Summit 2015, Austin TX
Monday & Tuesday, March 23-24, 2015

Session 5: Tuesday 9:00
Riverside West
Moderator: Timothy Channell

Don Gorder
Chair, Music Business/Management Dept.
Berklee College of Music

Rights in Pre-1972 Sound Recordings: Updates and the Quest for Clarity

The matter of performance rights in pre-1972 sound recordings gained national attention in 2013 with the filing of class action lawsuits against Sirius XM by Flo and Eddie, members of the 1960s pop band the Turtles. A group of major record labels soon joined the legal attack, filing lawsuits in California and New York against Sirius. The conflict centered around the fact that sound recordings weren’t protected under federal copyright law until 1972, thus any legal protection for performances of these recordings would have to come from judges’ interpretations of state laws. Sirius’ position was that they are not required to license and pay royalties for these performances, because neither federal nor state laws require it. The Turtles’ and labels’ position was that these state laws do in fact provide this protection, and that Sirius is infringing the copyright in these recordings by broadcasting unlicensed performances.

This past September, a California federal judge ruled in favor of the Turtles, stating that California state law protected public performance rights in these recordings. Shortly thereafter, the New York court reached a similar decision. Since these rulings, a spate of lawsuits have been filed by various rights holders, and the list of defendants has now grown to include Pandora, Apple’s Beats Electronics, Songza, Slacker, Rdio, and other digital radio services that broadcast digital performances of pre-1972 recordings to their listeners and subscribers. It’s likely that this matter will remain in the legal arena for some time, until appeals are decided, legislation is passed, or it catches the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the digital streaming services will continue to bite their nails, knowing that a final ruling in favor of the rights holders with require major (and expensive) adjustments in their operations.

This presentation will begin with a brief overview of the legal issues that gave rise to these disputes, with a chronology of the lawsuits that were in place at the time of the September decision in California. I will then analyze this decision and attempt to explain why the judge held in favor of the Turtles. I will follow that with a discussion of the lawsuits the decision spawned (some of which have been decided similarly), the effect it could have on the music industry if it is upheld or overturned on appeal.

Daniel Walzer
Assistant Professor of Composition and New Media
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Personal Narrative and Practical Application of Technology: Guiding Undergraduate Music and Audio Students Towards an Entrepreneurial Career Search

Undergraduate music and audio majors nearing graduation generally focus on a formal presentation of their cumulative performance and technical skills through a recital, capstone project, internship or comprehensive electronic portfolio. Although these presentations showcase an important facet of the student’s artistic and creative abilities, tailoring the prospective employment dossier to include video diaries, relevant web-based content and affordable mobile delivery supplements the more traditional resume and enables students to control their own individualized narrative.

Faculty often supervise undergraduate capstone courses and must balance learning objectives to include the realization of a tangible product along with guiding students in presentation best practices, career research and networking skills. Fully realizing these technical, artistic and communication goals often proves daunting because of time constraints and institutions lacking an arts-centered Career Services department.

This paper considers a proportional focus on the inventive use of new media tools to create an identifiable brand thus giving prospective employers complete insight into the student’s expertise, creative interests and communication skills. Additionally, this paper suggests curricular materials designed to improve student research skills for developing multiple employment pathways after graduation.