Posts Tagged ‘Music Modernization Act’

How to Fix The Music Modernization Act’s Flawed “Audit” Clause — Music Tech Solutions

The famous old Russian proverb reminds us to trust but verify. That’s been the story in the record business since the cylindrical disc. All the “modernization” in the world will not soothe songwriter’s genetic suspicion of their accounting statements. Unfortunately, the controversial Music Modernization Act creates a quasi-governmental organization with no oversight, and that has weak and punitive audit clauses for songwriters.   We are told that songwriters should appreciate what they’re given because they never had audit rights under the current statutory license.  Of course, if you run the risk of being financially punished if you exercise a right, that’s not much of a right at all.  So let’s not do the usual two steps forward, three steps back.

via How to Fix The Music Modernization Act’s Flawed “Audit” Clause — Music Tech Solutions

You Can’t Find What You Don’t Look For: Spotify Still Can’t Find the #5 Record in the US — Artist Rights Watch

Blocboy Look Alive SX

The more things change…great news for BlocBoy JB, he made the Top 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The bad news…Spotify, Google and Amazon filed “address unknown” NOIs for his song which means these saviors of the music business just helped themselves to a royalty-free license for who knows how long. Yes, it’s right […]

via You Can’t Find What You Don’t Look For: Spotify Still Can’t Find the #5 Record in the US — Artist Rights Watch 

Guest Post by @schneidermaria: An Open Letter to David Israelite of the NMPA, and Anyone Interested in the Music Modernization Act — The Trichordist — Artist Rights Watch

Here’s a guest post by 5-time Grammy winner Maria Schneider on the Trichordist that she says is in response to a letter from National Music Publishers Association head David Israelite about her critique of the Music Modernization Act that appeared on MusicTechPolicy and ARW

via Guest Post by @schneidermaria: An Open Letter to David Israelite of the NMPA, and Anyone Interested in the Music Modernization Act — The Trichordist — Artist Rights Watch

The Music Modernization Act Could Make One Small Change in Favor of Songwriters: Put the Copyright Office on a Schedule — Music Tech Solutions

February 27, 2018 Leave a comment

There is one solution to the NOI loophole problem that is entirely within the power of the Congress to solve immediately–instruct the Librarian of Congress to require the Copyright Office to get the lead out on processing copyright registrations and create a rebuttable presumption that the Copyright Office has contact information for copyright owners.

via The Music Modernization Act Could Make One Small Change in Favor of Songwriters: Put the Copyright Office on a Schedule — Music Tech Solutions

@musicanswersnow Says We Can Do Better on Music Modernization Act

February 22, 2018 Comments off

If you’ve been following the insiders spinning the controversial Music Modernization Act, you will probably have heard them say things like this about the closed door negotiations leading up to the introduction of the bill:  “Don’t blame us! Not everyone can be at the table! But…NSAI, SONA, ASCAP and BMI were at the table representing “creator interests” and  endorse the MMA as well as the Songwriters Guild, Society of Composers & Lyricists, NARAS, AIMP and A2IM. So trust me!”

Remember English 101 and logical fallacies?  This particular piece of rhetoric is a threefer–let’s start with the fallacy of reductio ad absurdum.  No one ever said that every songwriter should have been at the table, just that the negotiations for the bill should not have been behind closed doors.  How about getting public comments, consultations, or even posting a link to a copy of the bill that you were trying to get petitions signed in support of–before you sent the petition or introduced the bill?  Or maybe giving members of these august organizations a chance to comment or suggest changes before you ask them to sign a petition that is premised on a bunch of glittering generalities strung together in a cover letter.  (Remember the “glittering generalities” fallacy? Maybe it’s a four-fer.)

Then there’s that old reliable, the “bandwagon” fallacy.  This is the “everyone else is running off a cliff, why don’t you?” fallacy.

And don’t forget to ask exactly how these organizations were empowered to “represent” their members in a negotiation that the members knew nothing about that produced work product they never saw until it was too late.

There’s one more fallacy in the statement–extra points if you can spot it.

There’s a reason why you studied fallacies in English comp–logical fallacies are arguments designed to lure you into agreeing with something or in this case supporting a bill that you don’t really understand.

Fortunately, MusicAnswers is not afraid to speak truth to power and to take on the threats and whisper campaigns.  This video is fallacy free:

Get on the Bus! Could the Music Modernization Act be the Trojan Horse for Orphan Works?

February 21, 2018 Comments off


orphanworks-net from Internet Archive

When you read through the Music Modernization Act’s prohibition on statutory damages, “reasonably diligent search” and global rights database clauses, you can’t help but think of the orphan works efforts from years past by some of the same cast of characters that is around the MMA in the Congress.

Orphan works–if you recall–was a bill that went down in flames after a similar omnibus type effort (and when I first came to loathe these omnibus plans that can easily be hijacked).  It created a huge backlash from the broader copyright community including the Illustrators Partnership, photographer groups, authors and indie labels.  Brad Holland of the Illustrators Partnership has an extensive post on the subject published on The Trichordist.

Since there is such broad based “agreement” around the Music Modernization Act and since the MMA already has orphan works type provisions, this fact will not be lost on people from the copyleft (such as Spotify lawyer Professor Christopher Sprigman who has written extensively on these concepts).

Wouldn’t it be odd and kind of hysterically funny to find that the much ballyhooed Music Modernization Act ends up really haveing nothing to do with music or modernization and becomes just a trojan horse for those old yearnings to be realized.

Good thing the city fellers are in charge.

Who Owns What Under the Music Modernization Act and What Effect on Valuations?

February 19, 2018 Comments off

There are two imponderables under the Music Modernization Act that I think could have a significant effect on valuations and investment: the designation of the mechanical licensing collective by the Register of Copyrights and the contemplated global rights database.

First the initial and any re-designation of the collective by the Register.  It must be said that it would be nice to have the process by which the Register is selected be finalized in the pending legislation sitting in the Senate titled the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (S. 1010).  The House version of the bill has already passed on a near unanimous vote so hopefully the Senate will get around to voting on it sometime soon.

It must also be said that the statutory requirements to guide the Register in selecting the collective make it almost inevitable that the selection process will be the sound of one hand clapping.  Given the bill’s supporters, it would only be surprising if that were not the case.  After all, who can forget the drafting contortions of the Section 115 Reform Act to avoid calling the general designated agent by its true name.

But the remarkable part is in the re-designation of a different collective, the “new entity”, assuming that  a latter-day Diogenes scours the countryside to discover that one can be found that meets the standards.  Here’s what’s supposed to happen then:

PERIODIC REVIEW OF DESIGNATION.—Following the initial designation of the mechanical licensing collective, the Register shall, every 5 years, beginning with the fifth full calendar year to commence after the initial designation, publish notice in the Federal Register in the month of January soliciting information concerning whether the existing designation should be continued, or a different entity….

If a new entity is designated as a mechanical licensing collective, the Register shall adopt regulations to govern the transfer of licenses, funds, records, and administrative responsibilities from the existing mechanical licensing collective to the new entity.

Now…I know that they don’t worry themselves too much about the details in Washington (which can always be fixed through ever more regulations after all), but what if the collective being replaced by the designated “new entity” has made a substantial investment in its operations.  This will be particularly true of the first collective.

Since the MMA doesn’t really state it, who will own the global rights database for example?  That database of databases?  The collective is going to have to manage that database and get it built (unless they outsource it to Google, I guess).  That database will be the core asset of the collective’s business in all likelihood.  Is it to have zero value?  Is the Register going to be able to just take it?  (There’s that word again.)

If you happen to be a publisher that has not been allowed to enter a direct license with digital music services, what assurances are there that there will be no interruption in your cash flow to be paid by the collective when the designated new entity takes over?  This will not be a trivial undertaking, especially since the collective will control the revenue for every song ever written or that ever will be written that is exploited in the US and is not subject to a direct license.

If you’re an investor in a publisher that is owed money by the collective, is this “new entity” risk likely to drive up your valuation or multiple?  Or drive it down?

And don’t forget that the MMA allows the collective to invade the black box for operating cost overages.  If the Congress doesn’t fix the black box invasion problem, what assurances to you have that your black box money once taken will be replaced properly and timely?  (Assuming the Congress will let the collective get away with what would very likely be a breach of fiduciary duty absent Holy Potomac Water being sprinkled on it.)

If you are the designated “new entity” what kind of indemnification against claims for improper accounting or audits will you be able to get from your predecessor?  If you’re the predecessor, why would you ever give such indemnification?  You’re likely out of business as there probably won’t be much of a market for former collectives.  And will any of the collective’s board members stand behind those indemnity claims?

And the lobbyists say but the MMA can get passed!  And that’s the most important thing!



%d bloggers like this: