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IP-Watch interns talk about their Geneva experience in summer 2013. 2:42.

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The Politicization Of The US Patent System

The Washington Post story, How patent reform’s fraught politics have left USPTO still without a boss (July 30), is a vivid account of how patent reform has divided the US economy, preempting a possible replacement for David Kappos who stepped down 18 months ago. The division is even bigger than portrayed. Universities have lined up en masse to oppose reform, while main street businesses that merely use technology argue for reform. Reminiscent of the partisan divide that has paralyzed US politics, this struggle crosses party lines and extends well beyond the usual inter-industry debates. Framed in terms of combating patent trolls through technical legal fixes, there lurks a broader economic concern – to what extent ordinary retailers, bank, restaurants, local banks, motels, realtors, and travel agents should bear the burden of defending against patents as a cost of doing business.


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    Will The Old Music Industry Giants Be Exchanged For New Ones?

    Published on 2 February 2012 @ 6:46 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    CANNES, FRANCE–The red carpets were still there at the Midem, the world’s largest music fair, but they have become shorter. The industry shattered over the years by the decline in physical sales and fighting fiercely against digital piracy this year praised the revenue from digital sources which have overtaken physical sales in some countries. But it remains to be seen – can the old giants partner with the new, digital platform giants, and survive?

    Digital service providers touted their huge figures at high-level panels, at a YouTube special conference and in the smaller discussions that tried to look at rights issues. Dan Rose, Facebook vice-president for partnerships, said that since Facebook had integrated the option of sharing music by going through streaming services like Spotify and Deezer four months ago, “five billion songs have been shared by Facebook users.“

    Digital Platforms Speak of “New Currency” – Likeonomics?

    How many persons have shared a song in Facebook, he said, would become the “new currency in the music industry”. How many of Facebook’s 22 million members had talked about a band would be the metric for success of a band, and would tell you what is hot. Plus, with regard to the European market “the app economy that has been built on Facebook has created 232,000 jobs,” he said.

    “Likeonomics” is going to happen, said music industry analyst Gerd Leonhard, and it open new possibilities, but also be a rather Darwinistic system.

    Google’s Director of Content Zahavah Levine fell in line with the thinking: “We see Google Music activated on 215 million Android devices already since the start, with 700,000 thousand devices being activated every day.” While earlier mobile music consumption was a sheer monopoly governed by Apple’s iTunes, Android users have been an “under-served market.”

    Partnering with three of the four major record labels and also the indie network Merlin for the rights, Google sought to change that, Levine said. YouTube, while still much smaller in terms of mobile use, also trumpeted about growth: now 60 hours of video are uploaded every hour, according to Patrick Walker, senior director for Content Partnerships at YouTube EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

    There is literally no one who does not believe that streaming will grow exponentially with new services cutting deals with rights holders here and there. A deal between German collecting society GEMA and the French Deezer was announced during the Midem.

    Already digital is looking further down the road to “cloud services”. Instead of having to move songs around from device to device, once bought and stored in the digital locker, users can access the services from everywhere, Levine explained. Google Music already allows users to store up to 20,000 songs they own for free on their account.

    The Cloud as Illegal File Laundering Machine

    “If such services are for free,” Thierry Desurmont, vice-president of French collecting society SACEM, asked, “where does the money for rights holders come from?” Desurmont said that “when someone has bought content and wants to access on different devices, he has to make a copy of his content to these devices.” This triggers private copy levies, according to the French and European model. But when such copies would no longer be necessary, “how will the protection of rights owners be organised?”

    According to experts, there is a huge discussion about the legal nature of streaming from one’s private locker sitting on a cloud server – which in fact, as Mitch Rubin from Nokia said, “is nothing else than an internet server.” In the United States, under the fair use provision the copy made to the locker is fine. “But these are complicated services,” Richard Conlon, vice president of US collecting society BMI, told Intellectual Property Watch. “Sometimes there is also the possibility to share with friends.”

    The experts also ponder whether cloud services might organise the access to the same song not by storing the same song in millions of lockers, but by giving access to one file for everybody who has the song stored in his locker – “and what about the fact that the song is provided to the user over the network again and again?” one rights holder asked.

    For some, the cloud is just an even more evil battleground, and a “laundering machine for illegal content”, as Jens-Markus Wegener, of AMV Talpa GmbH, a German-Finnish label warned. “When all content goes up to cloud services, this is a big, big issue, because there are more and more illegal files and it is all mixed up.“

    From a user’s perspective, storing one’s legal content on a server for access does not look much different than using one’s home server with all the data for remote access. Not many would think of it as something they should pay once more, after having already paid to buy the music and paying a higher price on devices to cover levies.

    So while the prospects for cooperation between the giants have never looked better than at this year’s Midem, caution still rules.

    Rob Wells from Universal said he agreed that as long as people are looking for pirated content, there is still not enough choice from legal offers. With regard to the streaming market, he said, there are under-served customers in genres like jazz and classical music. But Wells also asked for Google to fully embrace the legal model, saying that he was “hoping that the whole Google machine could acknowledge the value of being in a legal system.”

    Enforcement Not Off the Agenda

    Search engines are high on the agenda of some rights holders in their campaigns against unauthorised content next year, for example GEMA, the German Collecting Society. In the UK there is a debate about a voluntary code for search engines to list sites that lead to non-licensed content deeper down on search result sites. Heker said, “I am glad that support with regard to enforcement is coming from Brussels and Berlin this year.”

    Kerstin Jorna, vice-head of Cabinet of EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, announced two directives to be tabled in 2012: a renewed IP enforcement directive in September and another one on a framework of collecting societies.

    With regard to the integration of criminal law sanctions in IP Enforcement Directive – something that has resulted in fights between the Commission and the EU Parliament before, Jorna said, “that has not been decided yet. But the Commission intends more to go for cooperation with providers, especially financial providers, to be able to follow the money.”

    In the US, too, according to three copyright and licensing lawyers from the US, the discussion on harsher enforcement is not over. US antipiracy bills PIPA and SOPA “are dead in the water for now,” said Michael Sukin, Boss of Sukin law firm, heavily criticising the protest by a “few IT companies who decided to shut down the internet” – a not completely accurate description of the anti-PIPA/SOPA campaign. His college Kenneth Abdo told Intellectual Property Watch he is convinced that the proposals will pop up again.

    The Artist and the Hacker

    Andrea Johnson, assistant professor of the Berklee College of Music, said: “I do not think the industry is up to speed yet. We need more partnerships and less egos.” Berklee College for the first time partnered with Midem doing seminars on entrepreneurship and new distribution models for artists. Between 600 and 700 musicians came to Midem and half performed in concerts around Cannes, but the other half came to participate in seminars or talk about their own business models.

    Johnson recommended the artists do much more diversify, and licence their music out or partner, for example, with hotels, but also other companies that look for their own “brand” artist. Coca Cola, which has long used music in building its brand, announced a strategic deal with streaming provider Spotify for the London Olympics, for which artist Mark Ronson has already composed the song “Move the Beat”.

    Zoe Keeting, a former classical cello hopeful turned IT consultant in Silicon Valley and now back to her music career, described how she was using the internet to make money from her music. In her studio at home she plays and composes metal cello music, she uses the site BandCamp to distribute her albums to her audience. “I do not set a price. The average price people pay is 12 dollars,” she said.

    Over Facebook and Twitter she is trying “to get out my story,” she said. Using the social media, she takes recommendations on what fans want to hear at a planned concert. “My programme is often totally directed by my audiences,” she said. Occasionally she also takes recommendations for cover songs. In short, the internet is her the marketing manager. “I never hired anybody,” she said. But at MIDEM she turned to the hackers, who were invited to hold a second Music Hack-Day alongside the conference and fair in order to come up with even better tools for do-it-yourself artists like Zoe.

    Johan Uhle, ex-programmer at SoundCloud now heading back to finish his degree at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Potsdam, Germany, glued the programmes Flattr and SoundCloud together to create Flatdrop and hosted it on the Cloudapp-Server service Heroku. With Flatdrop, users can – by just clicking – send the money they want to spend while downloading the song. With an easy revenue stream, even if just a drop at the beginning, the claim that artists had to be compensated for their work would be satisfied, Uhle said, when presenting the hack.

    Other tools that could help artists are for example Tourrent Plans from hacker Ben Fields which might prove useful for artists planning a concert tour. This tells where the artist’s music has the biggest fan base, checking the number of filesharing instances in a given area, based on MusicMetric.

    “In the old music industry, the labels, but also the media with their charts were the gatekeepers”, Uhle told Intellectual Property Watch. “Now it is technology.”

    No wonder, he added, that stories have already been written recommending artists to fire their manager and hire a programmer instead. The independent artist like Zoe, he said, could certainly use technology to make a living from their music. “But this does not work when you treat music as a product”, he said.

    Music as an experience is the future trend, with musicians that can be followed and somehow touched. Some tools developed for down-to-the-fan musicians like “Imogen Takes Questions” (developed for Imogen Heap to allow questions and answers from fans to be recorded), now have been handed over to everyone, even politicians, over the platform “Everybody takes questions.”

    Despite the positive examples and the artists like Zoe who decided to first do it on their own and without a company and advance money from a contract, there is a price for this. Keating said her music career could come to a halt when people do not continue “to follow” or turn their attention to something/somebody new. The acceptance of constant change and as a declared flexibility to check out something else might look not as attractive for artists. Certainly it does not look attractive to the traditionalists at labels and publishers in the music industry.

    “In Western countries with its vested interests, we will first hit the wall, before we come to the necessary collective, easy solution,” said futurist Leonhard. What this mean? “We will not have all this cool tools, and services like Spotify, Simfy Grooveshark will be strangled,” Leonhard said. In the end, countries like Brazil, Russia or Indonesia would lead the way, along with Africa.

    Monika Ermert may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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