@KRSFOW: The Future of What Podcast on the Latest Department of Justice Attack on Songwriters

In case you didn’t notice, the Trump Department of Justice is appealing the Obama Department of Justice loss in the 100% licensing ruling by Judge Stanton in the BMI Rate Court. Judge Stanton struck down the DOJ’s unfair and unlawful attack on songwriters.

This podcast by Portia Sabin on the Future of What was recorded before the appeal, but tells you all you need to know about what is at issue in the bizarre Department of Justice appeal. Except for the fact that after the podcast was recorded, Songwriters of North America sued the Department of Justice and ex-Googler Renata Hesse (the prime mover behind the Kafka-esque theory). For what? Unlawful behavior and unconstitutional taking of property without fair compensation.

The podcast was also recorded before Texas Governor Greg Abbott called on the then-Attorney General to reconsider the DOJ’s position and summed it up nicely:

“[D]espite claims to the contrary, BMI and ASCAP have never offered full-work licenses to fractionally owned songs, and the consent decrees have never been interpreted by the DOJ to require that until now. This drastic change in course will have severe consequences for music artists and the music industry as a whole.

Read the DOJ appeal brief here.

Read BMI Rate Court Judge Stanton’s ruling here.

Artist Rights Watch

Another outstanding podcast from the Future of What with Kill Rock Stars! President Portia Sabin talking with David Lowery, Chris Castle and NMPA CEO David Israelite about the U.S. Justice Department’s flip flop on 100% licensing.

Find out what “100% licensing” means and what songwriters can do about it, plus a discussion of the implications for international songwriters and the future of reciprocal licensing by PROs outside the US.

Here’s a link to Chris Castle’s Huffington Post article mentioned in the podcast,  The Obama Administration Is Lame Ducking An Unworkable Burden on Songwriters: 4 Reasons Why It’s Bad Law; the MusicTechPolicy timeline on the Obama Administration’s songwriter czar Renata Hesse (mentioned by David Israelite) showing her curious connections to Google and the MIC Coalition: How Google Took Over the Justice Department Antitrust Division: Renata Hesse’s Timeline; BMI’s Premotion Letter to Judge Stanton re Obama Justice Department Ruling on 100%…

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Watch This Space: The #irespectmusic Podcast Coming Soon!


Watch this space for the #irespectmusic podcast, hosted by Karoline Kramer Gould!  Listen to the trailer here!

Blake KKG Conyers

Blake Morgan, Karoline Kramer Gould, Rep. John Conyers

The MTP Podcast: The Consequences of DOJ’s New Rule on 100% Licensing with David Lowery, Steve Winogradsky and Chris Castle

The Department of Justice–once again doing its best to crush small business–has appealed the BMI ruling (copy of DOJ appeal here).



David Lowery, Steve Winogradsky and Chris Castle discuss the implications of the new rule by the U.S. Department of Justice re-interpreting the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees to require 100% licensing and prohibiting partial withdrawal.

David Lowery is the founder of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven, leading artist rights advocate and writer of The Trichordist blog, and teaches at the Terry School of Business at the University of Georgia at Athens.

Steve Winogradsky is a senior music lawyer and co-proprietor of the music services company Winogradsky/Sobel in Los Angeles.  Steve teaches at UCLA and Cal State Northridge and is the author of a leading legal handbook Music Publishing: The Complete Guide.

Chris Castle is founder of Christian L. Castle, Attorneys in Austin, Texas and edits the MusicTechPolicy blog.  He is formerly an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and lectures at law schools, music schools…

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A Guide to the Department of Justice Ruling on “100% Licensing”

To better understand the recent DOJ appeal of 100% licensing from the BMI rate court, we offer a repost of this article.  The Department of Justice–once again doing its best to crush small business–has appealed the BMI ruling (copy of DOJ appeal here).  Note that Brent Snyder, the DOJ lawyer who lead the brief, is a former partner at Google lawyers Perkins Coie in Seattle–yet another DOJ lawyer with ties to Google.


By Steve Winogradsky and Chris Castle, all rights reserved.

The recent ruling by the U.S. Department of Justice in United States v. Broadcast Music, Inc. and United States v. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has left many songwriters, publishers, motion picture and television producers and, yes, even lawyers scratching their heads to understand the import of the ruling.  Not to mention Texas Governor Greg Abbott who has written to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to reconsider the DOJ ruling.

The authors have summarized the ruling in the chart that follows.  The thing speaks for itself.

As you will see, the left hand column lists the various roles of a music creator (starting with “Songwriter”) or music user.  The rows describe some of the potential combinations of co-writers who will run afoul of the DOJ’s ruling.  The chart is followed by a list of descriptions of what…

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@irvingazoff: Irving on the Value of YouTube to Biz: “None”

“My report about the ‘Value of YouTube to the Music Industry’ would be really brief because I can summarize the benefit of YouTube to artists in a word: none,” says Irving Azoff, responding to a controversial U.K. study that has been the subject of much ink since its debut earlier this month. Azoff disputes numerous […]

via @irvingazoff: IRVING ON VALUE OF YOUTUBE TO BIZ: “NONE” — Artist Rights Watch

@stuartdredge: @BASCA_UK @CrispinHunt “Rules Won’t Break the Internet, they’ll Mend It” — Artist Rights Watch

YouTube and Facebook were squarely in the sights of Crispin Hunt, chairman of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), as he delivered the opening address at yesterday’s Ivor Novello Awards in London.

via @stuartdredge: @BASCA_UK @CrispinHunt “Rules Won’t Break the Internet, they’ll Mend It” — Artist Rights Watch

Of Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Road Rash

In 1994, I kept getting calls from Electronic Arts about using Soundgarden in the soundtrack of a video game.  Remember–at that time, the only music in video games was pretty limited stuff.  The Electronic Arts game was called Road Rash and a new version of it was being released in a format called 3DO which I’d also never heard of.  The thought of trying to come up with a new deal structure for music in a video game sounded like it required more attention than I had to give, and I pretty much turned them down flat.

Shortly after passing on what in hindsight was more opportunity than headache, I got a call from Soundgarden’s management.  It appeared that Electronic Arts had approached the band directly–a move guaranteed to piss off a label.  Soundgarden were huge Road Rash fans and played earlier versions of the game on their tour bus.  A lot.

And another thing–the band thought there was something to this music in video games thing.  They wanted it to happen.  One thing I learned from the great David Anderle was that you should always listen to your artists, so I thought maybe we’d give this music in video games thing a chance since the band wanted to do it.  Dunno, could be good.

I asked Soundgarden if it was OK for us to use them as leverage to get some other A&M bands into the game so that we could control the audio landscape.  They thought that was just fine.  So I called Electronic Arts back and told them that I understood from our artist Soundgarden–who EA had gone to behind our backs–that EA had a need of music for their new Road Rash game.  Which was good because it just so happened that I had music to give them.

Well…not give them exactly.

EA agreed to take tracks by our other artists in the genre, so I worked with Soundgarden’s first rate product manager to make it happen.  He’s the one who really deserves the credit for making this happen at the label, including bugging me way too much.  We came up with a list of artists who we thought would get off on being in the game, particularly alongside Soundgarden.  This was Monster Magnet, Paw, Swervedriver, Therapy? and Hammerbox.  EA found slots for all of them.  Because this was found money, I agreed to let each artist keep their share of the royalties on a nonrecoupment basis, meaning we just passed through 50% of our revenue from EA.  Plus the bands got the publishing royalty.

Let’s just say that every artist involved in the project made bank.  Plus EA agreed to give us all kinds of promotional goodies.  It was a great deal.  In fact, it was such a great deal that the rumor is that EA swore they’d never do that deal again.  Even so, the game producer Randy Breen was a big believer in the music and games reality at a time when it did not exist.  He hung in there and put up with all my bullshit.

Of course none of this would have happened without Soundgarden and Chris Cornell.  Would someone have put front line music in a video game eventually?  Sure, but the fact that Soundgarden–at the height of the Superunknown phenomenon–were willing to take a chance on what could have backfired in a pretty visible way made a huge difference in the evolution of what has become a major way of introducing fans to bands.  And it speaks volumes that Soundgarden’s generosity with their own success allowed five other A&M bands to participate when Soundgarden could just as easily have taken all the Road Rash music slots for themselves.  In addition to all their other accomplishments, Soundgarden and Chris Cornell should really be recognized for having the vision to embrace a whole new way of using music that we have taken for granted for a long, long time.

It’s that spirit that made the entire label love those guys and stick with them for years.  We were really lucky to have had the opportunity.

You can’t ever really know what goes on inside someone’s head.  There will be a lot of stories and resume about Chris Cornell, but I wanted to tell that story of a combination of vision and kindness.  For there are no other words.


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