Archive by Author | nicolemjoyce

American Film Market Conference Echoes Predictions of Growth in Chinese Film Markets

by Nicole Joyce, Arther Law’s Industry Insider Blog


On November 6th in Hollywood the annual American Film Market Conference was held. The AFM conference is eight days of non-stop movies from large blockbusters to independent films. During the course of the conference approximately 400 films are shown, some making their premier at these events.

The event also involves networking events and seminars for the approximately 8,000 guests that come to the event annually. The attendees include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, and press members.

This year the AFM reflected the growing awareness of the quickly growing Chinese film market. Currently in China there are 10 movie screens built a day. It is also predicted that the Chinese film market will overtake the US film markets in profits in the next five years.

This year the AFM counted as one of its attendees the China Film Group, the largest state-owned production and distribution company. The attention is not one sided however with some of these big production companies looking to Hollywood for investment in there Chinese productions. This could mean bigger budgets and more international casts.


Hollywood is also not just interested in old talent in the Chinese market, but are particularly interested in the new producers and directors coming from the region. Several directors are making their debut, such as Vicky Zhao (So Young,), Guo Jingming (Tiny Times) and Xu Zheng (Lost in Thailand).  

Emerging Trends: US Film Industry Finds New and Growing Market in China

by Nicole Joyce, Arther Law’s Industry Insider

A sign of things to come? Movies such as "Cloud Atlas" failed to ignite U.S. box offices but found business in China. (P.S. See "Cloud Atlas")

A sign of things to come? Movies such as “Cloud Atlas” failed to ignite U.S. box offices but found business in China. (p.s. see “Cloud Atlas”)

On October 19th there was a panel in Beverly Hills California called “China’s Entertainment Industry: The Next Chapter.” Panelists and attendees discussed how China represents a growing market for American films.

It is projected that the Chinese box office will double the US box office in 10 to 15 years. Currently, movies like Pacific Rim made USD $10 million more in China than it did in the United States. This was even after the movie was released 3 months apart with enough time for the bootleg market to start production of the movie.

Cloud Alas made 700,000 dollars more in its Chinese release than in the US one. This is also after almost half an hour of the movie was censored out.

Analysts such as Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Global Research estimate that the Chinese box office could yield $5 billion in value potential for Hollywood studios by 2017. This is compared to approximately $2.2 billion today, including imported and local productions.

The Panelists also discussed the growth of Chinese directors who have demonstrated strong skills in story telling.

Sirus XM Sued Over Pre-1972 Recordings

With respect to federal law there were no copyright protections until 1972. The Supreme Court has ruled that state laws govern for pre-1972 recordings. Most states like California and New York extend exclusive ownership rights to pre-1972.


Sirus’ legal troubles began with a class action lawsuit from the founding members of the Turtles suing under California state law to recover for use of their pre-1972 songs by Sirus XM. California state law gives the artists the exclusive rights until 2047.


Now Sirus is facing even more charges from big labels. Capitol Records LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings Inc. and Warner Music Group Corp. have all now sued Sirus in California state court to recover for intellectual property right violations. The complaint alleges that Sirus refused to obtain the licenses for the songs that it distributes to millions of listeners.


Sirus has also been sued by SoundExchange, a nonprofit performance rights organization appointed by the federal government to manage copyright and trademark royalty terms, for $50 million in underpayments of digital royalties. SoundExchange alleges that Sirus illegally deducted the pre-1972 recordings from their digital royalties.

All this litigation against Sirus XM also affects radio stations, television networks, and others who play pre-1972 recordings. Typically these songs are played under blanket licenses that cover the musical compositions, but not the sound recordings. This opens these entities up to possible state law intellectual property charges.

What does the Clear Channel and Warner Music Group Deal Mean For the Music Industry?

Clear Channel and Warner Music Group have partnered up bringing up issues of royalties paid to artist for radio plays. Royalties are fees paid to artists and labels for use of their product: the songs that play on the radio. Typically radio stations are only required to pay royalties for songs played on the web, not through typical radio broadcasts. The broadcast industry has long been against the practice that occurs everywhere besides the US. Digital broadcasts pay royalties at a rate of $0.0022 per son based on the per play rate per listener. This results in very unpredictable costs for the digital broadcast companies. Read More…

Legal Perspective: Reversion Rights Come to Play in 2013


by Nicole Joyce, Arther Law’s Industry Insider

2013 is the year that copyrights owned by record labels expire and can revert back to artists. The Copyright Reversion Act of 1976 gives artists the ability to terminate the label’s copyright after 35 years.

The option of reversion for artists creates an interesting legal arena with no case law or business practice to guide either artists or labels. Some say that reversion to artists could completely change the music business, while others are more skeptical.

The Reversion Act gives a five-year window to file termination. The act was passed in 1976 but did not come in to affect until 1978. Read More…