7 Up: An Interview with…Dina LaPolt

Blockchain, News | April 17, 2017 By:

Attorney Dina LaPolt has handled legal matters for Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Deadmau5, Fifth Harmony and the estate of Tupac Shakur, among others. She has been named to the Hollywood Reporter’s list of top music attorneys and has taught at UCLA.  

BlockTribune asked her about blockchain’s current and future impact on the music industry.

BlockTribune: Why has the music business traditionally been afraid of technology changes?

Dina LaPolt:  As they say, “One fears what one does not understand.”  This is largely the case here.  The music business, for the most part, does not understand the technology. But with the advent and crossover of electronic and dance, we know have equal parts creators and technologists in the music business, and we have been for ed to get educated. By the way, so have the technologists with respect to copyright and other intellectual property.  It was only a few years ago that neither side could understand what the other side was saying.  It was like one side was speaking English and the other side was speaking Russian.

The music community is an industry that has been using some of the same systems that were developed in the early 1900’s.  Therefore, anything new is viewed as an attack on the system.

BlockTribune:  It was once famously noted that litigation is a profit center. Will bigger entities want to change the system and become more accurate?

Dina LaPolt: Litigation is costly for all those involved. No one wins in litigation. In addition, all the companies who distribute, account-to, and pay music creators want to get it right!  With respect to increasing the accuracy of payments through the blockchain, the record labels, PRO’s (performance royalty organizations) and publishers want to get better in that department. We are a service business, and when all the people you are serving hate you, then you won’t get very far in the long run. When our business is run in an efficient manner and we have some music licensing reform and we’ve all adopted the blockchain, then it will reduce a lot of the lawsuits.

BlockTribune:  A lot of what is being said about blockchain sounds suspiciously like what was said about the promise of the Internet. Was the Net’s promise squandered?

Dina LaPolt:  The Internet has been fabulous for the music creator community, despite the underpayment of royalties to the music creators. But that is due to outdated copyright laws and antiquated consent decrees that haven’t even been updated since before the iPod was developed.

Although it opened the door to piracy, it also opened the door for new technologies such as streaming, which have revolutionized the way in which people consume music. But we have a lot of work to do before both the music creator community and the technology community are happy with one another.

BlockTribune:  What will be different this time?

Dina LaPolt:  Hopefully, we have learned from our mistakes and the music industry as a whole will adopt the blockchain technology instead of trying to fight it.

BlockTribune: What can the blockchain industry do to be good friends to the creative community?

Dina LaPolt:  Education! With past technologies, there was a lack of education.  This led to the creative community not understanding the technology at hand, and instead of embracing it, like Napster, we fought it and spent millions! If the community is educated on the ways that blockchain can solve many of the problems that they face – like transparency, efficiency, and accurate dissemination of metadata – they will be much more adept to adopt it.

BlockTribune:  Does blockchain help the little players in the business?  If so, how?  If not, why?  Was thinking they still have the marketing hurdle to overcome

Dina LaPolt:  Yes! If we embrace blockchain, then all creators will accurately be paid for the streaming and other uses of their music. Believe it or not, our industry is still paying the wrong people – largely for public performances.

BlockTribune:  How soon will blockchain have an impact on the creative business and what do you see that impact being?

Dina LaPolt:  It appears that the technology is not quite at the point it needs to be. But the ultimate impact will come with widespread adoption. The impact can be huge. The ability to pay the right people in real time is something that the music business has been severely lacking.

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