Divvying Up the Digital Pie
Princeton ClubNYC
Apr 5 2011

on behalf of Copyright Society of the USA

"Divvying Up the Digital Pie: The Fight Over Music Download & E-Book Royalties Just Got Hotter."

Numerous recording artists such as the Allman Brothers and the Youngbloods have filed suits challenging how their labels compute digital royalties under pre-digital era record deals. These suits typically allege that downloads sold by iTunes and other third parties are sales under third-party licenses, for which most record deals provide an artist royalty of 50% of the label's 'net royalty receipts.' But many labels have treated these as 'sales through normal retail channels,' for which the royalty is usually just a relatively low percentage of wholesale or retail price. Who's winning this fight? On September 3, 2010, the 9th Circuit (in F.B.T. Productions, LLC v. Aftermath Records) held that third-party downloads are sales under third-party 'licenses,' and that Aftermath Records therefore should have paid Eminem's production company at the higher level of 50% of the label's 'net royalty receipts.' Is the 9th Circuit decision right? Will other circuits follow it? What implications does it have for publishing royalties for e-books? A distinguished panel of experts debated these and other questions.

Panelists: Brian D. Caplan (Caplan & Ross), Stephen E. Gillen (Wood, Herron & Evans), and Emio F. Zizza (Warner Bros. Records). Moderator: John P. Luneau (Law Offices of John P. Luneau)

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date posted: 4/13/11

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