@riaa Responds to Songwriter Groups on Moral Rights and Credit Solutions

[We’re big Jaxsta fans at MTP and have a lot of time for that company.]

August 23, 2017

Thank you for your letter explaining your concerns with the filing we made with the U.S. Copyright Office in connection with its study of Moral Rights. 

To be frank, we are puzzled by your letter, as it appears to assume that we took a position we neither espoused, nor believe. But we’re glad for the opportunity to set the record straight and eliminate any misunderstandings.

First, let us be clear that we wholeheartedly believe that all creators of music deserve attribution for their work. As we said in our filing, we have every incentive to ensure attribution, because it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s good business as well.

Although our member labels do not own the copyrights to musical works, and our focus is necessarily on the artists our companies represent, we fully support attribution for songwriters, and all the others who contribute to a musical recording. Indeed, we have supported initiatives over the years to improve attribution and will continue to do so.

The good news is that the opportunities for better attribution have never been more promising. Instead of hard-to-read fine print on discs and liner notes, music fans will be able to ask voice-activated appliances like Amazon’s Echo for the names of the songwriters of a recording. Public websites like Jaxsta will soon launch, providing a rich and in-depth array of information about creators. Such information may not fit on the small digital screen of a streaming service’s user interface, but it can be publicly and widely available in very convenient and accessible ways.

It is this form of attribution that was the focus of our filing with the Copyright Office – publicly visible identification, and not – as your letter suggests –metadata that may be included with a file but that is not publicly displayed to those listening to a music file or watching a music video. Even if all possible information were included in the metadata, that wouldn’t solve the attribution problem unless that information was also rendered on-screen in a form visible to the human eye. In other words, while metadata might be a means to an end, it is not an end in itself if the end is public-facing attribution.

Since it appears that you were focused more on metadata than public attribution, let us be clear: we do not oppose, indeed we support, including in metadata information about all creators of a musical recording, and we encourage the use of available mechanisms to give credit to creators. We simply believe that these measures should not be legislated, but rather should be voluntary, or based on freely negotiated contractual obligations, as they always have been in the United States.

We would welcome the opportunity to work with your organizations on voluntary mechanisms to achieve our shared objective – to maximize attribution for all creators.


Cary Sherman and Mitch Glazier

One thought on “@riaa Responds to Songwriter Groups on Moral Rights and Credit Solutions

  1. The RIAA does pretty well here, until the end, where it says we should only accomplish this through “voluntary” means. That’s a pretty naive pipe dream, and not at all helpful to musicians. Under the DMCA, the US Copyright Office is expressly given the power to clarify what metadata is protected. Ms. Schneider’s piece (referenced in the BASCA open letter) does a great job pointing that out. So why would the RIAA be against having the Copyright Office clarify this? The way YouTube strips away this metadata is wrong, and YouTube will never ever “voluntarily” agree to stop doing this. Metadata (and all other attribution information) needs to be protected so it can be harnessed by future platforms. If the Copyright Office can help accomplish that, let’s let that happen!


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