Published: Dec. 4, 2017
Professor Kristelia García

An article written by Associate Professor Kristelia García, "Royalty Secularization," was published in Harvard Law's Journal of Law and Technology digest. The article discusses the intersection of law and technology that copyright and digital performance afford known as royalty securitization. An excerpt of the article is below:   

“The commodification of copyright royalties isn't new, but technological advances like streaming have made it newly lucrative. Streaming transforms music from a one-shot asset (such as an album sale) to one with continuing returns. This might seem like a silver lining for artists who have otherwise been negatively affected by streaming to date, but it probably isn't: digital performance royalties—the royalties paid on streams—are paid to the owner of the copyright in the sound recording, and that owner is usually not the artist.

Investors today have many options when it comes to how and where to invest their money. These opportunities range from the traditional—stock market, real estate, government bonds, small business, and derivatives—to the non-traditional—wine, race cars, fine art, and agriculture. If one can purchase shares of a pig, why not be able to purchase shares of a rap legend? All it takes is a willing rights holder, a willing investor-fan, and the technology to bring the two together.

As an asset, recorded music earns money through sales (including sync licensing), and through royalties collected on public performance rights. Copyrighted recordings earn royalties in two ways: statutorily (for interactive, digital plays), and through privately negotiated licenses (for everything else). To make matters even more interesting, every song is protected by two distinct copyrights—one on the musical composition, and one on the sound recording. It is this latter copyright—and specifically, the digital performance right for sound recordings—that serves as the impetus for this new intersection of law and technology: royalty securitization.”

Read the full article.

García’s research centers on intersections of law, technology, and economics. Particularly, she focuses on efficiency, competition, private ordering, and distributive justice. In addition to teaching trademark, property, and copyright-related courses, García serves as director of the content initiative at the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the university, she worked in the music industry in Los Angeles, taking on roles including serving as outside counsel to Napster while working at Quinn Emanuel, leading content licensing at MySpace Music as director of business development, and working with digital strategy as a director at Universal Music Group.