Not long ago, we reported on US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante’s House Judiciary Committee testimony regarding “the next great copyright act.” Pallante described the need to update our existing laws to make them not only more comprehensible to the average American, but also work better in a rapidly-evolving technological landscape. We thought that her reasoning was sound and that she was focusing on the right areas, including the incredibly complicated licensing environment for music.
Clearly, the commitee was listening. Yesterday, at a Library of Congress event marking World Intellectual Property Day, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) signaled his intent to review the Copyright Act (which was passed in 1976 and took effect in 1978), with an eye to optimizing the laws to reflect current realities. You can read Goodlatte’s full remarks here. (Self-referential bit — Goodlatte also gave a keynote at the 10th Future of Music Summit.)
On Monday March 4th, US Register of Copyrights MariaPallantedelivered a speech at Columbia Law School entitled “The Next Great Copyright Act.” Her remarks drew immediate attention within the creative communities and beyond — after all, it’s not every day that the nation’s top official on copyright calls for Congress to overhaul existing law.
Music and government may not seem like they have much in common. But four panelists did their best to convince an audience at SXSW that they were, in fact, hopelessly intertwined.
“These issues are breathtakingly complicated,” said the panel’s moderator, Michael Bracy, policy director at the Future of Music Coalition. “How do you build a regulatory structure for a market that is changing so rapidly?” read more
Washington can be a wacky place. Case in point: on November 19, 2012, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) — an independent congressional body that advances party-centric policy analysis — issued a brief containing some pretty ambitious ideas for reforming federal copyright law. No sooner than the document was made public, it was yanked, with RSC Executive Director Paul Teller stating: “Yesterday, you received a Policy Brief on copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard. Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand.” read more
If you follow our work, then you probably know that we think there’s a lot to be done to make today’s music marketplace more efficient. The growth of the internet as a global musical delivery device has strained our copyright architecture, likely necessitating new ways of doing business. Which is why you often hear talk about the difficulties of music licensing in today’s networked environment. read more
One thing that is clear from the massive blowback is that the “business-as-usual” approach to policymaking is unlikely to produce results (at least not the results desired and expected by major industry trade groups). Unfortunately, some folks seem to be missing that point entirely, and are clinging to the idea that the SOPA/PIPA kerfluffle was simply Big Content vs. Silicon Valley.
Op-Ed in The Hill by FMC Deputy Director Casey Rae-Hunter.
The music industry has a long history of telling artists to “shut up and sing.” Which is why the internet has been so important in amplifying the voices of musicians of every conceivable background. It’s also why artists should be wary when powerful entertainment conglomerates push for polices that could undermine free expression, all the while claiming to speak for creators.
Congress is currently considering a pair of well-intentioned but deeply flawed pieces of legislation that threaten to fundamentally change how the internet works. Hollywood and the labels back these bills, which are rightfully being questioned by the broader arts community, from artists and managers to writers and performers. read more
Future of Music Coalition respects intellectual property and copyright. We believe that musicians and songwriters must have the ability to be compensated for their work, regardless of where or how that work is used or accessed.
We also recognize that creators are not a monolithic group, and may have a variety of perspectives on issues at the intersection of copyright and technology. That’s why we think it is so important that the artist perspective is represented in debates about intellectual property in the information age. read more
The interests of EMI’s publishing arm may not necessarily be those of the songwriters it represents. As it is now, ASCAP takes a fee from payments it collects, then distributes the rest of the money equally between songwriter and publisher. Casey Rae-Hunter, of the nonprofit advocacy group Future of Music Coalition, says the big music publishers don’t have the same obligations to songwriters that ASCAP does to those same people, its members.
“What is EMI’s responsibility to the songwriters who are part of their publishing empire, and can we trust that this company is going to honor the 50-50 split that songwriters have worked out and honored over the years?” Hunter asks.