Music publisher Warner/Chappell will no longer be allowed to collect licensing royalties on those who sing "Happy Birthday" in public and will pay back $14 million to those who have paid for licensing in the past, according to court settlement papers filed late Monday night.
The settlement is a result of a lawsuit originally filed in 2013 by filmmaker Jennifer Nelson, who challenged the "Happy Birthday" copyright. "Happy Birthday" has the same melody as "Good Morning to You," a children's song dating to the 19th Century. But despite the song's murky early history, music publisher Warner/Chappell has stuck to its story that the song was copyrighted in 1935, and a royalty had to be paid for any public use of it—until now.
It is a transformative period for the music industry. Unlike any other time in history, new technologies have enabled nearly limitless connections between listeners and the music they love. We know this is so because at Pandora, making those connections is our business and our passion. By making licensed music effortlessly accessible to the masses, services like ours foster discovery and excitement between artists and fans, creating a virtuous cycle of new revenue and opportunity.
Six months from now, the online audio platform SoundCloud could be competing with Spotify and Apple in the music-streaming business. On the other hand, it also could be the next target of the major labels’ legal wrath, like the recently shuttered Grooveshark. The answer to that billion-dollar question (based on reports of the company’s valuation) depends on Alexander Ljung, SoundCloud’s co-founder and CEO.
Today, I got an email from Spotify with the subject line “This Week’s New Music,” one of the few newsletters I ever bother to open. The top item in the email was a promo for a story about Nirvana’s “In Utero,” a feature to mark the 20th anniversary re-issue of the album.
The House of Cards model pioneered by Netflix offers the TV business the best way to combat content piracy and prevent it sharing the fate of the music industry, according to actor Kevin Spacey, delivering the annual MacTaggart lecture at the Guardian Edinburgh Television Festival yesterday.
As the music industry continues to grapple with the debate over free listening versus paid subscriptions many services are looking to the latter to generate more solid revenue flow and appease label’s demands.
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