Who Owns Your Live Recording?

Jul 1, 2004 12:00 PM, George Petersen Editorial Director

Polls


Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

There's nothing that compares to seeing your favorite artist or band perform live. Yet with the advent of multitracking and editing systems, live recordings have become “mostly live, except for all the parts where the performers spent weeks or months overdubbing new studio parts to replace the live parts on the live album.”

In the old days, to hear a real live show, you had to go to the actual venue, catch a rare live broadcast or possibly trade for a tape from those few live bands such as the Grateful Dead or Phish who encouraged “tapers.” However, today, with the availability of high-speed CD burners, fans leaving the venue with a legal, high-quality recording of that night's concert has become increasingly common.

The after-show CD is a textbook case of the “win-win” situation: Rabid fans get what they need, the avenue for illegal bootlegs is greatly diminished and artists get a much-needed revenue source in these days when label support of tours is dwindling. Mix has supported methods that promote legal purchases of music since the first audio-on-demand distribution services — such as Liquid Audio — debuted some eight years ago. And in the past 18 months, when artists started taking advantage of CD-R dubbers to market onsite live recordings, we've been equally jazzed about the prospects.

Unfortunately, a new development is not so pretty. Earlier this year, Instant Live LLC (a division of entertainment juggernaut Clear Channel) announced that it had acquired a U.S. patent covering a system of creating digital recordings of live performances. Essentially, the patent's “Event Recording System” is a convoluted and fairly vague description of off-the-shelf stuff you could pick up at any Guitar Center, but with highfalutin names like “secondary storage device” and “primary editing stations.” In the patent's flow chart, it sure looks like a couple of DAWs with streaming backup and a bunch of CD burners, but you can go to www.uspto.gov, do a quick search for patent #6,614,729 and read it for yourself.

So far no problem, but Clear Channel has interpreted this patent to infer that it now owns the exclusive rights to all live performance recordings sold at any venue on the day of show, thus creating a virtual monopoly on the process. This development has not gone unnoticed in the industry, and small label Kufala Records, which produces live CDs of shows (although not sold onsite, as Kufala mixes live multitrack masters in the studio and offers them two weeks after the show) has called on independent artists and labels to challenge the patent. However, this is not going to come easily or cheaply, given Clear Channel's deep pockets and desire to defend its interests.

Beyond the music applications, could this patent be extended to companies that offer onsite duplication of lectures or seminars? Could churches be required to pay royalties for onsite recordings and duplication of CDs of services? Perhaps these examples are extreme, but given the patent's closing statement, “The present invention is not limited to that which is expressly presented in the specification and drawings,” the implications of this could be very dire indeed.






Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95

Newsletters

MixLine

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.