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In this newsletter:

The US Copyright Alliance supports the record industry in its legal battle against stream-ripping platform Yout

The Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE) has reached a new agreement with Meta-owned platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, leading to the return of SIAE-represented music on these platforms.

Generative AI technologies and their implications for copyright were the main focus of discussions in the US Congress recently.

Now, the details...

Exploration Weekly - May 19, 2023
Compiled by Ana Berberana

Copyright Alliance formally backs the record industry in ongoing legal battle with stream-ripper Yout

The US Copyright Alliance – which brings together trade organizations from across all the copyright industries, including music, movies, TV, books, journalism, photography and software – has submitted an ‘amicus brief’ to the American courts in support of the record industry in its ongoing legal battle with stream-ripping platform Yout. Websites that allow people to download permanent copies of temporary streams – most commonly streams on YouTube – have been a top piracy gripe of the music industry for some time now, of course. Which is why the Recording Industry Association Of America tried to get Yout delisted by the Google search engine. That prompted Yout to sue the RIAA based on the claim that its service was entirely legal. The stream-ripper stressed that it isn’t directly involved in any copying of copyright protected material. And – while US copyright law does prohibit the circumvention of technical protection measures that exist to stop people making copies of content without license – it insisted that YouTube doesn’t have any such technical protection measures to circumvent.

Music by Italian Songwriters Returns to Facebook and Instagram After “Transitional” Deal With META

Music represented by the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE) is returning to Meta-owned platforms such as Facebook and Instagram following a new agreement signed with the technology giant. The deal is seen as a victory for SIAE, the main collecting society for tens of thousands of songwriters in Italy. “Following a transitional agreement signed between the parties, the music protected by SIAE will return to listening on Meta’s social platforms,” SIAE said in a statement on Saturday (May 13). The move comes after a temporary suspension of SIAE’s music on Meta’s platforms due to the parties’ failure to renew a licensing deal earlier this year. SIAE most recently said it “expresses satisfaction with this result, sought and achieved, but remains committed to protecting the interests of its members by continuing to work tirelessly to reach a definitive and lasting agreement based on fairness and transparency, as also requested by the European Directive on Copyright”.

US Congress puts spotlight on copyright questions posed by generative AI

The copyright questions posed by generative AI technologies were in the spotlight in US Congress yesterday, with music-makers given the opportunity to set out their concerns and priorities before the House Judiciary Committee. Meanwhile, the former General Counsel of the US Copyright Office was asked to what extent copyright law can even address those concerns. AI tools and technologies that can compose and produce original music have become big talking points of late within the music industry, of course, partly because said tools and technologies are becoming ever more sophisticated, and partly because of the general hype around generative AI caused in no small part by ChatGPT. While neither the technologies nor the copyright concerns they pose are new, the need to address said concerns feels a lot more urgent. Hence the launch in March of the music industry-led Human Artistry Campaign and the eagerness of music-makers to speak at a session of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee On Courts, Intellectual Property And The Internet with the title ‘Interoperability Of AI And Copyright Law’. One key copyright question relates to what licenses the makers and users of music-making AI tools need when they train said tools by crunching data connected to existing songs and recordings. Then there is the question of whether music created in that way should enjoy copyright protection.

European Lawmakers Close to Launching “World’s First Rules” on Artificial Intelligence

The European Union has taken a significant step towards regulating artificial intelligence by adopting a draft negotiating mandate on what it claims would be the “world’s first rules” on AI. The European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee (ITRE) and the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) adopted the draft mandate on Thursday (May 11), with 84 votes in favor, 7 against and 12 abstentions. The new rules are designed to ensure that AI systems are safe, transparent, non-discriminatory, traceable, and environmentally friendly, and are “overseen by people.” The proposal was amended by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to have a uniform definition for AI “designed to be technology-neutral, so that it can apply to the AI systems of today and tomorrow,” according to a press release. The legislation follows a risk-based approach, with providers and users having specific obligations depending on the level of risk involved in using the AI. Under the draft mandate, AI systems with “an unacceptable level of risk to people’s safety” would be strictly banned. These include systems that deploy subliminal or purposefully manipulative techniques, exploit people’s vulnerabilities or are used for social scoring such as those that classify people according to their social behavior, socio-economic status, and personal characteristics, among others.

YouTube contributed $35 billion to the U.S. economy in 2022

YouTube‘s latest impact report estimates that in 2022, its creator ecosystem contributed more than $35 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product and supported the equivalent of over 390,000 full-time jobs. YouTube has commissioned these reports from Oxford Economics for years to track the effects it has on the United States’ economy. 2022’s financial impact of $35 billion is a significant jump from 2021’s $25 billion, but YouTube actually fell in the number of full-time job equivalents: in 2021, it supported an estimated 425,000. Still, it pointed out that it saw an increase in YouTube Millionaires–that is, channels with over a million subscribers–of 15% from 2021 to 2022, as well as a 5% increase in the number of channels making $100,000 or more annually. 83% of creators surveyed for this year’s study agreed that YouTube “provides an opportunity to create content and earn money that they wouldn’t get from traditional media.” The study also found that 78% of small businesses using YouTube agreed that the platform is essential to their business’s growth.

SoundExchange Announces $10 Billion Distribution Milestone: ‘We Have Grown Into a Global Music Tech Organization’

SoundExchange says it’s distributed north of $10 billion since debuting as a standalone organization in 2003. The Washington, D.C.-based entity, which collects royalties from non-interactive digital music platforms like SiriusXM, just recently unveiled the distribution benchmark. According to SoundExchange – which said in late March of 2022 that it had paid out a total of $9 billion – the $10 billion milestone arrived with its 162nd distribution two months back. “Crossing the $10 billion threshold and celebrating our 20th anniversary demonstrate our dedication to serving the entire music industry,” more than 12-year SoundExchange president and CEO Michael Huppe said of the cumulative payout figure. “Over the past 20 years, we have grown into a global music tech organization distributing around $1 billion annually to a creator community of more than 650,000,” finished the former RIAA exec. “I’m incredibly proud of our accomplishments and the team we’ve built and look forward to continued innovation that will power the music industry for many years to come.”

Random Ramblings

  • Google makes its text-to-music AI public.
  • Ed Sheeran returns to No. 1 on the Billboard Artist 100 Chart with ‘Subtract’.
  • The evolution of Bollywood music in 10 songs.
  • What could a TikTok ban mean for creators?
  • 6 benefits of music for your mental health and well-being.

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