Dr. Sol Adoni
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Karaoke Copyright Issues for Youtube over Soundchoice
Before I expound upon International Law and fair use doctrine and technology and common law, let me put forth my credentials.
First, I’ve written over 100 books and over 100 songs and music compositions. So at heart I am foremost a creator of IP assets and art. (IP intellectual property).
Second, I’m the chief judge in an international court and I have six case cites in the US Supreme Court.
I am considered by many one of the top thinkers in the law of international trademarks and IP rights.
I became an expert due to being an early investor of thousands of domain names in the early days of the net.
Before the commercial net started I founded many software companies and paid a fortune to elite PATM (patent and trademark) lawyers to protect my rights to software I created and brand names.
The past 20 plus years a digital publishing company I founded as copyrighted thousands of works of IP.
We we’re involved in the academic projects of digitizing ancient copies of early books to preserve them for academic use in the future.
That all being said, I will put forth my opinions on the whole issue of copyrights and karaoke events.
First, most bars have a license to have recorded or live music in their venues. You pay for the rights to use IP property of the original composers of the music and lyrics being sung in your venue.
Every Karaoke Pushing company has. O right to claim a copyright interest in the songs they created for karaoke since they didn’t write the lyrics or compose the music for one famous song they covered.
If they own anything, it’s the right to their logo and name.
In the world of music performers have been screwed for over half a century by IP rights.
An example is radio airplay. A few huge media companies now control most big radio stations. Three major music companies control 99% of music. Radio stations can make millions and yet they pay around 5 cents per song aired to the big IP rights organizations that police the radio industry. The performer of the hits you hear on the radio MAKES NOTHING. The song writer of the lyrics and the composer of the music split the 5 cents as royalties.
Performers used to get paid to sing the songs and most got rich off record sales.
Then performers made fortunes from tours and concerts.
So to use the music and lyrics or IP property in the songs all these karaoke publishers used, they were supposed to pay a minor mechanical license fee to use the property of the writers. So if you get sued demand to see if a mechanical license was granted from the original writers and challenged jurisdiction since by Treaty WIPO is the proper venue to assert IP rights.
The Karaoke companies are defacto performers (producers actually) and legally they have no IP rights to the songs, that’s right I said zero legal rights.
In the Soundchoice matter they lost a case where they sued a KJ who removed their logo and name from their shifted files (creating new copy of a recording to use on new technology).
The judge properly ruled Soundchoice was doing bad faith litigation and could be liable for frivolous litigation pursuing IP rights for things they have no rights to.
So, Soundchoice sold their rights to their name and catalog to PEP (Phoenix Entertainment Partners) who restarted frivolous lawsuits and they even then sold off their music catalog to Stingray which has no legal rights to songs they didn’t create in the first place.
The original artists who created all the great work and melodies we all love are the only legal rights owners to the music.
Now today, we have YouTube entering the matter. In my opinion YouTube is a big global radio station. They use AI level computers to source match any video with music to their catalog of files to determine who has the real IP rights to songs and they pay royalty fees to the same organizations collecting nickles for radio plays.
Once again performers are getting screwed unless they preform their own songs they wrote.
Now we have new karaoke technology where karaoke players can stream YouTube videos. We also have the Karaoke cloud Project.
So who owns those songs? The same owners as before, the original writers not the companies or people making performances using IP property (songs) they didn’t create.
So to create old karaoke songs on old CD+G discs that the publishers paid musicians to play on, those publishers paid a minor fee to legally obtain a mechanical license to use the words and notes. Many never acquired legal mechanical licenses from the original writers.
They have no legal copyright claim on the performance in public use. Radio stations, clubs and now YouTube pay fees to the organizations most writers belong to in order to track and collect royalties for the original writers not performers.
So while some karaoke publishers are still trying to use threats of lawsuits to bars and club owners, the bottom line is their normal ASCAP license protects them.
In today’s world where YouTube has become the huge global radio station it is for music, the only people with rights to music on YouTube are the same people who have the radio rights, the writers not performers. As the great bard Shakespeare penned with his quill over 400 years ago, it’s all much ado about nothing.
WIPO is international court for IP rights.
Numerous attempts at a WIPO Treaty for performers rights have all failed.
In USA there is the so-called 1972 rule for performers rights.
Recent case law in US Federal Courts have acknowledge to a minor degree states rights to make local laws.
By treaty the USA is bound by WIPO for legal matters concerning the internet a global public forum in the eyes of International Law.
Dr. Adoni is considered an expert in WIPO case law and international IP rights.