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Donna Wentworth
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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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September 20, 2005

Brandy Karl Stole the Tarts

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A Mad Tea Party is a blog that featured the anonymous musings of an especially sharp law student with a keen interest in restoring and preserving balance in copyright law. The bad news: the author graduated from law school, and "A Mad Tea Party," which has often gone quiet, is now officially retired. The excellent news: the anonymous blogger has finally stepped forward to reveal her identity. It turns out she is Brandy Karl, the author of outstanding FindLaw columns on copyright law and policy that we've featured here @ Copyfight. Even more excellent: she has just launched a brand new weblog where she'll offer her musings as she builds her private intellectual property practice in Boston.

Here's a taste of said musings: a post reacting to the news that Universal Music Group is working to squeeze a $7,500 yearly fee from a small local music venue for videos that serve to promote its artists and music:


As I mentioned previously, the music industry appears to be more than a little confused about what's marketing and what's distribution. I'm of the persuasion that although there is much overlap between the two items, it's very difficult to monetize every single output.

Jon Whitney, who runs Brainwashed, and The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow (a music video night at River Gods in Cambridge highlighting independent artists), just received this letter from Universal Music Group. Jon has done an amazing amount of work promoting independent artists and is more than a little baffled at this particular ploy (language warning). Universal is asking for $7500 for him to continue receiving videos from them (which, I might add, it's unlikely he receives any now).

I'll refrain from any legal comment on the matter, but it seriously makes you wonder how many small and medium sized outlets will continue playing UMG videos. I'm sure that there are other labels absolutely willing to promote their artists through (free) video. A reasonable fee - perhaps a nominal one that helps shift some of the shipping or replication costs to the entities that display the videos - might be a different matter. But putting the screws onto small outfits really doesn't make any sense, and in the end, it's a disservice to the artists that UMG represents.


Amen.

Brandy tells me she won't always be able to write on the latest copyright news, but you can be sure that whatever she tackles will be worth the wrestle. Check out bk! and pass the word along.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Interesting People


COMMENTS

1. Glenn on September 20, 2005 2:00 PM writes...

Jon must have missed some of the big shifts that have recently occurred. Videos are less and less being considered promotional. They will be monetized. While I agree that $7,500 is a joke and that a nominal fee would be appropriate, this shouldn't come as a suprise.

Labels get a lot of heat for their dated business models, right? Well, nothing says dated business model quite like giving away videos that create value for the businesses that play them. There certainly are promotional aspects to videos, but that doesn't necessarily mean they should be given away at no cost.

If labels are going to move away from a model dominated by the album format they will be required to find revenue streams elsewhere. Videos have accordingly shifted from promotional use to saleable product. There will be some growing pains along the way...as this post indicates.

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