Billboard Pro Spotlight Live Virtual Event: Creators and Copyright
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Billboard Pro Spotlight Live Virtual Event: Creators and Copyright

As the recorded-music business continues to grow, old debates about whether consumers will pay for music have given way to new ones over how to divide the money generated by streaming.

On May 14, the latest installment of the Billboard Pro Spotlight series, “Creators and Copyright,” will examine some of the most urgent issues, both in the United States and around the world. Björn Ulvaeus, co-founder of ABBA and president of CISAC, will discuss creators’ rights and the future of songwriting in a keynote interview with Billboard deputy editorial director Robert Levine, along with CISAC director general Gadi Oron. JaQuel Knight, the choreographer behind Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video and Coachella performance, will talk about his fight to copyright his work, along with his lawyer, David Hecht. And U.S. Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter will share her plans to reach out to independent creators and how the new small-claims court system created by the CASE Act will give them an accessible and affordable way to assert their rights.

“Creators and Copyright” also includes panels on two of the most urgent — and controversial — issues affecting the music business. Although the 2019 EU Copyright Directive was designed to narrow the “value gap” that lets some online platforms pay less for music, the proposed German law to implement it threatens to make it much harder to license new platforms while potentially forcing international companies to navigate a complicated bureaucracy in the world’s fourth-largest music market. In the United States, one of the most pressing topics is termination, which allows creators to reclaim their work after 35 years — a great opportunity for them, but challenging for publishers and labels. Leading lawyers Lisa A. Alter and Donald Zakarin will discuss how these issues have been settled privately, as well as what the latest court cases might mean, and professor and former Gang of Four drummer Hugo Burnham will discuss what it means for a band to actually get its albums back.

The event will air at 9 a.m. EST on Friday May 14, 2021 with panel videos living here afterwards. If you’re a Billboard Pro member, you already have access. If you’re not a member, visit to subscribe today.

Keynote Interview: “Song Righting”
Björn Ulvaeus, president, CISAC; co-founder of ABBA
Gadi Oron, director general, CISAC Moderated by Billboard deputy editorial director Robert Levine

Panel: “Mind the (Value) Gap”
For most of the last decade, the music industry’s public policy priority has been reforming the “safe harbor” laws that allow some online companies to license music for a market rate paid by Spotify and other streaming services. The 2019 EU Copyright Directive was intended to address that — but its implementation in Germany, the world’s fourth-largest music market, could create even bigger problems when it comes to licensing new online platforms.

Dr. Florian Drücke, chairman/CEO, BVMI
John Phelan, director general, ICMP
Helga Trüpel, former German Green Party member of European Parliament
Ama Walton, senior vp, business and legal affairs, music, SoundCloud
Moderated by Billboard deputy editorial director Robert Levine

Sponsor Interview: “Intellectual Property Doesn’t Have to Feel Like a Buzzkill”
Andrea Yankovsky, founder, Yankovsky Law
Moderated by Billboard deputy editorial director Robert Levine

Creator Interview: “If You Like It, Put a © on It”
JaQuel Knight, CEO, J.K. Creatives, Inc.; director, choreographer
David Hecht, founding partner, Hecht Partners
Moderated by Billboard executive features editor Rebecca Milzoff

Panel: “The Terminators”
The 1976 Copyright Act lets creators reclaim the rights to their work in the United States after 35 years — a provision of U.S. law that’s both profoundly important and extremely complicated. So far, publishers have generally given songwriters their works back, while labels seem to be reaching compromises with artists that let labels retain some rights in exchange for better terms. But Gang of Four, among other acts, has recovered the rights to its recordings in the United States, and some current lawsuits could offer more legal clarity — if they don’t lead to further litigation.

Lisa A. Alter, partner, Alter, Kendrick & Baron
Hugo Burnham, founder and drummer of Gang of Four; assistant professor at Endicott College
Donald Zakarin, co-chairman of the litigation department, Pryor Cashman
Moderated by Billboard deputy editorial director Robert Levine

Keynote Interview: “On the CASE”
Shira Perlmutter, U.S. Register of Copyrights
Moderated by Billboard deputy editorial director Robert Levine


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