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Posts Tagged ‘Songwriters of North America’

Global Songwriter and Composer Organizations Send Open Letter to RIAA Proposing Solution to Massive Failures to Accord Credit and Respect International Laws of Moral Rights

August 16, 2017 1 comment

[For more information go to BASCA website.]

An Open Letter

15thAugust 2017

Mr. Cary Sherman
Mr. Mitch Glazier
RIAA

Via email

Dear Messrs. Sherman and Glazier,

It was with great disappointment that we read the recent RIAA comments to the Copyright Office in connection with moral rights; in particular, with regard to the right of attribution. The RIAA’s argument prioritizes the inconvenience of dealing with accurate metadata over the principle of the protection of the rights of the people upon whose work the music business is built. In our view, and the view of many in the creator community, this is not only irresponsible, it represents a betrayal of the ‘greater common purpose’ to which so many of us are committed—a purpose with which the RIAA claims to agree.

While music creators have greatly appreciated the RIAA’s leadership on, for example, the Music Community submission on Section 512, it’s crucial to note that such a leadership requires buy-in from the community one purports to lead. In this case, not only do you not have buy-in, the RIAA comments have inspired very active opposition, including that from UK and European music creators whose work is consumed widely across the USA but whose moral rights are not recognized, in part, due to your position. The Berne Convention, revised in 1928 to include moral rights, has 172 countries around the world signed up to it; it is only the US that refuses to assert them.

To make our position clear, we urge you to read the comments filed by Maria Schneider in this matter, which we believe capture the general views of the performer and songwriter community. Maria has outlined how enforceable rights of attribution (in the form of statutorily protected metadata) can be useful, if not indispensable, tools in achieving the kind of accountability from the internet that, in other submissions, the RIAA seeks to establish. [See Maria’s comments here.]

More fundamentally, RIAA’s comments are taken by many in the music creator community as a betrayal of our joint commitment to expand opportunities for creators. Unfortunately, this divergence of views gives our common adversaries an opportunity to divide our community.

We certainly are aware that the RIAA and its members have historically not embraced the idea of moral rights, and have tended to view it as a litigation risk. But the basic metadata rights we’re talking about here are already protected by Section 1202. We are not living in ordinary times, and we’re sure RIAA is well aware of the sensitivities regarding transparency and accountability. Without accurate metadata, contributors to a work risk not getting paid. That’s a moral dilemma intrinsically linked to the issue of moral rights — and on this issue the RIAA has now aligned itself with those who seek to enfeeble IP rights.

Even anti-copyright groups like Creative Commons understand the importance of attribution. If the RIAA is seen as less artist-friendly than Creative Commons, the copyleft and all who seek to undervalue our work will benefit. What’s more, this could make the job of aligning creators with the RIAA around our combined interests infinitely more difficult.

The RIAA comments raise fears about technical issues concerning implementation of the metadata. However, we believe this misses the point. No one is asking to add new requirements here. The current ID3v2 metadata tag is clearly a ‘standard technical measure’, and includes 80 separate ‘fields’ for including all sorts of metadata, including performers, lyricists, studio engineers etc. This capability is baked in to every MP3 and AAC. The RIAA should fully support and encourage all of us in the music community to harness and protect that metadata.

Instead, the RIAA frantically lays out a litany of hurdles they claim will prevent digital platforms from giving credit to the many people that contribute to a creative work. We believe there’s no doubt music platforms will come up with innovative and effective ways to give credit. Certainly there’s no need to set expectations at rock bottom as the RIAA did in their comments.

We have no interest in imposing new requirements that are unreasonable, or that require parties to include information that they themselves do not possess. But we do expect that the metadata capabilities that the industry and Section 1202 have given us will be protected, today and into the future.

Accurate metadata is essential to the healthy digital future of music creators, it is also critical to the healthy digital future of each and every Citizen Creator. The potential to report 100% accurate usage is the greatest promise cyberspace makes to Creators. Yet, in your Moral Rights submission, the RIAA seems to approach attribution and the accuracy that metadata provides as if it were a threat.

With key efforts like the Open Music Initiative, the future value of metadata to musicians and songwriters will be absolutely critical. And if, in the process of protecting those rights, we also happen to implicate certain moral rights, so be it.

The RIAA comments go in the exact opposite direction on this crucial issue, failing to take into account the potential value of legislated accreditation via metadata and providing ethical and political cover for Google and others to treat the internet as some kind of accountability-free zone. That, of course, has much broader implications than just with regard to the issue of moral rights.

We urge you and your members to think carefully about how to move forward from here in ways that truly reflect the interests of those you claim to protect. There are corporate players here, whose unfettered commercial self-interest masquerades as ideology and who capitalize upon our perceived divisions.

While the comment period may have technically closed, there is no restriction on the RIAA revising its views, endorsing the comments filed by Ms. Schneider, and affirming the following: a) the importance of metadata to musicians and creators; b) its strategic value to rights-holders in the future of payment/accountability technologies; c) the relevance and authority of Section 1202 in protecting those rights; and d) the short-term and long-term damage and chaos that is created by encouraging music distributors such as YouTube to disrespect and strip that metadata from our valuable creative works. In fact, we hope the RIAA will join us in encouraging the Copyright Office to use its authority under Section 1202(c)(8) to expressly include all of the metadata contained in a standard ID3v2 tag as falling within the definition of CMI.

We ask that the RIAA work with the creator community to address the specific issues of implementation. More important, we strongly urge the RIAA to present a united front in our common cause to protect the rights of music creators and those who present their work.

Sincerely,

British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA)

European Composer & Songwriter Alliance (ECSA)

MusicAnswers

Music Creators North America (MCNA)

Council of Music Creators (CMC)

Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC)

Societe Professionnelle des Autuers et des Composituers du Quebec (SPACQ)

Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL)

Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC)

Songwriters Guild of America (SGA)

Songwriters of North America (SONA)

The MTP Podcast: Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley of SONA and David Lowery on DOJ’s “Union Busting” Gambit Against Songwriters

August 17, 2016 1 comment

In an explosive conversation, Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley talk with David Lowery and Chris Castle about Songwriters of North America, their experiences with lawyers from the Department of Justice Antitrust Division in the lead-up to the DOJ’s decision on “100% licensing,” and disingenuous behavior by the government’s lawyers that crossed the line into “union busting.”

Michelle and Kay

Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley

—in an ex parte communication, Antitrust Division Section Chief David C. Kully advised a witness in an ongoing Justice Department inquiry to withdraw from ASCAP as a solution to 100% licensing, knowing she was represented by counsel.

—Justice Department lawyers chose to conduct meetings and telephonic communications with songwriters in which DOJ lawyers read aloud from proposed text of their 100% licensing statement in an effort to build a false consensus among songwriters and refused to provide a written draft of the statement for public comment.

hesse

—At the direction of former Google lawyer and DOJ official Renata B. Hesse, the lawyers also told SONA members that no transcripts existed of these telephonic communications.  If true, it is highly unusual for the Justice Department to engage in such contacts with interested parties without preserving a record of such meetings to be made available to the public and preserved as customary federal record keeping.  The lawyers’ statement is more likely another lie or obfuscation.

 

 

Show notes:

Links to documents we discuss on the MTP Podcast with Michelle Lewis, Kay Haneley, David Lowery on the DOJ’s new policy on 100% licensing.

Songwriters of North America Website

@wearesonala

The Trichordist

cranky

Podcast theme from “March of the Billionaires” written by Davey Faragher, Johnny Hickman, David Lowery & Michael Urbano, performed by Cracker from their 2014 album, Berkeley to Bakersfield used courtesy of Cracker.

Doc McStuffins

Department of Justice Statement on 100% Licensing

MIC Coalition Letter to DOJ Lawyer Renata Hesse

BMI’s Premotion Letter to Judge Stanton re Obama Justice Department Ruling on 100% Licensing

The Obama Administration Is Lame Ducking An Unworkable Burden on Songwriters: 4 Reasons Why It’s Bad Law by Chris Castle (Huffington Post)

Guest Post by Stephen Carlisle: ASCAP and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DOJ Decision That’s Going to Create Chaos in the Music Industry

MusicTechPolicy Podcasts on SoundCloud

Subscribe to MusicTechPolicy Podcast on iTunes

Watch this Space: MTP Podcast on 100% Licensing with Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley of Songwriters of North America, David Lowery, Chris Castle coming soon

August 12, 2016 Comments off

Next week we will continue discussion of the Department of Justice [sic] ruling on 100% licensing and partial withdrawals from the songwriter’s point of view.

Participants will be songwriters Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley of Songwriters of North America, David Lowery and Chris Castle.

Watch this space for links to the podcast when it is completed, probably August 17/18.

In the meantime, you can subscribe to the MTP Podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher.  More recent podcasts can also be found on SoundCloud.

For background, check out the MTP podcast with Steve Winogradsky, David Lowery and Chris Castle on the technical aspects of the DOJ’s decision.

Remarks at the California Copyright Conference #irespectmusic Grassroots Advocacy Panel with Adam Dorn, Karoline Kramer Gould, David Lowery and Blake Morgan

February 10, 2016 Comments off
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Photo courtesy @amyraasch

What a great way to start Grammy Week!  Last night Adam Dorn, Karoline Kramer Gould, David Lowery and Blake Morgan came together to tell their personal stories and they let me moderate.  Each of them has an inspiring story of how they came to their personal epiphany, their inspiration to turn to advocacy as part of their lives.

And in case it wasn’t clear–we were recruiting!  Follow them on Twitter through the ‪#‎irespectmusic‬ and @theblakemorgan, @radioclevekkg @davidclowery @moceanworker and @musictechpolicy.

The following are my introductory remarks to the panel:

Successful advocacy sits on a three legged stool whether we like it or not—lobbyists, campaign contributions and individual action.  The music industry and the larger entertainment industry has largely failed to achieve successful advocacy.  We still have essentially the same problems today that we had 15 years ago and the industry is at least half its former size.  In case you haven’t noticed, the cavalry is not coming.

Why?  At the end of the day, until politicians think they may get unelected if they don’t listen, they’ll smile, take our money and our votes, and do nothing.

Blake KKG Conyers

There is one leg of the stool that we have some control over—individual action.  Any of us have the ability to take action and stand up rather than wait for some miracle from Washington.  That action can range from a Tweet to putting our jobs on the line—and since our jobs are on the line anyway, we may as well tweet about it.  And until we can deliver bodies at the polling place no one will fear getting unelected.

You’re going to have a lot of people asking for your vote in the next few months.  They’re not shy about asking you for money and your vote, so you need not be shy about asking how they are going to vote on your issues.  If that sounds aggressive, it is.  In the long run, we may get a fair and just revision of the Copyright Act, but as the economists say, in the long run we’re all dead.  The NAB has outlived generations of artists and songwriters and Google is learning from their example.

All of our speakers tonight have had this epiphany in one form or another and all of their stories are inspiring examples of individual action. Blake Morgan took on Pandora and Big Radio and founded the #irespectmusic campaign. Karoline Kramer Gould joined Blake in supporting the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act and became an inspiration to all of us. Adam Dorn started SONA out of spontaneous meetings with songwriters who were confounded by the state of the industry. And David Lowery started writing the Trichordist blog as a cathartic blog that has inspired thousands and is widely read.

doug collins

As far as the moderator is concerned, my own epiphany in starting the MusicTechPolicy blog 10 years ago was largely the same—why is the news all bad and why isn’t the market producing an outlet for truth.

The #irespectmusic campaign grew out of Blake Morgan’s personal advocacy and opposition to Pandora’s Internet Radio Fairness Act. His viral posts on the Huffington Post about IRFA and what he perceived as Pandora’s deceptive PR tactics trying to enlist artist support against their own interest led directly to his advocacy in support of a performance royalty for terrestrial radio.

After IRFA failed to pass, Blake started an online petition to support a terrestrial radio royalty—and issue campaign as opposed to a particular piece of legislation. The petition has had over 13,000 signatures so far from music makers and music lovers. That made it easy to attach the #irespectmusic hashtag to the Fair Play, Fair Pay act when it was introduced by Blake’s Congressman, Jerry Nadler.

nadler

While the #irespectmusic campaign started with artist pay for radio play, it soon evolved into a campaign for fair treatment for all creators. This lead in turn to his recent lobbying trip to the Senate supporting the Songwriter Equity Act and an alliance with the NMPA.

Adam, Blake, David and Karoline all have inspired each other to continue in their individual advocacy and we hope can inspire you, too.

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