Emmanuel Legrand posted a very informative piece in his newsletter about a speech by Rep. Jerry Nadler at the so-called “Music Biz Association” Music Biz Entertainment & Technology Law Conference Series in New York.
(Some of you may remember the “Music Biz Association” as NARM which is what it was called before it was taken over by representatives from the leading royalty deadbeats of our day: Facebook, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube and Pandora. In fact, the chair of the “Music Biz Association” is from Facebook, the industry leader in screwing artists out of royalties and their name and likeness rights, not to mention fake news. YouTube parent Google and Pandora are both members of the MIC Coalition cartel that is an effort by Corporate America dedicated to screwing the world’s songwriters and artists through massive lobbying power. Also known as The Anti-Music Biz Association. Amazon and Spotify are also represented through their trade association the Digital Media Association which has opposed everything anyone has tried to do to better the lives of creators.)
Mr. Legrand tells us that Rep. Nadler noted the long list of critical creative industries legislation languishing in the Congress: These include the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (HR 1695) which is currently languishing in the Senate after having passed the House with a rip-roaring 378-48 after being opposed by proxies of Music Biz board members. Nadler’s own Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017 (HR 1836) would close the terrestrial performance right loophole for sound recordings; [the CLASSICS Act (HR 3301) to get artists paid statutory performance royalties for pre-1972 recordings that The Turtles have had to sue over at great expense;] “…the Songwriters’ Equity Act, that would simplify the way music is licensed by performance rights organisations; [the Allocation for Producers (AMP Act HR 881); and] the PROMOTE Act of 2017 (HR 1914), which would allow performing artists to opt out of having their music played on the radio if the performing artist is not being paid an agreed-upon performance royalty.”
Let’s be clear about one thing–the real tragedy that would make us all look very stupid would be if after getting the Register of Copyrights bill passed overwhelmingly in the House–after dirty dealing by Representative from Google–the bill simply dies in the Senate because no one will bring it up for a vote or because Senator Wyden (D-Google Data Center) has a hold on it. The one bill that actually got a vote and was passed by the Judiciary Committee and by the House–fails in the Senate?
That result would no doubt be thrilling to the Music Biz Association board members from YouTube, Facebook, Amazon and Spotify if for no other reason that the snarky Librarian of Congress is very likely itching to appoint her own Register and give the gesture to the Congress and their little dog, too. (This would be the Libraian of Congress who is permitting (and I think encouraging) mass NOIs to screw songwriters for the benefit of Amazon, Pandora, Spotify and Google.)
If that Register appointment bill doesn’t get a vote pretty soon, she just might do it, particularly if she got top cover from the MIC Coalition and the Internet Association (assuming the IA can take time away from their important work of protecting Backpage.com and saving the Internet).
And this is not to mention the latest atrocity from the MIC Coalition, the radioactive “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” (HR 3350). That bill destroys statutory damages and attorneys fees awards in copyright infringement cases against special classes of members of the MIC Coalition cartel that appears to be attempting to fix songwriter and artist royalties–at zero by the look of it. (And those Music Biz Association meetings should recite the antitrust prayer with special fervor given all of the interlocking boards involved and the dominant posistions of Facebook, Google, Spotify, Pandora and of course Amazon. Someone might come looking.) For a good summary of what’s wrong with HR 3350 (or as we call it, The Shiv Act) read this open letter by the Content Creators Coalition signed by artist members Melvin Gibbs, John McCrea, Tommy Manzi, Rosanne Cash, Tift Merritt and Matthew Montfort.
Since we’re not mentioning HR 3350, let’s also not mention Music Biz Association board members Amazon, Spotify, Pandora and Google’s millions upon millions of “address unknown” NOIs served on the Copyright Office pursuant to impenetrable filings that screw songwriters to the wall in no uncertain terms. But wait…Spotify says there’s no such thing as a mechanical royalty….I’m so confused.
Mr. Legrand reports that Rep. Nadler is disheartened by the lack of effort behind these bills:
Nadler said that so far none of these bills have gathered any traction, aside from the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which was voted 27-1 by the Committee before the summer, to be then sent to the Senate where it is stalling.
Nadler added that Goodlatte will stay in his position for less than two more years so something has to happen this year, if anything.
“Time is the enemy,” said Nadler. “Someone has to be pushing and a lot of this stuff is not going through the Judiciary.” However, Nadler wondered whether Goodlatte would go for a comprehensive Copyright Bill that would become his legacy or opt for a selective number of individual bills.
Nadler, as one of the co-sponsors of the bill, would like to see [Fair Play Fair Pay] go through because, as he said, the USA is the only country alongside Iran and North Korea not to grant performance rights on sound recordings for music played on terrestrial radio. To explain he situation owners of sound recordings are facing at the moment, Nadler used the following image: “In a car you can hit three buttons. If you hit FM, music performers do not get royalties. If you then hit satellite radio, performers get a royalty, and if you then hit streaming, performers get a different royalty. It does not make sense.”
Rep. Nadler probably thought he was speaking to an organization that supported his efforts, and indeed in fairness many of the Music Biz Association members do.
However, at least four of the members of both the organization and its board of directors work for companies that have been actively trying to crush songwriters and artists for many, many years. Pandora, for example, lead the charge against the retirees and the deceased on opposing paying Pandora’s fair share on pre-1972 royalties for sound recordings. $300 million or so later, it is up to the Congress to fix this loophole.
It’s imporant to note that it takes two to tango–one reason this long list of bills hasn’t moved is because of efforts to stop each of them by companies on the Music Biz Association’s board or the lobbying groups these companies fund to avoid any breadcrumbs leading back to their house. The MIC Coalition, for example, includes the National Association of Broadcasters who have used their lobbying power to crush artists for decades.
And it’s not that these companies just oppose legislation to treat creators fairly, it’s that they have in large part formed the MIC Coalition cartel for that exact purpose. These companies spend millions of dollars lobbying against our interests. So while we cherish Rep. Nadler’s unflagging support for songwriters and artists (as evidenced by the #IRespectMusic campaign and Blake Morgan’s extraordinary advocacy, for example), it must be said that the Music Biz Association is probably the wrong place to open the kimono because you never know which royalty deadbeat is taking notes in the audience and yukking it up under their breath.
Want to do something about it? Call your Member of Congress at (202) 224-3121 (or find them on this list for a direct line in the House) AND call both your Senators at (202) 224-3121 (or find them on this list for a direct line in the Senate). You can also write to your Member by looking them up on the House of Representatives website or to your Senators by looking them up on the Senate website. (Remember–you have one Member of Congress and two Senators.)
Let’s help our friends like Rep. Nadler defeat the cartels. Make those phone calls.