The company that claims to organize the worlds information, could not figure out how locate a songwriter named Brian Wilson, he wrote a little song called “Surfer Girl.” They filed an “address unknown” notice with the US Copyright Office. Wtf?
Rep. Sensenbrenner has introduced a bill called “The Transparency in Licensing Act.” We songwriters call it “The Shiv Act.” It’s pure doublespeak. It has nothing to do with “transparency.” It is clearly designed to stab songwriters in the back while greatly benefitting the largest members of the Mic-Coalition.org. Read more here,here and here.
In case you are not familiar, the Mic-Coalition is an astroturf group made up of mostly tech behemoths and broadcasters. At last count these companies’ combined market share exceeded 1.5 trillion dollars. The bill purports to support small businesses like the independent brewers represented by The Brewers Alliance, but it does not. In fact my unscientific sampling of independent brewers seems to indicate 1) Independent Brewers didn’t know they were supporting this bill, 2) are unaware they were even part of the alliance 3)didn’t know they had urgent music licensing concerns requiring legislative fix. (Maybe the DC policy rep for Brewers Association should explain rationale to members?).
This bill seems to have been designed by the Very Large Business Administration (as opposed to the Small Business Administration). The bill is a complete giveaway to the likes of Google, and ClearChannel. So just normal pay to play government legislation, right? Nothing to see here people, move along.
I dreamed up a startling new technique to attempt to divine whether the true purpose of the controversial Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act (or…”TIMLOA”?) was intended to protect small business as advertised by the MIC Coalition. I determined that the safe harbors in the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act (or as it’s been called, The Shiv Act) was actually designed to protect the biggest of big business.
What startling new technique did I utilize? I read the bill.
What you don’t find in the bill is anything that limits its application to small business. Is it common in music licensing legislation to find such protections? Absolutely. This wasn’t what I expected to find given the braying of the Disco Ducks. But then you know what they say…
The Fair Play Fair Pay Act, for example, has special protection in great specificity for small business like noncommercial broadcasters, public broadcasters and small broadcasters.
The Performance Rights Act (from the 110th Congress) also had very clear exemptions for small broadcasters.
While as a matter of propaganda it ignores these protections, the Local Radio Freedom Act (aka “The Pay Your Rent With Exposure Bucks Act”) is very clear about protecting a particular class of broadcasters: “local radio.”
Yet none of this protective language appears in the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act. Why doesn’t the TIMLOA have such limiting language if it’s actually all about protecting small business? Maybe because it’s not about small business at all? Maybe it’s about these guys in the MIC Coalition:
Realize some MIC Coalition members are themselves trade associations for companies with combined market capitalizations over $1 trillion. When you see logos for Digital Media Association, the CEA (now called the Consumer Technology Association) and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (home of the Disco Ducks) these are themselves made up of massive companies like Apple, Amazon, YouTube and of course Google, not to mention Spotify. True small business can’t afford these lobbyists and PR firms (like the Glen Echo Group) this starts to look like the astroturf plant it really is.
So don’t let them tell you that the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act is about small business, unless the MIC Coalition would like to include the kind of protective language in their bill that our business has always included to protect the real small business.
Remember the ex-Googler Renata Hesse who managed to get both herself and the Department of Justice sued by SONA over Hesse’s grotesque mishandling of 100% licensing? Like a good little bureaucrat, she leaves the songwriters to clean up her mess while she skips out to the big money. Don’t let the revolving door hit you.
And good job avoiding a confirmation hearing…that won’t happen again.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is hiring Renata Hesse, formerly head of the antitrust division at the Justice Department, as the law firm prepares for a continued wave of complex, cross-border mergers and other deals.
Ms. Hesse, 52 years old, will join Sullivan & Cromwell as a partner in Washington, D.C., the firm plans to announce Monday. The move is noteworthy not just because of Ms. Hesse’s stature in legal circles, but also because it is rare for Sullivan & Cromwell and other elite law firms to bring in partners from the outside. Until January, Ms. Hesse was acting assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division at the Justice Department, a position she has held twice.
Now that most of the DOJ lawyers who pushed the 100% licensing rule on songwriters are gone, who’s gonna deal with all those feral cats that former Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse was feeding? Last year, in what can only be described as an elaborate Kabuki, a small group of DOJ lawyers led by […]
[Editor Charlie sez: Here’s a press release from BMI about BMI’s rate court case against the Google-backed anti-artist behemoth MIC Coalition’s member Radio Music License Committee, the broadcaster licensing collective. The RMLC collective is also suing Global Music Rights to stop songwriters from forming a licensing collective.]
Today, BMI filed an action in Federal Rate Court to set interim fees for radio stations represented by the Radio Music License Committee (the “RMLC”) while BMI and the RMLC negotiate the terms of a new five-year deal beginning in 2017.
The RMLC has proposed an interim rate well below BMI’s previous deal, the effect of which would have a significant impact on the royalties BMI pays to its songwriters, composers and music publishers. The RMLC has justified its proposed rate based upon incomplete and incorrect information regarding BMI’s radio performances. BMI disagrees fundamentally with the RMLC’s proposal and, consistent with past practices, is asking the Court to maintain its most recent rate while new terms are negotiated.
Mike Steinberg, Senior Vice President of Licensing for BMI, stated, “We attempted to negotiate in good faith with the RMLC for many months, and just before the end of the year, the RMLC presented an interim rate that significantly undervalues the work of BMI’s songwriters. Given the unmatched caliber of BMI’s repertoire, our superior market share on radio, and the ever-increasing value that BMI music brings to the radio industry across all its platforms, we believe the RMLC’s proposal falls well short of what is in the best interests of our affiliates.”
When two rational actors are economically interdependent on one another, disputes tend to get solved at a market clearing price. So it is with Global Music Rights and the goliath Radio Music License Committee that itself is a member of the even bigger goliath MIC Coalition. (My bet is that the Google-backed MIC Coalition is behind […]
The radio industry is about to learn what many others already have — when you push Irving Azoff, he pushes back. Usually harder.
After nearly two years of negotiations over licensing rates for radio song plays, the Radio Licensing Music Committee (RMLC) recently “ambushed” Global Music Rights (GMR) — the nascent U.S. performance rights organization launched in late 2013 by Azoff, in conjunction with MSG Entertainment and with former ASCAP executive Randy Grimmett at the helm — with an antitrust lawsuit filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania on Nov. 18.
That was followed by the filing, on Dec. 6, Daniel Petrocelli and his firm O’Melveny & Myers of an antitrust suit on behalf of GMR against the RLMC in the U.S. Central District Court of California. Petrocelli stresses that the suit is not retaliatory, but was filed to fight the RLMC’s “collusive tactics to depress [the] prices” that radio stations pay songwriters.
Azoff, the legendary artist manager who began GMR because he felt songwriters were getting shortchanged in performance licensing, tells Billboard that he takes “artist rights very seriously. I grew up around guys named Lew Wasserman[former head of MCA, now known as Universal Music Group] and Steve Ross [who created Warner Music Group], who taught me to respect talent. We feel that they [the RMLC] violated respect for talent. We didn’t start this fight, but we aren’t going away.”