Sunday, October 24, 2021

Washington breweries brew ‘Rock On’ beers to fight against piracy

For fans of craft beer, this spring is a unique opportunity to support American musicians. As they entered 2016, many musicians were hit hard by their shared hobby, and several lawsuits were filed against music download and streaming companies in April of last year.

A group of about 60 musicians, songwriters and record label executives have banded together under the umbrella label Small Bucks to fight for artists’ rights. Included in the cause are dozens of local breweries, who created an entire line of beers under the slogan “Rock On!” to raise money for musicians struck down by the cold economic outside environment.

Washington breweries brewed five Rock On beers; the other four were brewed by Seattle breweries including Blueprint Brewing, Busboys and Poets, The Heartbreaker Project and Soundspace.

The Small Bucks organization has already established an anti-piracy group that campaigns against illegal downloads.

This is the first year the Brewers Association, the Colorado-based trade association for the country’s craft beer industry, has allowed beer and cider breweries to make such types of special edition beers.

“Even if you don’t consider yourself a craft beer drinker, you probably know someone who likes them. They’re popular not only across the country but around the world,” said Andrew Cutts, communications manager for the Brewers Association.

Under the three-tier system of copyright law, music is owned by individual songs and copied for playback in a personal computer, album player or other device. Music can be digitally copied under certain circumstances, but only if it’s labeled as eligible for a copyright. When copying music for personal use, users must ensure they’re downloading the qualified song. If there’s a disagreement over whether a song is covered, the issue can be appealed to a third party, such as an Internet service provider, to determine whether the work has been licensed or whether a host of rights holders have been improperly compensated.

Subsequently, concert venues, manufacturers and other companies can also claim copyright and demand compensation from Internet content providers. The lawsuits filed in 2016 by the musicians’ group claim that file-sharing sites have sometimes settled out of court for well under the expected rate. Of particular concern to the musicians’ group was that the web hosts failed to include a note in their download notifications identifying which works were covered.

Out of concern for the musicians’ cause, the royalties they were owed were immediately being docked from their paychecks. And when the artists realized that major music download sites were underpaying them, most of the other rights holders threatened to cut off revenue streams from the same sites.

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