@SGAWrites: SONGWRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA ISSUES STRONG STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR INTRODUCTION OF THE SMALL CLAIMS ENFORCEMENT (CASE) ACT OF 2019, HR 2426

[PRESS RELEASE]

May 1, 2019, Washington, DC. The Songwriters Guild of America, Inc. (SGA), America’s largest and longest established songwriter and composer organization run solely by creators themselves, today applauded Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Doug Collins (R-GA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Martha Roby (R-AL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) for their introduction of the “Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2019”.

“SGA has been actively advocating for this important legislation for well over a decade,” states hit songwriter and SGA president Rick Carnes, “and we are gratified and thankful that the CASE Act co-sponsors have taken the lead in pushing to make the crucial protections this bill would provide for music creators a reality.”

It has long been SGA’s position, dating back to active advocacy which began prior to 2008, that a small claims system is an indispensable step toward helping music creators and other authors to regain the ability to enforce their rights against infringers in a cost-effective way. The organization believes that the new bill strikes the proper balance between consumers and creators, establishing an alternative, opt-in arbitration system to resolve copyright infringement cases, without necessitating the time and expense to creators of filing a formal lawsuit.

“How many times,” Carnes continued, “have you heard someone say, ‘let’s not a make a Federal case out of this’? Everyone knows that the enormous cost and energy it takes to prosecute a case in Federal Court is beyond the means of most citizens, and rarely makes financial sense, except as to those rare claims for damages in the millions of dollars. But ‘making a Federal case of it’ is exactly what an individual songwriter must currently do under the law if his or her song is used without permission and infringed.”

Carnes recalled with great dismay the day he first saw his songs being streamed on YouTube, Spotify and other digital distribution networks without consent, and realized the futility of sending take-down notices to protect his rights. According to him, when he sent the notices, another unlicensed copy appeared within minutes of the first one being taken down. And then another. And another.

Faced with playing an unwinnable game of ‘Whack-a-mole’ with infringers, Carnes stated, “I realized that my only other recourse was to file an infringement case in Federal Court which would, ages later, likely end up costing massively more than I could ever collect in damages. The average cost to bring a single, full-blown copyright infringement claim today is estimated to approach $350,000 in legal fees.

At the same time, statutory damages for such infringements are currently capped under the U.S. Copyright Act at less than half that amount per title! The Copyright law is useless to songwriters when the cost of enforcement of our rights far exceeds the compensatory damages able to be recovered against infringers. Every American should have the right to protect his or her property, whether a lawnmower, a bicycle, a photograph, or a song.”

SGA believes it is long past time for Congress to give music creators a viable way to seek fair remedies when the rights of songwriters, composers and authors are violated, and thanked Representatives Jeffries and the other co-sponsors for standing up for the smallest of small US business people: American Songwriters. SGA also expressed thanks and support for the US Copyright Office, which will oversee the implementation of the Act upon its enactment.

“The modernization process that is taking place at the Copyright Office is what makes possible the fair benefits this bill will provide to the American creative community,” concluded Carnes. “We need to get behind the message that a strong US Copyright Office, with proper resources to manage all of its programs, is something that benefits both every American, and the advancement of American culture itself. We hope it will never be necessary for the Copyright Office to limit the scope and size of the small claims system due to underfunding or otherwise, and we intend to work on that issue with the Register and on Capitol Hill as a regular part of SGA’s legislative activities and initiatives in Washington, DC.”

The Songwriters Guild is @SGAWrites and Rick Carnes is @RickCarnes

Selected Must Read Comments from the Indie Community to the Copyright Office on the Music Modernization Act

[Editor Charlie sez: ARW readers have probably seen the mainstream promotion for the two contenders to be the Mechanical Licensing Collective under the Music Modernization Act.  What you may not have seen is the commentary from the indie community.  The Copyright Office is currently soliciting input from the creative community about who would do a better job, “the MLC” supported by the National Music Publishers Association and their allies NSAI and SONA, or the American Mechanical Licensing Collective, backed by Zoë Keating, Stewart Copeland, Maria Schneider and many other songwriters.  The comment period closed on April 22 and all comments are now posted on the Regulations.gov website.  Following are selected comments and links that are important and raise many significant fairness issues as well as some business questions and legal hurdles that the MLC will ultimately need to get past.  It’s not that others aren’t also interesting to the extent they are not form comments to the “Registrar of Copyright”…sheesh…it’s just that you’ve probably heard it all before.]

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0017 (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COLC-2018-0011-0017)
DOCUMENT TYPE:  PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Schneider, Maria – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0018 (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COLC-2018-0011-0018)
DOCUMENT TYPE:  PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Keating, Zoe et al. – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0056 (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COLC-2018-0011-0056)
DOCUMENT TYPE:  PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: SGA (Songwriters Guild of America) – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0038 (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COLC-2018-0011-0038)
DOCUMENT TYPE:  PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: MusicAnswers – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0039 (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COLC-2018-0011-0039)
DOCUMENT TYPE:  PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Muddiman, Helene (pt. 1) – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0040 (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COLC-2018-0011-0040)
DOCUMENT TYPE:  PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Muddiman, Helene (pt. 2) – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0041 (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COLC-2018-0011-0041)
DOCUMENT TYPE:  PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Muddiman, Helene (pt. 3) – Reply Comments

 

@ tnm___: Women Artists Lose Out When Algorithms Help Book Events

[This is a really important post by Tshepo Mokoena–in a male dominated industry (streaming) that reflects another male-dominated industry (music), with playlists manipulated by men to men, the much vaunted “artist data” benefits for touring falls down both economically, artistically and ethically.  Turns out streaming is a hyperefficient way to make sure the rich keep getting richer and the bias keeps getting stronger.  Thanks, again, Spotify!]

A funny thing happens when a mixed-gender group chats in a room: people, of all genders, tend to think that the women are talking more. And they tend to think that even while the opposite is true….In translation: women have had to fight for a voice in the public sphere so much that their bare minimum participation is seen as Too Much.

I bring this up, because it’s just about that time for the annual rollout of the coming summer’s festival lineups and their inevitable gender imbalances. Welcome! You can almost draw a parallel between that academic idea – how one woman speaking a little, giving a bit of input, is perceived as her being on a par vocally with the men in the room – and the way women can still feel like a box-ticking afterthought at festivals. A 2017 BBC study found that all-male acts accounted for 80 percent of UK festival headliners. The same study also noted that a quarter of those top slots basically were taken by the same 20 acts – your Muses, Kasabians, Foo Fighters, Killers and so on.

But what about outside the traditional rock festival setup? This week, two events – Spotify’s Who We Be Live in London late this month, and Annie Mac’s AMP Lost & Found festival in Malta in May 2019 – shared news of some of their confirmed artists. Both present some pretty incredible talent, from UK rap, R&B and electronic music. Who We Be, after all, is the name of Spotify’s grime and rap-focused playlist. But, look closer and you also start to notice another trend emerge around gender balance, specifically when streaming plays as central a role in booking a live show, as it does for Who We Be. So while festivals are expanding beyond the ‘yes, let’s go see Kaiser Chiefs for the 18th time!!’ format, what space does that leave for women, in an industry that’s still traditionally dominated by men?

….In the US, Spotify’s RapCaviar, with its more than 10.5 million followers, is often cited as a star-maker. Only, hehehe, it turns out that women feature on it very rarely. When writer David Turner looked into the numbers, for Jezebel’s The Muse earlier this year, he found that women rappers accounted for about 4 percent of artists on the playlist between May 2016 and December 2017. Women overall made up 10.8 percent of RapCaviar artists over that time period.

Read the post on Noisy

As best we can tell from the outside looking in, this chart has the dates for key events in the critical path to launch for the Mechancial Licesing Collective as required by the Music Modernization Act–the “Countdown to Modernity.”

This chart is a work in progress, and if anyone sees anything wrong in it or something that should be clarified or corrected, please let us know.  It should be considered a draft, but we hope that it will solidify over the next few weeks.

To our knowlege, no one else has published a chart like this.  The main takeaway from this chart should be the clock is ticking and time is going by.  Our prediction?  Time will become the MLC’s biggest enemy, if that hasn’t already happened in the drafting of the Music Modernization Act.  What we don’t see in the MMA is any discussion of what happens if a deadline is blown for whatever reason.

But mark your calendars–we see the first key date as January 7, 2019.  That’s 64 days from now and holidays count.

ARTIST RIGHTS WATCH
COUNTDOWN TO MECHANICAL LICENSING COLLECTIVE LAUNCH
WEEK 4

KEY DATES SCHEDULE FROM ENACTMENT DATE (10/11/18)

TO LICENSE AVAILABILITY DATE (1/1/21)

EVENT ACCCOMPLISHED WHO OWNS? TIME EXPIRED   BEFORE LAD TIME REMAINS TO LAD
REQUEST FILING TO BE MLC STATUS UNKNOWN—Deadline  1/7/2019 COPYRIGHT OFFICE 90 DAYS 726 days
DESIGNATION OF MLC STATUS UNKNOWN—Deadline  7/7/2019 COPYRIGHT OFFICE 270 days 545 days
FORMATION OF MLC NONPROFIT STATUS UNKNOWN MLC 4 weeks 112 weeks and 5 days
SUBSTITUTION OF BLANKET LICENSE FOR ALL EXISTING COMPULSORY LICENSES AUTOMATIC 1/1/2021 COPYRIGHT OFFICE 789 days
MLC BUDGET STATUS UNKNOWN

(Assume deadline of 1/7/19)

MLC/DLC/CRJ 112 weeks and 5 days
INITIATE ASSESSMENT PROCEEDING w/CRJs [MUST COMMENCE NO LATER THAN 7/7/2019]

STATUS UNKNOWN

MLC/DLC/CRJ 271 days 545 days
ASSESSMENT RULING [PUBLISHED IN FR NO LATER THAN 7/7/2020] MLC/DLC/CRJ 637 days 179 days
APPEAL OF ASSESSMENT RULING 30 DAYS AFTER PUBLICATION OF ASSESSMENT RULING MLC/DLC/CRJ/ DCCOA 667 days 149 days
MLC BUSINESS PLAN STATUS UNKNOWN

(Assume deadline of 1/7/19)

MLC/CO 90 DAYS 726 days
ANNOUNCED BOARD NOMINEES STATUS UNKNOWN

(Assume deadline of 1/7/19)

MLC 90 DAYS 726 days
APPOINTED BOARD STATUS UNKNOWN

(Assume deadline of 1/7/19)

MLC/CO 90 DAYS 726 days
APPOINTED DLC STATUS UNKNOWN—Deadline  7/7/2019 COPYRIGHT OFFICE 270 days 545 days
ENGAGED VENDORS STATUS UNKNOWN

(Assume deadline of 1/7/19)

MLC 90 DAYS 726 days
PAID VENDORS STATUS UNKNOWN (ASSUME 7/7/2020 IF NO APPEAL OF ASSESSMENT) MLC 270 days 545 days
ANNOUNCEMENT OF DATA STANDARDS STATUS UNKNOWN MLC/DLC
REGULATIONS* STATUS UNKNOWN CO
COMMENTS AND REPLY COMMENTS ON REGULATIONS STATUS UNKNOWN Songwriters and Publishers
EXPLANATION OF OPERATIONS: HOW TO REGISTER WITH MLC AND COST OF REGISTRATION STATUS UNKNOWN

(Assume deadline of 1/7/19)

MLC/CO 90 DAYS 726 days
REGISTRATION START DATE STATUS UNKNOWN

 

MLC=Mechanical Licensing Collective

DLC=Digital Licensee Coordinator

CRJ=Copyright Royalty Judges

DCCOA=District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals

CO=Copyright Office

LAD=License Availability Date

*Topic areas to be updated as announced

via COUNTDOWN TO MODERNITY (11/5/18)–The Progress to Production Chart for the Mechanical Licensing Collective — Music Technology Policy

Music Creators North America: PASSAGE BY US SENATE OF MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT IS APPLAUDED BY MUSIC CREATORS NORTH AMERICA

PRESS RELEASE

Music Creators North America, Inc. (MCNA), a music creator alliance representing a US, Canadian and global coalition of over half a million songwriters and composers from around the world through its affiliates in the International Council for Music Creators (CIAM), applauded the passage today of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) by the US Senate.  The Act, if signed into law by the President once a unified version is agreed upon by both houses of the US Congress, will reform and streamline the music licensing process and force digital music distributors to take greater responsibility in ensuring the equitable, proper, and timely payment of royalties to music creators for distribution of their works in the US.

According to the member organizations of MCNA, the benefits of the MMA strongly outweighed its shortcomings, and its passage is a welcome step forward.  The Act, however, will require constant vigilance by the music creator community to ensure that all of the intended benefits to composers and songwriters are realized.  This includes encouragement of music creators to claim the royalties owed to them, careful monitoring of distributions of so-called “unmatched” royalties, and especially close scrutiny of actions undertaken by the music licensing collective established under the legislation and controlled by a board of directors that has only a minority of music creator members.  The members of MCNA have pledged their full energies in support of these and other efforts to safeguard songwriter and composer rights, including keeping a close watch on the process in which the US House of Representatives and Senate versions of the bill are reconciled.