Commenting for Law360 on copyright lawsuits brought by stand-up comedians in the Central District of California against streaming service Pandora, which seek to close the gap between how musicians and comedians are compensated for content, Los Angeles principal Jeff McFarland noted that The Copyright Act typically establishes two categories of copyrights over music recordings. One category is the copyright over the sound recording, and the other is the copyright over the lyrics and musical composition. However, comedians are typically paid only for their sound recordings and not for their compositions. Pandora has taken the position that it doesn't have to pay comedians for the underlying composition, because the material isn't copyrightable. “But it is, they write out much of what they do,” McFarland said. “They fix it. They rehearse it. It's not just spontaneous chatter. Those sources are becoming the dominant way people are getting copyrighted material. The lion's share of what is being delivered now is through streaming services. Even if it doesn't fall in the same rubric [as musicians], I don't think they'll be able to continue to put this stuff up without paying.”

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