Session Details


Plenary Presentations

9:45 – 10:45 am

Research Presentation: The Truth about Black Box Music Royalties

Certain royalty payments for music are everywhere and nowhere. There’s millions or billions waiting to be claimed in so-called black box royalties. In the music industry’s digital era, there’s been greater interest in the payment accountability from all industry stakeholders and service providers. But black box royalties remain a polarizing subject. How many are there? Who manages them? Are they necessary in the digital streaming and payments era? Join Daniel Dewar from Paperchain as he discusses the results of a new survey on how black box royalties are defined by those working in the industry, and what the industry thinks it means for the future of royalty collection and rights management.

11:00 – noon

Keynote Address

Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy (Little, Brown) tells the story of how a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs (Peter Thiel and Larry Page among them) hijacked the original decentralized vision of the Internet, in the process creating behemoth monopoly firms that now determine the future of the music, film, television, publishing, and news industries. Building their businesses to scale by tolerating piracy while at the same time promoting opaque business practices and subordinating the individual privacy of their users, the founders of Facebook, Google, and Amazon have together built a way of doing business predicated on surveillance marketing, one in which more creative content is being consumed that ever before but less revenue is flowing to those who make and own the content.

  • Jonathan Taplin, Director Emeritus, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and author, Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Have Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy

Afternoon Technology Track

1:15 – 2:15 pm

Match Game: The Problem of Matching Music Recordings to Compositions

The dramatic growth of streaming has exposed an Achilles’ Heel in the music industry: matching sound recordings to their underlying musical compositions.  Music services face challenges in determining which songwriters and music publishers they should pay royalties for the tracks they stream for their users. Accurate linking of sound recordings to compositions has proven problematic: it has led to controversies and lawsuits as well as opportunities for technological solutions. We’ll discover the state of the art in technology as well as industry-level attempts to solve this growing problem.

2:30 – 3:30 pm

A Hidden Revolution: The Rise of E-Book Watermarking

Watermarking — embedding user data into purchased e-books and journal articles — is quietly becoming accepted practice in more and more segments and geographies of the publishing market. A growing number of publishers are using watermarking instead of DRM, and more technology vendors and e-book distributors are offering watermarking solutions. Which publishers are doing this, who is providing the solutions, and is DRM on its way out in publishing? We’ll find out in this session.

4:00 – 5:00 pm

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Software Protection in the Post-Alice Era

The Supreme Court’s landmark 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank sent a shockwave through the software landscape by limiting the power of patents to protect software. Since then, software companies have been relying more on copyrights to protect their intellectual property, and cases like Oracle v. Google have tested the limits of that protection. We’ll discuss the state of copyright law as a means of protecting software; the roles of open source, fair use, and the scenes a faire doctrine; and the path forward for software as protectable intellectual property.

Afternoon Law and Policy Track

1:15 – 2:15 pm

Fugitive Justice: Can Courts Help Scientific Publishers With Their Sci-Hub Problem?

Lawsuits brought by leading scientific and academic publishers against Sci-Hub – often called “The Pirate Bay of Science” — have resulted in default judgments of infringement liability, with injunctions and large damage awards. But how does it help publishers when the defendant is in hiding and has various technical means to keep operating outside of the reach of U.S. law? Can courts offer publishers meaningful relief, or are these victories merely symbolic?

2:30 – 3:30 pm

Driven to Exhaustion: The Future of Digital First Sale

The First Sale doctrine gives a buyer of a copyrighted work the right to dispose of it as she wishes without interference from the publisher. The applicability of First Sale (known as copyright exhaustion outside the U.S.) to digital content has been under several microscopes lately, including Capitol Records v. ReDigi, the Copyright Office’s inquiry into Section 108 of the copyright law (rights for libraries and archives), and several cases in Europe that have established certain exhaustion rights for digital content. Our panelists will consider where the law is headed in this area, and in an era when streaming is overtaking downloads, how much it even matters anymore.

4:00 – 5:00 pm

Beyond Monkeys: Artificial Intelligence and Copyright

You’ve probably listened to songs written by artificial intelligence (AI), and machine creations are beginning to infiltrate filmmaking, story-writing, and other creative areas. The UK, Europe, and Japan are considering regulations and legislation to govern the use and creation of robots and AI; meanwhile, the Copyright Office will not register works produced by a machine. With computers getting better at producing originals works of authorship and cognitive systems (such as IBM’s Watson) becoming creative sources that arguably human ability, how will US copyright law grapple with these creative works? And who will be credited as their authors? An all-human panel will discuss these topics.