|Current Issues: Where Songwriters Stand
Music Licensing Reform – The top songwriter priority in Congress is music licensing reform. This complicated issue is still evolving. As Congress considers these important reforms, remember that nothing less than how songwriters will be compensated in the future is at stake.
How songs will be licensed for subscription services and other new distribution sources, and how the royalties will be collected and distributed, are the heart of the debate. Content must be seen as the valuable intellectual property it is.
> In the last congress, songwriters supported the intent of HR.5553, The Section 115 Reform Act of 2006 (SIRA), which would provide for licensing of digital delivery of music; songwriter concerns in that bill were:
> We support The PERFORM Act, which addresses the emergence of new offerings from satellite and HD Radio that transform listening services into download services.
- An end to pass-through payments from record labels to music publishers/songwriters.
- An end to “controlled-compositions,” the practice of asking songwriters to accept a three-quarter rate payment, or less, for the use of their song. Songwriters went from 1909 to 1978 before receiving a pay raise from 1 cent to 2 cents! When songwriters received that meager adjustment “controlled composition” requirements began to flourish.
- Representation on entities designated to collect songwriter royalties.
- Creation of a workable dispute- resolution body.
- Timely payments with minimal collection fees.
- Transparency—access to collection history.
> We oppose the so-called FAIR USE act, which would erode protections that allow songwriters and music publishers to be fairly compensated for their intellectual property. We believe this bill would encourage piracy.
> Songwriters oppose the “Internet Radio Equality Act,” H.R. 20600, S 1353. This legislation contains provisions that would disallow performance royalties to be negotiated in the free market. Past history shows that other emerging technologies, including cable television and video rentals, made the same argument—that rates should be lower so they could compete. The industries became huge and the result was business models that are very unfair to the creators of music. Also, large corporations such as Clear Channel and Microsoft could end up being the biggest windfall financial beneficiaries.
The U.S. Constitution
to the author!
“To promote the
Progress of Science
and useful Arts,
by securing for limited
Authors and Inventors
the exclusive Right
to their respective
Writings and Discoveries--”
Article 1, Section 8
Honorary chairs of the
House Songwriters Caucus
are Representatives Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
“There was amazing
before there was
dead in the water.”
~ Bob Regan
“Thinkin’ About You”