It’s very encouraging that the AFL–CIO (see “Workers Mobilizing to Get Fair Play for Music Artists“), the leading council of trade unions in America, has come out foursquare behind their members in the creative unions twice in the last 6 weeks or so. First, there was a resounding defense of the AFTRA–DGA–IATSE-SAG anti-theft position paper in the net neutrality hearings (as well as several other major unions who filed comments such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers). These unions were also in line with the Songwriters Guild of America that had been the lone voice opposing the loopholes in the “net neutrality” stalking horse that would permit rampant stealing to continue.
But yesterday the AFL–CIO backed the professional creators in the quest for a performance right for sound recordings in the United States, and idea whose time has definitely come (and is about 30 years overdue if you ask me). Bear in mind, practically every other country in the world has a performance right for recording artists, vocalists and musicians when their recording is played on the air (including producers in some countries). Currently–these artists get zero. The purpose of the Performance Rights Act is to create an easy to use and easy to pay license for the recordings–bearing in mind that broadcasters already pay for the songs. The sound recording is just the flip side of the same accounting and tracking that is already being done. In fact, for larger stations, the typical software packages that the big stations use to track their playlists already accounts for the sound recording in a different part of the data.
We definitely welcome the support of the AFL–CIO and the Obama administration in taking an aggressive posture to support professional creators, not to mention the domestic political clout of trade unions. We need all the help we can get to fight the hundreds of millions that Google alone spends in trying to undermine our rights and our business (Michael Geist notwithstanding).
And PS for those from Mollywood: No reason why you would know this, but “unions” are like these like people who come together to do like “collective bargaining” and they don’t take their pay in free food. In Mollywood, “collective bargaining” is venture capitalists setting a valuation, but in the United States, it’s a process that’s protected by the First Amendment of like the Constitution and stuff! OMG! And also by the National Labor Relations Act! It’s like the law, dude! And it’s not code! They also like negotiate working conditions and stuff, so don’t mention it to the code monkey in the next cubicle who you found laying on the floor naked in a pile of Ring Ding wrappers and Snapple bottles chanting “Lessig is God” or Eric might take back his options.
See also: Artist rights are human rights