“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”

Walt Whitman

The European Copyright Directive, including the controversial “Article 13,”  was finalized this past Wednesday (February 13) during a meeting where the three branches of European government came together - the European Commission, the Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. It now awaits a final vote by the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee, which is set to take place in late March or early April.

A couple appointments were made by the Librarian of Congress this week, the first selection of which was Judge Jesse Feder as the new chief copyright royalty judge and head of the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). Next selected was Richard C. Strasser as interim copyright royalty judge on the CRB to fill in the empty spot left by Feder’s appointment. He will service for around six months, or until the Librarian finds a permanent replacement. Both Feder and Strasser serve as judges on the CRB to conduct proceedings around royalty disputes and distribution of royalties alongside Judge David Strickler.

Apple will be launching its new video service on March 25 at a special event. The company has invited Hollywood stars like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Garner, according to Bloomberg. This is the first time Apple has launched a major digital product since 2015. It is set to arrive this summer with both acquired and Apple-funded series and films with content integrated into Apple’s TV app.

Now, the details...
Compiled by Heidi Seo

Exploration Weekly - February 15, 2019

European Copyright Directive Finalized, Article 13 Text Approved

Negotiations around the final text of the Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market have been finalized Wednesday evening (February 13) after the final Trilogue phase among the three branches of European government - the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council of the European Union - started on Monday (February 11). European Member States voted last week to use a France-Germany deal as an agreed position from which to negotiate, which was leaked by Politico and can be read in full here. The Copyright Directive includes the controversial Article 13 provision, which aims to force companies hosting user-generated content to be held liable for copyright infringement on their platforms. The proposed text will now go before the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee, and the final vote on the Directive is to take place in late March or early April.

Librarian of Congress Announces New Chief Copyright Royalty Judge and Interim Copyright Royalty Judge

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden recently unveiled her selection of Judge Jesse Feder as the new chief copyright royalty judge and head of the Copyright Royalty Board. Feder will replace Chief Judge Suzanne Barnett, who will retire from federal service effective February 16. She has been serving in the position since 2012. In addition, to fill the vacancy left by Feder’s appointment, the Librarian of Congress has appointed Richard C. Strasser interim copyright royalty judge on the CRB. Strasser will service for a period of six months, or until the Librarian fills the position permanently. The Library is planned to post the position of Copyright Royalty judge within the next few weeks. Feder and Strasser both serve as judges on the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) alongside Judge David Strickler. They conduct proceedings surrounding royalty disputes and facilitate distribution of royalties in concert with the US Copyright Office.

Apple to Unveil Video and News Service at Star-Studded Event on March 25

Apple is bringing top Hollywood stars to its video service launch event on March 25, including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner, and J.J. Abrams, according to reports by Bloomberg. The video service marks the first major digital product launch since 2015, and is set to arrive this summer with both acquired and Apple-funded series and films. Content will be integrated into Apple’s TV app, with some free programming and a greater offering available via subscription. Those subscriptions can be paid to other providers as well, like Starz, in the same way Amazon does via its Channels product. There are also rumors that Apple will be unveiling a news subscription offering at the event, which will be integrated into the existing Apple News app. Consumers will be able to subscribe to a bundle of newspapers and magazines for a monthly fee. In the future, Bloomberg suggests that Apple could bundle Apple Music, and the forthcoming video and news services into a single monthly subscription offering.

US Copyright Office Creates Option to Register Unpublished Works in Groups

The US Copyright Office finalized its decision this week creating a group registration option for unpublished works. This will allow registration of up to ten unpublished works for a single fee. In order to qualify for this option, all the works must be created by the same author or the same joint authors, and the author or joint authors must be named as the copyright claimant for each work. Not only does the claim to copyright in each work have to be the same, but each work must be registered in the same administrative class. This rule is intended for use by individual creators or small businesses who might not otherwise use the more expensive standard registration application to register their unpublished works on an individual basis. On the other hand, the Office can more easily examine each work for copyrightable authorship, create a more robust record of the claim, and improve the overall efficiency of the registration process.

Georgia Lawmakers Considering Imposing Taxes on Streaming Services and Digital Purchases

Legislators in Georgia are planning to enact a new 4% tax on digital video, books, music, and games, varying in range from pennies to dollars, depending on the service purchased. Lawmakers argue that the tax would raise money to fund internet projects in the state’s poorest, rural areas, and according to Jay Powell, a State Representative and Chairman of the House Rules Committee, the proposed tax would generate up to $48 million by 2021. A separate study showed 66% of Georgians staunchly opposed to a digital services tax funding rural internet. The House lawmakers plan to introduce the measure to the Georgia Legislature soon. A similar tax was passed in Chicago several years ago in an attempt to cash in on the growing consumption of streaming technology. Dubbed the “Netflix tax,” it tacked on an additional 9% to streaming subscriptions and online purchases for services like Netflix, Apple Music, Spotify, and the Apple App Store. Apple filed a lawsuit against the city last summer, calling the tax “illegal and discriminatory,” alleging the charge openly violated the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act (IFTA). The IFTA prevents local and state governments from imposing a discriminatory tax on electronic commerce.

SoundCloud Uploads 200 Millionth Track

SoundCloud now counts 200 million tracks on its audio-streaming service, which has significantly grown from 170 million at the end of 2017 (according to SoundCloud’s recent financial results). Artist Francesca Lombardo’s “Eye Ring” became the 200 millionth track uploaded, as SoundCloud celebrated the milestone with an interview, suggesting that the artist’s song is “actually a prime example of the boundary-pushing content that SoundCloud is known for.” Lombardo responded back by saying, “SoundCloud is also a great place to archive my mixes, radio shows and remixes that have happened over the years, which I think gives a good representation of how I have evolved and what I do as an artist across my various projects.”

Music Spending by US iPhone Owners Increased by 22% Last Year

According to a new report by mobile-analytics firm Sensor Tower this week, app-spending in 2018 by US iPhone owners increased by 36% year-on-year to $79 per iPhone owner, on average. This is money spent on downloading paid apps as well as in-app purchases (subscriptions included). In the “Music” category of apps, average spending grew by 22% to $5. Mobile games took a big share of this spending: $44 of the $79 average-spending per iPhone, which was up 22% year-on-year. TechCrunch reports that this is partly due to the push towards more in-app subscriptions by Apple. 2018 was also the year when Spotify ditched iOS in-app purchases as a subscription method for its new users.

Fortnite Argues “Milly Rock” Not Protected by Copyright: “No One Can Own a Dance Step”

Epic Games has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by 2 Milly for his dance moves featured in Fortnite, stating that the dance in question isn’t even copying the Milly Rock. Further, Epic’s lawyers suggest that the Milly Rock is too simple to be protected by copyright laws. It can’t even be copyrighted, according to Fortnite’s attorneys, stating in a newly-filed motion, “No one can own a dance step. Individual dance steps and simple dance routines are not protected by copyright, but rather are building blocks of free expression.” The lawyers also claim that the intent of the two dances is entirely different. 2 Milly’s lawyers responded by saying that the dance is choreography and is therefore protectable under the Copyright Act.

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