on its capacity to deal with the region's complex multilingual, multicultural and multi-regulatory issues. Moreover, it will face intense competition from already established music e-tailers and other U.S. rivals....

"You can't go to a single place to get all the rights. To be able to deal with them requires physical traveling, a certain amount of negotiations expertise, and you need to be able to speak the native languages," says Mark Mulligan, senior analyst at Internet research firm Jupiter Research.