Tech News October 2011

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1. Europe extends copyright on music

In a victory for the financially troubled recording industry, the European Union has extended the term of copyright on sound recordings to 70 years from 50, while declining to include provisions that would allow artists in Britain and elsewhere in Europe to recoup ownership of their music easily.  In contrast to copyright law in the United States, copyright law in Europe does not include a “termination rights” clause, nor was one inserted into the new regulations recently approved.  (Source: New York Times)

2. Let the classical music stream forth – online

In a blog post in The Guardian, Tom Service makes the case that “the future for Covent Garden and for every other opera house and orchestra in the country surely has to be more streaming, more free access, and more imaginative ways” of using digital technology to deliver their work to audiences, who cannot find the time or money to attend a live performance.  (Source: The Guardian)

3. What a band really makes from streaming sales

UK band Uniform Motion, which recently released their third album, breaks down exactly how much of the revenue pie is left over for the musicians from distributing the recording in various digital and physical formats.  (Source: Gizmodo.com)

4. Royal Opera House unveils expanded cinema program

London's Royal Opera House has launched an ambitious program of cinema screenings, including a production of Madam Butterfly shot in 3D. Ten operas and ballets will be shown in more than 700 cinemas in 22 countries during the 2011 - 2012 season.  Chief executive Tony Hall, said reaching out to cinema audiences was "now a part of our core purpose."   (Source: BBC)

5. Canadian opera company launches new online venture: coc radio

The Canadian Opera Company's website has announced the launch of COC Radio.  Visitors to www.coc.ca will now be able to find, in one place, a variety of audio and digital features available for downloading and live streaming, all aimed at exploring an opera and its background as well as the artists appearing with the COC.

Among the features accessible through COC Radio, visitors can listen to recordings of productions by the COC's broadcast partner CBC Radio 2; enjoy interviews with singers and members of a production's creative team; listen to podcasts of COC-hosted talks, from pre-performance opera chats to Opera 101; and go through listening guides on an opera and watch specially-created production videos. Currently available for viewing are all interviews, recordings and videos from the COC's 2010/2011 season as well as those podcasts and video interviews that have been created for Iphigenia in Tauris and Rigoletto as part of the 2011/2012 season.   (Source: Canadian Opera Company)

6. Broadway shows to play in movie theaters

NYC and London-based Supervision Media and New York's Broadway Worldwide have signed an exclusive multi-year licensing arrangement to bring four hit Broadway musicals to cinema screens across the globe.  The deal covers the 2010 Tony Award winning Best Musical "Memphis," currently playing on Broadway, "Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical" starring David Hasselhoff, Stephen Sondheim's "Putting It Together," billed as a musical "review" starring Carol Burnett, and "Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller."  (Source: Backstage.com)

7. Facebook to offer path to media


Facebook is expected to unveil a media platform that will allow people to easily share their favorite music, television shows and movies, effectively making the basic profile page a primary entertainment hub and introducing digital music services to vast new audiences. But the new plan will ratchet up the competitive pressure on these fledgling services, forcing them to offer more free music as enticements to new users.  Facebook has reportedly made agreements with a number of media companies to develop a way for a user’s profile page to display whatever entertainment he is consuming on those outside services. Links that appear on a widget or tab, or as part of a user’s news feed, would point a curious friend directly to the content.  (Source: New York Times)

8. Free Press files lawsuit on FCC's net neutrality rules

Advocacy group Free Press has filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, with the group arguing the new regulations are too weak.  The FCC's rules, approved by the commission last December, treat wireline and mobile broadband providers differently, but they shouldn't, said Free Press, a left-leaning media reform group.  The regulations, sometimes called open Internet rules, bar wireline broadband providers from "unreasonable discrimination" against Web traffic, but don't have the same prohibition for mobile broadband providers. The rules prohibit mobile providers from blocking voice and other applications that compete with their services, but don't prohibit them from blocking other applications.  (Source: PC World)

9. Lang Lang live on Franz Liszt’s 200th birthday

NCM Fathom and Sony Classical are bringing the world famous, critically acclaimed pianist, Lang Lang, live to movie theaters nationwide for a two night only celebration.  Together with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Charles Dutoit, Lang Lang will celebrate the 200th birthday of legendary composer Franz Liszt by performing his first Piano Concerto. The Cinema event will also include a special broadcast of the pianist’s spectacular solo concert recorded live from London’s Roundhouse.  (Source: Fathom)

10. Who benefits from extending the copyright term for sound recordings?

Record labels have at last prevailed in a decade-long battle to persuade the European Union Council of Ministers to increase the copyright term for sound recordings from 50 years to 70.  Songwriters and composers are already guaranteed royalties on their recordings for life plus 70 years. The new ruling by the EU's Council of Ministers means that, from 2013, artists of the 1960s who were not talented enough to pen their own music and garnered income only through performing the songs of others, will no longer face losing their royalty this decade, but will keep receiving a payment until the 2030s.

In a careful lobbying effort, the record labels have claimed that their motivation for the change has not been to safeguard the incomes of jobbing session musicians.  In fact, there are only two groups of people who will receive huge sums of money as a result of an extended term: the record labels and the multi- millionaire mega-acts. According to one academic, professor Martin Kretschmer of Bournemouth University, even if you extended the limit to 95 years, the bottom 80% of performers would still take home less than £50 per year.   (Source: The Guardian)