Perhaps the biggest debate going on in music law today involves streaming audio services such as Spotify and video services such as YouTube. While consumers see these services as a great way to listen to all the music they want on their personal computers or portable devices, the record industry – desperate after years of declining sales and illegal downloading – sees them as a way to generate some revenue.
At the same time, many artists have been loudly complaining about the small amounts of money they are receiving each time someone plays their music online. Prominent, trend-setting musicians such as David Byrne and Thom Yorke have chimed with their takes on this argument in the past year, but it was “Weird Al” Yankovic who recently reached a settlement in a dispute that involved .
Yankovic’s company, Ear Booker, filed suit against Sony Music in 2012, alleging numerous misdoings that deprived the parodist of his rightful earnings. Among these allegations, Yankovic argued that he should get a share of the money Sony makes through a licensing deal it struck with Internet giant Google to show Sony music videos on YouTube.
Yankovic argued that the popularity of his song “White and Nerdy” in 2006 gave Sony greater leverage in its negotiations for that licensing deal, and that he should therefore share in the revenues. He also demanded shares of the revenue coming in from other online services, such as Spotify.
In the lawsuit, Yankovic alleged a total of $5 million in damages. The case was recently settled for an undisclosed amount.
As technology changes, the entertainment industry struggles to keep up with new formats and new trends in consumption. At the same, artists and industry alike are unsure how to protect their copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property amid this ever-changing landscape. All those who work in Florida’s entertainment industry need legal guidance from professionals who keep up with all these changes.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “ ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Settles $5 Million Lawsuit Against Sony Music,” Eriq Gardner, Dec. 18, 2013