The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held its second hearing on music licensing on June 25, welcoming input from a variety of interest groups and organizations as a continuation of the ongoing reexamination of our country’s copyright system. You can find our coverage of the prior hearing here.
Nine witnesses testified before the committee, offering opinions that varied in focus but all highlighted major areas of potential reform. Witnesses for this hearing included singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash representing the Americana Music Association, Cary Sherman (CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA), Charles Warfield on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Darius Van Arman on behalf of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Ed Christian of the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), Paul Williams as President of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Chris Harrison of Pandora, President of SoundExchangeMichael Huppe, and David Frear, CFO of Sirius XM.
by Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate & Jordan Reth, Policy Fellow
You may remember back in March 2013, when Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante—our nation’s highest ranking copyright official—told the House Judiciary Subcomittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, “Music licensing is so complicated and broken that if we get that right, we can get the whole [copyright] statute right.”
Well, after more than a year of hearings examining the nation’s copyright laws from many different angles, that same subcommittee finally tackled music licensing directly on June 10. It was a wide-ranging discussion, touching on multiple pieces of legislation currently under consideration, offering a preview of legislation around the corner, and laying out a range of views of how music licensing ought to be structured.
Future of Music Coalition submitted the following testimony in June 10 and June 25, 2014 House Judiciary subcommittee hearings on “Music Licensing Under Title 17, Part One and Two.” As Congress reviews existing copyright law, we recommend that it consider the needs of creators alongside the goal of expanding the legitimate digital marketplace.
Chairman Coble, Vice-Chairman Marino and members of the committee, it is a privilege to submit the following testimony for the record in this important hearing on music licensing.read more
Tuesday’s session was somewhat more focused than previous hearings, but was unfortunately cut short due to a scheduled floor vote. Although it didn’t go into as much depth as we’d have liked, the hearing offered valuable perspectives on an often contentious subject.
Witnesses on the panel included law professors Peter Jazsi and June Besek, author Naomi Novik representing the Organization for Transformative Works, songwriter and musician David Lowery of Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven and Kurt Wimmer of the Newspaper Association of America.
As we mentioned, fair use is a unique legal exception allowing artists and others to make use of copyrighted material without obtaining permission from the author or rightsholder. But fair use doesn’t mean you can just use whatever you want whenever you please—there are four specific factors that courts weigh to make determinations about the “fairness” of a use. (Check ‘em out here.)
Fair use has produced a lot of debate, from 2 Live Crew’s “Oh Pretty Woman” parody to controversies over mass digitization to the recent Beastie Boys vs Goldieblox dispute. As ranking member Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) noted, the flexibility of fair use is a strength. A weakness is that that it doesn’t always provide perfect clarity. This might be why fair use tends to be poorly understood by the general population.
Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, The Internet, & Intellectual Property
Sunday, July 20, 2014
FMC has been closely monitoring the Subcommittee’s ongoing review of the Copyright Act, with special attention to musicians’ needs and perspectives. Here’s a chronology of events so far, with links to our coverage and commentary, along with video of the archived hearings.
What can you do when someone makes unauthorized use of your creative work?
In the past, we’ve seen the RIAA and the major labels go after alleged pirates and large-scale copyright infringers with some frequency—they have the money and the man-power to dedicate to litigation. But if you’re an unsigned solo artist, or a photographer or an author, the cost of taking someone to court, regardless of how flagrant the infraction, can often be prohibitive. read more
A US-based band is recording an album of material they wrote, but wants one of the tracks to be a cover of The Rolling Stones’ song “Brown Sugar”, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The band sells all 500 vinyl copies of the album plus 500 downloads on iTunes to US customers. According to the current statutory rates, how much does this 4 minute, 30 second-long cover of “Brown Sugar” generate in mechanical royalties, based on these sales?
by Communications Associate Kevin Erickson and Policy Intern Cody Duncan
Last week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet wrapped up the second of a pair hearings focusing on innovation and copyright. Both of these hearings were part of the subcommittee’s ongoing review of existing copyright law; the latest was titled Innovation in America: the Role of Technology. read more