Open Music Initiative: Seeking To Drive The Beat On Global Standards, Rights Attribution 28/11/2018 by David Branigan, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)NEW YORK – The Open Music Initiative provides a forum for collaboration across academic, tech and music industry stakeholders around the world, and is working to develop the global standards for music rights attribution that could stand for the next 100 years. Establishing such standards will enable fair compensation to rights holders and creators, and establish a basis for ongoing innovation in the music industry, leading to new digital platforms and services, and new music, according to Open Music members. Panelists and participants discuss the impact of the Music Modernization Act Open Music held its first annual summit in New York from 15-16 November. The summit brought together stakeholders to provide updates on the work being done to develop global standards for rights attribution, and to provide a forum for stakeholders to dialogue and plan Open Music’s next steps. Open Music Initiative (OMI),“a non-profit initiative of leading academic institutions, music and media industry organizations, creators, technologists, entrepreneurs and policy experts,” is working to create “an open-source protocol for the uniform identification of music rights holders and creators,” according to the Open Music website. The outcome of Open Music, the website explains, “will be API [Application Programming Interface] specification to enable industry platform interoperability,” which would “radically simplify the way music rights owners are identified and compensated, resulting in sustainable business models for artists, entrepreneurs and music businesses alike.” “In short, the global music industry lacks a readily accessible and trustworthy Linkage of Sound Recording to Music Works and Creators/Contributors,” it says. “As an open initiative, OMI is well placed to create consensus around specifications intended to solve this problem.” Panos Panay, vice president for innovation and strategy at Berklee College of Music and co-founder of Open Music, announced at the summit that Open Music has been invited to speak at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos this January. “I think it’s a massive platform … to advance what we’re doing as an industry, and really get in front of the policymakers on a global basis, to really do this,” he said. Music Modernization Act: “a critical juncture between lawmaking and implementation” This push by Open Music for rights attribution standards follows the landmark Music Modernization Act (MMA) legislation passed in the United States (IPW, Copyright Policy, 12 October 2018), which streamlines the process of licensing music for digital distribution and authorises the creation of a mechanical licensing collective (MLC). The MLC will oversee the process of distributing royalties from these licences, which will be made possible by the creation of a single “public database that identifies musical works with their owners along with ownership share information,” according to a Copyright Alliance summary of the act [pdf]. Structuring this MLC public database according to a global standard for rights attribution would help to establish the basis for global interoperability of rights information across music platforms, Open Music explained in a white paper, Why Success of the Music Modernization Act Depends on Open Standards. “With the establishment for the first time of a legal framework [through the MMA] authorizing a single comprehensive, accessible database that connects copyright owners of both sound recordings and compositions, the industry can move to a new phase: one in which rights holders’ data can be secure yet interoperable across databases, systems, and applications through shared, open standards,” the paper explains. “In order to ensure rights ownership accuracy and royalty flows in an interconnected U.S. and global landscape going forward,” it will be critical to adopt “a framework of shared data governance and open standards for identification of musical rights owners,” it says. “We are at a critical juncture between lawmaking and implementation.” “We think that the industry has to come together as a joint ecosystem rather than a patchwork of different silos to really help create what I think is a shared future,” Panay said at the summit. Panos Panay reflects on the now-closed Tower Records store in Boston, Massachusetts Open Music Standards – “Rules of the Road” It is important to have open source standards for music rights attribution in order to allow all stakeholders to freely apply these standards without owing any royalties, and as such, it is important that these standards are “something we all agree to, to make things more efficient,” Stephen Buckley, executive director of MIT Connection Science, argued at the summit. “You’re coming together,” he said, “to decide the rules of the road for the next 100 years for your industry.” If done well, he explained, in 25 years these standards will be “virtually invisible.” The rules for music attribution will be like the rules of the web, he said. “You don’t even think about the rules for how you load up a webpage … or how you enter your credit card information securely. That’s all been done for you.” Another way that was suggested to think about how these music rights attribution standards will operate is to compare them to those that make airline flight information accessible around the world in real time to travel agents and a host of online platforms. George Howard, lead researcher at Berklee College of Music and founding member of Open Music, explained at the summit that in the 1970s and 1980s, flight information was stored on a number of separate databases, and travel agents did not have access to all of this information. This all changed with the introduction of a standardised protocol for flight information called Sabre, which standardised flight information according to a single protocol, and enabled the interoperability and accessibility of flight information by the full spectrum of travel agents and online platforms, he said. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who wrote the code for Sabre, explained at the summit that “the market … is bigger and more powerful than any one company.” “[The] example we’ve seen in industry after industry … now applies to the music industry,” he said. “All the major players [should] take that lesson to heart, that it’s time to start collaborating and figuring out how to make it much easier to share information.” The answer to Open Music standardisation, Panay explained, is not for computer scientists to simply write the code, but to facilitate their collaboration with the music industry. The music industry “is not at lack of standards, but there is a lack of consistent implementation of those standards,” he said. Much of the music industry currently applies the DDEX standard, which according to the DDEX website “help[s] rightsholders, retailers and technical intermediaries to more effectively communicate information along the digital supply chain.” At the summit, Panay highlighted the importance of basing new open source standards on existing ones. He proposed exploring the possibility of basing the Open Music standard on DDEX, and along with other Open Music members, set up a working group on the spot to begin exploring this option. “If you come up with a standard way for identifying rights holders to music, and a way of identifying those rights holders and compensating them, if you just do that,” Buckley from MIT said, “that would probably be enough to declare success, but if you can do more than that, then that’s better.” New Technology and Processing Power Key to Fair Compensation The goal of interoperable standards for music rights attribution is not just about more efficient licensing for distribution platforms, but it really comes down to more fairness in compensation to rights holders and creators. This category of rights holders and creators includes the rights owned by record labels, as well as those held by individual musicians and songwriters. Graphically represented, the distributional curve of rights ownership has a very long tail of independent musicians, Hank Shocklee, music producer and president of Shocklee Entertainment, told Intellectual Property Watch at the summit. This push for global rights attribution standards, and the technology that will drive them, will make a huge difference for young independent artists to be recognised for their work, and to be fairly compensated, he said. In terms of new technology, Shocklee noted at the summit that rights attribution information can already be embedded in the audio files at the time of recording. Artists need this new technology to be integrated into widely available tools “so they can just go in and make this thing ridiculously simple and easy for them,” he said. “Their main concern,” said Shocklee, “is getting their projects together, writing their songs, producing them and performing.” “We have to dismiss the entire system that happened before, because we’re into a digital system now, and everything’s changing. We’re the new pioneers, we’re the new creators of this,” he said. “So we have to make these tools easy and accessible.” Large performance rights organizations (PROs), such as SACEM in France, are also beginning to use new technology, and processing power in particular, to keep better track of royalties due to the artists they represent, Caroline Champarnaud, director of international development at SACEM, explained at the summit. SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music) is the first PRO ever, founded in 1851, and is currently the world’s largest, representing more than 164,840 creators and publishers, and serving more than 500,000 clients with more than 121 million works, according to the SACEM website. “Electronic distribution of music and advances in the streaming market have led to rapid growth in the amount of creative content being consumed around the world. Last year, SACEM tracked nearly 982.5 billion download and streaming transactions – almost twice the 2015 total,” according to a press release. In order to better track such large volumes of online music transactions, Champarnaud explained that SACEM partnered with IBM to develop URights, an innovative platform with the processing power to handle the massive volume of these transactions, and to properly identify rights holders and distribute royalties. According to the press release, “URights harnesses the best of IBM’s technologies including cognitive system through IBM Watson, machine learning, big data and cloud solutions,” enabling it to “to process huge volumes of data in a fast and easy way.” “The [URights] platform will allow SACEM to provide additional value to rights owners with increased data analysis allowing more transparency and a more efficient identification of online works to help ensure they are compensated fairly,” the release said. Martin Guillaume, vice president of Cognitive Process Services, Telecom and Media at IBM, explained that the URights platform was collaboratively built with SACEM over 2 years, and has been up and running for the past 6 months. Now that it is functioning and operational, Guillaume said that it will take much less time, perhaps a few months, to adapt and apply it to other PROs. “The volumes are exploding, and that’s putting a tremendous strain in the back offices of all these copyright societies,” he told the summit. Computer processing power has been a significant bottleneck in rights attribution, but now the URights platform is starting to really address this, he explained, noting that “these growth rates are showing no signs of slowing down.” Image Credits: David Branigan Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related David Branigan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Open Music Initiative: Seeking To Drive The Beat On Global Standards, Rights Attribution" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.